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plangstroth

Canon SD500 strobe suggestion

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I am looking for a reasonable strobe to use on the new Canon SD500. Will just about any work, or are there things to consider?

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How come you chose that camera when folks recommended a Sony P200 in an Ikelite in the thread you started?

 

Oh well. Most strobes (Ike/Inon) will work, but you will stuck using the camera selected aperture of f2.8 underwater. There is no way of forcing the camera to select a smaller aperture which you will probably find is a bit of a problem. This camera is a bit of a pain to use UW for this reason.

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I just bought a Canon SD500. Tried everything to get my SB105 Stobe to sync as a slave to it. Tried all the flash modes, boosted exposure. No luck, the SB105 fires but the SD500 must be to fast, the picture is always dark. Seems to be no way to sync it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Sounds like the SD500 fires a pre-flash and given that the SB105 is too old to have been designed to deal with such sophistication, you might struggle. You may have some luck with Matthias Heinrich's converter...

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Anthony,

 

>>How come you chose that camera when folks recommended a Sony P200 in an Ikelite in the thread you started?<<

 

Actually, the SD500 wasn't available back then, only the S500 was. I tried the SD500, Sony P-200 and DSC W7 side-by-side, and could not find any huge difference between them in terms of performance. The SD500 is one of the only Canons I've used that actually focuses quickly. My other reasons for the SD500 were: Manual white balance, available case, and SD-Memory.

 

Is it true what you said about the aperture being fixed at f2.8 with the flash? If so I think that may be a good thing because some of the strobes I was looking at (YS-15Auto and YS-25Auto) were automatic and needed the camera to be set for f2.8 to work properly. I could not find that spec. in the manual.

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Plangstroth, you may not have noted a huge difference in performance topside, but there is a huge difference in the specs and, in particular, the availability of manual overide of aperture.

 

I'm going to quote the words of wisdom from MikeO in this thread...

 

One of the caveats that must accompany an underwater photography discussion now that we have entered the digital age is that just because a camera is the bee's knees for use topside or for portability doesn't mean it is well suited for this particular specialized application. Perhaps this should have been the first reply to your initial query rather than our usual immediate jump to our own favorite bit of technology (a common occurrence with us geeks!). With film cameras, you either chose a dedicated underwater point and shoot (Nikonos, Motomarine, etc.) or you chose a film SLR, which had manual controls for topside that worked just as well underwater. Now that digital point and shoot cameras have become much more capable than film ones ever were, and housings have become so inexpensive more caer ust be taken in equipment selection. In order to make the digicams more accessible and easier to use, maunfacturers have been making them smaller and more and more automatic -- this is particularly true with the cameras like the ELPH series which are marketed to an audience that values small size and ease of use. Remember, now, that the market for serious (and I use the term loosely to mean everything other than people who want to just point the camera at a fish and pull the trigger) underwater photography equipment is tiny compared to the parent/grandparent snapshooter market. So the bottom line is that there just aren't any digital cameras designed with the underwater market in mind. Rather, the cameras that tend to work best underwater are lucky accidents based on the features the manufacturers have added to their land cameras.

 

One of the features that is highly recommended for underwater photography is the ability to control exposure manually. This allows you to override the camera's internal meter to control the background exposure and let the strobe fill in the foreground with artificial light. It also let you control depth of field. It is particularly critical for wide angle as without it, the camera will almost always give you a washed out look to your blue water.

 

It would appear from the SD500's specifications that the manual mode only lets you control ISO and white balance. It appears that shutter speed and aperture cannot be controlled directly, though perhaps you can affect them through the exposure compensation to a certain extent. So, as James says, the camera will most likely pick the lowest (most wide open) aperture value in lowlight situations. This may be mitigated somewhat in macro mode as most cameras tend to have lenses whose minimum f-stop increases with focal length. In macro mode, you'll most likely be zoomed in so the aperture value might well be acceptable in that case. However, for wide angle shots, you likely won't be afforded much creative control of background exposure. As for shutter speed -- many of the small automatic digicams default to an unacceptably low shutter speed when the flash is enabled (1/30 in most cases). Without the ability to override this, you run the risk of not being able to freeze the action. I note as well that the camera does have an "underwater" mode. Unfortunately, this is most likely just a white balance adjustment more than anything else. It might well be helpful in putting some red back into the image if you're not using strobes, but might do more harm than good if you are using external lighting.

 

Again, if your plan is to have something small and cool to play with before deciding where to go in the future, or want a digicam cheifly for topside use and occasionally for close-in snapshots while snorkeling or diving then you may have found what you're looking for. However I would try to limit expectations if you want to make the camera an underwater workhorse.

 

I don't know enough about the SD500 to comment further, but the lack of manual shutter and aperture selection is a pretty big issue for UW work, especially with an external flash.

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I have an S400 and WPDC canon underwater housing which I got for surfing and playing around. I tested it with the Inon D2000 which you can read about in the Reviews section here. It's a good strobe for use with this camera, because, like they said, the camera will always default to the lowest f-stop when used in low light (underwater) so needs VERY little strobe power.

 

The Canon has a "wacky" white balance, so the D2000 can be purchased with a colored diffuser which results in a more natural looking photo, when using the flash.

 

HTH

James

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Anthony,

 

The other reason I didn't go with the P200 is that there is no case, not even from Ikelite. (At least, not yet.) So I am going to be optimistic and hope to get at least a few good shots from each dive with the SD500. Like I’ve said, I’m not going for magazine quality. I just want something that I don’t have to think too much about while underwater. I’ll post my pictures from Belize where I’ll be using the setup for the first time. Thanks for the information.

 

Paul

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