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Nikon SB-900 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
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- High-quality flash for standalone use or as part of a comprehensive lighting system
- Commander mode controls up to 3 Speedlight groups or unlimited individual Speedlights
- 4 wireless channel options; prominent master and remote control switch for wireless operation
- Auto power zoom coverage ranges from 17 to 200mm (FX format) to 12 to 200mm (DX format)
- 3 light distribution patterns; measures 3 x 5.7 x 4.7 inches (W x H x D) and weighs 14.6 ounces
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D3)NIKON SB-900AF SPEEDLIGHT (4807)
The SB-900 i-TTL Speedlight leads the Nikon Creative Lighting System by delivering the portability, power, and versatility to support any photographer's creative lighting imagination. The SB-900 works as a wireless standalone flash, or you can use it as a commander or wireless remote light source. In commander mode, the SB-900 controls up to three remote Speedlight groups and an unlimited number of compatible Speedlights, with four wireless channel options helping you manage wireless conflicts in multiple photographer environments. The flash also offers streamlined controls and menus, including a rotary select dial that sets key flash functions quickly, along with a prominent master and remote control switch to simplify wireless operation.
Photographers working on zoom photos will appreciate the SB-900's expanded auto power zoom coverage, which ranges from 17 to 200mm in the FX format to 12 to 200mm in the DX format. Photographers also have the choice of three light distribution patterns: standard (for general illumination), center-weighted (for portraits), and even (for groups or interiors). Finally, the SB-900 automatically identifies mounted color gel filters and adjusts the camera's auto white balance setting (available with select Nikon digital SLR cameras). Other details include automatic FX/DX format identification; user-friendly firmware updating; flash tube overheat protection; and a drip-proof mounting foot cover.
- Guide number: 34 meters/111.5 feet (ISO 100), 48 meters/157.5 feet (ISO 200)
- Electronic construction: Automatic Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and series circuitry
- Flash exposure control: Slow sync; red-eye reduction in slow sync; front curtain sync; rear curtain sync; rear-curtain slow sync; auto FP high-speed sync; FV lock flash
- Lens coverage: 17 to 200mm (FX format, automatic mode); 12 to 200mm (DX format, automatic mode); 12 to 17mm (FX format, automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed); 8 to 11mm (DX format, automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
- Bounce function (tilt): Flash head tilts down to -7 degrees or up to 90 degrees, with click stops at -7, 0, 45, 60, 75, and 90 degrees
- Bounce function (rotate): Flash head rotates horizontally 180 degrees to the left and right, with click stops at 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 degrees
- Minimum recycling time: 4 seconds with alkaline-manganese (1.5 volts); 4.5 seconds with lithium (1.5 volts); 3 seconds with Oxyride (1.5 volts); 2.3 seconds with Ni-MH (2,600 mAh)
- Flash duration: 1/880 second at M1/1 (full) output; 1/1,000 second at M1/2 output; 1/2,550 second at M1/4 output; 1/5,000 second at M1/8 output; 1/10,000 second at M1/16 output; 1/20,000 second at M1/32 output; 1/35,700 second at M1/64 output; 1/38,500 second at M1/128 output
- Required power source: 4 AA-type batteries in the following types: alkaline-manganese (1.5 volts), lithium (1.5 volts), or Ni-MH (1.2 volts)
- ISO range: 100 to 6,400
- Optional power supply: SD-9 high-performance battery pack, SD-8A high-performance battery pack, or SK-6 power bracket unit
- Ready light: Yes
- Minimum number of flashes: 110 with alkaline-manganese (1.5 volts); 230 with lithium (1.5 volts); 190 with Ni-MH (2,600 mAh)
- Wireless flash modes: Off, master, master (repeating), remote, and SU-4
- Wireless communication channels: 4
- Wireless groups: 3
- Dimensions: 3 x 5.7 x 4.7 inches (W x H x D)
- Weight: 14.6 ounces
- Supplied accessories: AS-21 Speedlight stand, SW-13H diffusion dome, SJ-900 color filter set, SZ-2 color filter holder, SS-900 soft case
Legal DisclaimerSERIAL #2142650, LOOKS AND OPERATES AS NEW FULL 14 DAY NO HASSLE SATISFACTION GUARANTEE AND A 90 DAY PARTS AND LABOR WARRANTY.
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First off, let me say that I have much experience in using different camera flashes and studio strobes as well as some repairing of them. I will start of by saying that this flash is the best portable camera flash in it's class that I have EVER used. Nikon knows what they are doing. They have an extremely high standard of quality and reliability. When they see a quality improvement / guarantee need, they will apply it. In the case of the SB-800 to the SB-900 one of the biggest and least appreciated quality assurance guarantees is the thermal cut off feature. Which, by the way, can be turned off or on. So all of those who are b****ing about it, just read your manual and turn it off!
Okay, time for a cheesy quote: "With great power comes great responsibility". Nikon knew this. (speculation) They also knew the general public would not really understand the limitations of the flash in hand. So they incorporated a safety mechanism: "Thermal cut off", to prevent overheating due to extended maximum flash output. This sort of "circuit breaker" is also found in some pro studio strobes. Studio strobes usually use AC power and provide a much greater power output and are more likely to overheat and sometimes "blow out", so it is common to see some kind of safety mech built in to them. Portable camera flashes run off batteries and do not produce any where near the kind of power output than said strobes; so there is usually no critical need for such a safety. With the SB-900 however (and SB-800), Nikon has managed to build a very compact flash (yes, I mean compact if you consider it's power capability) that recharges very quickly and sustains a consistent powerful output. To do this, it requires a huge demand on the IGBT (like a capacitor) and sustained overheating would result in failure and eventually even damage to the flash. Of course they could have "pushed it" and programmed it to trigger at a much higher temp threshold or even eliminated the option all together. But it is good to have that feature. It's not that the flash overheats "easily", it's that the flash is offering more than maybe it should. With that much more power, comes that much more heat. (Especially from a compact unit without any cooling fans)
Now for my silly analogy: "It's like the difference between driving a car that only goes 65mph (other flashes) and driving car that goes 100mph (SB-900 / 800). With the 65mph car, you can't get a speeding ticket (overheat / failure) on the freeway with the speed limit of 65mph. With the 100mph car you won't get a ticket either, until you start driving 100mph for an extended period of time on the same freeway. Then you will likely be stopped for speeding. Then, having a radar detector (thermal cut off feature) will warn you when a cop is around the corner and that you should slow down from 100mph to 65mph. You may ask yourself: why that speed limit? Of course, safety: limitations of the car and driver. Then you may ask: why make a car that goes 100mph if it is not safe to go that fast? (here is where my analogy doesn't follow exactly, but you get my point) You may have a need to go 100mph and it is good to have the ability. Often it may be fine to do so. Just know you are running the risks."
If you really need to turn off the thermal feature and shoot at max output consistently, chances are it will function just fine. Yes, it will get hot, yes your batteries will drain faster, and yes you will wait longer for each subsequent recharge but nothing major will happen: because it's designed to do that and it's a Nikon made in Japan. Just know this: Nikon or not, all electronics still have to follow the basic laws of physics. It's not ultimately good for the IGBT and circuitry to sustain such powerful flash firing as some do. You run the risk of degradation and failure. I've seen it happen, albeit rare.
Basically, you should feel confident about the performance and reliability of this flash. It doesn't get any better...yet.
Second, if you look that the DSLR bodies, there is a lot of progress there and in a couple years you can get a much better body for the same price. The lenses and flashes on the other side are not changing that much and hold value over many years. So if you have a choice it's a good idea to get the best lense and flash you can afford so they can last forever and upgrade the cheaper bodies time to time.
So these are two big reasons to buy SB-900.
Now let's think why would you not buy this flash.
If you read the reviews below, there is a lot of arguing about which batteries to use and the thermal shut off. You know, yes, they all have their points but in most of the real life situations all those concerns a way beyond reasonable.
What else is not good about this flash? Well, the noise. If you have a zoom lense, every time you zoom in or out, the flash will adjust the mirrors to provide good coverage and that's causing some noise. It's ok outdoors or at a party, but if you try to take pictures at a concert, that could be distracting. (Yes, you can lock the mirrors in a wide position and give plenty of raw power you should get by without moving those mirrors in most case)
Well, the menu and the controls could be easier to operate but that's not a deal breaker. And, of course, the price. It's quite expensive.
So overall, this is really an amazing flash. Because it's so powerful, it can light up a huge areas or using filters or bouncing it can create some very nice lighting effects which you just can't do with a smaller flash, so if you can afford it - it's not a bad flash at all.