Thanks for the comments. Still trying to work things out from film to digital, i.e. postprocessing and all of that.
Frank, I frequently use my Nikon 80-200 2.8D zoom with a reducer ring and the Nikon 5T diopter and am really pleased with the results (not so much with the 6T however). I know that the 500D is as good or better, so you should get excellent results. This setup certainly allows greater freedom for composition, expecially on quick moving bugs and the like. Also very good on still plant life (which moves more than one would think!!). I like the working distance with this setup and also with the Nikon 200mm Macro f4. Never seemed to have enough with my 105 macro, although a great lens.
My very best
Although fill flash is not off camera, it is mounted on a RRS portrait package flash bracket setup. I have discovered, at least for me, that using the SB 800 in TTL mode rather than TTL BL mode with either a Sto Fen diffuser or with the power cut back to as much as minus 3 depending upon the conditions. I typically shoot in manual mode so this defeats the purpose of the i ttl I suppose. If I don't cut back on power of the flash, then I underexpose -2 or so in manual mode. My attempt is to get just enough fill flash for it not to show but to fill out some shadow areas. CAUTION!!,\ I should warn you that if I really knew what I was talking about I could be downright dangerous, so take this information accordingly.
#2 and 3 are excellent. Please don't cut yourself short. Your Images do speak for themselves. I am here to learn something and you have taught me. Thank You! There is precious little information on the use of Nikon "speedlights". I have a D2hs and an SB800 looking for information. Thanks again.