Curse of the electronic flash

Boney

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My Nikon SB-600, which I bought new a couple of years ago, just died. I checked the batteries 2 months ago and all was well. It has just sat in the closet and when I went to use it the other day, nothing. No charging up....nothing. I put in new batteries and still nothing. Contacts are clean and shiny.
I have had two old Vivitars die on me and a Canon external flash just die (which could not be fixed for lack of parts).
I have one quote to fix the SB-600 which is $95, with a 3 month warranty. I love the Commander mode for off the camera shooting and of course the TTL feature, but am leery about another flash. Since I have had such bad luck with these guys I feel that I must purchase a new one to get the guarantee.
Any experience getting these flashes repaired? Any off brand flashes that have the same features, such as the Commander mode? Is it worth the $95 to get it fixed? From what I read here Nikon flashes do not to seem to have the greatest reliability.
On another note I just read that Nikon is not going to provide parts to independent camera repair businesses! What's that all about?
 

SCraig

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Before you send it anywhere try this: Put the batteries in, hold it in your right hand with the front facing you and smack the side of it against your left hand. Turn it around facing away from you and do the same thing. I have an SB-600 that did EXACTLY the same thing as yours and digging around on the internet I found that sometimes the batteries will get in a slight bind or something and not make good contact. It just needs a light whack to loosen things up. I tried it with mine, and it fixed it.
 

tirediron

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Before you send it anywhere try this: Put the batteries in, hold it in your right hand with the front facing you and smack the side of it against your left hand. Turn it around facing away from you and do the same thing. I have an SB-600 that did EXACTLY the same thing as yours and digging around on the internet I found that sometimes the batteries will get in a slight bind or something and not make good contact. It just needs a light whack to loosen things up. I tried it with mine, and it fixed it.
Yo! Scott... get outta my head. :lol: I was going to respond with almost EXACTLY the same post. One of my '600s pulls this stunt on a regular basis!
 

tirediron

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-The SB 600 doesn't have a commander mode.

-If the above trick doesn't work, then I would definitely spend the $95 (after I got a second opinion) to have it fixed. The SB600 is a good unit, and they typically sell for $175-200 used.

-Nikon's answer is that this will increase the quality of work, ensuring that only trained, qualified technicians do it. I say they're just trying to keep more money for themselves.
 
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Boney

Boney

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Success! I put in a new set of batteries and gave it the technician tap(s) and nothing. Pulled out the batteries rubbed each contact gently with an ink eraser and reinstalled the batteries. Gave it the tap again and this time the charge wine and then the display lit up and the unit fired.
Thanks so much for the guidance.
As for the Commander mode, I stand corrected, not a flash function but a camera function. Thanks again guys.
 

runnah

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Always good practice to take batteries out of devices not being used for long periods of time.
 

Derrel

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Nikon MD-12 motor drives use eight, AA batteries. Years ago, I saw a fabulous sale on Duracell "Coppertop" alkaline AA's, so I went to the store and bought a BUNCH of 8-packs of AA's, all Coppertops. Got home, loaded up both my MD-12's with new Duracells...and neither would work...with brand new batteries!!!

I took the eight out of one, and swapped them into my F3's MD-4 motor--and it fired!!!

I took the batteries and packages back to Fred Meyer. THe electronics section manager was suspicious. I showed him...the devices BOTH worked with my normal Everready Energizers...worked GREAT...but they would NOT WORK a lick in the MD-12 units! He grudgingly took back all the batteries and refunded my money.

After that incident, I became much more battery-aware, and it was only when I went to work for a camera store chain that I noticed that some brands of AA batteries are manufactured with a tiny little bump on top of the positive contact...a tiny little nipple, as it were. I wondered if perhaps that caused a little bit more contact or something? I would say the bump added only 1/2 of a millimeter to the total length of the batteries, and that it seemed to be found mainly on Japanese-supplied OEM batteries that came with devices. Now, if a device doesn't work, I will try two or three sets of batteries, clean the contacts, and so on. I have found that cameras that need two A76 mini-cells can often be disabled by the slightest trace of finger oils on one of the batteries...
 

SCraig

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Yo! Scott... get outta my head. :lol: I was going to respond with almost EXACTLY the same post. One of my '600s pulls this stunt on a regular basis!
We have to stop reading the same web sites ;)

Mine just did it for the first time about a month ago. I put the batteries in my SB-700 and they worked there so I knew it had to be the flash. Hunted around, found the answer, whacked it against my hand and heard the caps start to charge. It's a pretty sound :lol:
 

Derrel

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Yo! Scott... get outta my head. :lol: I was going to respond with almost EXACTLY the same post. One of my '600s pulls this stunt on a regular basis!
We have to stop reading the same web sites ;)

Mine just did it for the first time about a month ago. I put the batteries in my SB-700 and they worked there so I knew it had to be the flash. Hunted around, found the answer, whacked it against my hand and heard the caps start to charge. It's a pretty sound :lol:

When I read that, I thought back to a certain Books on Cassette Tape manufacturer's tapes: each stupid tape had a brief voice intro, and at the end of each tape's intro were instructions that said, "If a tape refuses to play, remove it from the player, and grasping the tape firmly in one hand, strike the tape smartly on the palm of the other hand, then re-insert the tape in the player and press PLAY."

Gawd..my EX used to listen to those awful books on tape all the time....I don't know HOW many times I heard that warning!!! ARG!!! Your message gave me flashbacks!
 

KmH

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Always good practice to take batteries out of devices not being used for long periods of time.
In fact it says that right in the SB-600 users manual.

The battery contacts corrode if you leave them in for longer than a month or so. In some climates it can happen in as little as a week.
 

tirediron

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Yo! Scott... get outta my head. :lol: I was going to respond with almost EXACTLY the same post. One of my '600s pulls this stunt on a regular basis!
We have to stop reading the same web sites ;)

Mine just did it for the first time about a month ago. I put the batteries in my SB-700 and they worked there so I knew it had to be the flash. Hunted around, found the answer, whacked it against my hand and heard the caps start to charge. It's a pretty sound :lol:
Actually, I done did lurn that all on ma'h own! One of my '600s wouldn't charge, wouldn't charge, no matter what I did. Out of pure annoyance, I smacked it into my other palm.... instantly, "Whinnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
 

SCraig

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Actually, I done did lurn that all on ma'h own! One of my '600s wouldn't charge, wouldn't charge, no matter what I did. Out of pure annoyance, I smacked it into my other palm.... instantly, "Whinnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

You're smarter than me then, I had to look it up! I have been known to stress test electronic devices in a similar manner though. I chucked a CD-drive off of my deck onto my concrete driveway once. It didn't make the drive work any better, but I felt better ;)
 

tirediron

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Actually, I done did lurn that all on ma'h own! One of my '600s wouldn't charge, wouldn't charge, no matter what I did. Out of pure annoyance, I smacked it into my other palm.... instantly, "Whinnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

You're smarter than me then, I had to look it up! I have been known to stress test electronic devices in a similar manner though. I chucked a CD-drive off of my deck onto my concrete driveway once. It didn't make the drive work any better, but I felt better ;)

No smarts at all... just pure s**t-house luck!
 
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Boney

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Follow up.
After my success, I removed the batteries and tried some eneloop rechargeable batteries and alas it wouldn't turn on. Gave the tap, nothing, rotated the head and it intermittently turned on. This time I took the flash down to the garage where I have a stereo inspection microscope with a built in light source and can even get a look at the battery terminals down inside, all good, but I found that one of the contact strips on the battery compartment lid was covered with a grey cloudy film. I cleaned that with an eraser and sure enough I am back to a really functioning flash.
I am beginning to lose faith in Duracell batteries, the copper top guys. I have lost a blood pressure cuff, an older Vivitar flash, several small flashlights and a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones ($300). Duracell only paid me $200 for the headphone loss because the expiration date of the batteries was past. A $100 penalty for using them past their expiration date.
So the leave the batteries out warning is a good one.
 

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