SB-24 Speedlight

Take me back to the camera obscura main page Take me back to the camera obscura page


  Discuss it!  

Other photography pages on this site
Our Camera Obscura discussion forum | The complete F5 review
My stuff incl. F5 experiences
| Fuji Velvia Film | Importing gear to Europe
The former F-401 (N4004) | Leaves Portfolio | People | Power links

The SB-24 Speedlight flash unit is the ancestor of the SB-26 and SB-28 units and quite a number of photographers still use it. This page is devoted to all of you looking for more information regarding this specific flashlight.

The Rottweil firebrigade: click for 1024 x 768
The voluntary firebrigade of the city of Rottweil, southern Germany August 1999. Nikon F5, Nikkor AF 80-200/2.8D at some 80mm on Fuji Velvia, flash filled with the SB-24.

Jump directly to:
Man-Machine Interface
| Specifications


Before we get started, please allow me to make a small, shameless plug for a new Nikon users community: Nikonians :-). There you find discussion forums, contests, galleries, book reviews and product articles for the Nikonian.

The SB-24 flashlight is since a couple of years no more available in the stores. It's an F4 generation flash, coming in a design equally square as the mothership. It used to be sold for a price equaling the price of the SB-28 today, i.e. around DM 680,-

It's a solid friend with a zooming head (24-85mm), AF-illuminator, large backlitt LCD and has TTL, Auto (using built-in sensor), Manual and Strobelight modes. It has two sync-connectors; one for manual and one for TTL multi-flash setups. It has sync modes for normal or rear and can do flash compensation. The guide number (GN) is 118 (Leitzahl 36) at 35mm with an ISO 100 film or a GN of 160 at 85mm (LZ 50).

The flash head can be tilted vertically from -7 to +90 deg and swivelled from 180 deg CCW to 270 deg CW horizontally.

It's generally easy to use, never failed me and battery door plus slide switches are easy to operate.

It mainly misses the red eye reduction, FP high speed flash sync, 3D multisensor and the wider zoom (18/20mm) of the newer flashlights, such as the SB-26 or SB-28.

In comparison with the SB-25, the SB-24 ain't bad. See for example Michael McLennan's comparison between the two [e].

The Man-Machine Interface

I think the user interface (or MMI) of this flashlight is really well thought through. Connected to a modern SLR (F-801/N8008 and up) this flash is normally a "no-brainer". The following details are taken care of by the camera automatically:

1. Speed of film.
2. Aperture.
3. Zoom head adjustment (adjusts from 24-85mm according to your current lens).
4. Turning the flash energy output on and off (in TTL mode).

Connected to my F5, I can adjust the front and rear-curtain sync on the camera directly. There is also the possibility to change this manually on the flash if your camera doesn't allow you to.

I used the SB-24 on my F-401 (N4004) for several years. The F-401 didn't send much of any control signals to the flash (the later F-401s had a bit "better control" of the flash), so I had to set the controls manually. This isn't such a big deal actually, since the buttons are few and logical. The settings I had to perform manually using the F-401, were mostly exactly the same as mentioned above, i.e. the film speed, aperture and the zoom of the head.

Control buttons

You'll find the following control buttons/switches at the back of the flashlight:

Above of the LCD you'll find:

Rear/Front ("Normal") curtain sync slide switch.

A/M/Strobo/TTL slide switch.

Below the LCD you'll find:

Zoom select push button (increasing steps with 24, 28, 35, 50, 70 and 85 mm. Loops back to 24 at 85 mm).

(M)anual push button to either enable/disable the automatic flash intensity compensation or to select the flash intensity manually from 1/1 to 1/16 in 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16.

SEL push button has three functions:
1. To select the film speed when you're using something older/smaller than the F-401s.
2. To select the aperture when you're using an older camera. The manual setting of the film speed ranges from 6 to 6400 ISO. The steps are 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 32, 40, 50, 64, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200, 4000, 5000 and 6400 ISO.
3. To select the manual exposure compensation. Manual compensation can be done when the compensation symbol blinks. It starts to blink when you press the SEL button once (if your camera is in Matrix- or Center-Weighted metering mode) or if you're in manual mode.

Decrease value push button (used for manual setting of film speed and aperture). Automatically decreases value while held pressed down.

Increase value push button (used for manual setting of film speed and aperture). Automatically increases value while held pressed down.

LCD backlight push button on/off. Single press lights up the LCD backlight for 8 seconds. Press button a second time to turn backlight off.

Flash ready LED/Flash test push button.

Main power slide switch. Off/Standby/On. Only use the off and standby positions with new cameras - no need to use the on position. "Special standby feature" is activated by putting the main power switch in standby position while keeping the backlight button pressed. The LCD blinks on and off for 8 seconds to indicate that special standby is activated. In this mode, the capacitor for the flash is charged to full capacity once an hour.

When the main power switch is in standby mode, the unit will automatically turn off some two minutes after the camera metering system turns off.


Front: Accumulator connector for external power pack, such as the SD-7 battery pack.

Right hand side (seen from front):
TTL-Multi-Flash connector
Connector for sync cable
and for manual Multi-Flash mode.

Bottom: Standard Nikon flash shoe for flash trig and control signals.

Photo-sensor and AF-Illuminator

Front: Photo-sensor for automatic computer flash (the flash controls the energy output. Only used in mode A). IR-LED for AF-light in low-light situations (automatically turned on by camera). Note: the camera doesn't turn on the IR-LED if it's working in Continous AF-Servo or Manual mode. It automatically activates if you're using the F-401/F-401s.

Niklas. Click for 1024 x 768
My son Niklas fighting with the photographer. Germany November 1999. Nikon F5, Nikkor AF 80-200/2.8D at some 100mm on Fuji Provia 100F, flash filled with the SB-24.

The LC-Display

The LC-Display is backlitt (bright blue color as found on the LCD's of the Nikon AF cameras). The vertical viewing angle is good: approx. 80 deg vertical with the normal some +10 deg above frontal LCD view, i.e. +10 and -70 deg. The contrast is sharp with or without having the backlight turned on.

The LCD is split into 7 functional areas. These areas are (from top left to bottom right):

1. Flash mode area (A/M/Strobe/TTL/Automatic exp. correction).
2. Manual exposure compensation indicator and bargraph.
3. Film speed/Strobe frequency indicator (in Hz).
4. Flash covering distance bargraph (in m and ft.).
5. Zoom head indicator (in mm).
6. Apperture display.
7. Manual flash intensity compensation indicator.

The flash covering distance ranges from 0,6 to 18m (steps: 0,6 0,8 1 1,5 2 3 4 6 9 13 and 18m). The corresp. range in feet is 2 to 60ft.


Guide number ("Leitzahl")
meters at ISO 100 -- multiply value with 3,28 for feet.

Flash Output/Zoom 24 mm 28 mm 35 mm 50 mm 70 mm 85 mm
1/1 30 32 36 42 47 50
1/2 21 22 25 30 33 36
1/4 15 16 18 21 23 25
1/8 10,5 11 12,5 15 16,5 18
1/16 7,5 8 9 10,5 11,5 12,5

When you're using other films than ISO 100, multiply the values in the above table with:

ISO 25 x 0,5
ISO 50 x 0,71
ISO 200 x 1,4
ISO 400 x 2
ISO 800 x 2,8
ISO 1600 x 4

Flash angle

Zoom-setting Horizontal Vertical
24 mm 78 deg 60 deg
28 mm 70 deg 53 deg
35 mm 60 deg 45 deg
50 mm 46 deg 34 deg
70 mm 36 deg 26 deg
85 mm 31 deg 23 deg

Misc. data

Weight 390g (without batteries)
Size (W x H x D) 80 x 131 x 100mm
Power supply 4 x Alkali-Mangan AA, 4 x NiCd AA or SD-7 battery pack.
TTL film range ISO 25 - 1000. With F-401s and older: ISO 25 - 400.
Flash distance range 0,6 - 20m (2 - 65ft).
Modes TTL, A, M and Strobe.
Battery life (number of full energy flashes) 100 flashes with Alkali-Mangan, 40 with NiCd and between 200-400 with the SD-7 battery pack.
Make a comment on contents of this page or read what others said about it.

All pictures on this page Copyright (C) by Bo Stahlbrandt 1999, 2001.

Note: Specifications on this page are believed to be correct, but there is no warranty whatsoever regarding the believed correctness of the information provided, and under no circumstances can any of the authors of this page be held liable in case of lost monies, or other type of loss, occuring by the direct or indirect use of the information provided herein. The information is purely provided "AS IS" without any further obligation or indication of usefulness.