Strobe on a Stick
Any photographer who has ever hung around me knows I like to experiment and do things
cheap less expensively if possible. Other than the menu driven functions, I have been quite happy with my little refurbished Nikon D5000 that I bought last year. When the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G came out last year, allowing me to couple my favorite lens to the lightweight body and still have auto focus, I was hooked. Eventhough I still prefer the simplicity and the feel of the D2X in the studio and for short jaunts, the D5000 has become my "carry around all day" camera.
Still, any photographer knows that light, and more specifically light direction, can make or break an image. I had a little SB400 speedlight that allows bounce flash from above, but I wanted it further off the camera. I tried a Softlighter with a couple of LP160s mounted on a monopod, but the contraption was bulky and just didn't work well in the wind or with crowds. Plus, by using a slave, every point & shoot camera in a crowd set off my strobe.
So, I located the remains of a broken monopod and attached a Nikon SC-17 cable to it. The SC-17 is the older version of the modern Nikon cable, without a pin hole for the flash locking pin. A little work with a drill and a 1/64 bit corrected that. The SC-17 does allow TTL capability. I placed a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce diffuser on the flash and hooked everything up.
I like the little SB400 for general work. It places just enough light on the subject, is compact, quick to recharge, and uses only two AA cell batteries, further lightening my load. Once it became free from the camera, and able to light from any direction, it really came into its own.
Total investment, if I had to buy everything:
Nikon SB400 $119
Dolica monopod: $11
Nikon SC-17 (only available used) $15
Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce $11
Since I already had the stuff laying around, all it cost me was a 66 cent rubber cap to place on the end of the piece of monopod. For great light that I can instantly control, that's a deal.
Strobist: AB1600 with gridded 60X30 softbox camera right. Reflector camera left. Triggered by Cybersync.