Nikon Coolpix 950/990/995 External Flash FAQ
Contents to Sections Below:
Compiled by Don Wiss from the knowledge shared in the rec.photo.digital newsgroup.
All of these models were excellent at taking closeup pictures. The 950 focuses at 2cm, or 0.8". The 950's maximum picture size is 1600×1200. That is also the maximum size images that eBay allows. It makes an excellent camera for eBay sellers. The best if you sell small things. The camera can be found for sale on eBay. Note that the camera is prone to two problems:
- The contacts in the rotary switch get dirty. This is easy to solve. Buy a spray can of electronic contact cleaner. Spray under the switch and rotate it around. Some of the cameras listed as for parts possibly have only this easy to fix problem.
- The battery door breaks due to being roughly handled. No fix for this. Make sure you buy one with a good door. And then be gentle.
External Flashes and Accessories
- Anti-twist plate - shoes mounted on frames with a single bolt will twist. This plate holds the mount straight. The Stroboframe anti-twist plate for the SC-17 is $8. One person used a square inch of a kitchen jar gripper. For my "L" bracket conversion I used a square of old bicycle inner tube and it works okay.
- AS-E900 - A connecting cable with a plug for the 950 body and a shoe for a standard Nikon mount. Shoe also has two jacks with the same Nikon sync connector as on the 950 body (but no caps on them). It has on the bottom a 1/4-20 thread for mounting. Downside is the cable is only 11" long, which is too short to be used with a StroboFrame QuickFlip 120 or StroboFrame QuickFlip 350 without splicing and extending.
- AS-15 module - Slips into the hot shoe of the AS-E900 (or any standard ISO-type hot shoe) and provides a standard PC-type connection. Permits camera without PC outlet, like the 950/990, to trigger studio-type strobes. $19.
- Batteries to run the flash. If one uses their flash only sporatically, then Alkaline batteries will do. But if you end up with many sets of NiMH batteries you can use them. Even better if you don't use the camera too often are the new pre-charged rechargeable batteries. They only hold 2000 mAh, which isn't as much storage as regular NiMH (which top out at about 2700 mAh). See the Sanyo Eneloops.
- Battery Accessories. To store these batteries see the Battery Pouch. Then if one travels to other countries one needs a charger that can handle 100-240 volt 50-60 Hz. When this camera was new such chargers were rare. Now they are easy to find, such as the Sanyo Battery Charger. A set of plug adapters for various countries can be purchased at Radio Shack and some hardware stores. See Electric Power Around the World for what plugs are need for the countries you are visiting.
- Compatible flashes for the CP950 is a page put up by David Coles. DP Review's forum also has a FLASH list update.
- Disabling the Internal Flash - In M-Rec, hit the Menu button, scroll way down to SETUP, then in SETUP pick CONTROLS and check the box by (no) INTFLASH.
- Electronic Flash Information by Toomas Tamm. A general information site that is not 950/990 specific.
- External Flash Information by Juri Munkki. He uses a Metz Mecablitz 40 MZ-3i with an AS-E900 and a modified Stitz bracket. Lots of good general information. [now in archive.org]
- External flash techniques by Josh Carter. He uses an SB-28 on Stroboframe bracket. Discusses bounce lighting. Here he shows how cord coming from 950 hits the cross bracket of the Stroboframe. Then after the notch was cut (using one of Dremel's 'high speed cutter' bits).
- Flash bracket with a shutter release was made from an aluminum shelf bracket by David Coles. Scroll down to see the version that also holds a flash. Doesn't look too sturdy.
- Flash Connector Cover. The screw-on cap covering the flash connector on the lens body is the same as the ones that are on Nikon film cameras, so try your local Nikon dealer. It is not carried at the Nikon Online Store. Call Nikon @ 1-800-645-6687 press option 1, and option 1, for assistance with locating this item. [Price? Part number may be 6K467-045]
- Flash Connector Cover - Tethering it. This has been done by drilling a small hole through the cap and putting fish line (nylon string) through the hole with a knot at the other end. The other end gets tied to the loop of the lens cap. See a picture of Smoothy's Silver Tassle. [now in archive.org]
- Flash Connector Cover - Storing it. If you have an AS-E900 cable you can screw the cap into one of the two connectors on the cable's socket, as no connector caps come with the cable.
- Flash Stuff is Larry Berman's collection of a half dozen articles on flashes and this camera.
- Guide Number (GN). This is a number used to gauge the flash output. It is based on using "film" with an ISO of 100. To determine the effective flash distance divide the GN by the F-stop. If using a setting with a different ISO one must use square roots of the ratio to convert. For example if the ISO used is 400 then dividing that by 100 gets 4. Take the square root and you have 2. Thus you have a GN that is twice what it is at 100.
- J-PEX Bracket. Alan studied what others have done and then designed the J-PEX Bracket. Also see his commentary posted to the newsgroup.
- "L" Flash Bracket showing my notch and setup. This is the one you can find in local camera stores under different names. Or Amazon.com for web ordering. Or a cheaper one Adorama Heavy Duty L-bracket with 2 Standard Flash Shoe Mounts.
- "L" Flash Bracket Modifications from Bug Eye Digital. This was an early attempt. Now people usually don't bend, but notch the crosspiece, and they could have bought a 1/4-20 3/8" bolt (available in hardware stores, and in nylon for license plate bolts) and not moved the handle down. That page is an archive.org page. If you wish to order one from BugEye use this link: "L" Flash Bracket.
- "L" Flash Bracket Modifications by Gary Madison. He modified a bracket he purchased from Bug Eye Digital. [now in archive.org]
- Metz 32Z-2 flash or 40MZ-3i with adapter SCA3401. TTL flash control is supported. The triggering voltage provide by Metz is lower than 5V. It's a bit expensive. The 32Z-2 would probably be quite adequate too, but 40MZ-3i seems even better.
- Nikon Multi-Sync Connector - This is the jack on the lens body of the 950. The jack has three pins and threads to hold the plug and jack together. The AS-E900 has a couple of these jacks on its side, and this connector is at one end of the SC-18, SC-19, and SC-24. Sometimes called 3 pin mini-barrel socket.
- Other flashes. If it is currently being made and has a Nikon dedicated mount it will work. What Nikon says is that the trip voltage should not exceed 5 volts. To test this get a volt meter. Turn on the flash. Measure between the pins. Here is a list of FLASHES that work with the 950 to 5700 assembled by David Coles.
- Other non-Nikon flashes. George Holderied, in Switzerland, designed an adapter that allows any kind of flash to be
connected to the coolpix 950/990. Even high trigger voltage ones. The adapter is made of cheap standard components and
can be assembled by anyone with basic electronics/soldering skills.
See Coolpix Flash adapter.
- Overexposed, Altering exposure to fix this. See newsgroup article written by Iain McKerchar.
- PC-type sync connector - A standard connector. Sometimes called a single pin mini-barrel connector. Also called a regular PC jack; generic flashgun connector. TTL is not supported through this connection.
- Pro Lighting. Newsgroup article with good description of pro flashes
- RX Flash Bracket was a machined flash bracket made by Versatec Tool. Very original, but no longer available. [now in archive.org]
- SB-22s - your basic Nikon flash. Has GN of 92 at ISO 100. Does TTL, which is the only
automatic feature the 950 uses. You can get an imported one from B&H for $130. Here's a
picture from Gene Rhodes of one on the SK-E900
and another bracket [now in archive.org]. Has PC-type sync connection on a side to sync multiple flashs
(but would not be TTL). From the SB-22s instructions: "Sync/multiple flash terminal".
It goes on further: "Multiple flash operations can be accomplished in two ways: (1) by
connecting a Speedlight to the camera using a sync or remote cord such as TTL Remote Cord
SC-17 or (2) by mounting a Speedlight on a Wireless Slave Flash Controller SU-4. In both
cases, TTL multiple flash operation is possible with Nikon cameras in the TTL Auto Flash
mode." PhotographyReview.com has Reviews.
- SB-28 and newer Nikon Speedlight Flashes. Any newer model will work and will have lots of features that will not work with this camera. Some will have Nikon Multi-Sync Connectors for TTL control of multiple flashes.
- SC-17 - TTL Remote Cord. Coiled cord connects TTL flashes to standard ISO accessory shoe. On the camera end is a connector that plugs directly into the camera's hot shoe. This won't work with the shoeless 950, but will work with the AS-E900 cord connected to the 950. The other end of the SC-17 duplicates the camera's hot shoe. The speedlight plugs right into that. However, when using that with the Stroboframe, you must buy an anti-twist plate so that the shoe won't twist on the bracket. It positively -will- twist without the plate. 2 units can be attached using SC-18 or SC-19. 5' long. $63. Picture at B&H.
- SC-18 - TTL Multiflash Cord. A cable that will go between a 950 and an SB-28. It does not connect with an SB-22s. Both ends are 3-connector male plugs (Nikon sync connector) as found on the 950. It will also plug into the side of the shoe on the AS-E900. 5 feet long. $39.50. See picture at Google Listing.
- SC-19 - This is a 10 foot long version of the SC-18.
- SK-E900 - bracket (with no handle to grip). Included with it is the AS-E900 connecting cord.
- Slave Flashes (generic) - No TTL. From Joe Carr: If you already own a flash with a hotshoe, just go out and buy a slave unit (costs about $10-15). This gizmo attaches to your flash hotshoe and turns it into a slave flash unit. If you want to eliminate red-eye caused by the on-camera flash, just tape a piece of EXPOSED and DEVELOPED E6 film over the flash. This will still allow the on-camera flash to fire the slave flash. I use aperture-priority mode on my digicam, and set my auto-exposure system on my slave flash to match the aperture set on the camera. Point the slave flash's exposure meter at the subject. Make sure the slave can "see" the on-camera flash.
- Stroboframe - A company that makes high end flash brackets. They are known for brackets that flip. The flip is used to keep the flash oriented above the lens when the camera is turned for portrait-oriented shots.
- Stroboframe QuickFlip 120 - This model is more difficult to find, but can be used without modifying for the sync cable. It is the one for medium format reflex cameras, etc. $52.
- Stroboframe QuickFlip 350 - From Chuck Ross: About $50. The biggest advantage is that it raises the flash high above the lens and gives really nice lighting compared to the Nikon bracket which puts the flash slightly to the left of the camera lens. However, it won't work with the SB-22s flash, since there's no coupling on the flash for the Nikon SC-18 cord. (Unless you extend the AS-E900 cord).
- Stroboframe QuickFlip 350, SB-22s, and spliced AS-E900 cord. See Mark M. Babcock's explanation and pictures of his setup. Note his use of a homemade anti-twist gasket (hunk of a rubber kitchen jar gripper). He used Dremel sanding bands to cut the notch. [now in archive.org]
- Stroboframe QuickFlip 350, SK-E900 bracket, SB-28, SC-18, and AS-10 Multi-Flash Adapter. This is Tim Osburn's setup. By using the SK-E900 he avoided modifying the Quickflip 350. The drawback being that the flash isn't directly over the lens, thereby casting shadows to the side. Note the AS-10 pictured isn't needed, as the SC-18 will plug into the side of the SB-28. He discusses it in this newsgroup post.
- Stroboframe QuickFlip 350: FLASH BRACKETS For the Nikon Digital is Al Jacob's page on his setup. [now in archive.org]
- Studio flash discussion from the Nikon Talk forum. Brief.
- SU-4 - A wireless remote flash control that supports TTL. $75. See Nikon SU-4 Slave Flash Controller.
- Sunpak Auto 266D (with dedicated Nikon mount) - A Nikon compatible flash that supports TTL. GN 66-92 depending on zoom flash head setting (35-135mm)). $50. See Amazon listing and reviews. Filters and diffusers are available from Sunpak dealers. Choices are: Merchandise # 1736 is a Wide Angle Kit - contains a 28mm and a 20mm diffuser. Merchandise # 1738 is a FK-1 Filter Kit that contains colored filters and the same above wide angle filters.
- Sunpak Auto266D on L-bracket modified by Bryan Biggers. See extensive flash tests further down the page. Also see his CP950 Fill in flash study. Also Home made flash deflectors/reflectors for the CP950.
- Sunpak Auto 433D - another Sunpak option currently available. No zoom capabilities. More powerful than the 266D. GN of 120. $80. See Sunpak reviews.
- Sunpak Auto 444D - appears to be a 433D with a zoom head. GN is 120-170. A unique flash that accepts Sunpak's complete line of interchangeable dedicated shoe modules. $100. See Sunpak review.
- Sunpak Auto 544 handle mounted flash. Hassel Weems' setup. Here are three pictures (and discussion) from him illustrating the benefit of an external flash. Also Sunpak.
- Triggering Slaves - You can meter the studio flash output and use the built in flash of the 950 to fire a slave unit which in turn can fire any other units. Cheaper and more flexible than wiring all together with TTL support. To keep the camera's built-in flash from having any effect on the lighting of the shot take a piece of aluminim foil about the size of the built-in flash, and use two pieces of tape to affix it to the camera, so as to divert the main flash from firing forward, and instead toward the slave. Envision the little piece of aluminum foil taped so that the flash is diverted roughly 45 degrees upward if the camera is vertical. Make sure not to cover either of the sensor ports immediately under the flashtube. Set the camera on aperture priority for correct exposure with the big strobes. (C. Kurt Holter)
- TTL - Through The Lens. In photography this can mean many things. For the 950 this means it can measure the light coming towards the camera and squelch the flash when there is enough. This is useful enough that you should buy a flash with this feature. Note that it isn't really through the lens, but from a sensor alongside the lens. So it won't read through filters. To use TTL, set TTL mode on the external flash. On the camera: can turn off the internal flash in the M-REC menu, though the TTL will work with the internal flash also on. Set for "flash always". Do not use the A or M mode. The SB-28 used in this way gives Chuck Ross practically perfect exposures every time for distances up to about 20 feet or so, including daylight.
- $20 Slave Flash & Nikon 950 Tutorial from Rick Davis. Shows how he used foil around the internal flash to trigger his three slave flashes, but not the subject. [now in archive.org]
- Vivitar 283 flash - have too high trigger voltage and cannot be used. But can use with Wein slave.
- Vivitar 3700 with DM/N2 (Nikon TTL hotshoe module) does NOT work with the CP990. It won't use the TTL feature of the 990.
It'll trigger (only an 8V trigger), but keeps dumping a full-power flash everytime. This reported by Dave Hrynkiw.
- Waist Pack - A mid-size pack with classic styling can hold the 950, a non-hinged "L" bracket, an AS-E900, and an SB-22s flash in its case.
- Wein slave - a cheap remote unit to plug any flash into. Sensitive to pick up the 950's flash from anyplace. No TTL support. $15-$22.
- White Balance Setting - It has been observed that the Auto setting
for white balance will not automatically switch to Flash. So for best results
one needs to go to Manual Mode and turn Flash White Balance on. Otherwise
you will get funny colors, like a greenish cast.
- Wide Angle Lens, using with - If you select the Wide Angle Lens option in the menus you will disable both flashes. The internal flash needs to be disabled, as the sensor is blocked, but why the external? Anyway, as long as you don't select the WA Lens setting, and disable the internal flash, everything works fine.
Macro Lighting (alphabetical by contributor's last name)
- Info on photographing jewelry from Alan Chapman.
- Brian Nystrom: For the fixture, you can use an inexpensive clamp-on light from a hardware store. Go to a camera store and buy a daylight bulb for it to provide correct color. If you need to diffuse the light, bounce it off a white card or a white ceiling. I shot hundreds of photos using this type of gear before I bought some better lights, umbrellas, etc.
- Special Lighting by Gene Rhodes covers various things he's tried for macro lighting. See his ring lights and his dental flash adapter. [now in archive.org]
- Choose the Right Lighting for Inspection is from Test & Measurement World. (found by Doug Warner) [now in archive.org]
- Doug Warner's pseudo-ringflash. Text for it is in a newsgroup article.
Copying Slides and Negatives (alphabetical by contributor's last name)
- Denny Cannon has a CP 950 Slide/Negative Copy Setup he made using a fluorescent lamp, plastic food containers, and an inexpensive slide viewer.
- Happenstance Products once manufactured an attachment for the Nikon Coolpix 950 that allowed you to copy slides.
Steve's Digicam has a review of it here: Happenstance Slide Copier
for Nikon Coolpix 950.
- Nikon's own Slide Copy Adapter ES-E28 is expensive, but has additional features, such as a 6 strip cut film holder.
- To make a slide scanner Rui Prior in his second attempt used a plastic cup and an elastic. He says it works beautifully. [now in archive.org]
- Doug Warner used scrap plywood, a $40.00 light box (Tundra 837C), and a homebuilt mask to build a slide copier. Described more fully in numerous newsgroup posts, but he has his header set to have them not archived.
- Mark Wegman has made a negative copier using an old Beseler Negatrans negative carrier and Kodak projector for light source. Camera is handheld at 1/125th of a second, macro mode, gain up to 2X, manual mode. Images are taken at 1600x1200 and reversed using polyview.exe downloaded from winfiles.com. The purpose of the can is to hold the carrier vertical.
Send questions or comments to Don Wiss