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 have been replaced by the same hard plastic filters that the SB-700 uses.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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