Behind the scenes: Strobe testing in the Red Sea
Wetpixel editor Adam Hanlon has been carrying out testing of three of the newest strobes on the market. Some testing has been in the swimming pool and cooler waters of the UK. Wetpixel Associate Editor Alex Mustard has just finished some more testing in the Caymans during his workshop there. Finally, Emperor Divers, Port Ghalib in the Southern Red Sea are hosting me for the last part of it. This is an account of the final part of this testing. Please note that the conclusions about the strobe’s performance will follow in a later more complete article.
The three new strobes that are with me are the Inon Z330, Retra Flash and the Symbiosis SS2. I also have one of my Seacam Seaflash 150 strobes as a benchmark for performance too.
We are lucky in the UK that the Red Sea is so close. A 5 hour flight from Manchester got me in to the regional airport of Hurghada. Emperor had kindly arranged transfers and we set off for Port Ghalib. This is a 3 hour drive South, but the roads are good and the journey was smooth and comfortable.
Emperor are based at the Marina Lodge hotel, with their dive center within the complex, and their boats moored up about 30 meters from the hotel’s main restaurant! It is super convenient, with no long transfers or bus rides….simply finish breakfast and step on to the boat!
I checked in with the dive center and met with Emperor’s General Manager Luke Atkinson, Port Ghalib Manager Tracey Leverett and my dive and photo guide for the day, Lisa Putzer.
The boats are the typical Red Sea day boats, spacious and stable with large dive decks and platforms. There is plenty of room for people, cameras and equipment. I had set my camera (Nikon D500 with Nikon 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye) up with both Inon Z330 strobes and a Retra flash. They all has diffuser fitted as in normal for this type of shooting and all were triggered via fiber optic using an UWTechnics opto-electrical TTL converter. The idea was to swap between the strobes throughout the dive.
The plan for the day was to dive at a dive site called Torfa Ali, a short boat ride away from the marina.
It consists of lots of hard coral pinnacles with the typical abundance of Red Sea anthias (Pseudanthias taeniatus), along with some colourful soft corals and an amazing big bed of Acropora sp. hard coral.
Mid way through the first dive, I attempted to swap the Retra Flash for one of the Inon Z330s. Whilst I accomplished this, it was not an easy process, so for the rest of the day, I was shooting “á La Mustard,” with an Inon Z330 on one side, and the Retra on the other. I simply shot each in a single strobe configuration, shooting a wide variety of subjects and in varied lighting conditions.
By being able to dive the site a number of times, it was possible to reshoot and to try different shooting modes. For example, I was able to test TTL accuracy (the Inon is very, very accurate) , practical recycle times, control functionality and set up.
We found some interesting critters, mostly too small for my lens combination
Overall it has been a successful day, with the wrinkles in the testing process being sorted now. The corals here are very beautiful and I am pleased to report that they are showing no signs of bleaching and the sites are largely free of plastic. Tomorrow’s plan is to shoot the Symbiosis SS2 strobes, along with the Inon’s again. I will report back again tomorrow evening…
- Day 1.
- Day 2.
- Day 3.
- Day 4.
- Day 5.