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Dec 2, 2015
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Grand Rapids, MI
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I have a Nikon D3200 and am thinking about getting a speedlight. I am thinking of one that points straight ahead, adjust to straight up for bounce and swivels left to right with a diffuser on the front. Should I look at a used Nikon SB-800 or look into something else?? Looking for a better all around flash unit that can be used on or off the camera and not break the bank. Flash will be mostly for fill and whatever else you might recommend as am just getting back into photography. Thank you.

I've had an SB-800 for 10 years and six months, and it has been a very good flash. I bought it new, and it has been a very good unit. It works fully with Nikon's CLS system, does FP Synch flash (aka High-Speed Sync, as Canon calls it), strobo-repeating, TTL, TTL-Balanced Fill, Auto-Aperture, Manual with fractional power control, and has a VERY useful feature: with the fifth battery compartment and door added, the extra AA battery increases overall battery capacity AND shortens recycling times a pretty noticeable amount. One might not think that shooting with five AA cells would be that much better than with four...but adding 25% more battery is a very good design feature! I ALWAYS shoot with the fifth battery compartment (it doubles as the door to the battery chamber for the flash body) added. I've owned Nikon SB16,SB 20, SB-24, SB-28DX, and now this model...it is a great flash. It integrates PERFECTLY with the Nikon flash protocols---all of them...perfectly...and it fires every f****** time it is supposed to. it even has a nice built-in SU-4 (Slave Unit) mode.

I am sure somebody will come along and tell you there's a better "deal" on some made in China knock-off flash that's sort of close in power, and has most of the features, except three or four, and that is what "he" would tell you to get, becasue, you know...it's cheap. And it's almost as good...but you know, not really...and it works "mostly" how it should, at least by what he can decipher from the one-page instructional sheet and Quick-Start guide written in pidgin Engrish.

Buy an SB 800 flash only if you dare to expect that the thing will work in a decade, properly, every single time, and work perfectly, every time, with Nikon cameras. Only buy one if you want a professional-grade speedlight.
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if you want to stay OEM, a used SB600 or SB700 will do you well.
I have owned the SB800, SB600, and SB700 (as well as some third party flashes)
I dont care for the menu system on the SB600, but its a solid flash, and the cheapest of the 3 OEM's. the SB700 is a nice upgrade with what I personally feel is a much more intuitive menu. (you can get an SB 910 if you REALLY want to spend some money, but i have never owned one so i cant comment on it)
the SB800 is a fantastic workhorse flash. (ours were stolen by a photographer "friend" many years ago, and were replaced with SB700's) i would certainly not steer you away from getting one.

if you plan on using your cameras CLS system to trigger the flash at some point, get an OEM flash. I prefer radio triggers over the line of sight CLS system, but thats neither here nor there.

and now, since i have had time to erect a proper deflection wall for the inevitable barrage...i will mention a few third party flashes I own. (braces for impact)

I have 4 yongnuo YN568EX flashes. they TTL and HSS and have worked just fine on all my nikon cameras. I use them with the yongnuo radio triggers. (which also trigger my SB700s)
I have had the yongnuos for a few years now, and they have yet to fail on me.
I have also had a few of the older yongnuo flashes, both TTL and manual only.
i also purchased a Neewer 750II flash, just 'cause it was cheap and i wanted to try it. it does TTL (but no HSS) and works well with my nikon cameras and yongnuo radio triggers. ive had it about a year now with no issues.

When shooting weddings, my wife will always grab an SB700 for her camera.
I dont mind using the yongnous to second shoot, or in the brollys for portraits.
budget will play a pretty significant role in what flash you get.
Thank you Derrel and pixmedic for your insightful reply's. I will mull both of these over but I think I might steer toward a used SB800.
Almost a year--and no issues! Wow...China's got it all figured out now, baby. lol

Pixmedic is not the responder who I was expecting....but do note: he has ample flash experience AND has FOUR individual Yongy's. For the person who wants one, single speedlight, and is going to count on it working with Nikon commanded CLS triggering, and who wants FULL power, not "a stop less" and not "one and one-half stop less power" than a Nikon SB 800, then buying the prior-generation's top-level, professional-grade flash at a used retail price is a smart move.

The people that have one,two,three, four units have ample backup flash units, and usually a lot of flash experience, and are willing to trade reliability and 100 percent compatibility for low price and disposability. I get that, and I respect that. But for the person who is "getting into" flash, and who wants to buy once, buy right, I say go OEM flash. The added full stop of flash power is something the secondary-level units,even OEM flashes, LACK, and which can never be recovered. If a person owns just ONE, single flash unit, something like a Nikon SB 800 or SB 910, or a Canon 580 EX-II, is a very valuable piece of equipment that can be depended upon. The 100 percent compatibility issue....for example, WayneF mentioned that a Neewer 750 flash unit did not work properly with the now-ancient Nikon SC-17 cords he's kind of fond of, but he was willing to live with that as a "tradeoff"....consider the price of an SC-17 cord used, $10-$15, versus the $69 to $89 new-model SC-28 or SC-29 cords Nikon makes...

I have a 30+ year old SC-17 cord that works impeccably..and I have three, 1980's-made Nikon flashes that still fire. Yongy has not even been around as long as a bottle of bourbon I bought last month.

With a used Nikon flash, the old,outdated cords made in the eighties still works...but NOT with a new MIC knockoff flash...

I totally get the idea and allure of having low-cost flashes that work,mostly, but not 100 percent with the cameras some people own...but my advice skews a different way for people with limited gear and minimal kits they want to maintain/supply with spares/support with redundant backups/throw away when busted.

I don't recommend cheap knock-off gear to beginners, or to people who own one,single speedlight, and want to actually count on it 100 percent, for years. I feel that beginners and intermediates get the most "boost" from the high-level gear; experts can finagle and DIY and troubleshoot any old gear...I don't like retreaded tires or discount coffee or refurbished mattresses...but all are great deals, or so I hear from folks who buy those kinda things...
While the MIC gear is attractive from a price-point and feature viewpoint, I agree with Derrel; you can't beat a good Nikon speedlight, and the SB800 is, IMO, the best one they've ever made.
I often use a flash bracket, and I spent the money and got the $100 sc29 OEM nikon cord with the AF assist beam instead of the $30 third party brand.

Also, the neewer 750II flash has only been put since October of 2014 so....kinda hard to have had it much longer than a year. :)

Oh, I will also mention that for the first 5 years after we got into photography we only used SB 800s. I didn't get any non OEM flashes until I was only buying it as backup for backup gear.

Your mileage will vary though.
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There's no chance in hell I'd bring the VK750ii over the SB700 to a real shoot.

unless I just dropped the SB700 and it wasnt working :p
A few years ago I bought a couple SB-800s from here. This in addition to a SB-700 I had. I also added a Yongnuo (something - that was compatible with the Nikon SU-800 CLS controller).

Well the Yongnuo really wasn't worthwhile with the SU-800 and I ended up going to radio triggers - so now it works reliably in a non-Pro studio environment.

For roving, I've also recently started using a bracket for the camera /flash instead of the SB700 on top of the camera. Using the triggers it's too wildly looking so I'm looking at the Nikon AS-15 + cable solution with the SB-800. But reading above I'm going to look at the
Nikon AS-15.

Since I already have OEM flashes I would never select my Yongnuo over the Nikons. The Yungnuo has disappointed me too many times in certain situations/conditions. It's reliable in it's own right so far but still.

I've never tried the Yongnuo 586ex or similar newer offerings.

Also, I don't think your d3200 has the CLS system. So you would have to use a SU-800 or SB-700/800/9x0 as a commander on top of the camera for Off Camera Flash excluding using the camera's flash as a trigger, or use other triggers.
Using the triggers it's too wildly looking so I'm looking at the Nikon AS-15 + cable solution with the SB-800. But reading above I'm going to look at the
Nikon AS-15.

I bought a used Nikon SC-17 TTL Off-Camera Shoe Cord from B&H for $15.

All of you have been VERY helpful. I will take all of your information into advisement. Thank you.
After following this thread I am considering upgrading my speedlites........I use a Youngnuo 468ii and a couple of other cheapies......I like the idea of having the option to also use an external power source.....such as a battery pack.........I am a Canon user and have been looking at either used or refurbished........
Here is the link to TPF member and flash guru WayneF's review of the Neewer flash that braineack mentioned above.

Review of the Neewer VK750 II Speedlight

A couple comments from his review:

"I saw an incompatibility with the old Nikon SC-17 hot shoe extension cord (three of them). Sometimes it worked, but usually wouldn't, it could not see the camera, and it caused the camera viewfinder to show blanks for f/stop and shutter speed. Sometimes it will work if pulling the VK750 back slightly, not quite fully seated in the SC-17, sometimes there is a position where it might work (not easy to find). But there is absolutely no problem when mounted directly on the camera hot shoe."

" Based on the few I have seen, the following appears to be true of all third party flashes:
  • No warning of TTL underexposure at full power. This is a warning that the TTL flash has limited out at full power, but still cannot deliver the greater requested demand (for example, attempting ceiling bounce flash at f/16 ISO 100, which is not a reasonable try). My only real complaint. Such warning can tell us in advance that "compensation isn't going to work here, we have to reduce power demands". This is a standard feature on Nikon TTL flashes, to give warning of that situation (flashing Ready light and beeps, and LCD display of stops underexposure). This seems one of Nikon's best features, but it seems not a third party feature.
  • The Ready indicator in the camera view finder stays on permanently, does not blink to indicate Not Ready (communication)."
But again--the Neewer is a $54 flash unit, and if a person is not going to use the Nikon SC-17 strobe connecting cord, well, hey, no worries, right. Read Wayne's thorough review...it's pretty balanced, has great, readable information, well-presented.
I have that cord, and that flash, so I can test them myself. The VK750II seems to work fine otherwise...

I just always opt to grab my SB700 first.
I have that cord, and that flash, so I can test them myself. The VK750II seems to work fine otherwise...

I just always opt to grab my SB700 first.
Sorry for not getting back sooner but after weighing all suggestions I have purchased an SB-800 and am loving it. Thanks to all for your input.

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