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Manual vs. TTL? Electric vs. Optical Sync Cord?


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#1 NWDiver

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 02:07 PM

Ok dumb questions. Have my order in for an Aquatica D7000 housing. I have always shot manual, no experience with TTL and my strobes sport 5pin Nikonas connections.

Is TTL considerably easier to shot for portrait and macro?
What are the situations you prefer TTL over Manual?
Are fiber optic cables the only way to get TTL with say Aquatica housings and Inon, S&S, and other non Ike strobes?

#2 Deep6

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 02:55 PM

Ok dumb questions. Have my order in for an Aquatica D7000 housing. I have always shot manual, no experience with TTL and my strobes sport 5pin Nikonas connections.

Is TTL considerably easier to shot for portrait and macro?
What are the situations you prefer TTL over Manual?
Are fiber optic cables the only way to get TTL with say Aquatica housings and Inon, S&S, and other non Ike strobes?


Not dumb questions at all and hopefully not a dumb response. IMHO, if you have been shooting manually, the best exposure meter is between your ears! The iTTL on the inons with my D80 works best when the most critical subject area fills the exposure metering area and that EV should be the middle of your exposure. Sometimes a slight 1/3 to 2/3 EV tweaked is better. We always want to get the best exposure, but the newer sensors seem to get a good capture even when you are off a mite. Generally I use manual for w/a and use iTTL for macro and fast changing conditions. That said iTTL will work for w/a (see above exposure metering area) and I find manual exposure easy for macro. Kind of depends on what I feed like doing with a particular shot, e.g. if the main subject area is several stops +/- from 18% grey, then use your noggin.

I believe the only way you will get TTL on the Inons is through the optical connection.

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#3 Aquatic

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:00 PM

NWDiver,

With Nikon camera housings you can use Inon and Sea & Sea strobes with the Sea & Sea TTL Converter and get TTL. The bulkhead needed is a 5 pin Nikonos bulkhead with all 5 pins wired and the hotshoe connection with all 5 pins. Ikelite strobes can be used in TTL with the external Ikelite TTL converter.



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#4 TomR1

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:41 PM

I will try to sound intelligent.

I shoot iTTL with Ikelite strobes in an Ikelite housing and eTTL with Inon strobes in a SeaTool housing. The good news is that both approaches seem to provide excellent exposure that may not be perfect but are within the easily adjustable range of camera RAW. For macro I find this just fine. I can adjust the strobes position to get light from different angles and that is all I seem to need for macro.

My wife shoots wide angle and has used INON strobes and an Athena ttl converter and INON strobes usining eTTL. For things like seascapes this also works well. To highlight a single area in a wide angle shot she simply points one strobe at that area and the other strobe at the entire viewing area.

The difference is how we set exposure. I use the minimum area prefering to get the subject properly lit (and focused) while my wife meters the entire area.

My suggestion is to start with TTL because sometimes one doesn't have the luxery of time either with macro or wide-angle. With TTL you will get a decent shot every time; maybe not perfect but decent.

However!!!!!

My friends who are truely expert photographers shoot manual. Part of this is because they developed their technique before TTL was perfected but also because they can get more dramatic lighting that way. I, who developed my technique with ttl working well, have tried to emulate the capability of manual shooters by varying certain things.

1. In macro sometimes one strobe is better than two. In fact, when I shot with only one strobe the lighting was often more dramtic than the even lighting I get with two. My solution is to simply turn off the strobe I don't need. To some extent using two strobes' main advantage is that i can choose which strobe to use as opposed to trying at shift a strobe from one side to the other.
2. In macro I sometimes back the second strobe far off. This will act as a fill-in strobe. When I do this I set the first strobe (the key strobe) relatively close.

Fore wide-angle.....ask somebody else. We have not progressed beyond the above technique.......so far.

Tom

#5 stever

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:45 PM

whoever you ordered your housing from should be able to help you. my understanding is that Nikon TTL (unlike Canon) is not so difficult

i went to a lot of trouble and expense to get TTL with my Canon - and it was worth it, particularly for macro. my exposure hit rate (after learning how much compensation to dial in) is very high. i usually use 2 strobes, one with a diffuser to provide fill at 1 to 2 stops less than the primary and take out harsh shadows

i also highly recommend Martin Edge's book - head and shoulders above all other underwater photo guides

#6 TomR1

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:49 PM

The solution is a TTL converter and they are expensive and a pain! I found one for $600 that might work. I would not do it. Too many points of failure.

Either shoot manual or new strobes IMHO.

However, my understanding is that shooting manual for macro is quite difficult. You need to set strobe-take shot-review shot-reset strobes-take shot etc. You'll mis many great shots that way.

For me a D-700 is a great camera and deserves new strobes.

Tom

#7 Viz'art

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 10:28 AM

Ok dumb questions. Have my order in for an Aquatica D7000 housing. I have always shot manual, no experience with TTL and my strobes sport 5pin Nikonas connections.

Is TTL considerably easier to shot for portrait and macro?
What are the situations you prefer TTL over Manual?
Are fiber optic cables the only way to get TTL with say Aquatica housings and Inon, S&S, and other non Ike strobes?


Can you let me know what strobes you are using?

I shoot macro in TTL and wide in manual, before I got TTL I was shooting both in manual, I still got the shot, but now I am more lazy since I can shoot the TTL. I shoot wit a pair of DS-160 Ikelite with a TTL converter and have found it to be very reliable both in operation and in exposure, I recently got INON Z-240 for the south and used them with S-TTL with the built in flash of the D300s (that will likely be replaced with a D7000 in the near future :) ), I like the simplicity of the optical fiber and the TTL works very well also.

There is a lot of stern opinion regarding shooting TTL versus manual, bottom line is, if you have both manual and TTL accessible on your rig, doesn't that make you more flexible than a strickly manual rig would.

But let us know what you have in strobes right now and we will pick it up from there.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#8 TomR1

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 10:49 AM

Question: Does the Aquatica housing allow the strobe to pop up?

#9 Viz'art

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 11:53 AM

Question: Does the Aquatica housing allow the strobe to pop up?



Yes Tom, not only pop up, but also to be quickly closed down for on the fly ambient light shots, It is done with a lever located on the upper left hand side see circled lever in image.

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  • Flash_lever.jpg

Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

www.vizart.ca

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Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#10 NWDiver

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 03:41 PM

Thanks for all the help. I think I am getting the idea.

Jean, currently I am shooting a pair of Subtronic Novas and Inon D2000w. That said the Inons are getting sold and I am open to replacing them with another brand/model. The one issue is I did have some custom long sync cords made to do backlighting etc.. and they are 5pin connections which I hate to lose use of.

Can't resist, do you have an ETA on the first batch of housings?:P

Edited by NWDiver, 15 December 2010 - 03:43 PM.


#11 Aussiebyron

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 02:43 AM

I have ordered the Ikelite Bulkhead for my Aquatica D7000 housing as I currently use Ikelite DS161 and shoot alot of wide angle stuff. I shoot these in manual. I am currently using the same setup with my Aquatica AD90 housing.

When I get the chance to shoot macro I also shoot manual but I am interested in getting the Ikelite TTL converter at a later date to have the flexiablity of having both TTL and manual for when I want them.

Regards Mark
Nikon D7000 with Aquatica housing called "Deedee", Tokina 10-17,Nikkor 60mm, Nikkor 105mm, Sigma 17-70, Ikelite DS161

http://www.flickr.co...s/22898788@N04/

#12 Viz'art

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 06:48 AM

Thanks for all the help. I think I am getting the idea.

Jean, currently I am shooting a pair of Subtronic Novas and Inon D2000w. That said the Inons are getting sold and I am open to replacing them with another brand/model. The one issue is I did have some custom long sync cords made to do backlighting etc.. and they are 5pin connections which I hate to lose use of.

Can't resist, do you have an ETA on the first batch of housings?:P


The Inon D2000w can be link with optical cord, you wont have TTL, but you will have a simpler hook up, you can get the housing in three version

-NIK this version has two Nikonos type strobe connectors going through a switch board that can alternate between full manual or TTL converter ready

-HYB this version has one Nikonos type strobe connector going through a switch board that can alternate between full manual or TTL converter ready and one optical connector to which you can run two Inon type strobe or one Sea & Sea type cord with the angled plug

-OPT this version has two optical connectors to which you can run two Inon type strobe or two Sea & Sea type cord with the angled plug

You can connect a TTL converter from Sea & Sea or Ikelite to any current Aquatica housing for Nikon DSLR through a Nikonos type connector, (you can also get it like the one for Aussiebyron with a Ikelite type connector and eventually run their 4301 TTL converter with Ikelite strobes).

Now about the ETA, the first (limited) batch of backs are just out the machines, the front should follow in a while, once everything is green lighted I figure the very early days of february will see the housings being trucked away to you guys, I will see if I can get some picture of the back up on line, I am liking this kit more every day.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

www.vizart.ca

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Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#13 NWDiver

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 06:54 AM

The main issue is I love my Subtronic Nova strobes. I like having two pairs, the Novas and something smaller to put in the carry-on and for shooting macro. Would be great to have all one brand, streamline chargers, batteries, cords. But as much as I like the Subtronics having any work done on them takes 3-4mnths, so not sure I want to buy another pair. So the question is do I sell the Subtronics and go with say S&S250 and S&S110 or just add something like the InonZ-240s to the Subtronics? Wonder if I can have the Subtronics retrofitted for Optical cords?

Edited by NWDiver, 16 December 2010 - 07:01 AM.


#14 Viz'art

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 07:34 AM

The main issue is I love my Subtronic Nova strobes. I like having two pairs, the Novas and something smaller to put in the carry-on and for shooting macro. Would be great to have all one brand, streamline chargers, batteries, cords. But as much as I like the Subtronics having any work done on them takes 3-4mnths, so not sure I want to buy another pair. So the question is do I sell the Subtronics and go with say S&S250 and S&S110 or just add something like the InonZ-240s to the Subtronics? Wonder if I can have the Subtronics retrofitted for Optical cords?


You can have your cake and eat it too, if you get the version with the double Nikonos connectors life goes on and you can eventually add a TTL converter along for the Sea & Sea or INON.

In the end your choice of preffered strobes will have a direct infulence on you connector choices, if you have a split cord then you might want to consider getting the Hybri version, you connect electrical on one side or optical on the other

As a recap:

Inon Z240 and Sea & Sea YS-110 will give optical S-TTL or be operated with a TTL converter and are general purpose strobes

For macro you might want to take a very close look at either the very compact Inon S2000 or recent Sea & Sea YS-01 (I think), these are optical triggering only and both have S-TTL, I am personnaly investing in a pair of S2000 down the road to go along with my -HYB kit (I have Ikelite DS-160 as main strobe right now).

The Sea & Sea YS-250 can be operated with a TTL converter or optical cord (but will not have S-TTL, only manual)

I am not familiar enough with the Subtronic to say if you can convert them to optical fiber or to tell you if the work in TTL through a Sea & Sea converter, maybe someone else more knowledgeable of the Subtronic can chime in.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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www.aquatica.ca

Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#15 mcliffy2

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 07:51 AM

Yes Tom, not only pop up, but also to be quickly closed down for on the fly ambient light shots, It is done with a lever located on the upper left hand side see circled lever in image.


Would love if the 7D housing had this....I have just been flipping the strobes backwards and blinding anyone behind me when I need to quickly get the strobes "off". :P

#16 MJvC

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 01:13 PM

Which settings work best for the S&S YS converter for Canon with an Inon Z-240 to get accurate TTL.

Should the YS converter be set to mode A, B, C or D.?
What should the Left & Right dial on the strobe be set to?

Thanks

#17 divegypsy

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 10:09 PM

Dear NW diver,

I can give you some thoughts, based on my actual shooting experience. I held off on going digital for quite a while because I wasn't willing to give up TTL flash which I had come to know very well with my Nikon F5 film cameras, And because I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a new set of lenses for the smaller DX sensor in Nikon cameras prior to the D3. I bought a D3 shortly after they became available, but before there was a housing available for the D3, Nikon introduced the D700, which I decided would be a better underwater camera for TTL shooting. Because because the D700 had a separate flash compensation button which allows you to increase or decrease a TTL flash output without affecting the camera's ambient light exposure metering or exposures on auto-exposure modes.

I had been, and still sometime use, Hartenberger strobes, which like the Subtronic strobes you use, are really excellent. To use the Hartenberger strobes in i-TTL required adding the Heinrichs-Wiekamp i-TTL (HW) converter to the system, between the camera and the strobes. The Sea&Sea i-TTL converter is essentially a "repackaged" H-W converter. I think that your Subtronic strobes would also require this converter, in some form, for you to shoot i-TTL with them.

I took my Hartenberger 250 strobes on a month long trip, in October 2009, to the Lembeh Strait and did 80-90 dives with them. Only days after I received my first housing for the D700. I have since purchased a second D700 housing and several more camera bodies.

In the discussion about my i-TTL experiences, I will use the term "first shot" to refer to the first shot I take of a new subject during a dive. The shot before I have looked at the LCD & histogram to make any corrections.

The HW converter, in general worked well, and many "first shots" were usable. Every once in a while a "first shot" (or a subsequent in a series) was way off. This occurred perhaps two or three times per dive. But in general the strobes, with the HW converter produced consistent and usually predictable results. I was using the HW external converter which is powered by a small battery that needed to be recharged every couple days. And to charge it you had to open the converter. And reseal it after the charge. I do not like the converter's o-ring seal design and feel that the design might make a flood of the converter too likely. But I have experienced no converter floods, even though I have opened and recharged the battery about 15-20 times during the Lembeh trip. And a few additional times on a subsequent November-December 2009 trip to Bali. But I am still a little "paranoid" about this.

In the spring of 2010I purchased several Ikelite 161 strobes and the parts necessary to shoot i-TTL with them. Like my Hartenberger strobes, the Ikelite strobes require an i-TTL converter. One REALLY BIG difference is that the Ikelite converter is powered by the NiMH battery in the 161 strobe. This means that as long as the strobe has enough battery power to fire, the converter has enough battery power to operate. It also means that the converter is not opened and closed for charging (or battery replacement as in the S&S converter). It is simply there, sealed forever. I have take the Ikelite 161 strobes on two trips now - to Australia and to Bali. I have done 60-80 dives with them and they have performed flawlessly. And without the occasional "off the map" wildly wrong exposure. Perhaps because the converter power is coming from a larger, more consistent voltage battery. Or perhaps the Ikelite converter is simply a better design. I also haad the chance to shoot some larger subjects, like wobbegong sharks, in Australia than what I had shot in Lembeh. And the Ikelite 161's handled those well. too.

Digital TTL is different than film TTL, and in my opinion, not quite as perfect and not quite as predictable. It depends on information, some of it from the lens chip which provides distance information which is not often right underwater, especially when a dome port is used. And from a pre-flash, which occurs prior to the actual exposure flash. And conditions may change slightly between the two. But digital exposures are a lot more "forgiving" than transparency film and the result is that I am now getting quite a few usable "first shot" exposures. And if your housing allows you to easily access a flash compensation button (if your camera model has it), you can fine tune your flash exposures from the housing and not have to reach up to the strobe(s) each time you want a little more or less flash power. This allows you to shoot different flash powers much faster and with much less movement which can disturb your subject.

I have not had the opportunity to use and test TTL strobes that "slave" with the camera's pop-up flash. I would think that this could work very well. And Alex Mustard's D700 review with the Nauticam housing seems to indicate that it is. One drawback of shooting this way is that the pop-up flash used the camera battery for its power, which means that you will deplete the camera battery faster. In most D700 housings you have to completely remove the camera from the housing to change the camera battery, which is more work and may not be practical depending on where and how you are diving and the conditions between dives.

My conclusion, based on my experience, it that a good TTL flash system is an extremely worthwhile addition to any underwater camera system.

Fred