Unlock The Superslave in Your Nikon SB-800

Money being no object, I think the Nikon SB-800 is the best speedlight on the planet. It should be, for the $300.00+ price tag. But money is usually an object, and what you have to consider is whether an SB-800 is worth, say, three SB-26's.

But if you already have an SB-800 (I have a couple) there is no reason you should not squeeze every penny of value out of it that you can.

I love my old SB-26's in part because of their built-in slaves. They are pretty sensitive - certainly good enough for close quarters. And I use that feature in conjunction with Pocket Wizards whenever I am using more flashes than I have receivers.

A good example is this shot, which used six flashes. Three were PW'd and three more were slaved. Thank you, SB-26.

But the ordinary slave in the SB-26 cannot hold a candle to the superslave built into the SB-800. We have talked about accessing it via the SU-4 mode on the Flickr groups, but never on the main site. So let's take a look at exactly how to do that right now, and see just how good it is.

How To Slave an SB-800

1. First, turn on your flash.

2. Now get into the submenu by pressing and holding the "sel" button for 2 seconds.

3. Arrow right (the "single tree" button) to get the upper right quadrant highlighted.

4. Push the select button again.

5. Scoll down ("-" button) until "SU-4" is highlighted.

6. Push "sel" again to select.

7. Push and hold "sel" for 2 seconds to get out of the submenu.

8. Your flash will now say "REMOTE."

You are now in SU-4 mode, a legacy, wireless, quasi-TTL mode for which the SB-800 is backward compatible. But you are not going to use it for TTL. By pressing the "mode" button you can toggle between automatic and manual. Choose manual.

By pressing the "+" or "-" buttons, you can change power in 1/3-stop increments all the way to 1/128 power.

You now have a flash that'll slave to any other flash. You want to use both in the manual mode, so they will not influence each other's output.

As far as I can tell, the "eye" of the slave is the circular optical port on the left side of the lash if you are facing the front of the flash. So you will want to rotate the flash body so the window faces the master flash.

So, How Good Is It?

Real good. Take this shot, for example:

I made this frame in full daylight, with the master flash on camera and set at 1/2 power. The superslave fired the SB-800 from about 110 feet away. In darker light, the range is much further. Line of sight is best, but it reaches well around corners indoors.

This thing rocks.

So, if you have a mix of SB-800's and other flashes, PW the others and slave the SB-800's. They work great together. If you slave an on-camera flash, make sure you set on manual and avoid TTL preflashes. This thing is sensitive enough to fire from those little winks.

SB-600... Meh, Not So Much..

Here is the bummer: The SB-600 does not have this feature. I can only guess that it was neutered. It has all of the hardware built in because of the CLS capabilities. I think they could have done it for free (or darn near) but for some reason chose not to do so. So now I have to go out and buy the 2x-as-much SB-800's.

Oh, wait. That's a reason right there...

C'mon, Nikon, unleash the SU-4 mode in the next version of the SB-600. You don't short change people on flash features -- you're the Good Guys. It's the other guys who do things like that.

Oh, and while I am thinking about it, to get out of SU-4 mode, do the following: Go into the submenu the same way as above, and scroll up to "off" from "SU-4." Hit "sel" to choose it. Press and hold "sel" for two seconds and you are back to normal.

Try it out. It's amazing.

And every SB-800 owner should know about this feature. If a flash costs as much as a car payment, you should know everything it'll do. So please help to spread the word.


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Blogger Brian said...

I just got an SB800 in trade for doing some computer support...for my wife. I support her work at home computer and she pays me with photo gear which I use to photograph the kids and family. Win-Win-Win. I've been looking through the rather uninviting SB800 manual looking for this feature but it isn't anyplace I recall. Ah ha.

With a heavy IR filter (deep red gel) stuck to the on camera flash, you can trigger the SB800 with no or little effect from the on camera flash. Set the flash to manual and lower the power if needed. Nikon D40 and D40x owners here you go-free slave off camera flash without paying to get the the D80 or D200. Sweet.

August 09, 2007 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, David, do you know how hard it is for me to find these used?! And now you let 100K people in on the secret? Sheesh!

Yes, a killer flash. And, despite all the pot shots at the price, consider that it requires no third party hardware to operate wirelessly with a D70/80/200. Moishe wants $188, (the price of an SB-600) for the cheaper PW transceiver.

Never mind the additional batteries and weight with PW radios. The diffused IR works great, fine in bright sunlight, as you demonstrate, and it works around corners. Granted, the PWs cover a greater range, and can fire your camera remotely. For most shots, the SB-800 is a strobist's dream.

Sure, the SB-26 with optical slave is great (And thank you for noting that. As a Nikon newbie, I never would have known about it.). But it's limited. Many creative shots don't spill light all over the place. So you'd need radios at least some of the time.

Consider two SB-26s, used @ $100, plus three radios @ $188, for a grand total of $764. Or, two new SB-800s for $630 to use with your D70/80/200.

Oh, and Nikon throws in a diffuser and a stand too. The stand works on any relatively flat, relatively level surface. And, with its 1/4-20 female thread, the stand will fit on many light stands and other studs.


August 09, 2007 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Tarique Sani said...

WOW! would have never figured that one out for my self... can hardly wait to try it

August 09, 2007 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Douglas Urner said...

Quick way to get out of "Sel" mode is with the power button. A press takes you right out.

August 09, 2007 1:50 AM  
Blogger Kevin! said...

I used to do that on my Nikon D50...no commander mode. worked great!!

August 09, 2007 2:04 AM  
Anonymous LightLuke said...

Does the SB-28 have some kind of optical slave?

August 09, 2007 2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, want to save that last two seconds? Instead of holding the select button for two seconds, touch the on/off button momentarily. It will get you out of the select mode like magic.

August 09, 2007 3:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's only a few seconds, but when you've done selecting your settings in the SB800 or SB600 menu you can exit with a quick press of the on/off button rather than holding 'sel' for two secs.

And as an owner of 2 SB600's, I'm with you on calling Nikon to account for apparently disabling this function on the 600's.


August 09, 2007 3:18 AM  
Blogger Sufian said...

I just used it with an olympus compact. Wow!

August 09, 2007 4:19 AM  
Blogger SoulJah said...

I didn't know the SB-24s were rather limited, having no optical slave mode, and only goes down to 1/16 as well. I was bummed. The reason the need of optical slaving came up was when I forgotton my GI transmitter to a relatively low pressure basketball game, and I only had to make do with CLS, firing off my SB600 and SB800 with my built in flash, leaving my SB-24s in the bag.

If I just had 26's rather than 24's, the SB-600 can fire off the 3 with more reliability.

Funny thing happened at another event as well. I was doing the CLS Monkey Pose all day at a school's anniversary event, when the time coms I had to mingle with the people and shooting their pictures for them. Of course, I get handed P&S's but being the strobist that I am, disliked the prospect of on camera flash, turned the SB800 to SU-4 mode and slave it off their P&S flashes. I even had it working by firing my camera phone's flash. It's just awesome!

August 09, 2007 4:24 AM  
Blogger Sebastian Yepes F. [ESN] said...

Thanks for this post, just yesterday i was searching in the Flickr Groups but there was to much info..

This is short and concrete, right to the point.

August 09, 2007 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Zenndott said...

Thanks for pointing this out to everyone. I have used my SB-800 in this setting and it works very well in the right circumstances. Strangely, it is not a well covered function: I recently purchased a third-party book on the Nikon SB600/Sb800 series, and this was the only function not discussed by the author. I took the book back immediately.


August 09, 2007 7:41 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

David or other Experienced Strobists:

I was very excited to read this post, because I continue to have problems combining on-cam PW triggering with Nikon CLS. I even contacted Nikon and PW to no avail. I will carefully try today's recommended technique, but if anyone could more carefully describe when combining these two modes WORK and when they DON'T WORK, I would be greatly appreciative. It seems, I continue to find a variety of conditions that I cannot deconvolve why it so frequently DOESN'T WORK.

August 09, 2007 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Ronnie said...

The Nikon SB80DX also has this slave facility. Do we know if it's the same as the SB26 or the super duper SB800 ?

August 09, 2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger Nikographer said...

Sweet! Makes me think you can thus use the SB-800 in dumb remote mode with just about any camera!

August 09, 2007 10:03 AM  
Blogger Jacob said...


The SB-28 DOES NOT have an optical slave. I found this out the hard way, as I figured if the SB-26 has it, the SB-28 must have it too. Found someone selling 3 of them used for $200, and snatched them up, only to find no mention of an optical slave in the manual. D'oh!

Oh well, they are still great strobes.

August 09, 2007 10:53 AM  
Blogger Rich & Jen said...

Ok... are there any Canon shooters reading this? I wonder if the Canon 580ex has anything like this. I doubt it, but it would be cool. :o|

August 09, 2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger NapaBill said...

I need some help with terms and how they relate to one another:
Commander mode (I understand this)
SU-4 mode

And what can the PW's do (beyond increasing the range) that Commander mode can't.

I have a SB-600 and a D200. Thanks.

August 09, 2007 11:25 AM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

I'm sure you discovered this while you were testing but, put the flash in remote mode and you can set the power output from your commander. You can dial it down just like you do in manually except you won't have to walk down to the street corner every time you want to tweak the setting.

You will have preflashes that could prematurely set off other non-CLS optical flashes. But, you do have full manual control so you're not handing that off to TTL.

August 09, 2007 11:28 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

My SB80DX has the same slave mode setting. In fact, it appears to be identical to the SB800 in every way except it is missing the Nikon CLS, and the 80 is half the price at ~$150.

I'm not sure what the extra $50 would get you over the 26, though. I think maybe the 80 is more powerful.

August 09, 2007 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Canon 580ex is a nice flash, but Strobist-wise, it's a real pain.

It has no external connection (besides the hotshoe) and no optical trigger built-in.

About the only reason why I use it is the ETTL, and I'm using that less and less all the time. That and the higher speed flash sync for high school football at night. But Strobist lighting may make that all but obsolete this year, too.

Since the SB-24 I have works on the Canon camera I have, (in manual mode) I've found it handier than swapping the 580ex from the 30D to the 1D when using both in a flash required situtation - if I can't get the flash off camera entirely.

August 09, 2007 12:33 PM  
Blogger Rod MacPherson said...

Just remember, ANY flash will set this off, so like David said, no TTL! ...and what he left out, Never use this mode where there are other photographers, it will wear down your batteries fast and ruin their exposures if you try to use the SU-4 mode in a room full of other cameras (like a wedding or an event of some sort.)

August 09, 2007 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Shawn Schreiner said...

As an excellent compliment to this system, I highly recommend the sg3-IR. A very handy little $12 piece of kit. Fits in the hot shoe and turns your built-in flash into an infrared transmitter. I like it for commander mode too, takes care of blinks from the preflash.

Check it out:http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/410445-REG/Nikon_4905_SG_3IR_IR_Panel.html

August 09, 2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make us Canon users feel pretty low on the ladder in this post. We want equal time on the
580EX II
You must know someone who could review it.

August 09, 2007 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Miklos said...

"As far as I can tell, the "eye" of the slave is the circular optical port on the left side of the lash if you are facing the front of the flash"
I don't know about your manual, but mine says that that is indeed the optical port :-D

August 09, 2007 3:45 PM  
Blogger Daniel Berman said...

David --

I am amazed you get such a range outdoors triggering your SB800; I have mine set up exactly the same way and I'll be damned if the D70 pop-up or another sb800 ever fires it even 5 ft away. Maybe I have a bum speedlight?


August 09, 2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Nikographer said...

@david berman-
do you have the SB-flash set to channel 3 and group A? The d70/s requires this exact config on the flash.

August 09, 2007 5:39 PM  
Blogger Nikographer said...

err, I meant daniel...

August 09, 2007 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Burkhead said...

Well, that makes up my mind. I've been trying to decide between the 600 and 800. Thanks, David!

I just ordered my 800.

August 09, 2007 6:37 PM  
Blogger the.computer.bugg said...

Great info. I didn't know my sb800 would do that and I used to be dissappointed.

Keep up the great work

August 09, 2007 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anil said...

Here is a funny SB800 story.

While I was photographing my daughter in our study one stormy afternoon, using one SB800 off-camera in SU4 mode and triggering it by another SB800 on-camera at 1/128 power - the off-camera SB800 would often go off without being "triggered" - hmmm strange that is I kept thinking. Ah! then suddenly I realized what was happening - small lightening flashes in the clouds were triggering the SU4'd SB800! Because it was an overcast but still bright day - I could not see the lightening but the SB800 could! The SB800 would go off, and sure enough - the "boom" from thunder would follow shortly after.

August 09, 2007 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anil said...

BTW, SB80DX does slavery too!
The SB80DX has a similar option as the SB800's SU-4 off-camera slave flash function. Similar way to get to the menu, press and hold SEL, use the "-" or "+" buttons to scroll thru menu settings till you get to the menu option showing a zigzag arrow, press the side selector [zoom] button to switch-on or switch-off the option. Press the power button once when done.

August 10, 2007 2:47 AM  
Anonymous danny_kino said...

me a bit thick so excuse the obvious. whats the difference between the CLS commander way of firing the SB600 and using the super slave system on the sb800. is it that the 800 is fired by radio waves and the 600 in CLS by infrared? thanks.

August 10, 2007 7:05 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Here's a pretty clear setup for the SB800 and SB600. Much better than Nikon's instruction anyway.

August 10, 2007 8:33 AM  
Blogger Dhun said...

I find the SB800 in remote mode is often buggy, in that it does not always fire.

I was shooting at night last night with the SB800 off camera bouncing into an umbrella. If I moved just a foot or two it stopped firing.

I'm fairly confident that I had the channels selected to correspond correctly between camera and SB800.

Anyone else get spotty results like that?

August 10, 2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Bob Walters said...

I have both an SB800 and several SB-26s. I usually grab the SB-26 for "dumb" slave mode unless I need 1/128 power for some reason.

Yesterday I made a test similar to yours, but I used two flashes as targets; one SB-800 and one SB-26 and YES I made sure to aim the sensor at the camera.

The sun was shining on both sensors. Both units triggered reliably at 75 feet but only the SB-26 would fire at 115 feet. So, I'd have to call the SB-26 the clear winner, at least in my tests. It's better built, it has a much better hot shoe mount, and the A mode works as it should (off-camera the SB-800 simply mimics the triggering flash duration for some odd reason).

I use my SB-800 on camera, but for off camera use I really can't justify having more than one.


August 10, 2007 4:20 PM  
Blogger Pat (Patrick) Blake said...

The SB-80DX also has the built-in slave. Press and hold the Sel button, and scroll to the the curvy arrow and toggle the setting to "ON".



August 12, 2007 10:28 AM  
Blogger albert said...

Interestingly, it ignores the Minolta/Sony's preflash and works brilliantly. A homage to the pioneers perhaps?

August 13, 2007 3:30 AM  
Blogger RichSnyder said...

Sweet! I almost missed this post since I was on vacation last week. Will try as soon as I get home tonight.

BTW - strobist.com has made my family vacation pics much better. They're still snapshots, but far more interesting. I control the light! And I haven't even scratched the surface yet.

August 13, 2007 4:15 PM  
Blogger RichSnyder said...

Works great. Just tried it with my SB-600 as a "master" and the sb-800 set as described. Even at 1/2000th of a second the sync was perfect out of 15 or so quick test shots taken from different angles.

August 13, 2007 11:36 PM  
Blogger AlanB said...

Thanks so much for this clear and precise information on the SB800 in su-4 mode. I have been trying to get my headaround this setup for ages and you made it very clear for me. I am thrilled to have 'found' this new way of operating my flashes with my Multiblitz head. Keep up the good work!

October 15, 2007 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Will B. said...

For those of you who already have SB-28s, Nikon has an SU-4 device that will tirgger the flash in the same way. Small, hot shoe mount with threads on the bottom, easy to aim at the on-camera pop-up, set to manual, low-power.. Not cheap, but still less than a PW. If you're working in your own studio, you don't have to be concerned with stray flashes firing them prematurely.

November 16, 2007 8:27 AM  
Blogger mehrzweckraum said...

you are having too much time on your hands, pressing that SEL button 2 seconds to get OUT of the menue.
a short hit on the ON/OFF is enough.


December 11, 2007 1:43 PM  
Blogger scubajunkie said...

I see the SB-26s can be used as slaves like the SB-800s. What about SB-28s? Or do you have to use the SU-4 to trigger the SB-28s?

December 12, 2007 3:44 PM  
Anonymous slider said...

Just bought a D300,an sb800,2sb600s, and an su800 commander.I'm almost compleatly crazy going from one manual to another to another, and still not getting the steps to set up the su800 commander on camera, with sb800 and sb600s. I have a pamphlet called "fast track to wireless speedlights" that is good, but doesn't cover the SU800. I may have something wrong with the SB800? When following the steps for settting as remote, the proper screen does not come up. After holding the SEL. button for 2sec., the directions say to select the shaded box with the with the wireless symbol.There is a shaded box, but nothing in it, and just doesn't seem to go anywhere. can anyone help, first with the screen on theSB800, then with the SU800? Thanks,

January 05, 2008 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do I keep my SB-800 and SB-600 from going to sleep? I often find that the first pop or signal from a PW only wakes it up but doesn't fire the flash. I had the same problem using the SB800 with the optical slave as a remote. Thanks. This is a great blog!

April 01, 2008 3:29 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Two things to add:

1. Aluminum foil makes a great reflector if your slave flashes cannot turn to face the master flash, and

2. Glints of sunlight from passing vehicles and the like can fool a slave sensor when shooting outdoors.


April 03, 2008 4:02 PM  
Blogger John said...

Fun! In addition to my 1 SB-800, I also own one of those cute little SB-400s, which I traded in a few AMEX points to get for "free". Now it's a COMMANDER all of a sudden! Thanks for the tip.

April 06, 2008 2:20 AM  
Blogger Pavel said...

This is a great info for the SB-800 users.
Tnx for the tip!

April 11, 2008 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Steve Broome said...

I'm not really sure why this is called a "hack." It seems just a feature, which I've used for some time to slave it from my SB's as well as in combo with studio strobes.

April 18, 2008 3:24 PM  
Blogger syd said...

Big thanks from me too.

May 20, 2008 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is wonderful. I have tried other slaves as fill units for my D50, but the lag was too slow. I was going back and forth between buying an SU-800 and and a SB-800versus just an SB-800. I finally bit the bullet to try out the SB-800, thinking if it's a nice flash, I'd use the first as the master and buy a second. I was very impressed with the results just as an alternative to my bult-in (the extra power, the extra distance from the lens, the bounce flash... ). But tonight I googled this, tried it out, and love the results (though my daughter had to bear the brunt of the model work). I couldn't find any clues to this in the Nikon guide. So $300 of thanks is in store. Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks...

May 26, 2008 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a million for this tip. I just tried it out with my SB-800 and 80DX as the master and boy does it ever work.....

June 26, 2008 7:15 PM  
Blogger seanchandler said...

I use an SB800 on my D80 as the commander, and 2 SB600's as remote units.

I find that when shooting indoors, a cinder-block or concrete wall will often block the signal from the commander, even with the IR port / eye turned to face towards the camera.

Will using manual mode give me a stronger signal or better range?

July 05, 2008 6:05 PM  
Blogger Theophilus said...

Oh my God!!!

I never knew this feature existed on the SB-800! Gosh!

Should have read the manual... now if only I knew where I put it!

Thanks SO MUCH for the TIP and THIS SUPER EXCELLENT site. God bless, sir!

August 18, 2008 2:34 AM  
Blogger RADIANT GUY said...

I spent half an hour trying to figure it out but I couldn't so I decided to google it and I ended up here...Thanks :)

September 24, 2008 7:51 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Geez, if I'd have read this two nights ago I wouldn't have been shut out of using my remote flashes on a job because of TWO cord failures. Note to self: Buy some extra cords, and remember this tip!

November 16, 2008 10:41 PM  
Blogger Mingo said...


If you dont have the sync option just buy one of those and slap it between your flash and body..

November 17, 2008 3:40 PM  
Blogger MikesMultiMedia said...

Can someone explain to me the problems I will encounter if the built in diffuser of my Nikon SB-800 is missing or was pulled out.

I'm asking b/c I recently bought one on ebay and am wondering what to do with it.


November 29, 2008 1:41 AM  
Anonymous danchez said...

Hi all, hey David,

just wanted to add: Works for the SB900 as well.

First go into the main menu and turn on SU-4 mode. Then flip the switch to "remote". By pushing the mode button you can toggle between "auto" and "M". In "M" mode the left function button will let you choose the power all the way from 1/1 to 1/128. Sweet.

I am posting this here, because a google search for figuring out how to get the SB 900 to fire as manual slave did not bring any results --- well, besides your post to the same topic on the SB 800.

Hope this helps,

Happy Holidays everyone,

danchez -

December 23, 2008 10:54 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I wish I could afford some PW"S. I have a d40 and my new sb800 and looooveeee it!! The sb800 that is!

Here's my wish list.

another sb800
50mm f/1.4
70-200mm 2.8
4 pw's
and another sb800

Thats like 4 grand... pah! Good luck to me!!

January 09, 2009 2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BIG THANKS for the SU-4 mimicking mode.

I have a D300 and a SB600, SB800 and since I couldn't find another SB800, I bought a SB900 (a huge beast).

I've spent DAYS trying to find a way of lowering the flash levels on the SB800/SB900 and I couldn't figure out how to do it. I called Nikon Digital and spent over an hour on the phone with them. They told me that setting the flash level on each flash separately simply couldn't be done.

I set the SB800/SB900 on SU-4 for the remotes and now I can lower the flash output to 1/128 when all I want is a bit of a highlight.

Setting the commander mode on the D300 and the SB800/900 for SU-4 doesn't seem to be explained anywhere but here.

Funny how the SB-800's (if you can find them) are selling for much more than the 900's. Nikon made a huge mistake discontinuing the SB-800.

Thanks again.

January 22, 2009 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought (purchased, paid, not copied) 'A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting' from Nikon School. I think I paid $20.

Very professional production. No mistakes, no one stutters, good high quality photography. The credits at the end of the two (2!) hour film go on seemingly as long as a Hollywood production. The image quality is equivalent to a Hollywood movie. I watched it on a 52" LCD TV and the image was crystal clear.

It's extremely watchable. I also bought a Blue Crane DVD on using the D300. I kept falling asleep. I couldn't watch it twice.

The instructional (not promotional!) video covers a lot of the CLS but, incredibly enough it *never* mentions SU-4 at all.

The video also doesn't cover how to set the flash output on, let's say, the 11th flash unit that's up on a tall pole. Yes, it does cover channels and groups but I still have no idea on how to each individually set each of the flash units.

The video covers setting up the 600/800/900 for master/slave.

Most of the photography was done with a D300.

The video also covers setting up the units in a variety of settings. Very informative.

The most annoying aspect of the video was the volume of the music. The music, piano and/or guitar, was nearly as loud, or louder, than the speaker's voice making it difficult to hear what the photographers were saying.

"Anyone can do it"

That's what one of the photographers said.

Sure, given 12 flash units (one photo session used twelve (12) flash units), a bevy of equipment and a few assistants and lots of photo opportunities and years of experience, I'm sure that "anyone can do it". That hubris annoyed me.

I'd rate the video an 8/10. -1 for the music and -1 for not covering SU-4 and how to set the individual units and not covering why the SU-800 is needed or the merits of the 600/800/900. After watching this video, you're still going to wonder which unit(s) you should buy.

Despite these shortcomings, I'd still highly recommend the video to those who are new to Nikon and CLS.

Remember, high quality instructional movies cost a *lot* of money to make so please *buy* the movie if you intend on owning it.

No. I'm not associated with Nikon or any of the companies used to make this video.

January 25, 2009 4:24 PM  
Blogger Dave Little said...

I just picked up an SB-80DX and the optical slave is extremely good on it too, just like you said about the 800. Far more sensitive than the SB-26. It's also waaaaaaay cheaper.

I have a really small point to add. The process you turn it on/off kind of bugged me (hold Sel 2sec, toggle, hold 2sec) for taking longer than it should. Just one of those simple things, not a huge deal.

Anyway, I noticed that after you hold Sel for 2sec, then turn your slave on/off, you can tap the power button to exit custom function mode instead of holding Sel 2sec again. It saves your changes.

Nikon seems to have put a lot of attention to detail into these flashes, and anything that keeps me from standing there having to hold down buttons is appreciated!

February 11, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger ruedis.ch said...

I just tried it with my D700 using its built-in flash as master. Somehow the sync with the SB-800 is off. It flashes just before the mirror goes up(I can see the flash firing).
What do I do wrong?
Regards from Bern, Switzerland

March 06, 2009 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your SB800 is probably being triggered by your on-board flashes TTL preflash. Switch your D700's flash mode from TTL to Manual and it should work perfectly.

March 08, 2009 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An old thread but very usefull as I have just picked up an elinchrom Ranger flash pack and wanted to use by SB800 and SB600s for a bit of fill here and there, Thanks.

BTW I am sure it is in here somewhere but you can pop a (£12 ebay) optical slaver trigger on the bottom of your SB600 and it turns it into a slave like the SB800.

April 01, 2009 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Peter Johansson said...

Waay old thread but i'll post my question here anyways since im desperate. :)
I have the exact same problem as Ruedi had. The SB 800 wont sync with the camera at 1/1 or 1/2 power for some reason. At the moment im using my popup flash on my D700 as master, (--) set in command mode. The SB 800 is set on SU-4, manual. This should work lika a charm.. but it does'nt.. I can´t really find any usefull information regarding this problem anywhere..

July 17, 2009 11:11 AM  
Blogger Sarah Baker said...

I have the Nikon D90 and the sb800 and I was wondering if the flash on the camera always goes off at the same time as the strobe.
It bugs me because it lights up the entire scene, but I want some pictures to look like this:http://www.flickr.com/photos/jardinle/3780348404/
where there is only light from the side/bottom rather than the front as well

August 25, 2009 1:02 PM  
Blogger LouJanelle said...

D90 / Custom Settings Menu / e) Bracketing/flash / e2) flash control with built-in flash /Commander Mode / -- for built-in flash, i.e. no flash / use Group A or Group B to control your SB-800 (s)

September 10, 2009 4:41 PM  
Blogger pablo said...

For Nikon D300 + SB800

Go to Custom Settings menu
> Bracketing/Flash
> Built-in flash mode
> Select Commander Mode
> Select the Group and mode
> Select Comp.
> Ok

Put -3 in your built-in flash comp. and use it as a transmitter to trigger your SB800.

November 05, 2009 12:11 PM  
Blogger David said...


Problem is with the triggering flash on the camera. It should be in manual mode to work the superslave/su-4 mode. The way you are doing it, the slaved flash is so sensitive it is firing early due to your preflashes in the "Master" mode.


February 04, 2010 4:54 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Thank you David Hobby!!!! I've been switching between my SB-28 and SB-800, just used singly. Now I can use both!!! YEAH!!!!!

Thank you so much for this information. I've been following you for a while now, and am working my way through Lighting 102 (via Flickr's "Strobist Bootcamp 2010" group. Thanks again for the awesome amount of information you have presented here on you site!

March 11, 2010 12:21 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

FYI - the SB-80DX has the built-in optical slave as well.

March 16, 2010 11:36 PM  
Blogger Bo said...

In the "Better Late than Never" category... to the person who asked how to keep the 600 from going to sleep: In the custom menu (hold zoom and "-" for 2 seconds), there is a Standby option. Set it to " ---- " and you are good to go.

October 02, 2010 12:56 PM  
Blogger rit said...

Any word on whether the SB-700 supports the optical slave function?

November 20, 2010 9:05 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Regarding shooting with the SB-800 with pocket wizards in SU-4 mode in an environment with other flashes--is there a way to disable the optical slave on this bad boy? Is there a different setting I should be using that allows me to shoot remotely, but doesn't go to sleep? Help me Obiwan!

January 26, 2011 10:18 PM  
Blogger snwdrft said...

@Rit Yes, the SB700 has SU-4 under Menu/Remote.

April 08, 2011 12:53 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

I actually bought the SB-800 a few years back just because I had a few spare bucks by then. But now I will definitely try to make the most of it. Thanks again, you're the best!

June 07, 2011 5:29 AM  
Blogger Twenty said...

OMG!! I found this just in time. I almost sell my SB-800 'cause I haven't been using it for a while.
Thank you so much for the information. :D
I'm gonna save it then.

August 21, 2012 12:43 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Thank you!!!!

February 19, 2013 9:54 PM  
Blogger maggie dee said...

OMG, thank you! SU-800 + SB800 needed the SU4 secret.

Thank you!!

May 28, 2014 8:51 PM  
Blogger Orion Erickson said...

I just figured this out on accident because there is no port for the wire that goes to the studio lighting that triggers the lighting on my d610. I guess these new digital cameras don't have this "port" or whatever you call the place you plug in the wire that goes to the monohead. I was using a cheap transmitter and the battery died so I went to use the wire and this is when I ran into this problem. My only concern is using the battery power. And the other issue is turning down the output to just use it as a trigger. Unless that's all it is doing. But I think it is firing as well because that is what I see. I guess I will just set it to manual, like suggested, and turn it down. I'm eventually going to get an adapter or a new battery for my transmitter (if I can even use that on my new camera). But at least I can use this as a back-up for now!

October 22, 2014 1:12 AM  

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