I am primarily an available light photographer and currently use a D700. I am thinking about purchasing a Nikon strobe but I am torn between buying one SB-900 or two SB-600s. The D700's ISO sensitivity essentially negates the extra reach of the 900 and the prospect of two off camera strobes is both exciting and daunting at the same time. I shoot a great deal of theatre and outdoor dusk scenes. Any thoughts?
One SB-900 or Two SB-600s(11 posts) (10 voices)
It depends on whether your willing to invest the time to learn how to really use CLS with two SB600s. If you are then your pictures will certainly benefit from using two flashguns versus only having one. Otherwise just get the SB900 and enjoy it with the D700.
How do you envision yourself using two sb600 in a theatre or at dusk? Are you willing to set up and take down all the necessary extras such as clamps, tripods, etc in a crowded theatre?
I personally love using CLS with more than one flashgun.
I dont think u can compare 2. as it is 2 different setups
really depends on what you are looking for
personally got 1 - 600 and looking for extra flash.... 900 is a bit pricey and big, got my hopes for 700 this year : )
There are certainly cheaper non-CLS ways to experiment with multiple flash (I'll also refer you to strobist.com).
I have a SB-600 and a SB-800 (now replaced by the 900). As a primary flash, I don't recommend the 600. Its fine for bounce flash in your living room, but for shooting outside, or in large rooms (say a theater... after the show of course) a little more power is nice to have.
The real problem with the SB-600 is that it's a real pain to configure. If you don't shoot with flash every day, then you will need to carry a manual around with you (not the one that comes with the flash mind you... its reads like they translated it using babblefish). The controls are not very intuitive, and the cryptic symbols on the screen are not much help.
Also, the 600 can not function as a commander flash. No problem with your D700 as you can use your pop-up... but if you ever upgraded to a D3 (or downgraded to a D5000 or lower) then you will lose any off camera ability. Also, the pop-up isn't very reliable in some situations.
Don't get me wrong... the 600 is a fine flash provided you can figure out how to use it, but for exploring CLS, you get a lot more for your money with the SB-900 (also some nice bundled accessories that will run you about $50 to pick up for your 600). Its definitely worth the extra $200. If you can afford it, I'd get one 900 (for primary flash \ off camera key light) and one 600 (as a secondary flash or for on axis fill). If that's to much money, I'd go the other way entirely and pick up two off brand flashes that you can set manually (I recomend the Lumo-Pro LP120) for just $130).
Quick follow up if you go the Lumo-Pro route... There are two ways to do off camera flash
1. CLS - You adjust the reletive contribution of up to three groups of flash to the overall exposure. Nikon then calculates the propper strength for each flash. This is great for dynamic shooting environments where your distance to subject may be changeing frequently. Like having an automatic transmission, it takes away some of your control in exchange for speed and simplicity. Wedding photographers love CLS.
2. Manual - You set the strength of the flash as a fraction of full power 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, etc. If you move the flash further away from your subject, you will need to increase the power to get the same exposure. For some people, its a more intuitive way to shoot because they don't have to guess what CLS is going to do. Take a shot... one of your lights to bright? dial down the power... too dark? Dial up the power... easy. Unless of course you have to get it right on the first shot, which is where CLS would be more appropriate.
If you don't need CLS, don't waste money on Nikon flashes (or do... they are very good). These Lumo-Pro's are just as powerful and you can nearly buy four of them for the price of a single SB900. You can still use your pop-up to trigger them, or go old school and use PC Cords. Or go new school and use pocket Wizards.
2x SB-600's. You will have much more creative control. I would get 3 if i could, then add a SB-900 when I can afford it.
Personally I would go for SB-900 especially if you are shooting large indoor scenes, high ISO helps but could not replace the good light source. Also SB-900 is much better flash in every aspect, strength, features (especially on FX), and ergonomics.
If you want to experiment with of camera flash shooting you could use built in flash with diffuser for front light, and you will find high power of SB-900 very helpful for bounced and diffused light.
Yet better solution for studio like setup would be to buy SB-900 and SB-600, not too expensive and gives great creative options.
I would opt for the SB-900, it's far more powerful in terms of reach, and would probably be sufficient for most if not all of your immediate needs. . .maybe get the SB700 whenever it debuts down the line?
I'm looking at a SB900 for my D200 so I can cut noise above ISO400, lol!
The power of the SB-900 is more useful for "fighting" ambient than it is for range, IMHO. I, though, second the opinion that two CLS strobes are better than any one.
I feel Willis sums my thoughts all up perfectly in his last post even though I disagree with his judgment on the relative value of the 900 > 600.
I just want sb-700!
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