Nikon SB-500 Speed­light £195/$250

Com­pact and ca­pa­ble, but quite ba­sic

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

Com­pact and light­weight, the SB-500’s down­siz­ing comes at the ex­pense of a re­duced fea­ture set. It’s the only flash­gun on test to lack an in­for­ma­tion screen, which is sub­sti­tuted with ba­sic sta­tus LEDs. It also lacks a zoom head, built-in dif­fuser panel or re­flec­tor card, in­stead be­ing lim­ited to an (ef­fec­tive) fo­cal length of 24mm (16mm for DX cam­eras). Power is sup­plied by two AA bat­ter­ies, rather than the usual four.

On the plus side, it’s one of only two flashguns on test to fea­ture an ad­di­tional LED ‘con­stant’ lamp. This adds to the flash­gun’s ver­sa­til­ity be­cause, nat­u­rally, flash is use­less if you’re shoot­ing video, whereas the con­stant LED can give use­ful short-range il­lu­mi­na­tion. It’s also good for shoot­ing ex­treme close-up stills.


Max­i­mum out­put is pretty re­spectable at the 24mm fixed zoom length, although re­cy­cle speed is slug­gish. The wire­less slave mode is a bonus (chan­nel 3 only), but the com­man­der mode only works with re­cent midrange and up-mar­ket cam­eras.

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