Misty Watson 9:31pm, 13 November 2012
We're looking at upgrading our lighting system at work. It is long overdue. I cannot tell you how overdue this is....

Both of us full time photogs currently have SBs. I have an 800, don't know what the other has exactly. So we want to continue with SBs.

(Because of lack of equipment and finances I have just used the pop up flash to trigger the off camera SB800 I have. I often use reflectors to help too. I'd rather use that as the lighting kit we have which needs to be plugged in to the wall!)

We're looking at getting a pocket wizard with a couple of additional flashes that will be company owned, and I'm wondering do we need SU 800s with any of the SBs? If we don't need them, but can get them, what are the advantages of having them?

Easy Mark 5 years ago
You should read through this (long but very informative) thread first:


I would suggest in particular looking at the comments suggested by Wolfie's den, as he explains very clearly some of the benefits and drawbacks of certain devices.

Hope this helps.
Mr. Speedlight Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mr. Speedlight (member) 5 years ago
You cannot aim the Nikon SU-800 at your remote triggers so I think you'll find an extra speedlight will make a better commander. The Nikon SB-700 will function as a commander with a better interface compared to the SB-800 but it only offers two groups, A and B. The SB-910 will also function as a commander but it's heavier. The SB-910 offers three groups.

I'm wondering why you are interested in the SU-800 if you are considering Pocket Wizards. I'm not sure of your budget. You might state that. If you are interested in PW and TTL that would make more sense to me.

If you are on a budget and just want manual radio triggers then you might look at the Phottix Strato II sets as they offer wakeup with SB-800 and 600 but not SB-700. The offer four channels and four groups but no manual control of power from the camera but do offer on/off for groups easily on the back of the Tx. The offer very good range. My results are about 50m in noisy conditions to well over 150m in more quite conditions with line of site.

The up side for using the pop up is many have this at no extra cost on their DSLR(s). The down side is lack of range in daylight and the pop up can lock the shutter of a DSLR to protect itself from over heating.

Anyway I think you need to state your goals more clearly. I do hope something here helps.

Dave Hartman
Orthogonality 5 years ago
The advantages of an SU-800 as a Commander are: small, light, relatively inexpensive especially used. The disadvantages (compared to, say, an SB-900) are: no flash (which you might use for fill), only full-stop adjustments if you have a Manual group, and aimability / range. I use one and like it, but am thinking about trading "up" to an SB-900.

Mr. Speedlight: a further limitation of the SB-700 is that you get either all TTL or all Manual groups (Master, A, B), can't mix them.
ChrisVPhoto 5 years ago
You could also get the FlexTT5s for all your Speedlights, get a MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 on your camera, and then use an AC3 ZoneController on to of the on camera radio. The AC3 us my favorite piece of gear, and much cheaper than an SU-800 for the PocketWizard system.
Jerry P. H. Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (member) 5 years ago
I mentioned in another post that I think that the SU-800 is a waste of money. A flash like the SB-700, 800, 900 or 910 all do pretty much the same or better and can serve as on camera front fill as well as serve as an extra flash for when you want to get really serious about triggering and go wireless triggers.

I own and have a strong bias for the Pocket Wizard ControlTL units. They are expensive, but do things that no other triggers on the market can do.

Put simply, there is nothing better on the market anywhere today.
Misty Watson 5 years ago
Thank you all for your kind informative feedback thus far!

We are looking into the FlexTT5s as well. Unfortunately, with limited access to current equipment, all of my training with lighting doesn't include remote triggers. So I know how to do light setups, but don't necessarily understand all the newer technology available or what is compatible.

Mr. Speedlight, goals with lighting?

I work as a photojournalist for a small daily paper with a limited budget. (I also occasionally shoot weddings (5-10 a year) and do portraits for people. So I am interested in upgrading my personal lighting system as well, though I can only do it one piece of equipment at a time.)

At the paper, we mostly are interested in upgrading our lighting for use with player of the year portraits, magazine covers (we have three magazines we publish as well), general portraits, etc. We often have to compete with the sun and we're often in the middle of a softball field or track. Well, you get the picture? Typical photojournalistic stuff we face.

We do quite well considering we've got such limited equipment. We win many awards (I was named one of three photogs of the year for CNHI last year). But I am constantly pushing for better lighting because I know I can do better than I am currently. Our other photog tends to prefer natural light though he uses this ancient light kit for poty shots.
Misty Watson 5 years ago
Old Nikon User:

Thank you! That is a very informative thread.
Mr. Speedlight Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mr. Speedlight (member) 5 years ago
A flash like the SB-700, 800, 900 or 910 all do pretty much the same or better and can serve as on camera front fill...

As a Nikon SB-700 owner I recommend the SB-800 to 910 over the SB-700 as the SB-700 only offers two groups A & B. One might want A, B & C groups for key, fill and background. One would probably be using different flash exposure compensation for fill and background. I wish I'd waited. I'd put up the extra money for an SB-910.

I also do not like the raw flash pattern of the SB-700 at the longest two zoom settings. These put a wide slightly darker horizontal band across the frame a bit below center. The smaller a reflector the more chance there will be faults. I'd like to sell my SB-700 but I can't afford to take the loss.


[Having seen a comparison of a Nikon SB-900 to SB-910 I won't recommend a used SB-900. In the test the SB-900 over-heated after 50 full power pop shot about as fast as the 900 recycled. At the same time an SB-910 was fired at the same time and kept on firing out to 150 pop and didn't over heat. I've only seen one such video and so I'm hesitant to state this as a fact.

Long ago I wanted an SU-800 but I've seen a bunch of videos where people aimed a speedlight to get quite long range out of CLS in daylight. It's a shame the SB-700 doesn't offer three groups.]
Jerry P. H. Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Jerry P. H. (member) 5 years ago
Dave, didn't I suggest just that once a while ago before you made the decision? :-)

I'm not picking on you, I entirely agree with you. I prefer to do without, work harder, save longer and get the best rather than settle for #2.

I have never experienced buyer's remorse because I research the heck out of everything myself before I make a decision. Strange, but I will never ask someone which item to buy, but I do ask them questions about the equipment based in how I would use the hardware... never put your hard earned money into the hands of an "Internet opinion", if unsure, it is cheaper to rent an item for a day or a weekend and get first hand knowledge and see if it works to your needs or not. I'd rather blow $25 to rent something than blow $2500 and risk not be satisfied for those times you just are not sure.

That said it the only possible choices were an SB-700 or the SU-800, SB-700, here I come.
Misty Watson 5 years ago
OK... Sorry I didn't come back to this sooner.

What can I do with the PW Plus III and a FlexTT5s?
MrDAT 5 years ago
You'd have to put the Flex in "dummy" mode and use it just like a PW Plus III.
Misty Watson 5 years ago
Does that give me manual control? And is that a pain to do?
MrDAT 5 years ago
It's 100% manual. It's a pain if you don't like walking and/or put the flashes very very very very far away.... But then again, it's only an issue when you don't know what you're doing and you're experimenting.
Misty Watson 5 years ago
Thanks so much!

Doesn't sound like a pain or a problem for me at all! I'm all manual all the time (OK, like 98 percent of the time). That is the one thing I do like about using Nikon's CLS now though - I can control the flash power from my camera. But it's not a biggie to me go to the flash to make a readjustment. I doubt very seriously I'd ever have the flashes more than a few feet away from me considering I'd mostly be using it for sportraits for the newspaper or weddings for my personal part-time gig.

Later if I add to my system, what do I do to give me control at my camera instead of moving around? Or is that even possible with those two PWs?
Mr. Speedlight Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mr. Speedlight (member) 5 years ago
Dave, didn't I suggest just that once a while ago before you made the decision? :-)

I'm not sure precisely what you are referring to but you probably did.

The SB-700 would be my choice over an SU-800.



Doesn't sound like a pain or a problem for me at all! I'm all manual all the time (OK, like 98 percent of the time).

CLS/AWL offers both TTL-BL and Manual with control from the camera. The manual control from the camera is the Holy Grail for many on a tight budget.

I like the idea of a commander in the hot shoe and receivers at the remotes. I'd like to see Nikon offer such along with Rx for existing CLS/AWL speedlights and a new speedlight with a built in Rx.



i-TTL BL with Remotes v. Full Manual...

My thoughts are...

If i-TTL BL/CLS/AWL is good enough for Joe Mc Nally it's good enough for me.

If full manual is good enough for David Hobby it's good enough for me.

There is not a snowball's chance in hell that I'll ever be as good as either.

I started with auto on the camera and full manual when the lights were off the camera. I did have some experience with flashbulbs on my father's camera.

Be thankful we don't have to walk from flash gun to flash gun replacing flash bulbs for multiple off camera flash.

Misty Watson 5 years ago
I still plan to use CSL as well! I'm not ditching it, but it does have some limitations, such as not always triggering dependably, and I don't have the range I'd like to have (like say when I want to be using a 200 mm and I want the flash 3 feet from the subject). I like the idea of having both options for me depending on the individual circumstances.
schneeg 5 years ago
Hi Misty. Well what can you do with a the PW and Plus III and Flex TT5 is be able to do flash photography form any distance and form any angle so you don't have to worry if the remote flash will be able to see the comnad form your pop up flash.

Also there is a diference between the PW Plus III and the Flex TT5. The Plus III is strictly a manual trigger in other words the only thing it does is fire the remote flash so yo have to do all the adjustments manually and it's the least expensive PW radio at $ 139 dollars each. The flex tt5 does every that the plus III does but it also does transmit TTL comnands so you can can do thing like lowering the power of flash up and down you do this with AC-3 zone controler and you also get to keep zone system form Nikon so you can do zones A, B, and C. I recommend the you guys at the paper buy all flex tt5 over the tt1 becasue the tt5s use AA batteries that can be found any were in a pinch over the coin cell battery of the TT1
Misty Watson 5 years ago
Well, I ended up being given a Plus III... so that's how I've obtained it since the first time I posted on this thread. I'm trying to figure out what to put with it. (That's for personal use, though I'll use it for the newspaper too).

Thanks for the tip for newspaper use! I'll pass that info along.
schneeg 5 years ago
you welcome and I'll be glad to help you further if you need it
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