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Wetpixel strobe review


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#21 Oskar@RetraUWT

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 05:43 AM

Thank you very much Adam for making the review! 

 

I will try to answer some comments below.

 

From the Retra website, where they ignore the GN units and get the Energy rating wrong

TECH SPEC:
  • 100W/s
  • GN30 in comparison with two strobes - see comparison here
  • GN18 (absolute measurement on land)

And so on. 

 

Thank you "tursiops" for noticing the mistake in the energy formula, it should of course be multiplied (*) and not divided (/). 

In the comparison we stated that the GN calculation was done at 1 meter. We've amended that as well so it is now clear directly in the specs.

 

 

-battery indicator... though i like in principle the idea, in reality it didn’t turn too reliable, and after exchanges with Retra it appeared it was due to me using very old batteries (1st gen eneloop). I bought some new eneloop pros but couldn’t try them as i had to return the strobes before.

Cons:
-batteries drain if left in strobe turned off! Again this may not happen with my fresh eneloop pros, but with my inons i had the habit to leave batteries in between dives (usually i dive once a week on weekend only) and that wasn’t a problem with inons

 

Thank you "Nicool" for sharing your experience!
- In our case the battery indicator is based on voltage and is calibrated roughly for both types of eneloop batteries. If the batteries are older their voltage will drop more quickly under load and the indicator will show less lights after a few shots. With new batteries it should drop less and the indicator should provide a better insight where the batteries are on charge.
- Our practical instructions state that our strobe will consume a little bit of energy in OFF position and we do not recommend leaving batteries inside for longer periods of time. There is an unofficial way to overcome this if you want to leave the batteries inside the compartment: Leave the strobe in ON mode and unscrew the battery compartment lid until the strobe shuts down, unscrew for another turn to make sure there will be no contact and put the strobe in OFF position. 
 
 
Thank you all very much and looking forward to keeping in touch.

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#22 Nicool

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 05:45 PM

Thanks again Oskar for answering questions of the community here! Based on our earlier emails exchanges plus discussion here, i guess a good way to find out more precisely if the batteries are still good for 1 more dive is to do 2 - 3 test shots on-land and check again the battery indicator. If it still shows the same, good.
In fact, i was doing something similar with my Inons z240: turning them on, doing 2 shots at full power - 1.5 stops (just because it’s a power level i often use) and make sure each time that the red ready light would come back instantaneously. If taking time, i would change batteries.

Back to the comparison between the new strobes on the market, there is one element of behavior that is for me important: if the capacitor didn’t have sufficient time to charge, at the next shooting attempt i am expecting the strobe wouldn’t produce any light, giving priority to producing the exact amount of light required as opposed to producing « something ».
The benefit in such a behavior (at least what i see on the Z240s) is that during action and when i don’t have time to look at strobes ready light, i’ll quickly find out if some of my photos are unlit when reviewing on the screen, and then i’ll reduce flash output if i see the strobes aren’t keeping up the pace.

Adam or anyone, can you confirm that the strobes tested behave like that?


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#23 Nicool

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 10:36 PM

Thanks again Oskar for answering questions of the community here! Based on our earlier emails exchanges plus discussion here, i guess a good way to find out more precisely if the batteries are still good for 1 more dive is to do 2 - 3 test shots on-land and check again the battery indicator. If it still shows the same, good.
In fact, i was doing something similar with my Inons z240: turning them on, doing 2 shots at full power - 1.5 stops (just because it’s a power level i often use) and make sure each time that the red ready light would come back instantaneously. If taking time, i would change batteries.

Back to the comparison between the new strobes on the market, there is one element of behavior that is for me important: if the capacitor didn’t have sufficient time to charge, at the next shooting attempt i am expecting the strobe wouldn’t produce any light, giving priority to producing the exact amount of light required as opposed to producing « something ».
The benefit in such a behavior (at least what i see on the Z240s) is that during action and when i don’t have time to look at strobes ready light, i’ll quickly find out if some of my photos are unlit when reviewing on the screen, and then i’ll reduce flash output if i see the strobes aren’t keeping up the pace.

Adam or anyone, can you confirm that the strobes tested behave like that?


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In fact, thinking twice about it i am not too sure what would be my favorite strobe behavior in regards to capacitor not fully charged, but i'd still like to know how the Retra and Inon are supposed to behave in that regards.

cheers

Nicolas



#24 Oskar@RetraUWT

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 01:58 AM

In fact, thinking twice about it i am not too sure what would be my favorite strobe behavior in regards to capacitor not fully charged, but i'd still like to know how the Retra and Inon are supposed to behave in that regards.

 

If there is something fast going on and you are unable to wait for the complete recycle time you usually want to get some light onto the scene instead of having a dark image, later possibly solving it in post production. The Retra Flash will fire before the ready light is on. 


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#25 trimix125

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 03:00 AM

Hi,
if you want to avoid discharge during travelling, and leaving the batteries inside the strobe, simply cut a piece of thin plastic ( like the wrapping from the eeneloops ) that will fit on the batteries but as well under the batterie compartment cap and put it there, before closing the cap.
Done that with my Inon D2000 for travelling and it worked fine.

Thanks for the work that is done for the testing.
But still not sure which i will choose ;-)))

Regards,
Wolfgang



#26 errbrr

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 01:34 PM

In general yes, if it is based purely on voltage, the cells typically experience a small drop and then voltage remains pretty much flat till it is is all but empty then drops rapidly.  The indicator will give some representation but due to the small voltage changes involved is only an approximation.

 

If you are storing for a period of time it is possible that the drop you see from is the initial rapid drop from about 1.4V to about 1.22.  From this point on the voltage drops very slowly from maybe 1.22 to maybe 1.18 then drops rapidly.  This may be enough to cause the power signal to drop from 4 to 3 lights on.  but in reality only represents something like 5% of the battery capacity.  Before concluding this is a problem I suggest you need to compare to batteries charged at the same time, but not stored in the flash.

So I have now done this test. After 15 days in the retras, the battery indicators were showing one red dot only on both strobes. I pulled the batteries out and put them in the charger, side by side with a pair of eneloops charged at the same time, that travelled in a plastic case instead of in the retra. The batteries that were out of the strobe showed "full" within 5 minutes. The batteries that were in the retra took a couple of hours to charge. 15 days is not that long - there is significant battery drain going on with batteries that are installed while the strobes are off.



#27 Oskar@RetraUWT

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 03:05 AM

So I have now done this test. After 15 days in the retras, the battery indicators were showing one red dot only on both strobes. I pulled the batteries out and put them in the charger, side by side with a pair of eneloops charged at the same time, that travelled in a plastic case instead of in the retra. The batteries that were out of the strobe showed "full" within 5 minutes. The batteries that were in the retra took a couple of hours to charge. 15 days is not that long - there is significant battery drain going on with batteries that are installed while the strobes are off.

 

Hi Liz, thank you for posting your test!

In our practical instructions we recommend taking out the batteries if the device will not be used for more than 1 week. 

We have noted this and will try to improve.

Thank you


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#28 errbrr

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 02:18 AM

Hi Oskar,

 

Generally speaking I would commonly put fresh batteries in before a trip, where I may travel for 2-3 days before diving. I will now swap these out on arrival for freshly charged ones. In this instance I spent two weeks at work before travelling directly to the resort. I packed my camera at home where it stayed in the bag until I made it through work and onto the holiday.

 

I would be more worried about leaving used batteries in the strobes for the trip home, where the strobe may continue to drain them until the batteries are completely flat and unchargeable. Something to be aware of for sure.

 

I am having some reliability problems with one of my retras on this trip - I will see how it develops over the last two days and send you an email when I get home again.

 

Cheers,

 

Liz



#29 Nicool

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 03:41 AM

 
Hi Liz, thank you for posting your test!
In our practical instructions we recommend taking out the batteries if the device will not be used for more than 1 week. 
We have noted this and will try to improve.
Thank you

It would be grear if the battery drain could be reduced when not in use.
That being said, IMHO it’s not that a big deal considering how easier/quicker i find it to open/close the battery compartment on the retra vs on my Inon Z240. And easier to inspect oring too.
Some people have complained that the retra flash won’t stand still if put facing down (since the lighting surface is curved) but i consider this being a non-issue for me, as i always carry a micro-fiber towel with my spare batteries / spare kits, so i just put the retra on it and that does the trick of stabilizing it during battery swap.

Nicolas



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#30 Tom_Kline

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 01:52 PM

I am just back from Hawaii where I used the Retras for all my underwater shots. I used the battery extension compartment with new black Eneloops for 100% of the shots. I attended the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR the week before going to HI. I packed the strobes with fully charged batteries prior to leaving for Portland complete with extenders. I.e., they traveled with eight batteries per strobe inside.  I topped off the batteries upon arrival in HI and indeed found that they needed re-charging.

 

The strobes worked well. I depleted the strobe batteries by only one LED (of four) worth of charge (when I remembered to check) over the two-week diving period (with a day off to switch islands) and doing multiple dives per charge. I did four blackwater dives and did not bother recharging before doing a dive the next morning (three of the four).

 

My only mistake was removing the extender compartment together with the door once. It was challenging to pull the door off with my less than dexterous fingers. It is best to hold the compartment against the strobe with one hand while unscrewing the knob with the other. The unscrewing action lifts the door off very nicely. The battery compartment design is much better than other recently used AA-battery powered underwater strobes IMHO - Seacam 60D and Inon Z220 (same battery compartment as 240 and 330).

 

Tom


Edited by Tom_Kline, 09 March 2018 - 01:54 PM.

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Currently used housed digital cameras: Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII, EOS-1D MkIV, and EOS-1DX; and Nikon D3X. More or less retired: Canon EOS-1Ds MkII; and Nikon D1X, D2X, and D2H.

Lens focal lengths ranging from 8 to 200mm for UW use. Seacam housings and remote control gear. Seacam 60D, 150D, and 250D, Sea&Sea YS250, and Inon Z220 strobes.

http://www.salmonography.com/

 


#31 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 09:11 AM

It would be grear if the battery drain could be reduced when not in use.
That being said, IMHO it’s not that a big deal considering how easier/quicker i find it to open/close the battery compartment on the retra vs on my Inon Z240. And easier to inspect oring too.
Some people have complained that the retra flash won’t stand still if put facing down (since the lighting surface is curved) but i consider this being a non-issue for me, as i always carry a micro-fiber towel with my spare batteries / spare kits, so i just put the retra on it and that does the trick of stabilizing it during battery swap.

Nicolas



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 I never leave batteries in my flashes for more than a day before or after a dive.  I have had too many old-school alkalines explode or corrode for unexplained reasons.  So, no worries for me as I am always using freshly charged ones.  I concur with Tom that using the extender packs can get you easily 4-5 dives even if they are strobe intensive.

 

as for the flashes "rolling" my suggestion is to buy the protector rings.  This allows them to stand upright and are very solid during battery changes.  I leave them on all the time unless I am using another accessory.



#32 Nicool

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 02:27 PM

 I never leave batteries in my flashes for more than a day before or after a dive.  I have had too many old-school alkalines explode or corrode for unexplained reasons.  So, no worries for me as I am always using freshly charged ones.  I concur with Tom that using the extender packs can get you easily 4-5 dives even if they are strobe intensive.
 
as for the flashes "rolling" my suggestion is to buy the protector rings.  This allows them to stand upright and are very solid during battery changes.  I leave them on all the time unless I am using another accessory.

And interesting use, but if i am buying retras i’ll be using everytime the wide angle or shark diffusers, so taking time to swap diffusers just for the sake of stabilizing strobe while changing batteries... for me not the most time efficient

But different usages mean different solutions :)



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