why does the D300 pop-up flash fire in commander mode


TPF Noob!
Nov 12, 2008
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I'm hoping someone here with experience using the D300 with the SB-800 (or similar gear) can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

I'm trying to get the SB-800 flash to fire in remote mode without the D300's popup flash firing. I had tried this in the past and gave up but today I was reading Kelby and came across a section where he gives step-by-step directions for doing this with Nikon so I'm trying again to get it to work since supposedly it's supposed to do this. My trouble is that it doesn't work when I have it setup the way I think is correct. The <bleep>-ing popup fires no matter what I do.

I have a shot below of my settings. I have the D300 in commander mode, group A, channel 1 with the build in mode set to "--". With these settings, the SB-800 fires, as expected, and so does the D300 popup. What am I doing wrong?

think its sending the signal to the flash

That was shat I assumed when I tried and gave up on this before but the manual states it is pre-flashes and not the main flash that is used in this case. The main flash is supposed to be disable-able with that -- mode.
peanut's got it right. That's the way they communicate. It's actually firing before the shutter opens, so it shouldn't contribute to your photograph. It's the preflash they talked about; it's just happening so fast it looks as though it's firing regularly. Are you seeing the effects of the built in flash on your photo? Try taking a photo with the settings above, then try taking a photo with the built in on TTL or manual. I bet you'll see the difference. You could even try taking a photo of yourself in the mirror with the built in set to off. Again, I bet the SB will light up the room and you'll see the built in flash not lit up at all in the photo. Hope that wasn't too confusing.
Hmm... this sounds plausible. I tried the mirror experiment and the popup flash looked exactly like I would expect if it were firing under normal conditions. I didn't actually compare it to the non-commander case since my goal here is to have it either not fire at all or fire only at some very subtle level.

Here's what the manual says about the built-in flash "--" mode:

The built-in flash does not fire, but the AF-assist illuminator lights. The built-in flash must be raised so that it can emit monitor pre-flashes.

The above implies to me that either nothing noticeable, or something much less noticeable than the main flash is what to expect (Kelby describes it as a "small" flash but doesn't specify whether it is noticeable). What I'm seeing looks to me like flash business as usual but maybe it is "smaller" but not enough for me to notice.
It will emit a small trigger flash, and if you are close enough to your subject, it WILL show up. This can be a deal breaker for using Commander Mode for some shots, and it's reason to look into a wireless sync like the cactus V2 unit.
You can also set your Built in Flash to shoot TTL along with your remote strobe. I haven't played around too much with it, but it seems as though it could work well in certain situations.
Oh, and what I do get around the pop up excess is to use a deflector I hold over the lens, bouncing the light towards the flash and not onto the subject.
I guess I had the wrong expectations on this one. Thanks for the info, all.
Do some research. With Nikon's CLS you can use HSS. Your shutter speed needs to be 1/350 or faster. If slower you will catch the sppedlight in your exposures even at -- and lowest power.

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