Strobist: SB800 standby problem - SOLVED!

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Uncle Frank, May 23, 2007.

  1. Since I have an su800, I use my speedlights in remote mode.

    According to page 21 of the SB800 Instruction Manual, "the standby function does not work regardless of the SB-800's setting when the Speedlight is used as a remote flash unit."

    But one of my sb800s goes into standby mode after a few minutes of inactivity, the other doesn't, and I can't find any difference in their settings.

    Someone told me to take the sb800 out of remote mode, change the standby setting to "---", and then put the sb800 back in remote mode. It was a good plan, but it doesn't work.

    Any ideas? Or do I just have a bad Speedlight?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2007
  2. Aha, I may have answered my own question!

    I noticed the red "ready light" wasn't on in remote mode. I switched to standard mode, and it came on, but it didn't light up when I changed back to remote mode. Curious, but maybe the ready light isn't activated in remote mode.

    To confirm, I checked my other sb800, and the ready light came on in both standard mode and remote mode. So I put new batteries in the problem unit, put it in remote mode, and the ready light came on. It's been 10 minutes and it hasn't gone into standby mode yet. That's promising.

    So when it comes to Speedlights, "standby mode" is apparently Nikon-speak for low battery.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2007
  3. Ruffles


    May 5, 2005
    Rexburg, ID
    While I love the SB-800, my biggest beef is the complete lack of a low battery indicator. When the battery starts getting low, all kinds of weird things start happening. Usually, I'll find that it won't trigger remotely yet when I press the test button, it recharges quickly and seems like it's ready to go. I'll spend 15 min repositioning the sensor thinking it's just not seeing the signal and then it will dawn on me to try new batts. Then all is well:confused:.
  4. Yup, and to make it worse, I use NiMH batteries, which can lose their charge just from sitting around. So when I take 4 "fully charged" batteries out of the case I store them in, they may be only partially charged. Sometimes I think I should just go back to using alkaline batteries. They're cheap, and they don't have any shelf life issues.
  5. Gr8Tr1x

    Gr8Tr1x Guest

    I use cheap alkalines and have little problem with them. I just buy them in bulk and store them. I don't have enough battery chargers to keep a fresh supply of NiMH freshly charged. To use 3 SB600's and my SB800 with SB8A, I would need 23 AA's on hand...and I know its hard to keep that many NiMH's fresh.
  6. I'd think twice about that, Greg.

    Sanyo claims their ENELOOP batteries will hold 85% of their charge after 6 months on the shelf. But they're only rated at 2000mAh, so that's 1700mAh left.

    Sanyo claims my Lenmar NiMH batteries will only hold 75% of their charge after 6 month on the shelf, but they're rated at 2500mAh, so they'd have 1875mAh left.

    Adorama sells a 20 pack of the Lenmar batteries for $26.95. That comes out to $1.35 per battery. Thomas Distributing sells the Sanyo ENELOOP in volume for $11.57 per 4-pack, which comes out to $2.89 per battery.

    So unless you don't use your flash for over 6 months at a time, the Lenmar AAs seem like the superior offering. Jmho.
  7. photoshooter

    photoshooter Guest

    That is an interesting observation, I had the same thing happen to me some time ago. I was told the sb800, did not go into standby, when in remote, but just like you, one of my units would go into standby, while the others would not.
    Glad to see somone else with the same problem. I just turn them off when finished, don't worry about standby any longer.
  8. Sleepy flash

    I was having the same problem with remote SB800s using 2000 mh batteries. I bought some Powerex 2700 batteries from Thomas and am getting much better results. I also bought their top of the line charger. Total cost about $150 to equip my 4 strobes, but so far, much better, much more reliable flash performance.

    I recharge my batteries at the end of each day and always give all the batteries a fresh charge before a big assignment. I've shot an entire wedding using just one set of these 2700 batteries in each flash.

    I also recommend the SU-800 over the SB800 as a commander. I just never seem to get consistent results with the SB800 commander set up. I've seen a huge increase in performance with the SU-800.
  9. The stand by issue is definitely battery related as Frank found out. Once the battery power goes, the unit goes into standby whether set to overide or not.
  10. Good sleuthing, guys! Uncle Frank and I ran into that situation at a wedding a few months back, and I ran into again just a few days ago when practicing. I swapped the master and the slave and the problem went away... but it must have been the batteries.

    I also found out that sometimes a battery in a lot of 4 does not hold the charge as it should (even from a fresh charge), taking down the whole lot with it. My charger indicates ready/charge per battery and 3 of them were replenished almost right away, while the fourth one took the full charge time (hours instead of just a few minutes).

    Bottom line: watch your batteries carefully! :frown:
  11. Yes, and it cost me a few extra hours of Photoshop work :Crunk:.

    Did you notice if your ready light was out when your remote went into standby mode?
  12. You mean then, or more recently? Either way, no, I didn't notice but unless the flash itself is broken, it has to be the explanation. Now that I know this, I'll be prepared and will watch for the ready light.

    The funny thing is that when I swapped the master and slave the other day, the new master had its ready light on and fired and triggered the new slave. It means that the batteries had to be strong enough to operate in master mode but not in remote mode on that one flash, whereas the batteries were still going strong in the other... frustrating, really!
  13. On batteries: after trying like heck to make NiMH batteries work, I use alkalines if I use an SB800. Worst problem was as the nimhs get older, they would suddenly fail in use. Or just slowly lose how much charge they hold.

    I wish someone would make a cheap AC adapter for these. Half the time I could just plug the darned things in.
  14. genehsu


    Apr 15, 2007
    For "bad" NiMH batteries, I think a better charger would work. I got this charger because I've had problems with some batteries I use. It also satisfies the geek in me because I know exactly how much charge each battery will hold and can match the batteries in their sets a lot closer.
  15. Interesting you should say that Gene. I too had a set of NiMH batteries that I thought were bad. The cheap charger I was using did not seem to charge them at all. I then put them in my good charger and they recovered nicely and I have been using them for some time since that incident. I have the Maha C801D eight cell charger and it works great.
  16. DoorMan

    DoorMan Guest

    I also have one of these chargers. When I got it I threw away a few bad batteries on some of the sets and then was able to match the batteries up according to capacity. I really like it. It is a little geeky tho!
  17. I found the same issue with sb800 going into standby when set to slave,. really didn't twig at the time it was a battery issue,. the ready light was not coming on - doh

  18. Great! That's one more data point. I'm still trying to confirm my theory... that the ready light on the sb800 is never lit when the flash goes into standby in remote mode.
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