First off, I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on one of these to use. This ‘review’ is just based on my opinion and information from other photographers I’ve spoken with.
This is on one of my want lists. I need to get another speedlight, and within the next couple of months I’m hoping to make my decision on what flash, although right now it’s down to this or the SB-700.
Earlier this evening someone asked me for an opinion on a speedlight. They mentioned the 900 vs the 910 vs Metz and Nissin. Personally, for the speedlights that I’ve used, I prefer to use Nikon equipment. I wish the price wasn’t as high, but don’t we all. Here’s the info for Ingeniouspixie.
My first gut reaction is that I would take the 910 over the 900. I’ve had the SB-900 for a while now and I love it, but I have run into an issue once or twice where it cut out on me. That being said, when it did cut out, I had the flash higher than I needed it and I was taking a number of shots at an event where I was trying to capture someone specific. In other words, it was my own fault and I could have avoid it or at least prolonged it a little later.
Now as I’m re-reading the specs, the SB-910 isn’t as different as I had thought. The physical flash output and specs have not changed much from the SB-900. Other than the ‘enhanced thermal cut out function’, the only other major difference is the user functions are a little more user friendly than the 900. The user interface of the SB-910 is made a little easier with a dedicated menu button, in place of the zoom button on the 900.
The ‘enhanced thermal cut out function’ that Nikon has implemented into this speedlight is an improvement, but I don’t believe it’s the fix that most users of the 900 were hoping for. When the SB-910 detects a risk of overheating, in continuous flash mode, it automatically delays the recycle time. From reviews I’ve read and some that I’ve spoken with about this issue, it can be avoided or at least minimized by using an external battery pack such as the optional Nikon SD-9 pack.
One thing that I’m not sure of personally is the included SZ-2FL and SZ-2TN colour filters. I liked having just the clear filter holder that I received with the SB-900. That way you could cut some filters of various colours for different situations. I believe that the SZ-2 clear filter holder is available as an accessory. Also I’m guessing that it would be nice if those are the only filters you’d use, then you won’t have to worry about putting them in the right spot, but I would have to get used to that.
My conclusion is that I’d still go for the 910 if I had the money right now. Even though I’ve only run into the thermal issue once or twice, it was still annoying. That being said, I may personally go for the SB-700 for a second flash. My reasoning is that the 700 is a smaller, lighter flash that would be better suited when I’m traveling. It’s still a very capable flash, especially because the SB-900 is my main flash, so the 700 would be a good secondary and/or back up flash.
I need to get my hands on a Nissin and a Metz to try them out. As I mentioned in my reply to Ingeniouspixie, I did not like the controls on the Nissin flash that I handled. I only held one product from Nissin and it’s been a couple of years, so I may be wrong on anything they currently have, but it just felt like a cheap flash that wouldn’t be very reliable. I know some of the newer Metz speedlights are comparable to the Nikon speedlights in power, but it’s been a while since I used one so I can only rely on memory and at the time, the SB-900, even with it’s higher price tag, made more sense. For one thing the SB-900/SB-910 speedlights come with a diffuser. This isn’t a huge deal when you’re shooting with an umbrella or soft box, but there are times it’s nice to have. The Metz and Nissin do not come with either the diffuser or the filter holder. For me, having the filter holder as well, looks a lot better than taping filters to the front of the speed light. This is for me, not the client. Some things I just get a little OCD about.
The other part of this equation is how much could you pickup a used SB-900 for. This may be a good option as well.
Here are the specs from the Nikon site:
Guide Number34 m/111.5 ft. (at ISO 100, 35mm zoom head position, in FX format, standard illumination pattern, 20°C/68°F) to 48 m/157.5 ft. (at ISO 200, 35mm zoom head position, in FX format, standard illumination pattern, 20°C/68°F)
Electronic ConstructionAutomatic Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and series circuitry
Flash Exposure ControlDistance-priority manual flash
i-TTL Balanced Fill-Flash with CLS compatible cameras
Manual Flash (with Nikon Creative Lighting System digital and 35mm SLR cameras)
Lens Coverage8 to 11mm (DX-format, Automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
12 to 17mm (FX-format, Automatic mode with built-in wide-angle panel deployed)
12 to 200mm (DX-format, Automatic mode)
17 to 200mm (FX-format, Automatic mode)
Illumination patternThe light distribution angle is automatically adjusted to the camera’s image area in both FX and DX formats
Other Available FunctionsTest Firing
AF-assist illumination for multi-point AF
Bounce Function (Tilt)Flash head tilts down to -7° or up to 90° with click-stops at -7°, 0°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90°.
Bounce Function (Rotate)Flash head rotates horizontally 180° to the left and right with click-stops at 0°, 30°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, 180°
Minimum Recycling Time2.3 sec. (approx.) with Ni-MH (2600 mAh) batteries
3.0 sec. (approx.) with Oxyride™ (1.5V) batteries
4.0 sec. (approx.) with Alkaline-manganese (1.5V) batteries
4.5 sec. (approx.) with Lithium (1.5V) batteries
Flash Duration1/880 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output
1/1100 sec. at M 1/2 output
1/2550 sec. at M 1/4 output
1/5000 sec. at M 1/8 output
1/10000 sec. at M 1/16 output
1/20000 sec. at M 1/32 output
1/35700 sec. at M 1/64 output
1/38500 sec. at M 1/128 output
Required Power SourceFour 1.2V Ni-MH (AA-size) batteries
Four 1.5V Alkaline-manganese (AA-size) batteries
Four 1.5V Lithium (AA-size) batteries
Optional Power SupplySK-6 Power Bracket Unit, SD-9 High-Performance Battery Pack
SD-8A High-Performance Battery Pack
Flash-ready IndicatorRear and Front lights blink: Insufficient light for correct exposure (in i-TTL, Auto Aperture flash, Non-TTL Auto flash, or Distance-priority manual flash operations).
Rear lights up and Front blinks: recycled and ready to fire.
Flash Compensation–3.0 EV to +3.0 EV in increments of 1/3 steps in i-TTL auto flash, Auto Aperture flash, Non-TTL auto flash and Distance-priority manual flash modes
Custom SettingAF-Assist Illumination
Minimum Number of Flashes / Recycling Time110/4.0 – 30 sec. (1.5V Alkaline-manganese)
165/2.3–30 sec. (Ni-MH (eneloop))
190/2.3–30 sec. (2600mAh Ni-MH)
230/4.5–120 sec. (1.5V Lithium)
Wireless Flash ModesMaster
Wireless Communication ChannelsFour: 1, 2, 3 and 4 Channels
Wireless GroupsThree: A, B and C
Other FunctionsFirmware update
ISO sensitivity setting
Recalling the underexposure value in the TTL auto flash mode
Resetting the settings
Improved Thermal Cut-out
Dimensions3.1 x 5.7 x 4.4 in. (78.5 x 145 x 113mm)
Weight (Approx. without batteries)14.8 oz. (420g)
- AS-21 Speedlight Stand
- SW-13H Nikon Diffusion Dome
- SZ-2FL Fluorescent Filter
- SZ-2TN Incandescent Filter
- SS-910 Soft Case