Camera Upgrades

At the beginning of last season I added a UWL-04 lens to my TG-4 camera rig and, with the 2017 season currently underway, I recently decided to make a few more upgrades.  The simple tray and flex arm that I started with are adequate for a compact single strobe setup, but the connection of the flex arm to the tray was a weak point that was aggravated each time I tried adjusting the strobe position or when carrying my camera above water with my UWL-04 attached.  This limited me to making only small adjustments to my strobe position while diving.  I didn’t want to feel limited anymore so after some research, I decided on i-Das components for a new tray, handles and arms, and Nauticam clamps.

The i-Das arms come in various lengths which allow you to push the strobes away from your camera lens but still be able to pull the strobes in close when necessary.  Pushing the strobes further out is important for wide-angle shooting in order to minimize distracting backscatter. Also, the distance your strobes are extended from the lens should be proportional to how far you are from your subject in order to ensure proper lighting.  I ended up buying a 7” arm to attach to the tray handle and a 5” arm to attach to the strobe.  The 5″ and 7″ arm combination should allow sufficient extension for wide-angle shooting but is also a good ratio for pulling the strobes in very close for shooting macro.

Once I’d picked out my tray and arms, I also wanted to add a second strobe to compliment my YS-03.  Some of my wide angle shots from previous seasons had uneven lighting because my single YS-03 couldn’t always fully light the foreground of the UWL-04’s large field of view.  A single strobe works well for macro but dual strobes are usually better for shooting wide shots and big subjects.  I quickly narrowed down my strobe choices to the Sea & Sea YS-01 and the YS-D2, both strobes being capable of TTL and manual control.  The advantages of the YS-01 strobe are that it’s smaller, lighter and cheaper than the YS-D2.  The advantages of the YS-D2 are the electronics offer more compatibility with different cameras for syncing in TTL or manual, and it is a much more powerful strobe with a guide number of 32 compared to only 20.  The YS-D2 strobe does have a more narrowly focused beam without diffusers but even with the included 100×100 diffuser attached, the output of the YS-D2 is still a guide number of 24.  After some deliberation I decided to go with the YS-D2 for the extra light output, the more seamless compatibility with a wider range of cameras, and the long-term growth potential.

The PT-056 housing for the TG-4 comes with a single fiber optic port adapter that attaches to the diffuser for controlling one strobe.  In order to control dual strobes from this housing you can either buy a small dual fiber optic adapter that sticks to the diffuser in place of the original adapter, or you can daisy chain the second strobe. I went with the dual fiber optic adapter.

Once the upgrades arrived I knew it would be tough not immediately getting in the water for some testing, and sure enough the next day I plunged into the 67 degree local waters.  I left my UWL-04 behind since the visibility is currently abysmal (~10ft) and simply not conducive to wide-angle shooting.  I’ll have to wait to test wide-angle foreground coverage with the YS-D2, but I was able to test the functionality of the new arms and general shooting with two strobes.  The arms and clamps are much easier to use than I experienced with the flex arm.  With the new arms, strobe positions are easy to achieve without worrying about stressing the tray attachment.  Also, the YS-D2 works very well with the TG-4 and my rig is still very manageable even with the increase in size and weight.  The real test will be when I’m able to shoot wide-angle, but my initial reaction is positive regarding my recent upgrades.


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