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Nikon SB-400 Review

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January 1, 2010

The Nikon Speedlight SB-400 is Nikons smallest shoe mount flash. As with all of Nikon's flashes the last couple of years the only cameras that are supported is cameras with support for the Nikon CLS(Creative Lighting System) The SB400 was released with the Nikon D40, the D40(x) is the only camera that can control this flash in manual mode. With all other Nikon Dslr cameras this flash will only work in full i-TTL mode. Compared to the SB-600 and SB-900 the SB 400 is really tiny. The most important feature of this flash is the bounce capability. The bounce capability is why this flash is interesting over the built in flashes on the Dslr's.


Type: Shoe mount flash
Guide No: 21/69 (ISO 100, m/ft)
Angle of Coverage:

Light distribution covers an 18mm lens when mounted on a Nikon DX format camera and a 27mm lens when mounted on an F6/FX camera

Bounce capability Flash head tilts up to 90° with click-stops at 0°, 60°, 75°, 90°
Recycle Time: 3.9 sec. with alkaline-manganese batteries
Power Source: Two AA-size alkaline-manganese (1.5V), lithium (1.5V), Oxyride (1.5V) or Ni-MH (2600 mAh) (rechargeable) (1.2V) batteries
Included accessories: SS-400 Soft Case

66 x 56.5 x 80mm (2.6 x 2.2 x 3.1 in.)

weight: 127g (4.5 oz.) (without batteries)
Compatible cameras: F6, D40/X, D50, D60, D70/x, D80, D90, D200, D300, D700, D900, D2 series, D3 Series (All cameras compatible with Nikon Creative Lighting System)
Price from: $109.95 USD

Nikon SB-400 Bounce animated


  • Small and compact, the SB-400 is the closest you get to a pocket flash.
  • AA-size batteries, it's about time that we are seeing this in the smaller flashes. It's long overdue that we get rid of the 123A 3V cells used in flashes and cameras!


  • No wireless flash support.
  • No rotation on the flash head.
  • No zoom on the flash head.
  • Manual mode only works on Nikon D40/x


One thing that makes the SB-400 a great upgrade over the built in flashes in Nikon's Dslr's is the bounce capability, the flash head tilts up to 90° with click-stops at 0°, 60°, 75°, 90°. Bouncing the flash off a ceiling and you get rid of those ugly shadows in your pictures. An improvement over the earlier Nikon DX Flashes is that the unit uses AA-size batteries.

The good side with the SB-400 is the size and weight of the unit. If all you are after is a improvement over the built in flashes, then the SB 400 is the Nikon Flash you are after. The downside is that there are no wireless flash possibilities with this unit and no swivel or zoom on the flash head.

If you are looking for a wireless flash then the SB-600 or SB-900 is what you are after. If you are a casual shooter and you want to get rid of those rather ugly shadows that the built in flashes make, the SB-400 is perfect. For more advanced shooters I recommend either the SB-600, SB-800 or the SB-900.

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Nikon Speedlight SB-400 $109.95 USD


Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website. The links takes you to B&H's website, which is my recommended store to get equipment from. I've used B&H personally since 2005, and I get all my equipment from them these days(including the equipment used for these reviews). Thanks for your support, Fredrik.

Nikon SB-600 Price From: $215.00 USD

Nikon SB-900 Price From: $459.95 USD

Nikon SU-800 Price From: $254.95 USD

*Prices and rebates are subject to change. Listed price is from January 1, 2010

© 2010 Fredrik A. Rasmussen. All rights reserved.