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What Flash Should I Replace My SB-800 With?

Published: 03/03/2017

Chip in NH says:

My SB-800 is dying. Intermittent flashing and I've been told since it's discontinued, it can't be fixed. I've read many many entries on your site to see if I can get a replacement, but I'm hopelessly technically lost. I have a D7100 that's about 4 or 5 years old and doing well.

So it turns out I have another shoot on Friday. Can you give me a quick suggestion for a replacement and for a remote flash and stand with trigger? I've only used an on-camera SB-800, and figure I should upgrade as long as I need to buy a new piece of equipment.

You can replace your SB-800 if you want; there are quite a few available on Amazon for just over $200.

However, if you want to get your flash off your camera a good choice would be the YN-560 IV and trigger. Which is about $100 less than an SB-800 replacement. There are some light quality advantages in getting your flash off your camera. See Scott's Lighting Interiors e-book for the full story on why and how to get your flash off of your camera.

Larry Lohrman

10 comments on “What Flash Should I Replace My SB-800 With?”

  1. Chip, I had my SB-800 flash repaired by Nikon a few years ago which I think was one of their better flash units. But since it started failing again, I purchased two of the YN-560 IV, for less than the price to repair my SB-800. I also bought an overpriced SB-700 for on camera TTL for events, but it too has given me many issues.
    if you need to shoot events then, perhaps another Nikon TTL flash would be what you want. but for an off camera manual flash at a reasonable price, the YN-560 IV flash units are a great way to do multiple lighting inexpensive. so far they have not failed me. if they break, just toss them away and buy another. I also purchased a couple of power packs to allow for full power flashes with quick recycle. the YN-560 IV has a socket to plug in an external power pack. I fire them with pocket wizards which are also very overpriced, but work well.

    Unlike the SB700 which has no place to plug in a power pack. another flash you might want to consider if you can find one in great condition and cheap, is the SB-900 which was Nikon's top of the line.
    I just bought an SB-900 like new for $200 from a friend. it is very powerful and designed nicely. But, the main problem with this (and why it was discontinued and replaced) is that it has an overheating issue and shuts down if you shoot too quickly. but for RE, and even portraits if you don't shoot too fast, it is a nice (but heavy) flash. it is best used on manual on a light stand.

  2. Take your SB-800 to an independent repair place, they can still get parts somehow. I had my SB-800 repaired last fall and it works fine now. All Nikon wants you to do is buy their new stuff.

  3. Chip, I switched to Neewer/Godox TT850s two years ago. I have never had one fail and I use these at the rate of 15 shoots per week. They use Lithium battery packs that last forever. I can shoot an entire week easily on a single charge. I recently bought a Godox 360 for higher power needs. They all work on the same trigger system. I could not recommend more highly!

  4. Chip, I had been using the top end Canon Speedlite 600ex-rts on location for years with Yongnuo triggers. I had the speedlites already when I started real estate photography, so I used them. One day it dawned on me that I was lugging around 3 $600 speedlites that I was only using in manual mode and I was even using the best feature of them... the radio triggers! So I decided to try out the Yongnuo YN-560-IV Speedlites with the Yongnuo trigger. One word... AWESOME! I since purchased a few more 560's for a total of 5. They work great, they are rugged, you can change power at the camera transmitter, I think it runs 6 or more channels. They are a joy to work with. The best part is the price. I purchased (5) YN-560-IV's and the YN-560 trigger for LESS than the price of one Canon 600ex-RT!!

  5. Actually, if you attach the trigger and the YN to your hotshoe, it does fine for most standard-sized homes on light dispersion. In fact, for most houses, I find that even better than removing it and bouncing the flash off the top of a door frame or something, because the flash will go straight up and softly bounce off the ceiling, rather than bonce harshly. I find that it's consistently eliminated any hard shadows from ceiling fans and light fixtures. There's something to be said for that, because many times I'll find that to completely remove the shadow in those cases, the ceiling and wall behind it are noticeably darkened back to the ambient frame and I have to flatten the image and then dodge the dark spot.

  6. For the number of frames I shoot in a year, strobes don't last like they used to. Maybe a season or two, and then they start losing output. Especially true of Yongnuo and Godex/Neewer. But I like the Godex 850/860 units anyway. Can't beat them for sheer output power 58GN, they're built pretty well, and I like the lithium battery setup, which recharges in less then an hour. I just have to replace them more often because of failing flash tubes - but they probably fire 50K-100K times which is probably an okay rate of wear. My Yongnuo's wore out considerably faster, in that the output degraded rapidly after a season, usually to half the original output. It's not something you notice right away, the wear is gradual, but you can sure tell a difference with a new unit.

  7. I prefer the YN 565 EX II's as they can accept an 8 AA battery external power pack (or any of the external battery packs that where designed for Canon flashes (yes, you use Nikon) Yongue has the 565 for both Canon and Nikon. They last me about a year but they are used with bracketed exposures so they get hot after a couple of shoots right after each other. The nice thing about the external pack is the 4 batteries in the flash will still die quicker then the power pack so you can swap 4 from the external to allow you to finish that home.

  8. I bought a set of rf602 triggers ten or so years ago. They are still going strong, never fail and have great range. Same thing with yn 506iii flash units, have been using them for years, never a problem. You could get rf603 set and a yn506iii for under 100 bucks.

  9. I've been using the Yongnuo YN560's along with RF-603 triggers (one as a remote and others for Neewer flashes) and the YN560-TX controller. I like the ability to turn on and off, change power and zoom all of the flashes from the camera (The Neewer's settings can't be changed remotely). It's even possible to put a RF-603 in the hot shoe (with a shutter release cable) and carry the -TX along with a tablet if you are using CamRanger or other wireless tethering system. I'm ordering a RF-605 trigger next week to use with my JTL Mobilight strobe.

    I use my Canon flashes on jobs where I want the TTL functionality which isn't RE. They'll probably last another decade.

    Yongnuo has set the functionality bar. The Neewer/Godox TT850 flashes with a Li battery are great for longevity between charging, but I can shoot a full day with one extra set of Eneloop rechargeables in the Yongnuos so that doesn't seem as much of a plus for me.

  10. The yonguo transmitter and flashes are great! I can't believe these inexpensive little accessories work so well. It's great to not have to run around changing the flash power. They can take a fair pounding as well.

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