I've been pondering lately what I need to get my lighting gear back together. See, I've been bleeding strobes. First the one 383 super ended up in the bay, then my MS-1 failed, then my other 383 super failed, which leaves me the Sunpak Digital Flash and my Sunpak 144PC. The Digital Flash is OK, albeit low in power and the 144PC is what I use to trigger flashes, so that's just not comfortable.
Despite my film-shooting bent, I do like to keep up with the digital scene as well. This is all rampant speculation based on the available facts, given that nobody's dropping any expensive loaner hardware on my doorstop anytime soon.
I was talking with some other photographers lately and the subject of lighting came up. The studio we were at had 6,000 watt seconds of power, including several power packs and some Alien Bees monolights. One of the other photographers asked me how I felt about the religious question of Packs vs. Monolights
When I started out doing portraiture, I did only outdoor portraits during the golden hour. If you don't have much gear, it's great. My first portrait shoot was taken on my Canon A95 and came out quite well. And I did my art indoors with lightpainting...
The idea of making light that's brighter than the sun is a source of constant amusement whenever I use it. If I wanted to do this sort of stunt with video, we'd be talking the sort of lighting gear that they used in the days of Technicolor that left actors and actresses complaining about eye damage from the bright lights...
I've been noticing some people finding my page on Google searching for more detailed information about the 383 Super. Since the 383 Super is a reasonably priced manually-controllable flash, suitable for both on and off camera use, it's experienced a little bit of a resurgence in recent times. Vivitar has responded as well by putting the 285 back on the market.
After reading Strobist, I almost purchased the recommended cheap old Nikon flash. However, I also wanted a flash to be carried around for impromptu situations that I could have better control over, I felt that the Nikon would be too specific to the Nikon cameras.
My personal preference in natural-looking photography is to search out beautiful lighting instead of trying to create it. It has a habit of surprising you with beautiful colors and glows and shading. Plus, it's cheaper and I'm stingy. So I picked up the Sunpack Digital Flash.