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[GEAR] - Domke F-5XB: my travel Strobist kit

I remember the first photo I took with off-camera flash - a whole new skill set had been unlocked and I was immediately hooked. I began trying as many setups as I could, studying the DVDs and books put out by the likes of David Hobby (Strobist DVD sets), Zack Arias (Onelight DVD set), and Joe McNally (Painting With Light). As a matter of fact, I even have a cameo on the Strobist: Lighting in Layers 7 DVD set, circa 2011. I'll always think fondly of those early times and watching my ideas come to life on the rear LCD... or more often actually seeing just a total demoralizing failure, and making me re-think this whole venture. Some of my earlier experiments with off-camera flash:

These days, my work with strobes is limited to pre-meditated shots, having a specific shot in mind. My style of photography tends towards a more journalistic approach using dim light and shallow DOF, rather than intense OCF shots.


My kit:

3x Paul C. Buff Cybersync CSRB receivers (link)

2x Paul C. Buff Cybersync CST transmitter (link - new model)

1x Nikon SB600 Speedlight with 3.5mm sync port mod

2x Nikon SB28 Speedlights

1x Nikon SB25 Speedlight

1x Nikon SB24 Speedlight

A few speedlight stands and a bag-o-cables (3.5mm, PC sync, and optical slaves)

These hand-held flashes are great for putting into hard-to-reach spots, and basically beating them up to get the shot you want. I have all of the usual mounts and swivels for them but most of the time gaffer tape is my go-to option. The older flashes can still be sourced for reasonable prices on the used market, but there's so much competition from vendors like Yongnuo, Neewer, and Altura that buying the Nikon/Canon variants almost seems silly unless you need/want the TTL option.

The differences between all of my speedlights manifest themselves as the presence (or absence) of a sync port, the levels of manual output (1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 ...etc), head zoom levels, and the obvious option having the ability to optically trigger (as in the SB600). Honestly though, all I care about is the levels of manual output - it's much easier to dial the flash down to 1/64 than it is to gaffer tape half of the output to cut the light down from 1/32 or stronger.

I'm able to fit three speedlights, the triggers, stands, and cables into the Domke F-5XB bag, and have two Nikon cases for the remaining two flashes.


Powering everything are my trusty Sanyo Eneloop batteries. I made labels for the cases, and store the batteries with the (+) towards the label if they are charged, and opposite if they are not charged. I couldn't recommend this method enough, and it's intuitive for both the AA and AAA batteries.

I hope this post was helpful! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments or get in touch with me directly.

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