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Ktay1111

1 strobe or 2?

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I wanted to post this question to the entire forum audience to see what responses I would get.

Recently, among fellow underwater photographers, we debated the importance of a second strobe. While I understand how extra light can be used for illuminating and shadowing effects I wonder if it is really necessary. (Read as:: underwater photographer with a tight budget.) I personally feel that based on the relatively nice dive conditions I experience in South Florida and the Caribbean a second strobe is not necessarily needed.

 

Any thoughts on the matter?

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Any thoughts on the matter?

 

I would say it depends what results you want to get. Also what are you using lens wise and what size is your subject. If you were to use a single strobe with a nice wide fisheye then you are going to be very limited on what your subject matter is. IMO 2 strobes are better than 1 even if I turn one off during the dive to be creative with just one of them. Having 2 strobes allows me to have a few more choices. Also if one decides to play up, i have another to use. I started out on a tight budget and had 1 strobe for ages which i used ok for macro, but to try and get nice even lighting when using my 10-22mm it was no good at all.

 

Stew

Edited by stewsmith

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It depends on your subject, lens and the effect you want the strobe to create.

 

Here are some examples of why you might want two strobes instead of one.

With a wide angle lens you will have a hard time covering a 150 deg. field of view (10-17mm tokina) with a strobe that sends out a max. of 90 deg. of light.

You can also have very harsh shadows if using only one strobe for macro.

In very bright ambient light you will need more power for the same effect then if you are in low ambient light; ie you might use only 1 ikelite ds200 watt second strobes in California, but when in the red sea you choose to bring two of the ds200 watt second stobes (or 4 if you are David Dubilet). This is because in order to bring back the reds to the spectrum underwater you will need to overpower the available light.

 

For those reasons I use two ds51 strobes for macro and two ds160 strobes for wide angle.

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Hi,

 

I think the answer is quite simple:

 

If your budget will stretch to an extra strobe-buy one! It will enhance your images, and allow more choices in how you take/create your images.

 

If you can't afford one, then you will be limited in some types of shot-but will still be able to take great pictures.

 

For me, the choice is simple-food or strobe. Hey I'm lean and hungry!

 

Adam

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(Read as:: underwater photographer with a tight budget.)

 

 

That is the answer, if the cost of the second strobe is something that is going to cause a financial hardship that will take away of enjoying what you are doing, then don't. If it is something you can swing, then do so.

 

There have been examples around here and elsewhere of single strobe shots that are amazing and some shots also can work fine without a second strobe. But a second strobe opens other options, including as you noted. Necessarily needed? Well how much stuff do we buy for this that is really necessary anyway ^_^

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...But a second strobe opens other options, including as you noted. Necessarily needed? Well how much stuff do we buy for this that is really necessary anyway ^_^

 

I'll second that. I have taken nice photos with a single strobe (usually on the macro-ish end), but you'll have to work around the shadow you get from one-sided lighting. I usually try to position it top down and shoot small critters. That is still my low-weight solution using a P&S when I don't want to carry a full dSLR set. As for the latter, after one month I broke down and bought a used second strobe.

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Thank you all for the great input. Several of you mentioned how the necessity of two strobes is shot-specific. As I tend to concentrate more on macro photography, I have not felt the urge to get a second strobe. Yet, based on all of your recommendations it seems as though a second strobe would be necessary for wide-angle shots.

 

A quick side note. Some of you mentioned that a single strobe will result in shadows. While I'm far from a professional photographer, and take pictures for myself rather than buyers, I find that I like the composition of my photos when I have a slight shadow. I enjoy the 3-D appeal of it, especially those taken during night dives. I would assume two strobes would prevent this. Either way, I guess its a personal preference and not something that most underwater photographers employ because I rarely see it.

 

Either way, seems as though a second strobe will provide more options than my single one. Thanks!

 

-Kristian

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A quick side note. Some of you mentioned that a single strobe will result in shadows. While I'm far from a professional photographer, and take pictures for myself rather than buyers, I find that I like the composition of my photos when I have a slight shadow. I enjoy the 3-D appeal of it, especially those taken during night dives. I would assume two strobes would prevent this. Either way, I guess its a personal preference and not something that most underwater photographers employ because I rarely see it.

-Kristian

 

 

The use of two strobes is not to eliminate shadows, but to control shadows. With two strobes you can decide where the shadow is and how dark the shadow is. Using only one strobe often causes shadows to be too harsh and can make the photo look like it was artificially lit (not usually a good thing).

 

Now that I have said that, I will say that one of the greatest underwater photographers of all time always uses just one strobe.

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You make an interesting point that a second strobe would help in composing/manipulating the shadow. I guess I never approached it that way and only assumed a second strobe would totally eliminate the shadow I was trying to capture.

 

Plain and simple, a second strobe would open up more opportunities. Before I jump into purchasing one, I think I'll try to rig up an older secondary strobe to my rig and see how that works.

 

Thanks again for the ideas.

 

-Kristian

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There are actually quite a bit of pro UW photograpers that are only using 1 Strobe. ( I did not realize that previously, but I participated in a UW Photo workshop, in Austria, last weekend. ) What they are stating is that you need to placed that strobe very carefully when using 1 Strobe. However, they also state that it goes much faster to adjust 1 Strobe and that you get better shadows.

 

In my opinion is that it actually works for wideangle photography ( 1 Strobe). It seems to require a strobe with a really wideangled beam, ie with a "dome port" type frontglass. I tried it with a Sigma 10-20mm and the new small subtronic, pro-160, and it worked pretty well. It does not seem to work as well with only one of my INON:s.

I personally prefer 2 strobes in the macro pictures, in order to avoid the hard shadows.

 

/Erik

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A quick side note. Some of you mentioned that a single strobe will result in shadows. While I'm far from a professional photographer, and take pictures for myself rather than buyers, I find that I like the composition of my photos when I have a slight shadow. I enjoy the 3-D appeal of it, especially those taken during night dives.

 

 

-Kristian

 

There is your answer Kristian, if you are happy with the shots that you take, just stay with one. As long as you are enjoying your photography. At the end of the day ( yea it gets dark ) if you like the shadows keep on shooting with one.

 

Stew

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However, they also state that it goes much faster to adjust 1 Strobe and that you get better shadows.

 

/Erik

 

I have to agree with this. It is much easier to manage just one strobe, especially when using large units. The housing is typically held in the right hand while the left hand is on the strobe arm. With this two-handed approach one can quickly make adjustments. Try this with two strobes. One may have to flip the housing around or swap hands. Not so good for doing action. For some FE shots a single centered wide-angle strobe makes best use of the port lens shade while enabling lighting just in front of the port.

Tom

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I have to agree with this. It is much easier to manage just one strobe, especially when using large units. The housing is typically held in the right hand while the left hand is on the strobe arm. With this two-handed approach one can quickly make adjustments. Try this with two strobes. One may have to flip the housing around or swap hands. Not so good for doing action. For some FE shots a single centered wide-angle strobe makes best use of the port lens shade while enabling lighting just in front of the port.

Tom

 

Tom, I think I agree with you. I am constantly tweaking my 1 strobe and i think a second one may be a little difficult to mess with as well. I am happy with the photos I am coming up with, using only 1 strobe, so I think I will end up sticking with that for at least the time being.

 

Thank you everyone for the valuable input!

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Now that I have said that, I will say that one of the greatest underwater photographers of all time always uses just one strobe.

 

Who are you referring to? I would like to check out his work ^_^

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Curt Bowen just showed his strobe configuration over on RBW. He uses a single handheld strobe with dive lights attached.

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I have thought about trying to attach a secondary light to my rig, but I haven't figured out a good method to attach it. I don't want it permanent, and would rather not constantly go through zip-ties.

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Irrespective of what sort of pics you want to take, I would advise beginning with 1 strobe and learning to use it well. Only move on to 2 strobes once you are using 1 strobe with consistent results.

 

Also, if you have a limited budget, 1 good strobe is better than 2 bad strobes.

Edited by JohnLiddiard

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Irrespective of what sort of pics you want to take, I would advise beginning with 1 strobe and learning to use it well. Only move on to 2 strobes once you are using 1 strobe with consistent results.

 

Also, if you have a limited budget, 1 good strobe is better than 2 bad strobes.

 

I second this approach. Start w/ one, and buy the second when you know you know you need the second. Then you can always turn off one or the other :-)

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Who are you referring to? I would like to check out his work :)

 

Scott Frier

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