Commander mode allows you to control remote flash unit from your camera. If you never use external flash unit, you may not find this topic very interesting but, if you do, I think this article will help you a lot to understand what this mode is for and how it works with Nikon D90, other Nikon semi-pro and pro body cameras.
Commander mode is one of the very powerful feature available with most of the advance DSLR cameras including Nikon D80, D90, D200, D7000 and D300 that allows built-in flash of your camera to control remote (off camera) flash by sending electronic signal over wireless. Most of the today’s advance flash like SB-600, SB-800, SB-900 and SB-R200 supports commander mode but unfortunately SB-400 flash unit doesn’t support commander mode. SB-400 is not considered as Advance Wireless Lighting strobe. It can only be used in the hot-shoe or on a sync cord connected to the hot-shoe. The Nikon SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 and SB-R200 Speedlights can be set as wireless remote units and can be triggered by using an on-camera SB-900 or SB-800 set in “Master Mode”, directly from the built-in flash on the D80, D90, D200 and D300 or using the SU-800 Wireless Commander Unit.
SB-R200 is Wireless Remote Speedlight which works with Nikon Advanced Wireless Lighting System and other Wireless Speedlight Commander unit like SB-800 and SB-900 or SU-800 Wireless Speedlight whereas SB-800 or SB-900 unit can also be used as a master unit (like built-in flash) in commander mode to control other flash units like SB-600 or SB-800 or even SB-900 wirelessly. Now lets discuss how to set Nikon D90 camera commander mode so that we can control external flash unit.
How to set commander mode for Nikon D90?
Here I am setting up Nikon D90 to control external flash unit using built-in flash as a commander flash.
1. Press the Menu button on the back of your camera.
2. Go to Custom Setting Menu option (pencil icon).
3. Select e, Bracketing/flash, menu and press OK.
4. Select e2, Flash cntrl for built-in flash, and press OK.
5. Choose Commander Mode.
When you are inside Commander mode, you can set different parameters to control remote flash unit. But at the same time you have to be careful about which Group and Channel you selected because you are going to use same Group and Channel settings in your remote flash unit. Group is set to combine multiple flash units in single or different group for exposure settings and Channel is used to avoid interference with other camera’s settings around you using by different photographers. If you set Built-in-Flash option to – - mode, your built-in flash unit will send signal to control remote flash unit but will not fire flash itself to control exposure.