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Kraken de Mabini

Sea&Sea YS-D3-2 vs Inon Z330-2 ?

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Both the Sea&Sea YS-D3-mark 2 and the Inon Z330-v2 have been reviewed, each by itself, by Mike Bartick and Phil Rudin.  Both are excellent reviews and each strobe garnered excellent points, with no significant weaknesses; they weigh about the same, are about the same size, and emit about the same amount of flash.

To choose one, it would be useful to know: 
Has a side by side comparison, particularly an underwater comparison, been published ? 
If we set aside the ~$200 price difference, Which strobe is preferable and why?

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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I've not seen a comparison,  for me based on history I'd pick the INON.  One thing I see is S&S YS-D3 in the manual says the numbers on the dial correspond to guide numbers - 32- 22-16 etc.  which would seem to indicate full stops between each setting.  It is not clear from the manual if this is the case or if there are half clicks between each number?

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Based on my own experience of Inons (Z220 and Z240) and stories I've read here about Sea&Sea strobes, my inclination would be to go with the Inons all else being relatively equal.

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@Kraken de Mabini

Before picking up a couple of Retras I shot with 2 Z330's (moving from Z240's).

I highly recommend the strobe. It cycles faster than the Z240, slightly wider reach, more powerful (to the edges), and I've always liked the Inon ergonomics.

I do not have a YS-D3 but I did shoot with 2 this summer. On the power and recycling it was very close compared to the Z330, but I still believe the ergonomics on the Inons are better. 

Specifically, for macro they are likely very (very) similar, for wide-angle I found the Z330's to have slightly better reach.

Then add in that Sea & Sea struggled with quality & support for a few years I'm an Inon fan (although more so a Retra fan now). 

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:
  Thank you,  OneYellowTang, for your thoughtful, clear, logical evaluation of these strobes.  In the past I have used Sea&Sea Ys D2's and Inon Z240's, and have preferred the Inon's.

  Now Sea&Sea is probably being run by the descendants of the founders, and has just been bought by a big corporation.  The Sea&Sea YS-D3 -2 is $200 more than the Z330-2, for starters.  The published evaluations of the Z330, including yours, are  quite positive. I have not seen one for the S&S.  

 Based on the above, I will probably buy the Z330's from Fun-In Photo in Taiwan (best price, no sales tax), once over-seas travel is again possible. 

 

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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You may want to read the Reefphoto.com strobe comparison which includes the new Inon Z330 type II and the new S&S YS-D3-2 as well as several other strobes. Reef sells all the strobes tested, but it does not appear that they have favored any strobes based on margins. 

Reefs findings includes a strobe coverage image comparisons. 

Interesting findings including coverage and guide numbers.

 

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Phil Rudin may be referring to this article by Reef Photo:

https://reefphoto.com/blogs/trending/how-good-are-the-current-strobes-for-light-intensity-and-coverage

and this one, a bit older but still worthwhile:

https://reefphoto.com/blogs/trending/why-it-might-be-time-to-upgrade-your-underwater-strobes

Time to get a sandwich and a cup of coffee, plus a pen and notebook to better read and appreciate these articles.
Thank you, Phil! And congratulations to Reef Photo for doing this useful and much appreciated hard work!

Edited by Kraken de Mabini
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Backscatter did a thorough and excellent review of available strobes in 2020, here it is: 

https://www.backscatter.com/reviews/post/Best-Underwater-Strobe-Flash

Now one may add the newly available Scubalamp Supe D strobes and related lamps. 

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You probably have made a decision at this point but in case you have not: Between my boyfriend and I, we bought 4 Sea&Sea YS-D3 strobes in the past year. We mange to flood 3 of them and one started to malfunction on its own. The malfunctioning one was not flooded, it would just take a very long time to charge between shoots, and was sent to repairs (still in warranty, and waiting to get it back as we speak). Of the 3 that we flooded (on separate occasions), I can honestly see only one time that would sort of justify the flooding: we had a rough exit on a concrete stair and got tossed around a bit. The separate events that led to flooding of the other 2 strobes had nothing remarkable or different that what we normally do: routine shore diving. Before every dive, we rigorously clean and grease the o-rings (clean the grooves too) so no clue how they got flooded, other than how easily the battery cap can move and let water sip in.

I don't have a whole lot of confidence with these strobes and I am looking at Inon and Retra for future replacements.

Thanks.

Edited by Silvana
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TBH, if you flood three strobes, I would also look at other things than the strobe manufacturer. If there is one thing I actually prefer on S&S strobes it's the closing mechanism and as far as I'm aware it hasn't changed from the D2 to the D3. While the D2 is known for having had a number of failures, higher risk to flooding was not one of them.

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On 12/10/2021 at 7:53 AM, Silvana said:

Before every dive, we rigorously clean and grease the o-rings (clean the grooves too)

That might actually have something to do with it. If you mess with the o-rings too much, you risk damaging them and letting water in. I inspect mine for debris but generally touch them as little as possible - basically a clean and grease at the beginning of a trip, and again at the end.

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2 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

That might actually have something to do with it. If you mess with the o-rings too much, you risk damaging them and letting water in. I inspect mine for debris but generally touch them as little as possible - basically a clean and grease at the beginning of a trip, and again at the end.

Agreed. The more you handle an o-ring the more it stretches out. A loose o-ring with pinch and leak. Unless the o-ring is visible dirty, don't remove it from the groove. Just spread a tiny sheen of white lube (Tribolube 71) on it with your fingertips.

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This is a topic I disagree on, I have INON strobes (Z-240) and they trap water between the o-ring and the end of the cap and when you unscrew the cap there are water droplets all over the o-ring including on the battery compartment side.  With the water there is inevitably some grit as I mostly do shore dives.  My o-rings are currently over 4 years old and they come off for a dry-out, clean and re-lube each battery change.  On INON strobes you can inspect the seal through the cap and detect any issues.  But you must use enough lube - if the cap seems difficult to screw on, stop and add some grease.  I typically put a very light smear on the cap sealing surface.  I might replace mine in a year or so - seems like a pretty good service life.

My INON torches on the other had, the torch head screws down against and external o-ring, it doesn't seem to be designed as a seal but the end result is that there is no water trapped below the o-rings when I unscrew the torch head.  So those o-rings get a quick inspection and are taken off for a clean once every year or two.

In summary be guided by your experience, which will vary with the type of o-ring closure and your diving environment.  If your o-rings are typically dry and can free from grit upon inspection, then you can leave them in place. If not remove them and clean them!  If you are concerned about stretch - replace them annually, seems like cheap insurance.  If you remove them only stretch them enough to slide off the strobe  and be careful not to stretch them when inspecting them.

 

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17 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

This is a topic I disagree on, I have INON strobes (Z-240) and they trap water between the o-ring and the end of the cap and when you unscrew the cap there are water droplets all over the o-ring including on the battery compartment side.  With the water there is inevitably some grit as I mostly do shore dives.  My o-rings are currently over 4 years old and they come off for a dry-out, clean and re-lube each battery change.  On INON strobes you can inspect the seal through the cap and detect any issues.  But you must use enough lube - if the cap seems difficult to screw on, stop and add some grease.  I typically put a very light smear on the cap sealing surface.  I might replace mine in a year or so - seems like a pretty good service life.

My INON torches on the other had, the torch head screws down against and external o-ring, it doesn't seem to be designed as a seal but the end result is that there is no water trapped below the o-rings when I unscrew the torch head.  So those o-rings get a quick inspection and are taken off for a clean once every year or two.

In summary be guided by your experience, which will vary with the type of o-ring closure and your diving environment.  If your o-rings are typically dry and can free from grit upon inspection, then you can leave them in place. If not remove them and clean them!  If you are concerned about stretch - replace them annually, seems like cheap insurance.  If you remove them only stretch them enough to slide off the strobe  and be careful not to stretch them when inspecting them.

 

I am not suggesting that you don't need to lubricate the o-rings or clean them if dirty. I lube the inner surface of the Inon cap as well. If you know what you are doing, then great!

The problem is that many people hear "You must always lubricate your o-rings" and then proceed to pull on them like they are a preschooler with Play-Doh. I've seen more than one o-ring mangler on live-aboard dive trips flood their cameras and strobes doing this. They can never figure out why because they took such great care of their housings o-rings.

So, my point of emphasis is that you should carefully wipe and lube the sealing surfaces but be very careful with the o-rings. They will elongate and get loose with too much handling, causing them to pinch and leak.

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4 hours ago, davehicks said:

I am not suggesting that you don't need to lubricate the o-rings or clean them if dirty. I lube the inner surface of the Inon cap as well. If you know what you are doing, then great!

The problem is that many people hear "You must always lubricate your o-rings" and then proceed to pull on them like they are a preschooler with Play-Doh. I've seen more than one o-ring mangler on live-aboard dive trips flood their cameras and strobes doing this. They can never figure out why because they took such great care of their housings o-rings.

So, my point of emphasis is that you should carefully wipe and lube the sealing surfaces but be very careful with the o-rings. They will elongate and get loose with too much handling, causing them to pinch and leak.

I agree you don't want to stretch your o-rings too much - my point is you often won't know if they are dirty till you pull them off and find bits of grit.  My suggestion is be guided by the condition of the o-rings, but certainly don't be afraid to pull them off, it will take a long time to stretch them enough to be a problem if you keep the stretching to the minimum needed to dismount them and certainly don't pull hard on them, but don't be afraid to pull them through your fingers to find bits of grit by touch - a delicate touch is required.

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On 12/11/2021 at 6:32 AM, Barmaglot said:

That might actually have something to do with it. If you mess with the o-rings too much, you risk damaging them and letting water in. I inspect mine for debris but generally touch them as little as possible - basically a clean and grease at the beginning of a trip, and again at the end.

Well, we do shore diving and most of the time we open the cap to remove the batteries, there is a visible sand on the o-ring, sometimes more, sometimes less, but is never clean. There is no way I would just put the cap back on after recharging the batteries and without cleaning the o-ring...

Edited by Silvana

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On 12/11/2021 at 5:47 AM, hyp said:

TBH, if you flood three strobes, I would also look at other things than the strobe manufacturer. If there is one thing I actually prefer on S&S strobes it's the closing mechanism and as far as I'm aware it hasn't changed from the D2 to the D3. While the D2 is known for having had a number of failures, higher risk to flooding was not one of them.

I am very open to hear what potential problems can be from my end...As I mentioned before, we do rigorous cleaning after each dive due to the sand trapped on the rings (shore diving), also clean the grooves on the cap and on the battery compartment, use grease from Sea&Sea in small amounts to have the o-ring rolling and surely do not overstretch the o-ring while removing/putting it back. Thanks for any constructive thoughts you can offer.

Edited by Silvana

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On 12/13/2021 at 3:16 PM, Silvana said:

I am very open to hear what potential problems can be from my end...As I mentioned before, we do rigorous cleaning after each dive due to the sand trapped on the rings (shore diving), also clean the grooves on the cap and on the battery compartment, use grease from Sea&Sea in small amounts to have the o-ring rolling and surely do not overstretch the o-ring while removing/putting it back. Thanks for any constructive thoughts you can offer.

My feeling is that you are overcleaning and may well be causing problems.   Having 3 of 4 strobes leak sounds like a user-induced failure.

I've got the opposite approach.  I rarely clean my o-rings, especially by removing them from the housing.  I *may* do that once a year before a big dive trip, but I certainly don't do it in the field.    My philosophy is that the more I handle the o-rings, the more likely I am to induce a hair or some contaminant underneath the o-ring.    I look at them closely after a dive and before sealing up the housing again, and I usually run a finger around the o-ring to feel for issues.

How has this 'technique' worked over the years?  No leaks.   I've got Canon point-n-shoot housings used for years without issues, though that sort of camera tended to be replaced every 2-3 years.   My Sony RX100 has a Nauticam housing bought in 2015 and still going on the original o-rings.   My Nikon D810 housing went four years without a problem, now replaced by a D850 housing.

If you start clean, why pull an o-ring from the housing to clean underneath it after a dive or even a week?   It's just a great way to get a hair in there.

That said, I rarely deal with short diving and the sand it brings along.  I also don't usually have to open my housing on a boat or outside my hotel room.  I have enough battery in the camera for at least two dives, unless I'm doing a lot of video.    That helps a lot with limiting exposure on my Nikons.  With the Sony RX100 I had to open the housing after every dive and change a battery on the boat.

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Thank you for your thoughts and shared experience. However, the leaks I experienced are not in general but very particular to Sea and Sea YS-D3 strobe. While the cap for the Sea and Sea strobes stayed the same for YS-D2 and I hear even older generations, the D3 modified the battery compartment to a different mold. It is noticeable the different fit of the cap from D2 to D3, in that for D3, it is not a snug fit as it is for D2. YS-D3 has been on the market for about 1.5 years and it was announced with a great buzz, but waiting to see the divers' experiences after more than just few dives.

Thanks.

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Re strobe leaks, I have used both Inon and Sea&Sea strobes for eight or more years. I have had one Inon battery flood from a twisted cap O ring, my fault for not detecting it, but no Sea&Sea YS-D1 or D2 leaks.  From looking at photos of the Sea&Sea YS-D3 strobe, its battery cap is practically the same as in previous strobes. 

The Inon and Sea&Sea battery caps need minimal human intervention, and when kept clean with minimal handling, they keep the water out. The weak link is us error-prone humans. As the strobe cap designs are solid, it is safe to say that most, if not all, leaks are the divers responsibility.

 

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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Been diving a D1 for about 8 years and flooded one early in its life. That was cleaned and got new cap, never failed again. Just had a D finally fail (continuous flashes) and replaced that with a D3. With about 12 dives on that strobe, so far, no apparent issues. Before each dive day I always make sure the o-ring is clean and re-install with just a little lube. Seems to work for me.

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On 1/12/2022 at 1:06 PM, Kraken de Mabini said:

Re strobe leaks, I have used both Inon and Sea&Sea strobes for eight or more years. I have had one Inon battery flood from a twisted cap O ring, my fault for not detecting it, but no Sea&Sea YS-D1 or D2 leaks.  From looking at photos of the Sea&Sea YS-D3 strobe, its battery cap is practically the same as in previous strobes.  

The Inon and Sea&Sea battery caps need minimal human intervention, and when kept clean with minimal handling, they keep the water out. The weak link is us error-prone humans. As the strobe cap designs are solid, it is safe to say that most, if not all, leaks are the divers responsibility.

 

Cap is the same but what it screws into is not the same, they modified the battery compartment for YS-D3. The fit is not as snug as for YS-D2, for example. Just learned that a friend of mine who bought her YS-D3 around same time as I did, also flooded one of her strobes. I would be interested to hear more of the experience with this particular model than comments in general. Thanks anyway.

Edited by Silvana

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