Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 with SB-16A

Is the SB-16 the ultimate match to Nikon F3's TTL flash ? Personally, I don't quite buy that. I don't deny the SB-16 was indeed a very good effort by Nikon, designed to supplement their TTL flash capable SLR bodies. You can say it was the best option available among the many designs that Nikon offered. With the Nikon F3 however, adoption of the proprietary flash design for the camera body was somewhat annoying. Why ?

Firstly, Imagine, - you have to take off the flash on the Nikon F3 to change a new film roll ! As I said, the miserable down time it caused may require those who used flash frequently, to buy a second body - similar class F3 ? Cost a lot - so an alternative is to go for a cheaper and better flash spec bodies such as Nikon FE-2 or FA with both bodies also offering TTL flash exposure control as with the Nikon F3. Guess what ?

<<<-- SB-16B, it is just essentially a SB-16A with the standard ISO-type mounting foot. Instruction Manual for Nikon SB-16A/B

To use the SB-16A on any of the bodies (Including the hugely popular FM2 series models) would require a flash adaptor - at the expense of the TTL flash feature. Another alternative is to invest in a SB-16B which has standard ISO flash mounting foot and share the same flash module.

Well, I don't think that is very amusing - neither did the many pros in the field that voiced their dissatisfaction over the poorly considered flash design on the F3 camera body. As I said earlier, a genius designer in Nikon came out with a solution to resolve the changing film flaws by a new AS-7 flash coupler. With the AS-7, you can change film normally as the flash mounting foot is not directly coupled to the film rewind knob and covering the crank. The best part is, the AS-7 retains full TTL flash with the F3 !

I have been thinking for quite a while, why wouldn't Nikon design something similar and solve users' problems with incompatible flash shoe for both F3 and the rest of the other Nikon bodies - as the AS-4 can easily be converted into a TTL flash coupler to let those flash units with standard ISO flash shoe be used on the Nikon F3 and retaining full TTL compatibility.

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It's good for Nikon as well, they wouldn't need to maintain a duplicate inventory for essentially the same product.

Now back to the SB-16. The size in comparison with the compact and highly portable SB-12 above also tells all. The SB-16 is no way a comfortable flash to carry around. It is bulky, large and occupies a lot of space in any camera bag.

sb16down.jpg 912k) Loading..
When mounted on the F3 without a motor drive attached, the combination is grossly out of proportion and awkward in handling.

The combination is highly unstable when placed even on a flat surface and may be easily toppled unless due care is taken each and every time it is laid down. The oversize flash unit caused many untoward incidents.

Nikon has too much confidence in their camera design by having the accessory shoe retained as the previous F and F2's position but little did they realized that an over sized flash like the SB-16 could cause the Nikon F3 's rewind knob to become so unstable.

The weakness of those tiny flash contacts on the accessory shoe become apparent - if you have really given your F3 a heavy workout with flash, you will have had to hand hold the flash handle so as to ensure proper contact.

f3ttopas7.jpg (12k) Loading...
I am sure some of you could have experiences with some situations where the flash will not fire resulting from such poor contacts.

Specifications :

Light output control: Silicon thyristor-controller rectifier and series circuitry; TTL automatic flash output control with Nikon SLR camera models that equipped with TTL flash exposure control.
Flash unit coupler: AS-9 Flash Unit Coupler for Nikon models that has a standards ISO type accessory shoe; while AS-8 is for Nikon F3 series models
Guide number: 32 (ASA/ISO 100 and meters) at full output: 8 in MD (motor-drive) mode.
Bounce flash: Possible by vertically-horizontally adjustable main flash head
Recycling time: Approx. 11 sec. with alkaline-manganese batteries at full output, Approx. 8 sec. with NiCd batteries at full output.
Number of flashes: Approx. 100 with alkaline-manganese batteries at full output, Approx. 40 with NiCd battery at full output.
Angle of flash coverage: Clovers picture angles of 85mm, 50mm, 35mm, 28mm, 24mm (with SW-7) lenses by extending main flash head.

Power source: Four l.5V LR6 (AA-type alkaline) or 1.2V KR-AA (AA-type NiCd) batteries
Mounting of AS-9: Standard ISO-type foot

Mounting of AS-8: F3 accessory shoe
(W x H x D): Approx. 154 x 189 x 53mm (excluding mounting foot)
Weight: Approx. 470g (excluding batteries)
Other features: Ready-light, ready-light contact, open flash button, sync/multiple flash terminal
Accessories: Soft Case SS-16; Wide Angle Flash Adaptor SW-7; AA Battery Holder MS-5; SB-16A Coupler to F3 AS-8; SB-16B Coupler to ISO shoe AS-9

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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 with SB-16A
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