Nikon SB-400 speedlight not bright enough

Yep. Easier to diagnose problems when you have the full set of EXIF info in front of you. :)I had a hunch that was the issue. It’s an easy mistake to make, and I think every photographer makes it at least once. That’s how we learn.

Ah, I see what you’re saying. Red grid appears only in low-light situations, and only in “S” AF focusing mode, not “C”. Depending on your camera, the AF modes are accessible either through a physical switch on the front of the camera, or in-menu. For example, the D3 and D200 have “M,S,C” focusing options on the AF switch, while the D70 only has “AF” and “M.” However, the D70 has a menu option somewhere that allows you to toggle between Single Servo and Continuous AF.

ETA: The flash uses the grid for focus. The TTL system might use focusing distance as part of its calculation (I’m not sure on the mechanics of it), but primarily the red grid is used for focus. There is a pre-flash that is nearly imperceptible (but can be seen if you pay attention. Shoot into a mirror, for instance, and you’ll see your flash pop off before your viewfinders goes dark.) that serves to make the exposure calculations.

While we are on this topic, could someone tell me (if they know) if the Nikon wide angle lenses under $1000 have metal or plastic mounts? I am wanting to purchase an affordable wide angle lens, but I flatly refuse to purchase any plastic-mount piece of shit. I would prefer a Sigma lens any day over a Nikkor dickdog with a plastic mount. Anyone know?

That makes sense, the only time I use the external flash is indoors, the when I said it ‘sometimes’ produces the red grid I was thinking back to a wedding reception where the light was sort of all over the place. By the way I have a D70 with a AF/M manual switch only (or on the lens as well sometimes). IIRC I think I have continuous AF turned off since it was obnoxiously always hunting regardless of what I was doing…something like that, I just remember turning it off as one of the first thing I did when I got the camera. It’s been so long I don’t even remember what it does anymore.

The only time I ever use manual is when AF is being uncooperative, which is pretty rare. But for some reason I never did figure out how to force the spot metering to stay put on one spot, it always seems to go back to the middle. But there are times where I I’m trying to do something with a shallow DOF, but I want the focal plane at, say, the bottom right or way towards the back and for that often times I just switch over to manual, it’s just faster then fighting with AF.

There should be plenty. As far as I know, all the classic wides: 20mm f/2.8, 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.8, should be metal mounted lenses. Honestly, though, it’s not something I’ve ever really looked closely into. I have plenty of lenses with plastic elements, but, as far as I can tell, all the mounts are metal. $1000 is getting pretty pricey for wide angles, unless you’re talking f/2.8 zooms or really fast (sub f/2.8) primes, so I’d be shocked if there’s nothing you couldn’t find for half that price with a metal mount.

Yeah, continuous is for when you want to track moving objects. I’m in continuous 100% of the time in non-flash shooting situations, and only leave to Single servo mode when I need to use the flash’s red beam for focus. I find the D70’s focusing to be a little more temperamental, so ended up using single servo mode indoors a lot the brief time I used that camera. I’m impressed you can manually focus with that camera. That viewfinder is so tiny–my eyes just can’t see anything with enough resolution to make a focus judgment. Still, it’s a very cool camera–I converted mine to an infra-red camera. I really should get out and play around with it some more.

I just wandered over to BHPhoto.com and was looking at a lens I was drooling over…and found out there’s a better one out.
I few months back I got to play with (rent) a Nikon 50mm Prime f1.4. My intention was to purchase one as my next lens, but i just noticed there’s a f1.2 listed. Is that new? I don’t recall seeing it before.
Of course, looking at it again, I have no intention of paying $700 for a manual focus lens, but still, f/1.2!

(Of course now I don’t remember which one it was AF-S f1.4G or AF f1.4D)

I had some fun with IR for a little while, but I got frustrated with it. Sit there for these long exposures to have a breeze kick everything around or even if it doesn’t I never took the time to learn how to post process them to make them look as cool as what I was seeing other people do with them. But I do have the filter for it.

That’s the nice thing about the IR conversion on the digital camera. No filter needed, and you have normal exposure times. However, you have to sacrifice a digital body (well, you can always convert it back, but basically, you take out the hotmirror filter, throw in an IR filter in its place (via a company like LifePixel) and you’ve got an IR camera you can handhold and shoot at normal shutter speeds.

Look below the picture of the lens at the B&H site; and click on ‘more images’. A metal mount is pretty obvious.

I had this done to my Canon 300D, now it’s the IfraRebel!

Oh, good. I only now realized what you were talking about. I thought when you were talking manual and then started talking about an aperture priority “flash mode”, I thought your were confusing the “A” setting on the flash (which usually means Automatic) with aperture priority. Except now I see in the manual and from pictures the flash has no such settings.

The instructions say manual operation of the SB-400 is not possible without the D40, but I assume that just means you can’t specify 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. power directly with any camera but that, not that it won’t work in manual mode on the camera. It seems you have discovered as such. The flash should work as a TTL flash in any mode.

It also sounds like you can control flash exposure compensation, even in manual, with the regular exposure compensation button on the camera. That actually works out pretty well for you, as you’ll have control of ambient and flash. When you say you hate aperture priority mode, I can understand your gripe now, especially in regards to flashes. As I said above, I thought you were confusing “A” with an Automatic setting on the flash and was wondering what you have against automatic flash. (Otherwise, aperture priority mode actually is a perfectly good automatic mode–it’s my favorite if I’m not shooting manual. But there are times to use it, and times you don’t want to use it or need to rock the exposure compensation to get the results you want.)