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FlashgunsSea & Sea Duo
Some will, some wont. It all depends on how they are wired. But I found that the two synchro sockets on the Sea & Sea camera housing for my Nikon allowed me to plug in two Nikon SB104 flashguns and get perfect through-the-lens (TTL) exposure combined with something approaching natural-looking lighting while under water.
     Of course, two Nikon SB104 flashguns set me back a lot of money and produced enough light to use successfully with ultra-wide-angle lenses and subjects more than 2m from the camera. Most people prefer to shoot macro (close-up) subjects, so I wanted to see what results I would get a macro that configuration. Sea & Sea kindly loaned me a compact flat macro port to go with my 100mm macro lens.
     This port comes in two parts. A wide collar fits to the housing and steps down to a narrow cylinder which screws in and fits snugly round the barrel of the lens.
     It is not sensible to jump into the water with such heavyweight gear as the two Nikon flashguns just for macro work. I certainly didnt need the amount of light they give out on full power. So I asked Sea & Sea to lend me two YS TTL Duo flashguns too. These were the dinky YS-30 TTL Duo and the slightly larger YS-90.
     All Sea & Sea TTL Duo flashguns will work together to give proper through-the-lens-exposure control, but you need a housing with two appropriately wired synchro-sockets or a suitable separate dual synchro-lead.
     One could mount the two flashguns easily on the opposing handles of the Sea & Sea housing using the usual articulated Sea arms. Instead, for macro work, I found that the Sea & Sea multi-strobe ring that fitted snugly over the macro port barrel allowed me to conveniently mount, using the right accessories, the smaller YS-30 flash as fill-in together with an aiming light (a UK Mini Q40).
     I could have mounted the YS-90 this way too. In fact you could use this mounting-ring to fit a collection of little YS-30 TTL Duos round the lens and get a perfectly even ring-flash effect if you wanted to.
     Like the YS-90, the YS-30 will synch with a primary flashgun by means of its in-built slave cell and it is claimed that it still gives true TTL exposure control. I confess to not really understanding how it can do this. In that case, I guess you could use as many as you could fit round the ring. The slave has its own on/off switch.
     Ring-flashes were invented for use by medical photographers, who would encounter problems getting both a lighting set-up and their lenses into body cavities during surgical operations. Later, in the Ô80s, there was a brief fad among fashion photographers to use this unflattering lighting on their models.
     Now the buzz among underwater photographers is to use ring-flash set-ups for macro shots. I find it rather uninteresting, as the light is so frontal, and prefer to keep my main light on an articulated Sea arm to give me a bit more creative control. I prefer the reliability of two synchro-leads too.
     So away I went, into the water, with this pre-selected studio-style lighting set-up.
     The Sea & Sea YS flashguns have optional diffusers that clip to their fronts and soften the light a little. The diffuser of the YS-30 looked decidedly warm in colour and served to warm up an otherwise decidedly cool flash output.
     The flashes recycled ready for use in a maximum of six seconds after each shot, using standard alkaline AA batteries. I got at least 200 exposures per set of batteries per flashgun. (The YS-30 uses two batteries and the YS-90 four.) This recycling time is a little slower than I am used to but I had to learn to be patient. Both flashguns can be used in manual mode and the larger YS-90 can be set to half-power.
     I took the easy route. I used the TTL automatic setting and let the electronic wizardry of the flashguns and the computer of the camera sort it out.
     I then just set my lens to f/22 and obtained 36 perfectly exposed, beautifully lit pictures on every roll of ISO100 film.
     Now Ive told you how to do it, anyone with the money to spend can go out and get their pictures just as easily. Of course, you still need an eye for a subject.
     These YS TTL Duo flashguns work with Nikonos, Sea & Sea and most housed 35mm cameras but you must specify the correct synchro-lead connections at the time of purchase.
The costs are: YS-30 TTL Duo £306. YS-90 TTL Duo £417. Synchro-leads £72 each. Sea & Sea compact macro port (complete) £378. Shoe arm mounting £42. Focus light-holder £41. Multi-strobe mounting ring £82. Articulated Sea arm, £176. Sea & Sea NX-80 housing for a Nikon, £1400-£4000. Nikon F80 with 105mm Sigma macro lens £750. UK Mini Q40 underwater torch extra.
  • Sea & Sea 01803663012, www.seaandsea.com


  • Divernet
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    + The easy way to get beautiful macro photographs


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    - For £3750 you can buy a lot of books with excellent photography