Is there any benefit in shooting on the B&W setting rather than just desaturating colour images on the computer? I know B&W film has much better exposure tolerance than colour film but doubt if the same applies to digital capture.
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Hard to tell what might be going on without knowing what camera you are using or what shooting mode the camera is in.
What I do is set my camera to Manual. Then set the shutter speed for 1/60th a second. Try a shot with the SB-800 attached - firing directly at a subject that is about 6 feet away and check your image.
To expand the range of the flash, you can change the ISO setting. Adjusting from ISO 200 to 800 will allow you to expose more background. Depending on the camera you are using, this may also introduce more noise in the image.
That particular unit is probably not a good choice for the D80 because the trigger voltage (the electricity which flows from the flash through the camera circuits to fire the flash) is 19.5 volts, according to http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html - this could possibly damage your camera electronics.
You don't have to stick with Nikon brand Speedlights, but get a modern flash which says it is I-TTL compatible for Nikon.
it could be possible that the light sensor (the device under the red transparent plastic) in front of the flash is already failing. to test,set the camera mode to auto then cover the sensor with your hand and do some test shots, the images should be overexposed if the sensor is covered, then shoot some photos without covering the sensor, the images should be properly exposed , otherwise it might already be a light sensor failure .
I also purchased a Bower 724AFN to use with my D80, and experience the same problems. Received confirmation from Nikon that this flash unit is not compatible with the camera. I then purchased an SB-600 flash, and haven't looked back. It's worth the extra money for this high quality unit; fully compatible, and compliments the TTL features of the D80. I'll never deviate from original Nikon accessories again.
In whacky situations like this it is always best to re-set your camera and flash settings. Somewhere on your D80 you will find two function buttons with small green dots next to them. These are the resets. Push both in at the same time until the display LCD flashes.. The camera is now reset to default settings.You will now have to re-set your FV button to the custom setting you had it at before.
Also, reset you flash by turning on the power and removing the batteries and re-install them.