If you’re a Nikon user like me, and you’re looking to add another flash to your arsenal of Speedlights, you’re probably a bit torn. You wish that you could just pick up another SB-800, because — well, because those things are pretty much the bomb.
Unfortunately, though, they’re not made anymore, and it’s replacement is the SB-900. And thought it’s an awesome flash unit that packs a lot of power and features, it costs almost five hundred bucks with tax or shipping. Ouch!
Enter the SB-700.
They released this thing a couple of months ago. If you missed the announcement, it’s probably because it came at the same time as the D7000’s release, which has overwhelmed everyone who can actually get their hands on one and everyone who is still waiting for one.
Basically a step up from the SB-600, the SB-700 is the little brother to the SB-900. Nikon does that a lot in their line, and it makes sense, because if you’re used to the ergonomics and controls of one item, you can easily switch or (they hope) upgrade with almost no learning curve.
With a guide number of 92 at 28 meters, the SB-700 has a bit less power than the SB-600, but it has more features, like an LCD panel that’s easier to navigate, three illumination patterns, temperature monitor, the big dome diffuser- all that stuff that the SB-900 has.
It also has the new style gel holder as the 900, but instead of slipping in the individual gels, the holders themselves are colored; one orange, one green. It’s also smaller than the 900, which is nice, because the 900 is approaching the realm of being “almost too big but I’ll deal with it because it rocks.”
Fully compatible with the Nikon iTTL CLS system, it’s able to act as a remote unit, as well as a commander, (it can control up to 2 groups.) Plus it’s got 2 second recycle time, a zoom head that covers a 24-120mm range… I could go on, or you could just check out Nikon’s website for all the specs.
What you want to know, though, is the REALLY important stuff, like how much it costs. It’s $329, right in between the 600 and what the old 800’s used to cost.
So where does it fit in? That’s easy. Like I said, if you’re looking to add another Speedlight to your arsenal and don’t want to pony up for the 900, this one will fall right in with the rest of your units. It’s not quite an 800, but it comes close. It doesn’t have quite the same power as those bigger units, but it will get the job done in plenty of situations. In fact, it feels almost like an 800 in your hand, so you’ll feel right at home.
If you’re just getting into flash, the SB-700 is a great all around flash that works well on and off-camera. In fact, it may even be a better on-camera choice than the 900: it’s smaller and it doesn’t seem to heat up as quickly during fast shooting bursts as the 900.
If you already have a 900, then this one makes a worthy and more affordable companion flash as a second, third or fourth unit. And if you’re looking for your first flash and just don’t want to spend half a grand, then this is your guy.
For more info, check out this quick review and SB-700 test drive on the Strobist website, and read a full review of the SB-700 at Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights.
Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska. He just published his first eBook, How to Become a Pro Photographer. Follow his own blog at danbaileyphoto.com/blog and see his daily updates at facebook.com/danbaileyphoto.