Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Additional info on Nikon Speedlights SB-3, SB-4 and SB-5

Nikon SB-3 Flash Unit (If you have any further info (especially Technical Specification) or images, appropriate credit will be given)

Nikon SB-3 Front view
SB-2 and 3 - the difference between the two is that the first was made to be mounted on the F2, and the SB-3 had the traditional ISO-type foot. Guide number: 25 at ISO 100/21º (angle covered of a 35mm lens, could reach 28mm with an additional wide-angle attachment and had three automatic stops - F4, F5.6 and F8 with the help of a thyristor circuit). It used four AA batteries, and recycling time was about 8 seconds. Credit: Images courtesy of José <ebay@adorama> Found his Nikon SB-3 via his Ebay Section, All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Nikon SB-3 Rear view Nikon SB-3.jpg

Useful accessory:- Nikon original Flash couplers for various flash models foot incompatibility
Nikon SB-3.jpg Nikon SB-3 Backview.jpg
Can anyone copy the Specification section of the Instruction Manual and send me ? Use the Message Board please.

zigzagboumSB3b.jpg zigzagboumSB3a.jpg

" ...The Nikon SB-3 is the first compact automatic flash unit for Nikon cameras using the ISO hotshoe. Its ingenious flat design with pivoting mounting bracket makes it easy to carry in a pocket. It has a wide reflector for even illumination and three auto f-stops instead of two. A snap-on diffuser eliminates vignetting with lenses down to 28mm...." - zigzagboum -

Nice view of a Nikon SB4 flash

Nikon SB-4 Flash Unit The SB-4 comes with a conventional standard ISO-type hot shoe (such as those on earlier Nikkormat bodies, FE and the Nikon FM etc.). A SC-8 Sync Cord is also supplied as standard accessory with the flash to connect the SB-4 to a sync terminal on the camera body if the flash is not mounted in a hot shoe.

This flash has a sliding control that blocks off light to the light sensor in the front of the flash unit and thereby switches the unit to non-auto. The sliding control has only two positions - either your select auto or non-auto. However, in the auto position, only one f-stop is available for each film speed. It has a conventional flash exposure calculator dial for presetting auto or non-auto operation. If the flash is set to automatic, the calculator shows which f-stop to use for each film speed. The maximum shooting range is constant at 4 meters.

When set to manual operation, distinguished by a "M" and it has a simple but well informed flash calculation on the dial. There is also a ready-light on the back and it will lights up when the capacitor is fully charged. An open flash button will fire the flash when you press the button for testing or intentional use flash to 'paint' a picture with camera set at bulb mode. Can you use the SB-4 on a modern camera ? Why not ? But it is also only restricting to the simple AUTO and manual mode with the camera set to the maximum permissible sync speed or slower. But there is no significant advantage compared it to any popular third part flash such as Vivitar 283 etc.

Note: For off camera flash operations, Nikon flash units have provision to use flash cords to interconnect flash and camera. Flash cord plugs into special two-prong socket just above flash-mounting foot. However, the sync terminal for SB-4 is not the standard sync socket and uses a proprietary type plug in socket and you would be require to use the SC-8 sync cord.

Nikon SB-4

Light Output Control: Auto mode: Silicon Controlled Rectifier(SCR) in series circuits; On Manual mode: Full output control
Mounting Foot: Standard ISO-Type
Guide Number (With ASA 100/m Film): no info (Should not be more than 25).
Angle of coverage: 56° (Horizontal.) x 40° (Vertical).
Automatic Shooting Range: One setting. 4m (13 ft) at f/4.0
Recycling Time: On AUTO (on average): Less than 1 sec *; On Manual: Approx. 8 sec.
Number of Flashes: On AUTO (on average):
Alkaline-manganese batteries: approx.1,000
*; On Manual: Alkaline-manganese batteries: approx.140
Power Source:
Two 1.5V AA-type batteries


Open Flash Button:

Nikon SB-5.jpg (18k) Loading..
Nikon SB-5 Speedlight

This is a large, powerful unit of the type commonly called handle. Like most handle flash units, the batteries are housed in the handle. Guide number (ASA 100 film) is 32 meters. There is full power or two other power settings: 1/4 output with a guide number of 16 meters and also a MD (Motor Drive) setting that will dilute the guide number down to 11 meters with ASA 100.
In automatic operation, a remote Sensor Unit SU-1 is required and attaches to the side of the head. This sensor mounts on the camera end with a special connecting cord called SC-9,which in turn attaches directly to an F2-type hot shoe or to a conventional hot shoe through adaptor AS-2. The extension cord acts as a sync cord between the flash and the hot shoe. It also serves as the connection between the remote sensor and the flash unit.

If the remote sensor is not used, the flash is always in manual operation. With the sensor, automatic operations utilizing three f-stops is available, giving some control over depth of field.

Nikon Speedlight SB-5 (More info by Michael Liu's SB-5 section)

It may not be the flash for everyone but it was the most powerful flash in the Nikon product line available for the Nikon F2 series models before the TTL' flash capable Nikon SB-11 (Guide Number 36) was introduced in 1980. It is designed for serious and hard working pro, or advanced amateur who often works in flash environment. A series of configurations and accessories round out this grip-model flash. This powerful electronic flash unit delivers a fairly good 67 degree (horizontal) x 48 (vertical) coverage, enough for a 28mm Nikkor lens photograph. Good news is, the wideangle coverage is standard, without the need for angle extension accessories, and the guide number remains at 32 for ASA 100 (meters) film when the power is set at FULL. It is a bracket/handle flash design and it attaches to a camera by a mounting bracket which fits on the bottom of the camera and attaches to the tripod socket in the camera baseplate. Different hole locations in the bracket accommodate different camera models, motor drives and motor drive battery holders. Because the bracket does not make a hot-shoe connection, a sync cord is required.

The MD setting on the SB-5 provides a relatively high-speed synchronization with some 35mm SLR motor drive units operating at up to 3.8 fps. In fact, when the speedlight is set at 1/4 power or MD (motor drive) the maximum recycling time at manual operation (on NiCd batteries) is 0.5 second. There are two power source options available. For the usual single or 36 exposure Nikon motor drive photographs, the Nikon SN-2 NiCd Battery Unit slips conveniently into the bottom of the grip, and provides up to about 75 flashes on a full charge. With the optional Nikon SH-2 NiCd Battery Quick Charger, the SN-2 Unit can be recharged in about 3 hours if the battery has been fully discharged. The alternate Nikon SDA Battery Pack, on the other hand, provides enough lengthy power for bulk film/motor drive applications.

The rear of the SB-5's main flash head is an extra-large, full-information, rotating dial. Providing the advanced photographer with multifaceted approaches to flash exposure operation and calculation, the dial can be set for three different outputs-FULL, 1/4, MD; and manual or auto operation. An extra-large ready-Iight (PILOT) guards against unnecessary photo losses caused by misfires. The conveniently placed, out-of-the-way, open flash button offers extra creativity without the worry of accidental firing.

/sb5tilt.jpg sb5conect.jpg
When you intend to shift the flash to automatic flash operation, attach the Nikon SU-1 Sensor Unit either directly to the SB-6's head or in conjunction with the SC-9 Extension Cord to the camera body. The SCR series circuitry is brought into use offering three aperture settings plus manual, and an even more rapid recycling time of up to 1/4 second (when fired at an average reflective subject at about 2m).

(Click here go to another section for some of the possible/practical combinations)

Additionally, completely automatic slave control is possible with a combination such as the Nikon F2A(AS)/Motor Drive/SU-11 or Nikon F3/MD-4 (via coupler) in use with the Nikon ML-1/ML-2 Modulite Remote Control Set.

In addition to all these features, there is a unique mounting bracket, the SK-3, with easy release and extra positive bounce lighting positions. A circle of set pins provide Nikon precision stability through a full 360 degrees -12 points at 30 degree increments. When you intend to shift the flash to automatic flash operation, attach the Nikon SU-1 Sensor Unit either directly to the SB-6's head or in conjunction with the SC-9 Extension Cord to the camera body. The SCR series circuitry is brought into use offering three aperture settings plus manual, and an even more rapid recycling time of up to 1/4 second (when fired at an average reflective subject of about 2m). If you are coupling the SB-5 with a Nikon F2 model that has a photomic finder, the SB-5 uses Ready-Light Adaptor SC-4 to operate the flash readylight in the Photomic viewfinder eyepiece. For other cameras, an eyepiece ready-light can be provided by Eyepiece Pilot Lamp SF-1.


< --- SB-5 with SU-1 sensor Unit.

SU-1 is a light sensor that makes the SB-5 automatic. It can be mounted on the side of the flash head or on the camera hot shoe using accessory Extension Cord SC-9 which also supplies sync to the flash unit, so no other sync cord is required.

With the SU-1 mounted on the camera, bounce flash can be automatic as long as you stay within automatic operating range.

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Light Output Control:
  • Auto mode: SCR in series only when used w/optional SU-1 sensor.
  • Manual mode: Three-way option: FULL, 1 /4, MD settings
Guide Number (With ASA 100/m Film): 32 (At FULL output) 16 (At 1/4 output setting) 11 (At MD output setting)
Angle of coverage: 67° (Horiz.) x 48° (Vert ); (Coverage for up to a 28mm wideangle lens)
Automatic Shooting Range: With SU-1 /SC-9 & speedlight set at FULL; 0.6 - 8m at f/4 (orange); 0.6 - 5 6m at f/5.6 (yellow); 0.6 - 4m at f/8 (blue)
Recycling Time: Using optional SU-1 *: 0 25 - 0.5 sec. (max.);
  • With SN-2: (FULL) max. 2.6 sec; (1/4) max. 0.5 sec; (MD) max. 0.25 sec. 
  • With SD-4: (FULL) max.1.5 sec; (1 /4) max. 0.4 sec: (MD)max. 0.25 sec.

Number of Flashes:

Power Source: SN-2 NiCd Rechargeable unit or SD-4 battery pack (Quick Charger: SH-1, SH-2 (Usable ?)

Dial.jpg 1) Auto range indicators
2) Guide number index
3) Guide number scale
4) Power level index
5) Film speed scale
6) Output power selector
7) f/number scale
8) FIash-to-subject distance scale
9) Film speed index
Ready-light: Built-in
Open Flash Button:

Foot Mount/Position Capability/Contacts: SK-3 Bracket/360° - 12 position (30° interval) bounce/PC cord
Dimensions: 93mm x 252mm x 125mm

Weight (without batteries): 900g (excluding bracket and bounce adaptor)
Compatible Accessories:
SA-2, SC-9, SU-1, SC-4. SC-5, SC-6, SC-7; SF-1, SD-4, SH-2, SN-2, SK-3

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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Additional info on Nikon Speedlights SB-3, SB-4 and SB-5

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