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Sea&Sea YS-D3 doesn't work with UWT TTL trigger?

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2 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

@sharkadoboRegarding the trigger issue that fires off only one port and not the other the solution should be to see if your retailer will help with testing the trigger with various other strobes on that port.  You could :

  • Test the RH port with other strobes
  • Test the RH LED holding the cable directly touching the LED of the trigger with camera out of housing - to test alignment
  • measure the Light output from each port - I'm am guessing that  a handheld flash meter might be able to measure this - again this would demonstrate whether or not the same light output is coming from each port.

If your ports face forward, you can measure the relative brightness by putting a piece of regular paper in front of the sync ports and take a picture pointing into a mirror.  The light shining through the paper should be equal brightness from both ports.

If both are overexposed / saturated in the picture, stop down, or add a second sheet of paper.

If your ports face up, tape a piece of cardstock onto your camera and fold it so it's at about a 45-degree angle, so the ports shine onto the cardstock where you can see it in the mirror.

You can do the same thing to test sync cables; point them at a piece of paper and take a picture of it.

- Randall

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

Interesting information - so TTL has to send a pulse to get it read pushed through a lookup table which tells the flash how long to fire for.  I guess I can see why they do that as it allows you to shift the table up and down and apply compensation to the TTL output which you couldn't do if it  directly mimicked the TTL pulse length.

S&S seem to have been progressively reducing the sensitivity of their slave sensors over time based on what I've picked up helping people having triggering difficulties.   My instinct is to suggest people use a different strobe that is not known to have these triggering issues unless they want to trigger electrically.

Yeah, as far as I can tell, that's what strobes are doing in their fancy adjustable TTL modes.

Slave TTL mode does directly mimic the pulse length, with no delay.  Which would be great for trigger boards that were calibrated for that.  But it also seems to need a brighter sync pulse than LEDs can generate.

I took apart my old YS-D1 after its tube finally died.  There are actually two photodiodes in the sync port.  I wonder if it uses one of them for DS-TTL, and the other for slave TTL directly to the triggering circuit.  I haven't traced the circuits to reverse-engineer them yet.

YS-D2J and YS-D3 seem to have the exact same photosensor board, though different than the YS-D1.  See attached photo.  Wow, that's hard to light and get a decent macro shot.  Also note the two photodiodes.

(Note for anyone contemplating disassembling strobes: They have BIG capacitors charged up to 300V+, and can retain that charge for a long time.  The only difference between a strobe and a defibrillator is where you put your fingers.  If you don't know how to safely shunt those capacitors to discharge them, don't open a strobe unless it's been sitting on the shelf for a year.  Please be careful.)

DSC04303.jpg

Edited by Randall Spangler
Add clarification about YS-D1
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48 minutes ago, Randall Spangler said:

If your ports face forward, you can measure the relative brightness by putting a piece of regular paper in front of the sync ports and take a picture pointing into a mirror.  The light shining through the paper should be equal brightness from both ports.

If both are overexposed / saturated in the picture, stop down, or add a second sheet of paper.

If your ports face up, tape a piece of cardstock onto your camera and fold it so it's at about a 45-degree angle, so the ports shine onto the cardstock where you can see it in the mirror.

You can do the same thing to test sync cables; point them at a piece of paper and take a picture of it.

- Randall

Excellent that's also a good way of doing it I think this would be worth doing this with any trigger that is playing up.  Thanks for the input - it feels like we should be able to get to the bottom of some of these issues!

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Again @Randall Spangler this is really, really good information. Thank you so much for sharing it. I was chatting to another strobe manufacturer some time ago, and they mentioned that they could control flash sensitivity via firmware. So the issue here might be simply badly written firmware.

There was thought that Sea&Sea had deliberately detuned their sensitivity to prevent "spurious" flashing. Certainly, this is not an issue that I have ever had/come across?

Has anyone used YS-D3 with Sea&Sea's own optical trigger? It seems likely that any in-house testing would have been done with it, so it would be interesting to see if this has a work around?

@sharkadobo I'm pretty sure that your issue is with the strobe, not the trigger. It seems to be a widespread problem with these strobes and many triggers, rather than one or other brand. Bluewater should be chatting to Sea&Sea, not Aquatica...

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, adamhanlon said:

Again @Randall Spangler this is really, really good information. Thank you so much for sharing it. I was chatting to another strobe manufacturer some time ago, and they mentioned that they could control flash sensitivity via firmware. So the issue here might be simply badly written firmware.

There was thought that Sea&Sea had deliberately detuned their sensitivity to prevent "spurious" flashing. Certainly, this is not an issue that I have ever had/come across?

Has anyone used YS-D3 with Sea&Sea's own optical trigger? It seems likely that any in-house testing would have been done with it, so it would be interesting to see if this has a work around?

Interesting.  I wonder how they implement that?  Different lookup table is easy.  But that's duration, not sensitivity.  Switching different resistors onto the photodiode would work.  The photodiode produces current as a function of input intensity.  Higher intensity means more current.  If the circuit has too much capacitance, then that extra charge takes a while to die out and messes up the duration math.  For comparison, my photodiode that I use to measure strobe duration is actually just a LED with resistor soldered across the leads.  Not extremely sensitive, but it doesn't need to be when it's right in the path of the flash.

Unfortunately, outside of Retra, I don't know of any user-upgradeable flash firmware.

I haven't torn apart a YS-D2 or YS-D3, but the YS-D1 uses a Renesas R5F212B7 SNFP 8-bit CPU.  There's a debug port on the board (edit: double-checked the board; it's labeled "DEBAG" ;)), so I suppose I could solder up a connector and see if I can read out the firmware.  I'm not quite willing to do that with a strobe I might have to RMA, though, so the YS-D3 is off-limits (for now).

It seems like we should be able to come up with a way of comparing trigger brightness.  Something like:

  • Use a multi-stranded cable in the camera housing
  • Hold the strobe end 1" away from a piece of white copy paper
  • Change aperture/ISO of the camera until the center of the illuminated spot is around half-brightness as shows by the camera JPEG.

That wouldn't be exact, but it'd get it within a stop of brightness, which should be enough to make some comparisons.  I could also compare with the light from my RX100's flash.

Edited by Randall Spangler
Add note on YS-D1 "debag" port
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15 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

S&S seem to have been progressively reducing the sensitivity of their slave sensors over time based on what I've picked up helping people having triggering difficulties.   My instinct is to suggest people use a different strobe that is not known to have these triggering issues unless they want to trigger electrically.

I checked my notes from when I still had a working YS-D1.  Here's some rough notes on the relative sensitivity of YS-D2 and YS-D1 when triggering in manual mode.  Not directly comparable to the numbers I've quoted before because this was with an early dev board with somewhat different resistors.

  • Red LEDs
    • YS-D2, S&S cable = 1 us
    • YS-D1, S&S cable = 3 us
    • YS-D2, cheap cable = 4 us
    • YS-D1, cheap cable = 10 us
  • White LEDs
    • YS-D2, S&S cable = 2 us
    • YS-D1, S&S cable = 6 us
    • YS-D2, cheap cable = 4 us
    • YS-D1, cheap cable = 18 us
  • IR LEDs
    • YS-D2, S&S cable = 1 us
    • YS-D1, S&S cable = 7 us
    • YS-D2, cheap cable = 3 us
    • YS-D1, cheap cable = 29 us
  • Green LEDs
    • YS-D2, S&S cable = 3 us
    • YS-D1, S&S cable = 10 us
    • YS-D2, cheap cable = 6 us
    • YS-D1, cheap cable = 31 us

For the same current limit on my trigger board (~80 mA), red LEDs were most efficient in triggering the strobes.  And YS-D2 was actually more sensitive than YS-D1. 

I also couldn't reliably trigger a 1/256 power TTL pulse on YS-D1, but can on YS-D2. 

They do have somewhat different profiles, though, so a profile optimized for YS-D1 may not work as well on YS-D2. 

In particular, the lookup table for preflash intensity is different that that for the main flash.  And on the YS-D2, it's capped at a fairly short number (~75 usec).  Longer than that, and the YS-D2 will fire a full intensity preflash, and then the main flash won't go off at all (because it's recharging).  From the user's point of view, it's a nice bright flash, but the photos are still dark.  

For comparison, YS-D3 seems to have given up on measuring the preflash, and always fires a 1/32 power (GN5.6) preflash regardless of the preflash trigger pulse duration.  I wonder if that was a firmware compensation for the sensitivity problems in the photosensor circuit; GN5.6 is right where I really have trouble triggering it reliably at all.

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11 hours ago, adamhanlon said:



@sharkadobo I'm pretty sure that your issue is with the strobe, not the trigger. It seems to be a widespread problem with these strobes and many triggers, rather than one or other brand. Bluewater should be chatting to Sea&Sea, not Aquatica...

Hi Adam, the issue we're trying to investigate is that the same YS-D2 & cable  will trigger from the RH fibre optic port but not from the LH fibre optic port.  Could be lower LED power or misalignment of the LED to the port, but we won't know till we test it.

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Quote

Hi Adam, the issue we're trying to investigate is that the same YS-D2 & cable  will trigger from the RH fibre optic port but not from the LH fibre optic port.  Could be lower LED power or misalignment of the LED to the port, but we won't know till we test it.

Or it could be that the LH needs cleaning! I note that the housing is new, but given how sensitive these strobes are, a bit of manufacturing residue might make a difference?

The YS-DXs seems so finicky about what triggers them, that this is most likely to be the cause. Has the port been tried with another strobe, or has the YS-110 been tried with both ports? If the trigger works with other brands/types of strobe, then my feeling is still that the issue is with the strobe's triggering sensitivity.

I think the solution is to ship/take the whole thing back to Bluewater and get them to test it with a different strobe, different trigger etc. 



 

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6 minutes ago, adamhanlon said:

Or it could be that the LH needs cleaning! I note that the housing is new, but given how sensitive these strobes are, a bit of manufacturing residue might make a difference?

The YS-DXs seems so finicky about what triggers them, that this is most likely to be the cause. Has the port been tried with another strobe, or has the YS-110 been tried with both ports? If the trigger works with other brands/types of strobe, then my feeling is still that the issue is with the strobe's triggering sensitivity.

I think the solution is to ship/take the whole thing back to Bluewater and get them to test it with a different strobe, different trigger etc. 
 

Hi Adam, while I agree taking it to Bluewater is a good solution, we have a couple of fairly simple tests that can be done at home to test the performance of the trigger, which could save some time and lots of swearing at the equipment.  @sharkadobo did confirm that the windows of the housing were cleaned BTW, somewhat further up this lengthy thread.

We are though getting some great information in this thread which should help with future troubleshooting for other strobes.

The YS-Dx strobes certainly do give their share of issues.  The ultimate solution to me would be a matched pair of easy to trigger strobes - but the solution needs to match the budget of the person inflicted with the problem!

 

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8 hours ago, adamhanlon said:

I got a (delayed) notification that Sea&Sea has issued a firmware update for the YS-D3:

https://www.seaandsea.jp/press/1615166911.html

According to the press release, this only addresses issues with the TTL functionality.

Adam

That's excellent news!  Copying it here, to aid in searchability:

Quote

 

Sea&Sea has made changes to the TTL software in all models from serial numbers #180701320.  The update is to address an overexposure when opening the aperture to lower f stops in compact cameras and address compatibility with 3 party TTL converters.  Please note that this software update is only to address the TTL function.  Customers with a YS-D3 model with a serial number prior to #180701320 may require an update.  Please contact your local Sea&Sea Dealer or Sea&Sea Distributor for information on updating your strobe.

 

When cameras open up to a wider aperture (lower f-stop), they often fire a weaker preflash.  That would have trouble triggering the original YS-D3 firmware.  The original firmware also always fires a 1/32 power preflash regardless of sync pulse and only syncs down to about 1/32 power, so if the camera needed less than 1/32, it would end up with an overexposed main flash.

My strobes are 180700757 and 180700791, so need the update.  I'll head down to Backscatter this coming weekend to see about that.  I'm guessing they need to be shipped back to Sea&Sea.

I have a pretty complete profile for the original firmware, so I'll be able to compare how the new firmware differs when I get them back.  Fingers crossed.

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Posted (edited)

I just tested the latest rev of the YS-D3 in the shop with my Nauticam D850 and optical flash trigger board. I used a pair of Nauticam cables and set the board to YSD2 mode.

It works fine, fairly rapid firing, TTL and manual control seems good. The only issue I saw was in Cl or Ch release modes where there was a slight hesitation. I think the camera was looking to see if the strobe had recycled.

You can send the strobes into S&S here in the US and they can flash the pram. They told me that this does address Nauticam triggers, which are made by UWt.

I have customers using these with Nauticam manual flash triggers on an A7III with very good results.

Jack

Edited by JackConnick

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I got my firmware-upgraded strobes back a couple weeks ago, and finally had time to profile them today.

The good news is the strobes are now very consistent triggered with a LED.  In hundreds of test shots, I've never seen them not fire.  And the odd double-triggering I was seeing with short pulses is gone as well.

The response curves seem better adjusted to work with P&S cameras.  I haven't played with them and my RX100, but I have a feeling they're going to behave better.

The strobe response curves to LEDs are shifted even further than they were before.  So it takes longer LED pulses to trigger a given GN pulse via TTL.  That's not too horrible; I can get a reasonable range of output up to GN22 with the strobe set to +1EV.  Though I don't seem to be able to reliably trigger the strobe with LEDs below GN2.8.

But there's one new annoying behavior.  The preflash used to be fixed at just a bit less than 1/16 power.  Now it's capped at GN2.8 (1/128 power!).  I think they did that to stop the strobe from totally saturating P&S cameras; that matches their release notes.  But the Sony a7RIII would really like to fire a 1/16 preflash when using a 90mm macro lens stopped down.

Oh, one other interesting tidbit: On most cameras, 1/3EV stops are translated to 0.375 and 0.625.  The +/- 0.3 and 0.7 settings on the strobe appear to be +/- 0.25 and 0.75.  1/8EV difference shouldn't matter in practice, but it threw me for a while when I was trying to line up the profiles at different DS-TTL settings.

- Randall

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Victory!  I figured out how to convince the Sony a7RIII to match the actual preflash power from the YS-D3.  Now I'm getting consistent TTL performance from GN2.8 - GN22, even in bright sunlight.  TTL also works for 3 fps continuous shooting.

In manual power mode, with the trigger board set not to fire a preflash, I can get 8 fps bursts (~8 shots at GN8, ~4 shots at GN11).  Can't wait to try to use that with focus stacking in Photoshop on super-macro critters.

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4 hours ago, Randall Spangler said:

Can't wait to try to use that with focus stacking in Photoshop on super-macro critters. 

How do you do focus stacking on a Sony camera? I've looked into it some time ago and couldn't find anything that didn't involve external devices that aren't practical for use underwater.

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Just now, Barmaglot said:

How do you do focus stacking on a Sony camera? I've looked into it some time ago and couldn't find anything that didn't involve external devices that aren't practical for use underwater.

I'm hoping that a 4-shot burst at 8 fps while moving the camera towards the subject will work.  Inhale slightly, exhale while dropping down slightly towards the subject and use focus peaking to anticipate when to fire the camera.  Same thing I do now, but right now I only get one shot at a time with my YS-D2Js.

I'm also hoping those bursts will help for black water dives.  I'm using fixed flash power there anyway since TTL doesn't work very well on transparent critters in a black ocean.  But AF doesn't work really well on little squirmy mostly transparent things either.  

Everything underwater moves enough I suspect longer bursts will result in too much scene movement to stack well.

Above water, a tripod mount on a rail with a drive screw works pretty well.  I agree that's not going to work underwater.

(If I were made of money, a Sony a1 at 20 fps would probably work even better...)

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1 hour ago, Randall Spangler said:

I'm hoping that a 4-shot burst at 8 fps while moving the camera towards the subject will work.  Inhale slightly, exhale while dropping down slightly towards the subject and use focus peaking to anticipate when to fire the camera.  Same thing I do now, but right now I only get one shot at a time with my YS-D2Js.

I tried that with UWT trigger and Retra Pros and couldn't get it to work. Maybe I need more practice.

1 hour ago, Randall Spangler said:

I'm also hoping those bursts will help for black water dives.  I'm using fixed flash power there anyway since TTL doesn't work very well on transparent critters in a black ocean.  But AF doesn't work really well on little squirmy mostly transparent things either.  

I've only done a couple blackwater dives so far, but I was using Retra Pros with reflectors and it was taking full power dumps to get proper illumination at ISO 800, although, to be fair, I was stopping down to f/36 for depth of field. Even with superchargers, that is not burst-friendly.

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