WHY STROBES ARE NECESSARY FOR UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY
What is a strobe? Oxford defines it as an electronic flash for a camera. If you are new to underwater photography you may not realize that strobes are a necessary component of your underwater camera system, used to bring back color and contrast to your images.
The primary obstacle faced by underwater photographers is the loss of color and contrast when submerged to any significant depth. The longer wavelengths of sunlight, such as red or orange, are absorbed quickly by the surrounding water, so even to the naked eye everything appears blue-green in color. The loss of color not only increases vertically through the water column, but also horizontally, so subjects further away from the camera will also appear colorless and indistinct.
HOW TO DETERMINE WHICH STROBE IS BEST FOR YOU
Technical jargon, many different manufacturers, varying sizes, outputs and price points will confuse anyone! The best way to determine which strobe(s) is best for your needs is to contact the Sales Pros at Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo. This strobe testing and comparison article attempts to de-mystify the tech specs, but if you still find yourself with questions, don’t fret. Backscatter is here to help you with your underwater imaging needs! And for tips on where to put those strobes to light up your subjects underwater, check out Jim Decker’s Strobe Placement article.
Strobe manufacturers typically publish the guide numbers of their strobes in air, but we wanted to test them in controlled conditions to see how they stacked up against one another. We especially wanted to see how they would perform with diffusers, as this is how we always shoot with our strobes when photographing wide angle scenes. We also wanted to see how the strobes would perform across an entire frame; the evenness of the light is just as important as the intensity when lighting a wide angle reef scene.
For these tests, we used the same Sekonic Flash Meter in a room with the lights off. All strobes were tested at full power, ISO 100, at a distance of one meter, the same standard at which manufacturers also test their strobes. We wanted to test all manufacturers in the same conditions, measuring the relative differences in brightness between strobes.
While manufacturers quote the guide number at center, we calculated Guide Numbers across what would be a typical wide angle frame; at center, 12 inches out, and 18 inches out.
Strobes Tested in This Article
Sea & Sea YS250 PRO Underwater Strobe
Sea & Sea YSD1 Underwater DS-TTL Strobe
Inon Z240 Underwater Strobe (Type 4)
Ikelite Substrobe DS161
Sea & Sea YS110 alpha DS-TTL Strobe
Sea & Sea YS01 Strobe
Ikelite Substrobe DS-51
Inon D2000 S-TTL Underwater Strobe
Inon S2000 S-TTL Underwater Strobe
When purchasing underwater photography equipment like the product mentioned in this article, please support Scuba Diver Life by supporting our retail partner: Backscatter.com