Nikon SB-50DX and Nikon SB 30 Speedlights

A few  interesting flashes were introduced at the end of the film era, and the tip of the dslr revolution, the SB 50DX and SB 30.  While these flash units are no longer fully compatible with recent dslr’s by Nikon and iTTL, but will work in manual mode.  However, they are still worth considering as slave (I hate that term for a flash) units for those of use who like to use film cameras or early dslrs like the Nikon D100.

SB 50 DX


The Nikon SB 50-DX is a nice flash that I enjoyed using back in the day except for one major flaw.  It used two CR123a batteries that were not always readily available, and expensive.  That isn’t much of an issue today with the availability of CR123a battery chargers from Watson and other manufactures. That out of the way the flash is well made, has power zoom function that runs from 24-50mm and down to 14mm with a flip up diffuser.  The flash tilts up 90 degrees to bounce light, but does not twist.  As is nearly standard on medium to high end speedlights the flash has an auto focus assist light.

Nikon SB 50 Flash


The SB-50 has tow interesting functions uncommon to flash unites.  One is the ability for the flash to tilt downward 18 degrees for macro photography.  While not great for serious macro work, it is a nice feature to have. The other interesting feature is a built in diffuser that covers the pop-up flash.  This can be used with either the camera’s built in flash only, or both the built-in and SB 50.   Using both is very handy to have a softer direct light, and also bouncing the flash off the ceiling or wall.

For full stats see the Nikon SB 50DX instruction manual

Nikon SB 50 Flash
Nikon SB 50 dx front
Nikon SB 50 DX front view. White panel fips over pop-up flashes to act as a diffuser.

 SB-30


While it has no bounce features it is able to tilt downward for macro photography which can be very helpful in a pinch, but not really a good set up for those who do a lot of macro work.


The Nikon SB 30 is a simple little flash, with not much power, but a few good features.  It is small, so it easily fits in camera bags big and small.  It elevates the flash bulb a bit higher than pop-up flashes to reduce red-eye.

Longer lenses will through a shadow on your subject, so only use this flash in is macro setting.
The flash is probably most handy as a slave unit, and a easy to transport flash for cameras such as the F5, that have no pop-up flash.  It is easy to get side of fill lighting on a subject while hand holding the flash for instance.  Not only does the flash easily fit into a camera bag or pocket, it can fold down 90 degrees and lie flat, meaning is less likely to get in the way when not in use.
For full stats see the SB 30 instruction manual

Nikon SB 30
Nikon SB 30 flash – front
Nikon SB 30
Nikon SB 30 flash – back
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