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Nikon SB-5000 vs SB-910
TrueToad / Saturday, May 20, 2017 / Categories: Reviews

Nikon SB-5000 vs SB-910

New School

There are a lot of words written below, this article's purpose is to help in your decision and is not a full-blown technical description of either flash, but I do own and use both. The Nikon SB-5000 versus SB-910

Consider this: The SB-910 is only available used at this point - it is a great flash, but Nikon is moving away from optical control.

If you are considering an SB500 versus an SB910, please consider both are Nikon flagship offerings and the performance are near equal. As stated Nikon is moving away from Optical wireless and the SB-5000 is their first DLSR flash (Speedlight) that you can control using "radio waves" or RF to control the flash around the corner out of sight as they say.  Yes - the package is expensive and yes you need a compatible camera for the RF WR10 support, but this is where Nikon Flash technology is heading.  Don't worry, Nikon SB-5000 supports all the legacy optical wireless modes - commander, and slave + offers the rf wireless for the rich and brave.

My humble advice is if you have the funds invest in the newer SB-5000 flash, you will find that choice to be the right choice for the long haul. If you are looking for compatible advice - the SB5000 works just as well optically alongside you older Nikon flashes or with your pocket wizards.  I think the choice is easy.

I have an SU-800 that is dedicated to the legacy optical wireless flash, it has easy to use push button settings that allow you to control each flash group's output individually.  While the RF system - you need to dig into the camera flash settings - just a bit more work and cumbersome.

In order to control the SB 5000 wirelessly in RF mode, you need a WR10 RF transmitter attached to your compatible camera and paired with the flash, then enter your camera's menu to adjust the flash output in the appropriate groups, the good news is all the current cameras that support this are now touch screen to some extent.  

The older optical wireless had the same limitations, but if you used a dedicated SU800 the job of control was much easier. Maybe in the future, an RF SU800 will be offered to have the same push dedicated buttons, vice the WR10 that requires adjustments via the camera menu.  I think Nikon will address this soon because it makes sense to have an RF transmitter with quick push/touch menu dedicated to the task of controlling your RF flashes rather than entering the camera's menu system each time you need to make adjustments.

The Long Version of my advice above: 

The Nikon SB-5000 and Nikon SB-910 are two top-line Speed-lights (flashes) and both are a great choice. Because I used the SB-910 for years, I am partial to the flash, The 910 is a well-respected professional flash, but all technology advances, the SB 5000 is the next SB-910. Performance is almost perfectly aligned to match the behemoth 910.

Bottom Line:  Do yourself a favor, if you considering a new flash for your DSLR go for an SB-5000, it makes more sense, Nikon is finally moving to RF and you want to be on-board and future-proofed, at least for the next few years :) the SB-5000 will do that for you.  Be advised that the SB-5000 is still fully backward compatible with the legacy "optical" wireless that Nikon has been using for years.

Nikon surprised us with the announcement of the D500 alongside the D5 most everyone was like WOW! The D500 brings the camera closer in line with the newer SB-5000 speedlights using RF vs Optical legacy. RF makes more sense than an optical wireless system - more flexibility. 

 The move to RF will have some initial growing pains while we enthusiast and pros adjust and begin making decisions on what future purchases we should make. In my arsenal of Speedlights, I have a mix of SB-700s SB-910s and now two SB-5000s. 

The bad news was my WR-10 was an earlier firmware version and did not fully support the D500 / SB-5000, the good news Nikon performed a free firmware upgrade for me! I sent my older WR-10 in, and Nikon sent me a notice stating no charge and returned it fully functioning with the SB-5000 features. Way to go Nikon! Thanks.

IMHO: If you are in the market for a new Speedlight I would suggest you pony up and purchase the SB-5000 over the SB-910 or SB-700. I understand the SB-700 is much cheaper @ about $200.00 cheaper. The difference between the SB-5000 and SB-910 is about $20.00 with the 910 currently less costly - depending on where you buy it,  It is a no-brainer I think. Although I do like the slightly smaller footprint of the SB-700 I would rethink my original purchase of the SB-700 if I knew the SB-5000 was coming out.

What does the SB-910 have that the SB-5000 does not?  If you are into freeze frame the SB-910 has a faster flash duration at the far end of the scale 1/38,500 (might not make all that much difference).  Overall the SB-5000 can matche and in some cases exceeds the SB-910 Performance + has an improved cooling system for longer shooting sessions without fear of overheating.

 The Comparision  
 Nikon SB-5000 Nikon SB-910 
  • Commander Mode - Yes
  • Remote function -  Yes
  • New Feature: Radio control
  • Radio Range: About 98 ft. (30m)
  • Old Feature: Optical Line of Sight
  • Guide number: 34.5 m / 113 ft. (at 35mm) 55m / 180 ft. (at 200mm) (FX-format, ISO 100)
  • Lens Covered: 24 to 200mm lens, 14mm with wide panel (FX format)
  • Recycling time: Times Approximate, 1.8 sec using Ni-MH (2600 mAh) batteries
    •  2.6 sec  with AA-size Alkaline batteries
  • Flash duration: 1/980 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output, 1/30,820 sec. at M 1/256 output
  • Optional power supply: SK-6 Power Bracket Unit, SD-9 High-Performance Battery Pack
  • Wireless groups: Radio controlled: Master + 6 groups; Optically controlled: Master + 3 groups
  • Dimensions: 73 x 137 x 103.5mmWeight (sans batteries): 14.9 oz. (420 g)  
 
  • Commander Mode - Yes
  • Remote function -  Yes
  • Old Feature: Optical Line of Sight
  • Guide number: 34m / 111 ft. (at 35mm) (FX-format, ISO (100)
  • Lens Covered: 17 to 200mm lens, 12-17mm with wide panel (FX format)
  • Recycling time Approximate:
    • 2.3 sec. (approx.) with Ni-MH (2600 mAh) batteries 
    • 3.0 sec. (approx.) with Oxyride™ (1.5V) batteries 
    • 4.0 sec. (approx.) with Alkaline-manganese (1.5V) batteries 
    • 4.5 sec. (approx.) with Lithium (1.5V) batteries
  • Flash duration: 1/880 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output, 1/38,500 sec. at M 1/256 output
  • Optional power supply: SK-6 Power Bracket Unit, SD-8A High-Performance Battery Pack
  • Wireless groups: Master + 3 groups
  • Dimensions: 3.1 x 5.7 x 4.4 in. (78.5 x 145 x 113 mm)
  • Weight (NO batteries): 14.8 oz. (420 g) 

Case Study: I use a Lastolite Studio Cubelite which you can place a light underneath for some dramatic lighting opportunities, the problem is (was) you are forced to use a continuous light or run a flash sync cord or use a pocket wizard on the lower flash as an Optical line of sight will not work.  Now that the SB-5000 is here I can remote fire using RF & Optical mixed  (problem solved).  My ultimate change out is to replace my SB-910s and 700s with SB-5000s to ensure I only have one "menu" to remember, although they are all pretty much straightforward having a streamlined setup makes more sense.

Durability: Both the SB-5000 and SB 9/7 series are equally durable, I don't find the SB-5000 less "hardy" feeling, granted I would not want to drop any speed light from any distance, as the survivability of a drop is not likely for either flash. One thing to note is the SB-910 was made in Japan while the newer SB-5000 is coming out of China.  I had my SB-5000 since the release date and use them on regular occasions without issues so far, I think the quality and durability legacy will continue with the SB-5000 being known for a top of the line flash.

In Field Use: The SB-5000 is superior to the legacy optical system. My SB-5000 and D500 and was able to fire the flash using a WR-10 RF with a push of the camera shutter or remote each and every time in the brightest of sunlight. My older legacy optical wireless at times had trouble when the flash was set to fill at low power in bright sun.

Bottom Line: If you are trying to make up your mind between an SB-900/910/700 I would very heavily consider the newer SB-5000. Just remember, not only do you now have the wireless RF capabilities (you need the WR-10 + Compatible camera) you can also attach your pocket wizards or just use the optical sensor as always.  I know, the WR-10 cost a few bucks but it too serves as a "hands-free" remote shutter fire for those times when you are using slow shutters and needs hands-off shooting or remote firing your camera from a distance.

Last Update 2017:  Nikon no longer sells the SB 900 or 910 and is moving to wireless RF flashes for their future remote flash and I for one can not wait for the benefit of the newer technology.

Final Note:  Nikon has traditionally taken great measure to maintain compatibility over the years and the SB 5000 is proof of their commitment, backward compatible with your older Nikon wireless optical flashes and forward leaning into the RF technology when you are ready.

 

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Photographer's Notes
Buy Your SB-500 - click the image  Don't forget the Wireless Remote 
   

 

I use all the Nikon flash models - from the Nikon 1 Series to the most recent RF offerings.  Nikon is making a change to RF technology and if you are trying to decide, I recommend the SB-5000 currently.  It offers the most of what Nikon's top shelf 910s have plus can see around corners and in bright sun (if your camera supports RF), The future Nikon cameras will all support RF, even the upcoming Nikon 1 series.  Do yourself a favor, if you are buying new go for the SB-5000.

People ask me these questions:

Q. What cameras support the SB-5000? A.  All the compatible cameras are listed on Nikon's site, as of 6/2/2017: D3300, D5500, D5300, D5, D500, D3200, D7100, D810&A, D7200, D750,DF, D4S, D610, D5200, SU-800.  * The D5, D500 and D850 supports the WR-10 RF feature. Remember the WR-10 is a camera limitation not the flash.

Q. Is it compatible with a pocket wizard or knock off.  A. In most cases yes, I tried my pocket wizard without issue.

Q. Can I use the SB-5000 with other Nikon Cameras? A. For basic flash, in most cases yes. If your camera supports CLS then you have some of the advanced features supported.

Q. Can I use the SB-5000 and other Optical SB-900/910 together? A. Yes.

Q. What cameras offer FULL support of the WR-10 RF feature. Currently D5, D500 and the new D850, but Nikon makes updates to firmware all the time for cameras, check Nikon's firmware update site for your camera.


Camera Body
  • Nikon D500
Flash Used
  • SB-5000
  • SB-910
  • SB-900
  • SU-800
Accessories Used
  • WR-A10 Wireless Adapter
Original Date5/20/2016 12:01:00 AM

TrueToadTrueToad

I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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1 comments on article "Nikon SB-5000 vs SB-910"

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TrueToad

I had a question about using a combo of an existing flash SB600 and a SB5000 with a third party Flashpoint: if you also require the WR10 to trigger the SB5000. The short answer is the SB5000 supports off camera use with other compatible wireless receivers that attach to the flash..

The SB5000 can use traditional Nikon CLS IR, Pair with a WR10 or use with a 3rd party compatible setup.

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