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Old 01-06-2013, 09:54 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: behind the blueberries
Posts: 41,022
Default My flash has developed a current leak of sorts

I have a four year old Nikon SB-600. It eats batteries, mostly while it is just sitting there. When I went to use it yesterday, it wouldn't power up so I opened it to put in fresh batteries and I noticed new corrosion around the contacts on one battery. I know the batteries have been in the flash less than a month so this was puzzling. I cleaned off the contacts, put in fresh batteries and the flash still wouldn't power up. Uh oh. I played around with the contacts a bit but no go. The flash is well out of warranty and Nikon's website doesn't even offer authorized repair facilities for flash units.

Facing the prospect of having to drop $325 on a new flash (more than my first SLR kit cost) I decided to see if the damage was isolated to the battery case by rigging up a set of batteries I could attach to just the last contacts in the series. While rigging this up I put a voltage meter across the contacts of the flash with no batteries installed. The reading was .4V. My flash was putting out .4 volts weeks after the last use. I assume the capacitor is bleeding off charge back into the battery pack explaining the death of the batteries and the corrosion.

Next I tried cleaning the contacts with baking soda and water. This worked so now the flash will power up and functions. I guess as long as a I store the flash with the batteries removed I should be okay. Anyway, if you have a flash you don't use very often, you might check the battery compartment.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:49 PM   #2
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It would be neat if someone with a SB-600 could try the "leak test" and see if the .4 volts is normal or not.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:19 PM   #3
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i generally find leaving batteries in a flash a bad idea. I've had a few Nikon flash units get corrosion in the battery compartment and require extensive cleaning to get it working again.

Perhaps it's just simple oxidation on the connectors? It can be difficult to clean those internal ones.

I'm not sure about the discharge, though. Mine will sleep when not in use and is remarkably battery friendly even left on and in sleep mode (though I've never left it for a month that way).
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:54 PM   #4
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Location: North Idaho
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I had a similar experience when I bought a used SB-600 that had light corrosion on the battery contacts. I'd clean it off and the flash would work, but it would come back if it sat for any length of time. I finally gave the contacts a good washing with diet coke and then alcohol and now no more corrosion problems. Make sure you give yours a good cleaning.

I use 2300mAh NiMH Energizers in my SB-600 and they perform well for me. I shot Santa photos at the local mall this Christmas, and flashed between 200-400 shots each day at ISO 800 and F5.6 with the head up at ~45 degrees and the defuser dome on. Between kids I leave it in standby mode and the recycle time was snappy all day long.
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