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SB-400 or SB-600

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by D40ROOK, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. D40ROOK


    Jul 11, 2009
    I am looking for some advice on which flash to use with my D40. I am leaning towards the SB-600. But somewhere I read that the SB-400 will work just as well for less money. Any input is appreciated.

    Thanks Lou
  2. The main differences are portability and power- which is more important to what you'll be shooting?

  3. JDann24


    Dec 15, 2007
    Garland, Texas
    I'd go for the SB-600 because the head swivels.
  4. Omar


    Apr 25, 2009
    Kitchener, ON
    I chose the SB-600 because of its ability to swivel side to side. That helps with bounce flash when holding the camera in portrait mode.

    If shooting straight flash, the SB-600 sits a bit higher, so you can have a greater subject distance before you start getting red eye. I'm not sure how much difference that makes though.

    I also knew I'd eventually be getting a camera (D90) that had commander mode for off-camera flash. The SB-400 is not compatible with that.

    The SB-600 feels big on the D40 (but not terrible), but is very comfortable on the D90. See what you think and whether the swivel and future off-camera capabilities mean anything to you.
  5. Doh! Forgot about that!

  6. You should see how the D40 looks with an SB-900. lol... its a big flash with a camera hanging off the bottom.

    I would go Sb-600 hands down. It is more powerful, wilt AND swivel, the ability to be used wirelessly with a commander, it does not weigh much and feels good on the D40.
  7. This is useful. But I ended up buying both. The SB-400 is fine a lot the time but sometimes just does not have enough power. The 400 is more user friendly a lot of the time due to its size, hence portability. But I do use the 600 a fair bit, especially at large gatherings in larger spaces. It is not that big as to be impractical.

  8. D40ROOK


    Jul 11, 2009
    Whats an SU-800? Ok I am looking on line now.DUH!

  9. JakeEbersole


    Mar 11, 2009
    Jacksonville, FL
    Jake Ebersole
    I was stuck with the same decision, but after using my friends 600 I was hooked. You wont go wrong with the 600. You'll love it.
  10. I think there's a use for both. If you shoot in landscape most of the time, the SB-400 is great. In portrait mode, you just need a wall to bounce off of, which gives a nice side-lit effect. Most importantly, what will you bring with you when you shoot. The SB-400 actually fits in a coat pocket and will squeeze into most bags. The bigger flashes are more of a commitment, and you may not find yourself bringing it along with you all the time.

    For what it's worth, I use the SB-400 when traveling light, and an SB-80dx when I'm using flash more seriously.
  11. sb-400 head swivels up too. I like the extra functionality of the sb-600, but the protability of my gf's 400 is great. I use it where the surroundings dont change much, say in a restaurant or at someones home. can you borrow one from a friend? the sb-600 is pretty obtrusive to have out, because it seems like your camera size is doubled.
  12. neimac


    May 26, 2008
    Probably the SB 600, the ability to swivel the head would be worth it all on its own. If your wanting a more portable flash then the SB 400 would be far better.
  13. Omar


    Apr 25, 2009
    Kitchener, ON
    It's a commander you can put on your D40 to control an off camera flash. You could also use an SB-800 or SB-900 on your D40 to do the same thing. I think the SU-800 is more commonly used on cameras like the D3 that don't have built in flash.

    One of the reasons I upgraded to the D90 was to avoid the cost of a separate device to act as a commander. Well, that was one of the justifications!
  14. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Couldn't say it better. The SB-400 has some serious limitations, but... the head can tilt (not swivel) and in 90% of the situations it fits my needs. The ability to carry the SB-400 always with you (either off camera or stuffed away in an unused corner of your bag) should not be underestimated either. Besides that it doesn't have that intimidating "pro-flash" look for your victims subjects that the SB-600 has.

    Don't get me wrong, the SB-600 is a fantastic flash (I have three of them) and you'll be happy with either one of them, but I think some counterweight is needed to the "get the SB-600" posts. It depends more on what you're planning to do with it than anything else - if you simply want more power than the pop-up, then the SB-400 will fit your needs just fine. If you intend on doing off-camera flash and/or setting the flash manual (no menu-diving required with the SB-600 but you'll need the SU-800 remote commander for off camera flash with a D40 though) then the SB-600 might be a better choice - but eventually you'll want an SB-400 anyway because it's so nice and small :smile:
  15. SP77


    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    Lou, what lenses do you have?

    I'd say an SB-600 as well, except that the SB-600/800/900 flashes are all very poor handling on the 40/60 bodies unless you have a BEEFY lens that you're shooting on it, like a 17-55/2.8. Then the center of gravity shifts towards the lens, you end up supporting the setup by the bottom of the lens and not the camera body, and that takes the stress off of your gripping hand from controlling and balancing everything from that tiny little grip. So assuming you're using fairly lightweight lenses, I'd go for an SB-400 just for the handling factor. If you can't get a bounce in the direction you want, I just cup my hand over the thing and it works fine that way too (and I just tweak the white balance later from light reflecting off of my orangish hand). Eventually you'll want both because the 600 and higher is annoying to take around and bulky, whereas you can squeeze the little SB-400 in pretty much any pocket or spare corner of your bag.
  16. I rock the SB-600 on my D40 with my 35mm 1.8 with no problems handling it.

    Another benefit for being strong enough to open a jar of pickles.


    But it does like to perform acrobatic feats on the neckstrap.

  17. This combo is where a Black Rapid strap is good. No acrobatics.

  18. menos


    Nov 11, 2008
    If you go with a SB-600, you get:
    -swivel head,
    -more power,
    -implemented diffusor,
    -zooming head,
    -wider angles/ narrower angles of light
    -manual controls on flash,
    -off camera flash with your D40 with extra equipment,
    -usable with other cameras, where the SB-400 is completely incompatible (Ricoh GRDII and others) or less usable (Nikon D1, D2, D3 series, MF film cameras due to missing manual controls on flash)

    These were the instant advantages, that came to my mind.

    These are advantages of the SB-400:
    -slightly more affordable

    I would go with the SB-600 due to the huge amount of things, you can do with it, what the SB-400 can't do at all.
  19. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Well, based on that list I'd suggest a Hasselblad over a Nikon any second :smile:

    Don't forget that one huge advantage of the SB-400: you will have it with you. - if the size and weight of the SB-600 are no big deal and you'll carry it around with you all the time then go for it.
    But the whole D40 package has super compact size and low weight as a main advantage. I wouldn't be so quick throwing that out of the window by adding a flash that is bigger and feels heavier than the camera itself.
  20. menos


    Nov 11, 2008
    Sorry Bart, I had forgotten one thing in my post.
    "I would go with the SB-600 due to the huge amount of things, you can do with it, what the SB-400 can't do at all."

    The biggest gripe, I have with my SB-400 is, that it sits in the closet and my SB-900 and SB-600 (a SB-900 in a smaller package without sync connector) are with me, when I use flash.

    The second biggest gripe with my SB-400 is, that it is pretty useless with the cameras, I use 99% of the time (D3 and Ricoh GRDII), whereas the other flashes work like a great, as in great.

    The lack of using the SB-400 off camera is a very strong argument too.

    considering all this for a price difference of ~50 USD its a no brainer to me.

    When I was starting with flash and wanted to buy my first unit, nobody advised me on the sever lack of these points of the SB-400 and saved me from spending 100,- EUR for the closet.
    I listened to Ken Rockwell, who was raving in (to me at that time) reasonable arguments and I pulled the trigger.

    The SB-600 is several leagues more flash in the smallest and lightest professional flash class made by Nikon.
    The SB-400 is a compact unit, that adds a one axis swivel movement to the camera for fill flash - nothing more and nothing less with no more capabilities.
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