Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Instruction Manual - Nikon SB-1 Flash Unit Part III


The Ringlight unit, compact and light weight, attaches to the front end 52mm screw thread of NIKKOR lenses with Nikon F mount from 24mm-200mm focal length, providing great advantages in taking close-up pictures. (Photo 9) Power is supplied from the Main unit.

Since the illumination by this Ringlight unit is performed from closer distances, the light output should be reduced to 1/4 and the guide numbers will naturally be different.

(A) Characteristics

(B) Operations

  1. Attach the camera to the Main unit. (The Synch. cord should be disconnected.)
  2. Fit the Ringlight unit into the lens (screw threaded 52mm in diameter) by means of he fastening screw.
  3. Connect the power cord with its flat-pin-plug on the side of the Main unit to the Ringlight unit.
  4. Connect the Synch. cord on the Ringlight unit to the synch. socket on the camera.
  5. Switch on the power switch on the Main unit.

The neon pilot lamp on the Main unit will light, indicating the readiness of the unit for firing. The synch, selector on the Nikon F camera is to be set to FX and the shutter speed to 1/60 sec. or slower. In the Nikkormat camera, connect the Synch. cord to the X-synch. socket and set the shutter speed to 1/125 sec, or slower. 

Note: The 510-volt battery Pack SD-1 cannot be used as a power source. No extension flash is possible.

(C) Determination of Exposure 

Depending upon whether the subject distance is farther or closer than 0.6 m, use the Guide Number Table (Table 1) or the Calculating Diagram (Fig. 5). In either case, it is not necessary to take into account an "effective" f-number but to use the f-number itself engraved on the aperture ring of the lens for the infinity distance of subject.

Guide Number Table (subject distance = farther than 0.6m)

Film speed (ASA) / Light output (intensity)

FULL output





























Table 1

Example 1:

Example 2.
  • Lens: NIKKOR Auto 50mm f/2.0
  • Film: Colour ASA 25
  • NIKKOR Extension Ring K1 is used.
  • Light output: 1/4
  • Subject distance (from the subject to the film plane): 418 mm (Reproduction ratio=1/6)

On the Calculating Diagram (Fig. 5), draw a horizontal line from the position of 418 mm on the vertical axis until the line intersects the exposure line. Read this intersecting point by the horizontal aperture scale as f/11. This f/11 will be the correct f-number. Note: When the subject distance is within 0.2 m, the illumination by the Ringlight unit will not sufficiently be uniform. Then, use the Macro Ringlight unit .


It is a general principle that in macrophotography, where the magnification ratio is higher than 1x (life-size), the camera lens which is usually designed for infinity distance, is to be used in reverse position. The Macro ringlight unit is attached to the lens fitted to the Bellows in reverse position. In macrophotography, the subject is generally too close to be illuminated bright enough for focusing on the finder image.

On this account the Macro ringlight unit has a built-in illumination lamp for focusing which couples to full opening of the aperture diaphragm actuated by the button. The light output can also be switched to 1/4, depending upon the film type and the aperture of the lens being used. The Marco ringlight unit is designed to give especially small guide numbers, because the subject distance is far closer than that when illuminated by the Main unit or Ringlight unit.

Therefore, it is necessary to use another calculating diagram specifically made for extremely close distances to the subject. In combination with the Nikon F and/or early Nikkormat cameras, set the sync selector to "FX" and the shutter speed to 1/30 sec. or slower. For the Nikkormat set the synch. socket to "X" and the shutter speed to 1/60 sec. or slower.

MORE INFOMATION RELATING TO | SM/SR1 / SM/SR2 / SB-21A (SB-29) Macro/Ring flash

(A) Using
  1. Attach the Main unit to the camera. Disconnect the Synch. cord.
  2. Attach by bayonet fashion the Macro ringlight unit to the lens which is fitted to the Bellows in reverse position by means of BR-2 Ring.
  3. Connect the power cord with its flat-pinplug to the Ringlight socket an the side of the Main unit.
  4. Connect the Synch. cord on the Macro ringlight unit to the synch. socket on the camera.
  5. Depress the aperture opening button (it is convenient to use the Nikon Cable Release) to open the aperture of the lens. The focusing lamp will light at the same time, permitting precise focusing.
  6. Switch on the power switch on the Main unit, and the neon pilot lamp will light, which indicates the readiness of the unit for firing.
(B) Determination of Exposure For the film speed ASA 25 and light output FULL (or film speed ASA 100 and light output 1/4), use the specifically prepared calculating diagram whereby the correct f-number can be directly read at the intersection with the Exposure line for the subject distance (up to the film plane) taken on the vertical axis.

Note :
The f-number to be used in this case is the one engraved on the lens aperture ring and not the effective one converted for close distances.
Correct f-number for the film speed other than 100 and 25 can be obtained from the same diagram compensated by the factor in Table 2.

Example Subject distance (up to the film plane): 287mm (Reproduction ratio 3X)

Find out (Fig. 8) the intersection of the horizontal line from the subject distance (287mm) on the vertical axis with the Exposure line, where the correct f-number 12 will be read out along the horizontal axis.



(C) Replacement of the Illumination Lamp

  1. Unscrew the transparent lamp cover.
  2. Then, detach the inside lamp.
  3. After replacement, reverse the above procedure


This pack, containing the 510 volt battery, is used as an external power source for the Main unit. It can reduce the recycling time to as short as about 1.5 sec. Even after consecutive use of about 500 times, the interval can be about 3 seconds to suite for sequence photography within a short length of time. One 510-volt battery permits sequence firings of about as many as 700 times. The 510-volt battery pack cannot be used together with the Ringlight or Macro ringlight unit, because the same socket of the Main unit must be used at the same time. Most speed lights on the market which use the ordinary laminated batteries likely decrease their voltage as their batteries drain more, resulting in reduction of light output.

The 510-volt battery specifically designed for the Nikon Speed Light, owing to its automatic voltage stabilizing circuit, can produce a constant light output.

(A) Characteristics
  • Laminated battery: EVEREADY No.497 510V
  • Minimum recycling time: About 1.5 sec.; About 3 sec. (after 500 flashes in sequence flashes)
  • Maximum number of flashes available for the battery: About 700 times (in sequence flashes). In case of intermittent flashes the maximum number will be increased.

Note: The above values are applied to the standard ones manufactured within 1-2 months, so that they may differ depending upon the make and age. Automatic voltage stabilizing circuit which operates the NiCd battery in the Main unit is provided.
(B) Operation
  1. Deposit the 510-volt battery into the pack with its (+) and (-) terminals turned downward, following the indication given inside.
  2. Deposit the NiCd battery into the Main unit. Switch off the power switch.
  3. Connect the 4-pin-plug on the 510-volt battery cord to the socket on the pack and the flat-pin-plug to the Ringlight socket on the side of the Main unit. Then, the neon pilot lamp will light, showing the readiness for firing. Note: When the 510-volt battery pack is not used, it is recommended to detach the cord of the 510-volt battery (that is, disconnect the Main unit), to avoid drain.
12) D-CELLS PACK SD-2 The D-cells pack (Photo 13) containing 6 " D cells is also useful as an external power source for the Main unit. Especially Alkaline cells shorten the recycling time and increase the number of firings as shown in Table 3.

Characteristics of "D" Cells - Table 3


Recycling time

Maximum flashes


6 - 7 sec.

about 160


5 -6 sec.

about 300


3.5-5 sec.

about 1000

(A) Operations
  1. Deposit 6 type " D " cells into the pack, each "-" end of which should be facing upward, following the indication inside the pack.
  2. Insert one end of the Pack cord with 4pin-plug into the socket and the other end (also with 4-pin-plug) into the AC socket on the Main unit.
  3. Switch on the power switch on the Main unit, and after a certain length of time, the neon pilot lamp will light, indicating the readiness for firing.
Note: The NiCd battery will automatically be switched off when the pack cord of the D-cells pack is connected.

13) 1-metre SYNCH CORD
When the Main unit is not connected directly to the camera through the Main unit and is to be used separately as an individual flash, this synch. cord is serviceable. Being 1.0m long, it permits illuminating the subject from any desired direction. The cord connects the Main unit and the synch. socket on the camera each other.


Content contributed by: Mr. Werner Schrittesser

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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Instruction Manual - Nikon SB-1 Flash Unit Part III

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