Lighting and Flash Gear

I use a wide selection of strobe and lighting equipment in my outdoor and location photography. Since I like to go fast and light, I tend to stick to gear that doesn’t weigh me down very much.

To see extensive examples and learn how I use all of this different lighting gear, check out my off-camera flash eBook, Going Fast With Light.

Nikon SB-900 Speedlight

The Nikon SB-900 is my main flash unit these days. It’s a powerful and versatile flash unit that acts as either an on-board flash, a wireless remote, or Master flash commander. As a commander, it will control an unlimited number of remotes and up to three different groups. It has three illumination patterns, a snap-on color gel filter system and a very easy user interface. (Note: the SB-910 is the latest version of this flash.)

I use the SB-900 it in conjunction with a handful of older SB-800 units, which are no longer made. However, the SB-700 Speedlight has filled in the wide gap between the older SB-600 and the newer SB-900. It’s a capable flash unit that offers many of the same features as the SB-900 at a more affordable price.

I’m also able to use the SB-900 and my other Nikon flashes in manual mode with my Fuji X-T1, using a Canon compatible sync-cord, PocketWizards or any number of wireless triggers.

The comparable Canon flash to the SB-900 is the flagship 580EX II Speedlite model, while the 430EX II is the comparable unit to the SB-700. (Note: the SB-900 has been updated. The SB-910 is the current model.)

View the SB-910 at B&H Photo and Amazon

View the Canon 580EX II at B&H Photo and Amazon

Nikon SU-800 Wireless Commander

The Nikon SU-800 Wireless Commander lets you fire your flashes remotely with an infrared signal. This prevents monitor preflashes from showing up in your photo, when shooting closeup, or against reflective surfaces.

Inside, the SU-800’s signal will bounce all over the place and it will trigger remote flashes in other rooms, around the corner and behind you. It will control an any number of flashes in up to three groups. For the price and the versatility, if you flash, you should absolutely have a wireless commander. The comparable Canon flash commander is the Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter.

Although this unit does not work with the Fuji X cameras, I highly recommend it to any Nikon shooter who uses flash.

View the Nikon SU-800 at B&H Photo and Amazon

View the Canon ST-E2 at B&H Photo and Amazon

Nikon SC-28 TTL Remote Cord

The Nikon SC-28 9′ TTL Remote Cord is a 9′ sync cord that can be used to trigger an off-camera flash. You can chain three of them together to make a fully functional 27′ sync cord, or you can stick an SU-800 Wireless Commander on it and trigger remote flashes from that. Putting it on the cord allows you to point the SU-800 in any direction.

A sync cord like this is the most reliable and most inexpensive way to get the flash off-camera. The comparable Canon Cord is the OC-E3 Off Camera Shoe Cord.

View the Nikon SC-28 at B&H Photo and Amazon

View the Canon OC-E3 at B&H Photo and Amazon

Pocket Wizard Plus Remote Radio Triggers

I’ve used the Pocket Wizard Plus radio remotes for years. They’re the de facto radio trigger. I’ve got three of them, and I use them to trigger remote flashes as well as cameras. They’re incredibly cool and with a range that often exceeds a quarter mile, they allow for some very interesting creative options.

With flashes, the Pocket Wizard Plus only does Manual mode on the flash, which is not really a big deal for me. I don’t see this as a limitation, because Manual flash is quite easy to use. You simply set the flash to fire at full power, then you dial it down until you get the right amount of light.

With cameras, Pocket Wizards allow me to set cameras in tough to reach places, or else they allow me to shoot self portraits from a long way away. You can only run so far on the self timer, right? Like I said, unending creative options.

I’ve tried tried the Pocket Wizard Flex TT5x and Mini TT1 systems. They’re really cool, but when I’ve got three Plus radios that work fine, upgrading in that department just hasn’t been a priority.

Note: The new PocketWizard Plus III radio triggers are now out. They’re better and less expensive than the older Plus II models. There’s really no reason not to get the Plus IIIs.

View the Pocket Wizard Plus III at B&H Photo

View the Pocket Wizard Plus III at Amazon

Lighting Shaping Tools and Modifiers

I use a diverse selection of light modifiers and tools that help me shape, soften, bend, fold and otherwise transmogrify the light that comes out of my flashes. Click here to read about the specific light shaping tools that I use in my photography.

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