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adamhanlon

Field Report: Seacam Seaflash 160D strobes

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The travel restrictions instituted in order to control COVID-19 have presented challenges for the testing of equipment. As a case in point, Wetpixel Editor Adam Hanlon has had the Seacam Seaflash 160D strobes for over 18 months but has only now managed to get into blue water to give than a thorough test. In this episode, he outlines his findings about the strobes thus far.

 

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I am keen on reading or hearing Alex's opinion on this model as he has been using the 150D model for several years now and how they two models compare (in all ways). A bit of irony in my case is that I have one 150D for Canon and one 150D for Nikon so having a convertible model makes some sense. I would like to know how this process goes - actual experience.

Your statement about battery packs starts to fail as the packs age. If one cell ages more than another (inevitable) then the whole pack slides.  An advantage of single cells is that they can each be babied and indeed they need to be. One has to use a fancier charger like the Maha C9000 to do this.  Even Eneloops do not all go downhill at the same rate even if always used together. I have had to chuck out one of a 4 cell group in several cases (failed the charger test, but they were a few years old). As well I have seen 100 mah variation among brand new ones and more for older ones.

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I have used 150D's for as long as Alex! These are significantly more powerful, easier to use and (in my opinion) produce a better quality of light. Having fiber optic is useful for lots of reasons. I never like the colors produced by the 150s in green water, but really like the way these work. 

Firmware updates are easy. I have done so with mine. You would need to ask Seacam for the Canon/Nikon version, download to your computer. Link the computer to the strobe via the USB adaptor and update. There is/was never any difference between the internals on the 150, it was always a firmware change. 

I'm not sure that I can see a functional difference between a battery pack and single cells in terms of longevity, except that you need to replace the whole battery pack. I would always advocate carrying a spare for each strobe, for a whole bunch of reasons.

Even using a Maha charger, I tend to replace all my Eneloops on a revolving basis, so I guess you need to do the same with battery packs? I don't have enough long term data with the 160D battery packs, but my 150D packs lasted several years of hard use with no apparent ill effects. 

Adam

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19 hours ago, Alex_Mustard said:

I hope that you haven't forgotten promising to let me try them in Cayman in January!

I will send them down next week....

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On switching from the Nikon to Canon version of the 160D, I believe it is built in from the start. It is one of the options when scrolling through the "Set" menu. There should be no need to get different firmware.

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Thanks Adam for your reply

I have not done green water but most of my salmon shots have some degree of tannins in them that makes white balance somewhat challenging for any strobe or when shooting natural light. Color temp is thus less important (for me) than other aspects of the quality of light.

I have found there to be a vast difference in the AAs that I use vs the Seacam battery packs. I even asked the battery expert who rebuilt mine whether Eneloops could be used as replacements but alas the sizes are a bit different. One of the big issues is the self discharge rate which is quite fast and not so for Eneloops. The ones in the Seacam packs are more like the batteries I used before switching to Eneloops in 2008. I am still using some of these. I grabbed 4 battery holders off the table next to me and took this shot - the 08 labeled ones are batteries from 2008. I only use them for lights now but I have over 10 lights that use them so I put them to good use until they die. The Seacam packs are good for about 3 years. It may be that you are getting more out of yours if you do not have interruptions  (e.g. several months) in their use. As well, mine get used in sub-freezing conditions part of their life.

The feature I most like about the Seacam strobes besides the light quality are the alarms - both visual and acoustic. This is quite useful for my remote control work when I am a slight distance away. Not sure if the new style display will be as good from a distance. Red glowing numbers are easy to see in the dark.  BTW the Retras are very hard to read in the dark - I am looking into buying some fluorescent paint to paint some dots by the settings I use. The change in color when the strobe recycles though is very nice though the colors change if submerged in stained water (rather stained in my local lake - there is still a color change). When the change takes longer(re. Retra) it is obvious so i know time has come to change batteries. I have changed batteries in the middle of shoots. For example I have done two swaps with my 150Ds so that one strobe was used with 3 packs in one shoot (housing stayed in the water) that lasted for many hours. As well I can use just one strobe at 12 O'clock to shoot a fisheye lens (full frame i.e., rectangular frame) with a diffuser.

ScubaLute - thanks

IMG_0135.jpeg

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