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Reviews on digital imaging, Nikon Cameras, Canon Cameras, Macro, Micro, Telephoto and Super Telephoto lens and all things photo optics and equipment, such as the D5, D500 and D850. My ambition is to provide useful and solid photography tips and information with the best real world reviews of all the photographic gear and astronomy equipment - that I use.

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

Nikon SB-5000 vs SB-910

New School

Let me make this statement, The Nikon SB-5000 and Nikon SB-910 are two top-line Speed-lights (flashes) and both are a great choice. The SB-910 was an update from the SB-900. The 910 is a well-respected professional flash, now enter the newer "cooler" SB-5000, and when I say cooler I refer to the fact it has active cooling for those who shoot multiple shots in narrow sessions.  Nikon SB 5000 brings a new era with the first Nikon RF wireless.  My prediction is Nikon will continue to move their updated speedlights to RF technology and will eventually be the new normal That said we should be seeing more RF wireless in upcoming Nikon releases. 

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

When 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 smartphone connectivity, and touchy-feely plus the ability to remotely fire your newer SB-5000 speedlights using RF vs Optical. Why does this matter? Many Nikon users have been beating the forums asking for RF for various reasons, the biggest is to avoid the line of sight problem if the remote flash sensor is obscured from view - so it makes sense.

 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.

 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) 

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: My belief 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 it was released and use them on regular occasions without issues so far, I think the legacy will continue with the SB-5000 being known for a top of the line flash.

In Field Use: Recently I took my SB-700 out for some outdoor macro fill light, the day was bright and sunny and with my D810's flash set as commander mode, group A channel 1,  I could not get the SB-700 to fire dependably. I thought it was the batteries, but the next day I returned with 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. Most likely the sunlight overpowered the optical commander flash, not 100% sure but I had no issues with the SB-5000.  On other occasions, I successfully set up a light group for a photo shoot with two SB-5000s with the camera about 35 feet away, worked each and every time.  

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 207:  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.


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Photographer's Notes

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 and D500 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 and D500, 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


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



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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