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Nikon introduce Speedlight SB-800

22 July, 2003

Nikon have announced a new speedlight - the SB-800, an advanced flash unit designed to form the Nikon Creative Lighting System. Available in October, the SB-800 will offer refined exposure accuracy and faster recycling, opening the way to creative flash photography in multiple set-up situations.

The new Speedlight SB-800 introduces a number of refinements to D-TTL flash performance technologies, which Nikon term i-TTL.

Flash Colour Information Communication

The SB-800 incorporates a new system designed to improve Auto White Balance (AWB) irrespective of flash output duration. Flash lighting can exhibit changes to AWB depending on flash to subject distances. Long (distant) duration outputs tend to be redder, short (close) durations tend to the bluer end of the spectrum.

The new SB-800 incorporates systems that communicate flash output information during exposures to the image processing ‘engine’ of the new Nikon D2H Digital SLR.

The principle is to deliver uniform AWB results during flash exposures of varying subject distances.

Flash value Lock (FV-Lock)

The SB-800 introduces a new FV-Lock function that enables the user to ‘lock’ flash output over a sequence of shots, in the same way and using the same camera body button as the AE-Lock (AE-L) function used for ambient exposure lock.

AUTO FP High-Speed Sync

The mechanical shutter of the D2H has a flash sync speed of 1/250th sec. The new SB-800 can automatically set itself to FP (Focal Plane) flash mode should camera shutter speed rise above the standard flash sync speed for Balanced Fill Flash in bright light with high shutter speeds or fast aperture lenses.

FP mode outputs a series of smaller continuous flashes that synchronize at up to 1/8000th second with the new Nikon D2H Digital SLR.

Wide Area AF-assist illumination

Compatibility with the Nikon D2H extends to performing AF area assist illumination to the new wide 11-area layout of the D2H Multi-CAM2000 AF system, to deliver precise AF performance in lighting situations below the AF system’s –1EV (ISO100) sensitivity.

In addition to the refinements of i-TTL the new SB-800 incorporates innovative new systems for multiple location lighting arrangements as well.

Advanced Wireless Lighting

The SB-800 incorporates Nikon’s exclusive Advanced Data Communication technologies that enable complex inter Speedlight unit communication. The system is designed to make shooting with groups of Speedlights as easy to use as a single, on-camera Speedlight.

Up to 3 SB-800 units can now communicate monitor pre-flash data with the Master unit for fully automatic multiple flash exposures, removing the need for flash meters or manual calculations. The D2H Digital SLR 1005-pixel Matrix metering sensor is utilised to calculate exposures, and transmit each Slave output changes back to each Slave unit.

Additionally, for those desiring full creative control of the output of each individual Slave, the photographer can remotely control the flash modes of each of the Slave SB-800 Speedlight units directly through the Master unit.

The Master unit output can even be switched off whilst maintaining full control and communication with Slave units.

In situations where photographers may not be working alone, the Master- Slave communication can be 4 channel selectable enabling up to four photographers to independently control their own slaves to avoid the risk of triggering others using the same system.

Distance Priority Flash Mode

Increased control of flash output is also offered in new Distance Priority Mode. The photographer can pre-set subject distance and desired aperture setting, the SB-800 calculates consistent output uninfluenced by colour or reflectance of the subject.

Intelligent, powerful and complete

The SB-800 shares the same powerful GN of 38/53 (ISO 100/200, at 35mm), ergonomic buttons and locking metal foot with the SB-80DX but with a newly developed dot matrix LCD display.

The useful Modelling flash function can now also be triggered via the Depth-of-Field preview button on the D2H, enabling a preview of shadows cast without removing the eye from the viewfinder.

All of the above flash to camera communication is available off camera using the new optional SC-29 cord.

As you would expect from Nikon, the SB-800 offers consistent functionality of the SB-80DX when used with other Nikon AF SLR cameras.

The SB-800 package includes a number of practical accessories:

  • SD-800 Quick Recycling Battery Pack to speed up recycling times
  • SJ-800 Colour Filter System to balance tungsten or fluorescent light sources
  • AS-19 Speedlight Stand for free standing flash placement
  • SW-10H Diffusion Dome for soft, wide angle illumination coverage
  • SS-800 soft case.

Designed to form the heart of a new Creative Lighting System the new SB-800 delivers innovative and intelligent portable lighting solutions coupled to the latest advances in digital photography offered by the Nikon D2H Digital SLR. Available in October. Price is yet to be confirmed but it will be in the region of £299.99.