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Flash Units for Nikon

Overview of Flash Units Compatible with Nikon's CLS
by Gisle Hannemyr

1. Introduction

This note gives an overview of dedicated flash units compatible with Nikon's CLS that are made by Nikon and selcted third-party manufacturers.

Disclaimer: I have not tested all the units listed in this note myself. The data have been copied from various sources, such as the manufacturer's web sites, private communications, manuals, discussion forums, and other sources. I've included it here “as is”. The information may not be complete or correct, and corrections are welcome.

For corrections, additional information, to share a review about one of these units, or just would like to comment, please use the comment section below (public) or the feedback form (private).

2. Nikon Flash Equipment

Nikon's flash system has evolved over time. The current system is known as Creative Lighting System (CLS) and requires the camera body to support a particular type of TTL called i-TTL.

This page only lists flash units compatible with the current generation of Nikon digital cameras. If you are looking for a flash for a legacy body, please see our page about TTL-support and older cameras.

However, before we get to the list of compatible flash units, there is a section about the built-in flash you may find on a Nikon DSLR, and a section about the Nikon SU-800 Speedlight Commander. At the end of this note, there is a section comparing the SB-700 to the SB-910.

Nikon's oldest DSLRs (introduced from 2000 to 2002) is not compatble with CLS and i-TTL, but requires a legacy TTL system known as D-TTL. The Nikon digital camera models that only support D-TTL are the D1-series and the D100.

When the Nikon D2H was launched in 2003, a new era of Nikon flash photography began. With the D2H the CLS was introduced. One of innovations of CLS was AWL (Advanced Wireless Lighting) where a flash unit or the SU-800 Speedlight Commander could control remote AWL-compatible Speedlights wirelessly. For good measure, Nikon also added a special mode (commander mode) that let the photographer use the built-in flash as an AWL-master master to many of its DSLRs. The only models excluded were the professional models that did not have a built-in flash, and the entry-level models. Below I list all Nikon DSLRs that is compatible with CLS, and whether they have a built-in flash that can be used in commander mode:

  • CLS w/o. flash: D2-series, D3-series
  • CLS w. flash, no commander mode: D50, D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D5000 and D5100
  • CLS w. flash, commander mode, 1 grop 1 channel: D70, D70s (group A, channel 3).
  • CLS w. flash, commander mode, 2 groups 4 channels: D80, D90, D7000, D200, D300, D300s, D700.

As far as I know, the built-in flashes on all current Nikon DSLR models with a built-in flash have similar guide number and coverage.

The built-in flash has a guide number of 12 in manual mode (ISO 100, meters) and 11 in any of the CLS modes. The coverage is roughly 24 mm on a DSLR with an FX-sensor, and 18 mm on a DSLR with a DX-sensor.

The x-sync speed on most Nikon DSLRs is either 1/200 (lower end models) or 1/250 second (higher end models). However, the following models: D70, D70s, D50, D40 used a CCD-sensor with an electronic shutter that allowed syncing up to 1/500 second with a CLS-compatible flash. With a generic flash, or if you fooled the camera by taping over the hot-shoe contacts it uses to detect a CLS-compatible flash, these camera models allowed syncing at the cameras maximum shutter speed without invoking the FP mode. Unfortunately, the electronic shutter made the sensor bloom easily, and has not been used by Nikon in recent DSLR designs.

SU-800 Speedlight Commander

The SU-800 Speedlight Commander is not a flash. It is a hot-shoe mounted master unit that uses infrared light to wirelessly control other Speedlights compatible with Nikon's AWL.

The SU-800 can control the following Nikon Speedlights: SB-R200, SB-600, SB-700 SB-800, SB-900 or SB-910, and also works with third party flash units that has built-in support for AWL.

It let the photographer set up and control 3 groups (A-C), and 4 channels (1-4). It has button controls and a LCD screen on the back.

The SU-800 works fine indoors in moderate sized rooms. Outdoors you need direct line-of-sight between the SU-800 and the remote Speedlights, and you may still experience areliability problems in bright sunlight. For reliable operation outdoors, most photographers prefer to use radio triggers instead of a light based flash control system.

Check availability of the SU-800: Adorama, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, B&H, eBay.

The SU-800 measures 68 x 96 x 58 mm, and weighs 160 gram w/o. battery. It uses one 3 volt CR123A (lithium) battery and comes with SS-SU800 soft case.

The price is around USD 250.

CLS Compatible Flash Units

Below are a s set of tables that gives an overview over CLS-compatible flash units manufactured by Nikon and selected third-party manufacturers.

For an ever wider selection of CLS-compatible flash units, use the DPanwsers Flash finder to search our entire database.

You can see a more detailed description by clicking on the name of the flash. Most of the colums should be self-explanatory. The column “WL” summarizes built-in wireless modes: The character “m” means AWL master, “r” means AWL remote, “sf” means plain slave, and “sd” means digital slave (ignoring pre-flash).

CLS units manufactured by Nikon:

ModelCoverageGNWLPrice
Nikon SB-40027mm21  USD 110
Nikon SB-60014, 24-85mm30 [USD 215]
Nikon SB-70014, 24-120mm28m/r,sf USD 330
Nikon SB-80014, 24-105mm38m/r,sf [USD 315]
Nikon SB-90014, 17-200mm34m/r,sf [USD 440]
Nikon SB-91014, 17-200mm34m/r,sf USD 550
Nikon SB-R200 Macro24mm10 USD 160

CLS compatible units manufactured by Metz, Nissin, Sigma, Sunpak and YongNuo:

ModelCoverageGNWLPrice
Metz 15 MS-1 Macro35mm15r,sf,sd USD 400
Metz 24 AF-135mm24  USD 90
Metz 28 AF-324, 35, 85mm22  [USD 110]
Metz 36 AF-428-85mm24  [USD 112]
Metz 36 AF-528-85mm24  USD 112
Metz 44 AF-112, 24-105mm27 USD 200
Metz 44 AF-412, 24-105mm28  USD 200
Metz 44 MZ-228-105mm26  USD 249
Metz 48 AF-112, 24-105mm29r,sf [USD 225]
Metz 50 AF-112, 24-105mm29r,sf USD 230
Metz 54 AF-120, 24-105mm31  USD 405
Metz 54 MZ-420, 24-105mm31  USD 400
Metz 58 AF-118, 24-105mm32m/r,sf [USD 405]
Metz 58 AF-212, 24-105mm32m/r,sd USD 400
Metz 76 MZ-520, 24-105mm45  USD 875
Nissin Di2835mm20  USD 80
Nissin Di46616, 24-105mm22sf,sd USD 139
Nissin Di62220, 28-105mm26sd  [USD 150]
Nissin Di622 II16, 24-105mm26r,sf,sd USD 160
Nissin Di86618, 24-105mm40m/r,sf,sd [USD 329]
Nissin Di866 II18, 24-105mm40m/r,sf,sd USD 349
Sigma EF-500 DG ST17, 28-105mm29  [USD 150]
Sigma EF-500 DG Super17, 28-105mm29m/r,sf [USD 219]
Sigma EF-530 DG ST17, 24-105mm31  [USD 150]
Sigma EF-530 DG Super17, 24-105mm31m/r,sf [USD 219]
Sigma EF-610 DG ST17, 24-105mm36  USD 165
Sigma EF-610 DG Super17, 24-105mm36m/r,sf USD 255
Sigma EM-140 DG Macro14 USD 379
Sunpak PZ40X24-80mm20  USD 70
Sunpak PZ42X20, 24-105mm28  USD 149
Sunpak RD-200035mm20  USD 62
YongNuo YN-460-RX35mm33r,sf,sd USD 110
YongNuo YN-46535mm33  USD 66
YongNuo YN-467 II24-85mm33sf,sd [USD 75]
YongNuo YN-468 II18, 24-85mm33sf,sd USD 91
YongNuo YN-560EX15, 24-105mm39r,sf,sd USD 110
YongNuo YN-565EX15, 24-105mm39r,sf,sd USD 175
YongNuo YN-568EX15, 24-105mm39r,sf,sd USD 182

A Note About Guide Numbers

Note that if you use guide numbers (GNs) for doing comparisons, the guide number you'll find in most manufacturer's literature is for the zoom head at its maximum setting (e.g. f=105mm). This makes it difficult to make direct power comparisons with flash units from other manufacturers, who may list use another zoom setting as reference for GNs. For zoom head flashes, the tables above show the GN with the zoom head set to 35 mm coverage (FX), ISO 100, meters. In the full list of specifications for each flash, I try to list the GN for three different settings of the zoom head (35mm, 50mm, and maximum).

For Speedlights that offer alternative illuminations patterns (i.e. the SB-700 & SB-910), the GNs listed are those for the “standard” illumination pattern.

3. SB-700 vs. SB-910

The AWL Speedlight Commander and macro units are clearly not mainstream units.

The SB-400 has no zoom or swivel, and does not support AWL. I think that this puts it into a class of its own, for those that want a lightweight no-frills shoe-mounted flash with i-TTL.

The SB-600, SB-800 and SB-900 are discontinued.

This means that the two Nikon units most buyers consider is the SB-700 and the SB-910. The table below gives a detailed comparison between the two (GNs for SB-700 taken from p. 35 in the manual. GNs for SB-910 taken from p. H-18 in the manual. For both, the numbers quoted are for FX, using the standard illumination pattern):

 SB-700SB-910
Cost, Jul. 2012USD 330USD 550
Coverage (FX)14, 24 - 120mm14, 17 - 200 mm
GN (ISO 100/m, f=35mm)2834
GN (ISO 100/m, f=50mm)3140
GN (ISO 100/m, f=max)3853
Flash duration (1/1 power)1/1042 sec.1/880 sec.
Weight w/o batteries360 g.420 g.
W x H x D71 x 126 x 105 mm79 x 145 x 113 mm
Battery life (1)260 flashes 190 flashes
Recycle time (1)2.5 sec.2.3 sec.
Trigger voltage2.7 volts3.5 volts
Non-TTL autonoyes
Manual stroboscopic (RPT)noyes
AWL master / remoteyes / yesyes / yes
AWL remote groups23
PC sync socketnoyes
External power socketnoyes
Tabletop standAS-22AS-21
Soft caseSS-700SS-910
The remaining specifications are similar.
Movementstilt, swiveltilt, swivel
Tilt Angle-7° to +90° -7° to + 90°
i-TTLyesyes
D-TTL & TTLnono
Manual power ratio1/1 - 1/1281/1 - 1/128
FOLCyesyes
Crop-awareyesyes
Overheat protectionyesyes
Firmware update (2)yesyes
Manual distance priorityyesyes
High Speed Sync (FP)yesyes
SU-4 slave modeyesyes
LCDyesyes
Modeling lightyesyes
Bounce cardyesyes
Coloured gel filtersyesyes
Diffuser domeyesyes
  1. With 4 NiMH 2600 mAh batteries. The figures assume that every flash is a full discharge. Note that these figures does not mean that the SB-910 will give you fewer flashes than SB-700 during normal i-TTL operation. They simply reflects the fact that the SB-910 outputs more power at each full discharge.
  2. Firmware update via compatible cameras (i.e. all Nikon DSLRs except the D2-series, D1-series, D200, D100, D80, D70-series, D60, D50, D40-series) is possible.
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28 responses:

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Metz 44 AF1 flash and the Nikon d7000

Hi
I would like to know if the Metz 44 AF1 can work with the Nikon d7000 please.

Thank you for your help
M PHAM

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@PHAM,
the Nikon version of the Metz 44 AF1 flash should work fine with the Nikon D7000 DSLR.

Note that there are also versions of the Metz 44 AF1 for Canon, FourThirds, Pentax, and Sony. These versions does not work with a Nikon camera.

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Nikon D7000 built-in flash commander

I have the D7000 with the built flash commander.
I am wondering if the flash commander works with non Nikon flashes.

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@cheifdap,
the D7000 built-in flash commander is compatible with a third-party flash if the third-party flash has built-in support for Nikon's wireless remote mode.

If you view the table of third-party flashes further up the page, and look at the column with the heading “WL”, all third-party flashes that have an “r” (for “remote”) in this column can be controlled with any Nikon commander – including the Nikon D7000 built-in flash commander.

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Nikon D5100 compatible with Achiever 421tz flash unit?

Can I use this flash on D5100 successfully.

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@Kim S.,
unfortunately, we do not have the Achiever 421TZ in the DPAnswers flash database. This means that I do not know its exact specifications or its trigger voltage.

If I recall correctly, the Achiever 421TZ was a simple auto-thyristor flash that came on the market at some time during the 1980ies. Before using an old flash from that era it on a modern digital camera, you need to check its trigger voltage to determine whether it is safe.

If the voltage is safe, you should be able to use it on a Nikon D5100 in manual or auto-thyristor mode, but it is obviously not a modern flash and it cannot be used for TTL flash exposure control on any SLR or DSLR.

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Nikon Speedlights: CLS group settings

It would be interesting to know what Nikon CLS group settings each of the 3rd party flashes support.

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@test,
I'll try to add that information to the spec sheets when I can find the time.

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Nikon D3100 + SB700 + YN-460

Hello there, I need some advice.

I have a Nikon D3100 with a SB700. I am planning to purchase a YN-460. I would like to know if the SB700 can control the YN-460 in slave mode.

Thank you.

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@kamlesh,
no ‐ the Yongnuo YN-460 does not support Nikon's AWL and cannot be controlled by a Nikon AWL master, such as the Nikon SB-700.

However, the Yongnuo YN-460 has a built-in plain slave mode, and can be slave triggered by almost any other flash unit (including the Nikon SB-700). Unlike AWL, this will only work in fully manual mode.

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Recycle times

Hello, I stumbled across this page while looking for a flash unit with a faster recycle time than my SB-600. After two kids, my hobby has quickly turned into the responsibility of being the family photojournalist, and I've found the recycle on the SB-600 aggravating. For the non-Nikon flashes, is there an easy way to compare that value?

Thanks in advance!

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@James,
not really. Flash recycle times isn't easy to pin down, even when looking at equipment from a single manufacturer. Small plastic flash units are designed to recycle slowly, because if you fire them machine-gun style, they fry.

If you're not happy with the recycle times of the Nikon SB-600, your best bet is probably to go for a larger metal housed flash, such as the Quantum Qflash Trio QF8. But this is an expensive route!

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Nikon SB-21 and D80

Will my sb-21b work with my D80?

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Nikon SB-21 and D80

@mark b,
It will, work, but only in in manual mode – the TTL is not compatible. Also see our spec. sheet.

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Nikon D90 using SB-24 with optical slave

Tried Nikon D90 using Nikon SB-24 with separate optical slave with the built-in flash as master.

I did not see much difference in lighting.

The Nikon SB-28DX will give the more GN, as I'm using to take pics of grand kids.

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Nikon D5000 and D5100 with a Sunpak PZ40xII

Will this work and are there better ones out there that match these units? There is a deal right now for them at $50.

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CLS with radio trigger

Is there a radio trigger that works with CLS? I find using flash outdoors, I can't get reliable triggering using the D600 flash in commander mode... Seems like the ones out there are manual - set power levels on the flash...

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Error on Nissin 622 mk II

I think there is an error on the 35mm Guide number of Nissin 622 Mark II flash. The official specs claim a GN of 32 (m. 35mm. ISO 100), and you announce a GN of 26 in the flash page.

Best regards!

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Yongnuo flash for D3100

New to DSLR. Want larger flash vs. pop up flash. Confused as to whether there is a flash that will work on d3100 without a separate trigger. If must have trigger what is best set up? I know Nikon best but not interested in paying more for flash than I paid for camera. Makes me miss my 35mm :) Thanks

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@William
the Yongnuo flash models that are listed as compatible on this page will work in the hot-shoe of the Nikon D3100 without a separate trigger.

Those tagged "sf" in the "WL" column will also work off-camera as a slave flash with the pop-up as the trigger, but in manual mode only.

Those tagged "r" in the "WL" column can also be used off-camera in automatic (AWL) mode, but require the Nikon SU-800 Speedlight Commander mounted on the camera to do so for all Nikon bodies without built-in commander mode, including the Nikon D3100.

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Thanks for reply, you answered my questions. Just ordered a YN-648 II.
Have a great day.

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YongNuo Led macro ring flash

I am struggling to sync my new macro ring flash with my D5100.

Am I doing something wrong? What setting should I use?

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YongNuo Led macro ring flash

@wanya,
if you're referring to the Yongnuo LED MR-58, note that this is a dumb device that doesn't communicate with your Nikon camera, so you need to shoot in full manual mode to use it. My suggestion is to use ISO 400, shutter speed 1/60 second a f/5.6 to start out with. But you may need to experiment to find the best settings.

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Using a YongNuo YN-468 II with Nikon D200.

Greetings Gisle

I have 2 Nikon D200's. I recently purchased a Yongnuo YN-468 II thru Amazon. Upon receipt, I was disappointed to note that the TTL function mode did NOT function on either of my D200s. The manual mode was fine .. but no TTL. I also have a D70s. The TTL mode worked fine on the D70s. Thinking that I received a unit that was just a lemon, I returned it and bought another Yongnuo YN-468 II from a different Amazon supplier. Upon receipt, it was the same .... No TTL. Since I wanted a TTL function, the second unit was also returned.

I went to a local camera store and tried the Nikon SB 700 on one of my D200s. The TTL worked fine.

I also sent a note (Before returning the first unit) directly to the Yongnuo company customer service. They never responded.

It's a fine little flash but ...... am I the only one with Non Compatible D200s ??

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Sb 400

Hi!

Can I use sb 400 flash with my Nikon d5000? I am a novice photographer, please help. Thank you.

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Nikon SB-400 and D5000

Yes, all flash units listed on this page, including the the Nikon SB-400 should work fine with the Nikon D5000 DSLR.

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I just received a Yongnuo YN 565EX for my Nikon D 300, but it appears that the camera mode must be manually set for flash because the flash does not override the camera P mode when it is installed. Will a Nikon flash automatically control the camera when installed?

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Nissin Di622 on nikon D5100

I just bought a Nissin Di622 for my Nikon D5100 and I put it on my D5100 on its TTL mode, but it won't fire.

Am i missing something?

Does Nissin Di622 on TTL mode fire on Nikon D5100?

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