SU-800 Commander & R1 macro twin Flash

Started 6 months ago | Questions thread
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dave gaines
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SU-800 Commander & R1 macro twin Flash
6 months ago

A couple of weeks ago I asked about the Nikon R1 Close-up Speedlight Remote Kit in the field. I wanted to know if people were using it in rugged outdoor conditions.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53022431

Now I'm wondering, do I need the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander to control the SB-R200 Wirelss Remote Speedlights? I've read through the manual that comes with it, covering the R1C1, the R1, the SU-800 and the SB-R200 and the camera manual for the D800e.

Using the D800e to control the Wireless Speedlights requires going into the menu under flash control mode, e3, outlined on page 303 of the camera manual. You select Commander Mode and then shift right to the options menu. In the options menu you can select firing for the on-board flash and flash groups A and B. No group C option is available in this menu. You can select TTL, Auto Aperture or Manual mode. In manual mode you can select from 1/1 to 1/128 power settings in up to 1/3 EV increments. You also select the channel to trigger the various groups of flash from the camera. There are 4 channels and all flash units must use the same channel in order to fire with the camera. The built-in flash must be in the up position and firing, though it can be set to zero output whereby I assume it fires an IR pulse. The system comes with a plastic panel that mounts on the hot shoe and provides an IR filter for blocking the built-in flash from lighting up the subject but allows the IR light to pass.

I prefer to use manual mode and set the individual power settings for each of the two flash units. You could use TTL or AA but, like using any flash, that requires you to know how far you can push the aperture before it underexposes. It also limits you to setting +3.0 EV to -3.0 EV.

Here's the catch: After setting up the menu to fire both flash at pre-determined levels, in order to change the settings on either or both flash you must click 4 or 5 steps into the menu to get to the options menu, then move around the menu to the two groups and power settings. You can't adjust the flash directly with a power output control on the flash head. It's very cumbersome and slow to keep changing the power settings in the menu and shooting macro as the subject and distance changes.

If you put the macro twin flash away and then try to use the built-in flash you must remember to go back into the menu and reset the flash control mode.  I did that a few nights ago trying to shoot a child blowing out the candles on her birthday cake and completely missed the shot.

Is the solution to use the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander? Reading the manual for this device it seems more direct and does not require clicking through the camera menu. You don't have to fire the built-in flash unit with every shot, which will increase the camera battery life. It's not clear or even covered in the manual how you set the flash control mode in-camera when using the SU-800 Commander. Does anyone have suggestions for using the SU-800 as the wireless Speedlight Commander for macro shooting with the R1 & SB-R200? Is it really that much easier than using the camera's Commander Mode?

Thanks for any comments, comparisons, suggestions or tips you can provide about using the SU-800 with the macro twin flash compared to using the Commander Mode with the D800.

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Dave

 dave gaines's gear list:dave gaines's gear list
Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom Olympus E-330 Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +7 more
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Nikon D800 Nikon D800E Olympus E-3
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