SB-800 Woes... HELP.

Started Jun 7, 2010 | Discussions thread
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TheD70Kid Regular Member • Posts: 149
SB-800 Woes... HELP.

Hey everyone!

I've been doing event photography for quite some time now. Everything from celebrity events to civic events to weddings to golf outings etc... Over a hundred... all with my trusty D300 + SB-800 combo.

Last year, I purchased the SD-8a to aid in recycling time... and it sure did just that! It was great, all year.


I was doing a charity wedding and I knew something was wrong right from the start. It seemed that 9 out of ten pictures fired in close timing of each other were DARK. Not usable at all. I thought it was the batteries in the SD-8a. Switched them out. Same issue. Changed from my Energizer rechargeables to Energizer alkalines. Same issue.

I thought perhaps it was the SD-8a acting up so I pulled the cables and put a fresh set in the SB-800. Ready light = on. All systems go, right? Nope. It was dark. Waited for it to turn red again... almost instantly (I always use the 4 + 1 AA combo in the SB-800, even with the SD-8a), but to my surprise, dark again. Fired again for the hell of it and PERFECT I got a shot... waited 3 seconds... DARK.... again.... DARK.... DARK.... DARK.... DARK.... DARK.... OK... DARK.... DARK.... DARK... Good... DARK.... etc... I was dying. EXIF showing flash fired.

I ran back and forth between my battery bag (over 40 NiMH AAs ready on reserve plus 48 brand new AA alkalines). All producing the same results.

Never had this happen before.

I checked my camera settings... all good. No bracketing, no flash comp., no exposure comp., switched from M to P and still had the same results. Flash set to TTL with all standard settings no comp. and I even reset the flash 3 times.

Luckily, there were 2 other photographers in the team so they shot at the same time.

Another wedding tomorrow. Yikes!

I called in a favor from a family member. Run to the only store open this late and see if they have a flash. At this point, I suspect the flash. All that was available was an SB-900... at the low low price of $490 + Illinois sales tax... yum.

What a loss today. I feel miserable.

I got home with a hole in my wallet to find a brand new SB-900 at the door. I popped in the 2500 mAh batteries (I've used for 2 years now.. still great! And, yes, I have newer ones ) and proceeded with an experiment. Connected my SD-8a to the SB-900 and set the D300 to cH and fired off in TTL. It wasn't 6fps, rather, it sounded more like 4ish. BUT! all pictures were identical and beautifully exposed. Thought... ok... interesting. Took the 2500s out of the 900, put them back in the 800 and did the same thing. This time, the D300 fired off at 6 fps... noticeably. BUT! 3/20 pictures were "ok" or "good" but not as "excellent!" as the 900. I kept the SB-800 on and switched to single fire and fired at 2 second intervals... I was getting a 3:10 ratio at best of "ok" exposed images.

I'm convinced it's the flash... my beloved flash.

I have searched high and low on here and google... without seeing symptoms like these. Could I have fried it? Could it be a sync issue? Why does the "ready" red light come on and it doesn't even flash or flashes a "weak one"? Can I "send it in"?

I've had the 800 for over 2 years now. Do you think it's just done?

Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated.

... what a miserable day.


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