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Shari Dec 8, 2009 4:24 PM

Flash for Nikon D40X
I have the above camera with a 18-200 VR. I have never used an external flash and know nothing about them. I prefer nature photos to portraits or family/qroup shots. Santa is asking for a list. Should I be thinking about using an external flash and what would you recommend. I thought I read that when using an external at least the SB400 that the camera has to be in manual mode. If this is the case I should probably spend the money on camera lessons before Santa invests in a flash:D
Any comments would be helpful.

JimC Dec 8, 2009 4:39 PM

I'd go with the SB-600 so you'd have a more powerful flash with both tilt and swivel (and no, the camera does not need to be in manual mode to use the SB-400 if you go with a less expensive flash like that).

JimC Dec 8, 2009 4:47 PM


Another advantage (in addition to being more powerful and offering tilt and swivel) of the SB-600 is that it supports High Speed Sync (a.k.a., FP mode). That allows you to use the flash for fill outdoors in brighter lighting at wider apertures at any shutter speed supported by the camera. With the SB-400, on your D40x, you'd be limited to a fastest shutter speed of 1/200 second (your camera's x-sync speed), which could be limiting.

mtclimber Dec 8, 2009 7:51 PM


The SB-600 is worth the extra money particularly for the bounce feature and its power. The SB-400 also has a bounce but it has much less power that makes bouncing problematic.

But it comes down to this: if you like and use flash, the SB-600 is the way to go. However, if an external flash is something you do not choose to utilize regularly, then it becomes a questionable investment.

Sarah Joyce

Shari Dec 9, 2009 4:44 PM

Thank you both. That's the thing. I have never used a flash before so I don't know how much I will use it. I do work in raw with Lightroom and Photoshop so I usually just work with edits. This probably sounds silly to you camera buffs but does the flash make a huge difference to nature shots. Thank you.

JimC Dec 10, 2009 7:24 AM

Personally, I'd go with the SB-600 between those two. The SB-600 has both tilt and swivel (the SB-400 does not have swivel). I like that feature since it allows more flexibility in bouncing (since I use a camera in portrait position pretty often, and the swivel feature allows you to bounce one that way).

You can accomplish the same thing with a flash bracket though (you'll find a number of flip type brackets available), but the SB-600 is more powerful, and it supports FP mode, which allows for faster shutter speeds when using a flash.

As for nature type shots, some members like to use the Better Beamer products to extend flash range. But, you can also extend the range so far (I'd expect roughly twice the flash range with one versus without one, as most claim around 2 or 3 stops and I'd use the conservative ratings).

Here's a listing for one:

mtclimber Dec 10, 2009 11:17 PM


Flash is only used for about 25 to 30% of nature shots, and those arev the photos primarily taken after dark.

Sarah Joyce

JimC Dec 11, 2009 6:15 AM

Actually, I think you'll find that a lot of professional wildlife photographers like to use a flash for fill in daylight (mostly for bird photography, since you'll need to be relatively close for photos of smaller birds, making flash more practical) with a Better Beamer to extend flash range.

For example, if you click scroll through the photos in this gallery (use the right and left arrow buttons), you'll see that flash was used for fill in a lot of the bird photos if you look at the details for each image (and you'll see some discussion about it underneath this one):

Here's a brief review of one over at

mtclimber Dec 11, 2009 9:05 AM

Hi there, JimC-

I was amazed at the statement in the LL article that the Better Beamer works out to 100 feet. Wel that certainly advocates for a SB-600 or SB-800 in place of the smaller and less powerful, SB-400.

Sarah Joyce

Jim Bledsoe Dec 14, 2009 2:30 PM



I would/did buy the SB-600 for external on camera use. The SB-800 is no longer available. I have been unable to get the SB-600 to fire off camera but I have been told that the SB-900 when used as a master will fire the SB-600 as a slave.

Many nature photographers use flash for a variety of subject matter.

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