Warning: Geeky photography equipment post below.

Go ahead, flash me! Nikon’s awesome SB-400 flash.

I’m often asked by friends, family, engaged couples (and a random guy from the Netherlands last week?), which camera, lens, etc. they should get. For my wedding and engagement photography, I use the professional grade Nikon lenses (heavy), camera bodies (heavy) and flashes (heavy). They are super sharp, super fast and incredibly robust (heavy). But, for my personal use (see: Payton, Michelle on vacation HERE) I use a D300 (lightweight), a 35 1.8 lens (lightweight) and my favorite piece of equipment, the SB-400 (super lightweight).

If you have a Nikon SLR (D40, D50 D60 D70, D90 D5000, D-whatever) an SB-400 flash will help you make better pictures. Unlike the pop-up flash that is built in and springs open when the camera decides it’s too dark, this little guy lets you tilt the head and bounce the light off the ceiling or adjacent walls. The SB-400 automatically adjusts the amount of light pumped out depending on if it’s pointed straight at your subject or straight up. Just get the exposure close (or use one of the automatic modes), turn on the SB400 and tilt the head towards the nearest wall or ceiling. The results are incredible. Check out my on camera vs. bounced flash comparisons below. Oh and the best part, new these guys run about $100.

wedding photographers san luis obispo Check out the harsh shadows on the right picture compared to the super soft light found on the left image. The pop-up flash creates the harsh shadows behind Payton when a vertical image is taken (ick!). The light that is bounced against the wall (left image), is much softer and eliminates the harsh shadow on the wall.

san luis obispo wedding photographerThe left picture has gorgeous soft light whereas the right picture suffers from shadows and high contrast that comes from using the pop-up flash.

nikon sb-400 The right image makes his hair go dark because of the subsequent shadows that are produced when using a direct, pop-up flash. The left image is much softer and shows a greater amount of detail because the light was first bounced and dispersed off the ceiling before lighting Payton’s face.

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~Please feel free to comment below or drop me an email anytime! Also, be sure to check out my favorite images from 2009: HERE.