NIKON SERIES FLASHES   SB-600, 700, 800, 900 - LEGACY


-  The new SB-910 from Nikon promises to solve some of the overheating and costs 100 dollars more.  I have nothing against any of the NIKON strobes, they worked great for me for fifty years and I can’t remember a failure. It brought home the bacon (well Kosher bacon)  But as a former dealer It’s the company that gets me riled at times.  My gripe is "solutions to design faults that consumers have to pay for, for bad business deals that lose money like Ritz, Wolf, and the other COMP USA that went under, and tragedy like the Tsunami in Japan after the earthquake and the flooding in Thailand”.  Guess who ultimately pays for this. Find a mirror.  Why do we pay for their brain-farts.  Now with Calumet and Cord gone under with tremendous losses, look for a price hike.

Solution, make it elsewhere, and charge for the re-tooling of the product, format a different algorithm for the heat issue, not a cure, just a slow feature, steal the matrix from the 700 and call it the new top of the line and raise the price!

-  The new SB-910 which will begin selling for $549.95 replaces the SB-900.  The new speed-light flash has a few new features from the previous model, including these three main changes:  a new gui face, a bandaid on the heating problem, and a hard color filter reader.   A price increase of 100.00 dollars.  Thanks Nikon, just what we needed in this economy.  We are screwed again.  I have been affiliated with Nikon since the S1 rangefinder days (the sixties) as a shooter,  dealer and pontificator  and they sure have changed. 

A new gui (graphic user interface) that’s much like SB-700 flash. the buttons on the sb-910 light up, which helps for working in the dark.

The thermal cut-out function on the SB-910 has changed. With the SB-900, the flash shut down when it would overheat to save the flash head. This feature drove some photographers crazy since it would often prevent the ability to fire the flash in certain situations.  That alone should be a retro fix on the 900 for free and Photographers went crazy?  Nothing compared to the brides that folks wrote me about that went crazier when the processional and recessional pictures didn't work! Fortunately, my crew equipped with METZ units for backups.  The METZ 58 series works period.   

-  Overheating is common in small flashes but this is a design flaw to pack as much useless features and so-called benefits into a device which now requires six million lines of code, to work with the camera even though, 50% of the pictures I see coming in the lab are exposed wrong.   The camera thinks one way, the flash sees another, fifty blips adding insignificant data,  slow processor and buffer and you think it will sort it out when a bride is doing the fifty yard dash down the aisle. 

-  Instead of shutting down, the SB-910 speedlight delays its recycle time, which, while an improvement does not completely solve the problem. it does, however, preserve the flash head by preventing overheating.  Good for them, costly for you.  “It won’t shut down, it’ll slow down,” explained Geoff Coalter, a spokesperson for Nikon USA. “It’s another way to save your flash head”. 

-  Bullshit Alert!  No, it's another way to cover their asses, not yours because they are pushing the limits of what a strobe can handle in max buildup of capacitor heat, flash-tube heat, and Ni-MH batteries hitting 130 degrees.  Again I believe 900 owners should have their strobes updated for free from NIKON.  They hate me for saying that.

-  The SB-910 now takes the hard color type filter. it has a head that will read that and just slap it on and you’re done. it reads it immediately.”  

-  I'm not saying my way is the end-all do-all for the overheating problem.  But I shoot in Tampa Florida and we cruised in the high nineties last year, almost all year.  With humidity beyond belief.

-  The BLACK BOX has no internal batteries. That's right! We have no internal AA cells at 130 degrees that increase the internal temperature. NO heat producing AA rechargeable cells needed.  That cuts a third and bulk of the heat out of the equation. 

Also with the door off or open for cooling, it is the better way to go during those June-September warm months to prevent overheating.  The urge to shoot rapidly, too rapidly and not give the strobe tube a chance to cool is still the worst offender in the flash industry. 

Heat is the main killer in electronics, always has been and never changes. A dead strobe is the number one reason for not getting paid other than incompetence.

-  We use the cable which you supply to me from the power pack to the flash.  That is easily furnished online by your major camera store, preferably Adorama and B & H. 

All ABC vendors drop ship to me on a regular basis, I get about ten a week direct from them, saves postage and time. You pay them in your name and use me and my address for the shipping address. 


-  The part number is Quantum MKZ9,  and may be found at the usual good solid locations,  Adorama, B&H the cable fits the 900 and the 910.

-  We have had a rush of MKZ9 for conversions to DINS, so it's a good time to tune up. You might update your Black Box if it got years on it.  The MKZ9 is the usual Quantum standard issue and after testing they work fine, light compact and simple. A few features will be loved and the usual "door crack walkers" will rear their ugly heads. 

-  That’s what the Velcro is for. And the open door is a benefit on the SB-900 for cooling. Don’t trap the flashcube and capacitor heat in the case.  Read on about the overheating. The good news is they work great on the Black Box setup with incredible speed.  Quantum saved me many dollars not having to build specifically for the SB-900. They did as I had predicted since it was costing them.  

-  The new right part is MKZ9. It is very similar to the 600 cable. Quantum, has a good market position, no real competition. They preferred to make you buy one of their $679.00 dollar TURBO 2+2 or TURBO 3 packs plus a cable using the AC port knowing you have few choices. Now you have a choice.


-  The 900 presented a host of problems: Some caused by owners pushing the strobe usually at weddings and event, poor cooling design, some caused by losses, and deterrents engineered into the cobra heads, never seen before.  It overheated when pushed. Yes, the SB- 900 did overheat and did shut down on you. And not work. There were rumors of a forthcoming software upgrade in the works. Forget it. They never addressed it. The fix is mechanical.

-  They made changes to prevent problems their service departments have to contend with, for example shooters who overheat their gear. And as a manufacturer, you have to fix under them during the warranty period. 

-  Shooting fast, not letting the capacitor cool down, using an accelerated pack and Ni-MH batteries combined for double the heat buildup, and no air circulation is not a good idea!  Some like METZ have fans in their units for cooling.  Thus their units were technically abused and financially liable. So you alter the design to offset anything that adds to the problem. Heat control was the major setback.  

-  Heat killed more Nikon strobes than unplanned events like dropping, having been stolen or backing your car over your camera bag. This is what we do know. They did overheat.  The bad part was some triggered off worse than others, that may be because of location and what the circumstances are.  The overheating situation already made the forum rounds with the usual negative fervor with good reason!  

-  The black box supplies power just as batteries do only equal to about 20 sets of AA cells. The module in the flash does not conduct heat. The door slightly ajar keeps the temp down and no more AA cells to worry about. No more over-clockng with an external capacitor and no more chance of self-immolation.   I recommend the SB-800, SB-900 for the advanced amateur /prosumer as the 100-200 dollar difference isn't that much over the long run. You'll get it back when you sell it. When the 900 came out, with overheat problems, the 800's went sky-high. 

-  Very straight forward.  For the Nikon SB-800, remove the door and place the MKZ3 module in place, lock the retaining screw, connect to the battery pack and get to work. That's all folks.  Takes eight seconds. 

-  Most Nikon strobes from the SB-24 to the SB-800 use the most popular cable the MKZ3 which also fits METZ 54-58 comparable series.  The SB-s are very easy to use with the Q cable MKZ3.  Especially the  Nikon SB-800.

SB-700 - CHINA

-  Nikon announced the addition of the SB-700 which I have received to see what new tricks they have up their sleeve.  Street price looks like $329.  It uses a drunk square format for the battery pack module using the six, and nine hundred type resin impregnated clips,  as usual we change the RCA jack out to Din plugs free of charge. It uses the MKZ-7

SB-600 - CHINA
-  Just place the modules as the picture show and use the supplied clip as needed.  The Canon strobes (580EX) are virtually identical. Total time about ten seconds to set up.

The one cable available for the 600 is different because it only comes with a 15 inch pigtail which usually requires two cables from Quantum.  We suggest buying only one.  The XK6 and (drum roll please) at no charge, we'll DIN the cable and add four or five feet of 18 gauge zip wire to it, all soldered into one nice light cable to use on a stand if you wish. 

So just put it in the way the picture show. By the way, the 600 is not a reduced version of the 800 as some buyers will testify on forums.  It's a nicely done, less expensive CHINESE, off shore price-point option, well made for the following which was Nikons intent in the competitive market to counteract the sales of the aftermarket Chinese off shore brands. China vs. China. 

The 600 downside is it does not have any of the external connections for synch if needed, thus you'll use the internal wireless (Nikon Internal) for connectivity, the Commander or the SB-800 to send the signal.