Society & Culture & Entertainment Photography

Nikon SB-400 Flash

To be honest, I hate flash.
I hate the cold look, the bright foreground, dark background and everything else.
I hate the towering look of the classic standalone flashes, they look too big and too unnecessary, it looks like I am trying to look like a photojournalist.
As you can guess, I always try to get by without flash.
If that means setting ISO 800 or 1600, so be it.
But that was not always enough indoors to stop the motion and I was not wholly satisfied with the social photos indoors.
Looking around on the internet I saw the SB-400 mentioned quite a few times for its compact size and ease of use.
Since I never intend to mess around with flash settings or something, this was immediately appealing.
Also appealing was the size and look of the thing, very compact and not so tall.
Still, nice gadget and all, I did not see a point in getting it until I learned that it can do bounce flash.
This is mainly for indoor shooting where you point the flash head upwards and bounce the light off the ceiling.
It produces much softer and more natural light than a normal flash, or so I read.
Since I want the flash for indoor social shots, that swung it for me and I ended up getting one.
First impressions: The flash itself is quite small and powered by two AA batteries.
The head part of the flash can rotate up to 90 degrees upwards for bounce flash.
The whole thing looks quite at home on top of the D40.
It has no controls other than an on/off switch and a slider to lock it on the flash shoe.
So, how well does it work? Well, that rather depends: When you have the head pointing forward (normal flash), it works not much better than the built in flash.
Yes, it is more powerful but so what? I bought this thing for indoor shooting.
One of the advantages is that it recycles much faster than the built in flash.
I have not done any measurements but it feels like about twice to three times as fast.
The problem is, you still get the weird flash look.
However, when you point the head towards the ceiling, it is a whole different story.
The whole flash look is gone, and everything looks so much better.
Much softer and more natural light, you cannot really tell they were shot with flash.
And you get photos you actually want to keep! With flash! Amazing! Another great thing is the simplicity.
You only ever have to turn the thing on after attaching it to the camera.
That is it! I don't understand at all how the metering works, with direct flash and bounce flash and everything, but it just does.
What I mean is, when you bounce the flash, depending on how far away the ceiling is you will get much less light on your subject than you would with a direct flash.
I expected to fiddle with that every time to get a good exposure, but no, it just works; and works unbelievable well every time.
If you want a Nikon flash for indoor shooting, get the SB-400, you won't be disappointed.

Leave a reply