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Russwalters

How Quick Will I Outgrow Strobes

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Im just getting into UW photography and am trying to make a decision on what direction to go with strobes. 

I've been told to buy the pro level ones first (Inon z300 or the Sea & Sea YS-D2J ) but obviously they come with a hefty price tag. If I "settled" for something like the Inon D2000, would I quickly be wanting more power? I'm definitely trying to be cost conscious here, but don't want to get in and a few month later already be looking to upgrade. 

As for buying used, is there anything specific that I should be looking for or be aware of with pre-owned strobes? 

Thanks in advance! 

Russ 

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This depends very much on your camera model. If you are using a compact you will most likely be able to settle on a smaller strobe and still be happy with the results. 

One thing to take note: Backscatter did a test of many 2019 strobes last year. Their results differed greatly from the numbers provided by the manufacturers. Generally Sea & Sea strobes performed better, but they have a bit of a bad history with reliability.

I shoot micro four thirds and I am fairly happy with my Sea & Sea YS-02 (same as YS-01 but no TTL). If I was using FF and had to stop down more I would need stronger strobes though. 

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20 minutes ago, hyp said:

This depends very much on your camera model. If you are using a compact you will most likely be able to settle on a smaller strobe and still be happy with the results. 

One thing to take note: Backscatter did a test of many 2019 strobes last year. Their results differed greatly from the numbers provided by the manufacturers. Generally Sea & Sea strobes performed better, but they have a bit of a bad history with reliability.

I shoot micro four thirds and I am fairly happy with my Sea & Sea YS-02 (same as YS-01 but no TTL). If I was using FF and had to stop down more I would need stronger strobes though. 

I’ll look for the back scatter test! I’m shooting an a6000. Thoughts with that? 

Edited by Russwalters

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With an APS-C sensor you are really at the point where it might become difficult. I would certainly recommend you stay away from Inons S2000 strobe which is just too weak. For Wide-Angle I think the YS-01 might also be struggling. There is of course an aspect of superior strobe positioning requiring less power. I remember shooting at full power quite a lot and after doing a course with a Pro UW-Photographer I really started using the lower power settings more. 

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Hey Russ

I'd suggest it's definitely worth spending a bit of money on the strobes. They (and the arms/clamps) are, generally, some of the few things that will grow with you as you move through systems - in search of nirvana.

If you need to be really cost conscious, check out, say, the Inon Z240 strobes in the Classifieds. You'll see lots of WPers use them. They are reliable, light-weight, powerful enough for most situations, can be TTL'd and use AA batteries. I've been using the Inons since about 2009 and have not had the slightest glitch.

The Z240 is now discontinued but you can still pick one up second hand. The successor, the Z330, is around but not too many secondhand.

I can heartily recommend the Z240.

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Strobes will survive many of your cameras if you invest in the right ones...Technology is relatively simple and the devices are quite sturdy. Camera instead are consumer devices you are looking at changing one every 3 years minimum 

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I'm on my 6th year learning how to use strobes.  Bought a pair of YS-D1's back in 2014.   One of them failed last September, and I replaced it with a pair of used YS-D1's, so to have a spare.   I've done about 200 dives with them. 

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It's also important to think about how you want to take photos, and whether a particular strobe is appropriate. I got some used DS125's with a camera housing, and they were perfect for that set-up. However that meant "wired connection" and manual strobe use only (no TTL in the housing plus $$$$$ to convert to TTL).

Eventually I sold them and got a pair of used Inon Z240s (when the 330s came out and everyone was unloading 240s). I like them a lot more than the Ikelite DS125s simply because I can use optical sync, which immediately made my system "TTL capable" (there's a pop-up flash on the DLSR that works inside the housing).

As I prefer to have TTL in some circumstances ('off the cuff shots') it was worth switching strobes.

Recently I bought an Inon S2000 because it's so tiny I can pack it on my 'scooter camera' and its just the right size to sit in the slip-stream. I realize it's nowhere near the power of the Z240, but for macro shots it's still totally fine, and I mostly take macro so I'm good.

Again, this is why you need to spend the time figuring out 'your style' and what you want to do. Macro has different strobe/lighting needs compared to wide angle. Dark water/low vis vs. tropical reefs etc.

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When I started with a DSLR in 2009, I used my Dad's ikelite strobes from the 1980s. They were great in terms of light output, less good in terms of size and weight, but very reliable. Strobes should outlast your camera and are very transferable to your next rig. Unlike almost everything else you buy! Better to invest in one good strobe than two cheap ones you will have to replace later.

For secondhand, make sure you get a look at the tubes. Brown flecks or brown tubes indicate the strobes have been used dry or in warm water enough to overheat. As well as reducing the light output, the internals may be slightly cooked. You could also have a look at the battery contacts for any sign of previous water ingress. Getting hot or getting wet have been the main failure modes I've seen.

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