Why would you need an external flash if Nikon D3100 already has internal flash in its body ? Because it gives more power ( increase flash range ) , more control of light direction ( bounce up ) , faster recycle time and ability to do Advanced Wireless Lighting. If you love shooting portrait , wedding or indoor , this is a recommended accesory in your camera bags.

So, lets check on several Nikon D3100 external flash options:

Nikon Speedlight SB-400

nikon-sb400

  • basic flash for beginner , easy learning curve
  • compact and lightweight , use only 2 AA batteries
  • recycle time : 3.9 seconds
  • bounce up to 90 degrees .. flash bounce technique is one of amazing flash technique that can improve your indoor photography. I use the technique and quite satisfied with the results.
  • flash shooting distance range up to 66 feet
  • i-TTL flash operation means the flash can communicate with camera body to determine correct exposure for an object and its background
  • Unable to use with Advanced Wireless Lighting
  • Unable to zoom , only cover 18mm angle of coverage
  • Cheap , $119.95

Nikon Speedlight SB-600

nikon-sb600

  • for more serious hobbyist
  • use 4 AA batteries , recycle time : 3.5seconds
  • bounce and able to rotate flash head
  • flash range up to 98 feet , GN 30
  • i-TTL flash operation
  • support Advanced Wireless Lighting , can be use as a remote flash that can be triggered by other master/commander flash unit.
  • Auto zoom of 14 to 85mm
  • manual power range down to 1/64
  • LCD for easy controls
  • No PC Synch port
  • $279.95

Nikon Speedlight SB-700

nikon-sb700

  • the latest Speedlight from Nikon , announced in September 2010. SB-700 is designed as SB-600 successor so some specs are improved and new features added
  • GN 28 ( less powerful than the SB-600 )
  • Autozoom of 14 to 120mm
  • manual power range down to 1/128 ( 1 stop better than SB-600 )
  • in Advanced Wireless Lighting, SB-700 can be use as master flash to trigger other flash units
  • New Overheating Protection features
  • Optional water protection accesories
  • Allow firmware updates
  • Still , No PC Synch port
  • $329.00

Nikon Speedlight SB-900

nikon-sb900

  • advanced flash unit , for serious photographer
  • GN 34 , flash range up to 111 feet
  • Autozoom of 12 to 200mm
  • ISO range: 100 to 6,400
  • Fast recycle time : 2.3 seconds (NiMH)
  • Optional power source and water protection
  • Overheating protection
  • Allow firmware updates
  • PC Synch port , easily connected to wireless triggers ( such as Pocket Wizard )
  • big and heavy .. and expensive
  • $464.95

My Recommendation:

For beginner , i would recommend the Nikon SB-400 as your first flash. It’s easy to learn and can help improves your photos especially indoor. And if you’re willing to learn and spend more , the Nikon SB-700 would be an ideal choice. It’s new , packed with fresh and improved features . Advanced Wireless Lighting may sound cool but there is other way to do it cheaper . Enter the world of strobist ! Maybe , i’ll write about it later

So that’s it .. recommended external flash for Nikon D3100. Sure, there are several 3rd party flashes that compatible with Nikon D3100 but i personally prefer flashes that have same brand with my camera :)

Related :
flash , speedlight