Ain’t technology wonderful?

So, here I am – like usual – with a partial SLR system on the go. I bought a nice SB-600 flash unit for my Nikon D70s camera back in September. The flash allows me to do wonderful things with my camera, and has allowed me to completely rediscover flash photography.

 I’ve spent the last few years shooting mainly with a tripod or by cranking up the ISO (or even standing really still) because I generally don’t like the effect of using an on camera flash at night – having my subject overexposed while the mood of the shot is ruined by blowing out the background isn’t my idea of a good photo.

 My D70s has a feature called “commander mode”, though that changes everything. I can use the flash off the camera, and it will be synchronised to the camera. I use the flash more during the day than I do at night! Put the flash behind a leaf and get all the veins in intricate detail. Put the flash on the ground and use it to remove those racoon eyes that a midday sun casts on human subjects.  The possibilities are endless for creativity … only ..

 Only the thing stopped working before I changed the first set of batteries! I changed several batteries – Alkalines – and took the flash into Nikon in mid-October. The lack of functionality cost me some Thanksgiving photos indoors (bounce flash is so much better than on camera). The service guy at Nikon swapped batteries and the darned thing started working again! Feeling like some sort of idiot I continued to use the flash until a geocaching trip in December.

 When I tried to use my flash there, I got nothing. It worked the day before, but I guess the car ride proved too much – this is inside it’s protective case and stored securely in the car.

I swapped batteries to some fresh NiMH ones … didn’t work. So I switched to alkaline ones …. same result. Even brand new Lithium batteries didn’t bring this thing to life! This time I knew it was good and dead. It’s now just over a week before Christmas — the time that I’m most interested in having bounce flash capabilities.

So, I called up the place that I bought it – Black’s Camera. Note, I’ve had the flash for just under three months at this point. Blacks refused to do anything with the warranty service and instead directed me to ship it to Nikon for the manufacturer’s warranty. Good thing that Nikon is just down the road from where I work.

Normally, if I have a piece of electronics that dies outright in under 90 days, I’d expect an immediate straight exchange on the product. Apparently, the camera industry works another way. Nikon is suggesting they *might* fix it, or replace it, but they won’t know what they’re going to do until mid next week sometime. Five weeks after I dropped it off, for the second time.  So far I’ve been able to use the flash for about 60% of the time that I’ve owned it. 

If you decide to get one of these flash units, I’d suggest you get two. One for active use, while the other one is in the repair shop. From what I’ve been reading online, it appears these things are designed very fragile inside.

Here’s hoping that I get good news when it comes. I’ve got a nice set of gels for the flash that I want to get busy with!

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