Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon SB-15/SB-17 - Operational Manual - Index Page

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Basic Setup for flash operations

Various Controls in details
Shooting Mode Selector

Exposure Calculator Dial
Ready-Light/Open-Flash Button
Flash Head
Wide-Flash Adapter SW-6
Sync/Multiple Flash Terminal

Care and maintenance
"Red Eye" phenomenon
Battery Issues

sb17backview.jpg sb17dial.jpg
The Nikon Speedlight SB-15 is a direct-mounting electronic flash unit onto any Nikon camera that has a standard ISO accessory shoe, while the same unit with a dedicated mounting foot for the Nikon F3 is called Nikon SB-17.

Both of these units virtually share the same dimension, specifications and equal in performance but only distinguishable with the way they are mounting on respective camera models

(The SB-17 has an additional, but very useful TTL sync socket terminal which mysteriously has been omitted from the SB-15, the SB-15 has only a standard sync socket which can be used for normal AUTO and manual off camera OR multiple flash setup)

SB-17 front.jpg

OFF TOPIC: My friend LARS, defended for Nikon by explaining: " ...I agree that the multi TTL socket is sometimes missed on SB-15 but I think it is a design compromise. SB-17 sits on the "corner" of F3 and this allows for plenty of room for the non-angled SC-18 and SC-19 plugs. SB-15 however sits in the ISO-hotshoe and the SC-plug would therefore not have the same space. It would be cranked in between the rewind knob and the prism housing...".

Illustrated below is the SB-17's unique mounting foot and how it is mounted on a Nikon F3 camera. To mount the SB-15 onto a standard ISO type accessory shoe and a simple and direct slot, slip, lock-in-place process.

F3's mountfoot.jpg



Note: Nikon has designed a new, very useful little device called AS-17 Flash Coupler, which enable ALL TTL flash (Including the current AF models) with a standard ISO accessory shoe (Like the SB-15 featured here) to be used on the F3 models (except those which use the ISO-type accessory shoe on DE-5 finder) and retaining TTL flash exposure control.

I am too lazy to update all the info here, keep it simple - with the AS-17, you don't have to carry two types of flash units if your setup is consist of an F3 camera and a Nikon body that also has TTL flash exposure control capability (Or you don't have to live with only one camera now for flash). The coupler can retain TTL flash feature of any TTL flash that has a standard ISO accessory shoe with a Nikon F3 now (So now, if the camera setup is still the same, you should carry only the SB-15 and go without any earlier flash unit for your F3 camera with the new AS-17 coupler on your F3 body).

The SB-15/17 provides automatic through-the-lens (TTL) control of the flash exposure when used with the any Nikon bodies that offer TTL flash exposure control (like Nikon F3 (SB-17); FA, FE2 and FG (SB-15)). Because light is measured through the actual picture-taking lens, you are assured of just the right exposure with a variety of lenses and accessory attachments at any aperture from f/2 to f/22 as long as the flash to subject distance falls within the working range of the flash. For any other Nikon bodies, manual mode and normal automatic flash feature is also available. Although it has a different mounting foot, both SB-15 and SB-17 can be use on each other cameras by mean of a flash coupler (AS-6, AS4), however, the TTL flash exposure control (neither flash ready light and auto sync speed setting) will NOT be possible and only normal AUTO flash and manual control is permissible in such combination. Updates: Only way to retain TTL flash is to use the new AS-17 for the SB-15 on your F3 but not the other way round, i.e. SB-17 on other SLR models (In which only AUTO and manual flash is possible).

The incorporation of a front-mounted light sensor, the Nikon Speedlight SB-15/SB-17 is also compatible with all other Nikon cameras for automatic, but not through-the-lens, or manual flash output control (Direct attachment via sync cord or by means of flash coupler). Through the use of a silicon-controlled rectifier and series circuitry, the SB-15/SB-17 is able to conserve energy when shooting subjects at close range in automatic mode; thus recycling times are shorter and the number of flashes per battery set is greater.

In addition, the SB-15/SB-17couples with the flash ready lights inside the viewfinders of the Nikon FA, FE2, FG, FM2, F3-series (SB-17), FG-20, FE and EM cameras (But this feature will not be available if an external sync cord is used for multiple flash setup).

<<--- (Top) The SB-15 is a SB-17 with an standard ISO-type mounting foot (Except there is only a standard PC sync terminal, while the SB-17 has an additional TTL sync socket.

As soon as the flash is ready to fire, the LED comes on and, if the light is insufficient for correct exposure after a shot is taken, it will immediately start blinking to warn you to take the picture again at a wider aperture or a closer distance. Compared with the SB-12 for the F3 and SB-10 for the rest of other Nikon bodies, of particular merit is the SB-15/SB-17's movable flash head which allows you to bounce the light off the ceiling or walls for softer, more flattering lighting for portraits and snapshots. Not only is the entire flash unit rotatable on its foot through 180° with click stops every 90°, but the flash tube module itself can be tilted back with click-stops at 15°, 30°, 60°, and 90° positions. The SB-15/SB-17 also features a special MD (Motor Drive) setting which allows you to shoot up to four flash pictures in sequence with a motor-driven camera firing continuously at up to 3.8 frames per second.

Warning: The bounce flash application and MD setting on ANY flash units will drastically reduced the guide number (normal power output and light intensity) of a flash. The extra distance from flash to subject and dispersion of light by means of a medium (like ceiling) may require extra exposure compensation (Usually by opening up aperture or use faster film). The MD setting (Motor Drive) is to divided a normal Full capacity flash output into few bursts of light, which means the light intensity will be diluted greatly as well - NEVER attempt to use this mode for distance events as usually results will be disappointing. Although one can compensate for the light loss by using faster films but it still has its limitations.
  | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V |
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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon SB-15/SB-17 - Operational Manual - Index Page

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