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Seacam Seaflash 150


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#1 StephenFrink

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 06:16 AM

One of my guests on our Indonesia cruise recently had a Seacam Seaflash 150 onboard. Actually, it was the first one I'd seen in the field because we are still delivering our backorders and I put my personal strobe at the back of the line. But, he did let me take it on one dive, so here is what I shot as a test with it hooked up to my Canon 1DsMKIII and S6 connector:

1. Here is what the strobe looks like, shot taken on Seven Seas live-aboard:

Seaflash.jpg

2. Quick analysis of performance (based on that one dive only): Very accurate TTL performance, once the strobe is fully recycled. Harald Hordosch of Seacam wrote to advise me that the normal expectation is 2 - 2.5 seconds after even a full dump.

See test below. File number reflects the F-stop used, in half-stop increments from F-8 through F-32. Same distance & same shutter speed (1/250th), only change is aperture and all shot with strobe on TTL and camera on manual. Only reason I chose 1/250th was to eliminate any exposure variability from ambient light. Obviously, it will work at any synch speed, from the fastest allowable per camera to any slower shutter speed.

Note - Since I first posted this morning I heard from the electronics guru that designs the Seacam strobe and they prefer a slower shutter speed be used. 1/250th can of course work, but more consistent TTL is apparently achieved with a slower shutter speed.

Any one of the exposures would be fine, especially when processed from RAW. This is over a five stop range! Pretty amazing really, especially when you consider these are thumbnails from the RAW, screengrabs from Photo Mechanic with absolutely no levels adjustments.

BTW ... when shot on manual power settings, like you might with wide angle, the recycle is quick and dependent on strobe power setting (as you would expect).
Seaflash_TTL.jpg

3. As reference, this topside series shot on the camera table is what it looks like shooting normal brackets on manual.

manual.jpg

I haven't been such a strong proponent of TTL with digital over the years, but once I tried this strobe and had it in the back of my mind that I could pretty well figure on getting an accurate exposure the first time, I began to notice all the skittish critters I missed while shooting manual exposures in Raja Ampat because I never got a second shot. They bolted and I did not have time to adjust my aperture or strobe power setting. Something obviously to be said for strobe exposure automation, when it works properly, as this appears to.

I'm sure most reading realize I am a Seacam distributor, but I am happy to report on the technology advances of any manufacture. Please consider this a simple head's-up on a functional new tool.

Edited by StephenFrink, 17 November 2008 - 12:33 PM.

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#2 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 06:32 AM

Thanks Stephen. Looks like a very nice unit.

Will it work/is it available on a 5 pin cable for Nikon users (who don't want to change to S-6 connectors)?

Alex

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#3 StephenFrink

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 06:56 AM

Thanks Stephen. Looks like a very nice unit.

Will it work/is it available on a 5 pin cable for Nikon users (who don't want to change to S-6 connectors)?

Alex


Hey Alex - Yes, five pin will work with Nikon i-TTL protocol, but Canon's e-TTL requires 6 pins, hence S6.

Stephen

Edited by StephenFrink, 17 November 2008 - 06:56 AM.

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#4 Paul Kay

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 02:40 AM

Thanks Stephen. Looks like a very nice unit.

Will it work/is it available on a 5 pin cable for Nikon users (who don't want to change to S-6 connectors)?

Alex


FYI Seacam build a Nikonos 5 pin socket to S6 plug (a short cable) allowing Nikonos cables to be used with S6 sockets.
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#5 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:07 AM

Thanks guys! I think that there will be lots of people interested in this strobe, who don't currently have a Seacam housing.

Alex

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#6 CADiver

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:37 PM

Very sexy strobe but How much does it cost ?
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#7 Drew

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 08:31 PM

Even though the € has dropped to saner levels, it's one of those questions where if you gotta ask, you don't want to know. :P
€1895.

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#8 davichin

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:50 AM

Even though the € has dropped to saner levels, it's one of those questions where if you gotta ask, you don't want to know. :)
€1895.


:P I am not who to pour critics over any company´s price strategy but I think this price is out of business comparing to Subtronics or Hartenberger, the other manufacturers in these high end strobe market.
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#9 Drew

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 09:06 AM

Actually it does beg the question how each of those euro strobes compare to each other in terms of quality vs price. Perhaps a job for WP reviewers? :P

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#10 echeng

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 03:46 PM

Well, if they are selling them (successfully), then the price is right. The best way to protest against high prices is to buy from another vendor. :P
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#11 davichin

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 01:49 AM

The best way to protest against high prices is to buy from another vendor. :)



No, no. The best way is to buy A LOT of them so they lower down the prices based on scale production!!! :P
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#12 Drew

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 03:20 AM

No, no. The best way is to buy A LOT of them so they lower down the prices based on scale production!!! :P

Or they keep prices up and buy a G5. :)

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#13 StephenFrink

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 04:58 AM

Actually it does beg the question how each of those euro strobes compare to each other in terms of quality vs price. Perhaps a job for WP reviewers? :uwphotog:



Drew - My personal strobe should be here soon now, and if anyone wants to borrow to use for a strobe comparo article, I am happy to provide. I always find these kinds of reviews very interesting and informative, so whether it be strobes or viewfinders or whatever, always glad to chip in whatever gear I might have at hand.

As a side note, we had a pair of Seaflash 150 strobes in the studio yesterday, for just a day before they went out to their new owner. I was on the road so I asked Liz to do a quick test before they went out. I had my MKIII cameras with me, but my MKIII housing was there along with a 1DsMKII body. I asked her to slip the hot shoe connector on and shoot through the housing. Even though many of the controls on the MKII camera wouldn't work with a MKIII housing, she had enough to click the shutter.

Here's her very quick observations, in an e-mail back to me:

On 11/29/08 1:09 PM, "Liz Johnson" <liz@stephenfrink.com> wrote:

"fyi - your Mk III housing with mk II camera and seaflash 150 strobes

All apertures f16, SS 1/200
subject was a seacam silver housing, so pretty reflective


at 1 foot distance from subject
1 strobe dumped 8% of power and properly exposed
2 strobes both dumped 8% of power and properly exposed


at 2 foot distance from subject
1 strobe dumped 14% of power and properly exposed
2 strobes dumped 12% each of power and properly exposed


at @ 3 1/2 foot distance from subject
1 strobe dumped 12% of power and properly exposed
2 strobes dumped 10% each of power and properly exposed

Recycle time so fast I had a hard time writing it down before it disappeared."


The strobes have a digital readout on the back of the strobe, and the numbers show the percentage power of the capacitor used on the last shot, helpful in determining distance or F-stop for the next shot.

BTW ... we wanted a diffuser to both widen and soften the light, and also add a little neutral density when working very close with a light colored subject. Harald Hordosch delivered the diffuser at the DEMA show, but I haven't had a chance to try it out in the water yet. Very eager to test that as well.

Photos courtesy Matt Segal from the show:

diffuser_MattSegal_1.jpg

diffuser_MattSegal_2.jpg

Edited by StephenFrink, 30 November 2008 - 05:33 AM.

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#14 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 03:49 AM

For those following this discussion, Stephen has posted an update on rear curtain synch with this strobe on his blog:

http://stephenfrink....h-it-works.html

Alex

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#15 StephenFrink

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 04:37 AM

For those following this discussion, Stephen has posted an update on rear curtain synch with this strobe on his blog:

http://stephenfrink....h-it-works.html

Alex


Thanks Alex. I assumed rear curtain synch would probably work with the Seacam Seaflash 150. The logic being if they cracked the E-TTL code for exposure, the second part of the equation, rear curtain synch, would likely follow. Still, no substitute for the empirical testing and I forgot to try that in the water with by brief previous analysis. So:

rear_curtain_synch.jpg

From my blog: "Canon shooters have long been challenged in the underwater realm when trying to achieve rear curtain synch. The issue is that only Canon topside E-TTL enabled strobes would work in rear curtain synch mode. Manual strobes, like we are used to using underwater, did not. That was an advantage that Nikon had over Canon when shooting ultra slow shutter speeds and trying to convey a sense of motion. With Nikon the trail of action would be behind, but with Canon (and forced front-curtain synch) the motion would be in front of the subject, and therefore visually confusing.

Now, for the very first time, I have achieved rear-curtain synch with a submersible strobe, in E-TTL automation. See the topside simulation here taken with a Seacam Seaflash 150, shutter speed 0.6 of a second and F-11. The light and the exposure slate moved from my left to my right as I panned directly with their motion. Look at the trail of light as it falls BEHIND the flashlight!"

Also tested was recycle time when using motordrive sequencing, very rapid btw. 37 shots in a row, each using exactly 4% of the strobe power (according to the strobe's rear LED). Aperture F-2.8 in this test. Obviously smaller apertures will dump more light, and a point at which the strobe will not keep up with motordrive will inevitably occur.

motordrive_2.jpg

I did more E-TTL testing and checked out power for manual brackets as well. Full text at http://stephenfrink....h-it-works.html

Edited by StephenFrink, 14 December 2008 - 06:09 AM.

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#16 StephenFrink

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 05:03 AM

I should also correct myself on verbiage from my original post in this series.

I quoted Harald Hordosch on recycle time: "Harald Hordosch of Seacam wrote to advise me that the normal expectation is 2 - 2.5 seconds after even a full dump." On this test I wanted to be sure about recycle time, so I took the manual brackets shot at full power and checked the EXIF data on the camera to determine the time code for sequential shots. All were under 1 second for recycle from a full dump. That was indeed surprising, and encouraging, to me. Apparently, Harald's stated recycle projections are conservative and I found it to be much quicker in this test series done under controlled conditions. We couldn't really shoot faster than about a half a second, because it took that long for me to move the aperture on the camera and for my assistant to rotate the dial on the exposure chart, but we could never do what we needed to do with the camera adjustments to shoot faster than the strobe recycled at half power and less.
MANUAL.jpg

test for manual power settings at Full, half, quarter, and one-eighth.

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