Nikon Speedlight SB-400 Review

Many thanks to Yuri Velikanov for the Nikon Speedlight SB-400 flash.

Nikon Speedlight SB-400 Flash Review

Nikon Speedlight SB-400 Flash Review

Nikon Speedlight SB-400 - Tiny Amateur external flash for Nikon cameras. The flash is suitable for almost all Nikon SLR cameras, with the exception of older cameras with D-TTL metering (such as Nikon D100, D1x) SB-400 will work perfectly with all modern DSLRs, such as Nikon D3100, D3200, D5100, D5200, D7000, D600 etc. The flash is also suitable for a number of digital cameras, such as the COOLPIX 8800.

The SB-400 has only a power button and a ready light. On the SB-400 camera is quickly fixed with a special latch. SB-400 can work only in automatic mode I-TTL and in mode 'M'. Attention: unlike many other flashes, the transition from mode to mode on the SB-400 is carried out using the camera’s menu. Some cameras do not support switching modes. And here serious catch: You won’t get a flash to work with some cameras when using old non-autofocus lenses. So, I could not get the flash to work with the camera Nikon D80 and the lens Jupiter-37A. This does not matter, because few people use brand new cameras with old lenses :).

My flash copy is made in China. Flash leg is metal. In my opinion, the SB-400 is only interesting for its small size and swivel head. When the heads are rotated 60, 75, and 90 degrees, they can be removed by reflecting the flash light from the ceiling. This is a very good opportunity to get photos with soft backlighting, without strong dark dips in the photo. The principle of this survey is shown below:

SB-400 works on reflections from the ceiling. Image taken from instructions for SB-400

SB-400 works on reflection from the ceiling. The picture is taken from the instructions for SB-400

In 2013 a new model came out - Nikon Speedlight S.

The difference between SB-300 and SB-400

Difference between S and SB-400

Nikon Speedlight Flashes S and Nikon Speedlight SB-400 are very similar to each other. The table below shows the main differences.

Year of construction 2013 2004
Manufacturer country China China
Head rotation 0, 60, 75, 90, 120 0, 60, 75, 90
Guide Number (ISO 100)  18 21
Batteries AAA X 2 AA X 2
Weight, g 97 127
FX Head Zoom 27 mm 27 mm
Case SS-DC1 SS-400

new S has less weight, a larger angle of rotation of the head, but less power. S Nikon's first flash using small AAA batteries. I think both flashes are good enough, there is not much difference in them.

My experience:

Nikon Speedlight SB-400 is a really very interesting option in quality external flash. But I’m absolutely not happy with the lack of support FP high speed sync and opportunity remotely control Nikon SB-400 Flash Using Nikon CLS... But, considering that the Nikon Speedlight SB-400 is best suited to lightweight cameras such as Nikon D3100, D3200, then there’s nothing to complain about, because these cameras cannot control other flashes using the built-in flash, and FP mode is not supported. If you buy a flash for amateur Nikon camera, then the functionality with the SB-400 will be as complete as possible.


The Nikon Speedlight SB-400 is an excellent small and light flash unit that can be a good companion for the hobby photographer. Fits easily into any camera bag. If you still don't know whether to buy an external flash, read about its capabilities in the 'External Flash'. My tips for choosing a flash for Nikon cameras can be found under 'Flash Selection for Nikon Cameras'.

Like it. Thanks for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

Add a comment: Victor



Comments: 94, on the topic: Review of Nikon Speedlight SB-400

  • Igor

    Was the owner of this miracle ... I did not like it at all. Yes, compared to the built-in one, you can change the angle of the flash, but that's all. In rooms with high ceilings, there is little power, 2 batteries run out quickly enough. I took SB-700 - like heaven and earth. Even if the issue of finance is acute, then it is worth taking the Chinese one, but with normal functionality and power.

  • Vadim

    A wonderful flash for home photography and small rooms.
    It will never be superfluous and will fit even in a small photo bag.
    It works on just two AA batteries, while consuming their battery very economically.
    It can be used creatively with a TTL cable (light wherever you want and wherever you want). Someone will call it a perversion, but there is something in it.
    On the D60, it works with Soviet and other old optics in manual mode, the power is set by the camera (8 gradations: from full power to 1/128). D300 in the same conditions is ready to work in TTL mode.

    • Lynx

      it is strange, and there is often a mention that does not work with a manual lens.

  • Vadim

    By the way, the D300 synchronizes up to 1/320 sec.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      On d700, too, up to 1 / 320s, if you set the value 1 / 250s instead of 1/320. Today I tried sb-400 on D50 - with a manual lens the camera from sb-400 does not work, nothing can be set in the menu.

      • Vadim

        On the D60, he swears at the lens at first, writes f–.
        After switching to M-mode, the camera swears at the flash (I won’t work, install non-TTL).
        Then you need to enter the “Own menu. settings ”(with a pencil icon),“ Built-in flash ”item and change to M, choosing the power.

        Unfortunately, there are only 2 cameras at hand :(.

        By the way, what else I like about the SB-400 is that the flash can not be turned off, because when you turn off the camera, it turns off itself.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          I did the same manipulations with the D80 and D50, but the menu is available only for the built-in flash, and does not change its appearance, as in the d700, where you can set the power manually.

          • Vadim

            Maybe updating the firmware will help? Or hardly?

            • Arkady Shapoval

              I do not know this.

          • Vadim

            Actually, I found a list of cameras that can manually control the SB-400:
            “Possible with D700, D300 series, D7000, D90, D5100, D5000, D3100, D3000, D60 and D40 series”


        • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

          If writes "F-" then you need to set the aperture to F22 then the lens will go into automatic focusing mode. I can assume that you have a fix with a built-in motor and you use it on a screwdriver.

  • Denis

    I see more and more how at weddings invited guests use such unpretentious external flashes on their cameras - it's nice to watch photographers (no longer just amateurs) reach for the light :), well done, a good step forward, keep it up! :)

  • anonym

    I have had this miracle for about 8 years, I suspected that the head is spinning, but it is not spinning)))))))) I tried to turn it, but nothing. I’m trying to make a cod, I don’t want to

    • Jury

      I think you should contact the service, because without turning the head, the SB-400 differs from the built-in flash only in power.

      • anonym

        There are no services in the area ... I bought 910 a long time ago, SB-400 is gathering dust, I think, at weddings, use it to highlight shadows

    • Vadim

      The head does not spin. Only the reflector turns up and down.

    • Vadim

      Well, or more correctly, the head (Flash head) tilts up and down, but does not turn left and right.

      • anonym

        She generally does not turn left and right))

  • Gene jb

    Arkady, what flashes do you use in everyday life? Canon, nikon ...

    • Arkady Shapoval

      910 and 900, for Canon not.

      • Gene jb

        A review without a photo, it would be possible to make a review-comparison with 900 or some other.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          The article compares with an SB-400 - SB-300 flash.

  • Dmitriy

    Arkady, hello! Tell me, please, sb400 supports ALL the functions of the built-in flash, namely, is it interested in the Nikon CLS command mode?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The SB-400 cannot remotely control other flashes using the Nikon CLS.

      • Vadim

        The D300 works in command mode, sets fire to other flashes.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Does the D300 work as a master flash or does the SB-400 work as a master?

          • Dmitriy

            I also misunderstood about the D300 - either the built-in ignites, or sb400, or maybe it's SU-4 mode in general? Thanks to Arkady for the answer :-)

          • Vadim

            I apologize for the false information. Just checked, when the flash is turned on, the command mode and strobe settings disappear from the menu.
            I think this thread can be deleted.

            • Arkady Shapoval

              The d700 is exactly the same.

        • Arman

          Can this flash work on Nikon D80?

  • Mahal Makhalych

    I think for 3200 and 3100 cameras and no more.
    More for advanced compacts. Here it is!
    Comrade P7100 does not have CLS. They are made for each other :)

  • Sergei

    I'm not a pro, photography is my hobby. I bought this flash six months ago, I use it all the time and am not overjoyed at it. Small, lightweight. The AA Eneloop 2500 batteries work indefinitely. During transportation, it does not take up space in the bag at all. In the "combat" position, during shooting, it does not stick out like a periscope, does not cling to anything and does not attract too much attention. At the same time, it is almost twice as powerful as the built-in puff and significantly saves the carcass battery. The recharge rate is again. Fully compatible with the camera in terms of power and power management. With pleasure I take it with me everywhere, from long trips to a short exit to the city. She literally "does not pull his pocket."

    In Ibei I bought for her a native diffuser for $ 4, like this:

    And also a lace for 12. I use at home for shooting subjects.

    It's just that many people think that there is no point in buying it and that it is not much better than the built-in one. In fact, much better. And it's definitely worth its money. The lover does not need more. (IMHO)

  • Sergei

    In a post that has not yet been displayed, from overclocking I stuck a link to the lace for the Canon camera.
    I have the same only for Nikon, of course.

  • Vadim

    This flash teaches creativity and inspires experimentation :).

    For example, use improvised objects (metal case of a mobile phone, a mirror) to reflect the built-in flash in the ceiling in small rooms.

    Or, say, flip the camera to reflect SB-400 light from snow or road surface when shooting outdoors in low light conditions. Not very natural, but always unusual.

    • Lynx

      I'm a photographer. I do not want to experiment with the mobile case, I want puff-puff-puff!

      • Vadim

        I talked about the body of the mobile in relation to the built-in flip-flop. Sometimes this is enough to make a good shot.

        And for “puff-puff-puff” there is a more expensive SB. The only thing that surprises me is that the Chinese did not make a turntable with TTL support for the SB-400. The functionality would increase significantly. Even vertically oriented pictures would appear :))).

        • Lynx

          on the built-in, quite good diffusers are sold, the same Chinese, or even cut out from a jar for a photo film.
          why would the Chinese need it? there are Chinese TTL cables, about 400-600 rubles, depending on the length - and twist the puff as you want. And on the turn - they have their own flashes.

          • Vadim

            We are talking about different things. A diffuser is a diffuser. It makes a diffuse frontal light from the usual frontal lighting. And if (by analogy with the SB-400) the light from the built-in flash is directed to the ceiling (with the help of a mirror or any object with a reflective surface at hand), the picture becomes completely different.

            Of course, this is a miserable semblance of an external flash, but in a number of situations this is enough. In addition, it does not cost anything, does not pull the pocket, does not require additional power, etc.

          • Vadim

            The cable forces the second hand to be used. A turntable would free her.

            What for? It may not be necessary, but they already produce a bunch of useless, in my opinion, trash and do not ask this question.

      • parent

        The cable is 0,7 meters long, the flash in your left hand is half a meter from the camera, turn where you want. If your hands are weak a tripod for a camera, or a flash…. Shooting is not always reportage, you don't have to rush. So that you can shoot with her.

  • Alexey

    Arkady, thanks for the site and a lot of useful information.

    If possible, another stupid question in your piggy bank of stupid questions :)

    I choose the device. I stopped at 5100. I hesitate between the lenses 18-55 and 18-105. The difference is 1000 hryvnia. Isn't it better to spend this 1000 on a sb-400?
    I take the device for the unborn child :) I think more photos will be at home than on the street.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Better and 18-105, and the flash so far and can do the built-in.

      • Alexey

        Thank you!
        I still can't crush a toad - are these 50 mm worth UAH 1000? :)

        • Vadim

          And the SB-400 is also worth it when it comes to home shooting.

        • Lynx

          18-105 you can take it with your hands. by dragging then they give it away usually inexpensively, about 5-6,5 thousand Russian wooden, i.e. somewhere around 1500 hryvnia.

  • Konstantin

    My dear photographers, I am an amateur photographer and I really need your sensible advice! I had the idea lately the other day to buy an external flash of the SB-400 type for use, I don’t know why I need it yet, but I want it worse than it hurts, but what a misfortune came out, vague doubts torment me that the SB-400 will work fine on the NIKON D-70s camera (with a whale lens) Tell me, plize, whether it will work somehow, and whether it will work at all, the SB-400 flash on the NIKON D-70s. In general, is it worth taking it, or can you still get along with a regular flash? Thanks in advance!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      You can get by with the built-in flash, especially since the d70s does not support adequate control of the SB-400 from the camera menu.

      • Konstantin

        Exclusively for the stupidity, but that there is no support for adequate control of the flash from the camera menu, i.e. it will not work with the D-70s at all, or it will still work, but somehow else than we would like ?!

        • Lynx

          there is no control with adjustment in the menu ”only TTL.

  • Alexander

    "There is no control with adjustment in the menu" only TTL. "
    Well, who does not, but who has :)
    I bought it myself as a gift on dr. I have no regrets, the photographs are really obtained by others.
    By the way, if there is no ceiling or walls at hand :) at an angle of 60 degrees. everything goes well, moreover, photos are better than photos in the forehead of the usual built-in one.

  • Paul

    Tell me, Nikon d7100, in m mode, first the sb 400 flash starts up two pulses then it flashes. How to remove it? that would usually puff without delay. On the old d5000 everything works fine on the d7100 only in automatic mode, the machine immediately flashes.

  • Dmitriy

    Hello, how to shoot Nikon Speedlight SB-400 on the street, because there are no walls and ceilings on the street. Mono beat in the forehead ?? Or there are some other tricks.

  • Eugene

    Good day, tell me please, I can’t connect the sb 400 to the fuji s 3 pro camera, the red light on the flash blinks, the camera does not take a picture and does not focus at all, can there be a problem in the world ?? Thank you in advance!

  • Glory

    Arkady, you wrote that the Nikon D3100, D3200 can not control other flashes using the built-in flash !!! I have a D3100 and the Yongnuo Speedlite YN468-II puff and it is perfectly ignited by the built-in flash of my camera !!!

  • Sergei

    with d40x nikon will not cure? who knows, please tell me, otherwise I don’t feel like buying and then rosin my brain. . .

  • ***

    Tell me, will it work with Nikon D90 SB -300 ???

  • Izya Borukhovich, Kremnoye

    With such a camera, a walk (torch - in Russian) will work.

  • Jeanne

    I took an SB-400 to Nikon D90 after hearing that the torch on it would burn and what ?! Does not work :((
    A flash of 100% working is lit in red and the camera does not see it
    How to setup?! : (((

  • Dmitry

    Will the focus backlight work on the Nikon sc-29 sync cable with sb-400 flash? Camera d3100.

    • anonym


  • Olga

    Tell me, I decided to purchase a Meike Nikon 430n flash (SKW 430n). I have a Nikon 5200. No one, including the Nikon service center, can give an answer if they are compatible! AND?

  • AndreyALi

    I had a meike mk 320, which on paper is much cooler than sat 400… .32 is the leading number, the head is spinning in all directions, i-ttl, video light! BUT!! it worked generally inadequately with my Nikon d5300, overexposures, underexposures, it was hard to cope with it in manual mode, and in general it was not monolithic, everything was dangling. Sold. Bought Sat 400 I'm not overjoyed! for home shooting like ... "guests came to congratulate the birthday boy" or "a child in the kindergarten on a holiday" it is ideal (for an amateur). The only negative is vertical shooting.

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