Nikon SB-900 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
List Price: $570.00

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Product Description

Powerful and versatile SB-900 works as a stand-alone flash, featuring wireless operation as a Commander or wireless remote light source. Expanded Auto Power Zoom Coverage - The SB-900 provides zoom coverage from 17-200mm in the FX-format and 12-200mm coverage in the DX-format. Choose from 3 light distribution patterns - Improve light quality by selecting Standard for general illumination, Center-weighted for portraits, or for groups or interiors. User-friendly firmware updating - Allows uploading of performance enhancement developments to the SB-900 with select Nikon digital SLR cameras. Color gel filter identification - The SB-900 automatically identifies mounted color gel filters and adjusts the camera's auto white-balance setting with select Nikon digital SLR cameras. Flash Tube Overheat Protection - An added measure of safety is provided for sustained high-speed bursts. Drip-proof mounting foot cover (Water Guard) - for enhanced moisture protection (optional). 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) Flash head rotates horizontally 180 to the left and right with click-stops at 0 , 30 , 60 , 90 , 120 , 150 , 180 Flash head tilts down to -7 or up to 90 with click-stops at -7 , 0 , 45 , 60 , 75 , 90 Output per set of batteries - 110 Alkaline-manganese (1.5V); 230 Lithium (1.5V); 190 Ni-MH (2600 mAh)

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.

Technical Specifications

  • 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
Features:
  • 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

Customer Reviews:

  • If you have a Nikon DSLR...
    Great flash will not over heat if you use regular ol' AA batteries.
    TONS of features......more info
  • Fantastic Flash
    This is a fantastic product that opens up creative flash photography to all skill levels. Nikon's CLS system is fun to use and there really seems no limit to its creative uses. I also recommend the Nikon School DVD "A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting" with Bob Krist and Joe McNally. I started using portable flash in the 60's with the original Honeywell Potato Masher. Oh, how I wished I had the Nikon SB-900 then!...more info
  • Nikon SB-900
    Recieved my sb-900, very quick. I am new to photography and thought a flash was only for when conditions were dark, WRONG! This flash has made great pictures even more fantastic. I have not seen any of the thremal alarms that i read about before purchasing this flash but i can definitely see that it could because this flash is powerful. It works very well even when i am far enough away that i dont think i have a chance of making a good photograph. I highly recommend this flash....more info
  • What were they thinking? Too large and less light.
    I already own the SB-600 and SB-800 and I wanted another flash.

    I read a ton of favorable and not so favorable reviews of the SB-900 but I bought the SB-900 anyway.

    After using the 900 for a few days, these are my pros and cons:

    Cons:

    The flash head is larger. I can't use my Gary Fong diffusers.

    The hot-shoe clip is larger (thicker?) and isn't easily compatible with the other SB mounting brackets. If you accidentally put the SB-900 hot-shoe into a SB-600/800 bracket, it's a bear to remove. I'm lucky that I didn't break the flash unit when I removed it from the bracket.

    As you probably already know, the mounting threads is made out of plastic. Nikon, could you please tell us who and why made this really dumb, cheap decision?

    This is the show-stopper for me: The SB-900 produces significantly less light than the SB-800. As a test, I took a picture of my living room with the SB-800 and the SB-900. I used good, freshly charged batteries for both units. The SB-900 required about 4 additional fstops to achieve the same illumination as the SB-800. That's nuts.

    [Jan 27, 09 update: I re-compared the 800/900 unit output by setting everything to manual and reshot. This time the 900 seemed to produce more output. I believe I was somewhat harsh (i.e., my testing methodology was somewhat lacking) in my first review. I placed an order while the 800 was in stock and by the time they tried to fill my order, they were all gone so I guess I have to keep the 900. Nikon, why did you stop making a product that so many people loved?]

    The SB-900 is large. Much larger than the SB-800. You won't appreciate just how much larger the SB-900 is until you have it on your camera. There isn't a world of size difference between the 600 and 800. I can easily store the 600 & 800 in my camera bag but the 900 case is huge and won't fit.

    Perfunctory Pros:

    Some reviewers have written that the LCD is much easier to read on the SB-800 but I didn't notice a significant difference. It's not like I'm going to read the entire New York Times on the LCD.

    One switch to jump from master to slave. Big deal. How often do you switch from master to slave each day anyway?

    Firmware support. I couldn't care less.

    Ability to change light pattern. Again, another unimpressive feature.

    As an aside, some people have complained that the button to change modes (on/off/master/slave) is too small but if you just press the button and the switch at the same time, it's no big deal to change modes.

    Conclusion: I'm sending the 900 back and I bought another SB-800. I think Nikon is making a disastrous mistake in discontinuing the SB-800. They should offer both models but I can't think of one compelling reason why anyone needs the 900.

    [Update: I thought I bought an 800 (my order was accepted and my credit card charged) but as I mentioned above, they were gone when they attempted to fill my order. I found some other 800's but they're now selling for significantly more than the 900's]...more info
  • Flash is good, service was super
    The SB-900 flash is a definite improvement over the SB-800. Beach Camera service was fast and efficient - and reasonable priced too....more info
  • Looks ready for battle, but turns out to be a delicate flower
    I shot two weddings this weekend and the SB-900 didn't even make it out of my case for the second one. It overheats unbelievably quickly, after hardly a dozen shots at full power, and then it does a thermal shutdown -- meaning it emits a series of pinball machine-esque beeps and then refuses to operate for a few minutes until the internal temperature goes down far enough. Pretty bad if you're in the middle of taking group photos, and twenty pairs of eyes are on you. What are you supposed to do -- tell everyone to wait around until the flash is good 'n' ready again? With this limitation, it's just not a tool that's remotely acceptable to a pro.

    (Of course, if you don't shoot events, and can take your time between flashed photos, what is a critical point to me may well be unimportant to you.)

    I suppose it makes sense for Nikon to err on the side of caution, but I'm glad my SB-800s seem to be made of sturdier stuff. True, you can't keep flashing away with the SB-800 either -- Nikon recommends cooling its bigger speedlights for at least ten minutes after bursts of heavy and sustained flash use -- but I haven't run up against a practical limitation. I work my SB-800 speedlights hard, and so far (four years and counting) I haven't burned one out yet.

    As for the SB-900, it's surprising that a flash this expensive is such a delicate flower, so prone to overheating. In that regard, it may actually be just a little too big & powerful for its own good.

    I believe you can elect (somewhere in the menu) not to have the thing turn itself off when it gets too hot, so perhaps you can wring the same performance and stamina from the SB-900 that you can from the SB-800. But while it'd be no fun to burn out a 300-dollar flash, it'd be especially painful to accidentally bump off its considerably more expensive big brother. So I'm going back to my three SB-800s, and the SB-900 is going back to Amazon for a refund....more info
  • Great flash, but large
    As good as the SB800 is over the old SB28 that I used on my D1, is how much better the SB900 is over the SB800. Fast, powerful, a bit large, so you are going to be even more obvious, which will float some boats anyhow, but an almost - too - powerful primary. Highly recommended....more info
  • Lots of misinformation in review of this flash
    I can't believe the amount of misinformation presented in customer reviews for this product.

    First of all, it is true -- Nikon added a thermal cut-off that allows the customer to be absolutely certain that the flash never overheats. If that sensor is turned on, the flash really can't shoot fast enough or often enough for professional usage -- particularly for weddings.

    However, the flash is no more delicate than previous Nikon and Canon speedlights. Every Nikon and Canon flash has a duty cycle that virtually all professionals ignore, and yet -- we get years of usage from the flashes with no problem. I can't tell you the number of times I've taken batteries out of my flashes that were simply too hot to hold, and the flash housing was burning hot too. If you turn off the thermal cut-off, the SB-900 will behave just like earlier flashes like the SB-800, in terms of overheating.

    So the simple answer is. . . if you turn off the thermal sensor, the SB-900 is at least as useful as a professional tool as it's predecessors -- no more, no less susceptible to overheating. I don't know why Nikon and Canon are so conservative in the duty-cycle ratings of their flashes, but I've talked with dozens of fellow pros over the years -- we all abuse the flashes, and we all rarely have issues.

    As far as batteries go, Nikon fully supports and recommends the use of NiMH batteries -- both normal and Eneloops. The chart in the manual shows NiMH as being the best combination for a good number of pops and the shortest recycling time. Only the expensive Lithium non-rechargeables have better battery life, but they have a recycle time almost double NiMH. Alkalines give the smallest number of pops, and have the second longest recycle time.

    So fear not -- the SB-900 is the nicest speedlight I've owned yet -- I like it far better than it's predecessors. Turn off the thermal sensor as soon as you take the flash out of the box, load it up with Eneloop batteries, and you will experience flash nirvana.

    Finally, I highly recommend the SD-9 accessory battery pack. Load it up with Eneloops, and you can easily shoot an entire wedding without swapping batteries, while enjoying the fastest recycle time possible....more info
  • Excellent flash, free shipping = poor packing
    This flash is great -- overpriced by about $100 for what it does, not a whole lot more than what the SB800 does, adds a few bells and whistles and has much better layout of controls. Wait a few months and it will be more realistically priced, $350 ought to be the top price. Amazon has already shaved $20 off it since I fell for it.

    Amazon's packing department ought to go back to school They just threw the flash in a box with one plastic bubble. It banged around a lot during shipping. Poor job....more info
  • A nice improvement over the SB800
    I just shot a roller derby practice with this flash and didn't run into the thermal shutdown issues others have had. Perhaps they got touchy units. I love the different flash patterns. There are three: Even, Center-weighted, and standard. "Even" truly lights up the entire frame evenly. I really like the fact that this flash zooms to 200mm as that is my farthest reaching lens. My only complaint is that in FX mode, it will only expand to 17mm (with the wide angle filter out) and I have a 16mm fisheye. Needless to say, the corners are dark. My SB800 will accommodate down to 14mm. I will hang onto my 800 for that reason, plus the Nikon Creative Lighting System rocks! The more flashes in your bag, the better.
    Cameras used: D300, D700, and F100 ...more info
  • LOVE IT!
    Amazing, fast, so many options. I have just skimmed the surface of what it can do and I am in love....more info
  • Excellent Flash
    I purchased this as a replacement for an SB600 as my main on-shoe flash, and as a second flash for off-camera strobes in my basement studio. I love this flash, especially compared to the 600, for no other reason than changing it from normal to master or remote is as simple as turning a dial. With the 600, it's an exercise in multi-button torture to get it into remote mode!

    I can't compare it to the 800 to say whether it is better or worse than, but compared to the 600 it's a great flash if you are doing anything beyond basic on-camera work....more info
  • Overheats silly fast
    It's a great flash with great features. Too bad it overheats in less than 10 pictures when shooting in dimly lit areas. Outdoors, in TTL BL mode where the flash is providing just a little fill light, it doesn't seem to overheat.

    This is a SERIOUS problem, and the eeprom update Nikon provided to fix the problem update won't work with my camera (D80), so I'm SOL.

    Bad......very bad. ...more info
  • shooting at a moderate rate
    I purchased the Nikon SB-900 AF Speedlight after reading most of the reviews and comments here at Amazon and others on-line. I was a little concerned about the temperature problem, however the SB-800 is not available anymore. I shot a wedding two days after I received the flash and did not have a great deal of time testing it. I am an amateur photographer and agreed to doing the candits, but leave formal portraits to the studios. After shooting 107 pictures inside a church the flash over heated and it took me by surprise. It happend very quickly. I was aware of the problem and carefully selected batteries. The flash does not like rapid firing and the indicator on the LCD clearly shows the temperature increasing. It took an amazing 10 minutes to cool down. Afterwards I closely monitored the temperature indicator and slowed down taking pictures when the indicator reached the half-way point. That seemed to work for me and I took an additional 500 pictures in three hours. Still suffered overheating it one more time when the bride tossed the bouquet. I used the diffuser most of the time and I am very satisfied with the quality of the photos. I will need to take the time out and learn to run the flash with less energy output, adjusting it in the manual mode. I recommend packing an additional camera and flash when shooting a wedding or other time critical event. I still love the flash! ...more info