The most pleasing photographic light does not come from a speedlight locked in the hot shoe on top of your camera. On-camera lighting, when used as a main light source, eliminates any sense of three dimensionality in your subject while introducing pronounced specular highlights (think shiny white spots). If we could remove the speedlight from the camera's hotshoe and place anywhere we wanted, we could introduce a dozens of variations of light and shadow, therefore adding depth to our subjects.
We can fire our speedlights by connecting them physically to our camera bodies. By utilizing a Nikon AS-15 hotshoe to PC adapter and a properly configured PC cable, you can hard-wire your speedlight to your camera, but the cable can be a darn nuisance*. However, it is a relatively cheap and reliable solution. For a Strobist's take, click here and here.
Photo sensitive slaves will also work providing you keep your flashes within the prescribed maximum transmission distance and the slaved units are in the "line of sight" to the master unit. It gets worse. The photo sensitive slaves would respond to any flash fired within range, definitely not the best solution when working in a crowd.
Enter the Calumet Wireless Trigger Kit. At about $75.00, the Nikon version is significantly more expensive that the E-Bay wonders, but it has some important features that are worth looking into. Those features include:
Full ITTL control of a suitable Nikon speedlight when mounted in the hot shoe of the transmitter unit. This means that you can combine conventional non-ITTL flashes (used manually) with properly configured Nikon remote speedlights.
Receiver units can be used to trigger a variety of Nikon DSLR bodies wirelessly. Three receiver cables are provided, allowing your transmitter to mimic the Nikon MC DC1 (D70s, D80), MC DC2 (D90, D3100, D5000 & D7000 ) and the MC 30 (D300, D3, etc) cable releases.
Both receiver and transmitters use 2 AAA batteries. No exotic batteries for these babies, just easy to obtain AAAs.
Additional receivers can be purchased to trigger other non-iTTL speedlights Think $50.00.
I'll be playing with the units in the near future, and will report on how well they work in a future post.
*If you are connecting a (Nikon brand) speedlight that has a supplimentary PC outlet you will need a PC cable with male connectors at both ends. If you can locate the genuine locking Nikon PC cables (SC-11 or SC-15), so much the better. Also remember that you'll need to protect your camera from high triggering voltages with a Wein Safe Sync when using non-Nikon speedlights.