The rumored new flash from Nikon, the SB-910, has been announced and Nikon is now taking preorders for its new flagship flash. We have been hearing about the possibility of this flash for some time from sites like nikonrumors.com. As you can see from the images, it still has the same basic form factor as the SB-900. I see this as a positive as I liked the larger size of the SB-900, and I especially liked the dedicated master control switch. If it looks like the now “old” flash, does it work like it as well? Let’s dive in.
As Joe McNally says in his review, this new flash is really more of a “collection of tweaks” to the SB-900, manifested into a new product called the SB-910. The speculation on this flash seemed to be pretty interesting, including the possibility of an LED video flash built in. As is often the case, not everything that was speculated made it into the final product, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious upgrade. All we have to go off of at this point are the specifications and marketing from Nikon, and some guy name Joe McNally. As I alluded to above, Joe has had a quick hands on with the new flash and has provided feedback where he heralds one of the biggest improvements as being better heat management than the SB-900.
With the SB-910 we will still have the dedicated button to control the different modes such as remote, master, and standard. We still have the same zoom and flash pattern capabilities, and even the size of the flash is still pretty much the same. In fact, using Nikon’s own comparison tool the specs between the SB-900 and the new SB-910 are literally almost a mirror image of themselves with the exception of the ready light being on just the front for the SB-910, and the size and weight differences which are so similar you wonder why it was worth changing it at all. The specifications being so close to the previous version and all, we must turn to the Nikon marketing to see why they think we should “upgrade” to the newer, more expensive flash.
Here again we find the marketing page for the SB-910 may be a bit “snazzier” than the SB-900 marketing page, but it starts out basically saying the same things as it’s predecessors page. However if you keep reading further down the page, you finally come to where it shows the main difference, and what may make the SB-910 a better flash if it works properly, is a better heat management system. Sure there are a few other menu enhancements, and maybe a couple more accessories included (not sure about this yet), but the heat management of the SB-900 is a flat out pain. In just the few weddings and portraits I have done, I have come to expect the SB-900 to perform wonderfully, right up until it overheats and starts yelling at me. So, if the all the SB-900 brings, is a proper heat management setup, I will be very happy because to be honest outside of the heat issues the SB-900 is one heck of a flash.
Obviously, reading Joe’s blog post about the new SB-910 instills a lot of hope that the heat issues we have had in the past are just that; a thing of the past. You would think if all this is true, and we finally have an SB-900(910) strobe that no longer suffers from the same heat troubles, I would smile and rush to pre-order one right away. But the truth of it is, I am kinda… “Miffed” at Nikon for releasing what is essentially an SB-900 that works properly when pushed a little, and calling it a new product. I am more than “miffed” that Nikon is asking a $50.00 premium on what I see is a corrected problem, and not a new product. In the end I will buy one, or probably more actually. While I am happy the capabilities of the SB-910 are here, I can’t help but feel a little taken advantage of over this one.