For my smoker, level of skill and patience, and smaller quantities of meat, the water pan works well. When I do HNF, the empty pan is just a diffuser.
Brinkman water smokers (elec and charcoal)
Weber kettle grill
Uniflame Gold Stainless 5 burner propane grill / rotisserie
BBQ Grillware upright propane water smoker
A trench filled with wood coals and covered with chain link fence