I really enjoy getting questions from readers of my blog about topics I post. A photographer friend just sent me an email asking if it is possible to trigger an earlier speedlight such as the SB900/910 using the SB5000. The short answer is yes. Take a look at the photo above. The SB5000 is in commander mode in OPTICAL WIRELESS mode. You can tell the flash is in optical mode by the zigzag icon in the upper left next to the ‘S’ with an arrow on it. I have triggered my SB900s (in standard Remote mode) using my SB5000 in this mode (flashes set to TTL mode) and gotten great flash exposures with no compensation.
The beauty of the SB5000 is its ability to work seamlessly with earlier speed lights and cameras that can’t utilize the new radio wireless function. Another interesting question I received is can you trigger the SB5000 in radio wireless mode while at the same time triggering earlier speed lights in optical wireless mode. I don’t think this is possible. If you are using the new wireless transmitter (WR-R10) to trigger the SB5000, then the earlier speed lights won’t get this signal. However, you could put your earlier speed lights in SU-4 mode and they will fire every time the sensor sees a flash burst. The flashes work in manual using SU4 so you won’t have dedicated TTL.