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sounds like a short in one of the circuit boards, most likely one or seveal of the ribbons and boards will need to be replaced to correct the problem. Send in for repair expect to pay up to $200 for a Nikon factory overhaul
If you are in Manual Mode and you set your shutter speed too higher (ie above 250th sec) the shutter blind passes over the sensor when the flash goes off causing a dark section in the photo. Lower the shutter speed to get a better sync. Some camera's default sync speed is 1/60th of a second and sometimes user adjustable.
Remember the longer the shutter speed, the more light will register in the photo. Also boosting the ISO will help extend the flashes range and also record more ambient light for a more pleasing and balanced photo.
1) i-TTL: TTL flash control by 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, built-in flash, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash 2) AA (Auto Aperture-type) flash: Available with SB-800 used with CPU lens 3) Non-TTL Auto: Available with Speedlights such as SB-800, 28, 27, and 22S 4) Range-priority manual flash; available with SB-800
sounds like your shutter speed is set too low. If you are in manual exposure control, check that your shutter speed is at least 1/60th or higher. If the camera is in automatic, check to see that you ARE NOT in the "slow-sync" flash mode.
Bingo! That's an X-sync cable, only for firing the flash, syncing it withe shutter - carries out no auto features or communication with the camera.
Don't waste your money on another cable the same. There is no TTL light measuring features with an X-sync cable.
You can, however, get the proper 'off-the-camera' TTL syncing cable either from Nikon or a 3rd party provider. This proper TTL cable can cost a fair bit, I don't know exactly but thinking from $40-$50 to $80'odd.
Shop around, buy from a store where you have the face-to-face enquiry and a return facility if 'they' get it wrong.
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I had that same problem with the SB600 and the SB 800. Solutions; get a new one.
After about a year of usage the sb600 started giving me that problem. It flashes but it does not sync. It still works as a remote unit, but not mounted on the camera. The SB800 just went to a coma last weekend. No sync at all, not even as remote unit, no strobe function, just a bright flash, when triggering the test button with new fresh batteries, it flashes at max power once and takes around 7 seconds to recycle. No multiple flashes at all. I had to buy a new one.