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Strobe Arm Length?


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#21 RogerC

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 05:28 PM

just to put a data point out to the right:

ULCS, 2x12 (normal) and 2x16 (bouyancy). Ike ds125s with diffusers, EV controllers, and cable extenders.

#22 frogfish

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Posted 24 July 2006 - 06:43 PM

For the 10.5 I find it best to keep the strobes only out about 1.5 feet and importantly, back a foot. This back a foot or so is critical when shooting people and other close subjects because I often get really close to the people etc. when shooting and with the strobes in a traditional position, one of the strobes often gets too close to the subject or the wreck/reef with can cause a local blow out.

And while I use two arm segments per side on my rig, I would be better off with just one per side as it would mean less wrestling with the strobes to position them after I enter the water.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Positioning the strobes back behind the plane of the lens is important with powerful strobes like the Ikelite DS125s some people on this thread are using. It was vital with the old Ikelite SS200s which had only a few power settings. Even using TTL, the strobe blast was so powerful that the TTL circuitry couldn't send a signal to quench fast enough to control exposure. This is less of an issue now that we have strobes that can dial up a wide range of manual power settings, especialy the smaller strobes w/ lower guide numbers.

This still comes up in CFWA shots if you have a very close subject and other subject material that is also in strobe range, but slightly farther away. Moving the strobes back (and turning them up) will reduce the risk of burn out on the very close subject.. (Because light falls off with the square of distance, moving the strobes back dramatically reduces the illumination differential between the very close and less close illuminated subjects.)

I first learned the trick of pulling strobes way back from Tammy Peluso, who at the time was the photo pro at Walindi Resort on New Britain. Does anyone here know where Tammy is these days?

Yes, this has been a good thread.

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#23 famorim

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 11:25 AM

Ultralight arms (4x12" and 1x16" for wide angle, 2x5" for macro, dive rite led light for help focus and couple SB105.

Posted Image

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#24 famorim

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 11:33 AM

Another pict from macro setup.

Posted Image

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#25 james

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 01:50 PM

Fabio: good information, thanks for the photos.

Doesn't your spotting light move around when you move your strobes? I find that I prefer to mount the spotting light onto the housing, so that it will stay pointing straight ahead. I think the Aquatica housing may have a mount on top for a ball adapter to allow for this, although I can't recall.

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#26 famorim

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 02:02 PM

Hi James,
Yes, but I'm usually don't move too much the strobes, some times move only the strobe head and not all arm set leaving the spotting light at the same position, when it is necessary I fix the light adapter on the handle adapter BA-AQW and it does the same when mounted on top of the housing.

thank you. Fabio

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#27 Dan burton

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 11:25 AM

I still use the Ys120's on my d2x, and they have never gone wrong.
Touch wood..... the Sea & sea stobes have NEVER gone wrong since 1991!


Dan

I used 2 x 12 arms on both sides for wide-angle for years, but I'm shifting to 2 x 8. For me, the change is mostly driven by my shift to different strobes.

I used to use two powerful Ikelite SS200s with wide 100 degree beams. At full power and the right ambient light levels, those strobes will work at distances over 2.5 meter/8 feet for subjects like manta rays and some reefscapes. (The exposure guide on the back of the strobes implies that these strobes will work at 3 meters/10 feet at ISO 100 and f/4.0, though I don't think I ever achieved quite that distance). Anyway, at 8-10 feet, to avoid illuminating crap in the water between the lens and subject with those strobes and their wide 100 degree beams, I really did need more strobe separation than is possible with 8" arm sections. When it all comes together with a wide angle lens and very powerful strobes, longer arms can make it possible to turn medium-vis water into gin (Absolut vodka, whatever).

My SS200s have never gone more than a year without one of them malfunctioning or dying. When they came back from their last trip to Ohio and back (with a $400+ repair bill receipt attached) eight months ago, one was already dead right out of the box full of foam peanuts before I could even take it on a dive. Living in Indonesia, hassling with equipment that I can't rely on is no longer worth it for me.

(So - anybody want to buy a couple of powerful strobes, cheap? Honesty requires me to say that I think both of them are absolute lemons, but they are wonderful strobes on those occasions when they are both working. If you live in the US, maybe the breakdown frequency won't matter. Make me an offer.)

My Inon D200s Sea&Sea YS90DXs don't have anything like the power or spread of the SS200s, but they work, and so far they have kept on working, dive trip after dive trip. (The Inons are pretty new, so that isn't so impressive, but the YS90DXs - originally purchased as a temporary stopgap while my SS200s were on another visit to Ohio - have been going strong for over three years.) With reduced power and narrower beams, I can't shoot from as far away (and with the 10.5 FE on the D2X, I rarely want to anyway). The upshot of moving from Ikelite strobes to the Inons and S&Ss is that the 12 inch arm segments that at one time were central to my style of wide-angle shooting are now irrelevant. 2 x 8 works fine.

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#28 stewsmith

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Posted 01 June 2007 - 05:22 AM

i have just added another ys90 to my housing. i will be experimenting a lot over the next few weeks. i have 4 x 8" ul bouyancy arms to play around with. i havent done much photography so all the tips i read here are all taken in to be used at some time...cheers

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#29 MRE

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 12:48 PM

Great thread. I'm gonna pin it. I generally use my strobes on single short arms. But then I am a bit weird.

Alex


I carn't help but get involved with this thread. I used to use huge arms, at least a meter each side of my housing. Just too long for comfort, I cut them down and down and down. I use quite short arms now, never any further than 0.5m. The test was recently in Truk. It all depends on the subject and like I have read above if you get close with a 10.5mm and it's not that big a subject the flash guns will miss. I take the view that keep them close but angled out and well behind not only the port but the housing itself when required. I used dual flash in Truk on the wrecks with my flash guns level with my face mask.

Martin Edge

#30 tdpriest

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 04:26 AM

It definitely works.

I read the old edition of "The Underwater Photographer" and thought that I was a wimp for not being able to handle mega-arms - when I added a segment to my 20" TLC arms the camera rig was all over the place, very unstable in any current and hard to move around.

I bought two shorter Ultralight flotation arms and used them in Bikini, with a Nikon 10.5mm, partly because of the extreme weight limitation in getting there. The results were just as good as long arms.

It was with great relief that I read the new edition of "The Underwater Photographer", and found Martin's change of approach!

Long arms (Chuuk), strobes parallel:

2004_35_Truk_Nippo_Maru.jpg

Short arms (Bikini), strobes angled outwards:

2006_0_05_Nagato_1405_2_19.jpg

The visibility on both trips was not the best, with significant plankton, so I think that the images are a good test of arm performance.

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#31 jeremypayne

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 11:53 AM

Thanks to all who've shared on this thread, but I'd like to re-open the discussion from the perspective of a point and shoot camera and strictly with respect to backscatter.

I have a G9 that I'll be using in an Ikelite housing with a wide-angle adapter. The widest the camera lens goes is 35MM (film equiv). The adapter is a .56x converter and you need to zoom a little. I guess that's about like having a 23MM (film equiv) behind a flat port ... but my understanding of optics - let alone underwater optics - is poor at best.

Coming off the Ikelite handles - on each side - I have 2 x 6" with 3" strobe arms.

Here's a pic:Posted Image

I've tested the "coverage" by shooting a white wall in a pitch black room from various distances with the adapter on the housing. With the strobes level, back a bit and angled out I get what seems like very nice coverage.

I was happy and ready to take this underwater to start learning to shoot wide-angle ... until ...

I'm going to Cathy Church's school in June ... and she and her staff have said that I should really be using longer arms to avoid backscatter.

What are people's thoughts? I have plenty of time to get 8" (or longer) segments to replace one of the 6" arms on each side before I leave.

Here’s one other concern … my YS-27 is an optical slave. My current arms set allows me to run the optic-fibre sync cord I have from the YS-110 to the YS-27 … but I’m worried that if my arms were any longer, it would no longer reach and then I’d worry about the reliability of the second strobe … are there commerically available optical cords that fit in the S&S "jacks" that are longer? When I asked ReefPhoto, they said "no" ... but I wasn't 100% convinced the gentleman I was talking to really knew.

Thanks in advance!
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#32 TheRealDrew

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:01 PM

Here’s one other concern … my YS-27 is an optical slave. My current arms set allows me to run the optic-fibre sync cord I have from the YS-110 to the YS-27 … but I’m worried that if my arms were any longer, it would no longer reach and then I’d worry about the reliability of the second strobe … are there commerically available optical cords that fit in the S&S "jacks" that are longer?



There were a couple of D.I.Y. threads where people mentioned being able to get optical cables

Here is an interesting variation

http://wetpixel.com/...;hl=optic cable

And there was another one where it was mentioned where to get lengths of optic cable, but could not find the post...

#33 jeremypayne

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 04:41 PM

Sweet! Thanks Drew. The little Fantasea 'terminating' adapters also explicitly fit the S&S 'holders' ... so if I can figure out how to properly slice up the audio cable so it will work with those things, I can have one as long as I want ... if I have to do it, I think I can pull it off ...

... Does anyone have any thoughts on whether I'll be sorry if I don't get longer arms?

To re-phrase my question ... on each side of my Ikelite G9 housing I have 6"x6"x3" arms. I have been told that I would be "better off" with longer arms to avoid backscatter on wide-angle shots.

Any opinions?
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#34 jugglematt

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 03:44 AM

... Does anyone have any thoughts on whether I'll be sorry if I don't get longer arms?

To re-phrase my question ... on each side of my Ikelite G9 housing I have 6"x6"x3" arms. I have been told that I would be "better off" with longer arms to avoid backscatter on wide-angle shots.

Any opinions?
[/quote]

Hey All
good thread , im reading and enjoying ,
a question to jeremypayne(nice looking setup by the way) have you put your wide angle setup in the water and played with it yet ?
i use a similar setup with the ike housing nikon p5000 inon uwl100 and dome attachment, i use inon strobes and a similar baseplate with arms , i usually use just one 5" ULCS arm on each side and if im really motivated i use a 5" and 3"on each side . for wide i usually have the strobes about level with the dome port and pointing straight out , if the water is dirty i angle the strobes out away from the dome port more . i usually shoot in temprate water conditions which can be fairly snotty at times. i just keep in mind that my system just keeps on getting bigger and heavier .

if it was me i would suggest keep your current strobe arms and use the money towards buying a dome attachment for your inon wide lense ,


this photo was taken with just one 5" arm on either side of my baseplate handes and the strobes pointed away from my dome port, the vis was about 15m and it was fairly chunky .
Posted Image

Regards
Matt

#35 jeremypayne

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:37 AM

a question to jeremypayne(nice looking setup by the way) have you put your wide angle setup in the water and played with it yet ?

Thank you! I'm excited to take it for a swim, but have yet to take this setup underwater. I've used my camera in the Canon housing - but it doesn't accomodate wide adapters and that was the primary motivation to upgrade to the Ikelite.

if it was me i would suggest keep your current strobe arms and use the money towards buying a dome attachment for your inon wide lense


I think I'll do just that. I made a "mistake" and bought the Ikelite w/a adapter and not the INON ... but if (when) I feel the need for the dome port, I'll probably just buy the whole thing - INON UWL-100 + Dome and either keep the Ikelite around or sell it ...

Thanks for posting a picture. Makes me feel better. B)
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#36 Timmoranuk

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 05:01 AM

Jeremy, a great idea of yours to open up this again for compact users...

I have photographed each of my 'standard' arm setups - G9 / Ike / ULCS.

The first is for clear water w/a and comprises 5" lattice and 8" bouyancy arms.
The second is for turbid water w/a and comprises 8" bouyancy and 12" bouyancy arms.
The third is for macro and medium telephoto portraits (long port) and comprises 5" lattice (c/w caddy for the UCL's) and 3" stick arms. For extra compactness, I often use YS-25's (rather than Z-240's) if I intend to shoot macro only.

These arms configurations tend to be a tad 'hungry' on the fibre optics! I use shortened INON slave cables on #1, full length slave cables on #2 and 40 cms 'D' cables or the new Sea & Sea cables on #3. My custom mask facilitates using these different cables, blocks the onboard strobe and provides a secure mount for the INON Cap set and S&S cables. To keep the fibre optics tidy, I cable tie fishing swivels to the arms and thread the cables through them.

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#37 jeremyl

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 01:03 PM

Timmoranuk - thats a lotta focus lights! Curious as to why? So far I have just been letting my G9 focus but its not doing that well so before my next trip I will get something.

So I will add in as I am looking for advice as well. I have the G9 w/Ike housing and Dual Ike DS125 Deluxe kits so I use those arms. The setup is a bit heavy and unbalanced underwater so I want to improve things. Plan on upgrading to ULCS arms and maybe adding some more boyancy if needed. So What should I get? Many setups I see have at least one pretty long arm. The 125's are pretty juicy so I guess i want to keep them somewhat away. Plan to get the Inon WA lens & flat port, although I still want to do plently of macro. So do I do the 5"+8" per side that seems to be the most popular in this thread?

Jeremy - how did the Jim Church class go? Did you learn more and now know exactly what us G9+Ike users should be using?

Thanks... (The Other) Jeremy

#38 jeremypayne

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 02:33 PM

Jeremy - how did the Jim Church class go? Did you learn more and now know exactly what us G9+Ike users should be using?
Thanks... (The Other) Jeremy

I'm actually leaving on Saturday for Grand Cayman and doing three 1/2 days of instruction on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. Will let you know how it goes!

I did take the Ikelite underwater for the first time this weekend in Mexico.

I had 5" X 8" and that seemed like more than enough arm for me. I can't imagine using something any bigger at this point ...

It is HEAVY, especially with the wide angle adapter on. My 8" arms are the ULCS regular bouyancy arms and it was still significantly negative. I made some foam floats, but everyone says they will get crushed at depths over 30 feet so I left them at home ... only spent $2.59 on the foam I think, so no great loss.

I may invest in some double-bouyancy arms as I would like it to be slightly less negative ... but I'll take stock after a week of diving.

Edited by jeremypayne, 19 June 2008 - 02:33 PM.

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#39 jeremyl

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 07:41 AM

Cool. Let us know how it goes. You can also get Stix boyancy floats to add to the ULCS arms. Backscatter sells them. I dont have the extra wet lenses yet, but I plan to get them (or borrow them to try out) before my next trip unless I run across a cheap D70 housing before then.

#40 reubencahn

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 07:49 AM

Is there any reason for preferring two segments per side over one? Is there any reason not to use say a single 6" arm per side for macro and a single 12" per side for wide angle?