SB900 Illumination Pattern Comparison

Dec 17, 2007
The SB900 has three different beam illumination patterns: Standard, Even, and Center-weighted illumination. I have read comments that the bulb-to-reflector and bulb-to-lens distances are manipulated independantly to yield different beam patterns.

I used a D300 with a Sigma 10-20 lens set to 12mm/F8.0, 5ft from a bare wall. A SB900 on camera was manually zoomed to 12mm, 50mm, 85mm and 200mm (note that flash was limited to 16mm with Even illumination; and also could not zoom past 85mm in Center-weighted illumination).

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I haven't drawn any conclusions from this initial analysis. I think I need to compare more zoom samples. Please chime in and make suggestions and requests on future analysis.
Last edited by a moderator:
Feb 2, 2005
Sudbury, Massachusetts

Thanks for doing this. I’m been thinking about the illumination patterns and trying to figure out what Nikon’s intent was.

It seems like they’d only be useful in a direct flash mode. If I going to use a flash as a direct light off-camera, I’m more likely to use some from of modifier like a snoot, grid, softbox or umbrella.

The only time I use direct flash on-camera is outside in bright sun. Perhaps I’d use it there. Otherwise when I’m inside, I’m more likely to bounce the light off of a wall or ceiling and I’m not sure I understand how it would be useful in that situation. Any ideas?

May 4, 2008
@Newbury, UK
I've been trying to play with it by just popping it on a wall and didn't draw any conclusion either... perhaps we need to analyse the direct impact on the shadows created on the subject, which i didn't yet... anyway, Alan, thanks for this! I thought I was alone... :)

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