X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Nikon SB-N5 Speedlight review: Nikon SB-N5 Speedlight

The SB-N5 might look like a toy but it delivers serious, intense punches of light thanks to its clever design that takes power from the V1 camera.

headshot-lexy-2-crop
Lexy Savvides
headshot-lexy-2-crop

Lexy Savvides

Principal Video Producer

Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.

See full bio
2 min read

Need a little extra light on your Nikon 1 V1 camera? The SB-N5 is the answer.

Nikon-SB-N5_1.jpg
8.5

Nikon SB-N5 Speedlight

The Good

Powered by the camera. Small and compact to match the V1's size. Great range. Natural, warm light when bounced.

The Bad

LED light can't be used for video recording.

The Bottom Line

The SB-N5 might look like a toy but it delivers serious, intense punches of light thanks to its clever design that takes power from the V1 camera.

To go with the light and compact nature of the V1, the N5 speedlight is positively tiny at just 70 grams. With no battery required, the unit runs entirely from the power of the camera, channelled through the hotshoe attachment. Controls are very simple, in fact there's just two switches on the back, one to turn the unit on and the other that unlocks it from the camera housing.

The flash head can be tilted forward in step increments, approximately 90 degrees of movement between facing up fully and facing the subject. It can also completely rotate on its axis in both left and right directions to help control the bounce of the light.

At the front of the unit is a small LED light used to illuminate Motion Snapshot or Smart Photo Selector capture modes. When either of these modes are selected on the V1's dial, the LED light will automatically switch on when the flash is powered up. It provides a decent throw of light that can reach about a metre in dim situations. Unfortunately, the LED light can't be used to illuminate regular video recording.

The flash can either be controlled in i-TTL (through the lens) mode or manual modes, with intensity settings of full power, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 or 1/32. The V1 can also control the SB-N5's flash compensation values.

The range of the flash unit itself is particularly impressive, from 0.6 to 20 metres. Our tests proved that it could illuminate a large dark room without too much light fallout on the edges of the frame, very impressive for such a small package.

Examples of the results from the V1 without flash (left), with bounced flash from the ceiling (centre), and direct flash pointed straight at the subject.
(Credit: CBSi)

The SB-N5 delivers excellent results and warm, natural colours particularly when photographing people. In particular when bounced from the ceiling, it provides a nice, even illumination. Facing the flash unit front-on delivers harsher light as would be expected.

Conclusion

It would have been very easy for Nikon to release an average-performing flash unit for the V1 given there is no other way to mount an external flash on the proprietary hotshoe connector. The SB-N5 might look like a toy but it delivers serious, intense punches of light thanks to its clever design that takes power from the V1 camera.

Shopping laptop image
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping