Best flashguns for Nikon DSLRs: 8 tested

Choose the best flashgun for your Nikon camera

Best flashguns for nikon dslrs

Nikon SB-400 Speedlight - £125/ $195

Ideal for photographers who want to keep things simple, the Nikon SB-400 really couldn't be any easier to use. There's no LCD status panel or onboard controls, although you can still select modes such as red-eye and slow sync via the camera, or apply flash exposure compensation.

Although small, the SB-400 is nevertheless well made, with a metal mounting plate and a solid feel. In keeping with the downsized build, the flashgun runs on two AA batteries, rather than a more conventional four, and its maximum rated power of GN 30 is the joint lowest in the group, along with the Sunpak PF30X's.

Also like the Sunpak, there's a full 90 degrees of bounce, but no swivel.

Performance

Despite not having a zoom facility, or even an autofocus illumination lamp, the SB-400 does well. In both the direct and bounce modes, i-TTL metering is accurate, and manual power adjustments are available via camera menus on the latest Nikon DSLRs.

However, the reduced height puts the flash tube close to the lens, so you're more likely to need to shoot in bounce mode to avoid red-eye.

Flash output

Best flashguns for nikon dslrs

The tiny SB-400 doesn't have a massive power output, and like the rest of the flashguns on test, it's actual output falls some way short of the claimed figure.

Aperture reading at 1m
Theoretical: 21
Measured: 32

i-TTL exposure accuracy

Best flashguns for nikon dslrs

At -0.2EV, the SB-400 comes extremely close to a perfect flash exposure, matching the larger Nikon SB-700 and SB-900 in terms of i-TTL accuracy.

i-TTL exposure accuracy
Measured: -0.2EV

Colour accuracy

Best flashguns for nikon dslrs

Compared with the bigger Nikon flashguns, colour balance is slightly on the warm side. However, this could be quite flattering for portrait subjects.

Colour accuracy
Measured: 11

Image quality verdict

Best flashguns for nikon dslrs

With its small flash head positioned close to the camera, image quality is only good in bounce mode, for which the SB-400 is a bit lacking in power.