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Please write to develop@retra-uwt.com regarding firmware for Original Retra Flash.

The Smart SL mode is intended for cameras like the Sony RX100 which have no option of cancelling the TTL pre-flash. It might not work with TTL converters, at least on Nikon we have seen that the TTL converter gets confused and constantly changes the number of pre-flashes which makes this system unusable. With pop-up flash we have not had this issue.

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Thanks for the replies

 

So, do I have this right? Smart SL is a means of switching between TTL and Manual flash mode (Nikon D850 and UW Technics TTL Nauticam) without changing the selector dial on the TTL board?

 

I have only ever shot manual before, so this is new territory to me.

 

ian

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Smart SL is intended for cameras where it is not possible to disable the TTL pre-flash, which prevent the flash to operate in Manual.

It may therefore be used to operate the flash in manual mode, while the camera is shooting in TTL with pre-flash. However, this has to be tested, Oskar mentioned that some TTL converters change the number of pre-flash used, which prevents this feature to work.

When this feature works, it enables to switch the flash mode between manual and TTL without changing the camera settings.

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Thanks Algwyn - that's really clear.

Normally on my D500 using a TTL trigger if I need manual, I switch the camera to Auto FP flash sync setting which "disconnects" the TTL element of the Subal  board. But this sounds much easier - although I guess it depends if the Subal board has that changing pre-flash characteristic.

One for Pavel!

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Posted (edited)

Nikon performs pre/flashes by the following way:

Nikon camera emits the 1-st pre-flash of fixed duration, receives the reflected light by sensor. If received pre-flash light is enough for processor work, camera determines the concrete main flash duration and emits it.  

 But if the received pre-flash light is not enough, then camera emits the 2-nd pre-flash with increased duration (classic Nikon 2-nd pre-flash has 3 variants of duration dependently of camera decision for each shot, but in last modern Nikon cameras usually there is only a single duration variant).  After that 2-nd pre-flash reflected light rating, Nikon camera finally determines duration of main flash and emits it.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UW Technics and Nauticam TTL-Converters (for Nikon) performs the pre-flashes accordinly Nikon camera decision for each shot. Pay attention: Number and duration of pre-flashes there depends on camera decision only. And of course, TTL-Converter has possibility to cancel those pre-flashes totally, when user needs. Another words, user can switch On "M" mode, with only a single main flash. There are 2 ways to perform it by the TTL board capabilities:

1) Switch On the M mode by camera menu specially assigned command, - "Auto FP" marked sync speed. This way is available underwater.

2) Switch on the M mode by onboard rotary switch. - position "0". This is available on air only.

       The other way , - do it by the strobe knobs (available underwater):

3) Switch on "M mode with pre-flash canceling", by the strobe knob. This case, uw strobes of different construction work in 2 different variants: Most of them, produce the time window, inside this window all pre-flashes are ignored. But some strobes perform another algorithm, - ignores a concrete number (1,2,3 etc.) pre-flashes, without any timing. The second algorithm does not work for Nikon normally, because pre-flashes quantity are variable, dependently of Nikon camera decision for each shot. 

Edited by Pavel Kolpakov

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Thanks for this explanation, it's very clear.

So it seems that to get Smart SL to work reliably on Nikon,  Retra would have to correct their algorithm to use timing instead of number of preflashes, unless there is another way to manage this with the Retras.

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Algwyn said:

....

Anyway, the best solution, - switch On the M mode by "Auto FP" command camera menu. This way the LED unit emits only a single main flash. It works with all strobes. And it saves TTL-Converter battery energy.

Edited by Pavel Kolpakov

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Correction of my previous post: Like Pavel said it is possible to set UW Technics TTL converter for Nikon into manual flash mode under water by choosing "Auto FP" in the flash menu of the Nikon camera and shooting in normal ON mode with Retra Flash Prime/PRO. We tested this just now and it works perfectly.

We will look into the possibility of adding a timing reference for "smart SL" mode if it won't interfere with the existing program. 

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49 minutes ago, Pavel Kolpakov said:

Anyway, the best solution, - switch On the M mode by "Auto FP" command camera menu. This way the LED unit emits only a single main flash. It works with all strobes. And it saves TTL-Converter battery energy.

That's well understood.

My point was about how the "Smart SL" user setting in the Retra could enable to shoot in both manual flash and TTL, without having to change camera settings underwater. This would be very convenient as turning a knob on the Retra Flash to switch from TTL to U1 or U2 is much easier than changing flash mode on camera.

41 minutes ago, Oskar@RetraUWT said:

We will look into the possibility of adding a timing reference for "smart SL" mode if it won't interfere with the existing program. 

Many thanks that would be useful for Nikon users like me.

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I would like to report some success with the new Pro. However, there were two more failures requiring re-termination of the fiber optic. I did two outings. First, looking at nearby freshwater sites but all were quite frozen where it was deep enough to shoot so I was forced over to the harbor that has floating docks and stuff growing on them. So went into a polecam operation. In the topside pic you can see the tide was a few meters lower than high tide (where the snow ends). I made a shear guess: shot both strobes at 1/4 power at ISO100 at f/11. The histogram was well-centered so just did this one site. I am showing both the full frame and a blow-up so it is possible to see that there were mussels in the shot! Used the RS28mm lens.

_Z6X5328.jpg

_D3Y2793-2.jpg

_D3Y2793.jpg

_Z6X5334.jpg

  • Like 1

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11 hours ago, Tom_Kline said:

However, there were two more failures requiring re-termination of the fiber optic.

Have you tried with multi-core fiber optic?

From your ealier pictures, it seems that you are using mono-core fiber, which are typically more brittle than multi-core fibers, and therefore break very easily.

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11 hours ago, Algwyn said:

Have you tried with multi-core fiber optic?

From your ealier pictures, it seems that you are using mono-core fiber, which are typically more brittle than multi-core fibers, and therefore break very easily.

Good question!!!  It is the fiber optic cable that came with the strobe.

Oskar told me: "The optical cable we are using at the moment is a multi core 613 type which has an official bending radius of 1mm."

The more recent failures were not due to obvious cable breakage but much less light came out the failure end compared to the other strobe after attempting repair after the fiber optic came out of the adapter while it was in the bathtub when I rinsed the setup after my shoot. One troubleshooting step is to unplug the fiber optic cables from the strobes and look at the ends while firing the camera. I have ordered some Tos Link cable (suggested by another Wetpixel thread) as the original cable is getting short.

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Sitting at the kitchen table with my dive and photo buddy Christoph, and i,m  presenting the Retra Pro very proud, he ask me: cool, HSS not bad, but where is the slave sensor, how do work the slave mode? 
Hmmm, This flashgun has really no slave mode? Every mini flash has a slave Mode. This feature is so usual , that i don,t read it in the spec before i ordered them.

How can i use the Retra Pro in Slave Mode?

Regards from Berlin/Germany

Joerg

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4 hours ago, deepadrenalin said:

Sitting at the kitchen table with my dive and photo buddy Christoph, and i,m  presenting the Retra Pro very proud, he ask me: cool, HSS not bad, but where is the slave sensor, how do work the slave mode? 
Hmmm, This flashgun has really no slave mode? Every mini flash has a slave Mode. This feature is so usual , that i don,t read it in the spec before i ordered them.

How can i use the Retra Pro in Slave Mode?

Regards from Berlin/Germany

Joerg

What do you mean by slave mode? I'm currently at Apo Island, running a pair of Retra Pros off the pop up flash on my Sony A6300; it works both in TTL mode (follows pre-flash and main flash) and smart SL mode (ignores pre-flash, fires using set power on main flash). The optical sensor is located on the back of the flash, opposite the battery compartment door. The flash ships with it covered by a Sea & Sea adapter; if you unscrew that adapter, you can screw an Inon type FO cable in its place. 

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6 hours ago, deepadrenalin said:

Hmmm, This flashgun has really no slave mode? Every mini flash has a slave Mode. This feature is so usual , that i don,t read it in the spec before i ordered them.

How can i use the Retra Pro in Slave Mode?

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.

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Posted (edited)

Slave Mode means to trigger the Flash remotely, without wire. So you can use it as second backlight or sitelight on a tripod or as illumination in Wrack triggered from the flash on housing.

The Retra works very well, really cool. Thats why i dont understand, that there Is no slave mode. This is no question of costs.

Edited by deepadrenalin

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17 minutes ago, deepadrenalin said:

The Retra works very well, really cool. Thats why i dont understand, that there Is no slave mode. This is no question of costs.

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

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31 minutes ago, Jerry Diver said:

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

OK, that sounds good. Hope I can test it in 3 weeks in Sudan. It's a clear benefit to read the fuc... manual :-)  

Thank you.

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Posted (edited)

A quick update.

I got a pair of ULCS handlebar clamps to hold the fiber optic adapter close to the strobe. I got some Toslink cable. Toslink is a tad stiffer than the stock fiber optic. I tried one more time to fix the original fiber optic and failed again. Then I cut a short section of Toslink and on the first try it worked. I suspect the issue was with the fiber optic.

 

The spot were I took the photos got no sun just a couple of weeks ago. You will note the one with a shorter fiber optic is on the left, which is the Toslink.

_Z6X5363.jpg

_Z6X5360.jpg

Edited by Tom_Kline

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Okay, I'm late to this party. I've been shooting Z240s for a few years now and not been looking at other strobes. Until now.

 

I read the first page and the last 3 pages of this thread. So, I may ask something that was answered somewhere back in history. If so, my apologies.

 

Looking at the new RF Prime and Pro. Here in the US, it appears that the pricing is $949 or $1049. 

 

It seems like a no-brainer to pay the extra $100 for the Pro. Is there any downside to the Pro vs the Prime (other than the extra $100)?

 

Also, what is the cycle rate when firing the Pro at, say, 1/2 power with just 4 batteries? And with the extended battery pack?

 

I see the cycle time spec when firing at full power. But, one, as has been observed, most people rarely shoot at full power. And, two, well, full power is not apples-to-apples between strobes of different output levels. So, it seems like also publishing a spec for cycle rate as some specific output level would be more useful I.e. when you set all the strobes to give a proper exposure in some specific conditions, what is the cycle rate? Similar to how those light output charts are done to compare different strobes.

 

If a RF Pro cycles at 2 sec at full power, I would imagine that shooting it with an output level that matches my Z240s at f/4 would give a cycle time that is very much faster than 2 seconds. And, probably faster than the Z240s. Especially so with the battery pack extender.

 

Thanks! 

 

I was looking at a new pair of Z330s or possibly YS-D3s. But, the Retra Pros really look like the better way to go.

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Also, is the battery pack extender even available yet? If not, when is it expected?

 

What is the expected price, in the U.S.?

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The extended battery compartment is not yet available. The same part for the original Retra flash (no longer available) sold for $177, so that's probably in the ballpark for the new version when it comes out. I haven't seen anything specific about release date yet.

I did 5 dives with a pair of Retra Pros so far, haven't measured recycling speed, but I have 2-second automatic review enabled on my camera after taking a shot, and I've never had the strobes lag behind that. They do eat batteries voraciously, although part of that was due to me exploring their performance envelope and doing quite a lot of full dumps. With a single strobe, an LSD, and a 90mm lens on f/22, I found that I needed full power to get decent exposures, although this was my first time using an LSD - perhaps I simply wasn't placing it close enough to the subject.

The neoprene jackets slide back over the controls and forward over the front glass in a very annoying fashion; I'm almost 100% set on getting a set of bumpers before my next trip to limit that.

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5 minutes ago, Barmaglot said:

I found that I needed full power to get decent exposures, although this was my first time using an LSD - perhaps I simply wasn't placing it close enough to the subject.

Bermaglot, how do you find the Retra aiming light (the pilot light) when using the LSD? Did you find the strobe light the area illuminated by the pilot light reasonably accurately?

Having to use a high power strobe setting seemed the norm to me when using the LSD with my old Inon Z240s

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Thanks, @Barmaglot!

 

The price just keeps going up. $1050 for the strobe. $200 for a battery pack? $50 for bumpers? More for the front protector thingie? Fortunately, I think I saw that the neoprene sleeve comes with it.

 

My wallet will get there one day...

 

Still curious for cycle times for "realistic" shooting - not just full dumps.

 

With a fast enough cycle time, it seems like it could possibly even be useful for shooting macro. I don't know. I have never really shot macro. But, from what I read, it seems like one of the challenges can be to get the focus at exactly the right plane. With continuous drive and a fast enough cycle time, maybe you could get the camera as close as you can, lock the focus, and then fire a few frames while trying to hold the camera still, or maybe move it forward or back just a tiny amount. Kind of a manual version of focus bracketing. Or maybe even use real focus bracketing, if the camera supports doing it while using a flash?

 

Regardless, it seems like I am a bit of an outlier in really wanting really fast continuous firing. But, it has definitely gotten me a few nice photos before. Somewhat reducing both the luck and the skill required. I.e. perfect for me!

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23 minutes ago, Barmaglot said:

The neoprene jackets slide back over the controls and forward over the front glass in a very annoying fashion; I'm almost 100% set on getting a set of bumpers before my next trip to limit that.

What about double-sided adhesive tape to fix it? 

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