Nikon SB-400 Speedlight
Nikon manufacturers different Speedlight flash units that have different functions. The Nikon SB-400 has been specifically developed to provide photographers with an entry-level external flash unit which is compatible with i-TTL flash operation. It is a super-compact flash in a ultra-lightweight body at an affordable price.
Design & Construction
The Nikon SB-400 may be one of the lightest of the flash units and has a very simplistic look compared to the higher models, but the construction is top notch and durable. It is so small that it can only fit two AA cell batteries inside which are all the SB-400 needs and the battery life from that is pretty decent. To feel the real lightness of the unit, it is best paired with a light Nikon camera like the D40. With its reasonably powerful guide number of 21, the SB-400 is an ideal flash unit for beginners in digital photography, but it is also useful for hobbyists and professionals looking for a handy i-TTL flash unit offering an effortless bounce flash function.
Actual user review:
“Simply put, I am delighted with this flash. For under $120 you really can’t afford not to get it. The difference it gives in lighting your subject is amazing. Gives people natural skin tones and wonderful eye detail (no more red-eye). I posted some photos above (taken with Nikon D40) and all were taken in a basement with no lights on. My cats eyes were very detailed and no glare, red-eye, or any distortion whatsoever. Beautiful detail. My son’s skin tone is natural looking as if he was shot in daylight. A very nice feature, you can turn the flash 90 degrees and bounce off the ceiling! In my opinion, this is a must have, worth every penny.” – E.Lawinger (USA)
Features & Performance
One of the best features of the Nikon SB-400 lies on its ease of use. There are not as many controls to play around with compared to the rest of the models and some of the features like the manual exposure mode are absent unless they are controlled by the D40. The recycle time is also very fast with a speed equivalent to around three times as fast as the D200 which was known to have a good built-in flash. First time users shouldn’t have any troubleshooting quick shots at longer distances.
Another strong feature is the bounce capabilities which are responsible in softening the light and reducing background shadows to aid in the camera’s processing power to improve the clarity of the image. This is particularly useful during times where indoor shots need to be taken and the results are pretty comparable when pitted against the built-in flashes that are too close to the camera.
One the performance end, the SB-400 uses a special technology known as the i-TTL or intelligent flash technology to achieve greater flash exposures. Because it is compatible with all the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) cameras, the technology is fully utilized and will noticeably improve the exposure.
In addition to the recommended D40, the SB-400 works on all the other models that the SB-600 and SB-800 work on including the D50, D70, D80 and higher models including the D2X. It is not for use with the D100 or D1x because they lack the i-TTL technologies.
The SB-400 doesn’t have zoom or wide diffuser features, but then again, it doesn’t really need them because it is designed for wider lenses. It eliminates that annoyance where the built-in flash of those cameras cause a dark shadow on the bottom which is relieving. Along with the fantastic speed shooting capabilities and lightweight and durable construction, the Nikon SB-400 is definitely a top pick.
Average User Rating:
- “I had concerns that this flash would not have the power to do the job of lighting up a large dance floor in a NYC Club. I’m not sure how this would perform on a Nikon D2x, however, on a Nikon D5000 it’s a perfect match. Match this flash with the D5000, a $75.00 Stroboframe camera flip bracket, a $50.00 Nikon flash cable (don’t get the cable with the focus assist)and pick up a $17.00 Sto-Fen Omni Bounce designed for this flash. You’ll have a fully capable flash system. You won’t regret it.” – Jeff (FL,USA)
- “I bought a Nikon D40 to take pictures of our new son, and wasn’t happy with the way flash pictures looked: too harsh. I bought this unit for its bounch flash capability and have been very happy with it. It’s small, light, and uses two AA batteries. It communicates very well with the Nikon: for example, the camera knows when the flash is aimed up, it does can do very nice redeye reduction, and the user can control the power of the flash. The recycle time is just fine. I wouldn’t recommend it for shooting big groups of people in a very large room with high ceilings, but it’s perfect for shooting inside a house with standard-height ceilings” – A.Ben (Chicago,IL)
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