Debao SU-800 & ST-E2 “have longer range” than the real thing

The Debao SU-800, a Chinese-made copy of Nikon’s Wireless Speedlight Commander, is said to work over longer ranges than the original.

Debao Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

The Debao SU-800, a Chinese-made copy of Nikon’s Wireless Speedlight Commander, is said to work over longer ranges than the original.

The new aftermarket device — which also has a Canon variant, the Debao ST-E2 — is an infrared transmitter for advanced wireless flash systems. More of a genetically modified mixed breed than a straight “clone”, the Debao SU-800 and Debao ST-E2 each look like a Canon ST-E2 with the Nikon SU-800’s LCD grafted on the back.

Debao Speedlite Transmitter SU-800

By mounting such a unit in their DSLR hotshoe, a photographer can trigger and adjust off-camera speedlights. It uses optical transmission, so no dedicated receivers are required, but the signals are not as powerful as those used in a radio-based system (e.g. ST-E3-RT).

The would-be knock-offs are produced by a company called Yuyao Debao Photographic Equipment Co., Ltd., based in the Zhejiang province of China.

Manufacturer specifications say that the ST-E2 has a maximum operating range of 35–45 metres, with support for flash exposure compensation, bracketing, ratios and multi-flash (stroboscopic) mode. E-TTL, manual, high-speed sync and modelling light functions are all supported. You can also use it as an autofocus-assist lamp.

Meanwhile, we are told that the SU-800 has the same range and supports the equivalent Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) functions such as i-TTL, AA, manual flash, FP sync, modelling light and so on. Like the ST-E2 it will work as an autofocus-assist lamp.

Debao Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

According to our friends at Haodua.com, the Debao unit actually has a slightly longer range than the real SU-800, but shorter than that of the Nikon SB-800 flashgun, when tested with a slaved Nikon SB-600.

Other than being cheaper, there is another benefit of getting one of these over Nikon or Canon’s own offerings: the body rotates, allowing you to point the transmitter to the side or behind you. Handy if your slave flashes are positioned at an awkward angle. This is a feature shared by the Yongnuo ST-E2, which is similar but does not have an LCD screen (or a Nikon version).

If you’re a Canon user then you might also appreciate that the Debao device takes a pair of AAs rather than the less common 2CR5 battery in the Canon ST-E2.

Debao Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

At the moment it’s not clear where this product will go on sale outside China. Online listings put the price at around 500 yuan (£52; $82) or so. For comparison, the original Canon ST-E2 is $225, the Nikon SU-800 $250 and the Yongnuo ST-E2 $110. Update: The Debao SU-800 is listed on EachShot.com for just under $100.

What do you think? Does this product pique your interest?

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
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