************UPDATE, September 17th 2013***************

The CLS problem has been solved. On some early D800 cameras a circuit board which controls the popup flash must be replaced. That is what Nikon did with my camera. Read about the solution here and additional info here. With some D800 bodies the replaced circuit board solved the problem, with my D800 body it only solved the problem partially. CLS in manual mode only works when the aperture is fully open. The Nikon technician told me that this will be fixed with another firmware update in late 2013.

For the hassle (I sent in the camera twice and was in contact with Nikon for over a year) they compensated me with a free SB-910 (no kidding !). Now that’s perfect customer care !


***UPDATE – 15 May 2013***

Problem still persists, disregard everything I wrote down there. Still the same problem. When triggering slave flashes with the popup flash and using M mode on the master to control the flash output the slaves are not triggered reliably. I am very angry at the moment and will file another support issue immediately. When will this story end ???

***UPDATE – 07 May 2013***

I keep getting emails and comments, that the problem still persists with some D800s (‘s’ being the plural and not some mysterious new model… just being cautious). So far I have not had problems with the CLS system, but some other folks have. At this point I can not say more than we have to be patient and see if Nikon addresses the problem directly. Which they will do if enough people file support cases, so do that if you are affected !


Recently Nikon released a new firmware update for the D800 and the D800E (A: 1.01 / B:1.02). Officially the CLS issue has not been addressed but some other things (support for the new 800 mm f5.6E lens, subject tracking performance in AF-C etc., read the release notes here).

Today I tested the flashes. I made two setups and took 50 images each. The D800’s internal flash acted as the master (Manual mode, 1/128), my SB-600, SB-700 and SB-800 as slaves. In the first series I pointed the camera towards the flashes with the flash sensors on the flashes facing the camera. The D800 fired directly into the light sensors of the flash units. 51 images – the flashes fired every time. Actually I had to wait for the master flash to cool down since repeated shooting in a short timespan builds up a lot of heat.

The next set of images was taken with the camera facing away from the flashes and the flashes also faced away from the camera. The setting was still manual mode and 1/128 flash power. Also this time the flashes fired in every of the 50 images. It looks a little dark on the images, this is due to the low flash power I chose and the lack of ambient light (I conducted the test in the evening). If you look closely at the second set – there is a dark outline of the room in every picture, they are not black.

Bottom line – It _seems_ as if the CLS issue has been resolved with this firmware update. After the first firmware update about half a year ago the problem got better, but still some images were black. I am not sure why Nikon did not mention the fix in the release notes of the new firmware but in the end the results are what counts.

If the CLS issue still occurs at your D800 even after the firmware update, leave a comment or drop me a line !