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I worry I might have bought the wrong flash? Please Help

juancarmenjuancarmen Member
edited October 2015 in flash & lighting

  • Flash Choice :

have recently purchased a Nikon SB700 flash( Guide Number 30 ) and feel that I
might of made a mistake in terms of power as this flash cannot provide enough
lighting when bouncing in high ceiling areas (5 meters) on camera or when I
shoot through an umbrella. I am considering looking at the Yongnuo YN568 EX II
( Guide Number 60 ) flash to do on camera functions such as birthday parties
and church events, while also doing off camea work like family portraits and

I swop the Nikon SB 700 for the Yongnuo YN568 EX II on the basis of more power
or do functions like TTL-BL ( which comes on the Nikon SB700 ) important for on
camera use?? I am really unsure on this matter and I havent been using flash
long enough (1 month now) to tell if the Nikon SB700 is sufficient, I do plan
to use flashes for work purposes and not just for hobby use. Please help me
with this as your experience will surely shine here.

to throw another spanner in the works here, what do think of a used Nikon SB800
(Guide Number 40 ) as a cheaper alternative as mentioned to the flashes above ?


  • TonyTTonyT Member
    edited October 2015
    If you intend not  buy any further flashes and want to use this as you've suggested then it maybe a little under powered for long bouncing. If you're going to add more speedlites to your kit then its not a wasted purchase then you can use it as supplemental lighting (rim, background etc) rather than your main light.

    So I'd personally hang on to it just change its function as your kit expands.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited October 2015
    From the instruction manuals for the Nikon SB-700 and SB-910:

    The SB-700 is a high-performance Speedlight compatible with Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) with a guide number of 28/39 (ISO 100/200, m) (92/128, ft.) (at the 35 mm zoom head position in Nikon FX format with standard illumination pattern, 20 °C/68 °F).

    The SB-910 is a high-performance Speedlight compatible with Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) with a guide number of 34/48 (ISO 100/200, m) (111.5/157.5, ft) (at the 35 mm zoom head position in Nikon FX format with standard illumination pattern, 20 °C/68 °F).

    The reason why I quote the SB-900, is that it is a known quantity for me, and I couldn't find exact info on the Yongnuo.
    Here is where things get murky when we compare guide numbers - the suppliers aren't always upfront at which zoom setting they are quoting the Guide Number. 

    For example, check how Canon quotes the 600EX speedlite: 

    Canon 600EX-RT Features. New wireless multiple flash system using radio wave communication for enhanced control of up to five groups of flashes. Zoom flash head covers wide range of 20-200mm; maximum Guide Number (197 ft./60mat ISO 100).

    Guide number of (approx) 200 ft, for 100 ISO for the Canon 600EX. You might be forgiven for thinking the SB-910 is much less powerful with a guide number of (approx) 110.

    The reason also why I quote the SB-910, is that the Yongnuo is most likely about the same. 

    So let's look at what the Guide Number of 28 (for the SB-700) gives us, compared to the GN of 34 for the SB-910.

    GN = f-stop x distance. 
    So, in a scenario where we are shooting with direct flash, 
    with the SB-700 we would have to be at 7 meters for f/4 (at 100 ISO, flash zoomed to 35mm), 
    and with the Yongnuo or SB-910, we would have to be at f/5 for 7 meters ... or about 8 meters for f/4 

    So you gain about a meter in distance, or half a stop in light. 

    Let's work with that then ... the SB-700 gives us half a stop less light than the Yongnuo probably would, if we go with this long torturous route of figuring out how much more powerful the Yongnuo is. Half a stop might not be much for some ... but for others, it might be crucial.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The Yongnuo YN568 EX II  does offer TTL flash, so that makes it attractive, with the slightly more power. 

    But it is only half a stop - as I mentioned above - it might be crucial, or it might not. 

    Something that put me off the SB-700 (vs the 900 / 910) is that it doesn't take an external battery pack. I use a lot of flash at events, so for me, this was important.

    You ask if TTL-BL is important ... I'd say it isn't all that important. It helps with getting more subtle fill-flash, but I mostly use TTL anyway when I shoot indoors.

    SB-800 ... I know this flash has many fans, and it still fetches a high price, but I am not that much of a fan of the SB-800. It has a finicky way of getting into the menu. It's a pain if you want to swap between Master / Slave modes, or just as a regular flash. 

    Then, if you use the BFT to flag your flash, the way the SB-800 tapers to the front makes the BFT nearly impossible to use. I hate it for that. 

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    My advice ... you're not going to gain much by swapping out to the Yongnuo. 
    Alternately, you're not going to lose much by swapping the SB-700 for another flash. 

    Hopefully, this helps ease your stress about the decision. 
  • Wow Neil, Thanks a lot this has really helped me a lot to learn about flashes in general.

    I do realise that it is only about a stop of light but it feels so much more. I had a Voeloon V760 (Same power as the SB910) and I could at least bounce from further back from the stage or for crowd/group and still get good lighting. yet I am trying the same thing with the SB700 and the flash is either beeping unexposed or doesn't have enough power.

    I am so stuck for choice.... I have contacted my local camera shop and they will trade the Nikon SB700 for $335, I think this is a good deal as it is near brand new.

    I have seen the following to purchase :

    Phottix Mitros + (includes the Odin TCU Transmitter) for $550

    Nikon SB910 for $570

    I did however hear that the SB910 doesn't have radio syncing ?? can you explain this to me ?? Also what your comments on those two flashes.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    I think you are referring to 'wireless' syncing, no, it does not, it's optical/infrared only, not like the Canon 600EX-RT which does, so you would need to be mindful where you have an off camera flash if wanting to sync it from an on-camera flash.

    Hint re bouncing: When you are in an area and want to bounce, to gain a bit more power, on the flash head itself, do a manual zoom in to it's maximum range, on the 700 I think that may only be 105mm, but on a SB-900-910, it's 200mm, so what that means is you may be shooting wide angle like 24mm lens, but instead of the flash head following the lens zoom to 24mm which would scatter the light a lot quicker and therefore lose power to reach/bounce back you manually zoom the flash head in so it will bounce better and it still gives a large 'softbox' feel but with that bit more reach.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    No, not "about a stop" of light. It's about half a stop of light.
  • NikonguyNikonguy Member
    edited October 2015
    As Neil points out, the other flashes mentioned have more power, but not substantially more power. If you are maxxing out the SB-700 and still not getting enough, then at best you will be at or near the max - or maybe even exceeding - the power of the other flashes you mention. In other words, I don't think some other flash is going to save you in this regard.

    Also as Neil mentions, the benefits of an SB-910 over the SB-700 are primarily in other areas like additional features - external power, more flexibility in swiveling, more zoom, etc. Sure, the SB-910 may have more max power than an SB-700, but that's not really the main benefit. For many photographers (most? maybe nearly all?), shooting somewhat uncontrolled "give-me-everything-you've-got" full-power pops from flashes is kind of a rare occurrence.

    So I think something else is at play here. Some troubleshooting ideas:

    - Might you be in high speed sync mode accidently? Check your shutter speed to make sure you are below (1/250 for higher end cameras, 1/200 for the rest).
    - Is your aperture too small? If you're shooting indoors at f/8 or f/11 (and you're not in a studio setting with multiple lights), you're making the flash work pretty hard.
    - Is your ISO too low? If you're indoors at an evening event, shooting at ISO 100 at f/5.6 and 1/250 is likely to give deer-in-the-headlights lighting of subjects and black backgrounds. If you up the ISO, it provides more from the ambient and the flash won't work as hard. Sometimes, a strategy is to set the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for a slight underexposure, and have the flash add the rest - that can mean ISO's like 1600 or higher at times - but it's sometimes better than the alternative.
    - Do you have modifiers on the flash head? Sto-fen, etc.? Those reduce power output.
    - Are you bouncing effectively? Sometimes it's better to bounce off a nearby light colored wall than a dark ceiling. Imagine yourself as the subject: where is the bounced light coming from and will it be effective and flattering?
    - Has the flash fully recharged before firing the next shot? For batteries, I recommend low self-discharge NiMH AA cells (such as Duracell "Pre-Charged" or Sanyo Eneloop). You get a quick recharge, and the batteries can sit in storage for months without depleting themselves.

    Hope this helps, good luck!
  • Nikonguy,

    I have gone through your trouble shooting and it doesn't seem to be any of those problems, this is my typical shoot method : 

    I shoot at a local church for special events and services - the ceilings are 4m high and white, I have the Auto ISO function enabled, I use brand new 1.5v alkaline batteries for every shoot, no modifiers, the only thing I can see is that I am trying to bounce from to far, as the stage is 3m away from the from row.

    I really do think I will need all the power I can get ? and advice for this kind of setup or stage ( see attached picture )
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    You should not let the camera dictate the ISO, I agree with Nikonguy in setting all your camera's parameters manual, ISO, Shutter, Aperture for starters.

    4m high ceilings and being white is almost perfect in my book for bouncing from, that's not high at all

    That image you posted is a massive depth and you would need to decide what was the most important, the stage, the crowd and a compromise would need to be reached if only using the one on flash camera.

    Did you know by using a Nikon camera in total manual mode, then put the flash on iTTL, you can also use the camera body's exposure compensation to give your flash an extra boost, apart from going full manual on flash also. So in theory you can max out on the flash head's with +3.0 ev and if not enough oooomph, crank up your camera body's exposure compensation along with it.

    And check what I said above about also zooming in flash head.

    I would start with ISO 2500+; Shutter 100th, f5.6 and judging by the lens you used, being wide you would also retain your depth of field.

    You have not given us any figures of what you were shooting with camera's settings, so at least we can have something to go by.

    As Nikonguy said, shooting at 200th, f8/f11 would be a big ask and having the camera's ISO set to Auto defeats the purpose of full manual control over ambient.


  • JC, I'm a fan of auto ISO in many situations, but using flash is not one of them. The camera has no way of knowing what balance between ambient and flash you want. So I really don't recommend auto ISO here - it may be using something fairly low such as ISO 400. Auto ISO so often seems to love ISO 400 for some reason.

    Also, per Trev's post above, give us some idea where you are shooting from, what focal length, what settings (aperture, shutter, ISO), are you just shooting the speaker on the stage or the entire stage, how you are trying to bounce the flash, etc.

    It's hard to offer suggestions without more info - it's just speculation on our part. Looking at the photo of the venue, I don't think a different flash is going to help.
  • Hello, I'm Nigel, first post here and very pleased to be able to join in the interesting discussions here .... Going back to Trevs post earlier where he talks about the effects of flash head zoom on the spread of bounce. This is a good point and it's an area we don't see much definitive information on.

    It was logical what was said about the zooming concentrating the light before it was softened by the bounce surface. I have been interested in exploring more the various effects of flash head zoom in non-direct situations, eg in softboxes and off umbrellas as well. My own experiments have shown limited effects in softboxes and umbrellas really, perhaps a slightly harder light in the centre of the lit area with a long zoom setting.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Hi Nigel, welcome to the forum.

    I have never used any normal speedlight/flash head in a softbox/umbrella, (always been specific 3rd party monos) but logically thinking, I should imagine that having the flash head zoom a little wider instead of zooming in would give a nice spread instead of any hot spots, especially if shooting through a softbox directly.

    It 'may' be of benefit to zoom in really tight on flash head for a single portrait with centre of softbox directly at subject's face and have juuuust that little tad of light fall-off on rest of body, don't know as I said never used a normal flash head in those scenarios before.

  • McGregNiMcGregNi Member
    edited October 2015
    Thanks Trev, that makes sense and is probably something to consider when deciding on the distance to the subject and intended effect. I found that there isn't much change to the actual spread of light coverage, as the softbox or umbrella still distributed the light from its full size even with maximum zoom. There mainly seemed to be a greater hardness to the concentrated central part of the light coverage, with a tapering to softer effect moving away from centre. There wasn't really a change in actual brightness from centre to outside as the diffuser would absorb and spread even the zoomed output.
  • Thanks guys for all the advice, I generally shoot in Aperture which is set to 5.6 and work between 4 and 8, please see attached photo information. thanks
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