Portfolio Reviews Contact Blog    

Nikon SB-900 Review

Life Pixel Infrared Conversion

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

Quick Navigation:
Sample Pictures

Bookmark and Share

September 24, 2009

The SB-900 is Nikon's top of the line flash. The SB 900 has an increased coverage from 12-200mm compared to 14-105mm on the SB-800. The SB-900 also has three illumination patterns; standard, center-weighted and even. The new flash is also completely redesigned, both externally as well as internally. One of the major improvements are the improved booster circuit for high-speed recycling times. Recycling times using four AA-size batteries are almost equal to the SB-800 with five AA-size batteries. The SB-900 is far quicker to operate with the new improved LCD and button lay-out. It is no longer needed to go into the custom menu to access remote or master flash setup. It is also possible to upgrade the firmware of the flash with Nikon's D3, D3X, D300 D90, D5000 and the D700. The SB-900 also automatically detects color filters (fluorescent or incandescent), enabling camera to control color temperature according to filter information from SB-900.


Type: Shoe mount flash
Guide No: 34/111.5 (ISO 100, m/ft)
Angle of Coverage:

104° to 12° (24 to 200mm (35mm/FX)
122° to 104° (12 to 17mm) with included wide angle adapter

Recycle Time: 2.3 Seconds with Ni-MH batteries
4 Seconds with fresh alkaline batteries
4.5 Seconds with Lithium batteries
Power Source: Four AA-size alkaline-manganese (1.5V), lithium (1.5V), Oxyride (1.5V) or Ni-MH (2600 mAh) (rechargeable) (1.2V) batteries
Included accessories: Speedlight Stand AS-21
Nikon Diffusion Dome SW-13H
Color Filter Set SJ-900
Color Filter Holder SZ-2
Soft Case SS-900

3 x 5.7 x 4.7" (78 x 146 x 119mm)

weight: 14.6 oz (415g)
Supported i-TTL Dslr's: D40/X, D50, D60, D70/x, D80, D90, D200, D300, D700, D900, D2 series, D3 Series
Price from: $469.95 USD


  • Flash head swings 180° both directions, finally!
  • Increased coverage, 12mm to 200mm
  • Custom menu setup. You can remove unwanted menus from the custom menu, which quite frankly is needed as the custom menu is HUGE!
  • LCD screen, larger than the SB-800 and easier to read off.
  • Button layout.
  • Fail safe on the flash shoe. Instead of breaking the flash shoe on the camera(like I almost did with the SB-800 and my D3) there is now a fail safe built into the flash shoe on the SB-900 that will break off before much or any damage is made to the camera. Maybe Nikon actually read my SB-800 review?


  • Size, it has grown quite a bit in size from the SB-800.
  • Still no real battery indicator. It only shows up when the battery is dead. ( I guess Nikon didn't read my review after all?)
  • Speedlight Stand AS-21 is a step back compared to the Speedlight Stand AS-19 that was supplied with the SB-800. The new stand even has plastic threads, not good enough!
  • Only compatible with Nikon cameras that support Creative Lighting System / or i-TTL (other cameras can be used but functionality is reduced) The only film camera that is supported is the Nikon F6
  • D3X, D3, D300, D700, D90, or D5000 is needed to upgrade the firmware.


The SB-900 is without a doubt a step forward in flash technology for Nikon. But as usual with Nikon there are features that are still missing, like a battery indicator. True there is an indicator when you are more or less out of power. What I've been waiting for is a real battery indicator that tells you exactly how much power there is left in the unit. Giving me a warning when the flash is more or less empty I can do on my own. Instead of the battery indicator Nikon gave us a "over-heat indicator". Now I would trade that in for a battery indicator any day. Other than that the SB-900 is a great upgrade of the SB-800. The Nikon SB-900 is way faster to work with, quicker to set up, shorter recycling times, and last but not the least greater coverage than ever before.
The SB-900 is of course compatible with all the Nikon CLS equipment and will work with pretty much all the Nikon Dslr cameras.

Rating FullRating FullRating FullRating FullRating Empty Features
Rating FullRating FullRating FullRating FullRating Full Performance
Rating FullRating FullRating FullRating FullRating Half Build
Rating FullRating FullRating FullRating FullRating Half Value

Nikon SB-900 $469.95 USD


Underline on product names takes you to the review of that item, underline on prices takes you to B&H's website. Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website.

Nikon SB-400 Price From: $109.95 USD

Nikon SB-600 Price From: $219.95 USD

Nikon SU-800 Price From: $254.95 USD

*Prices are subject to change. Listed price is from September 24, 2009

Nikon SB-900 Sample Images

Images have been imported to photoshop CS4 through Capture NX 2 thus leaving the original image settings as shot, I. E white balance, sharpening, etc .etc. Full resolution sample images are in RGB color mode. Check out my copyright page for information about usage of these images.

Camera Nikon D3
ISO 200
Picture control Standard
Focal Length 200mm
Exposure 1/250sec f/4
Camera Nikon D3
ISO 200
Picture control Landscape
Focal Length 50mm
Exposure 1/125sec f/2.8
Camera Nikon D3
ISO 200
Picture control Vivid
Focal Length 175mm
Exposure 1/250sec f/8
© 2009 Fredrik A. Rasmussen. All rights reserved.