[News] New Nikon SB910 Speedlight Announced

One of the biggest announcements I was really excited about this year was the release of Nikon's Flagship SB910 Speedlight. Many people were speculating that the revamped portable strobe would be smaller like the classic SB800, finally offer wireless syncing via radio, incorporate a small constant LED light for video, or add another half stop or two of power. Unfortunately none of those changes have become reality yet but the new speedlight does offer enough updates that anyone in the market for a powerful speedlight will want to check out the Nikon SB910. Below is the official Nikon Press Release released today. You can already preorder the Nikon SB910 as it should be shipping mid December 2011. Out of curiosity, if you could design the perfect speedlight, what features would you want that this new flash does not already offer?

preorder nikon new speedlight

MELVILLE, N.Y. (November 29, 2011) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the addition of a new flagship speedlight, the powerful and capable SB-910 speedlight. Building on the versatility of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS), the SB-910 incorporates an enhanced intuitive operating system and graphic user interface (GUI). The SB-910 speedlight comes equipped with a wide zoom range covering the most popular focal lengths as well as FX/DX-format identification that optimizes zoom settings based on the camera body. This new speedlight also provides more efficient battery usage as well as an enhanced Thermal Cut-Out function.

“As Nikon’s new flagship speedlight, the SB-910 provides exceptional high performance and versatility that users have come to value in Nikon’s Creative Lighting System,” said Lisa Osorio, general manager of marketing at Nikon Inc. “By addressing the needs of photographers that work in challenging lighting scenarios, the SB-910 delivers a new level of portable lighting functionality, with performance and intelligent features that adapt to a wide range of lighting challenges.”

The SB-910 speedlight is designed to provide easy operation and menu navigation, with its enhanced operating system featuring illuminated function buttons, a dedicated Menu button with quick access to custom settings and an improved LCD screen graphic user interface. Whether the unit is used as an on-camera flash, wireless commander or remote, the SB-910 speedlight will provide dependable and consistent flash exposure. Engineered to address the creative lighting challenges faced by today’s photographers, the SB-910 speedlight includes quick on-demand performance and the ability to adapt seamlessly to nearly any possible lighting scenario.

Additionally, the new SB-910 incorporates a new Thermal Cut-Out function, which offers protection against damage to the flash panel and body from overheating during continuous flash use. Now, the flash recycling time is automatically delayed if a significant rise in temperature is detected, rather than ceasing operation to protect the unit. For additional durability, heat-resistance and ease-of-use, the SB-910 uses new hard-type color compensation filters for fluorescent and incandescent color temperature balancing. When using these filters, the flash automatically recognizes which filter is being used and adjusts white balance accordingly on the connected Nikon D-SLR camera. Additionally, the AF-assist illuminator of the SB-910 is compatible with the complete line of AF systems used in Nikon D-SLR cameras.

The SB-910 speedlight features three illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even) which are designed to match almost any shooting situation when utilizing the speedlight. The “standard” pattern will cover all conventional, standard flash coverage. The “center-weighted” pattern provides larger guide numbers than other light distribution types at the same focal lengths. This illumination pattern is ideal for subjects such as portraits, in which the light falloff at the image edges can be disregarded. When “even” is selected, the light from the flash will cover a subject from the center to the edges without light falloff. This pattern is applicable for shooting group photographs indoors. For coverage with a variety of lenses, the SB-910 speedlight incorporates a multi-step power zoom range that covers a wide 17-200mm angle of view, and can automatically detect Nikon FX and Nikon DX formats to help select suitable light distribution.

The SB-910 speedlight includes support for Nikon’s advanced wireless TTL operation and can function as a wireless commander with control over three separate groups of speedlights or as a remote speedlight triggered by other SB-910 speedlights, SB-700 speedlights, SU-800 Wireless Commander or the built-in speedlight set to Commander Mode on compatible Nikon D-SLR cameras. The SB-910 incorporates a high-speed recycling time of approximately 2.5 seconds for full power with NiMH batteries, and approximately 3.0 seconds with AA Alkaline batteries.

Optional water guards will be available for select cameras to protect the connection between the flash and camera, allowing users to utilize the flash when weather conditions are less than ideal. The SJ-4 Color Filter set provides a Warming, Red, Yellow or Blue filter for adding color to the background, foreground or just to accent the scene. The SB-910 will come equipped with the AS-21 Speedlight Stand, SW-13H Diffusion Dome, SZ-2FL and SZ-2TN hard type Color Compensation Filters and SS-910 soft case.

Nikon’s new flagship speedlight, the SB-910, will be available in mid-December 2011 for a SRP*of $549.95. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

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Seshan's picture

Not sure why people expected a whole new flash, the sb900 came out not that long ago, and you could tell by the model number sb910 it tells you it's just going to be a minor revision.

Patrick Hall's picture

Well they are out of numbers. The 910 and 710 could have been the next line

Scott Nelson's picture

Right after I buy a 900 of course. Nothing seems to crazy exciting to make we want it though. Thanks for the post/update Patrick.

brett maxwell's picture

so essentially the biggest change is fixing the screwed up thermal cut-off of the sb-900. yawn.  oh, and the price, they managed to "update" that as well.

Patrick Hall's picture

ha yeah exactly!  Someone was telling me this was Nikon's way of getting around a shipping law in the east concerning the SB900 or something like that. 

I will say the two things preventing me from buying SB900s as opposed to SB800s is the size and the heating complaints.  Something seriously must have been wrong for Nikon to actually upgrade a flash to address the overheating issue.  I'd love to have the faster recycle times of the 900 but too many wedding photogs I know complain about that flash even with the firmware update. 

Zachary Long's picture

So they decide to fix something that was annoying but not life threatening (only happened when I used it at full 1/1 power constantly) and add a menu button... for the low low price of $100 MORE than an already expensive $450 for the SB-900?

Adding meaningless features to capture more sales (of non photo literate people) has been a tactic of camera manufacturers for a while now. 

See: built in HDR, built in editing functions beyond crop, larger than 2.5" screens, live view, LCD viewfinder, GPS, etc etc etc. 

The only thing we've actually needed since the D1 was:
Better battery life: Done
Little larger LCD: Done
Little higher image quality: Done
Better High ISO usability: Obliterated
Faster FPS for high speed sport imagery: Done and Done (5 is usually enough if you know what you're doing)

Dual slots: Negotiable as to how necessary it was, but accomplished nonetheless.

The only thing real photographers need now, is:

Smaller size,
Minutely better battery life
Usable iso up to 3200.  If you can't shoot it with 3200 and/or primes, you're doing it wrong.

I truly believe an N80 sized DSLR is in our future within the next 15-20 years (No AF motor- doesn't count).  Until then, we will just have 90% more features introduced (in each new model) that don't really matter for most real photography.

Fully Matured Digital SLR
N80 form factor
12-18 MP sensor with Nikon hallmark image quality
4-6 FPS max, even with grip which only serves to stabilize the camera with heavier
lenses, and increase battery life.

Usable ISOs up to 3200, (Likely by this time (6400 and even) much higher will be available,
but this is all that will matter for real photography imo)

Price point, most likely just under $2500 with inflation.

P.S. Canon has done the same with the 16-35mm and 70-200mm revisions... Fix something for the people who were complaining (i.e. corner sharpness) and charge a premium for it. That's straight up business principle in the photography industry.

I would disagree largely with a few things, particularly the size and speed.

Personally, 4-6 FPS is not helpful for sports. 6 is on the edge of what is usable for sports ideally. Also, I don't want a smaller camera body. Everyone I know is getting rid of D3's for D700 because of size, but with my large size hands, I can't deal with tiny cameras as well.

Joshua Chung's picture

Thermal cut-off enhancement should be offered to SB-900 via its firmware upgrade feature. Otherwise, it just the evident of marketing hype.

Martin Beebee's picture

I was on the fence about picking up a new SB-900, but $100 more for the SB-910 with minor upgrades? Wow. Not a chance. If they keep upping the price like this with each new flash, though, it makes the SB-900 seem like a good investment.

On the other hand, it only costs me $120 to have Nikon fix my SB-800s when they give out (about once a year).

I've read so many complaints about the SB-900 overheating problem.  Nikon must have as well, and listened.  They fix the problem, release this new flash, then guess what - people are still complaining!

They didn't just fix the problem.  They are charging an additional 100 dollars for the fixed problem.  A problem I've yet to run into with my SB-700 or SB-600s, which are 100+ dollars cheaper.

This isn't a flaw that should be dismissible.  For the money being asked for with any of their flashes, overheat issues should not be present with standard use.

Now, people complaining about things like the D800 (Be it supposed specs, delay of announcement, or whatever) is irritating, and I think silly.  But in an area like this, I feel consumers are becoming too complacent with technology failing, and considering that to be "part of the deal".  I often think of the Apple Lifespan, where iPods that are hundreds of dollars will crap out within five years, as will the laptops (Battery issues I'm understanding of.  But I'm on year four with my lovingly handled Macbook Pro, and the CD Drive stopped working about a year ago, I've had to replace the graphics card because it burnt out (a known issue with the 2007 models), and recently the keyboard and trackpad connection has cocked up, leaving me with what amounts to an oddly shaped Mac Mini).

A lot of people get flustered up over trivial crap that usually amounts to self entitlement, and I think they're silly for it.  However, when people get upset over a company fixing a mistake that shouldn't be in their top of the line product, and releasing it as a new model that's 100 dollars more than what it's replacing (This is really a replacement, not an upgrade)?  I can empathize with the distaste.

Ken Kotch's picture

At $550 just buy some AlienBees

Unless you are shooting full frame I still favour the SB800 above the SB900. No way I am going to upgrade to some excuse for a new product number. 

-I would like to see Radio triggers built into the flash units, or at least an attachment you can buy that enables this. IR is just not good enough.
-A round front element with attachments like a snoot, grid softbox as optional Nikon buys. ( The colour filters are a step n the right direction but not enough.)
-Better cooling options in the design. Like maybe heatsinks buillt in.

Come Nikon at least try to be on the cutting edge!

I'd like to see RGB LEDs for the flash so that you can select the color temperature that you want - without have to use gels/color filters.  

Also, do you really want the cost of a radio receiver added to every flash you want?  The way it is now, you only need as many receivers for the most number of flashes you use for any one shoot, plus if you need to replace a flash, you don't need to replace the wireless receiver.

According to Dave Hobby, the LumoPro that was designed based on user input is a very decent speedlight for the money.  It has built-in optical slave, PC and Mini-Phono connections.  Personally I can't speak to its reliability but aside from not rotating 360 and going to 1/128th, it's got what people are looking for in a speedlight.

He still prefers the SB-800 and as we all probably already know, thinks Nikon made a mistake in killing the product.

Michael Warth's picture

The LumoPro 120 & LumoPro 160 are great inexpensive (priced right) small flash units. Unless you are one looking for tons of extra features. They are simple flash units, with great power (similar guide numbers), however, the build quality is cheap. If I could have a LumoPro flash with the build quality of the SB-800 I would be a lot happier. With that said, for small flash units, the LumoPro flashes are prefect. Before I spend 500 bucks on a small flash, I'll save for something better. Even the Paul C Buff Einsteins are small and around $500. The new Paul C Buff lithium battery ($250-ish) pack makes them ultra portable. 

The 910 strobe is a band aide to the thermal overload problem. Nikon has filed a patent  for active cooling of a strobe head. They should have brought it with this model or waited to incorporate it into the next new model without the 910 iteration. When are the Japanese camera manufacturers going to incorporate a wireless router into camera body so that the Ipads or Android tablets can be used to check just taken picutes? No vision on how to use technology.We need you Steve Jobs!