Flash powers up but the ready light never comes on - batteries are fresh charged NiMN. Flash will not flash throught camera or from flas button on flash unit. Flash worked yesterday and had not even been removed from the camera.
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Re: Nikon SB-800 Defect
Have you tried other batteries?
If one cell has died, there will be enough power to power up the flash, but not enough to charge it reasonably fast. It may also stop the other cells charging up properly if they are charged together. I've had this problem with poor quality rechargeables before. I think flashguns put pretty heavy demands on batteries.
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Sorry to hear about it not working at the graduation. Are in the correct position (I am sure you did but, we must start someplace). Look inside, see if there is battery acid in there.
If with new/fresh batteries it still does not work call Nikon. You have a warranty on it so it should be covered.
Nikon digital 1-800-645-6689
Try reseting the flash itself, press and hold the "Mode" and "on/off" buttons together for 2 seconds approx...this should reset the whole flash.
If that doesn't work try unlocking it by pressing the "on/off" and "Sel" buttons together, the padlock should disappear.
With respect to the corroded contacts you just need to try and clean them as best you can...but it sounds like you have really bad contact with the battery and hence a serious voltage drop, hence the dim display and lack of the red ready light.
put in a fresh set of batteries. The ready light won't turn on until the flash capacitor is fully charged. And if your battery is weak, it can take very long (minutes!) to fill the capacitor. You still can fire the flash even it is not ready, it will just dump whatever power it stored in the capacitor.