Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nikon D40s, D60 With Speedlight Commander Feature

Most Nikon D40-series and D60 owners would know that they own the best DSLR cameras in the market at their price ranges. However, one of the more important things missing in these models has to do with light. These cameras have built-in flashlights. Owners can also buy additional flashlights (Nikon calls them speedlights) such as the SB-400, SB-600, and SB-800. The limitation is the lack of 'commander mode'. This means that we cannot put the flash somewhere else (i.e., remote wireless mode); we need to attach it to the camera itself. (Using a flash off-camera allows for more creativity in setting up the picture.) The only way to do this, it seems, would be to buy the SB-800 which can itself be configured to become the 'commander' to command additional off-camera flashes. I just came across something totally fascinating that changes this! Having recently bought a SB-800 (from at around SGD$150 less than the local price), I wonder if I have to sell my SB-400. It is sort of redundant and I can't really use it to 'command' the SB-800. It turns out that the SB-800 has a 'little known' 'feature', i.e., it can be used as a remote flashlight, to be 'commanded' by flashes of light by other flashlights. And in our case, the humble SB-400, or the built-in flash! The feature is called SU-4 type settings. (The SB-600 doesn't have this feature.) So I tested it out, it works beautifully! Two lights are so much better than one. So the way to enable these three cameras' commander mode is to cheat a little: by buying the SB-800! Now I can use the SB-400 as a bounce flash, and it will in turn fire the SB-800. More info from Strobist and Nikon.


Anonymous said...

This is the one thing that I've always admired about Nikon bodies over Canon bodies having to rely on an additional accessory to do that.

George said...

I expect one could use the SB-600 with a Nikon SU-4 or other optical trigger with the camera in the manual mode, to cancel the preflashes.