5.27.2007

Nikon D70s an SB800 & SB600

I've seen a lot of posts in the forums, D70 owners asking about the capabilities of this equipment trio.

Here's what I know ... since I have all three and have played around with them for a couple of months now.

Both Flashes Off-camera using TTL


Set the D70/s to Commander mode (Custom Setting 19) which allows the camera to communicate with the flash units on Channel 3 Group A. This is the only Channel/Group option on the D70/s.

Set each flash to remote mode. On the SB800 press select for 3 seconds to access the custom options menu. Navigate to the wireless submenu and press select. Press + or - until Remote is highlighted and press Select. Press select for 3 seconds to exit the custom options menu. Press Select to navigate from channels to groups setting Channel 3 and Group A. On the SB600, press and hold the Zoom and - buttons for 3 seconds to access the custom settings menu. Press + or - to navigate to the wireless option. Press Mode to switch it on. Press and hold Zoom and - for 3 seconds to exit the custom options menu.

The camera has two more settings for controlling the flash units off-camera. Manual and AA (Auto Aperture). Auto Aperture can only be use with a CPU lens and an SB800. Manual mode in this setup can control the output level of the flash units simultaneously. In other words, setting the D70/s flash mode to Commander and selecting Manual submenu allows you to set the flash output to full and down to 1/128th power. Both flashes will output the fraction that the camera is set to.
This is a nice easy setup for wireless flash with Nikon equipment. Fairly flexible and will give you a lot of options albeit limited to equally distributed flash output.

With the SB800 on-camera


The SB800 mounted on the camera opens up a lot of other control features to the camera allowing you to configure the flash contribution of each flash separately. I assume that the same features and controls are available on the SU-800 flash controller except there's no flash gun.
So, the SB800 can control the SB600 setting its output level and setting its own level independently. You can choose whether the SB800 contributes to the exposure or not by setting its contribution level.

This is another great setup stepping up from the previous one in that it gives you the freedom to set flash output individually. However, there's still one flash on your camera. To achieve fuller freedom you'll have to look at working with 2 or more SB800's.


Here's an image I shot with the SB800 camera-left in an umbrella and the SB600 camera-right with a diffuser for the background.

Hopefully, this will help others decide what type of equipment to purchase for the setups they intend to employ. Overall, I'd have to say the SB600 is a great little flash and makes a great companion for the D70/s but, has its limitations when used off-camera. The SB800 is definitely a step up but, then demonstrates the camera's limitation in a wireless system. The only way to gain full flexibility with the camera is using either an SB800 on-camera or an SU-800 controller on-camera with another SB800. At least that would be in the Nikon world of wireless flash technology.

i shoot nikon

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