Only introduced in 2004, the Nikon SB-600 has felt outdated for years. This deficit has been especially notable since the replacement of the Nikon SB-800 with the Nikon SB-900 in 2008, which left a huge disparity between the flagship Nikon speedlight and the middle-market option.
The Nikon SB-700 changes all of that completely, updating the base-level flash with many features from the flagship Nikon SB-900 speedlight. And not only does the new Nikon SB-700 make improvements over the SB-600 that it replaces, but it challenges the Nikon SB-900 with a few features and advancements entirely new to the Nikon speedlight family.
Let’s take a look at how the new SB-700 stacks up to the SB-600 it replaces and the SB-900 it challenges.
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The Nikon SB-700 tested in this review was provided on loan by B&H Photo Video in NYC. If you find this review helpful, please consider buying your next photo gear purchase from B&H or any of our other affiliate links.
What’s In The Box
Unlike the Nikon SB-600, you get a full assortment of accessories right out of the box with the SB-700, so there’s no need to turn to third-party options for essentials like the diffusion dome. In fact, the included accessories are more in line with the flagship Nikon SB-900.
Included with the SB-700 is a dedicated soft case, stand, diffusion dome, and dedicated hard filters for tungsten and fluorescent color correction.
All these goodies fit into the supplied case for the speedlight, which takes a departure from the soft cases of Nikon’s other flashes in that it zips open like a suitcase.
In the official press release for the new speedlight, Nikon touts the primary key features of the new SB-700 as the following:
- High-end model functions in a compact body
- User interface with intuitive operation
- Wireless control for two remote flash groups via CLS
- Automatic temperature regulation (tackling the automatic shut-off issues of the Nikon SB-900)
- Dedicated hard color filters (fluorescent/incandescent)
In addition, the following advancements are listed as per Nikon’s product page
- LCD and layout of controls designed for easy and intuitive operation
- Multi-step auto zoom covers wide 24-120 mm zoom range
- Three illumination patterns–standard, center-weighted and even–available to match every shooting environment
- Automatically detects Nikon FX and Nikon DX formats and selects suitable light distribution angle
- Short recycling time
- AF-assist illumination for multi-point AF, with wide 24-135mm focal range
- Quick wireless control mode allows control of remote flash unit groups A and B flash output level ratios
- Firmware updates via Nikon digital SLR cameras
- Automatically delays recycling time if temperature of flash head rises in order to avoid deterioration of flash head
- Automatically detects type of hard-type color compensation filter (fluorescent and incandescent) and automatically transmits filter information to camera for optimum white balance setting
- Optional Water Guards WG-AS1 (for D3 series), WG-AS2 (for D300 series) and WG-AS3 (for D700) protect camera’s accessory shoe contact when SB-700 is mounted on a Nikon digital SLR camera
In terms of design, the new SB-700 takes many cues from the SB-900, but delivers in a smaller form factor that’s closer to the smaller SB-600.
While the SB-900 has always struck me as a pretty huge flash, the SB-700 strikes a nicer balance – it’s a much more “reasonable” size overall with nice proportions. Though the size differences are slight, the smaller size of the SB-700 make it much easier to pack into a bag than the SB-900.
The biggest outward change in the SB-700 is an evolution of the SB-900′s core user interface, with dedicated controls and a central job dial for quick adjustments.
In a slight departure from both the SB-900 and SB-600, the SB-700 features a two-by-two battery arrangement. More simple than the SB-600′s awkward three-and-one arrangement, but different than the SB-900′s linear configuration.
Aesthetics aside, the astute observer has already noted that the SB-700 lacks the connectivity of the SB-900 in terms of an external power option and a PC sync port. The saving grace of SB-700 in terms of the latter is the proliferation of the wireless flash triggers that feature a built-in hotshoe, such as the Yongnuo RF_602 and Phottix Strato.