I have an SB-800. It's the newest Nikon strobe that will work with my F5. My F5 will probably outlast me (it probably has another 100,000 shutter actuations in it and I use less than 10 rolls a year, but I likely won't live another 278 years...).

What is my optimal strategy for making sure the SB-800 lives as long as possible?

Certainly storage advice suggests that if you don't use your speedlight much, you should take it out of storage every month or three, put batteries in and fire it a couple of times. But, my interpretation of this advice is that not to use the flash at all will shorten its life. I understand that. But what if I can choose to use the flash regularly, or not? Let's say I have two SB-800 stobes, A and B, and I store A in this way, taking it out and firing it monthly. Strobe B, on the other hand, I use every day or two (and carry with me).

Barring accidental damage, which strobe is likely to last longest, A or B? Why?

My question is essentially motivated by the fact that I could keep using my SB-800, or buy an SB-910 and mostly use that (effectively reserving the SB-800 for use with the F5).

  • Sounds like you are ready to test out the A/B theory for us and let us know in 10-15 years :) – dpollitt Mar 18 '12 at 1:32
  • Heh, no. Testing the A/B theory would require me to buy an SB-800. Or ideally a pair with identical historic usage (new is no longer an option). If I bought another strobe now it would be an SB-700 or an SB-910. – James Youngman Mar 18 '12 at 11:13

Depends if you need CLS or not. (Don't even know if the F5 has CLS).

I'd keep the SB-800, and use it until it dies. The Strobist folks snap up all the good used Nikon strobes, but they are still tons cheaper than the SB-910 (and the Canon equivalent).

I consider strobes to be like tires on my car. Good to have good ones, but they are normal wear items, don't expect it to last decades.

That said, I have a 1970s vintage Vivitar 285 that still works, and it works fine on my Nikon F. But its voltage is too high for modern digital cameras.

  • I realised this morning that by the time the SB-800 dies after regular use - assuming that's a few years from now - a second-hand F6 would probably be a realistic buy, and they are compatible with newer strobes. So as you suggest, I'm going to keep using the SB-800. Thanks for your advice. – James Youngman Mar 18 '12 at 11:06
  • No, the F5 (introduced 1996) is not CLS-compatible. It does TTL metering but not dTTL (which was introduced with the D1 in 1999). The CLS system was introduced with iTTL, and I think the first body supporting that was the D2H (introduced 2003). – James Youngman Mar 18 '12 at 11:11

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