Nikon SB-500 or SB-700

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Superfluous, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Superfluous

    Superfluous TPF Noob!

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    Hi Everyone,

    Wanting to get into flash photography. I currently do not own any speed lights. Which of these would you recommend as a first flash? I like the weight and portability or the 500, but it is worth it to sacrifice the extra features of the 700? I will likely get used/refurb. Thanks for the input.


     
  2. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Honestly, I would buy off-brand. Nikon flashes are HORRENDOUSLY overpriced.
     
  3. Superfluous

    Superfluous TPF Noob!

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    That is why I will get used/refurbished. What off brands do you recommend though?
     
  4. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I used to own the SB-700 for years -- I wouldn't recommended it as it really lacks any desirable features (although TTL-BL was interesting). The SB-500 has even less and really only works in TTL mode.

    What exactly are you looking at a speedlight for?
     
  5. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You seem to have skipped over the SB-910. I mean; as long as you're willing to consider a used unit, why not go for the latest and greatest?

    The SB-910 is amazing in what it can do.

    BTW: I think they all weigh about the same, and since you'll eventually learn to get that flash off the camera, the weight will no longer be a factor.

    A quick search on E-bay:

    Nikon speedlights | eBay

    It looks like the 910's are going from around $200 to $300 (+-)

    ps: What's your budget?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  6. Superfluous

    Superfluous TPF Noob!

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    Mainly looking to start doing more portraits and possibly some macro use for the flash. Like I said, I don't really do this kind of stuff now and just wanted to pick one up and see what I could do with it. I was interested in the 500 for just being able to keep it in my bag being that it is fairly light, but then I figured that if I'm trying to learn some flash photography, I might be limiting myself with the 500 so better to go with 700. Wasn't really considering anything more serious than the 700 right now.

    My budget is around 200-250. I guess I would prefer to go refurb than to buy used on Ebay.
     
  7. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have one for sale right here on this site. If you are in the US, I will throw in shipping, Nikon SB-700
     
  8. adamhiram

    adamhiram No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As usual, I agree 100% with @Braineack - I used a SB-700 for a few years, always in manual mode, and mostly for bounce-flash. When I wanted to take it off-camera for portrait work, the first thing I needed to do was go out and buy wireless transceivers, which still didn't let me change flash power remotely - only trigger it. Since then I switched to Godox/Flashpoint at a fraction of the cost, and haven't used my SB-700 since. The Godox units probably won't last forever, but they're 1/5 the cost new, and have wireless receivers built in.

    My recommendation for learning on a budget would be to pickup a Godox TT600 speed light with a Godox XPro-N transmitter for Nikon. You can get the same items rebranded as Flashpoint through Adorama, which will come with a better warranty. I don't recall why I went with Godox instead of Flashpoint, but the equivalent items are Flashpoint Zoom R2 Manual and R2 Pro Transmitter. If you want a something with TTL or that uses rechargeable batteries, there are 3 other models with variations of these features. Here's a link with a better explanation of different Godox models and their Flashpoint equivalents.

    If you still want to go with a SB-700 or similar from Nikon, I don't think you'll be disappointed, but you'll definitely get more bang for your buck with "off-brand" units.
     
  9. Superfluous

    Superfluous TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input everyone. After some research I decided to go with the Flashpoint system. It came with a transmitter free of charge!
     
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  10. WayneF

    WayneF No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It does have a Manual mode, except the SB-500 requires a camera at least as new as a D90 or D300 to be compatible at all. Because SB-500 has no flash mode menu, and instead uses the cameras internal flash menu for its mode, TTL or Manual. That does mean it cannot work off camera except in its supported Remote mode (which requires a Commander on or in the camera). Agreed, this does not seem like a bargain. I'd look at the Yongnuo speedlights today.

    And like the SB-700 and the third party flashes, TTL BL is default, but unbalanced TTL is determined by the cameras Spot Metering selection. No flash uses Spot Metering, but the camera ambient does, and since Spot rules out balanced flash, selecting Spot does switch the balanced metering mode.
     
  11. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Give it to Nikon to design the world's most horrible in-camera menu system, then design a flash that requires you to use it...
     
  12. WayneF

    WayneF No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree.

    A flash without a standalone menu to let it even be operational seems questionable. And having this button on the flash would be much handier than diving into the camera menu. Maybe it was one thing to do that in the SB-300 or SB-400, simple and inexpensive (relatively), and likely owners never intend off camera flash. The price of the SB-500 seems to exceed that reasoning though.

    I'm very happy with my two cameras, D800 and D300 now. In Nikon brand, I only have two SB-800 flashes (for ten years), and the flashes perform well and have been very reliable. I don't have the SB-910 to know, but consider the SB-800 the best flash Nikon ever made, it does it all. But I have questioned a thing or two about some of the flash system design quirks (generally meaning some of the basics of the camera metering system for flash).

    The TTL vs TTL BL choice should be a camera menu OTHER than the Spot Metering menu. Sometimes it is desirable to turn the default TTL BL mode off. The SB-600, SB-800, SB-900 had this menu on the flash unit, and that was great, but only the SB-910 is still in production with it. It's the good reason I keep my two SB-800. It's fine if Spot metering necessarily switches to TTL, but it is crummy as the only way to do it. Spot metering is very little problem indoors, because unless high ISO, the metered ambient is normally insignificant level to have any effect at all (the flash does not use Spot metering). But then we certainly have to remember to deselect Spot when going outdoors. If outdoors, Spot metering seriously affects the ambient metering, and seems beyond novices.

    Since the D-lens distance accuracy is so tremendously poor in zoom lenses (which itself is a don't care to me), then it seems very questionable to override the default TTL BL direct flash metered value because this faulty distance report imagines exposure should be otherwise. That means the TTL BL flash result on a hot shoe extension cord result is often seriously underexposed for that one reason. I have that written up at Non-Nikon brand flashes bypass the TTL BL Zoom Problems . But this problem can very seriously affect any TTL BL flash picture, depending on the error of the D lens distance. The 16-85 mm DX lens is a nice lens, but it is really bad in this respect (as are other others). The 24-70 f/2.8 is a pricey lens, and it has this problem too.

    It only affects default TTL BL direct flash. Not TTL, Not bounce, Not Manual flash.

    Ways to work around this D lens issue with TTL BL flash:

    Third party flashes do not suffer with this problem because they don't implement the head tilt switch for Nikon to know when to screw it up. The third party flashes don't even know about this problem, but Nikon flashes see it.

    With Nikon flashes, FV Lock will bypass this problem (on cameras with FV Lock). FV Lock knows you may re-aim the camera, and simply ignores the D lens distance.

    Or Spot Metering selects TTL, which is not affected by D lens data.

    I have that problem written up at Nikon camera TTL BL flash - D-lens distance data accuracy . A camera menu to disable that D lens effect seems very desirable. If we spend thousands of dollars on this gear, we should expect a bit more (more like the early days of Nikon).
     
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