Nikon D60 Plus SB-400 Flash Review And Examples

First published on: Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Nikon SB-400 flash is a handy addition to the Nikon D60, giving you more flash power and also the ability to take photos using bounced flash.

Here are some sample images.

First, a photo of my twin daughters taken with the Nikon D60 in P mode, ISO 400 and the internal flash popped up.
Photo with the Nikon D60 plus internal flash

Exposure is pretty good but as expected, this photo lacks quality lighting. Objects nearer the camera are lit more brightly than objects further away. In this photo, the jam bottles appear brighter than my daughters. Plus you get that ugly dark background. Sometimes, a dark background is desirable, but for most family and event-type images, it’s something to avoid, or minimize as much as possible.

Next I try and take another picture of them by mounting the SB-400 flash on the D60, with the flash head angled at 75 degrees. The light from the flash head is bounced off the ceiling, and is spread all around and reflected off the walls and other surfaces.
Snapshot with Nikon D60 and bounced SB-400 flash

I don’t know about you, but I much prefer this lighting which looks miles more natural and pleasing compared to that in the previous photo. Yeah the composition leaves much to be desired, but hey I captured the two girls doing some cute moves, and in nice lighting to boot :-)

Unlike the more advanced SB-600 or SB-800 flash units from Nikon, the SB-400 doesn’t allow you to point the flash head up at the ceiling if you’re taking a photo in a vertical (aka portrait) orientation. Still, with the flash head angled at the same 75 degrees, I took this photo a split second later.
Nikon D60 in portrait orientation, with the SB-600 flash head angled at 75 degrees

The lesson here is that you’d still get a much more interesting, if not better lighting, if you bounce your flash when taking indoor photos. In the example above, the light from the SB-400 is now bounced off whatever surfaces that were on my left, and then reflected all around.

Next up, a still-life snapshot. This one’s with the internal flash:
Still life snapshot with the D60's internal flash

And now, the same scene but with the SB-400 mounted on the D60 and the flash head tilted at 75 degrees to bounce the light off the ceiling:
Still life snapshot with D60 plus bounced SB-400 flash

I’ll let the results speak for itself.

Recommended batteries for the SB-400

I use rechargeable Maha Powerex NiMH 2700 mAh AA batteries for my SB-800 and I used the same in the SB-400 for these shots. These batteries are by far the best I’ve owned. If you’re in Malaysia, you’ve no doubt seen the ubiquitous GP batteries — don’t get those. The Powerex batteries hold their charge much better, and don’t run out of juice as quickly.
Maha Powerex 2700 mAh NiMH rechargeable AA batteries

blog comments powered by Disqus