SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Started Dec 2, 2011 | Discussions
vockman Regular Member • Posts: 394
SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Now that it looks like the overheating issue with the SB-900 may have been fixed (although I know some people have never had a problem with it) I am curious to know, if you are familiar with the SB 800 and the SB 900:

Is the quality of the light on the SB 900 noticeably better than the SB 800?

Are the iTTL exposures more consistent and accurate?

Is the CLS sensor more sensitive when the flash is used as a remote?

I have been happily using the SB800's all this time but at this point they are bound to start burning out.

Thanks

Sugarbaker
Sugarbaker Regular Member • Posts: 146
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

I may be in the minority, but I find that I end up using my SB800 more than my 900... I do appreciate the 900 for it's easy-to-navigate controls. That being said, for most of my portrait work, the quality of light is negligible... and tends to be more closely related to what I'm bouncing my flash on (do note that I've altered my 800 to rotate around a full 180 degrees in both directions. I also like the smaller size of my 800.

Anyway, I'm curious to try a 910, but when it comes down to it, my habit is to grab the 800.

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Zenist
Zenist Regular Member • Posts: 340
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

I got 2 x SB800's. I have not used the 900 but I have read too many cases where pro photos shooting events and weddings switched back to 800's just because of the overheat issue. I plan to get the 910 as master light.

VadimOm Senior Member • Posts: 1,903
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

I own four SB-800 and intend to keep shooting them. I don't want a larger flash (of the same power), I don't want any thermal protection, because I've never faced the need for it on SB-800 and I don't care for iTTL or CLS since I don't use them.

The only feature that attracts me in SB-910 are the built in gels, because taping my custom cut ones is becoming a PITA.

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Oscarroos Senior Member • Posts: 2,914
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

This thread is a good example of why they make chocolate AND vanilla ice cream :-). I too have both the SB-800 & 900 but will reach for the 900 if I need one strobe. Maybe it's because I'm lazy, but I can more easily set up the 900 than the 800. Easier set up for me.
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William Faulkner Senior Member • Posts: 1,651
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Have both the SB800 and the SB900. And I shoot a lot with strobes using either an SU800 or SC29 to connect to the camera. Hate shooting "Flash on Camera" so I do a lot of holding the flash off to the side or finding a spot to bounce off of.

I've have 6 different Nikon strobe models. The SB900 is the worst Nikon strobe I've ever owned.

More accurately is that it's a love hate relationship.

It has the best metering system of any strobe I've ever owned.

It overheats far too fast.

But batteries last a long time.

It's huge.

But the user interface is a dream.

It shuts down for far too long.

Bottom line is that if it's a situation where I can't ask for "One More Shot", that I absolutely have to be positive that the flash is going to work I'll use the SB800. If the exposure is off a little at least I have a chance to fix it in post.

I have an SB910 on order and I'm going to test the snot out of the thing before taking it out on an assignment. Hope it stands up to the SB800 standard. With the metering of the SB900.

Bill F

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Knoph Forum Member • Posts: 78
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

It's the same with me. I normally reach for a SB800 even though the SB900 is right next to it. The reason is that the size of the SB900 makes it difficult to but into my bags.

Fred

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OP vockman Regular Member • Posts: 394
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

William Faulkner wrote:

It has the best metering system of any strobe I've ever owned.

I have an SB910 on order and I'm going to test the snot out of the thing before taking it out on an assignment. Hope it stands up to the SB800 standard. With the metering of the SB900.

Thanks for your comments. Better metering does count for something, so if the 910 solves the over heating problem it might be worthwhile.

You don't feel that the increased size of the flash head and the different illuminations patterns make any difference in light quality when used directly, without bounce or modifier (even off camera) ?

Have you tried the SB 700 ? The size is similar to the SB 800

samjstern
samjstern Veteran Member • Posts: 6,930
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

I worked a Bat Mitzvah last night, a high end job.
The studio send me and another photog.
We both had D700 bodies with a 24-70mm lens.
I used a SB-800 with a Al Jacobs Black box.
The other guy used a SB-900 with the Nikon battery pack.

2 hours into the event, he was just standing there, no fast shooting, and he could not take a shot because it over heated and shut down.
Later on, about 1 hour later it happened again.

What a piece of junk.

Today he emailed me that he posted it on EBAY and purchased a few used SB-800's.

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Wanchese Senior Member • Posts: 2,517
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

I am a big of the SB-900. I have two that are my workhorses, and use two SB-800s for backup and fill. The 200mm zoom is a boon to me. I get more consistent coverage of the entire frame as well, when needed. The lightning quick recycle with SD-9 batt packs is awesome. And the ability to turn off the thermal protection is very handy. I beat the stuffing out of my gear, shooting full power manual almost exclusively, usually over 1,000 pops during the course of a weekend.

I consider my flash guns as expendables, and fully expect to send them to El Segundo every six months or so for various problems. I consider the cost of repairs just another part of overhead. Yesterday, I had both Sb-900 bulbs blow out within 30mins of each other. One was on camera, the other on a hot shoe. I will get 'em fixed and keep flogging them into submission until they are dust.

I scoff at you prim a donas who treat the Sb-900s like Rembrandts. They are tools. If you go to a job and don't have backup gear, it's your own fault if you can't keep working, whether you are a carpenter, cop or photographer.

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Nick Wong Contributing Member • Posts: 560
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Hi Vockman,

I own 2 SB-800 but none of the SB-900. From a user of SB-800 point of view, and IMHO...

vockman wrote:

Now that it looks like the overheating issue with the SB-900 may have been fixed (although I know some people have never had a problem with it) I am curious to know, if you are familiar with the SB 800 and the SB 900:

Is the quality of the light on the SB 900 noticeably better than the SB 800?

From the spec, SB-900/910 have three light pattern to select. This is a big thing tempting me. (Cos' I found the flash light fall off at the corners is quite annoying.)

Also, the flash knows if the camera uses DX or FX lens and adjust the flash head accordingly. This would ensure the flash power is used properly. This feature tempts me too.

Are the iTTL exposures more consistent and accurate?

i-TTL uses the light meter in the camera body. I don't think the flash would matter.

Is the CLS sensor more sensitive when the flash is used as a remote?

Can't comment on this. What I can say is, SB-800's IR receiver is on the side. This is not so logical...

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OP vockman Regular Member • Posts: 394
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Well, I just picked up an SB-700 this week. I am still considering an SB910 but only when the price goes down to $450, the current $550 price is ridiculous.

What I have learned so far from the SB700 which has a wonderful interface (not that I find the SB800 difficult in any way):

The light illumination pattern feature should be really be called "zoom compensation" all this does is set the zoom head about 15 or 20 mm of focal length tighter or wider than what ever lens you are using. Useful but not revolutionary and something that can manually be done on an SB800

The flash recycles really fast

The snap on feature for filters is excellent.

The head rotates all the way in both directions and clicks into the bounce positions in a way it will stay there and not fall down.

I have read reviews that say the sensor is better positioned and much more sensitive than the SB800 but I have not tested this yet.

Eventhough the camera controls ittl exposures I think the flash has a lot to do with it because the power of the pre-flash which the camera meters off is set in the flash. I am hoping that these newer flashes have a more powerful preflash which will give more consistent exposures when bouncing or using modifiers. I have not had a chance to see if the exposures are any better yet.

mmmmmmmm Senior Member • Posts: 2,666
Hi Sam,

It's been awhile since I have last talked to you.

I use both the SB-800 and SB-900. I personally don see much difference in them. Since I have been using the SB-800, I have had 2 units go down. there has been much about why the SB-800 over-heats on the forum. Some think it is the batteries but I think it has more to do with the flash tube causing the problems. Just put you hands around the flash unit and fire it off - you can't believe the heat produced by the flash tube.

Anyway, I think the main difference between the SB-800 and the SB-900 is the thermal cutoff switch. I notice that the new Nikon flash limits the number of "pops" when it begins to overheat. This might be good.

I was going to replace all my flashes with the Quantum Trio but at a price of $1300, including the turbo battery, I am not sure this is a good investment. True, it does not over heat but it only has slightly more power than the Nikon units. I have tried the Quantum in High Speed Sync mode and I think it still "shades" the file some. In other words I am not that impressed with Quantum. I could go on about the Quantum but needless to say I still like the Nikon flash better. Too bad Nikon doesn't include some type of heat sink in their unit so that we can fire the flash as fast as possible.
respectfully,
David Miller

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Tooma New Member • Posts: 4
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Well said, i also beat the sh%t out of my gear and always have 2 of everything, and then a last resort backup of everything with enough batteries to power a small space station!

oldhouse Contributing Member • Posts: 730
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

I have an SB-800 and SB-900. I reach for the SB-900 first (though will often use both) when shooting anything the requires off camera flash. If I'm sticking the flash on the hotshoe, it is ALWAYS the SB-800 because the SB-900 will often fail to fire from the hotshoe of my D700 (an oft reported problem).
Quinn

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Quinn

ScottRH
ScottRH Senior Member • Posts: 1,734
Re: SB-800 vs SB-900/910

Dumping sb800 as the interface is impossible next to my 2 sb910s which are excellent on my d300 and d700.

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