Customer Review

127 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Flash!, 5 Nov 2009
This review is from: Nikon SB-600 Speedlight (discontinued by manufacturer) (Camera)
Compatibility

As with most of the Nikon flashguns, the SB600 will work with every Nikon SLR and DSLR ever made (Nikon claims) and with some of the advanced Coolpix models. It's best to check on the Nikon site to find out which cameras are supported and which features are disabled on certain models.

Build

Nikon has a reputation for robust build quality and this is no exception. The SB600 is mainly plastic but feels solid. A metal hotshoe with lock ensures you are confident the flash will stay stable and attached to the camera.

Ease of use

The flash head is easily adjustable into just about any direction, from pointing straight ahead, to pointing straight up and will rotate 90 degress in one direction and 180 in the other. The system for positioning the head is tactile and intuitive and easy to operate, and after a few tries you'll be doing it without looking. Only downside is the flash won't point below horizontal, which is sometimes useful for macro work - get the SB900 if this is essential.

This is an intelligent flash under all meanings of the word. It has a built in zoom function, which means it talks to the camera, finds out what focal length you're using and adjusts how wide or narrow its coverage is - meaning you don't waste flash energy.

A clear LCD display on the back tells you what you need to know and lets the user make setting changes. Nikon have limited the number of hard buttons to keep things simple, but this does sometimes make life a little more difficult as you have to delve into menus to change settings.

There is a power button on the flash, but the clever SB600 will detect when the camera is powered down and turn itself off if still connected.

A fantastic wireless mode allows you to use the flash "off camera" - either on a provided stand, or a lighting stand. Advanced DSLRs will have a flash commander mode which uses short pulses from the on-board flash to trigger the "slave" flash.

Its clever iTTL (intelligent through the lens) system can seem magical when you use it with one of the advanced Nikon DSLR cameras. With the flash and the camera's CPUs in constant communication it means just about all the guesswork is taken out of using flash and you can concentrate on important things, like composition and framing.

Other stuff

The flash takes four AA batteries, loaded into a compartment on the side of the flash unit and secured with a hinged flap - which isn't lockable and does occasionally pop open while the flash is in a camera bag,

Supplied with the SB600 is a nylon, semi padded protective case and a plastic stand/tripod mounting plate - which can either be used to stand the flash up independently of the camera when being used in wireless mode, or if you want to attach the flash to a lighting tripod/stand for remote use.

The flash is listed as having a guide number (GN) of 98. This means that using ISO 100 film (or the digital equivalent) the flash is capable of pumping out enough light to correctly expose something 98 feet away. Naturally, this capacity is altered by all sorts of factors, including camera settings - but GN give you a rough guide as to the power of flash guns compared to each other.

The size and shape of the flash make it relatively easy to tuck into a pocket, or a compartment in a camera bag - and it is not too bulky when mounted on the camera to get in the way when carrying over the shoulder or round the neck.

Other options:

SB600 vs SB400

The SB400 is the cheaper model down from the SB600.

The SB400 is much smaller and designed as a lightweight flash. As such, it is not as tall and can only tilt up and down, without the swivel function of the SB600.

It takes just the two AA batteries, but also has a slightly less powerful guide number of around 70ft.

It lacks other features of the SB600, such as a zoom function depending on what length lens you are using.

If you use your flash very infrequently, or are concerned about the bulkiness of a full size flash - the SB400 might be a better option.

SB600 vs SB900

The SB900 is the model up from the SB600 and the flagship of Nikon's flashes.

It's bigger (much bigger, which can prove problematic) and better in everyway, as you'd expect - including the price. Professional features include lightening fast recycle times between flashes, the ability to use an external battery pack, extra accessories, Nikon's latest user interface and the ability to define the "type" of light produced, from concentrated to distributed.

It's really a high-end professional flashgun however, for professionals or extremely keen amateurs. For most photographers the Sb600 will more than provide what you need.
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Comments


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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Feb 2010 16:38:32 GMT
Doub says:
"The flash is listed as having a guide number (GN) of 98. This means that using ISO 100 film (or the digital equivalent) the flash is capable of pumping out enough light to correctly expose something 98 feet away."

Only if you have a lens aperture that operates at f1 - and I know of no such lens. GN divided by aperture = distance covered. So using f4 will give you correct exposure (in theory) of a subject at 24.5 feet.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2010 15:03:26 GMT
T. Stainer says:
Yep, absolutely right and well explained. I should have added the fact that the GN is based on a hypothetical f1 aperture (wouldn't that be nice though!) and it's intended as an easy base figure from which to calculate flash performance for other apertures.

Posted on 21 Jun 2010 17:31:28 BDT
Excellent review, thanks.

Posted on 4 Oct 2010 17:19:44 BDT
The SB400 does not have the ability to point down, it can only go from horizontal to vertical in 3 steps and I would have to query the guide number as mine sometimes struggles in conference rooms.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2010 22:47:36 BDT
T. Stainer says:
Apologies, slightly woolly wording - the SB400 just tilts up (and back down to the original position again). I could only go on Nikon GN - sounds like real world experience shows the flash up as less powerful. I don't own it, but included for comparison as it was one people might consider against the SB600.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Aug 2011 19:30:47 BDT
Hi
Lenses that ioperate @ f/1. are:
Made by Leitz
Voigtlander
and I beleive Nikon or Canon may make close to this make .
This is for infor not a critic of the writer.
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