What if you could have perfect studio lighting on location without the burden of lugging strobes with you? In fact, what if you could fit an entire four-light set-up in a small shoulder bag? Nikon's SB-800 flash makes all this possible and more.
It's true: you can use your SB-800 speedlight flash with a Softliter, softbox, etc., and getting results that rival Alien Bees. This article has everything you want to know about this, including why you'd use speedlights instead of bees, what exactly you need (including links to specific products), the difference between various light modifiers (e.g., how a Softliter compares to a large softbox), samples, and photos of the set-up so you can visualize exactly how it looks.
Sooo, why would I want to use an SB-800 instead of an Alien Bee?
If you walk into your typical camera shop and tell them you want to use a shoemount flash with a large softbox, you will probably have some know-it-all insist that it can't be done, that a flash isn't powerful enough, yadda yadda yadda. If a salesperson tells you that, no matter how convincing they sound, he or she is wrong.
The SB-800 is a powerful flash. It has a guide number of 125 at 35mm (ranging up to 184 at 105mm). That is MORE powerful than an Alien Bee 400. It's powerful enough that I have used it numerous times with my 50"x50" softbox. You cannot tell whether the light from the softbox was produced by a shoemount flash or a monolight.