Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nikon SB-700 Rant...

Nikon just recently announced the release of a new "mid-range" speedlight, the SB-700.  This new puppy is the replacement for the outgoing Nikon SB-600 and a step down from Nikon's flagship, the SB-900.
I have to say, the new SB-700 has some really cool features.  The controls are more like its big brother with easy to access buttons for all the features you use the most.  It also has "smart filters" like the ones the SB-900 utilizes and it has beam spread patterns to allow you to shape the light.  Also a plus for this flash is the SU-4 type triggering method which is basically a highly receptive slave mode just like the ones in the best made flash of all time, the SB-800 and its newer replacement the SB-900.

However, with all the kudos being said, I do have some issues with this flash, and the SB-900.  I can't do a review of the SB-700 since I don't have one (and probably won't be buying one) but I can definitely form an opinion based on available information ...and I hope Nikon is listening!

My two biggest gripes about this new light is:  number one, it doesn't have a PC sync!!!  That means, for all the radio control shooters out there, this is another flash that you're going to have to buy a PC to hotshoe adapter to use your Pocket Wizards, Cybersyncs and most other radio triggers.  I've heard the argument that Nikon did this so that you will be forced in to using the proprietary CLS system (which isn't bad mind you), but as every photographer who's using off camera flash knows, being locked in to one system is a HUGE hindrance and I think by not adding this one, simple piece of technology is going to lose Nikon a lot of business.

One of the things I dearly love about my SB-800s is that I can use it with CLS or radio triggers without having to add another piece of hardware to it.  The SB-800 in my mind is by far the best flash out there and I think its better than the SB-900.  I don't own a SB-900 but the biggest gripe I hear is about thermal lockup.  I have seen this happen and I have to say, it would annoy the crud out of me if I had to deal with that on a regular basis.  I've shot hours on end with an SB-800 and have never had an issue with them.

Another rant I have about the new SB-700 is the power.  I can't confirm this at this time, but it would appear that the guide numbers (power) is even less than that of the SB-600.  If this is the case, then I am completely overwhelmed by Nikon.  Hopefully this is just speculation on the net that I have read.  Will need to do further research to clear this one up.

And one last thing, the PRICE!  Holy smokes Nikon, c'mon and give us a break.  You rob us of a PC sync or any type of jack for radio triggers and you jack the price up.  I'm having a very hard time swallowing all of this, but I guess for my next flash, I'll be purchasing a LumoPro LP160.  At least the folks at LumoPro pay attention to what photographers want.

One last plead, c'mon Nikon, bring back the SB-800 ...with better buttons, a hard sync jack, and a little more power if you please ...for less than the price of a new Porsche 911.

How does everyone else feel about this?  Sound off in the comments, I'd be interested to hear what other shooters have to say.

Check out David Hobby's post on the Strobist blog for more input.

And just so we're clear here, I LOVE my Nikon cameras, lenses and SB-800s ...LOVE them!  I just would like to see improvements in their flashes, not fall backs.


Jacob said...

Where can I get LumaPros and how much do they cost? In addition to having to buy additional hardware to get Nikon speedlights to work with Pocket Wizards, they seldom fit! The locking mechanism seems designed only for NIkon hotshoes. The LumaPro appears to have a twist lock which will fit on any hot shoe.

John said...

Jacob, I haven't found any shoes that work well. That being said, I buy all of mine from Flash Zebra which is a local company in Northern Ky.

You can get the LumoPro LP160 from Midwest Photo Exchange which is in Columbus, OH.,14648.html

Keep in mind that the LP160 is a manual only flash, but from what I understand, it has a "smart" digital sensor that will allow it ignore TTL preflashes so you can use it with a TTL solution and CLS/AWL.

Michael said...

I dont really see the point in it. Its really just an sb600 with a few better options but still lacking what the 800 had. I bought a 600 before I lucked into a 800 and if I had known what I know now I would never have bought the 600 and just went with 2 800s :)

I got my 800 used and I dont know how long it will last me so Ive been debating getting a 900. I rarely shoot at full power and hardly get to 1/2 power for what I do so I think the issues the 900 have wont really impair me.

That being said when I saw they had a new speedlight I thought for sure it would be an improved 600 but it looks more like a subpar 800/900 instead.

Photography By Danni Valdez said...

I have the LP 160 and the optical sensor works extremely well, not to mention the entire flash overall. There isn't a "Stofen" type difusser for it, but Midwest Photo Exchange says it's designed to fit a Canon 580 EX II diffuser.

I did a lot of shopping around and I think it's the best flash in it's $160.00 price range. I'm very happy that I chose it. It replaced my Vivitar 285HV which I realized was defective the entire time. Glad I had a warranty.

John said...

Very cool! I've read a ton of good reviews about it. It will definitely be my next flash.

Photography By Danni Valdez said...

In lieu of a small diffuser for the Lumopro 160, I just did some extensive comparison. Long story short, it doesn't make sense that a diffuser made for a 580EX II will fit on the Lumopro.

One of the problems when shopping online for the 580EX II diffuser is that they'll be listed as diffusers for a "580EX/580EX II" which is impossible.

That prompted my comparison. The EX, EX II and Lumopro are all different from each other in different ways. I'm going to call Mid West Photo Exchange Monday and talk to them about it. Hopefully they will ad whatever small diffuser DOES fit the Lumopro to their website. I'll keep you posted.

Photography By Danni Valdez said...

I just talked to Mid West Photo about the diffuser for the Lumopro and it actually takes the Stofen OM-EZ (made for the 540EZ flash). Makes sense. Photos of the 540 EZ look like an exact fit to me. Ordering one soon.

John said...

Good to know Danni, thanks for sharing the info! I'll be looking in to getting a Stofen for mine when I pick one up.