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Jerry Diver

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Jerry Diver last won the day on May 1 2019

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  1. "I don't need good quality of light because I am not a good photographer" is not a good argument when choosing a light or strobe. @Balage_diver wrote nicely that the Z-330 will give you better performance if you are primarily shooting TTL which probably means that you mainly shoot macro. The Retra however will give better results when shooting with manual power (especially wide angle) and besides this they offer a range of accessories to modify the light beam for macro and other types of shooting situations. The Retra Flash PRO costs almost twice(!) the Z-330. That's because it packs more power (that extra power is spread over a wider area making the Retra easier to position in wide angle) and offers a long list of unique and helpful features: leakage alarm, battery indication, HSS, smartphone connectivity, firmware updates, etc. Besides this the build quality and appearance are on a much higher level with the Retra. I don't know if you are into that kind of thing but handling each of these products is a very different experience. Regarding reliability I have no doubts about the Retra because it is their second generation strobe and they offer 2 years of warranty instead of the standard 1 year. If you ever email them you will find they respond rapidly and are eager to solve any issue or question you might have about their products. The Z-330 and the Retra Flash are very different beasts. I think you need to choose based on what your primary focus in underwater photography is and especially(!) your budget.
  2. From the user manual of the Panosonic BQ-CC65 charger which describes the REFRESH function: "This function reduces the memory effect and re-activates rechargeable batteries that have been unused for a long period of time. However, repeatedly using the function when not necessary will shorten the cycle life of the batteries." As far as I understand this function shouldn't be used on a regular basis like after/before each diving trip. Maybe if you only dive once per year but otherwise I think it shouldn't be done.
  3. Recycle times were discussed here. No underwater strobe will indicate the ready light at 100% capacitor charge. I verified this with several brands including Seacam, Sea&Sea, Inon, Retra and Ikelite. Most of them indicate the ready light when their capacitors are at about 80%. The only exception is the Inon Z-330 which indicates the ready light way before, when capacitors are at about 40%. They basically soldered higher voltage capacitors to their old Z-240 circuit and “forgot” to re-calibrate that part. Retra specify their recycle time at 80% which is also when the ready light is turned on. They also specify their recycle time at 40% which is probably when their circuit allows them to produce a flash. My Retra Pro’s will trigger before they beep the ready signal and this is also explained in the user manual. The extra battery holder looks good although a li-ion battery pack would have a lot more energy compared to AA size ni-mh batteries. But at least those are easy to get almost anywhere in the world.
  4. I trust a test done at equal conditions no matter what the distances and medium are, just as long as they are the same for every strobe measured. In water there is a lot more trouble setting up a precise testing environment and thus the results will inadvertently vary more. The water/air brake point is practically zeroed out because all strobes use domes. Only a completely flat port would noticeably reduce the angle of light coming out. No strobe has a flat port. We can observe images done with and without diffusers to get an idea about coverage. Finally, if someone who is making more than 300 photo dives per year and has abundant knowledge on underwater photography equipment tells us that the results coming from retra's tests are consistent with his experience shooting the same strobes underwater, there is no reason to dismiss the results or to say that they are misleading. By the way, at some point I used almost all strobes in the test and can confirm they represent what I saw under water as well. The advantage of a wider light spread being that I can be much more relaxed about positioning because the width of the light beam will automatically correct any mistakes I made. Cheers
  5. Yes, that is correct. No doubts needed, there are no hotspots with the retra or the seacam and both of them have a clear dome and no diffuser. Have a look at the test shots here: https://www.retra-uwt.com/pages/flashgun-light-comparison The resulting images of the light beam are practically the same as the above shots from the pool. I see they've added another graph on the bottom that shows the full power output. Inon and sea&sea have an advantage in the center but everywhere else they drop about 1 F-stop. Even if the diffuser gets back 0,5 F-stops, which it does not, there is much less power. Especially when we look at the first graph where the distribution is made with normal exposure in the center as we would have it when taking a picture. So in reality the drop off is around 2 F-stops! Straight tubes have their advantages but when it comes to pure light output performance and quality we need a circular flash tube, sorry.
  6. I stand corrected, there are small gains on the edges but this can happen only when a light source is very focused like on the YS-D2. Basically what is going on there is that a diffuser becomes the new light source. But a diffuser is not ideal for distributing the light output and will loose energy while doing so, especially at the center. I did a test with my old YS-D1 and I got about 0,2 F-stops more on the edge while the center beam was reduced by 0,8 F-stops. If you take a circular tube with a good reflector (not the Ikelite, try Seacam or Retra) you will not gain or loose much in light output by adding a diffuser. Tested with the new Retra and their white diffuser I got practically the same exposure everywhere with only about 0,1 F-stops reduction. Their beam is already spread around and the only gains are with softer light output as mentioned before.
  7. Contrary to popular belief a diffuser does not increase the angle of light by shifting light to the edges of the beam. Light can only be shifted through optics, diffusers are much "dumber" devices. Diffusers are opaque and they inadvertently decrease the power and by decreasing power where it's abundant a more even distribution across the whole angle can be seen. This evenness is then translated into more "angle" because with a normal exposure in the center we get a less steep fall off on the edges BUT the overall light output is decreased as a result. What a diffusers actually does, and this is not advertised nearly as much, is that it softens the light by making the shadows less hard. This softening is usually what we are pleased to see. Straight flash tubes have advantages and disadvantages. Straight flash tubes are limited as they can not take as much energy because of their compact shape. Some manufacturers take two straight tubes but even like that a power of 200 Ws or more is not possible to handle only with a reasonable amount of straight tubes. Their advantage is the before mentioned compactness and also price point to some extent - they are cheaper. Circular flash tubes also have advantages and disadvantages. Circular tubes are usually bigger and require a more powerful capacitor to get a similar amount of light on an area that straight tubes would cover with ease. This is because by default a circular tube will cover a larger area and thus spend its energy on a wider angle. The advantage being that they can handle more power and as default their light spread is more evenly distributed.
  8. I think you haven't read my reply above... "ON" position is Slave mode on the Retra Pro. Just unscrew the black cap on the sensor and it detects any flash trigger from the ambient. Cheers
  9. All the Retra Flash Pro have is slave mode... Everything works through the optical sensor on the control plane. Try removing the black cap which is screwed on the sensor and use them as off camera strobes as well as slaves. I do this sometime underwater to get a backlighting effect on corals or boulders.
  10. I've sent them an email a couple days ago and among other things I also got this reply: "We start shipments in mid-January in the week starting with 20th January. We expect all pre-orders will be sent in 4-5 weeks." Unless you've ordered early on I wouldn't be counting on them for 1st February.
  11. From my personal experience over the years of doing different hobbies I learned that buying something which is usually expensive but covers more features and settings gives me higher satisfaction and is better value in the long term. But this doesn't mean I don't buy used or fun, cheap toys as well! I learned this with model airplanes/helicopters and remote controls. Over a period of about 3 years I ended up having 4 different remote controls costing $300-400 while there was always the option of buying a slightly bigger and more expensive, about $1000 at the time, remote control which covered the functions of all four and had even more features, mixers, nicer joysticks etc. To my own loss I ended up selling all four and buying the expensive one. Once the technology shifted to 2.4GHz I could buy a module for this remote control and keep using it while the others didn't have this option. And it always gave better performance and was nicer, more rewarding to use. 5 years on when I decided to sell, I got more money from the single remote than from all four I sold years before. It seems Retra is moving in this direction, making their products modular and the strobe upgradeable with smartphone connectivity. Unfortunately this also means they are getting expensive...
  12. The strobe by Backscatter is a good macro and snoot tool but it's not a powerful strobe. It's quite cheap at $500 ($550 after pre-orders) but you need another set of strobes if you want to do something besides macro/snooting so it's probably another $700-800 to cover all the lenses. The Retra PRO has wide angle power and a circular lamp while it seems to do a very good job at snooting too. It's more expensive but you only need a pair in your luggage which I personally appreciate. I found the facebook post (see screenshots below). It seems the pilot light on the Retra PRO is strong enough to get a slightly over exposed image at f10 ISO100. This means you will probably not have any issues with aiming!
  13. I tried the LSD with my Z-330 and the Z-240 and the flash light output is reduced not more than 1 stop. A central pilot light is the preferred choice for any kind of snooting so neither flash is ideal. The YS-D1 has a really low power pilot light so don't expect any miracles from that. They improved it on the YS-D2 but still not near to perfect. Btw, I've seen a video on facebook of a prototype Retra PRO combined with the LSD and the guy was using only the pilot light to get a dark background because it was so strong. They reduced the angle of the pilot light beam with the new strobes and increased the power which probably makes it one of the best combinations for snooting. Eager to get mine soon...
  14. Are you using the one that was in the classifieds? Link: https://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?/topic/65052-retra-lsd-snoot/ It seems that the snoot in the classifieds has a black tube attached to a silver mounting piece. Retra actually make a silver tube with a narrower part in the middle and a silver mounting piece. Link: https://www.retra-uwt.com/pages/light-shaping-device I've seen somewhere that those black tubes were made by Retra in 2013.
  15. Just got a message from Retra that they will delay shipping until mid-January 2020. Although I am disappointed because I will not have their new strobes for my December trip I am not surprised in the slightest. Recently I spoke with a friend who is working in development of a strobe product in the beauty industry (hair removal is basically strobes) and after inspecting the specifications of the upcoming strobe by Retra he was surprised they handled it on such short term. They must have a team of super focused engineers and super hard working ones too. Anyway I am glad to hear they are putting quality before delivery dates because I plan to use the strobes for many more diving trips.
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