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I'm a nikon D3100 user, I have a 50 mm 1.4 nikkor lens. I've been thinking of buying an external flash speedlite for nikon as I'm planning to upgrade my nikon body at later stages.

I've been looking around and saw the SB-700 speedlite that i could use as master. I know for the fact that Nikon D3100 doesn't have wireless speedlite option; therefore, a trigger is needed (here's my problem? what trigger?)

What I'm looking for is the following: I want to use the flash externally and remotely by triggering it (TTL) with an some sort of cheap trigger that can trigger the flash with automatic values (i mean i don't want to set the power manually each time)

I saw (Nikon SU-800 commander unit) which is a very expensive unit for me to buy currently. Considering the fact that SB-700 is around $ 400

Also, in the manual it says the following but couldn't find online resourses or people who have tried it, can you please advice:

The camera can be used with the following CLS-compatible flash units:
• The SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, and SB-R200:

quoted from manual page number 173 http://cdn-10.nikon-cdn.com/pdf/manuals/kie88335f7869dfuejdl=-cww2/D3100_EN.pdf

Any other recommendations or suggestions?

I do really appreciate it.

  • I'm not sure whether we're supposed to do hardware recs here, so just as a comment - have a look at the the Godox V860 II N & matching X1T N controller. You could get 2 speed lights & the controller for less than one SB700, and use optical or 2.4GHz 'wifi' communication, manual or iTTL [I haven't checked for D3100 compatibility, but works very well on my D5500] – Tetsujin May 15 '17 at 9:18
  • @Tetsujin For the X1T N, i could find this online : amazon.com/Godox-X1N-Wireless-Trigger-Transmitter/dp/B017XKPTNC so this will be mounted on my camera and will trigger the remote flash. Thank you for your reply – Mr. Curious May 15 '17 at 9:53
  • That looks like the one. The speedlights themselves will also act as controllers, but if you want everything off-camera, that's the required extra. I got a pair of speedlights & the controller for £300 UKP, so look around for pricing. Speedlights come with one battery & charger each, you probably want spares, £35 or so. Controller uses regular AA. – Tetsujin May 15 '17 at 9:59
  • @Tetsujin If we're not supposed to do hardware recs in an answer, we certainly shouldn't do them in comments. Your comments are the beginnings of an answer that could concentrate on optical vs. radio, marque brands vs. third party, etc. – Michael C May 15 '17 at 18:18
  • Related: What external flash for a Nikon D3100? – Michael C May 15 '17 at 20:13
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What I'm looking for is the following: I want to use the flash externally and remotely by triggering it (TTL) with an some sort of cheap trigger that can trigger the flash with automatic values (i mean i don't want to set the power manually each time)

TTL is not required for remote triggering. TTL is the most common way to get automated power, though. There are four main ways you can do this with automated power:

  1. Use a TTL cable, that connects hotshoe-to-flash. The main drawback is that a wired connection can be inconvenient.

  2. Use CLS, Nikon's optical TTL system. This require that you have a CLS commander on the camera hotshoe, and a CLS-capable slave flash. These do not necessarily have to be Nikon branded. Some flashes from 3rd-party manufacturers have these features. Look for "TTL optical" vs. "optical". S1/S2 modes are manual-only (non-TTL) optical.

  3. Use S1/S2 manual-only optical slave modes, with a flash that has an Auto(thyristor) mode. This is the technology that was in use before TTL for automating flash power and uses a sensor on the flash to cut off the flash at the right time. It does not require camera/flash communication, like TTL. But it does require that the flash know the iso and aperture settings used, so you may have to set these separately on the flash.

  4. Use iTTL-capable radio triggers with a iTTL-capable flash. Radio triggers are nicer than optical slaving because radio doesn't have any line-of-sight requirements. Optical slaving requires that the slave sensor be able to "see" the commander flash burst. This can get problematic if, say, you want to hide the flash behind something or fake sunlight through a window by placing a flash outside the window.

    There are a number of radio triggers out there that can do TTL (e.g., Yongnuo YN-622, Phottix Odins, Godox X, RadioPopper PX, PocketWizard FlexTT5/MiniTT1, etc. etc.), just as there are 3rd-party flashes that can do Nikon TTL.

    Be aware, however, that with a D3100, you cannot have HSS (high-speed sync) as an automated flash function. The D3100 is not capable of performing FP/HSS, so your shutter speeds must be 1/200s or slower when using flash.

  • thank you so much for you reply In regards to point # 2, i'm planning to get the following as per Tetsujin recommendation: amazon.com/Godox-V860II-N-Speedlite-Transmitter-Diffuser/dp/… – Mr. Curious May 17 '17 at 7:11
  • Is the above link related to point #4 as well, from my understanding commander is using radio. I'm looking for a medium priced solution as it's currently a hobby, not a profession. Regarding the last note, D3100, if i use my 50 mm 1.4 in daylight and i need the flash, this means that the flash will not be triggered at shutter speed = 1/400 or 1/1000 ? or it will be triggered once but not multiple times Thank you @inkista – Mr. Curious May 17 '17 at 7:17
  • Nikon's wireless CLS is optical, not radio. Technically, the wireless part of the CLS system, which includes hot shoe mounted and wired flashes, is the AWL portion of CLS. (It's all optical based unless you're talking about the recently introduced SB-5000 and a couple of the most recent upper tier Nikon models that can communicate with it via radio). The SB-700 only has built in optical wireless capabilities, not radio. Please see here for more. – Michael C May 17 '17 at 7:56
  • @Mr. Curious If Nikon is anything like Canon what will happen is the camera will not let you use a shutter time faster than sync speed when a CLS flash is attached and detected by the camera. You can try all day to get it to use 1/400 or 1/1000 but when you press the button it will use 1/200 if it senses the flash is active. If it is a manual flash that the camera does not detect, the flash will fire but only a portion of the sensor will be uncovered when it fires and the rest of the frame in your photo will not receive any light from the flash. – Michael C May 17 '17 at 8:10
  • @Mr.Curious The Godox V860II can do both CLS (commander and slave) and the Godox X radio, so you're covered both ways; And yes, you cannot trigger the shutter any faster than 1/200s, because your camera body cannot do HSS, but the V860II/X1T-N are capable of it, so if you upgrade to a D7xxx or above body, you will be able to do HSS wirelessly. – inkista May 17 '17 at 17:01

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