SB800 Settings - Wedding Tog Crash Course Required


Well-known Member
I have used a SB800 for about a year now, mostly using bounced flash on camera or wirelessly in TTL commander mode.

I have a paid assignment to shoot a wedding reception later in the summer and also have to shoot Kay and her friends in their prom dresses in a friends garden before they climb into a stretched hummer to go to the prom. So I need to find out the best SB800 settings for "formal wedding reception" type of shoots, both indoor and outdoor (fill in flash).

What camera and SB800 settings do people recommend for indoor and for outdoor shots - Flash Synch Speed (FP?) TTL BL etc, and camera/flash compensation. I hear that FP drains the battery.

Also, do people have the flash on camera or fire it wirelessly with a flash umbrella, or it that too much hastle at a wedding reception.

I will probable be using my new Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens wth the D300 for these shots.


Some Bloke

Well-known Member
I'm no expert, but on camera flash looks crap.
To get the best results the flash needs to be off the camera and you want a light shaping tool to make the light source as big as possible, this will reduce the harsh light and give better results.

The "experts" say use the flash in manual mode.

Look on the interweb for video tuts by Kelby Training featuring David Ziser and also look for Shootsmarter featuring Will Crockett.

Peter, PM me if you're stuck.


Active Member
Ok - my experience with my D80 + Sb-600.

If I use flash on-camera - the first thing I do is assign my function button to emit the pre-flash. This will absolutely stop you getting those shots of people who blink due to the pre-flash (damn their superhuman reactions). If you use this on i-TTL and automatically compensate by lowering the power by 2/3, I'd expect good results in any conditions, as long as you use an ISO of 200/400 you tend to get an ok balance between the flash and ambient light.

So when shooting a posed shot : Compose, focus, emit preflash, count down from 3 and shoot as soon as you say 1.

When using fill flash, I'd use similar flash settings but instead compensate flash power by another stop.

Do a few experiments with this over the next few days if you have a few minutes, if it doesn't give you the results you were hoping for, then I apologise.

Now last year I saw the strangest thing at a formal event, someone was holding a D200 in only their right hand and using their left hand to hold their Nikon speedlight on the right side of the camera and using the SU-800 to fire the flash - relying on the camera to autofocus, presumably shooting in Aperture priority. (so if you can imagine it, the left arm was crossing under the right creating an almost "gangster" pose but holding a camera+speedlight.

I've since tried this after curiosity got the better of me - and it works quite well. Having the camera slightly off camera does give better results. I suspect the photographer I observed was trying to get the right angle for fill-flash but it does work better anyway. It creates a similar set up to those camera/flash set ups used years ago, where the flash was connected to a bar which screwed into the tripod mount.

If you need me to, I shall try and demonstrate in a mirror. I shall never live it down but I'll try if you need hehe.

As Somebloke said though, if you can afford it, I'd look into either the Ringflash add on for the Sb-800 or the lightsphere if you are in a pinch and running out of ideas. (Ringflash = better than lightsphere but its a close race)
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Well-known Member
There seems to be alot of conflicting advice out there. Here are a few gems of wisdom ...
  • Use matrix metering
  • Use new Duracells for weddings as they recycle quicker and don't overheat.
  • Using TTL-FP -2EV for fill flash, or 0 on the flash if used as a main light (outdoors). If sunny outside dial in -0,3 on the camera.
  • Use TTL +1.7EV on the Flash and -2 on camera
  • Use TTL BL for reception (indoors)
  • Use TTL BL FP but have lots of spare batteries (outdoors)


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