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Going optical - best options?


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#1 sunnyboy010101

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 12:38 PM

I have a Nauticam housing for my Canon 7D (mk 1) and it's great. I currently use a pair of DS125 strobes and they too are really good. However, my photo style tends to favor TTL exposure over manual because I am often after that "ohh! Look!" type of shot that you can only get once.

 

Talking to another D7/Nauticam owner today, he's using optical strobes (Inon z240's) with the optical connection and they will do optical TTL using the on-camera flash or a separate LED hot-shoe controller.

 

After spending the rest of the morning looking at what's available, the most discouraging thing is that 90% of all existing strobes are now discontinued. What is left is the following:

 

Inon S-2000 (new, guide # 20, max depth 100m) approx $600 CDN on sale

Sea & Sea YS-D2J (new model, guide # 32, max depth 100m) approx $950 CDN on sale

Sea & Sea YS01 (guide # 20, max depth 60m) approx $550 CDN on sale

 

There are pros and cons for each - the Inon is small, light, pretty good overall while the YSD2J is more power but costs more.

 

There's also the issue that none have a Nauticam threaded optical mount as part of the deal so I don't know what I'd have to buy there.

 

Any suggestions as to what others are using for pure optical strobe with a Nauticam housing? Realistically, any Nauticam DLSR housing would be the same w.r.t. the optical connection I suspect, so any comments welcome.

 

I suppose it's good to ask as well - reviews indicate the optical TTL does work and not too badly, but in practice does anyone actually USE optical TTL and if so how has it been for you?

 

Thanks,

-RIchard



#2 troporobo

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 02:57 PM

I've been using the Inon S-2000 with optical TTL for about 5 years and could not be happier.  It works flawlessly almost every time.  I shoot mostly macro where TTL is most likely to work well so that is probably a factor, but have also had pretty good success with wide angle. But be aware that the S-2000 really is not well suited for true wide angle, it's just not got enough power, although its good for CFWA. 

 

I like the Inon TTL system so much that I hunted down one of the last pairs of new Z-240 strobes when they were discontinued.  There might still be a few out there. The new Retra strobes have optical connections and are getting good reviews (see Alex Mustards article here on Wetpixel).  Or we can wait to see what Inon comes out with to replace the Z-240



#3 echo2600

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 03:12 PM

When you say that you're after the "ohhh! Look" shots, I'm wondering if you want to deal with the shutter delays that are part of TTL strobe firing? For fast changing / fast moving scenes I've found that a quick cycling manual setup seems to work best for me. If one gets the strobe power dialed in ahead of time, and then can squeeze off bursts of 6-8 images in quick succession, then the chances of getting the image one wanted should be pretty good.

Just a thought...

Edited by echo2600, 14 October 2017 - 03:12 PM.


#4 sunnyboy010101

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 09:03 PM

Shutter delays aren't the issue for me. The issue is even with a balanced strobe/aperature setting, it may be totally wrong for that quick serendipitous shot. With TTL you will at least have a decent exposure instead of a shot that's too under or over exposed. In these cases I have time for one or two quick shots, but no time to stop and change aperature or strobe power. The shot (or critter) is long gone.

 

Not having TTL is really just a tool missing from my toolbox. I'd prefer to have it if possible. It looks like optical will provide it, but with which strobe? Hence my question.



#5 Pavel Kolpakov

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 01:13 AM

Z-240 is still the best for optical TTL. It has maximum wide controllable Optical TTL range, - from 0.04 to 3.2ms flash duration. This is full range of strobe power, no any restriction. This strobe is discontinued few months ago, but still available to buy a pair of new Z240 if you need. INON will announce new modification soon.

Next step to improve TTL, - optical TTL converter usage, result is significantly better than pop-up flash usage for control.


Edited by Pavel Kolpakov, 15 October 2017 - 02:25 AM.


#6 Vondo

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 03:31 AM

For connecting the two, you just need a fiber cable with the right ends. There are probably other/cheaper options, but http://www.backscatt...am-to-Inon-Strowould do the trick.



#7 sunnyboy010101

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 08:28 AM

Thanks everyone. I'd certainly like to get a pair of Z240's but they are pretty rare (used) right now. Harder still to buy stuff in Canada as a lot of sellers refuse to ship here.

 

I do like the LED hot-shoe mount controller, but it's also another expense. At least that is an upgrade as opposed to a critical beginning item. I always hate when you need to buy a dozen things just to get started.



#8 ChristineA

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 11:21 PM

Sunnyboy, 

Why not look into the new Retra strobes? This is what I will be changing my dual DS160 strobes to :) They've had LOADS of great reviews so far and come with a 2 year warranty. 



#9 Jock

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 03:36 AM

Sunnyboy, 

Why not look into the new Retra strobes? This is what I will be changing my dual DS160 strobes to :) They've had LOADS of great reviews so far and come with a 2 year warranty. 

Well, maybe because you have to be very brave to be a beta-tester??? If a few pre-production strobes work great on one or two dive trips that does not mean anything. See the problems Sea&Sea has, lots of complaints here in the forum.

 

The Inon strobes are workhorses and over the years have proven to be reliable. Not a bad choice at all!


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#10 ChristineA

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 08:02 AM

Well, maybe because you have to be very brave to be a beta-tester??? If a few pre-production strobes work great on one or two dive trips that does not mean anything. See the problems Sea&Sea has, lots of complaints here in the forum.

 

The Inon strobes are workhorses and over the years have proven to be reliable. Not a bad choice at all!

 

 

yes except they've discontinued the Inon Z240 and are now nearly impossible to find :( 



#11 sunnyboy010101

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 08:10 AM

.


I like the Retra, but it is pricey and I'd want two.

 

Yesterday I went a different route and bought one of the Kraken 3000 ring flash/lights plus a single Kraken (Sea & Sea connectors) optical cable.

 

I just couldn't bring myself to spend 2x what other optic cables cost for what amounts to a special screw-on cover for the Nauticam housing. I am quite certain I can make the cable work - either with a piece of black rubber hose or else I'll custom design and 3d print a  plug cover for the Nauticam.

 

I always loved ring flashes on land cameras for macro, so this should be lots of fun to try. Plus I lose a lot of bulk and weight by removing my strobe arms and the twin DS125's I have on now.

 

I'll be using the pop-up flash, so cycle time will be interesting to see, but since the Kraken does not have TTL I won't be worrying about that. TTL would have been nice to try, but manual has been working OK for me as well.


Inon is probably going to announce the Z240 replacement at DEMA next week, so it won't be a long wait for the new strobe. Pricing will be something to watch, but I'm guessing it will be near the Z240 price when it was a regular stock item.

 

I'll be interested to see what they offer.


Edited by sunnyboy010101, 28 October 2017 - 08:09 AM.


#12 ChrisRoss

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 05:13 AM

The Z-240 was discontinued and will be replaced with a new model, expect it will come out in the not too distant future.  There are adapters available such as this one:

 

http://www.nauticam.co.uk/f-i-t-nauticam-adapter-for-sea-and-sea-cable/ 

 

to convert the Nauticam DSLR connector to Sea & Sea plug in connector.



#13 Vondo

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 05:48 AM

I see the D-2000 was also discontinued. Interesting decisions by Inon. 



#14 Draq

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 08:30 AM

I think it was a bit odd, from a marketing standpoint, for Inon to discontinue the current products months before introducing a new product.   I would have thought they would have at least waited until they had photos or specs or something.  The new Retras look promising but they are expensive and one has to be somewhat brave to invest something close to $2000 in a couple of strobes that are new on the market from a fairly new company.  Not saying they aren't a good product or the company won't be around, but still, they are a relatively unknown and expensive.  You should be able to buy two new  Z240s for just a bit more than a singe Retra.

 

I would expect there to be Inon strobes around if you keep looking and surely there will be some on t he used market.  My Z240 strobes have worked for a long time and work well in TTL when I use that.  I have used them with a number of cameras and housings, mostly Nauticam.  Really, I have no complaints and no reason to change or upgrade, but am curious about what the new strobes from inon will be.  I do wish someone could come up with something significantly smaller than what is out there now, but I doubt the technology exists.