Jump to content
BSC_Matt

Professional on dry land - Strobe insights

Recommended Posts

Hi All,

I'm new here and new to underwater photography though I am professional photographer. I am currently building my first rig in preparation for a dive trip this January.

Strobes are all that I need and I am struggling to make a decision.

 

I have a big question. How many divers use TTL? I barely use TTL when I photograph on dry land but I imaging you are always looking for more simplified use underwater.

 

I understand the Ikelite strobes don't use TTL when not paired with an Ikelite housing. Does anyone use Ikelite strobes on non Ikelite housings?

 

I'll take any other information or suggestions anyone would like to share. Can't wait to get underwater!

Edited by BSC_Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use Inon strobes with an Olympus camera and fiber optic cables. I use TTL almost exclusively when shooting macro and it rarely fails to do exactly as expected. When shooting wide angle results with TTL are less consistent and I'll switch to manual. The difference for me is due to the fact that macro images are 100% illuminated by the strobe whereas with wide angle I'm working to balance ambient light.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TTL accuracy mainly depends on TTL Converter and right cable. I know a lot of people who shoot now with modern TTL converters and fiber optic or electric cables, getting 95% successful shots. Of course automatics simplifies the work of underwater photographer.

But if you use a camera built-in flash for optical TTL synchronization, in some cases it works good enough, but in many cases it gives very different results for TTL, because of technical reasons. Better use TTL-converter.

 

You can use TTL with Ikelite strobes on other housings too, because many TTL-Converters officially support Ikelite strobes. Such TTL circuits are available for Nauticam, Sea&Sea, Aquatica, Seacam, Subal, Sealux, Hugyfot, Isotta, and some other housings.

Edited by Pavel Kolpakov
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, in response to your questions, UW photographers who use small cameras, say like the Olympus Tough TG4, use TTL almost automatically as it works very well with small, compact cameras. With dSLR cameras most of the guys I know use Manual shutter and f stop settings as TTL is patented by the big guys like Canon and Nikon and seems not be easily accessed by the strobe manufacturers. In some strobes, such as the Sea&Sea YS-02 and the discontinued Inon Z240 TTL is very hard to use, so again Manual is the rule. Personally, I shoot my Olympus TG3 and 4 on automatic, and my Nikon D7000 and D800 on Manual.

 

But my wishful thinking is that TTL sure would be nice for dSLR cameras if it was easy to use. I will be interested in the comments and opinions of other Wetpixelers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Manual is pretty easy really, once the setting is dialled in I tend not to change it a whole lot, you are always working in close so there's a lot less change in the light fall off compared to land. I've tried TTL a little and the results were OK on macro, wide angle was very hit or miss. This was with INON Z-240's with fibre optic connections.

 

Your biggest problem initially is to keep your buoyancy control as good as you had without a camera. The bigger question will be what strobe to buy, do you want fibre optics or sync cords? What system are you wanting to hook your strobes up to?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys.

Im still a little confused to what a TTL converter is. And do they make them for the A6500 in a Fantasea housing? I know, I went for the low end housing.

I bought 1 used S&S YS-D2 to start with. I ordered this LED strobe trigger that cuts out the pop up flash but still optical.

 

If I can use a TTL converter can someone suggest a good one? Or anything I need to know about them?

 

Also a new question. Is it bad practice to mix strobe brands? Im sure there are color differences to take into consideration but strictly technically.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Matt

 

A TTL converter is essentially a pack of electronics that can be installed into the housing which will allow TTL control of the external strobes. Simple as that. So you get the same TTL control as you would using an SLR above water.

 

Sorry, can’t advise on the A6500/Fantasea combination but I’m sure someone on WP will know and chip-in.

 

Have a read on the Reef Photo website for more about TTL converters. They’ve got a good explanation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I did a little more reading and though I get the concept it looks like most of the TTL converters are made for Canon and Nikon or specialized for specific housings.

 

I may consider switching housings if necessary. Nothing has been under water yet so I can still return it.

Edited by BSC_Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I think you're about right there, Matt. The major housing manufacturers (say, Nauticam, Subal, Sea&Sea, Aquatica - and apologies if I've missed off anyone crucial) do offer - or the housing will allow - TTL convertors. I think the Olympus users can use TTL convertors too.

 

I must admit I really like using TTL especially for macro (as troporobo wrote above) but there are lots of really top u/w photographers who just go manual. It's not that hard.

 

The housing choice is always a difficult one. Once you have picked a housing route, you tend to put a lot of cash into ports, extension and zoom rings. The costs of those really mount up. So picking a housing you are very comfortable with and which can grow with you (the brand at least if not the specific model) is, I reckon, quite important.

 

So if a housing which offers a bit more complexity or adaptability is important to you, yeah, it's worth pausing for thought before you dunk the beast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't need no stinkin' TTL. Never used it UW, never wanted to.

 

I've used mixed strobe brands for a couple years now (Inon, Ikelite) since my 2nd Inon flooded. Its not ideal but works fine as long as I gel the Inon to match the Ikelite. I have them very close using a mild CTO, I think 1/4.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't need no stinkin' TTL. Never used it UW, never wanted to.

 

I've used mixed strobe brands for a couple years now (Inon, Ikelite) since my 2nd Inon flooded. Its not ideal but works fine as long as I gel the Inon to match the Ikelite. I have them very close using a mild CTO, I think 1/4.

 

What about general color temperature? It appears that everyone wants warmer lights but most manufacturers lights are closer to daylight balanced. I was also interested to find few options out there for color balancing diffusers or something made to fit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Colour temperature sets how blue water is, so warmer strobes means you as you push back to daylight colour balance you non flash illuminated water becomes more blue. INON make diffusers in a couple of different colour temperatures. Speaking of INON these seem to have a better reputation for reliability than Sea & Sea who have recently introduced a variation of the YS-D2 to address reliability issues with the flash tubes. There are a few Z-240 on sale second hand on the classifieds section of wetpixel right now.

 

Regarding returning your housing I suggest you look at port availability for your housing, the port chart indicates some items are expected next year, so won't be available right now . Also look at features like layout, accessories availability, particularly a vacuum system to help ensure you o-rings will seal once you hop in the water. This is the port chart: http://www.fantasea.com/downloads/FMLLensPortChart.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thats a way better port chart than the one Ive been going by all this time.

It still doesnt talk about TTL converters but the housing does have a port for a vacuum valve. Am I crazy to dive without a vacuum valve?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Crazy? No.

 

But it has to be one of the best investments you can make on your system. The Vivid, for example, is about €200. That's a small price to pay for the peace of mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely get the vacuum valve, the external pressure seats the o-rings before you get in the water. O-rings are dynamic seals they need to be pushed upon by the water (or the atmosphere) to seal. You are actually most prone to flood at the surface. Having a vacuum pulled helps ensure the o-rings are loaded. Also means the ports is harder to dislodge by knocking and will stay in place even if you don't engage the lock, you can't open your housing till you release the vacuum, due to the pressure of the atmosphere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris,

Can you recommend options for vacuum valve for the Fantasea housing? It has an M16 port. I currently only see an option by Nauticam. Just not sure iff there are other options.

Edited by BSC_Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Nauticam valve is good, but electronic indicator is part of housing, the leak sentinel incorporates this into the valve, so seems like the way to go for a non Nauticam housing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thats the one I have my eye on unless I find other options to choose from.

 

I’ve had one for a few years now. It’s terrific. Relatively inexpensive as u/w gear goes, easy to use, good battery life and easy battery to change and find. No brainier I reckon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea Leak Sentinal seems to be what the experts are recommending too.

 

I have a related question. Should I assume that using a vacuum pump removes any bouyancy the housing had and thus I will need to add even more floats?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, the weight of air that gets evacuated from a housing in on the order of fractions of a gram (22.3L of air weighs about 14g at standard temperature and pressure). In fact, the fraction of a gram would be towards the more buoyant, as you are removing weight, without changing displaced water volume...

Edited by echo2600

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other thing to mention about Leak Sentinel vs. Nauticam's vacuum port is that the Nauticam port requires your Nauticam be fitted with the newer electronics that incorporates leak detection. If you have an older housing (like me), then you have to not only pay extra to get the newer electronics, you have to ship the housing back to Nauticam.

 

There's also the issue of having to open the housing to reset the vacuum circuit. The Leak Sentinel works outside the camera so can be turned on and left, or turned off and on again (with vacuum) without any problems.

 

Given my experiences with the Florida airport*, shipping anything back to Nauticam is a bit of a deal breaker for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first housing was also a Fantasea, for a Nikon D80 (Fantasea was doing DSLR housing at that time). It was great value

 

To come back to your TTL question, here are my thoughts based on my (limited) experience:

 

  • Do I use TTL? Yes, almost always. It just works! You can use manual flash, but the exposure will be less accurate. Even if you tend to shoot subjects around the same distance, many factors impact lighting, so TTL in my experience is always better. As you start underwater photography, there are many more things that you need to focus on, than setting the right flash power manually. If you need to fine tune balance between ambiant light and the strobe light, a modern strobe like the YS-D2 has exposure compensation settings in TTL. So all taken into account, TTL from my point of view is more practical, more efficient, and gives all the level of controls that you need ...

 

  • Which kind of TTL? given your set-up, I would start with optical TTL to link your A6500 to your YS-D2. You should first test the YS-D2 in DS-TTL mode, it should just work. You can test this above ground.

 

  • Do you need a TTL converter? Most probably no. A TLL converter is:
  1. required when your camera do not have an integrated flash. You put the TTL converter in the camera flash shoe as you would use a wireless controler on land (in Nikon range, it would be like using the SU-800 controler)
  2. sometimes useful if your integrated flash is depleting your camera battery too quickly. While shooting under water, even though the actual lighting is performed by your strobe, your integrated flash will shoot as if it was lighting the scene. Some have found that it was depleting the camera battery too quickly. The TTL converter replaces then the integrated flash and saves your camera battery. I never had such problem with camera battery (however always used Nikon cameras). Before buying a TTL converter, you should test first your mileage with the integrated flash ...

 

  • Vacuum valve? yes ... very useful, as everybody agrees. My current housing is equipped with a Leak Sentinel V3. Quite good, however changing the battery is a pain ... There is a Leak Sentinel V5, probably best option if you can get it. The battery seems much easier to change, and the LED light much more visible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...