I'm wondering if I'm using the D7000's Commander mode incorrectly. Page 225 of the Nikon D7000 manual says

The built-in flash does not fire [in "--" Option], although remote flash units do.

Yet what I've found is that the built-in flash in fact does fire, adding ugly on-camera, direct flash to my photos especially for short-distance subjects. I present Exhibit A below, where it is seen that both the remote SB900's and the on-camera's flash are captured, even in "--" Commander option. How do I fix this?

Exhibit A

  • See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11435/… for the same complaint for Canon. And FWIW, Pentax is the same. – mattdm Jun 23 '11 at 1:26
  • Another FWIW; the Pentax K-7's flash in commander-only mode is much brighter than that on the older K10D model. I assume this is to address complaints about effectiveness of the system in bright light, but ugh, it is annoying. I made a home-brew equivalent of the SG-31R and use that when it's crucial. – mattdm Jun 23 '11 at 1:35
  • Glad I found this, albeit a long time after the question was first posted! Been tearing my hair out trying to figure why I can't stop the built-in flash from firing when using my sb700 as the remote. I do feel a tad misled by Nikon on this :( – user15905 Jan 30 '13 at 18:44
  • To my great regret, I found exactly the same problem on the D610. Must be a Nikon thing. – user25768 Feb 1 '14 at 12:11
  • Not only is this not an answer, if you had read through the existing answers you would have seen that it's universal. How else would a visible-light optical system indicate to the slaved flash that the shutter is open and it's time to fire? There is an IR filter available for the pop-up if you need to make it invisible. – user2719 Feb 1 '14 at 12:34

They lie.

It does, it just not supposed to fire enough to matter. The flash is how it communicates with external units.

You can get an SG-31R unit to block it and let the IR only through.

Your other option is to ditch CLS and go with radio triggers - of which, if you search, we have various questions about.

  • 1
    I feared as much. Pretty upsetting. I sold my Su-800 on eBay because I thought I don't need it anymore now that I have the D7000's commander mode. Had I known this lie, I wouldn't have sold it. – rabbid Jun 23 '11 at 1:29
  • @rabbid - ouch :( – rfusca Jun 23 '11 at 1:31
  • Yeah... this on-cam flash actually makes a lot of (ugly) difference in low-light and short-distance conditions. Then again, it is convenient not having to carry another piece of device around. I guess there are trade-offs.. – rabbid Jun 23 '11 at 1:33
  • On the plus side, the SG-31R should go for less than you got for the Su-800, right? :) – mattdm Jun 23 '11 at 1:35
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    I bought the SG-31R for this exact reason. It solves the problem pretty well. The timing flash might not matter too much at f/4, ISO 800, but at f/2.8, ISO 3200, I can notice it up to about 20 or 30 feet. – Evan Krall Jun 23 '11 at 3:01

If indoors, just cover the popup flash with anything (even with your hand, if it's free) leaving some clearance, so the light goes to the sides but not to the subject. It will still fire remote flash with no problems.

If outdoors, this is not much of an issue and setting it to -- is usually enough.

Additionally, if we're here, you can set your SB700/900 to SU4 mode in menus, in which case it acts like a studio flash, responding to the first flash trigger. Then set your popup flash to 1/128 of the power. What you loose is TTL, you have to set flash power manually. What you gain is one flash fire per photo, no delays, no models closing eyes for exposure after the first flash fire (another problem you might have after selling SU800).


I find that firing at shorter than the sync speed of 1/320 at say 1/400 will work. It removes the effect of the pop-up flash on short range subjects at wide apertures.

It also removes the catchlight from the eyes which is from on-camera flash and separate to the off-camera softbox.

Of course going to FP mode faster than sync speed means you will lose maybe a stop of light from external flash.

Same as above applies to D90, at 1/250 or faster, past the 1/200 sync speed.


I see this is a little old, but it's Google's top hit for the subject. You can disable the pop-up by going into the command settings on the custom menu. It will give available settings for each flash group, and from there set the command flash menu to -- to disable it entirely.

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    Hi Ross. Welcome to Stack Exchange. Unfortunately, this is what @rfusca means when he says "they lie". Read the question carefully and you can see that this menu has actually already been set this way. Try it in a mirror — the control flash will fire during exposure even in this mode. It's supposed to be too little to matter, but sometimes it does. – mattdm Jan 10 '12 at 11:51

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