uw slave flashes

General banter about diving and why we love it.
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thelawgoddess
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uw slave flashes

Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:47 am

hi all. i've always wanted an uw housing for my little digital camera, but never really had a good excuse to buy one ... until last week. :-) i was looking around and happend to find it at my target price -- as in, "if i ever see this for [target price] (which is generally quite a bit lower than i've ever seen it), i should just get it." so, i got the housing but from what little reading i've done they recommend an external flash. i have a canon s410 so i would need a slave flash, and i was wondering if any of you have experiences with small housed cameras and slave flashes you might be willing to share. :-)
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thelawgoddess
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Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:27 am

my housing didn't come with a handbook or manual. there is a little plate-like thing that is removable - i'm guessing that's what you're talking about. i really had no idea what it was!

but i'm still interested in the external slaves because i'm pretty sure i'm goign to want to take pictures of things i won't be able to get that close to around here.

there's one on b&h that is handheld and just looks like a flashlight. i figured if my buddy had that, i could take the picture, but i'm not sure how they work and where they need to be in relation to the camera to be triggered correctly. or perhaps they are just not even very useful or worth the bother?
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thelawgoddess
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Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:42 am

Sounder wrote:It just lights up all the crap that's in the water and you get a big bright picture of algae and a shadow of your subject in the back.


#-o ha, ha, ha - sweet! :salute: actually, that's good to know. one less thing to buy. :supz:
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thelawgoddess
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Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:13 am

Sounder wrote:I haven't taken my camera out yet because I'm still practicing other skills and don't want to add another task until the others are second nature.


same here. :-)
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Post by Zen Diver v1 » Fri Jul 21, 2006 3:22 pm

For a new diver, I'd also recommend sticking with just the camera initially. There is enough to learn with just diving, add in a camera and it's a whole other ball game, add in a strobe and it's different again. I've been using just the built-in flash and adding my hand held HID light (Light Cannon) as needed, and have been getting pretty decent results. Besides, you can always add a strobe later on.


-Valerie

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Post by Tangfish » Fri Jul 21, 2006 3:55 pm

I'll echo the sentiment here, start with the camera only. This is so that you can know the capabilities of your internal flash and also so you can get used to buoyancy control without a big ol strobe hanging off of your camera. You'll be able to really get into the nooks and crannies to shoot that elusive octo or that beautiful dorid.

It never hurts to research strobes in the meantime. You can start by looking at the SeaLife SL960-D review I wrote, which has a little background on the use of external flashes.

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rcontrera
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Post by rcontrera » Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:42 pm

I have been working with underwater photo equipment for years and can give some very basic tips.

The internal flash will light up the front of every little piece of junk in the water. That effect is called back scatter. What was already posted about getting close to the subject is true. You need to find out what the closest focal distance of your camera is and stick with that for taking any pictures in our water. That way, you minimize the amount of junk between your subject and the camera lens. If you shoot beyond that focal distance, it is best to shut off the flash and just use available light. That will eliminate the backscatter but will make all your pictures blue to green ... depending on where you are and how shallow.

To get rid of back scatter, you use that external strobe you first mentioned. However, that strobe must be mounted as far away from the camera as possible (mine is about two foot off to the left and up). The strobe will still light up the junk in the water, but only the top or side and the camera will only see the front. You have effectively eliminated the back scatter.

Operating a slave strobe from a compact housing is easy to difficult depending on the type and design of equipment you are using. The strobe will be triggered by light from the camera striking the eye on the strobe body. Therefore, the eye has to be in the "flash zone" of the camera which means it has to be fairly close ... probably as close as a foot. BUT, if you use the built in flash to trigger the strobe, you will illuminate that junk again. Now enters the flash deflector (not a diffuser which only softens the light). That deflector has to be opaque enough to block the light from getting to your subject, angled enough to aim the light at your strobe eye and reflective enough to allow enough light to trigger the strobe. If you can find a good deflector, you are in fat city!

The hardest thing to do is to use those crappy hand held strobes. They are fine for doing some artistic stuff but don't fool with it for starting out or you will be fighting the camera and may give up on photography.

Invest in a tray and strobe arm for your strobe. Of course, I am partial to Ikelite (I worked for them for 14 years) but there are many fine strobes, arms and trays out there.

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thelawgoddess
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Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:42 pm

wow; that was a lot of info! :salute: thanks!!!
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Post by Tangfish » Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:28 am

rcontrera, I just bought a new camera and my SeaLife doesn't fit the housing. I'm ready to move up to the next level of strobe. Can you give me a few pointers/recommendations?

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rcontrera
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Post by rcontrera » Sat Jul 22, 2006 12:40 pm

I guess that really depends on the camera and housing you bought as well as what type of photography you will be doing.

I am a 35mm film guy so digital, while it follows many of the same rules, is a gray area for me. You said your housing doesn't fit your Sealife? I assume you mean your tray and strobe (the 960).

First off, you need a tray that your housing fits. Again, I like the Ikelite because of it's simplicity and versatility.

Next is what type of arm system you want. I am an old knuckle and rod guy but Ike was just coming out with his ball and socket design when I left. It is pretty cool. The better the arm system you have, the easier it is to position the strobe for that "perfect" shot.

Finally, the strobe. While Ike's Substrobe 51 would give you a little more angle of coverage with better color and weigh less than what you have now, the step up is a minor one. I would suggest jumping right into the 125 for serious work. It is more than three times the power that you are used to and comes with so many features that it will do everything but kiss your ear! I think the most important feature for me is the built in modeling light. I don't know how may pictures I have of a fish with only the head or tail illuminated because I set my strobe incorrectly.

Hope that helps.

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