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Nikon introduces Speedlight SB-700  
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | by Rob Galbraith
Alongside the D7000 today Nikon has announced the Speedlight SB-700, a new shoe-mount flash unit that incorporates a revised control layout, 24-120mm zoom range, recycle time of 2.5 seconds at full power, the ability to act as a master flash for up to two groups of wireless remote Speedlights, a thermal protection feature that slows recycling when the flash head gets hot plus other refinements relative to the SB-600 it replaces.

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Light and Bright: Views of the Speedlight SB-700. Click photos to enlarge (Photos courtesy Nikon)

Speedlight SB-700 key features include:
  • With an FX camera, the flash head's zoom range is 24mm-120mm without the use of the wide angle panel. With the wide angle panel flipped down, coverage is sufficient for a 14mm lens (or a 12mm or 17mm lens by changing the light distribution pattern).

  • Three user-selectable light distribution patterns:

    • Center-weighted Provides the highest guide number but noticeable fall-off towards the edges
    • Standard Intended for general photography
    • Even Gives the most even light coverage from centre to edge and is optimal for group photos and similar situations where minimal fall-off is important

  • A guide number of 92/28 (ISO 100, ft./m) at the FX format 35mm zoom head position and with Standard selected for the illumination pattern. This is slightly less bright than the 98/32 guide number of the SB-600 for the same focal length coverage, though the real world output differences are likely to be unnoticeable.
  • A power range of full to 1/128. Nikon's flash duration specifications are shown in the table at right.
  • Master flash control of up to two groups of remote wireless Nikon Speedlights. Remote flash output control options include TTL flash exposure compensation, similar to the SB-900, or a new Quick Wireless mode that utilizes A:B ratios instead. The SB-700 can also serve as a remote flash.

  • Full power recycle time of 2.5 seconds. The SB-700 appears to have a recycle speed control mechanism that limits full power recycle time to 2.5 seconds with several kinds of AA batteries, including Alkaline, traditional NiMH and "eneloop"-type NiMH. Full power recycle time with AA Lithium is 3.5 seconds.

    The SB-700 is powered by four AAs. It lacks a connector for an external battery pack.

  • Thermal protection. When the head's temperature rises above a certain level, recycle time is slowed, progressively, to a rate of three seconds or longer at full power. How much the recycling time is throttled back is dependent on how high the flash head's temperature has risen. A thermometer graphic on the flash's LCD shows an approximation of the current heat level.

  • A new control layout and selection wheel for quicker access to all flash settings, including the enabling and configuring of remote flashes.
  • Automatic recognition of the included clip-on colour correction filters. The incandescent (shown at right) and fluorescent-balancing filters are made of hard plastic and clip directly to the flash head.

    SJ-4 Color Filter Set, an accessory kit of coloured gels (warming, red, yellow and blue), will be available for the SB-700.
  • Firmware upgradeable. The SB-700's firmware can be updated while attached to a compatible Nikon digital SLR. A press release suggests that several Nikon digital SLRs will themselves require a firmware update for full compatibility with the new flash, though we've not yet confirmed this to be the case.

  • No PC sync socket. This remains a feature of the SB-900 only in Nikon's Speedlight lineup.
Price and ship date

The Speedlight SB-700 is to ship in mid-November 2010 at a manufacturer's suggested list price of US$329.95 in the U.S. Items included with the flash are a Speedlight stand, bounce adapter, incandescent/fluorescent colour filter kit, accessory colour filter holder, diffuser dome and soft case.
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