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Fiber optic UW strobe modification


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#1 pmerc

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 08:12 PM

I have a single strobe (*My set up is with a canon ixus p & s with a single inon strobe and wet macro lenses) for underwater photography. As most of you would know from the forums, a recent technique being discussed among UW photographers is the use of a strobe "snoot" as championed by Keri Wilk. During the process of fine tuning my own basic snoot, it occurred to me that if I could redirect the light energy from my strobe (*and its 2 flash points) I could not only pinpoint it like a snoot but also possibly turn a single strobe into a dual strobe effect. I thought about how the strobe I was using was fired by the on-board flash of the point and shoot camera to a fiber optic cable which sent a signal for the strobe to fire. Why not use fiber optics to split (or redirect) the light intensity to 2 separate arms? Hence the fiber optic project was born. First let me please thank Paul at thefiberopticstore.com for the encouragement and help with this project.

Other than the fiber optic cables, pretty much everything else was found at a local hardware store. Also I have kept this design raw and an inexpensive DIY exercise. I really didn't want this to cost so much that a second strobe purchase would seem more reasonable given the effort, time and initial cost. For now it works and I am more interested in getting in practice to use it properly (*and produce decent images) instead of worrying about how it looks. Of course there is another positive side to this, people steer clear, parents pull their children in and away from the weirdo walking down the jetty, and I did get a little enjoyment from the first public reaction (*my first dive with this setup was a night dive with very VERY few people around at the site, I was greeted with a: "What the F@#k is that??!" from the big bushy fisherman getting into his car next to me). As I had hoped, the use underwater and manipulation of the arms worked well. It was not unwieldy, not heavy, nor cumbersome to swim with. Probably the main area I think needs improvement is not with tweaks in the design or construction but with my ability to aim the arms and adjust light output accordingly.

A few pics to share:

http://picasaweb.goo...Jes9KWooez3swE#


Cheers,

Phil

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#2 fotoscubo714

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:04 PM

Why not use fiber optics to split (or redirect) the light intensity to 2 separate arms? Hence the fiber optic project was born. First let me please thank Paul at thefiberopticstore.com for the encouragement and help with this project.
http://picasaweb.goo...Jes9KWooez3swE#


Cheers,

Phil

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Very clever and great idea! :lol:

To take this idea a step further, could the flash source be the camera's own flash? bypass the use of an external flash altogether, and have the fiber direct the light to each side of the port for ultra close ups? Mmmmm........

Edited by fotoscubo714, 18 May 2010 - 08:22 AM.

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#3 Balrog

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:14 PM

Nice project :lol:

Now you've got me thinking about a ring flash :)

#4 pmerc

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:19 PM

Very clever and great idea! :lol:

To take this idea a step further, could the flash source be the camera's own flash? bypass the use of an external flash altogether, and have the fiber direct the light to each side of the port for ultra close ups? Mmmmm........



I'm not sure if the internal flash for most p&s would be strong enough....
but you never know with the likes of a 7D....
:)

#5 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:41 PM

Fantastic idea, Phil.

Thanks for sharing it with the community here.

Alex

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#6 pmerc

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 02:24 AM

Fantastic idea, Phil.

Thanks for sharing it with the community here.

Alex




No worries and thanks everyone for comments, although my inbox is a little confused as I was not sure where to post so I have a thread here and in
the Lights, Strobes, and Lighting Technique, not sure if that was good.

As I just wrote back to a gentleman that contacted me, I've definitely learned a lot from people on these forums and they have always been so helpful that it was nice to be able to give back a little to the communities and share a new idea. Actually I assume it's new or novel but has anyone else heard of this before?

Cheers,
Phil

#7 DryDuck

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:54 AM

I have a single strobe (*My set up is with a canon ixus p & s with a single inon strobe and wet macro lenses) for underwater photography.

A few pics to share:

http://picasaweb.goo...Jes9KWooez3swE#


Nice project, and very nice pictures.

What kind of optical fiber do you use? diameter, coated or uncoated?
I have been thinking about making a snoot for my Inon Z240 flash, and I must admit that your solution is brilliant.
Any closeups of your "fibersnoot" will greatly help in me in constructing my own fibersnoot.


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#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 07:25 AM

Fibresnoot - what a cool name. I'll add it to the thread title!

Alex

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#9 Steve Williams

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 07:47 AM

What a great idea! Any reason you couldn't use the same concept on video lights to shoot macro video?

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#10 MIKE POWELL

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:21 AM

WAY COOL!

You should patent the FIBRESNOOT...after you share your parts list with everyone here! :D

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#11 Timmoranuk

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 11:04 AM

An inspired idea which clearly works and very well. Thanks for sharing. As you are using INON strobes, could you let me know whether the S-TTL functionality operates effectively with your fibresnoot? I suspect you may be shooting at a quite high strobe output.

And absolutely its a patentable idea...
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#12 pmerc

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 03:55 PM

Nice project, and very nice pictures.

What kind of optical fiber do you use? diameter, coated or uncoated?
I have been thinking about making a snoot for my Inon Z240 flash, and I must admit that your solution is brilliant.
Any closeups of your "fibersnoot" will greatly help in me in constructing my own fibersnoot.


DryDuck!




Since a few people have been asking more questions:

Yes all the UW photos were taken with the setup.
I have only been out on a few dives with it and I was a little critical of which pics to put on the forums.

For this setup I used their 1.5mm unjacketed end glow cable. They are a little stiff but was told they were easier to cut and polish then the larger diameter cables. I also considered the cost difference versus surface area (*just the top of the cable) gained but looking at the 0.5mm, 0.75mm, and 1mm cable.
Plus I was told that less cables of a larger diameter is better as there is some light loss allow the length of the cable.... so using smaller cables but more of them (*with the same approx surface area) may actually be less efficient. Not sure if that is clear but for example, here is how I looked at this. Please keep in mind my math is a bit rusty since Univ.:

Surface area of a cylinder:
Surface Area = 2(pi r 2) + (2 pi r)* h
but we are only focused on the top part, so I only really used this part of the equation

1.5mm * 20 cables = 2(pi (0.75 2)) * 20 = approx. 70.686 mm sq. surface area
0.75mm * 80 = 2(pi (0.375 2)) * 80 = approx. 70.686 mm sq. surface area

and while the sq. surface area is the same (*while using many more cables),
the 0.75mm arms would probably be less effective at transmitting the light.

I used a total of 20 strands for each "arm" but I'm sure you could use as many as you wanted. I was a little limited since I wanted to use the loc-line arms and they have an ID that would only allow me to use that number of cables. Also a consideration was the strobe flash points, the dimensions were something like 16x18 mm. At present I have enough light output so I do not think I will be adding more.

My P&S is a bit limited so I have not tried out any TTL which I'm sure would be helpful for the DSLR crowd.

I cannot comment on video lights but know that the strobes flash is quite powerful and from the leafy pic you can see that the light does spread but has a bit of a limited range. That shot was on a night dive with no lenses attached (*and a little out of focus mind you).
Since HID's are generally fairly bright maybe it would be bright enough, I have not tried my 10W.....

Edited by pmerc, 18 May 2010 - 04:06 PM.


#13 pmerc

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:23 PM

Nice project, and very nice pictures.

What kind of optical fiber do you use? diameter, coated or uncoated?
I have been thinking about making a snoot for my Inon Z240 flash, and I must admit that your solution is brilliant.
Any closeups of your "fibersnoot" will greatly help in me in constructing my own fibersnoot.


DryDuck!


I've added a couple of photos to show a bit more on the construction.

#14 Pfuller

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 12:10 AM

I just want to say again, a BIG thumbs up to Phil for posting such a brilliant idea! This really shows how good a community wetpixel is, especially considering it was inspired by Keri Wilks work with snoots. It just shows how sharing info can lead to some great innovations and benefits for all. So thanks to Phil and Keri, and everyone else for sharing ideas that could easily be patentable, and very profitable.

I'm really looking forward to seeing where wetpixel members take this idea. My minds already ticking over!

Keri Wilk wrote about finding workable ways to control the width of the beam output. This optical fibre idea has made the output much more manageable, allowing you to drop it down to the width of one optical fibre! I'm envisaging controllable aperatures before the light travels down the arms, to determine the number of optical fibres transmitting light.

I've made a quick diagram to illustrate what i mean. Finding a suitable aperature/iris mechanism thats ocean proof might be an issue though. Anyone know if camera's use metal or plastic diaphrams?

Posted Image

#15 Balrog

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 12:25 AM

Nice idea to control output but an iris is a bit of a mission as a DIY project.

How about a disk with a set of different size holes in it.

#16 Pfuller

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 01:18 AM

Nice idea to control output but an iris is a bit of a mission as a DIY project.

How about a disk with a set of different size holes in it.


I'm just thinking there's a lot of old film P&S's lying around these days that should have adjustable iris's to control the aperture. But yeah..might be a lot of messing around to get a nice neat seal and rig up a lever to open and close them. A set of disks sounds like a pretty friendly option.

Edited by Pfuller, 19 May 2010 - 04:40 AM.


#17 Timmoranuk

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 06:50 AM

Considering a possible way to adjust the pool of light which is emmitted from the cable bundle has lead me to these products - http://starceiling.c...nd_fittings.htm. I understand that mearly adjusting the distance of the lensed fitting from the end of the cable bundle will do the job. Maybe something to consider?
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#18 DryDuck

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 04:09 PM

Since a few people have been asking more questions:

Yes all the UW photos were taken with the setup.
I have only been out on a few dives with it and I was a little critical of which pics to put on the forums.

Ones worst critic is always one self :D

For this setup I used their 1.5mm unjacketed end glow cable. They are a little stiff but was told they were easier to cut and polish then the larger diameter cables. I also considered the cost difference versus surface area (*just the top of the cable) gained but looking at the 0.5mm, 0.75mm, and 1mm cable.
Plus I was told that less cables of a larger diameter is better as there is some light loss allow the length of the cable.... so using smaller cables but more of them (*with the same approx surface area) may actually be less efficient. Not sure if that is clear but for example, here is how I looked at this.

Have you compared the loss in jacketed vs. unjacketed fiber.

My P&S is a bit limited so I have not tried out any TTL which I'm sure would be helpful for the DSLR crowd.

You should try the CHDK firmware it gives you a whole new level of control over your IXUS 980 among other things it lets you shoot in RAW :D


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#19 pmerc

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 07:30 PM

"Have you compared the loss in jacketed vs. unjacketed fiber."

I have not compared them but do have another land based project underway for our DSLR which will use a jacketed cable. I think the jacketed design is only for protection of the cable rather than light efficiency. On this topic though, others have commented that light transmittance may not be a huge issue given the shear intensity of light coming from the flash points (*and the short distances involved, in our case 18 inches as opposed to much longer distances when being used in a star ceiling or data transmittance cables). The INON that I have has smaller flash points, but I think is a decent strobe (*but it is the only one I've used) so I would have to imagine though that the results would vary given the strobe strength (guide number?) or maximum surface area able to be covered with the fiber optic fibers.

http://hem.passagen....TTL_ring_flash/
http://photostudiogu...tic-ring-flash/
http://fuzzcraft.com/ringlight4-0.html

The first link shows a limited number of jacketed cables being used in a ring flash for a standard camera, for our DSLR I will be using more cables and the cables themselves will be jacketed.

I have tried contacting the person but their inbox is full or maybe the email address is no longer correct.
Incidentally the second link above was a previous customer of the company where I got my fibers.


"You should try the CHDK firmware it gives you a whole new level of control over your IXUS 980 among other things it lets you shoot in RAW "

Thanks for the link, but I think I checked a while back and it was not for our specific camera, if it is then that would be awesome!

Cheers, Phil

#20 JimSwims

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:10 AM

So Phil have you been down to the patents office yet?

Cheers,
Jim.

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