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Nikon SB-600 speedlight flash may be discontinued soon

After a report from a reader that Nikon SB-600 may be discontinued at Staples, I decided to contact them and find out about the current availability (the SB-600 is currently listed as out-of-stock). The exact explanation given to me on the phone and during the chat session was that the SB-600 was "put on hold by the vendor" (Nikon) and the item is inactive in their system, which is unusual. Here is a portion of the chat session:

B&H and Adorama list the SB-600 as "temporary out of stock", Amazon: "Usually ships within 1 to 2 months" has it in stock.

Nikon SB-600 was introduced back in January, 2004.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenkirsh/ Stephen

    hm, I wonder what they could possibly do to change it but keep it below the SB900.

    • Anonymous

      power?

      • PHB

        There is plenty that could be done to fix flashlights. The technology has not advanced in 20 years.

        First thing is the battery system. When are we going to get a flashlight that takes the same rechargeable batteries as the camera? To me this is a no-brainer, I don’t want to have to carry two types of battery about. I want to use high capacity Li-ion batteries that hold a charge for a long time in the flash. The best rechargeable I can use at the moment is a NiMh battery that only holds charge for a few days due to the chemistry.

        Second thing is the mounting of the flash head. Most pro photographers prefer to use a grip to get better separation from the lens position. The grips are terrible. They are bulky and expensive and ruin the camera handling. And all they do is separate the flash head from the body. The same job can be done much better by a semi-flexible gooseneck or a telescoping mount.

        Best solution would be to have a system that allows different heads to be used interchangeably. Then you could have flash heads with different characteristics, a diffused head, a narrow head and so on.

        In the longer term, improvements in LED technology are going to have a major effect on secondary lighting. I don’t like using flash because a sudden burst of light is highly disruptive. The problem with red-eye is not just the fact that it looks bad on the print. The problem is the effect the technology is having on the model.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenkirsh/ Stephen

          1.) I do NOT want to pay $50 for a specialized battery. Current NiMh work just fine and last for MONTHS, not days. I can get hundreds of photos out of my SB900/800/600 set to 1/4 power.

          2.) Buy a 3rd party grip? Or don’t use one if it’s too bulky and expensive and ruins the camera handling… I love my 3rd party grip and can’t go without it. And I dunno wtf you mean that a body grip separates the flash head from the body… the grip goes on the BOTTOM while the flash on the TOP?

          3.) Red eye? Try taking the flash OFF OF THE CAMERA haha. That’s step 1. And if a single pop of flash is too disruptive, how disruptive would a continuous beam of LED light be? THAT’S disruptive.

          • http://quinnhystad.com Tomaocron

            ROFL!! LED laser beams blinding people…can’t wait to take that to the next wedding I shoot ;)

          • PHB

            Many of the press guys I know have a large grip/bracket that fits onto the bottom of the camera and have a grip on the right and a mount for the flash on the left. It is a pretty standard way to move the flash off the camera. I am surprised you don’t seem to have seen one.

            LEDs are not lasers. I am pretty sure that most pro photographers have heard of the high end LED lighting systems being used in video.

            Flash guns fire much more quickly than a shutter fires, typically 1/10000-1/50000 sec. That is why most DSLRs can only sync when the shutter speed is slow enough that there is a point where both the front and back curtain of the shutter are fully open at the same time. That speed is sometimes useful (see Egerton). But for most photography it means you are using a much more intense light than is necessary.

            A high intensity LED light source with the appropriate control circuitry could fire with 1/100th the intensity for 100 times as long. Instead of the fire burst starting and stopping with the shutter fully open, it would be possible to start the LED firing on the front curtain and stopping it on the back curtain.

            The main reason we still use flash for still photography is that the existing continuous light sources make the studio too hot to work in after a short length of time. LED systems take 1/10th the power. So my 1800W tungsten rig I use for podcasting would only require 180W – less than the normal room lighting.

            Main reason not to go for this technology at the moment is cost. My tungsten lrig cost less than a thousand, an equivalent LED rig would be 10K or more today. But those prices should drop quickly. Lighting represents 34% of US electricity use. Dropping that by 90% means eliminating almost a third of the energy used and an even greater percentage of carbon emissions.

          • Dr SCSI

            @PHB, I know where you are coming from, and I couldn’t have said it better. However, I wouldn’t have wasted my time explaining it to Stephen; I don’t think he gets it anyway.
            I agree with you about a revolution for lighting is needed. I think iTTL and ETTL are very significant changes which came out in the last 6 years, but now both Nikon and Canon need to integrate radio wireless technologies in their flashes, and develop an open standard. Right now there are so many versions of remote triggering systems, and the user is left trying to figure it all out while beta testing the various companies’ products. I ABSOLUTELY agree about using the Nikon batteries in their flashes, no reason not to. Hell, the form factor for 4 AA batteries takes up just as much space. And if Stephen would add up the cost of buying rechargeable double AA’s that don’t hold a charge worth a sheit, and don’t last more than 10 or 20 recharge cycles, he might realize its cheaper to go with a 50$ battery that lasts a long damned time. Off camera flashing, Strobist style, is where more R&D should be spent. Portability, power, recycle times, quality of light, etc all need to improve. And now that Nikon has added video to the mix, constant light via led light pannels is the way of the future. I would keep an eye on the companies which can manufactur day light balanced LEDs in mass quantities for cheap prices with good power output. Those are the companies which will make their stockholders rich!

  • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

    Unless they just remove it altogether without replacing it.

    • iamlucky13

      Gnohz – That would leave a pretty big gap between the SB-400 and SB-900 that is currently filled by what I’d wager is their most popular flash. Some would elect to go with either of those, but I bet they’d simply lose a lot of customers to third party units, especially with more wireless triggers available these days as alternatives to CLS.

      Of course, it’s also possible they’re planning to replace both the SB-400 and SB-600 with an in-between model. Anyone remember the rumor around the time of the D5000 release that Nikon had a new pop-up flash design that would replace the SB-400? It seems to me there was a patent involved.

      Micah – note the article indicates B&H, Adorama, and Amazon all show out-of-stock notices. I’d be surprised if there’s been a sudden run on a flash that’s been on the market for over 5 years.

      This could be good timing for me. I’ve been holding off on buying an SB-600 in hopes an SB-700 would come out and drive prices down. On the other hand, I wasn’t counting on it going out-of-stock.

      NR Admin – A request: could you post future text excerpts like the above chat as a section of blockquoted text, rather than an image? It will load faster, give you control over the appearance via CSS, and be more flexible to different screen sizes visitors on mobile devices may have.

  • http://micahmedia.com Micah

    How many of these flashes does Staples sell? Wouldn’t surprise me if they just ceased stocking a low seller.

  • http://kaophoto.blogspot.com/ Kaouthia

    Probably wouldn’t be that tough for them to update it a bit, but still keep it viable without impacting the SB-900. Give it an on/off/remote dial (instead of dodgy keystroke menus), keep the same power level bit give it a bit more zoom, a dome diffuser – maybe even a smaller version of the gel holder and gels that come with the SB-900.

    If it didn’t have commander mode, no SU-4 mode, no repeat flash without being a CLS slave, etc. It’d still be a good low cost solution for many, but still not damage SB-900 sales any more than the SB-600 has.

    • Ole M Helgesen

      Agree with the on/off/remote dial, just got my unit, and the setup is a bit fiddly.
      Otherwise, it’s a great flash unit!!

      • PHB

        +1

        The setup is just stupid. The relationship between the buttons and the modes is completely random. And what is worse is that because the configuration is in part dependent on the camera mode, every use can end up requiring a reading of the manual.

        • http://micahmedia.com Micah

          Really? The only things I change are between TTL and Manual and turning remote on and off. Sometimes I turn the ready beep for remote on and off.

          It’s a slow annoying interface, but who hell need s a manual to figure it out? I’d rather it be what it is and they keep the price down.

          • http://kaophoto.blogspot.com/ Kaouthia

            It’s the “slow annoying” bit that gets me. If you’re setting up a dozen flashes (high speed fp sync and repeating flash stuff before you ask), annoying is an understatement.

            I’m not even sure where my SB-600 manuals are any more, but I rarely even take the SB-600s out of the bag these days. If they were as quick to reconfigure as my SB-900s, that would probably change.

          • http://micahmedia.com Micah

            I could definitely set up a dozen sb-600′s as much as they need to be set up in a couple minutes. The only thing to screw around with is the A/B/C grouping. Everything else is controlled from the sb800/sb900/camera body.

            Actual lighting decisions are a whole other matter…

            I guess I’ve been using my CLS setup for a few years now, so it doesn’t really bother me.

          • http://kaophoto.blogspot.com/ Kaouthia

            I’ve been using CLS a while too, and it’s definitely a lot quicker on the SB-900s. :)

    • Omar

      yeah, they can just make it to only have On-Off-Slave dial (ala SB900) and a smaller LCD screen (just enough to show functions of the flash in Slave Mode and normal flash functions).

    • Richard

      One of the rumors a while back was that the SB-700 would have an interface/controls similar to those on the SB-900 which would be useful for people using both.

      The hardware itself probably needs to be brought up-to-date to use current production components if nothing else.

      • http://micahmedia.com Micah

        Production components? It’s a xenon tube and some caps. CPU for the remote feature. Not much to change really.

        • Richard

          Yea, but they change over time, especially chips.

  • NikoDoby

    Staples sold the SB600?!

  • mk

    Amazon list the SB-600 as “Usually ships within 1 to 2 months”. Not exactly “in stock”.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      did not see that, just noticed that can be added to the cart – I updated the post

  • D40 Owner

    To be honest, there isn’t much you can update in the SB-600. I use a couple all the time, and they’re great.
    But here’s a list anyway:
    - Make the user interface and menus more explicit and intuitive to use
    - Faster recycling
    - Add the secret Nikon radio wireless system : )

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      +1

      …why does all the whining and moaning come from people that don’t own the gear? I’ve got three 600′s and they’re great.

      • http://kaophoto.blogspot.com/ Kaouthia

        I’ve got a couple of SB-600s, and a few SB-900s too. The SB-600s rarely come out of the bag since I started collecting my little SB-900 army.

        If you’d ever used an SB-900, you’d understand. :)

        • http://micahmedia.com Micah

          I’ve used the 900. Sure is an improvement. But not worth a 300% price increase. If I were starting from scratch I’d think about the 900′s. But only think about it. The 600′s are still a great deal. Bought one for $269 and then got smart. Second two were about $130 a piece used.

          • http://kaophoto.blogspot.com/ Kaouthia

            The SB-900 is 300% of the price of the SB-600 where you are?

            Here in the UK, the the SB-900 only costs about 40% more than the SB-600. It was worth getting the superior model for me for that price difference.

            Used the SB-900 here costs about the same as a new SB-600.

  • Ronan

    SB-700, it has begun.

    I’ll stick to my 2 SB-900 and 4 SB-600 if i need flashes.

  • qztronic

    By logic, It should be!
    It’s a great flash though but I think we all agree a refresh would be nice.
    I have 1 SB600 1 SB900, I love the 600 not any less than 900.
    But perhaps, a ……700? would be kind of cool :)
    What you guy think?

  • Nikkor

    Wow.. never knew that Staples were selling strobes..

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      That’s what I’m sayin! That’s like saying Wal-Mart is no longer carrying the D700. Who the hell would have thought to buy a D700 at Wal-Mart?! I wouldn’t take it as any sort of sign that they stopped stocking them, other than Staples realized it wasn’t a major channel for DSLR gear.

  • Witty_Phrase

    Something else to think about is that if they put a couple of the advanced features into the new model (call it the SB-700 just for giggles) they could sell a lot more of them and more than make up for any hesitation around purchasing the 900. Changing the interface would be one really good one. If they added a sync port on it or possibly allowed it to operate as a commander it’d be well worth a little step up in price.

  • longtimenikonshooter

    what type of pros need sb-600 anyway?

    • j0elc

      Wedding photographers can make good use of them, sb 900 is overkill for most situations…

    • iamlucky13

      Cheaper CLS Slave than extra SB-600′s.

      • iamlucky13

        Oops…should read “Cheaper CLS slave than extra SB-900′s

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      They’re useful at weddings and for portrait sessions where you wanna pack light. Allows you to set up a makeshift studio literally anywhere, with gear that can potentially all fit in one pack–lights, stands, camera, everything.

  • zzddrr

    Why would you need a flash when the D3s can take pictures without it. Now, the same logic >>> next Nikon releases may have better iso performance so they expect to sell less

    (Just thinking)

    • http://www.deanshu.com Dean

      That’s ridiculous. Many of the people purchase the SB-600, 800, and 900 to experiment with off-camera lighting with Nikon CLS. It literally opens up a world of possibilities.

    • j0elc

      i second dean, High ISO photography and using flash off camera are completely different styles….

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      Sometimes you need pictures and light sucks. High ISO compensates for low light levels, but not poor light quality.

      You can shoot at ISO 50 on a cloudless day at noon in July, at pretty quick shutter speeds at even the smallest apertures…but you’re still going to have crappy light. Reflectors aren’t a good primary light source, since they’re always dimmer than the ambient light. Strobes can save you sometimes when you’re light is bad.

      • zzddrr

        My point I was trying to make is that when you have a D3s quality sensor you may use less frequently the flash. Such can result in lower sales of certain flash.

        Also, maybe Nikon is testing LED based sensors because if you have video in your camera then you would need something else….

        • http://micahmedia.com Micah

          Nah…you’re still missing the point. The wonderful quality high ISO’s just mean you can use faster shutter speeds than you used to be able to and can enlarge higher ISO shots more with less degradation than you could in the past. Flash will always be necessary for conditions of ugly light.

          Ugly light ≠ Low light. Like I said, you can have bright ugly light. Sometimes you have to shade your subject and light with strobe because of poor light QUALITY, not QUANTITY.

          • http://w3.gorge.net/schwanz Dan

            The D3s is why I just bought 3 SB 600′s to go with my SB 800 – I figure I can try shooting some railroad trains at night without buying mono-lights. I haven’t taken any flash train photos yet, but my back yard experiments with the SB 800, SB 600 combo at 6400 iso have been very promising!

  • Pat

    D700S with D3S sensor, 24-120 f/4 VR, 28-300VR for FX, AF-S 85/1.4, SB-700 all in 2nd quarter of 2010 then?

    • zzddrr

      that would be a big mistake from Nikon. Thom is not the only only who is saying that Nikon’s sale is down in dslr segment.

      I mean if Nikon cannot serve the people who want more than 12MP at least they should put that new D3s sensor immediately in the D700 body, add the video and most likely they will sell more than they do right now. Or at least release a new firmware for the d700 that enables the user to send text messages to Nikon :-)

  • zzddrr

    One more thing that made think. Have you read the Mar 22 post of Thom? He is kind of saying that there isn’t anything near in sight from Nikon to be released. Hmmm, this explains why it is so quiet. I think Nikon is in serious trouble with its entire dslr line and they have no sensor to plug into their new cameras. They better hurry because many of os want something new for the summer.

  • Segura

    Wish Nikon would come on already. My D700 is great and I love it, but if they updated it or replaced it, I would buy it already. I am a fiend for low light, but don’t want to pay $5k for the D3s.

    Admin, how about a poll to see what everyone thinks about a D700s with the new D3s sensor in it. Maybe seeing some numbers from us will help motivate Nikon to release it already.

    • http://www.truphotos.com gnohz

      Yeah, maybe Admin can start a few polls just to kill time :)

    • I Am Nikon

      Don’t you think you’re in the wrong place my friend ?

      ;)

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenkirsh/ Stephen

      ok… this is the SB600 thread, not the D700s/D800 thread…?

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      we had similar poll already: http://nikonrumors.com/polls

  • Segura

    SB-600 Availability
    Best Buy – Not available for delivery, and not in stock in any Houston, TX store.
    OOS – B+H Photo, Target, Arlington Camera, Onsale.com, Crutchfield
    Backorder – Adorama, Amazon (1-2 months)

    In Stock – Ritz

  • Cenk

    We need D800, not SB-700…

  • Ren Kockwell

    You know, up until now, I’ve just been thinking, “Well, Nikon is behaving like typical Nikon—taking forever and beta testing nine ways to Sunday to make sure they’re delivering a rock-solid new camera.” I mean, they set the world on fire with the D3 and the D700. How spoiled are we?

    But this update seems to be taking a very long time with not much in the way of promising news. Meanwhile, Canon releases product after product. Getting it right is very important, but getting to market is important too. I’m not thinking of jumping ship, but I am concerned that Nikon is not keeping up. What I hope is that Nikon is busy innovating and it will be worth the wait. But if the next release is in August and it’s a lame update with incremental improvements, that would be frightening.

    • Anonymous

      The are not innovating, simply they do not have sensor. I think they even run into short supplies for their existing models which explains why you cannot find everywhere the D3s and D3x. I think they do some one off runs for sensors and when they are out of them, they have to look for another supplier. This takes time.

      Also, I can see sony showing Nikon the middle finger!

      Otherwise i don’t buy the story that they take their time to come with a perfect product. I mean they wouldn’t have had the D5000 recall and most importantly they would pay more attention to quality at the top line. I mean, dead pixel issues, focusing issues around the D3 line etc. Personally, all of my Nikon cameras in the last couple of years had issues during the warranty period. Maybe I am not lucky but many of my friends had the same experience,

      I think simply Nikon just does not have the sensor otherwise there is no explanation why all of the Nikon cameras are 12MP (except 1).

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenkirsh/ Stephen

        yea I’m pretty sure you’re just unlucky :(

    • Not Ken Rockwell

      If you are really Ken Rockwell, you should really have a picture of yourself next to your post! Otherwise, any joe photog could put your name in the name field just to be taken seriously! C’mon, you must have at least one pic of yourself!!!

      BTW… Shouldn’t you be using a flash tray of magnesium to go with you your film camera? Just kidding; Velvia rocks! :D

      Graham

      • Discontinued

        You should read.
        Neither you nor REN KOCKWELL did pretend to be KEN ROCKWELL
        who gets knocked well by REN as well as by KON RECKWELL and some others … :-).

        And BTW,
        here is my favorite range of “Nikon” (or Canon)-Flashlights:

        mecablitz 58 AF-1 digital
        mecablitz 48 AF-1 digital
        mecablitz 36 AF-4 digital

        Made in Germany, USB for software up-dates or -grades and at least in Germany significantly cheaper too (though fore sure not cheaply made).

  • Crabby

    I expect an SB-700, the size of the SB-600, with some features that are now on the SB-900, and identical interface. For DX users, the ability to auto-correct the flash zoom will concentrate the light in the right places and improve the GN slightly from the -600. Likely bad news: $300 price.

    I’m still hoping for an SB-500 that has some of the features of the SB-900 but is just a little bigger and heavier than the SB-400 for $180.

  • Matt

    I have an SB-600 and like it quite a lot. It would be nice to have a more comprehensible command interface and a sync port. I don’t think Nikon will make it much more powerful, as it’s only about a third of a stop under the SB-900 as it is (GN of 98 vs 111, roughly f/10 vs f/11 at 10 feet and ISO 100). I thought about a 900 but so much modern gear is bloated enough as it is and the 900 is really too big for my camera bag.

    • geoff

      It’s about a full stop less powerful than the SB-900. I know because I’ve personally measured it. Also, those guide numbers are given at different zoom settings.

  • http://laelew.canalblog.com lew

    I’ve broke two SB600… :(
    Not very good construction at all. A small shock (dropped from about 20 cm) completely smash him out. The head doesn’t rotate as the SB800/900 and the wide angle filter is easily broken too ! plus, the menus are very crazy.
    really hope that a small SB900 will replace the SB600 at a similar price to his prior.

    • http://kaophoto.blogspot.com/ Kaouthia

      The SB-600 head does indeed rotate. 90 degrees clockwise, 180 degrees anti clockwise.

      • http://laelew.canalblog.com lew

        OK, but the SB800 as a bit more angle.

  • Discontinued

    Hi Admin,

    don’t know if this is old or new to you but it looks as if the 2.8 70-200 VR is discontinued as well as the 18-200 VR.
    nikon.de still lists both of them but several shops don’t list the 70-200 VR anymore and some therefore have already dropped the price of the VR II as well.
    The 18-200 VR is declared as “Restposten” (the last in stock, not to be ordered again).

    The latter was easy to foresee but the first might add a little bit to speculations, that another FX-Tele-Zoom of same or similar range but built lighter (4.0) and priced below 70-200 VR II could occur at some point later this year. Just guessing.

    • NikoDoby

      Both those lens have newer VRII models that just went on sale last year. So the older VRI versions are no longer being made.

  • edch

    Not a bad news

  • http://wijnands.blogspot.com JeroenW

    Before we go feature wild and start trashing the sb-600 let’s not forget that there’s a broad audience for a basic flash that still rotates and tilts.

    What a replacement needs, imo
    - more durable construction
    - better interface

    That’s it. Same battery as camera sounds nice but flashes run out much quicker than cameras and in a pinch you can get AA batteries just about anywhere.

  • SimonC

    Please, this is long overdue:
    - a better interface for CLS control on the SB-600 replacement. Current interface leaves much to be desired (putting it mildly..)
    - A flash head that swivels 180 degrees either direction.
    - Support for DX focal lengths. Zoom from 18 to 105mm.
    - Slightly faster recycling, support for external power.

    Just keep the same GN, price and especially the same SIZE :)

  • http://fotografstuttgart.de Hochzeitsfotograf

    whatever you replace it with, Nikon, put there real power Off switch like SB400 or older flashes had!

  • ArtTwisted

    give it the same styling as the sb900, equal left and right swivel like the 900, 900 like interface, done, id buy two to complement my 900. pros who need recycle rates, commander mode, or sheer power will stay with the 900.

    • http://blackbeardben.smugmug.com/ Blackbeard Ben

      Agreed – about the only things that could really be improved while remaining in the same market niche are to provide full swivel and a better interface. The SB-600 is a great flash already.

      Of course, built-in radio wireless would always be awesome…

  • Graham

    I was told by a Henry’s store sales clerk in Ottawa, Ontario that the new flash was to be like the SB600 but with the new buttons/interface of the SB900. He said it would be called the SB700. I sent an email to the NR admin but that was some time ago.

    Let’s see if my info was worthy of being posted! ;)

  • http://andybender.com Andy

    If they are pulling the SB-600, I would hope to see it replaced with an similar entry-level flash. The SB-900 is a lot of product for a consumer like me, and I can’t imagine Nikon would leave a void in their line up like that.. I don’t mind having slave only functionality if it means I can afford the hardware.

  • LGO

    NR Admin, if Nikon replaces the SB-600 with the SB-700, if there any indication as to when this will be announced … and whether there will be some new lenses and new camera body to go with that? :-)

  • Neil

    I decided it was time to upgrade from my sb-24 and to my surprise literally everywhere is sold out of the sb-600. And unfortunately it’s been like that for months. If Nikon were replacing the sb-600 and are phasing it out, where are the rumors about their new flash? Every online retailer I would buy from is sold out so I might run around locally and see if I can nab one, should I wait? I dunno, I’ve heard that the sb-600 is perfectly good

    • http://w3.gorge.net/schwanz Dan

      I purchased three in the last month and half – 1 at a time as I could afford them from Amazon. I got my last one about 2-3 weeks ago.

  • Neil

    Dan, I called around to come local camera shops and to my surprise, one had a slightly used one for only $99! I rushed over there and that thing was in pretty much brand new condition, no problems whatsoever. It was definitely a steal. I used it a bit last night and I was very impressed. Thanks for the heads up guys

    Neil

  • AlanK

    Am in the same boat myself as about to buy an SB600 but everywhere onine seems to be sold out. Can still pick it up locally for about £40 more but now wondering if I should hang on.

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