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Nikon announces Speedlight SB-900 flashgun

By dpreview staff on Jul 1, 2008 at 04:03 GMT

Nikon has today announced its new top-of-the-range flashgun - the Speedlight SB-900. The new model features a Multi-step auto zoom covering a 17-200mm zoom range, three illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even) and automatically detects if you are using the Nikon FX or DX format. The SB-900 will be available from the 25th of July.

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Press Release:

Lighting the Way. Nikon’s new SB-900 Speedlight

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1 July 2008 - Nikon Europe today introduced a brand-new flagship Speedlight - the Nikon SB-900 – that offers exceptional high-speed, high-power operation combined with an extended zoom range. The SB-900 incorporates a moving diffuser and light source that can zoom from 17mm to 200mm in just 1.2 seconds while maintaining an even light distribution. The versatile new flash provides a choice of three illumination patterns (centre-weighted/standard/even) that can be selected to suit a particular subject. 

“Nikon Speedlights are widely regarded to be the best in the business” said Robert Cristina, Manager Professional Products and NPS, Nikon Europe. “The new SB-900 propels flash lighting into the future with really exciting creative opportunities available at the touch of a button” he added.

The SB-900 is perfectly adapted to both DX and FX formats, and will automatically select the appropriate light distribution pattern according to the sensor format of the camera to which it is attached. The SB-900 also automatically detects the fitting of fluorescent or incandescent colour filters, instructing the camera to switch to the appropriate white balance setting. Designed for today’s high speed digital image capture, the SB-900 handles repeated firing at high power with an improved booster circuit for high-speed recycling and includes a built-in thermal sensing system that protects the unit against overheating.

It is fully compatible with the other Speedlights and accessories of the acclaimed Nikon Creative Lighting System and can be easily incorporated into multiple-flash lighting set-ups.  Bounce flash capability is provided through a head that can be tilted up by 90º and down by 11º and rotated horizontally through 180º, making the SB-900 an essential accessory that opens up many creative opportunities to the photographer.

The SB-900 will be available as of 25th July 2008.


Nikon Speedlight SB-900
Major Features

  • Multi-step auto zoom covers wide 17-200mm zoom range (24-105mm:SB-800)
  • Three illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even) are available to match each shooting environment
  • Automatically detects Nikon FX and Nikon DX formats and selects suitable light distribution
  • Improved booster circuit for high-speed recycle time: Recycle time using four AA-size batteries is almost equal to the SB-800 with five AA-size batteries
  • New AF-Assist illumination covers a wide 20-105 mm focal range compatible with the new Multi-CAM3500 FX/DX AF sensor
  • Firmware update via Nikon D3 and D700 is possible (world’s first*)
  • Thermal Cut-out function limits the number of flashes to avoid deterioration of light emitting parts caused by continuous flash firing
  • Automatically detects color filters (fluorescent or incandescent), enabling camera to control color temperature according to filter information from SB-900
  • Improved switch panel for enhanced usability
  • Improved GUI using a large-size LCD dot panel
  • Bounce capability: tilts up to 90º, down to -7º, rotates horizontally 180º to right and left
  • Advanced Wireless Lighting and versatile functions for up to three remote groups of  SB-900s or other compatible Speedlight controlled through the master SB-900
  • Optional Water Guard WG-AS1 (for D3), WG-AS2 (for D300), and WG-AS3 (for D700) is useful for protecting the camera's hot shoe contact when the SB-900 is mounted on these Nikon digital SLR cameras

*The world’s first flash unit firmware update function via a digital SLR camera as of July 1, 2008 (according to research conducted by NIKON CORPORATION).

Nikon SB-900 specifications

Electronic construction

Automatic Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and series circuitry

Guide number (20°C/68°F)

• 34/111.5 (ISO 100, m/ft)
• 48/157.5 (ISO 200, m/ft)

Illumination pattern

• Standard
• Even
• Center-weighted

The light distribution angle is automatically adjusted to the camera’s image area in both FX and DX formats

Flash shooting distance range

0.6 m to 20 m (2 to 66 ft) (varies depending on camera image area setting, illumination pattern, ISO sensitivity, zoom position, and lens aperture)

Flash mode

• TTL
• Auto Aperture flash
• Non-TTL auto flash
• Distance-priority manual flash
• Manual flash
• Repeating flash

Other functions

• Test firing
• Monitor pre-flashes
• AF-assist illuminator
• Modeling illuminator

Multiple Flash Operation

• Advanced Wireless Lighting
• SU-4 type wireless multiple flash

Compatible cameras

All cameras compatible with Nikon Creative Lighting System (other cameras can be used but functionality is reduced)

Sync modes

• Slow-sync
• Red-eye reduction in slow-sync
• Rear-curtain sync
• Rear-curtain slow-sync

Shooting functions • Auto FP High-Speed sync
• FV Lock flash
Bounce capability

• Flash head tilts down to -7° or up to 90° with click-stops at -7°, 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°
• Flash head rotates horizontally 180° to the left and right with click-stops at 0°, 30°, 60°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°

Minimum number of flashes • Alkaline-manganese (1.5V): 110
• Lithium (1.5V): 230
• Oxyride (1.5V): 125
• Ni-MH (2600 mAh) (rechargeable) (1.2V): 190
Minimum Recycling times • Alkaline-manganese (1.5V): 4.0 sec
• Lithium (1.5V): 4.5 sec
• Oxyride (1.5V) 3.0 sec
• Ni-MH (2600 mAh) (rechargeable) (1.2V): 2.3 sec
Flash duration

Approx. 1/880 sec. at full output

Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 78.0 x146.0 x 118.5 mm (3.0 x 5.7 x 4.7 in.)
Weight (without batteries)

Approx. 415 g (14.6 oz.)

Supplied accessories

• Speedlight Stand AS-21
• Nikon Diffusion Dome SW-13H
• Color Filter Set SJ-900
• Color Filter Holder SZ-2
• Soft Case SS-900

Optional accessories

• Color Filter Set SJ-3
• Water Guard WG-AS1/WG-AS2/WG-AS3
• High-Performance Battery Pack SD-9
• Wireless Slave Flash
• Controller SU-4
• TTL Remote Cord SC-28/SC-29


These performance specifications are applicable when fresh batteries are used at normal temperature (20°C/68°F). Data may vary depending on battery condition.

Additional images

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