When Nikon introduced the Creative Lighting System in 2004, it was mostly overlooked. The focus was on the rapidly changing advancement of digital SLR cameras. This disregard was a shame because the Nikon Creative Lighting System was the most amazing development to happen to photographic lighting in decades. The ability to infinitely control the output of multiple lights and to be able to do it wirelessly, with full Through-the-lens (TTL) metering was almost unheard of.
The popularity of Nikon's Creative Lighting System has grown exponentially in recent years with more and more people becoming interested in photographic lighting. The fact that these flashes can take care of most of the work for you at an affordable cost is a major factor in the popularity of this system. With the SB-800, the SB-600, the SU-800, and more recently the SB-900 and SB-400, no other company comes close to offering such a multitude of tools for specific lighting needs.
The main feature of CLS is the ability to get the flashes off of the camera and to be able to control them wirelessly. Nikon refers to this as Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL). Quite simply, when you're stuck with the flash mounted on the camera or even to a flash bracket, your ability to control the lighting is severely impeded — leaving you stuck with full frontal lighting.
With the CLS, you can direct the light. Thus, you can create the same lighting patterns that professionals achieve with expensive studio strobes, at a much ...