Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F & F2 Shared Resources: Handle-Mount Flashes



Not a whole lot of information is known about this unit, except that it used the same battery as the BC-7, and that it had a fixed (i.e. non-folding) reflector. It apparently takes standard FP bulbs, and comes with a connecting cord (perhaps one of the BD-x series), folding camera bracket, and a separate battery case which also holds the capacitor. The operation of this unit is probably similar to that of the BC-7.

SB-1 Flash Unit

SB1.jpg (13k)
Nikon Original Speedlight Unit
The unit provides ample and uniform illumination over the entire film frame. It offers many standard and optional accessories to meet various lighting requirements. Several different light sources are available. Nickel-cadmium, 510V or D-size batteries or AC (100, 117, 220 or 240V) power and two ring light attachments for close-ups and macro-photo work are available. Extension cords and a movable bracket may be used.

Also available is an eyepiece pilot lamp to show the power charge which is fitted into the camera eyepiece. Standard equipment includes the main unit, bracket, nickel-cadmium battery stack, synch cord and the AC unit/charger.

Light Output Control:
manual exposure
Guide Number:
46ft (14m) for color film, ASA 25
149ft (43m) for black and white film, ASA 125
est. 100ft (31m) for ASA 100
Flash Duration:
1/2000 sec.
Number of Flashes:
appox. 80 (SN-1)
300 (high-rate manganese batteries in SD-2)
1000 (alkaline-manganese batteries in SD-2)
700 (SD-3)
as many as you want (SA-1)
Recycling Time (manual setting is higher number):
appox. 4 sec. (SN-1)
5 sec. (high-rate manganese batteries in SD-2)
4 sec. (alkaline-manganese batteries in SD-2)
1.5 sec. (SD-3)
5 sec. (SA-1)
Angle of Coverage:
65 deg.
Power Sources:
SN-1 NiCad battery
six 1.5V D-type batteries (SD-2)
one 510V and four 1.5V AA-type batteries (SD-3)
AC source with aid of SA-1 converter/charger
Open-Flash Button:
Synch Socket for Eyepiece Pilot Lamp:
Ready-light Contact for F2 Series Camera Finders:
requires SC-4 adapter
Color Temperature:
appox. 6000K
Life of Flashtube:
appox. 30 000 flashes
appox. 670g
bounce bracket appox. 270g
SA-1 appox. 1 000g
AC Unit/Charger SA-1
NC Battery Charger SH-1
NC Battery SN-1
D-Cell Pack SD-2
510-Volt Battery Pack SD-3
Synch Cord SC-5
Coiled Synch Cord SC-6
extension cord SE-2
Bracket SK-2
Nikkormat accessory shoe
Eyepiece Pilot Lamp SF-1
Ready Light Adapter SC-4
Ringlight Unit SR-1
Macro Ringlight Unit SM-1

The front of the unit, from top to bottom, has the flashtube/head and the handle, which doubles as the battery holder for the SN-1 NiCad battery (accessed by unscrewing the cap on the bottom of the handle). The right side of the unit (closer to the camera when mounted) has the two-prong-and-a-pin extension socket and the ringlight power supply socket (four connectors), while the left side has only the four-connector AC socket. The back of the flash head has the exposure-calculator disc, the on-off slider, the round white open-flash button, and the ready light. The three-prong socket on the bottom of the flash head is the flash sync socket.

First mount the bracket to the camera's tripod socket. Then remove the bottom cap of the SB-1 and slide the bracket clamp onto the speedlite (this may already be mounted), loosening it with a coin, if necessary, and making sure that (1) the black quick-release lever faces up and (2) the clamp's ridge mates with the groove on the side of the SB-1. Retighten the clamp, if necessary. The SK-2 bracket has three distinct holes in it; the round hole is for use with the F36 (without cordless back), the center slot is for most 35mm bodies and the MD-1/2, and the longest slot is for use with the F36/Cordless and 6x6 SLRs. The bracket should now be slid onto the SB-1's bracket clamp, from the clamp's top edge (the same side as the quick-release) to its bottom. After that, tighten the silver locking screw on the on the back of the clamp. To store the bracket on the flash, reverse the above directions and plug the pin on the bottom of the bracket clamp into the mating socket on the SK-2. The bracket-clamp connection tilts at intervals of 30 degrees up to 120 degrees to provide bounce flash.

Now you can synchronize flash and body by attaching the SC-5. For those of you with a choice, the PC plug should go into the "X" terminal, rather than the "M". Then, you can hook up the appropriate power source. Note that the SN-1 goes into the bottom of the handle, while the SD-3's cord attaches to the ringlight socket, and the SA-1 and SD-2 both attach to the square four-connector port on the left side of the flash head. The SA-1 serves as a charger for the SN-1, which requires 7-8 hours of charging after 40 flashes, or 14-16 hours after 80 flashes. The SH-1 charges the SN-1 much more quickly, only 3 hours after 40 flashes. You can also hook up the appropriate eyepiece pilot lamp, via SC-4 (F2) or SF-1 (F, Nikkormats), at this point, and have wires dangling from virtually every port of the SB-1. If that's not enough, and you manage to dig up more SB-1's, you can connect up to two more for multiple flash, as well as their various power accessories (although, thankfully, you only have to sync the first one; the SE-2 connects the sync socket on the left side of the flash head to the regular sync connection on the bottom of the next flash).

Exposure calculation is relatively straightforward, thankfully. The SB-1 is a manual flash with one output setting -- full blast -- so you only need to know how to work the calculator dial. Align the proper ASA number with the appropriate mark (color or black and white film); you will then be able to read the guide number for the film speed selected. Alternatively, determine your focus distance (compose, focus on the subject you'd like to expose, and transfer the indicated distance to the calculator dial) which will line up opposite the aperture you need to set. Based on this aperture, you may select a shutter speed at sync or slower to properly expose the background. On the other hand, if you don't want your subject to have the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look, rate your film somewhat faster than normal -- and now you're doing fill-flash with thirty-year-old equipment. Yes, it's not 3D Matrix-Balanced (tm) but you've done most of what automation has taken over -- determined distance, trimmed light output, etc. Of course, if you really want to be serious about it, you should have the NPC ProBack on, take a couple of test Polaroids, move the flash far off-camera ...

Nikon Flash Units: BC-Series| Original Nikon Speedlight
SB-2 | SB-3 | SB-4 | SB-5 | SB-6 | SB-7E | SB-8E | SB-9 | SB-E | SB-10
| SB-12 | SB-14 | SB-140 UV-IR| SB-15 | SB16A | SB-17 | SB-18, SB-19 | SR2/SM-2 Ringlights | SB-21A (SB-29) Macro flash | Flash Accesories | SF-1 Pilot Lamp

Nikon AF-TTL Speedlights | SB-20 | SB-22 | SB-23 | SB-24 | SB-25 | SB-26 | SB-27 | SB-28 | Nikon SB-29(s) | Nikon SB-30 | Nikon SB-600 | Nikon SB-800 (updated)
Nikon AF-TTL Speedlight DX-Series:
Nikon SB-28DX | SB-50DX | SB-80DX (updated)

| Next | The mighty SB-5 Speedlight

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: Hansen, Lars Holst

Copyright © 1998. Michael C. Liu ®

Site rearranged by: leofoo ®. Credit: Hiura Shinsaku® from Nikomat Club of Japan for feeding some useful inputs on the introductory page. The great 3D logo by Kiasu; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input of early Nikon bodies. Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest; Marc Vorgers from Holland for his additinal images on Nikon F Apollo; Hayao Tanabe corrected my Red Dot and Early F assertions. Gray Levett, Grays of Westminster publishes an excellent monthly historical look at Nikon products, from where I learned about the high-speed F's. Made with a PowerMac, broadcast with a Redhat Linux powered server.

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