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Barmaglot last won the day on January 27

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  1. If everything goes right, you'll have an opportunity to test it yourself in August - I'm coming to your liveaboard with a pair of Retra Pros and a UWT converter. As far as operation goes, from what I understand (based on Pavel's post in Russian on another forum), the Retra strobe generates the HSS pulses, but it depends on the converter to supply a triggering signal in a very specific format. HSS power can be adjusted using the power knob on the strobe. Now, this is my own unsubstantiated guess, but I suppose that at different shutter speeds, the shutter blades move at a different rate, necessitating a different pulse duration and repetition frequency in order to avoid the shutter blades showing up in the photo - the converter gets the shutter speed setting from the camera and generates the appropriately timed pulse sequence, which is repeated by the strobe. Therefore, you can't just take any random light, flash it at the strobe's sensor and have the HSS mode expose properly.
  2. Keep in mind that many macro lenses lose focal length as they focus close in. The general rule is that 1:1 magnification is achieved at a distance (from sensor plane) exactly four times that of the focal length, so the minimum focus distance of 200mm specified for Canon 60mm macro lens means that it drops to 50mm focal length when focused to 1:1.
  3. I just tested dial positions 2 and 3 and... it's weird. I'm using A6300 with 90mm macro lens, ISO 100, shutter speed 1/160, rear curtain sync, 0 flash compensation in camera or strobe, shooting a piece of black plastic (the sync connector cover from the strobe) on a white backdrop, and it's exposing reasonably well as long as I keep the aperture in f/14...f/22 range. As soon as I drop to f/13 or larger aperture, the resulting picture turns totally black. The only reasonable explanation that I can come up with is that I'm having light transmission or LED alignment problems, and the weaker pulse generated for larger apertures does not come through to the flash. I can see it actually flash, but that it probably just the pre-flash, not the main exposure, which gets missed. I'll try to investigate deeper over weekend.
  4. No, I'm on Sony A6300. Very interesting - I'll try the YS-D1/YS-D2 settings today after work. Positions 2 and 3 on the selector dial, right?
  5. Only on dry land so far; I will have it in the water in two weeks. With the UW-Technics converter, manual mode works fine, but TTL categorically does not work - it always fires with the same fairly low power, both in mode 1 (Inon Z-240) and in mode 6 (Ikelite DS-160); I'm not sure why, maybe I'm doing something wrong? Oddly, with the pop-up flash on my Sony A6300, the TTL mode appears to work fairly well - I was getting the same exposure at f/11 and f/22 (ISO set to 100, shutter speed to 1/160), although wider apertures were getting overexposed. Can't test HSS because my camera won't let me select a shorter exposure than 1/160 - need a new firmware revision for the converter to enable it. Pavel wrote a week ago on tetis.ru forus that he's expecting a sample in two weeks, and then he will try making a TTL profile for it.
  6. I use an Archon D15VP for focus assist; haven't had any issues with it showing up in photos. On night dives, I also usually carry an Archon D11V on a wrist mount that leaves my hands free to operate the camera.
  7. Since that post above, I have moved from 6" dome to 8" dome, which is significantly more buoyant. Last time I dove it, I had it set up with about 450g of weight on the dome and no floats - just regular arms. Conversely, when I'm using 90mm with macro port and a focus light, I replace all four arms with 200mm length/60mm diameter carbon fiber floats. In both cases, the rig is slightly negative overall. However, I just got new strobes (Retra Flash Pros replacing SeaFrogs ST-100s) so I will likely have to readjust buoyancy once again. What I do to dial-in the buoyancy is fairly simple - I have a box of stick-on tire weights, so after I've made a significant change to my rig, I put it in the water and see if it floats (the SeaFrogs housing and its ports are naturally buoyant; it's the accessories that drag it down). If it sinks quickly, this means that I need to add floats. If it sinks slowly, this means that it's good to go. If it floats, I take it out, stick on a few weight blocks (mine come in 7g increments) and try again until it starts sinking slowly. Don't rely on other divers' setups as an exact reference, because everyone's rig is slightly different - trays, arms, clamps, lights, strobes, wet lenses, action cameras, etc, all come with their own buoyancy characteristics, and even location matters - a rig that is neutral in fresh water will float in the ocean, and a rig that is neutral in the Pacific will float in the Red Sea.
  8. I've been using a Sony A6300 for the past 2.5 years or so. I'm quite happy with it, but keep in mind that while the bodies are relatively inexpensive, Sony lenses are pricey - a 10-18mm f/4 for wide-angle will cost you $798 new or ~$400-500 used, while a 90mm f/2.8 G macro is $998 new and ~$800 used (US prices). There are also no native Sony fisheye lenses, aside from the 16mm f/2.8 pancake with fisheye converter, which has notoriously poor IQ, so if you want to shoot fisheye, you'll need either a manual lens (something like Samyang 8mm) or a Tokina 10-17mm in Canon mount and a Metabones or Sigma adapter. As far as budgets go, even with a used body and lenses and a SeaFrogs Salted Line housing, I have over $9k sunk into my rig. Looking at my spreadsheet where I track this, I see: A6300 body with kit lens - $837 Extra battery, charger, mamory card, bag - $147 Sony 10-18mm - $557 Sony 90mm - $790 7Artisans 7.5mm fisheye - $132 Weefine WFL05S diopter - $305 SeaFrogs Salted Line housing with 6" dome bundle - $498 SeaFrogs 4" fisheye dome - $147 SeaFrogs 8" dome + neoprene cover - $268 SeaFrogs macro port - $120 SeaFrogs vacuum system - $155 Tray, 4x20cm normal arms, 4x20cm float arms, focus light mount, clamps, trigger, etc - about $450 2x SeaFrogs ST-100 Pro strobes - $461 2x Retra Pro strobes with covers, diffusers and one Retra LSD snoot - $2832 2x multicore fiber optic cables - $100 2x Archon D36V lights - $469 Archon D15VP focus light - $72 UW-Technics TTL converter - $485 Nightsea fluorescence excitation kit - $206 About $1k of that ended up superfluous - I started doing stills with the Archon LED lights because proper strobes were too expensive, got disappointed and bought the SeaFrogs strobes because, again, proper strobes were too expensive, got disappointed again and finally broke down and ordered the Retras when they were running a 15% preorder discount back in late 2018 - they arrived yesterday. There was also the older fixed-port SeaFrogs housing which I have since sold for about 60% of its new price, and the 6" dome port that I'm not using anymore and probably should try to sell.
  9. They're priced in line with Ikelite DS-161s, which also have a circular tube with similar power output (160 W/s vs 150 W/s) and a strong center-mounted pilot LED (useful for aiming snoots). The advantages of Retra are wider angle, size, weight, standard battery cells as opposed to Ikelite's proprietary units, controls, and, theoretically, custom modes like HSS. Both only have one mode of triggering (optical for Retra, electric for Ikelite) requiring an external adapter to accommodate the other. Arguably, the Ikelites have a larger selection of accessories (snoots, fluorescence excitation filters, etc).
  10. A bit less - local price for a YS-D2 or Z-330 is about 770-780 € equivalent due to VAT and retailer markups, so it's about 150 € difference after accounting for early pre-order discount. Without the discount, getting new Retra Pros here (once retailers get them in stock) will be considerably more expensive, I expect. We pay 17% VAT here - less than EU, but more than most of the rest of the world.
  11. The original order of two strobes (pro model) was 1478 €. If I split the taxes and fees proportionally, it works out to 925 € per strobe.
  12. Got mine! Two Retra Pros, two white diffusers, two neoprene jackets and one LSD. Total 1905 € + 1859 NIS (480 €) in taxes and fees. Going to take them underwater in the Philippines in three weeks - it's just too cold here to dive right now.
  13. Yes, DHL is infamous for those fees. Still, if I were to wait for them to show up in local stores, I'd probably still pay more - looking at a local store website, I see a YS-D2 for NIS 3000 ($855), Z-330 for NIS 2980 ($849), S-2000 for NIS 2000 ($569), DS-161 'on special' for NIS 3499 ($996) reduced from NIS 5190 ($1478) and so on. At 735 Euro per strobe (with the early preorder discount) I'm likely to come out ahead.
  14. Yesssss... just got my shipping notification! Next week I will find out if the customs will charge more than the strobes actually cost, or only slightly less...
  15. Eilat has pretty decent macro - not like the Philippines, but there is a good variety of subjects - but accommodation and food is expensive, and you can't solo dive here; it's actually forbidden by law.
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