The Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight is the company's new flagship flash, released alongside the flagship Nikon D5 camera. The standout feature for the SB-5000 is its ability to operate and trigger via radio frequency, a first for Nikon's line of portable flashes.

Nikon claims that when the flash is paired with the WR-R10 Wireless Remote Adapter set and a D5 or D500, the flash will operate without a direct line of sight at a range of up to approximately 98 feet (30 meters). With that same combination, the flash will be able to control up to six groups or 18 Speedlights for when you want to get really fancy. Although we haven't had a chance to try this system out yet, we're hoping that Nikon CLS features like TTL/Manual and Flash Exposure Compensation settings will be accessible via the camera menu system - especially since a radio-controlled commander with dedicated dials and buttons (like Nissin's Air 1 system) isn't available from Nikon. The SB-5000 retains similar optical-control and triggering capabilities as the other advanced Speedlights in the company's lineup.

Attaching the WR-R10 to your camera should give you full control over up to 18 Speedlights (up to 6 groups) directly from your camera, without the need for any other flashes or commanders attached to your camera. This should be a boon for off-camera flash photography.

This is a significant addition to Nikon's flash line-up, not only for the radio-triggered control it brings during applications where line-of-sight isn't feasible or practical, but also because pairing flashes to the WR-R10 is arguably more preferable to pairing to the outdated SU-800 commander (which is so dated that it attaching it to your camera disables Auto ISO). That said, an updated SU-800 commander with radio control would be most welcome, since the WR-R10 doesn't provide an IR/red AF assist beam for quick focus in those very dark conditions you may be shooting with off-camera flash in.

Also new for the SB-5000 is a redesigned cooling system promising improved consecutive firing times before cool-downs, and 120 continuous shots at 5-second intervals. Controls are updated with an 'i' button for frequently used settings, and the flash head maintains tilt-and-rotate capability.

Press release:

New Radio Controlled SB-5000 Speedlight: Lighting with No Limits

The Nikon D5 is optimized to work with the newest flagship Speedlight, the SB-5000, illuminating new possibilities in creative lighting. A first for Nikon, the flash operates via radio frequency and will operate without a direct line of sight for a range of up to approx. 98 feet (30 meters). This new-found flexibility lets photographers place lights in different rooms, around corners and work seamlessly in bright ambient light with maximum efficiency. When paired with the WR-R10 and the D5 or the D500, this Speedlight can control up to six groups (A-F) or 18 Speedlights for truly advanced wireless lighting. It is also possible to perform Advanced Wireless Lighting using either radio-controlled (up to three groups) and/or optical-controlled units (up to three groups) by simply attaching a conventional, optical-control Nikon Speedlight or the SU-800 Commander (as a master or commander unit) and a WR-R10 (as a commander) onto the D5.

The new smaller SB-5000 Speedlight also has a radically new design that includes its own internal cooling system, which prevents overheating of the flash panel from consecutive firings. As a result, the SB-5000 can fire consecutively for longer than conventional models, without flash cool-down time between bursts, and can fire up to 120 continuous shots at 5 second intervals. Controls have also been streamlined and refined, with the addition of an “i” button for access to frequently used settings. The design also integrates versatile bounce ability, with the flash head capable of tilting down to -7° or up to 90°, and rotate horizontally 180° to the left and right.

Pricing and Availability:

The Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlight will be available in March for the SRP of $599.95.

Nikon SB-5000 Key Specifications

  • Price: $599.95
  • Commander function: Yes
  • Remote function: Yes
  • Transmission mode: Radio control and optical communication
  • Transmission range: Radio control approx. 98 ft. (30m), optical communication - line of sight
  • Guide number: 34.5 m / 113 ft. (at 35mm) 55m / 180 ft. (at 200mm) (FX format, ISO 100)
  • Lens coverage: 24 to 200mm lens, 14mm with wide panel (FX format)
  • Minimum recycling time: 1.8 sec. (approx.) with Ni-MH (2600 mAh) batteries, 2.6 sec. (approx.) with AA-size Alkaline (1.5V) batteries
  • Flash duration: 1/980 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output, 1/30,820 sec. at M 1/256 output
  • Optional power supply: SK-6 Power Bracket Unit, SD-9 High-Performance Battery Pack
  • Wireless groups: Radio controlled: Master + 6 groups; Optically controlled: Master + 3 groups
  • Dimensions: 73 x 137 x 103.5mm
  • Weight (sans batteries): 14.9 oz. (420 g)