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I'm new here, so I want to give you all some background info first: I'm currently shooting on a Powershot G1 X Mark III with the Canon housing and a Nikonos SB-105 set to slave below the surface. Above the surface I've got a 5D mark IV. The Powershot is fun, but it ain't enough. Plus I can't get TTL to work properly with the Nikonos flash. So I'm planning on taking the 5D underwater at some point this year. 

Having read through a whole bunch of stuff online, here's the conclusion I've come to, so far: I want a Nauticam housing for the 5D and a pair of TTL flashes triggered through a sync cord. Now here's the part that I just can't wrap my head around: the Nauticam housing comes with a choice of Nikonos, Ikelite or S6 bulkheads. I found a very old post stating that Canon's e-TTL requires 6 contacts, and as such only strobes connected through an S6 connector would work. Is that true? If so, I believe the only viable option for me would be Seacam's flashes. Unfortunately, at $2.5k a pop they're not exactly cheap. I'd prefer to get something like a Sea&Sea YS-D2 if I can get them to work in TTL with the Nauticam housing through a sync cord. I find that there's very little information available on this topic. Can anybody help me out here? 

Thank you! 

-robotr0n

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Why are you set on sync cords? You can easily run TTL over fiber optics using a LED converter and YS-D2s, or Inon Z-330s.

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I was talking to a Seacam representative the other day and was told that their strobes go up to 1/8000 sync speed, which isn't achievable using fiber optics. Also, having used fiber optics for data transmission, I know how easy it is to break fiber optics and would like to avoid that if at all possible.

Your response seems to indicate that running TTL on sync cords is impossible with something like a YS-D2. Is that the case? 

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I don't know why you would want to sync at 1/8000.  The flash duration is much shorter than that so you don't need such a high shutter speed. And for what it is worth, I've been using the same fiber optic cables for over 10 years, about 1000 dives, without a breakage.  Compared to the Seacams, a pair of Z330s would save enough money to afford new cables every year for life!

 

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Thanks. 

So, just to confirm: if I want to use sync cords with TTL I'll have to use an S6 flash or is this possible with a Nikonos connector flash, too? 

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6 hours ago, robotr0n said:

I was talking to a Seacam representative the other day and was told that their strobes go up to 1/8000 sync speed, which isn't achievable using fiber optics. Also, having used fiber optics for data transmission, I know how easy it is to break fiber optics and would like to avoid that if at all possible.

Your response seems to indicate that running TTL on sync cords is impossible with something like a YS-D2. Is that the case? 

Hi, I have been using a pair of INON fiber optic cables since 2015 and done about 600 dive with them. So far no problems.

Also, keep in mind that for High Sync Speed you will have to use the new SEACAM or new Retra strobes.

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6 hours ago, robotr0n said:

Thanks. 

So, just to confirm: if I want to use sync cords with TTL I'll have to use an S6 flash or is this possible with a Nikonos connector flash, too? 

This IS possible, but only if you use a TTL converter. You need a blob to covert the digital flash protocol produced by your camera into the analog protocol understood by the flash.

 

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6 hours ago, robotr0n said:

I was talking to a Seacam representative the other day and was told that their strobes go up to 1/8000 sync speed, which isn't achievable using fiber optics

This is specific to Seacam, because their strobes have TTL circuitry inside the strobe - that's why they have Canon- and Nikon-specific models. This is also why they need sync cords to operate properly - they need bidirectional communications with camera's hot shoe. The only other strobe that does this that I'm aware of is ONE UW 160x, which is closely patterned after Seacam. With everything else, your options with a 5D IV are:

  1. Simple wired connection from the camera hot shoe to the strobe(s) - this will give you triggering, but not TTL, as there is nothing to tell the camera that a TTL-capable flash is present, or translate its protocol into a form usable by the strobes. You will need to use knobs on the strobes to adjust power.
  2. Simple (non-TTL) LED trigger, optical bulkhead and fiber optic cables. Same as above, except the cables are not as bulky and don't penetrate the housing, so there's less potential for water ingress. You can also detach and attach them in the water if needed.
  3. TTL-capable converter (take your pick) with sync cords and Ikelite (for DS strobes) or Nikonos (for everything else) bulkheads and sync cords. This will give you manual and TTL options, but sync cords are bulky, expensive, cannot be detached in the water and can leak.
  4. The same TTL converter as above, but with optical bulkheads and fiber optic cables. This will give you the same TTL and manual options as sync cords, but with thinner, less expensive cables and no risk of water leaking into a connector.

If you want to run high-speed sync (faster than 1/200s on 5D IV), you will need either the new Seacam 160D strobes and sync cords, or the new Retra Prime/Pro with an HSS-capable converter and fiber optics (Retras do not have electric sync capability at all). Keep in mind that high-speed sync significantly reduces strobe brightness, as instead of emitting a continuous pulse, HSS makes it flicker at very high speed.

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10 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

This is specific to Seacam, because their strobes have TTL circuitry inside the strobe - that's why they have Canon- and Nikon-specific models. This is also why they need sync cords to operate properly - they need bidirectional communications with camera's hot shoe. The only other strobe that does this that I'm aware of is ONE UW 160x, which is closely patterned after Seacam. With everything else, your options with a 5D IV are:

  1. Simple wired connection from the camera hot shoe to the strobe(s) - this will give you triggering, but not TTL, as there is nothing to tell the camera that a TTL-capable flash is present, or translate its protocol into a form usable by the strobes. You will need to use knobs on the strobes to adjust power.
  2. Simple (non-TTL) LED trigger, optical bulkhead and fiber optic cables. Same as above, except the cables are not as bulky and don't penetrate the housing, so there's less potential for water ingress. You can also detach and attach them in the water if needed.
  3. TTL-capable converter (take your pick) with sync cords and Ikelite (for DS strobes) or Nikonos (for everything else) bulkheads and sync cords. This will give you manual and TTL options, but sync cords are bulky, expensive, cannot be detached in the water and can leak.
  4. The same TTL converter as above, but with optical bulkheads and fiber optic cables. This will give you the same TTL and manual options as sync cords, but with thinner, less expensive cables and no risk of water leaking into a connector.

If you want to run high-speed sync (faster than 1/200s on 5D IV), you will need either the new Seacam 160D strobes and sync cords, or the new Retra Prime/Pro with an HSS-capable converter and fiber optics (Retras do not have electric sync capability at all). Keep in mind that high-speed sync significantly reduces strobe brightness, as instead of emitting a continuous pulse, HSS makes it flicker at very high speed.

Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for and is very helpful! Problem solved :)

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Oh, and regarding TTL on the G1X with SB-105 - while I don't have any personal experience with these units, to the best of my knowledge, it is not possible. SB-105 comes from the film era, and it uses film TTL, which is fundamentally different from digital TTL. The way film TTL works (worked?) is that there is a light sensor inside the camera, measuring light reflected from the film itself while it's getting exposed. When this sensor gets exposed to enough light, it sends a 'quench' signal to the strobe and the strobe turns off. However, CCD sensors don't reflect light the way film does, so with digital cameras the process is completely different - the camera sends a 'pre-flash' signal to the strobe(s) which flash and the camera uses its CCD to evaluate the resulting lighting, seeing how much of that little pulse comes back, and then it fires the flash again, at the power level (duration, actually) it deems necessary, and takes the exposure.

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The Nikonos is actually triggered wirelessly, meaning the Powershot's internal flash is used to trigger the Nikonos. The SB-105 has a sensor built in that detects the presence of flash and then fires the SB-105 as long as the Powershot's internal flash is on. Hence, the only TTL that's used here is the Powershot's. The problem I've got is that the Powershot senses a lot of light present as soon as the SB-105 fires and then immediately shuts down the internal flash, leading to underexposed photos. I'm not sure there's a way to deal with this other than setting the PowerShot's internal flash to manual and then using the SB-105 on full manual, too. And that's what I'm currently doing. 

EDIT: The preflash as described in your post above isn't used by all digital cameras. My G1X doesn't do that for example. AFAIK the G1X has a separate TTL circuit built in which senses the amount of light received. 

Edited by robotr0n

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Other benefits of using fiber optics for TTL: there is not risk of flooding and they are much lighter when traveling.

I would not go back to using wired strobe connections.

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Bear in mind that TTL in underwater photography is not at the same stage as land photography it works on some systems but not so well on others.  The TTL system on strobes is basically set to mimic what the flash on camera is doing (or TTL converter).  Once that is setup properly the success or otherwise depends on how the TTL system of the camera interprets the underwater scene.  Some are better than others and it tends to work better with macro than wide angle scenes.  as a result many underwater photographers use manual flash.

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9 hours ago, Algwyn said:

Other benefits of using fiber optics for TTL: there is not risk of flooding and they are much lighter when traveling.

I would not go back to using wired strobe connections.

I agree with Algwyn: quicker and easy to set up with no risk of bent or water-damaged contact pins; remove a strobe underwater for off-camera flash. Fibre optic cables are cheap(er) and can even be home-made. When messing around with the camera and housing after diving it's really easy and quick to disconnect the strobes for easier handling.

I switched about 5-6 years ago and would never go back to "electric".

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Awesome, thanks for all the replies! I'll think about going down the fiber optical route. I'm doing mostly wide angle stuff and the strobes I've been looking into are the Seacam 150D/160D or if I end up triggering them optically, the Sea&Sea YS-D2. I just talked to a Sea&Sea representative at Boot (the trade fair) and was told that the YS-D3 is coming later this year. So I might wait for the new one instead. The only issue I see here with the YS-D2 is that the beam angle for the D2 is only 80° without a diffusor while the 150D does 130°. For wide angle that's a huge difference! Although it looks like the Inon Z330 does 110° which isn't bad. Anybody got any experience with Inon? I've gotta admit this is the first time I've ever heard of them and don't know anybody personally who uses Inon strobes. 

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Inon? They are tops. If you search round WP you'll find them highly rated. The previous model, the Z240, was pretty much a standard. Don't be put off that you have not heard of them before. I've been using them since about 2008 and never had a single problem. Loads of people on WP use them and love them.

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Awesome, thanks! For some reason I can't like your posts. Maybe because you're a mod? 

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No worries, my pleasure. And, yep, I’m a moderator. Just happy to share the knowledge. It’s what Wetpixel does best. 

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On 1/27/2020 at 11:10 AM, robotr0n said:

The Nikonos is actually triggered wirelessly, meaning the Powershot's internal flash is used to trigger the Nikonos. The SB-105 has a sensor built in that detects the presence of flash and then fires the SB-105 as long as the Powershot's internal flash is on. Hence, the only TTL that's used here is the Powershot's. The problem I've got is that the Powershot senses a lot of light present as soon as the SB-105 fires and then immediately shuts down the internal flash, leading to underexposed photos. I'm not sure there's a way to deal with this other than setting the PowerShot's internal flash to manual and then using the SB-105 on full manual, too. And that's what I'm currently doing. 

EDIT: The preflash as described in your post above isn't used by all digital cameras. My G1X doesn't do that for example. AFAIK the G1X has a separate TTL circuit built in which senses the amount of light received. 

Yes the SB-105 can function as a manual optical slave. No TTL available in this mode. On slave setting the strobe will dump full, 1/4 or 1/16 of full power (depending upon the switch setting)   any time it is triggered.

 

 

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On 1/27/2020 at 11:10 AM, robotr0n said:

The Nikonos is actually triggered wirelessly, meaning the Powershot's internal flash is used to trigger the Nikonos. The SB-105 has a sensor built in that detects the presence of flash and then fires the SB-105 as long as the Powershot's internal flash is on. Hence, the only TTL that's used here is the Powershot's. The problem I've got is that the Powershot senses a lot of light present as soon as the SB-105 fires and then immediately shuts down the internal flash, leading to underexposed photos. I'm not sure there's a way to deal with this other than setting the PowerShot's internal flash to manual and then using the SB-105 on full manual, too. And that's what I'm currently doing. 

EDIT: The preflash as described in your post above isn't used by all digital cameras. My G1X doesn't do that for example. AFAIK the G1X has a separate TTL circuit built in which senses the amount of light received. 

Do you have a reference that indicates the G1X does not preflash? To my knowledge that would be a unique feature for digital cameras.

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1 minute ago, giffenk said:

Do you have a reference that indicates the G1X does not preflash? To my knowledge that would be a unique feature for digital cameras.

Well I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t. Actually, when I bought the SB-105 I read that it won’t work with preflash cameras since it dumps the flash during the preflash and is then unable to flash during the actual exposure since it’s still recycling. It works just fine with my G1X. I also remember reading that there are quite a few cameras that won’t preflash. 

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10 minutes ago, robotr0n said:

Well I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t. Actually, when I bought the SB-105 I read that it won’t work with preflash cameras since it dumps the flash during the preflash and is then unable to flash during the actual exposure since it’s still recycling. It works just fine with my G1X. I also remember reading that there are quite a few cameras that won’t preflash. 

Which manual power level of the sb-105 have you seen this behavior?

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I have not seen this behavior since my camera doesn’t preflash...

Just read about it. 

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Just because it works with the SB-105 does not mean it is not pre flashing, I would fully expect a 1/4 power manual flash to work, emitting a 1/4 power flash on pre and main flash.  You mention in your OP you are using slave mode, which would mean the flash would mimic the duration of the slave flash then mimic the main flash immediately afterwards, it would not do it perfectly perhaps as it is not specifically designed to work with TTL, but I would expect it would fire twice in that circumstance.  Looking at the manual p.97 describes FE lock which splits the Pre-flash and main flash into two operations - this is standard Canon E-TTL which uses a pre flash so I can assure you the camera uses pre-flash unless you are in manual flash.

I would also suggest you look into INON flashes, I use the older Z-240 and they work well and have been reliable.  

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