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DevilEyeDog

Would you upgrade your strobe or your snoot?

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I've inquired a bit about strobe/snoot thoughts and I've narrowed it down, but have a conundrum as I have learned I can't have it all. 
 
I have a YS-03 and Sea Dragon. Both have GN 20 and 100° with diffuser. Me and the snoot I have on the YS-03 have been fighting because there's no focus light. I briefly had a YS-01 with a snoot and the focus light could not be seen with the snoot on. This leaves me shooting blindly, repositioning, shooting again...
 
Being in NE there's a heavy macro marine population, but the few times I travel in the year I could be shooting larger critters, though even then I'd say I look for the macro.
 
I am only going to upgrade one due to cost. The Retra Pro/Prime strobe is a no. I'd have to sell a dog, or both, to afford it along with the snoot. My conundrum is, do I upgrade to a better overall strobe with a snoot or do I focus on upgrading to a better snoot. Here's what I'm debating:
  1. Inon Z330. Not sure if the focus light is strong enough to be seen through snoot. The Retra snoot looks cool, but people report the focus light is off-center making it frustrating (this would be my current situation). There are a few cheaper snoots that say they've adjusted for the off-center light. I'd probably start with a cheaper snoot option since the Retra snoot alone looks like I may need to sell the cat too.
  2. Backscatter mini-strobe & snoot. By all accounts looks amazing for snooting, but I'm not impressed with it's strobe stats. However, does it really matter? The few sharks/ rays I shoot does a GN of 18 (BS) vs 33 (IN) really make that much of a difference? Is the 90° (BS) vs 110° (IN) really going to be noticeable to this entry level photographer?
 
If you had to pick one would you upgrade to a better quality strobe with a cheaper snoot to start OR would you upgrade to a better snoot with a less quality strobe?
 
Thanks for the brain pick. 

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I'd say it comes down to how happy are you with your current setup for shooting wide-angle during trips. If you are happy with it, then get the MF-1 + snoot package; for shooting macro it's basically unrivaled. On the other hand, if better wide-angle capability is important, then get a Z-330 and accept reduced macro performance. 

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Hi DevilEyeDog.

As you can read in several different topics, buying cheap, usually means 2 purchases. First purchasing the equipment that seams the great deal, and later on buying the equipment you were dreaming with and labeled too expensive at first.

Are you going to become happy with the second buy, the dreamed equipment? Probably, but only till next launch of the new top notch.

That’s the power of marketing. It makes you willing to buy it, needing it or not. Your brain will be able to find a way to rationalize the purchase.

That said, it is much more easy to work with 2 strobes that are equal (or at least from same brand). The main reason for that is to grant that both strobes have the same color temperature. (photos with 2 different light temperatures look quite strange)

This is what I think you should have in mind.

If you are happy with your YS, and considering you have already a snoot for it, you might have a 3rd option: to buy a laser pointer to allow you increase the efficiency in aiming the snoot.

https://www.backscatter.com/10Bar-Laser-Pointer 

For sure you can find a way to adapt it to your actual snoot.

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38 minutes ago, pbalves said:

Hi DevilEyeDog.

As you can read in several different topics, buying cheap, usually means 2 purchases. First purchasing the equipment that seams the great deal, and later on buying the equipment you were dreaming with and labeled too expensive at first.

 

100%.  That's where I'm at now. Looking to upgrade, but it's so tough to choose. I will never be able to afford the best of the best (Retra Pro/Prime), but something better than the YS would be nice (but so would the ability to snoot without guessing).

 

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3 hours ago, pbalves said:

Hi DevilEyeDog.

As you can read in several different topics, buying cheap, usually means 2 purchases. First purchasing the equipment that seams the great deal, and later on buying the equipment you were dreaming with and labeled too expensive at first.

Are you going to become happy with the second buy, the dreamed equipment? Probably, but only till next launch of the new top notch.

That’s the power of marketing. It makes you willing to buy it, needing it or not. Your brain will be able to find a way to rationalize the purchase.

Totally agree! We've all got different personalities, wallets and needs. But be wary of putting off buying the one you REALLY want.... I bet so many of us have regretted that at some stage or another. Buy cheap, buy twice.

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1 minute ago, TimG said:

Totally agree! We've all got different personalities, wallets and needs. But be wary of putting off buying the one you REALLY want.... I bet so many of us have regretted that at some stage or another. Buy cheap, buy twice.

LOL.  Yup.  All my current camera equipment is used to see what I liked in the way of photography.  Years later I'm ready to upgrade, but now I have to make a decision.  Hum...Read a little more and am leading towards the BS MF1. I just don't think me purchasing one Inon Z330 and one Ys-03 is going to have me lighting up the Antilla like I envision in my head (dreams).  But I COULD get some decent macro shots. Decisions, decisions...

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts.

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I’m also looking for strobes for my new Nauticam A7C rig. I’ll shoot mostly macro and wide angle with CMC1 and WWL-1B wet lenses.

Should I get 2 Inon Z330 or 1 inon and 1 BS MF1 for macro and snoot? How is macro with 2 Inon? I really like the black background that the BS MF1 snoot can do. This is my first rig so I’d appreciate some advice.


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The BS strobe is really too low powered and doesn't have the beam spread to do WA work.  While you can get away with a single strobe for WA shots, you will struggle to cover the 130° field of the WWL with a 110° strobe beam that you are trying to just use the edge of.  While in theory you could try and balance output and coverage differences between a Z330 and the BS MF-1 strobe, underwater photography is hard enough already with handicapping yourself like that.

You can certainly do macro with two Z330, it's my standard approach as I've never been big on black BG, but there's more ways than using a snoot to achieve that black BG including picking subjects that have clear water in the background and inward lighting, plus you can always add a snoot to one of the Z330s when needed , which is reported to work reasonably well. 

You could do all the macro stuff mentioned with two MF-1as well  but would compromise on the wide angle but two Z330 would do all I mentioned (adding a snoot when required) and also do well with wide angle shots.

Of course it could be argued you are better to pick each dive as either a macro or WA dive and get better results as you are setup for whichever type of photography from the start and be in the right mindset as well to find and shoot the targets you have setup for.

 

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4 hours ago, imacro said:

Should I get 2 Inon Z330 or 1 inon and 1 BS MF1 for macro and snoot? How is macro with 2 Inon? I really like the black background that the BS MF1 snoot can do. This is my first rig so I’d appreciate some advice.

Some good advice, as always, from Chris.

As Chris alludes, you don't need a snoot to create a black background. A faster shutter speed can do that for you. What a snoot provides is a very narrow beam of light the width of which, to a degree, can be controlled. Think of it is an adjustable spotlight. 

There are a number of strobe manufacturers who make snoots which can fit on various different strobes, eg, the Retra LSD and the Inon ones. So if you went with something like the Inon Z330, getting a snoot for it is fairly straightforward and you have choices in price and function.

As for the actual strobe choice, I'd suggest you are much better getting a pair the same rather than mix and match. A pair gives you the same operating controls - and therefore familiarity - a better way of controlling the light more evenly (if that's what you need), the same battery/charging requirements and fewer spares issues. The Inon strobes have proved to be very reliable over many years. The Z330s predecessor, the Z240, almost became a standard - certainly for many WP users. The Z330 seems to be heading the same way. If you do a search you'll find a couple of posts 3-4 weeks ago about using the Retra LSD snoot on the Z330 (which Chris mentions) and that it worked well. 

If you are looking for advice: don't buy mix and match strobes. Go with 2 Inon Z330s , get used to them and then buy a snoot when you are ready.

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, imacro said:

Thanks guys, I’ll go with 2 Inon 330s.


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Our pleasure. I don't think you'll regret it. The Inons have been excellent and they have a very good resale value if it came to it.

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Bringing back this topic. I have a pair of Z330s and I would like to add a noot or the BS Mini flash. Will it be feasible to add the BS Mini alongside the Z330s on the same dive? It seems the snoot options with Z330s aren't as recommended as the BS Mini for snooting :)

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You could put an MF-1 + snoot on a loc-line arm attached to the cold shoe. Alternatively, there's the new snoot available from Marelux - somewhat expensive (about as much as the MF-1 + snoot package), but it has its own modeling light, which avoids the aiming problems inherent with Z-240/Z-330 offset modeling light. It also has a red mode, which should be helpful with light-shy subjects such as harlequin shrimp, and it uses a knob to regulate its aperture, rather than sliding masks, which is more convenient.

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38 minutes ago, newdiver said:

Bringing back this topic. I have a pair of Z330s and I would like to add a noot or the BS Mini flash. Will it be feasible to add the BS Mini alongside the Z330s on the same dive? It seems the snoot options with Z330s aren't as recommended as the BS Mini for snooting :)

 

You probably could using a triple clamp at the strobe/s, though whether you want to or would like it is hard to say as it'll make your setup that bit bulkier and it might make aiming the while rig a bit more problematic. 

The Marelux snoot mentioned by Barmaglot seems like it would be agood way to go.  The flash light from Z-330s is fine, the problem lies in aiming them due to their off centre target light.  The Marelux snoot includes a concentric aiming light, taking away the problems with aiming.

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6 hours ago, newdiver said:

Bringing back this topic. I have a pair of Z330s and I would like to add a noot or the BS Mini flash. Will it be feasible to add the BS Mini alongside the Z330s on the same dive? It seems the snoot options with Z330s aren't as recommended as the BS Mini for snooting :)

I use the Retra LSD snoot on most of my macro dives (which is the majority). It's easier if the snoot is on the left hand (looking outwards) strobe as, with most systems anyway, you have a better grip on the right hand - and you then use your left hand to guide the strobe. Having the snooted strobe locked in position is not ideal by my experience.

You could use a triple clamp to attach a second strobe (the BS Mini)  fitted with a snoot on the left hand side. However I suspect you are really going to struggle with strobes drooping on the clamp when you don't want them to. I'd be wary of that option. Better to take off one Z330 and go with a mix Inon/BS Mini setup - recognising that this is probably only idea if you're planning a macro dive.

However I thought I'd read (from Adam Hanlon?) that the aiming of the Z330 was much better than the Z240. The Z240 was indeed problematic - for me anyway with the Retra LSD. 

If I'm right in my recollection of Adam's comment, you could get the Z330 adaptor and go the Marelux route. They do look interesting - especially not needing slides to change the snoot aperture.

Maybe a slightly odd question, but how can the Marelux control the aiming light shut off? That implies to me that there is a light system in the snoot itself. And, if so, how is it powered? The website makes no reference to batteries. But maybe I'm just missing something.

As I've written a few times, I've found a snoot makes a significant difference to the impact of macro photos. And, once you get over the initial fury of frustration in the learning curve, they are great fun to use. The Retra strobe/combination is fabulous. I just need Retra to modify the LSD now to have that aperture control and avoid the need to have a bag of aperture slides on my BCD.

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25 minutes ago, TimG said:

Maybe a slightly odd question, but how can the Marelux control the aiming light shut off? That implies to me that there is a light system in the snoot itself. And, if so, how is it powered? The website makes no reference to batteries. But maybe I'm just missing something. 

The website doesn't have any details, but looking at this:

image.thumb.png.3c814bc212266b6795a8b3e6ac7decb9.png

Dollars to donuts, the coaxial tube is a battery housing, with a screw-on cap on the end to access the battery compartment. Probably an 18650 or a 21700 cell in there.

Looking in the back:

image.thumb.png.e2497a9ed4df9147cc1bb142944f2085.png

There's obviously a mirror in the top part, redirecting the aiming light beam 90 degrees. The protrusion at the very top is most likely the on/off/white/red button. One of the circles in the middle is probably the light sensor that does the shut-off, the other is probably the aperture.

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6 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

You could put an MF-1 + snoot on a loc-line arm attached to the cold shoe. Alternatively, there's the new snoot available from Marelux - somewhat expensive (about as much as the MF-1 + snoot package), but it has its own modeling light, which avoids the aiming problems inherent with Z-240/Z-330 offset modeling light. It also has a red mode, which should be helpful with light-shy subjects such as harlequin shrimp, and it uses a knob to regulate its aperture, rather than sliding masks, which is more convenient.

Is that this one?

https://www.marelux.co/products/smart-optial-flash-tube

It comes to $550 with the dock and I can't find any reviews on it to confirm how it works and whether or not suited to Z330.

Found the below info:

marelux Smart-OFT ,  latested testing data ,

1. one 18650 battery can support aiming light working continously for 12 hours, 

2. best shooting distance 17 to  20cm from object, 

3. aiming light spot and strobe light spot same size,

4. at 20cm distance , biggest light spot diameter 65mm, smallest 5mm.

5.red aiming light only 0.5w, will not disturb or hurt small marine creatures.

 

Edited by newdiver

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2 minutes ago, newdiver said:

Is that this one?

https://www.marelux.co/products/smart-optial-flash-tube

It comes to $550 with the dock and I can't find any reviews on it to confirm how it works and whether or not suited to Z330.

Yes, that's the one. Backscatter MF-1 + snoot package is also $550 (although right now it's on sale for $500), but don't forget that you will also need mounting hardware and another fiber optic cable to trigger it. I'm really not a fan of the idea of putting it on a triple clamp with a regular strobe; aiming that is going to be a nightmare, and a loc-line arm with cold shoe adapter and clamp is going to be another ~$100.

Z-240/Z-330 issues with snoots relate to their off-center aiming light, which, at least with some snoot designs, offsets the aiming spot from where the strobe light will hit. Marelux SOFT has its own aiming light, so you don't need to use the strobe's modeling light with it.

One thing I cannot tell from the photos though, is how easy or difficult it is to attach/detach the snoot to/from the strobe. I use Retra Pro + Retra LSD, and I usually carry the LSD clipped to a D-ring, attaching it to my left strobe when the situation calls for it, and detaching it afterwards. No idea how feasible this would be with the Marelux snoot.

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2 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

I'm really not a fan of the idea of putting it on a triple clamp with a regular strobe; aiming that is going to be a nightmare,

Totally agree!

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You would be hard pressed to do better than the Backscatter MF-1+Snoot package. It is by far the best and easiest snoot you can use in my experience. It's a strobe explicitly designed with the snoot in mind, and it aims perfectly. It's small enough to be very easy to manipulate. I have a 6 inch bungie with a bolt snap on the snoot, and leave it clipped to a zip tied o-ring on the ball mount. I can pop it off and leave it dangling and reattach without fumbling with it. If you can buy it on sale, it's a great deal. 

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Size wise it seems the BS MF is much smaller and weights less, however as mentioned by you it is cumbersome due to extra optical cables and mounting it on the tray.

Marelux:

Weight: 1.5 lb
Dimensions: 8 in × 6 in × 6 in

 

BS MF:

  • Dimensions With Ball(LxWxD):
    • 7.36 x 2.31 x 4.06in
    • Weight in Air: 13.25oz/375g
    • Weight in Water: 5.29oz/150g

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