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Is there a way to use the Nikon SB-800 speedlight with the D5500 remotely? I’ve looked up tutorials and they keep showing how to put the camera in commander mode which I don’t seem to have on this camera.

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The SB-800 can be put into optical slave (SU-4) mode and be triggered by the popup flash on your camera.

  1. First, turn on your flash.

  2. Press and hold the "sel" button for 2 seconds.

  3. Arrow right (the "single tree" button) to get the upper right quadrant highlighted.

  4. Push the select button again.

  5. Scoll down ("-" button) until "SU-4" is highlighted.

  6. Push "sel" again to select.

  7. Push and hold "sel" for 2 seconds to get out of the submenu.

  8. Your flash will now say "REMOTE."

This is not remote control/commander, only remote triggering. It only works well when both flashes are set to manual, and it does have the limitations of being optical; but it is also free.

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For remote flash, the Nikon solution is the SU-800.

At that price, I would look in to wireless (RF) flash triggers which are more versatile since it doesn't require line of sight like the SU-800. Inexpensive units can be found for under USD 100.

Another option is a TTL flash cord. If you're handy with a soldering iron, you can splice the cord and add length using CAT5 Ethernet cable.

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Is there a way to use the Nikon SB-800 [speedlight] with the D5500 remotely?

You can fire it if you put the SB-800 into SU-4 mode and fire the D5500's pop-up flash. This is a "dumb" optical slave mode that uses a sensor on the SB-800 to fire when another flash burst is sensed. This is a manual-only triggering method that cannot use TTL or HSS/FP, and the only thing you can tell the flash to do is fire.

This is not Nikon's CLS/AWL "smart" optical triggering, which allows for full remote control over the SB-800.

I’ve looked up tutorials and it keeps showing to put the camera in commander mode which I don’t seem to have on this camera.

Nikon reserved commander mode in the pop-up flash for their higher-end camera body. It's only in the D7x00 series and higher end bodies. Neither the D3x00 or D5x00 bodies can do this. To use CLS/AWL, you'd need another flash unit that has commander capability, such as the SU-8 or a higher-end SB speedlight like an SB-700 or another SB-800.

Keep in mind that optical slaving is light-based communication. It requires "line of sight" from the commander to the sensor on the side of the speedlight. It works best in studio conditions where the ambient light level is low and there are a lot of bounce surfaces around.

If used outdoors in bright sunlight, range and reliability can be reduced. And you cannot block the light path from the commander to the SB-800.

Which is why most folks prefer using radio triggering instead. Your easiest solution might actually be to get a radio transmitter/receiver set to remotely control your flash. Something like a Godox XPro-N transmitter to use on the hotshoe of your D5500, and an X1R-N receiver to attach to the foot of the SB-800 would let you remotely control the flash in TTL as well as M, and to remotely set the power on the flash, turn its group on/off, and remotely zoom it. If you upgraded to an HSS/FP-capable body, you'd have remotely high-speed sync/focal plane flash, too.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "the only thing you can tell the flash to do is fire" -- I don't know about the SB-800 but at least the SB-900 can be used with SU-4 in automatic mode where it will also stop when the master flash stops. That's of course still limited but might be useful in some scenarios. \$\endgroup\$
    – luator
    Jan 30 at 10:31

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