January 11

8 comments

A Look at the Nikon SB-910 Speedlight

By Dan

January 11, 2012


The latest flagship flash in the Nikon lineup is the SB-910 Speedlight. In size and shape, it’s identical to the SB-900, but it has been re-designed with a few minor, yet important changes.

The user interface on the LCD panel has been simplified, and the MENU button now allows for quick access to custom settings.

Also, those flimsy little colored gels that are such a pain in the butt to handle (ever dropped them outside in the dark or lose them in your camera bag?) have been replaced by the same hard plastic filters that the SB-700 uses. Big win there.

When the SB-700 came out, I pictured all the Nikon engineers sitting around saying, “If only we’d thought of that when we designed the SB-900!” Well, they knew they had a good thing going there and guess what- they decided to throw them in the box with the SB-910s.

The other major difference is that the SB-910 is that the thermal protection system has been greatly improved. During continuous use, rather than shutting down the flash when it starts to overheat, which the SB-900 is well known to do, the thermal system will simply slow down the recycle time. Yes, inconvenient at times, but it’s better than having the thing just go dead on you.

Oh yea, and I almost forgot. The new Nikon SB-910 costs almost $550. $546.95 at B&H Photo, to be exact.

Ouch. That’s fifty bucks more than the SB-900 costs. Call it progress, call it inflation, call it price gouging, that’s still a hefty chuck of cash.

So, the question is, should you buy one?

The answer is pretty easy. If you’re looking for a top of the line Nikon flash to use in your CLS Creative Lighting System, either on or off-camera, and you can’t find an SB-900, (they’re no longer made) then I’d say yes. Why? Because it’s an awesome, professional quality tool that can be used to great creative and technical effect in your photography. Sure,  it costs over five bills, but so does a good lens. If you’re a dedicated strobist, then a good light is worth as much as a good lens. Gear is gear and money is just money that will eventually just get spent on something else.

You could try to find an SB-900. They’re still out there, but since they’re no longer made, I suspect that they’ll disappear quickly. A few will no doubt end up on the used market, which is not a bad way to go, especially if you use your flash predominantly off-camera. I picked up a used SB-800 last year and it’s worked fine. In fact, now it’s mixed with my other 800s and I honestly don’t even know which flash is the used one. Hell, they’re all used now, right?

However, if you’re a heavy on-camera flash shooter, such as portrait, event or wedding photographer, then you will probably benefit greatly from the new thermal protection of the SB-910.

What about the Nikon SB-700?

Very good question. I suggest you read this post, in which I compare and review all the main differences between the SB-700 vs. the SB-900. That will help you decide which Nikon Speedlight is right for you.

The SB-910 is a workhorse unit that will throw lots of lumens at your subject and allow you to create fantastic, creative imagery. Depending on your style of photography and your budget, though, so will the SB-700, and it will run you over $200 less than a new SB-910. Like I said, read my comparison post and decide for yourself.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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  • I am new to photography. Just want to take great photo for my three kids and family. Just bought a Nikon d5100 kit from Costco. Need a flash. Can’t decide between 700 and the 910.

  • Tracy, I’d say go with the 700. It’s a very capable flash that will still give you lots of creative options. After you learn more, you can always upgrade later. Also, you might want to pick up my flash eBook, Going Fast With Light.

  • Thanks Dan for the good, straight to the point review. I already have a SB-910 and is indeed great. I am now looking for a second flash and potentially a third one as I’m learning and experiment more with lighting. Do you think there’s a need to get another SB-910 or for a secondary one SB-700 is just fine. If I get a SB-700 I might use the rest of the money for the a third light like a Yongnuo.

  • Christian, The SB-700 is a very capable flash. In some ways, it’s better than the SB-800, and as a second, third or fourth flash, it’s a very good option. If you already have the SB-910, then, you’ll probably be fine with 700s as additional lights.

  • Can you please advise me, the brand and best type of battery I should purchase for the SB-910 Flash unite. Thanks Regards, Malcolm.

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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.