SB-500 AF Speedlight
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Get optimal lighting in your stills and HD videos with this advanced yet easy to use i-TTL Speedlight and LED video light in one. With simple controls—just a few buttons—a compact design and AA battery power, it delivers a powerful, wide flash (24mm coverage in FX-format, 16mm in DX-format) and a a high-intensity LED light (approx. 100 lux) for uniform, even illumination. Its head rotates 180° left and right and tilts 90° upward for bouncing light off nearby surfaces, and it uses Nikon's i-TTL technology to tailor the light to each shot. It can be used on a camera's hotshoe alone or as a master for other Nikon Speedlights (when attached to the D810 or the D750), or it can be used wirelessly off-camera to illuminate subjects from interesting angles or working together with additional Speedlights.
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SB-500 AF Speedlight
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Attached to an 8-frames-per-second D2Xs, set to TTL, my SB-500 can produce 35 fully-exposed images in five seconds continous shooting. Remarkable! This test is quite informal, however it serves to show how well this amazing speedlight performs.
Lightweight, easily portable, simple to operate, Nikon´s SB-500 is an awesome value for the money. Just insert two rechargeable (highly recommended) AAs and you´re very good to go!
I bought this flash as a trial and learning model for my D7000. It came very well wrapped and padded inside two boxes. It works great on and off camera.
It took some time to figure out how to use this flash off-camera by watching various youtube videos and several trial and error settings attempts, but I finally got the right combination of camera and flash settings...
CSM e3 / CMD / Built-in flash Mode --, Comp 1/128, and Channel to 3. Flash is set to CH.3 setting.
I then experimented with it (nothing scientific) at various distances and it seemed to work very well. All told, it appears that this model will work very well for my needs, and I will probably add a few more units to my collection.
Perfect size for travel and use of two AA batteries makes it universal. Versatile and plenty of power. Off-camera control via CLS is a breeze -- albeit only channel 3 (strange - the SB-600 initally defaults to channel 3 also). I am sad it can not be used as a commander -- except on D750 and D810. The only other compliant is lack of a diffuser -- be nice if it covered 16mm in FX format. But for a simple tool that I can always drop in my travel kit I can´t see that there is a better alternative.
If you don´t want to spend over $500 for the top notch one, this one is half the price and does a ´´good´´ job. Not as many options as the 910 but good for mid level users. I´m happy with it. I have the D600 and use the pop-up flash in commander mode to fire the sb500 off camera.
I bought this flash as a small compact alternative to my two SB-700´s. Those flashes work fine, however when mounted on a smaller DSLR such as my D3100 or D5100 they make for a top heavy setup. This flash fixes that. It runs on two AA batteries and is good for about 150 shots. The front facing LED lights do an amazing job of providing additional light for shooting video in poor lighting conditions or to provide fill light for contrasty outdoor situations (The flash head and LED´s can do the same for still photography). The flash head is fully adjustable just like on my SB-700. I always put off buying the SB-400 and SB-300 because of the limited movement those flash heads provide. To adjust settings the SB-500 is controlled in the cameras menu just like the popup flash and the SB-300/SB-400. So the range of adjustability is limited by the camera body your shooting with not the flash. The flash head unfortunately isn´t able to zoom like my SB-700´s but this flash was designed to be a simple to operate compact unit. As for using this flash in i-TTL and commander modes? It does a fantastic job at both. In i-TTL modes this flash provides just the right amount of light for most indoor situations you might encounter. It will work better then the built in flash for outdoor conditions to as its coverage and power is far greater then the built in flash on your camera.
To put this flash in commander mode simply flick the switch to either group A or B, then put your D80, D90, D7XXX or most FX bodies in commander mode and set it to either Group A or B and set either to channel 3. If you have an old Nikon D70 or D70s your in luck to as the SB-500 is fixed to channel 3 in both Group A and B. The D70 will only work in Group A and is also fixed to channel 3 (Thanks Nikon for continuing to support my old D70 and D70s !). The flash can now be used as a slave on those bodies.
Unfortunately the SB-500 has no flashing lights to indicate that its in slave mode. If Nikon could fix this in a firmware update so that maybe one or all three of the front LED lights flashed dimly in slave mode that would be great. Otherwise thats the only thing I can nitpick about this flash. Getting back to using this flash in Commander mode. You basically set the flash power in camera or set the commander mode to i-TTL. It can´t get any easier then that. If you have a D750 or D810 the SB-500 can be used to command other flashes which improves the range of the cameras built in commander (Older bodies don´t have this option which is a shame. I´d like to see this in a firmware update on my D7000).
So in conclusion the SB-500 is a great little flash that has one little bug that hopefully can be fixed with a firmware update.