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SB-800's inconsistent flash in manual mode...

Hi all:

Did photos for Wrestling team last week, individual photos and group/team shot.  Set up two Nikon SB-800's on stands with radiopopper PX's, using the SU-800 command on Nikon D3s. 

Set the flashes to Manual, 1/4 power.  Adjusted until I got good exposure on the screen (somewhere around 400 ISO, f/4, 1/500th). Using x4 Enloop rechargeables AA's in each flash (they are pretty old, but the battery tester shows them as "good").

My flash was inconsistent.  One time good exposure, next very under-exposed.  I was able to correct in Lightroom.  

Wondering if I need to invest in new Enloops, or get external battery packs for the SB-800's.

Thanks, D.


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2016
    Hi Daubs,

    Couple of things.

    1] Shutter Speed, 500th? You are in High Speed Sync territory there and I presume the flashes picked that up automatically, being D3s. 250th would be plenty there for sure.

    2] Are you sure the flashes recycled fully, although at 1/4 power each they should be pretty quick.

    3] Are you sure *both* flashes fired together, ie 1 did not fire as maybe the batteries needed longer to recharge, or it did not receive the signal properly and it worked on a 'hit and miss' scenario.

    The Eneloops should last a long time, and if your battery tester showed as good (on each battery) that should not be the problem.

    I've had Eneloops for over 8 years and still going strong.

    If you have the Eneloop charger I would pop them in, do a full reconditioning discharge and charge again, if you keep just 'topping' them up, although you are supposed to be able to do, they do need that occasional discharge/charge cycle.

    My battery guy from his company recommended that to me as I was just charging, and a couple of occasions when I put a set in the charger, one would stay a solid red, meaning it was not charging, and I would throw that one away, but once I started doing discharge/charge over the past year, has not happened once. I do one around every 4 'uses' on discharge/recharge.

    It sounds like at least 1 light was not firing, or batteries did not recharge sufficiently enough.

  • Thanks Trev:  Yes, set the SB's to high speed sync.  Flashes were firing, at least when i tested.  I had thirty little boys anxiously waiting in line, so didn't have time between shots to check.  

    I think the problem lies with my batteries. I have an Energizer universal battery charger.  Been using forever, so these Enloops have never been discharged / charged.  

    Looking at the LaCrosse BC100 Alpha battery charger.  Your thoughts? 

    Thanks, D.

  • Daubs - I got a PowerEx MH-C800S, which charges eight at a time. Has "fast charge", "soft charge", and "reconditioning" modes. I got it for $45 on EBay, and I'm glad I picked it up.

  • TrevTrev Moderator

    I use the 8 pack Eneloop's own charger, which has a blue button I press if I want to do a full discharge/recharge, or just pop them in and they start charging straight away.

    The Charger Dave said above I hear is pretty good also, just that when I bought my Eneloops, I got a package deal on 2 sets, 8 batteries and 1 charger for $90 so I bought two.

    I do use an external battery pack though, Lithium Ion 4500ma/h. See this thread where I have links to them:


  • Daubs - since I only have Speedlites, and I am "parsimonious", I have two of these external battery packs. Less that $30 through Amazon. Some people have had trouble with them - loose contacts mostly - but they have worked well for me. I carry one around in a small shoulder pack during events.

    FB-1 External Flash Battery Pack

  • Thanks Dave.  I do have a Meike Flash Pack for Nikon.  Just hooked it up and it will work with my Radio Poppers.  It only holds 6 AA's for my Nikon, but should give me the extra juice I need in a pinch.   

    Trev:  Do you have any links to Enloop chargers.  The Panasonic site has BQ-CC55, and I found the PDF manual...but no mention of a discharge feature?  I think you all hit the nail on the head...I've been "topping off" these Enloops for years.  
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited December 2016
    This site (Australian) shows the one I have (picture at bottom of page) and you see the blue button to push once all the batteries are loaded to discharge.


    It gives some figures on how long it takes to charge varying mA/h batteries.

    This is eBay and price: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/like/111196619630?lpid=107&chn=ps

    Those are Australian, if you want another country the search code for that is: Enecharger NC8700 (for the 8 cell version)

    The 12 cell version code is: Enecharger JBC017-11

    That version looks like this (Australian site): http://www.batteriesdirect.com.au/shop/product/24896/jbc017-11.html

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