Nikon CLS Tutorial – Using the Built-In Flash

I would like to start off by apologizing to my non Nikon readers. This video tutorial is all about the Nikon CLS so…. you can bench this one. Or have a look at it and just maybe it’ll convince you that Nikon has the most sophisticated lighting system out there and you’ll rush out to sell all your non Nikon gear on Ebay! 😉

In this video, I’ll be going through the complete steps for you to set up your camera’s built-in flash to act as a master (commander) as well as your SB-800 (or SB-600) to act as a slave. I’m doing the steps on my D300 body but the menus are similar from one Nikon model to another.

This Nikon CLS tutorial falls in wonderfully with my “Exploring Small Strobes” series that I’m currently writing for So go check them out if you haven’t already done so. 🙂 Part 1 & Part 2 and part 3 will be out this week.

Note: I mention in the video that you can use the D60′s built-in flash. This is a mistake. Unfortunately, the D60 doesn’t have the “commander” mode option like the D80 or D200.

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17 responses on "Nikon CLS Tutorial - Using the Built-In Flash"

  1. Thank you so much for this video!

  2. great tutorial thank you.

  3. awesome, thanks so much! very easy to follow and great information 🙂

  4. I could kiss your whole face right now, you have no idea.

    Thanks! I can’t wait to check out your other videos and see what I am missing. 🙂

  5. I’ve just tried with my SB900 and D700 body but sometimes it doesn’t fire at all. Would I be correct in assuming the system is a bit flakey?

  6. Hi Yanik,

    Thanks for a very helpful tutorial indeed! A good clear explanation. I, too have a D300 so it was perfect for me.

    Have you done or are you planning to do a similar review for the SB 900 which is getting great reviews as a more user friendly flash than the SB 800?

    Whatever, you did a great job.

    Reg Green

  7. The tirgger flash can show up in closeup or be reflected. Use of the SG31-IR will reduce the flash to IR by filtering out the visible light of the flash.

  8. @ Ern

    the pre-flash fires on all cameras in commander mode. It won’t drain your battery really. The pre-flash doesn’t use much power.

  9. thanks yanik for your reply. yup i have ensure i used the commander mode and set my build in flash to – -. so are you saying my build in flash will still fire but it is a pre flash to trigger my sb600. if i am not mistaken i don’t remember seeing your d300’s build in-flash has a preflash that is used to trigger your sb800? if that is the case doesn’t that mean by doing wireless trigger will actually drain my d90 battery’s life?

  10. @ Ern

    You have to make sure you’re in “commander mode” and set your built-in flash to “- -“. The flash will still fire to trigger your SB-800 but it’s a pre-flash that won’t show in your image.

  11. yanik thanks for sharing the info on how to setup the wireless trigger on the flash gun. i’m using d90 and sb600. good news is i’m able to trigger my sb600 remotely by following the steps you provided in the video. however, the bad news is my build in flash also trigger at the same time. i followed every steps given in the video but i just can’t seem to prevent the build in flash from firing. if anyone has d90 and sb600 by chance could you guys try it out and let me know what the problem is. thanks. your reply will be high appreciate. thanks again.

  12. Thank you very much for that tutorial. I am a visual person it is just what I needed to understand the settings.

    Merci beaucoup!

  13. @ Jon

    The mistake was mine.. the D60’s built-in flash doesn’t have a commander mode.

  14. Great video and it really helped me understand the settings on the flash. One thing though, you mention in the video that you’ve used a D60 as a commander, my D60 doesn’t have any options for it.

  15. you’re a good man. I wish I’d had this to watch months ago when I was getting started with speedlights.

    I’m all wireless now and what freedom! My lighting equipment is so very portable, perfect for shooting outdoors or newborns at home, making life so much easier for new moms who don’t have to truck babies down to my studio. I’m selling all the wired stuff. WooHoo Nikon!

  16. Just the thing I was looking for 🙂 Thanks for a very clear and demonstrative video tutorial Yanik.

  17. Nice tutorial, thank you. Just got an SB-800, and I already knew how to trigger it remotely and so on, but for some reason I missed that option for stopping the on-camera flash to trigger as well.

    Btw, I also had a look at your first and second part from the strobes series, can hardly wait to read the third 🙂
    If you don’t include it there, please, if you have the time, write some articles on how to actually do the stuff you exemplify in part 2 of the series he he 🙂

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