Like all of the Nikon pro flashes, Nikon’s speedlight 24, which was introduced back in 1988 has a great reputation among photogs, with a user on the flickr boards claiming to have used the same unit for 20 years. Its range of manual power settings is a bit more limited than that of newer Nikon models like SB-28 for eaxample, but it is also cheaper to get today.
The minimum requirements are (1) a full manual mode that goes down in several steps to at least 1/16 power, (2) the ability to fire the flash unit with X-contact only without using additional pins or another reliable triggering option such as a PC synch socket (an optical slave is not a reliable option). Lastly, (3) a standby mode which can be switched off is needed, as wireless flash triggers do not wake up sleeping flashes as cameras do. Obviously, having no standby mode is an advantage for strobists!
- manual mode
- has manual mode: yes
- minimum manual power: 1/16
- all full stops from 1/1 to 1/16: yes
- X contact firing: yes
- flash standby mode: can be deactivated
Configuration of the standby mode
The SB-24 has a power switch with 3 positions: ‘off’, ‘on’ and ‘standby’. For off-camera use you want to switch it ‘on’ and forget about standby. Some SB-24 owners report about problems though, with some of their flash units going to standby themselves and thus causing missed shots. It’s not clear really what causes the problems. When you are buying (or bidding for) a used one, ask the vendor to verify the flash stays on if switched to ‘on’.
The SB-24 has also a ‘special standby mode’, which is not related to the above mentioned problem. It just toggles between the flash going off completely in standby or sleeping with a charged capacitor (recharging every 1 hour). Press and hold back light button when turning from ‘Off’ to ‘On’.
Manual mode is set with a dedicated switch, so no need to go into a menu. With a second switch, you can select between normal and rear curtain flash synchronization. Then just keep pressing the dedicated “M” button until you have the desired light output level. The Nikon SB-24 allow 5 levels: 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16, there are no half or third stops available in between. Doing all these settings is a matter of seconds. On the downside, a min power of 1/16 is certainly not record breaking, with its successor SB-25 going down to 1/64, and then from SB-80DX on (which is 6 generations later) with a 1/128. If you need less power you can work with ND (neutral density) gel filters – the method of choice for all those Vivitar 285HV shooters as well.
Unlike some other Nikon flashes like the SB-26 or the SB-80DX, the SB-24 does not have a built-in optical slave sensor. This is not a real drawback given the unreliability of optical triggering in general, and both Canon and Nikon shooters find it perfect to trigger with radio transmitters like Cactus V4, Skyports, and others. And like all pro-grade Nikon flashes you also get a PC synch port, so that you have 2 options for connecting these radio slaves.
Full Tech Specs
|Guide number spec
(35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
|Guide number test result||38|
|Manual power settings||1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16|
|Flash duration (full power)||1/1000|
|Recycle time spec
(at full power)
|7 sec with alkaline|
|Recycle time test result||5.5 sec alkaline, 3.6 sec NiMH|
|Flash foot material, type||plastic, standard ISO (Nikon)|
|PC Sync Port||yes|
|Trigger Voltage||5 V (measured)|
|Standby Mode||can be deactivated|
|Flash Head Features|
|Swivel||-180 to +90 degrees|
|Tilt||-7 to +90 degrees|
|Manual Zoom Head||24 – 85|
|Auto Zoom||24 – 85|
|Bounce card / 2nd reflector||no / no|
|Batteries Used||4 x AA|
|External Power Source||SD-7|
|CLS Wireless Slave||no|
|CLS Wireless Master||no|
|E-TTL(II) wireless slave||na|
|E-TTL(II) wireless master||na|
|Other Flash Modes|
|AF Assist Light||yes|
|Exposure Compensation in TTL Mode on the Flash unit||-3 to +1 EV|
|Rear Curtain Synchronization||yes|
|High Speed Synchronization||yes|
|Sensor Size Detection (DX, FX, etc)||no|