Nikon Speedlight SB-900 Review

Well, let's begin Nikon SB-900 A very interesting tool in recruiting a photographer. As one friend of mine says, “this is a work of art, not a flash,” well, everyone has their own tastes. The flash is the flagship in the Nikon flash series. And this means that it is intended for professional use under heavy loads in long shooting series, etc. The flash is just great comfortable ergonomics.

Two-sided view of the SB-900

Two-sided view of the SB-900

I found in her the following advantagesto pay attention to:

1. Supplied with a very secure bag - black, robust bag, 3 compartments for the diffuser, color filterslegs flash.
2. Made in Japan! Qualitatively excellent. Once I worked with SB-900, which fell from 1.5 meters. The flash played a little bit of play, something in it in the middle rustled, but the performance did not suffer at all.
3. Powerful
4. Quick reload. I shoot with Varta 2700mAh batteries, the recharge is just excellent, can withstand up to 4-5 recharges per second (faster, my camera does not take off)
5. Large head zoom range (from 17 to 200 mm), which is very convenient. Moreover, in the mode of filling the light with a card or specially nozzle, the flash makes it possible to use at 10mm.
6. Card for dispersion - forget about the erasers and business cards that needed to be attached earlier (for example, SB-600), just pull out the scattering card and get a reflection card as a gift.
7. Filters in the set. I’ll write separately about this matter - the kit includes a nozzle for attaching color filters. Set of 3 color filters. When attaching them to the flash, she herself determines their type and accordingly changes her settings (there are filter identifier) The diffuser is very convenient, really much better than a card. The flash foot (shoe), as usual, helps position the flash on any surface
8. Automatic recognition of FX or DX - in fact, manually setting this parameter is very easy, but a nice plus. This is important due to the different viewing angles of the lens on the FX or DX.
9. Very comfortable. Access to all functions can be done very quickly and without reading the manual.
10. Of course - command and slave operation with Nikon Creative Lighting System - this means that if your camera has this flash, then you can automatically control other flashes with the SB-900 without additional technical means. An indispensable thing if your camera does not support your command mode outbreaks.
11. SU-4 mode - few people know about it, but this mode will allow you to control the flash remotely using any camera (even a soap box), though the work is hard for real pros, since it is quite difficult to correctly correct the pulse power. The feature of the mode is that the flash is “ignited” by any other flash (by a light pulse) TTL mode is not available at the same time.
12. Auto-fit to ISO. Very comfortable and practical. You can set the ISO manually.
13. Excellent ergonomics - no need to study button combinations for a long and tedious time - everything is elementary.
14. AF illumination - it helps pretty much to focus at night, the “spotlights” are pretty strong
15. FP mode - High-speed sync that helps you shoot with shutter speeds up to 1/8000
16. BL mode - a very convenient thing - filling light, that’s why external flashes are good
17. A bunch of small pleasures for shooting and the ability to customize anything

SB-900 at work (slave mode, ignition from the built-in flash on the Nikon D90)

SB-900 in operation (slave mode, ignition from the built-in flash on Nikon D90)

Disadvantagesthat I would like to fix and which are a little interfere with life.

1. On my copy, the latch does not always hold the corner. When moving, the flash head can rotate even if it was at one of the fixed levels of rotation.
2. No battery indicator - just a catastrophic minus. Really really annoying when shooting, you have to determine the charge level by the speed of recharging the flash - the longer it takes to recharge, the smaller the charge.
3. Overheat indicator is buggy - I don’t argue, maybe it shows correctly, but in the cold of minus 5 degrees I take up to 10 frames and the flash says that it has overheated, and it cools down much longer than usual. Most likely, this is due to the ambient temperature. Also, a rather uncomfortable factor. This problem is treated by disabling the function of detecting overheating. According to third-party tests (I felt sorry for my flash), it withstands very long series of shooting.
4. Remote control of the CLS (Nikon Creative Lighting System) does not work well with a lot of light. If you shoot on a hot day by remote control using another flash, with a lot of light, the flash does not always understand the commands and brutally squeaks from this, you have to come closer, or twist the flash to attract the indicator as purposefully as possible. I would put 2 indicators on it.
5. Heavy - this is not convenient, for example, with good batteries, it weighs more than the camera itself Nikon D40 and it’s not very convenient to hold at the same time. But on cameras by type D90, D300, D700, D3 quite fine.

The SB-900 also has a serious competitor - SB-910, - updated version.

Nikon Speedlight Kit SB-900

Nikon Speedlight Kit SB-900

A couple of notes from personal experience: It is very convenient to carry the flash cover on the belt, passing the belt through a special loop. When you shoot a lot and there is no time to put a flash somewhere - a very convenient thing. For example, it allows you to very quickly remove the flash from the camera and put it in the case and vice versa. True, if a diffuser is dressed, then it must be removed before that. The swivel head is very convenient, it allows you to twist as you want and wherever you want, a couple of times they joked about me that I spin it like a rubik's cube. I strongly advise you to read the instructions for the flash, if you have one.


The SB-900 is Nikon's flagship professional flash. I have never failed in my work. The flash has a very long zoom head travel as well as a long head rotation travel. The large number of settings makes the SB-900 flash in the professional hands an indispensable attribute of any shooting. The only serious drawback is that there is no battery indicator. On my flash, after two years of use, the lamp burned out, the replacement cost me $ 60. Without repair, the flash ran about 50-60 thousand frames.

If you liked the article, do not forget to press +1, tweet, like. Thanks for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 166, on the topic: Review of Nikon Speedlight SB-900

  • IRN

    Good afternoon. I ask for constructive advice. Situation: nikon D5100, sigma 17-55 \ 2.8 lens, nikon sb 900 puff, everything is almost new, less than a year old. Everything worked 100%. I didn't use puff for some time. And then I discover that when the puff is turned on, the TTL mode rises without BL and without preflashes, and even worse, when inserted into the hot shoe, TTL disappears altogether and mode A rises, and also without preflashes. I mean, this mode disappeared in the set of settings, i.e. when turning a wheel with a mode button, there is no TTL at all. I did just in case, reset the manual settings of the puff, it did not help. Are there any assumptions? Maybe my eyes got blurry and I don't see obvious things ??? Help, who can)))
    Thank you.

    • anonym

      It is treated very simply. Clean the contacts on the flash and shoe.

    • Sergei

      Change metering mode

  • Vladimir

    Good day! What can you say about the Nikon Speedlight SB-80DX? Should I take on the Nikon D90?

  • Alix

    Nikon Speedlight SB-900 has been working with this flash for 3 years everything is fine BUT the sensor from overheating protection (the brake of all work) disabling in the menu in the Of mode does not disable the sensor! Apparently, the factory engineers reinsured the SB-900 from overheating with an unnecessary sensor! In fact, the flash elements are cold and the sensor fires!? It’s not suitable for sequential shooting, and shooting Solemn events with the calculation of the operation of this flash is too risky to have an additional (backup flash) We have a guide number at 34 at iso 100, we count on the radiation power of the pulse, and as a result, open the relative aperture, set iso 400, focus within 80mm in order to give a flash a middle impulse (so that the sensor does not work)! as a result, the whole point of purchasing and working with this flash is lost! Therefore, with the SB-910 output, in which the engineers corrected the sensor error in the circuit, thereby reducing the flash pulse power in case of overheating (without options for the flash to completely turn off the flash sensor). For those who decide to purchase the SB-900, I advise you to refrain and purchase the SB-910!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It's funny, I also use the SB-3 for 900 years, just with the overheating sensor turned off and everything works naura, at the same time I have the SB-910, and when shooting intensively, it just goes into cooling mode and refuses to shoot :) because I I prefer the sb-900.

      • Marina

        Good day! I have a Nikon5100 with a 55-80 VR kit lens. Offer to purchase the new Nikon Speedlight SB-900 and Nikon AF-S Nikkor 55-200 mm f / 4-5,6 G ED all together for 13500 XNUMX rubles. I want to hear your opinion, it’s worth to take?

  • Alix

    Arkady! For more or less normal operation of the SB-900, it is advisable to use an external power supply of the Battery type. Godox Propac PB820 unit for Nikon SB900 flash units - 2000mAh in this case, the sensor located closer to the battery compartment will be fired less often! in extreme cases, use non-rechargeable batteries, namely AA batteries (Durasel turbo)! Unfortunately, the problem of triggering the overheating protection sensor in your case is no exception, it works in the same way as on the entire SB-900 series!

  • Olga

    Good evening! I am added to those asking)))
    I have a Nikon D600 camera, from the old Nikon there was a flash of the Nissin Di622.
    I did not find any radio synchronization with her, because it is useless to buy a synchronizer.
    The flash, of course, is ignited from the outside - I do not like the pictures that are obtained, even if I put the built-in one at the very minimum.
    Also, Nissin slows down very much ... 1st in 2-3 seconds - but after reading the forum, of course I'll try to change the batteries again.

    So this is the question, in fact, I was thinking about buying another flash and wanted to ask, I read the forums, but did not understand - if you buy a native flash 800, 900 or 910 can it be remotely controlled from the camera body without an external flash? I don't understand CLS in any way
    and is it possible to somehow trigger a new flash from the old?
    or is this a silly dream?
    I understand flashes, of course, it's still bad, with Nissin I don't get anything sensible, but I don't want to miss the purchase of a new flash - I buy for myself, I'm learning to photograph - the topic of flashes has begun. In the meantime, I'm only with nissin and in the dark))))
    what do you advise?

    • VOVA


  • Ivan

    I'm going to buy a SV-700 flash, the question is how it will behave with such a configuration: a D7000 carcass lens 24-120 / 4, provided that the DX-format camera is a lens for FF (* 1,5 crop), or take SV - 910 with such focal. distances. Thank you in advance )

  • anonym

    What is better to take to nikon d90 sb-700 or sb-900?

  • Vadim

    Please tell me which flash to buy from me D3200

    • Arkady Shapoval

      SB-700 will be just right.

      • Alexander

        What flash buy under the camera? I thought that for certain tasks)))

  • Vadim

    Thank you.

  • Raphael

    I bought the SB-900 flash from my hands, started to master it, but I can’t activate the distance scale in any way, the flash functionally works, got used to it, but annoying the lack of this scale.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The GN scale appears only when the flash is looking straight ahead (forehead) and no additional accessories are wearing.

  • Raphael

    I tried everything, it does not appear.

  • Novel

    Please tell me which flash is best to take for Kenon 650 D? Thanks.

  • Tatyana

    Good day! I ask for advice. I have a Nikon D3200. I want to buy a SB 900 flash. Tell me please, it will fit my camera or some functions will not work. After a while I want to change the camera to D90. Thanks.

  • Vyacheslav

    I have an SB 800 and SB 910, but I can't figure out how TTL works if the camera is not on the shoe? I tried REMONE on puff, on the camera the native is turned off, 910 - TTL. Well, it doesn't respond ... With a sync cable connected, similar to a shoe. And if you just put it on the counter? Work then it works, but no TTL! :-( What am I doing wrong? Or are they not intended?

  • Ed

    p.7 ... The diffuser is very convenient, really frame (much) better than a card ...

  • Vladimir M.

    (The diffuser is very convenient, really much better than the card) - So it will probably be better

    • Arkady Shapoval


  • Catherine

    Please tell me, I have d800 and sb-900, the flash began to flash twice, cleaned the contacts, reset the settings, the problem does not go away: ((((((help

    • Arkady Shapoval

      turn off red eye mode

      • Catherine

        Yes, thanks, something I slowed down)))))) disconnected :))))))))

      • Catherine

        Thank you for your articles !!!! Thanks to them, I chose all the lenses))))) a lot of useful and accessible written THANKS HUGE FOR YOU !!!!!

  • Natalia

    Good day! Thanks for the interesting article)
    Tell me which flash to take for the Nikon D5200?

  • Maria

    Is the SB700 suitable for the Nikon D5100?
    If not, which one is better?

    • Lynx


  • Az

    Tell me, if there are two flash units - how to determine which of them in the slave mode will be group A and which will be B? Can you even reassign them like that? And how to tune the channel on the flashes?

    • Jury

      The group and channel are written on the flash display when it is in remote control mode. You can change both the group and the channel, as - you need to read in the manual for a specific flash

  • Az

    Flash, respectively - SB900. Thanks, I figured it out myself. I helped reset the flash so that everything appeared. Selecting SU-4 from the menu will disable channel selection.

  • Ruslan

    Good day. Arkady, tell me in which mode to set the flash if the optics are manual. As I understand it, either manual or manual with a priority of distance ???

  • Valery

    A huge request to help with solving the problem: there is not enough battery on the monitor. I checked the batteries, changed them, connected the adapter to 6v. All the senseless. What is the flash covered?

  • BB

    Last Saturday, I first appreciated the convenience of a 900-case cover (although I have had a flash for two years now).
    There was a need to often set-shoot puff - variable lighting conditions (plus one flash for two cameras), and at the same time move around a large room (concert hall). I thought - such a canoe dangles on the belt - almost half a kilo, and even long. Nifiga! I felt a flash on my belt for the first two minutes, then you forget about it!
    Plus, due to the relatively rigid design, it 'keeps its shape', it is convenient to get and put the flash in (unlike, for example, my Nissin Di866 case - the case is soft and wrinkles).
    So for the holster Nikon special thanks, really comfortable!

  • Andrei

    Good afternoon!
    I got this flash. Tell me which batteries and charger for it is better to buy. thanks

    • Maugli

      Eneloop battery and charging LA CROSSE / TECHNOLINE BC700.

      • Andrei

        Thank you!
        I chose Eneloop Pro AA 2500mAh and LA CROSSE TECHNOLINE BC-250 (700 is a little expensive).

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