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A Great Flash for Nikon Digital SLR users - The SB-700 AF Speedlight Flash
Why the Nikon SB-700 Flash
For most amateurs and DSLR users, the inbuilt flash is more than adequate at lighting up your subject when it gets dark. It can seem almost pointless to buy a flash when most cameras already have one, right? Well, sometimes maybe. If your just a point and shoot kind of person, you are more than likely never to need one. However, if your a more advanced user who likes to experiment, change a few settings and take a bit more control of your pictures, then a flash may be for you. The main reason I purchased one was for portrait shoots outside. A hotshoe flash such as the Nikon sb-700 gives you more power, quicker recharge until you can take the next picture, and endless options of creatively controlling you light source.
Our rating of the Nikon SB-700
Appearance and Quality
The sb-700 was specifically designed with the D7000 in mind. It's not as big as the flagship sb-910 but it certainly isn't the smallest. The rear display is of good size with several pieces of information to let you know what mode you are in, flash distance, zoom of the flash head etc. Controls are well laid out, with well placed mode buttons and a wheel to turn to change values, meaning you can zip through setting values in a flash. A power toggle switch is a welcome addition when compared to it's little brother the sb-600 where you have to hold down the button for a second or two. All Nikon DSLR’s have a power switch like this and the Pro bodies like the F5 and D3 use this button for the metering mode, so it makes you wonder why it wasn’t always there on their flash heads. In the center of the power toggle is a button which you have to press to switch to remote and master mode so you don’t switch accidentally (this reminds me of my Nikon F5). My only quarm with the button set is the flash mode slider. These three options allow you to select a light spread patter such as group, straight on and standard. Its a bit pointless, I hardly, if ever use it. This is an option I would rather have been relegated to the menus.
Usability and Functionality
Something new to Nikon’s flash systems are two clip on gels to adjust for artificial lighting, incandescent and flourescent. The idea is if you are shooting in orange light such as a bog standard light bulb, you attatch the orange gel. This flashes everything orange to match the colour cast by the light bulb(s) and colour correct the image as a whole later. The same goes when using the green filter. However, the sb-700 now introduces auto sensing of what gel you have clipped on by a series of little prongs under the flash head. The flash then senses what gel is clipped on and lets the camera know. The camera body will then adjust the white balance for you eliminating the need to do so in editing. Brilliant!
As with most flash heads you can swivel the head to bounce light off walls next to, above and behind you within 360 degrees. As mentioned earlier by pressing in the power button and rotating the dial to REMOTE is it possible to mount the flash on a tripod using the adapter included, and fire the flash wirelessly from your camera body giving you complete creative freedom as where to have your main/complimentary light source coming from. MASTER sets your flash as a controller for using multiple compatible flashes in a lighting set-up.
Personally, I have found the overall power level of the flash to be more than adequate for every situation I have put it through. The only situation I can realistically see more power needed from a flash is for a wedding where you have big rooms and very large groups to light up. One omission that some photographers may have a gripe with is the sync port to connect triggers and cable from pro bodies. Seems as this was designed with the D7000 in mind this isn't a problem.
Available from £209.00, the sb-700 represents great value for money for a feature packed Nikon flash. It's bigger brother the sb-910 is a whopping £349.99!! For the price you get the flash packed in to a padded zip case, green and orange flash gel and a clip on diffuser.
- Pointless light pattern slider
- Not suited to demanding wedding photographer
- No Sync port.
The Pro's and Con's List
- Automatic white balance adjustment with clip on gels.
- Short recycle times
- Nikon CLS wireless compatible
- Updated rear pannel
- Knock proof power and mode switch.