SU-800 vs. D80 commander...

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Does anyone have experience with the D80 commander mode vs. the SU-800 and can give the pros and cons of each. I have recently acquired the D80 and already have the SU800, was wondering if I really still needed to keep the SU-800.

Thanks.
 
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The SU-800 has a couple of advantages over the D80 in commander mode:

  • Easier to operate - no need to dive in menus, you can set the flashes straight from commander using buttons. Of course this is great when using the flashes in manual mode, when shooting TTL it is less of an advantage.
  • No visible flash to "ignite" the other flashes. If you're taking lots of pictures of yourself in the mirror, or if you're shooting lots of shiny objects this is a clear advantage (otherwise you'll have a reflection of the on-camera flash in your image)
  • Better reach. The IR-light of the SU-800 does a better job bouncing around furniture, giving you the ability to fire your flashes from places that you'd never use with just the on-board commander.

Now, that doesn't mean that the on-board commander is useless - when you're out in the field with a light-weight outfit and you want to use off-camera flash, you're still carrying one with you! :smile:
 
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Heck, now that you have both, find a subject and take some headshots using each. You'll find out pretty quick why the su800 is such a cool bit of gear.

Advantages of using the popup flash as commander
  • It comes for free with the camera!
  • It has more range than the su800, indoors or out. Sorry, Bart, but we've tested it, and the extra range for IR is a myth.

Disadvantages of using the popup flash as commander
  • You have to menu-dive to change settings.
  • You can only control 2 groups vs. 3 groups with the su800.
  • It flashes bright light control signals directly at your subject. The su800commands via invisible infrared signals.
 
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Right as usual, Frank. Your advice cost me the price of a SU-800, just like your advice on the Nikkor 85 mm f1.4 cost me. Funny thing, both were worth it. Please keep up the advice.

Bruce
 
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Using a $12 Nikon SG-3IR converts bright light control flash signals directly at your subject into invisible infrared signals.
 
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Would you mind taking a flash picture of your camera in a mirror to prove the point?
Well, I'm not one who likes to 'prove a point', but would like to share my experiences in using Nikon's SG-3IR to eliminate my D80's flash contribution to a picture when using either CLS or controlling my monolights.

Here's what happens when you don't use the SG-3IR - this is (obviously) a self portrait taken in a mirror:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Duncan.Glendinning/SG3IR/photo#5230476359805038818

And here's what happens when you use the SG-3IR:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Duncan.Glendinning/SG3IR/photo#5230476340997611554

In both images, I was illuminated with two SB-600's.

Ciao... Duncan
 
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Duncan,

Thanks for the very useful information. Have you noticed the SG-31R reducing any of the reach with CLS?

It looks like a very useful $12 accessory to eliminate the blinkies when using the pop-up. Also to minimize contributions when I use my pop-up to fire off-camera flash for micro -- I notice the pop-up does add a little bit in that case, even when set to not contribute.
 
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Well, I'm not one who likes to 'prove a point'...
I don't know why. There are too many people repeating urban legends, so it's a treat when someone shares their hard earned experience. And a picture is worth... well, you know :smile:. Your samples are very persuasive. The SG31R is an excellent solution.
 
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Well, I'm not one who likes to 'prove a point', but would like to share my experiences in using Nikon's SG-3IR to eliminate my D80's flash contribution to a picture when using either CLS or controlling my monolights.

Here's what happens when you don't use the SG-3IR - this is (obviously) a self portrait taken in a mirror:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Duncan.Glendinning/SG3IR/photo#5230476359805038818

And here's what happens when you use the SG-3IR:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Duncan.Glendinning/SG3IR/photo#5230476340997611554

In both images, I was illuminated with two SB-600's.

Ciao... Duncan
I don't see a lot of difference when using the SG-3IR with my R1 ringlight for florals or butterflies. Your self portrait here shows off the difference nicely.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2006
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Duncan,

Thanks for the very useful information. Have you noticed the SG-31R reducing any of the reach with CLS?

It looks like a very useful $12 accessory to eliminate the blinkies when using the pop-up. Also to minimize contributions when I use my pop-up to fire off-camera flash for micro -- I notice the pop-up does add a little bit in that case, even when set to not contribute.
I have not noticed that the SG-3IR reduces the reach when using CLS, but I have never had a reason to test it, as I mostly use it indoors. I recall that I had a situation once where one of my SB-600's didn't fire, which I attributed to the fact that the sensor window was pointing 180 degrees away - so I rotated the flash head relative to the flash body and it worked just fine.

When using CLS, I don't think that the SG-3IR will solve the blinkies problem because the preflashes are still required to measure flash exposure. In my case, I use the D80's flash exposure value lock (FV lock) to pre-measure the flash exposure prior to capturing the image. This works fine as long as you don't move the camera such that it has to refocus, because as soon as it does, the previously established FV lock value is dicarded and the preflashes will fire again.

BTW, in case it isn't obvious, I am not suggesting that the SG-3IR is a substitute for an SU-800, but rather wanted folks to realize that there is a less expensive option that might have some value. As others have posted, if you want to control three channels, want extended reach, etc., then the SU-800 would be the preferred approach. I had the opportunity to visit B&H Photo when I was in New York City on business in January, and chose to pay the $12 to see if it would work for the applications that I have, and it did. As I originally noted, I use the SG-3IR on my D80 to trigger either my SB-600's or my Elinchrom 400BX's.

Also, sorry for the grizzly self-portraits - I had taken them for other reasons in July and thought it would be more expedient to simply post them rather than shooting a new series. Here's is a much wider view of the mirror test - you can see the silver umbrella in the upper left and the white shoot through umbrella to the right.
http://picasaweb.google.com/Duncan.Glendinning/SG3IR/photo#5230896500168306578

Hope this helps someone... Duncan
 
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PeterRH

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And a picture is worth... well, you know :smile:. Your samples are very persuasive. The SG31R is an excellent solution.
Agreed. Assuming I pick up a D700, this (or whatever it is that would fit the D700 built-in flash) will be my very next purchase.

I'm likely to use a D2x with SU800 and the D700 as the second camera with the built-in flash to control manual output, so this is a 'must buy'.

Great stuff.
 
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Agreed. Assuming I pick up a D700, this (or whatever it is that would fit the D700 built-in flash) will be my very next purchase.

I'm likely to use a D2x with SU800 and the D700 as the second camera with the built-in flash to control manual output, so this is a 'must buy'.

Great stuff.
My backup camera usually stays in the camera bag. I experimented shooting an event actively using 2 cameras, and I prefer changing lenses to lugging two rigs around. But switching the su800 to the one in use was very easy, and maintained the settings without having to fiddle with menus. Jmho.
 
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P

PeterRH

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My backup camera usually stays in the camera bag. I experimented shooting an event actively using 2 cameras, and I prefer changing lenses to lugging two rigs around. But switching the su800 to the one in use was very easy, and maintained the settings without having to fiddle with menus. Jmho.

Interesting contrast in operating technique to achieve the results needed.

Finding what really works for you in a shoot is a hugely valuable lesson that some never really discover, or they do but lack the confidence to stick with it.

For me, changing lenses and swapping over the SU800 is exactly what I want to avoid during events (or even portrait sittings where they involve kids).

I'd set up the D700 with the correct options in advance and move from DX to FX when needed...and this little gizmo will prevent that being a problem with visible pre-flash.

I remember seeing something about this IR flash-cover as far back as when I bought the D70, but could not see a use for it - certainly can now!
 

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