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Substrobe 200 vs. YS-90DX for housed D30


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#1 wetpixel

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Posted 07 February 2002 - 03:12 PM

I currently am in the process of switching housings (to a UK Germany D30 housing), and am having some strobe decision problems. I used to use an Ikelite Substrobe 200 with my Ikelite housed Coolpix 990, which I was able to get great results from, but it's sort of... heavy, and can be hard to maneuver with the quick grip arm that I had it mounted on. I can't imagine trying to shoot with two of them at once.

I'm thinking of switching to dual Sea&Sea YS-90DX strobes. This is the setup Jim Watt has been shooting with, and he loves it. They take AA batteries, and are light and small.

Any opinions on these strobes?
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#2 james

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Posted 07 February 2002 - 03:27 PM

Will you be using the strobes in TTL?

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#3 bobjarman

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Posted 07 February 2002 - 05:53 PM

I dont believe you can use true TTL with the d30 in the UK housing unless you house the 550ex as well.

From what I have read, the D30 will only function on E-ttl mode and thus must have a canon EX series strobe to utilize TTL flash exposure.

I really wanted this housing but now am leaning aginst it because of this. Please correct me if I am in error!!!!! :)

#4 David

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Posted 08 February 2002 - 09:01 AM

The strobes are heavy when moving it around on land, but once underwater they are not that heavy.

Bulky and less maneuverable, perhaps. But for those scenery shots, the powerfull 200 becomes very useful.

For me, I use twin Ikelite 400, but that is with the Nikonos V. On top of that, I also bring down another V in macro setup with twin 50's. If I am going into a cave, or wreck, I additionally bring the Ikelite 100a. So talk about heavy!!! Not really, once you get the bouyancy under control. Carrying all that stuff does restrict your movement, and Ikelite arms are not light.

Ikelite arms really can hold the strobe in position well. BUT are a pain to adjust. The Ultralights are better for adjustments. But I really like that quick disconnect feature.

#5 wetpixel

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Posted 08 February 2002 - 12:37 PM

yeah -- I guess the problem for me is the arms. I'm always wrestling with positioning the strobe, whereas these other fancy arms I see are much easier to maneuver.
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#6 james

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Posted 08 February 2002 - 01:25 PM

I have an ultralight setup and it kicks wrasse. I highly recommend one of these, or the TLC/Aquatica arms.

This is totally essential w/ the Coolpix because you have to move the strobe so much when you switch in and out of macro. Might be the case w/ the D30...might not.

HTH
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#7 wetpixel

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Posted 08 February 2002 - 09:07 PM

James -

Do you have links for those arms? I'm a total flash arm newbie. :)

I'm considering keeping my SubStrobe 200 and getting another one to match it. It just pumps out so much light. :)
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#8 james

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Posted 08 February 2002 - 10:49 PM

www.ulcs.com

www.aquatica.ca

Good luck! And I hope you have some $$$$ for these arms...they aren't cheap. But then you have all that money from the sale of your Coolpix housing right? :)

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#9 wetpixel

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Posted 09 February 2002 - 05:05 PM

Hey, James -

Thanks for the links!

I've tentatively decided to get a pair of Ikelite DS-125 strobes. I need to figure out what kind of mount the UK Germany housing has (it has a small mount on the left side of the housing, but I'm not sure what the specs are), and what kind of arms to use.

The SubStrobe 200 was very nice as a single strobe, but I don't really want two of them attached to a housing. Too heavy! :)
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#10 David

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 12:14 AM

DS-125,
90 degrees, 110 Watts, 4800 k, 2.75 lb

SS-200,
100 degrees, 200 Watts, 4800 k, 3.9 lb

SS-400,
110 degrees, 400 Watts, 4800 k, 6 lb

It appears that SS-200 has much more power (80%) and better angle coverage (20%) for about 1.2 lb more weight (40%). Seems worth it to me. Once underwater, you hardly notice the weight. What you really need are better arms, it really makes a big difference in ease of use and getting the shot just right.

#11 RogerCarlson

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 02:34 PM

I use an ikelite 200 on ultralite arms. I love the strobe, but I couldn't imagine having a second. All too often I have too much swimming to do to keep up with the DM or group. Solo dives are a different story, but you need to consider the type of diving you do and how much current or surge you are typically in.

I had ikelite arms, I now have ULC. The ULC are wonderful, but I find that I keep them pretty loose so that I can always move my strobe. I don't spend a lot of time getting the clamps tightened just so. When it comes time to swim or hit the current, I hold onto the strobe with one hand to keep it from moving. I couldn't do this with two strobes on ULC arms, without spending more time getting the clamps just right, tight enough to hold, loose enough to move (silently). The strobe has enough cross section that when the arms are as loose as I like, the current can nudge it. It has enough mass (which still counts underwater) that it will stay in place if I move the camera really quickly. Perhaps I like my arms looser than most.

I love the wide angle on the 200, I just don't worry about coverage. I don't really need the wattage, I am rarely shooting it at full power. In fact, for macro, I typically have to pull it back so that it's as far as possible from the subject, even with my camera (oly 3040) stopped down and the strobe on 1/4 power. I just got the diffuser, haven't used it yet.

I like the battery and charger a lot, it's really robust. I've had mornings where I have shot 200 or 300 pictures, and the strobe still has juice. The charger is fast and handles foreign power well. I've had little power brick wall wart chargers die. However, the charger and batteries are a lot to pack.

I do find myself daydreaming about a smaller strobe, something soda-can sized not coffee-can sized, with wide angle, lower power is ok, that would run off AA's so that I'd only need one kind of charger and one kind of batteries on a trip. I'd never get rid of the 200, though, it's got great performance for it's size. Larger strobes seem to have diminishing returns compared to it.

#12 RogerCarlson

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 02:46 PM

You know Eric, if you can wait for the scuba show in long beach california, typically 1st weekend in June, the ULC arm people have always been there and typically offer 10% off. They have all the parts there, so you can play with the tinkertoys and see how you like them. At the show, I handed my wife a basic setup, and it weighed nothing compared to the ikelite arms we had. I have never seen her say "yes" to more photo gear so quickly. There are typically other manufacturers there, and a good selection of strobes and arms around at one booth or another.

The ulc folks really know their stuff, and they can figure out the mount your camera needs, if they don't already know.

#13 David

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 06:46 PM

For Macro, I prefer twin SS-50.

In my case, once the extension tubes are attached to the Nikonos V, you have no choice. It is permanently in macro mode for the entire dive. It then makes sense to buy specialised gear to handle macro.

For digital or housed camera, you have a wider choice. You can swap from limited macro to some wide angle, when in wide angle mode, you have a higher chance of needing the full power.

In macro mode you very rarely use full power. I cannot remember of when I ever used full power on my SS-100a or SS-400.

A low powered strobe is not very useful for wide angle shots, not just because of lack of coverage, also range.

A high powered strobe can be reduced down to handle macro as already mentioned. Since it is powerful, it also can handle wide angle. I definately have used full power on my SS-100a and SS-400 in at least 25% of my wide angle shots.

#14 David

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 06:52 PM

Whether eCheng gets a new strobe or not he still will need the arms.

My suggestion would be buy / rent / borrow the arms and try them out on your existing setup.

If it makes life so much easier,, he may not need new strobes.

If he still finds it cumbersome, then decide whether twin DS-125 is the way to go. They are not that much smaller or lighter than the SS-200. Perhaps it should be twin DS-50?

Either way you will have great arms for your system that can be re-used for SS-200, DS-125 or DS-50 or YS-90DX...

#15 MikeO

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 07:41 AM

ULCS arms are very nice. As for the D30 and external strobes, on page 100 of the manual (which can be downloaded from www.powershot.com) states that the camera can be synched with other strobes and recommends hooking them the the PC socket. They also state that the camera may not work properly with the external strobes. Guess the only way to know is to give it a try -- does Ike have any PC socket to Ike strobe connections? Wonder if they've tried to hook up to a D30 . . .

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#16 RogerCarlson

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 11:32 AM

I agree with both David and echeng on a couple points. I think that ULC arms are critical to good photography, and that the substrobe 200 is great but I wouldn't want two of them.

Last summer I saw a friend's pictures, and they blew me away. He said his secret was dual strobes, and since then, I've been wanting to go dual.

In the last week, this thread got me thinking about that again, and I went through some of my favorite albums. I look at some of the best pictures I've taken, and I'm not sure dual strobes would have improved them. I think that in many cases, I got my single strobe in the right place, and cast a shadow to put nice natural contrast under the fish and often to bring out texture in the subject. I may very well be a single strobe man.

The critical thing to me is those ulc arms. It's so easy to move the strobe, take a picture, look at it on the viewfinder, and reposition my single strobe for the picture I want. Dual strobes might make that repositioning too slow. The even lighting might make it less necessary, but I'm also trying to make the point that even lighting isn't always what I want.

so here's a question for people with dual strobes: do you ever reposition them, or is the even lighting so nice to work with that you just lock them down for the whole dive?

[Edited on 2-15-2002 by RogerCarlson]

#17 MikeO

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 12:16 PM

For wide-angle, I don't move them often, for macro, I do . . .

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#18 David

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 05:46 PM

If you have dual single strobes, you have even more flexibility to play with the light.

You can have even 'flat' light
or
You can have mildly contrasting photos (play with strobe angles or strobe power)
or
High contrast (turn one off)

I like the Ikelite quick grip system. 30% of the time I disconnect the strobe from the arm system and handle the strobe manually. This way I have maximum flexibility in angles. The other I only have to reposition slightly.

Another 30%, I just reangle the heads depending on what I want to highlight. No point wasting the light on the blue ocean if there is nothing there.

Another 30% of the time it just remains fixed.

10% of the time, turn off one strobe.

Among all that 50% of the time playing with strobe power differences.

The point is dual strobes gives me this flexibility. Also redundancy, I have been on 2 trips where one strobe failed. BUT it is heavy to carry all this stuff on land.

One more tip to help reduce weight UNDERWATER and protect the strobe head. Wrap the head in neoprene of appropriate thickness to acheive neutral bouyancy. It really helps. Old wetsuit legs or arms depending on diameter will do the trick.

#19 derway

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Posted 16 February 2002 - 11:25 AM

I agree David.

In fact, I even use sometimes one SS200, and one SS50. The difference in power gives a nice, primary / secondary, or catch and fill lighting look.

On a real even scene, you sometime notice the difference in color temp, but since I always shoot with ambient as well, the color temp is never uniform anyway, and doesn't seem to hurt the look.
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#20 davephdv

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Posted 16 February 2002 - 09:42 PM

It is always best to use two of the same strobes. This way you can alter the lighting ratio by design. If you use 2 strobes of different power then you have an inbalance to begin with and it makes intentional altering of your lighting much less controlable. I have use 2 SS200s for years. Great strobes. Great color and very fast recycle time. Very good coverage for wide angle, very powerfull. I have two YS90s also. Good for macro. but poor color. You have to use the diffusers to get good color temperature. Slow recycle time and poor angle of coverage. These strobes are weaker than listed by Sea and Sea (use the chart at Ikelite's site for an accurate rating of their guide numbers.) They are light weight though and good for macro and close ups. Because of the weight I am switching to DS 125s which have all the advantages of the SS 200s at one stop less of power but with a faster recycle time. I do use them with the diffuser for wide angle
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