OK, I’ve been delving more and more into the SB-900 because it’s just too cool a toy tool not to speed up the mastering program. I’ve come up with a couple pieces of trivia to pass along.
*When in the Center-weighted lighting pattern, the maximum zoom is 135mm and not 200mm.
*The SB-900 has a Thermal Cut-out that prevents the SB-900 from blowing a tube from overheating. If turned on, the thermometer on the back LCD will actually raise as the temperature of the tube rises. Now interesting enough, I learned about this feature via my good friend Joe McNally (check out his latest blog). How would he know about that feature already..hum?
*The SB-900 is not gentle on batteries but does work with the SD-8a which is good since you can’t find the SB-9 yet. It does recycle mighty fast on its own.
*The SB-900 has a My Menu and it works just like the My Menu on the D3/D700. This is really cool. I have Illumination Pattern, M Zoom, AF Illuminator, Stby, Sound, in My Menu so far.
*The SB-900 has a low battery indicator that works and when it comes on, the flash goes off.
As more trivia flashes (get it?), I’ll be sure to pass it along.
It’s testing time and the test subject is a juvenile White-headed Woodpecker (above is the with and without flash). Here’s the deal, I’ve just not got this new SB-900 dialed in for flash fill for bird photography. Flash is not flash is not flash especially when it comes to birds. In bird photography, we don’t have the luxury of telling our subject to hold still, adjust lights, take a bunch of exposures to perfect the exposure. It’s generally real basic, 1 flash over the lens barrel and either flash fill or flash main light (yes, there are special cases where this is not the case)
So, I’ve been out testing the SB-900 with my standard rig using the 600VR, SB-900 & SD-8a. The testing involves changing the lighting patten of the SB-900 from Standard, Center-weighted and Even. The first thing I’ve run into that I’ve not solved is the exposure compensation I used with the SB-800 doesn’t directly work with the SB-900 except in Standard. The photo above was taken with the SB-900 set to Even so the compensation was set in the SB-900 to -1 2/3 stop iTTL where in the SB-800 it would be -2/3 stop (zoom head was set to 135mm, no Better Beamer used).
I ~really~ like the light quality coming from the SB-900 but more testing is required before it’s an integral and intuitive part of my bird photography.
Photo captured by D3, 600VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
Off the boat we went this afternoon looking for that classic Hawaii landscape. Well some folks were much more successful in finding it than me, I seemed to be in a locals portrait mode. I started off by photographing down a locals waterhole at a kid in a natural slide. Next, the kids older brother was on the bridge and with his good looks and tatoo, he was the next victim. We then meet the son of the local chief, a really nice guy that until you talked to him, would scare you to death. Then traveling to the other side the island (we’re on Maui) we ended up at this temple with a monk who was great to photograph. Finally we had a great sunset for a portrait with the very uninhibited Stephanie. It was great fun (none were models, just folks on the sand)!
The fun thing is all these photos were taken with the D700 and SB-900. The first couple were done with the SB-900 hardwired in with the SC-28. Last couple were with the D700 in commander mode driving the SB-900. The D700 was set to -2 stop and the SB-900 was set +1, center-weighted lighting, with a 1/2 cut CTO in the SB-900 filter holder with the soft dome over it. It all worked seamlessly and beautifully.
Photos captured by D700, 24-70AFS, SB-900 on Lexar UDMA digital film
I’m here learning the SB-900 and totally forgot to mention it. That money you saved buying the D700, use it to BUY the SB-900! Many have written about it like my flash heros Joe & Dave so you want to read what they’ve had to say for sure. But there’s a whole lot about the SB-900 that’s not been written about yet.
For example, the SB-900 has this special accessory, the WG-AS1. The SB-900 handles white balance in a whole new way (and comes with a filter holder that fits inside the soft light dome!) which includes the camera body settings. It has 3 illumination patterns along with a 200mm zoom capability. It doesn’t have a 5th battery compartment but does have the new SD-9. And there is the much heralded better control buttons, switches and panel info. Sure, I’ve got that all down pat already. HA!
When I have got a handle on it well enough that I can write intelligently (which is always the challenge) I will get a page or two up on the SB-900 and D700. That won’t be tomorrow though but I’m sure sometime this year.