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Old April 26th, 2012, 04:24 AM
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Barders Barders is offline
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Flash units - one size fits all?

Hi,

I am looking at purchasing my first flash unit and as I have a Nikon D3100 at the moment, I wondered if I bought a flash unit now, would it only fit this or similar (less sophisticated) models or are they one size fits all sort of thing please?

I appreciate that you probably 'get what you pay for' and I don't intend to do a lot of studio or inside work(there is a very reasonable, well equipped local studio if I need it) so won't be buying studio lighting.

Hence, I would like to invest in a 'good' flash unit that will see me through some years and not have to change it when I change camera, if this is possible?

Sorry if this is a stupid question even for 101!

Many thanks in advance for your assistance. Lynne
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Old April 26th, 2012, 02:10 PM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

If I understand your question re "one size fits all", yes generally most flash units have a standardized "foot", ie base of the flash unit that fits on your camera's hotshoe which is usually mounted over the camera's viewing prism, ie top center of camera. More recently flash units have become increasingly sophisticated and communicate digitally with the camera itself. This communication can be proprietary to a brand and thus "fuller featured" than using other brands if using on-camera. Within a brand, the differences are mostly the power of the flash, ie distance range within which the flash unit will give satisfactory results, and the ability of the flash unit to swivel, rotate, tilt, or manually dial to less than full power. If using an off brand flash unit, make sure that the voltage used by the unit is compatible with your camera. Older Vivitar flash units (and others), popular work horses in the past and still now, can risk "frying" your camera.
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Old April 26th, 2012, 02:28 PM
RABaker RABaker is offline
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

Well, it is (kind of) one size fits all. Any current flash that is compatible with the Nikon iTTL Creative Lighting system will also be usable on an upgraded Nikon camera in the future. This will be true until/unless Nikon changes the iTTl system, at which point you will still be able to use the flash but probably not quite all the features.

"I would like to invest in a 'good' flash unit that will see me through some years and not have to change it when I change camera, if this is possible?"

In the current lineup of Nikon flashes I would recommend the SB700 - or SB900 if you want more power and a few more features. Either of these flashes will serve you well for many years. Nikon also makes a smaller, less expensive SB400 but I believe the power is too low, the features are too limited, and it is highly likely you will "outgrow" this flash too soon.

I have also heard good reports about the Sigma EF610 DG Super (make sure it is the "Super" model). I believe it is rather similar to the Nikon SB700 except that the head only zooms to 105mm FX coverage while the SB700 zooms to 120mm FX coverage. The Sigma is less expensive than the Nikon. [In fact, my main flash is a (discontinued) Nikon SB800 which has specifications nearly identical to the Sigma.]

Good luck,
Richard Baker
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Old April 27th, 2012, 03:19 AM
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

Many thanks Russ and Richard for your comprehensive advice and recommendations. I have started a list of the points you both made and will start looking at the untis you suggested Richard.

Thanks again Gentlemen, really helpful. Lynne
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Old April 27th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

The hot shoe on all Nikons works for all Nikon flash units from the sb400 to the newest models.

the SB600 should probably give you all that you need but a few years back I got a sb900 and simply love it.
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Old April 27th, 2012, 07:10 PM
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

Just to clarify. No. One size does not fit all. Unless you get manually operated and set flash units, flash units are brand specific. Nikon does not work on Canon or Pentax and vice, versa and not even manual units work on Sony without an adapter.
If you stay with Nikon the SB 400 or 600 may be all you ever need. That is not to say that Sigma Sunpak and others don't make flash units specific to your Nikon. They usually cost much less and have the same or similar functionality as the camera maker's units.
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Old April 28th, 2012, 03:34 AM
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

Many thanks agiledogs and Janos.

I will probably stick with Nikon as a system now, but take your point about mixing brands. I hadn't looked at the Sigma yet, but will do before I make my final decision.

Many thanks again to everyone, your comments have been really helpful.
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Old April 28th, 2012, 08:19 PM
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

I shoot with 2 D70S's and have the SB800 and love it for serious lighting but just picked up the SB400 to leave it on the camera while just walking around and I love it too. It is small and so simple to use, just turn it on..... Great for better fill flash shots. They both fill a purpose depending on the task. It is good to several as a back up is very valuble to have!
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Old April 29th, 2012, 03:12 AM
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

Many thanks Orv, that's a good point, having a back up. As I think I will probably be doing outside work, I only need it for fill flash and not studio work. My friend has both the 700 and 900, so I think I will try the 700, as I think the 900 is possibly more than I would need at the moment?

Thanks again Orv, appreciate your advice. Lynne
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 09:20 PM
MarkD MarkD is offline
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Re: Flash units - one size fits all?

I use an SB-600 and an SB-400 for different things. The SB-600 has more power and reach and it can bounce both horizontally and vertically. It is usually my go to flash. The SB-400 is much smaller and lighter. It is my take along flash. I can throw it into my camera bag and it takes very little space, adds very little weight, it's more powerful than the built-in flash, and it doesn't use up the camera's battery.

Unfortuneately the SB-600 is discontinued. The SB-700 and SB-900 are kind of expensive. Sunpak and Sigma both make very good flashes that are compatible with Nikons and are much more reasonably priced. I would take a serious look at them before paying for the big Nikons.
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