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Camera Strobes for Underwater Photography

Submitted by admin on 2011-09-19

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Underwater photography is an amazing part of scuba diving that allows one to capture a world that is often much of a mystery to those who don't dive. The range of colours and textures, not to mention the exciting fish life one is able to capture is beyond what one encounters on land. Underwater photography is also a great way for divers to document dives and keep track of which marine creatures they have encountered. You will find that as cameras have shifted from film to digital, far more scuba divers are finding themselves taking cameras with them, reason for this includes the lowering of expenses for the camera equipment itself while another aspect is the fact that underwater photography has a bit of a learning curve and while images may appear 'decent' in thumbnail form, when enlarged there are particles of dirty in front of the lens, back when film cameras were primarily used this would mean hefty expenses in printing for shots that may turn out to be less than ideal. But with the introduction of digital one is able to sort through pictures and scrap hundreds without any loss of finance.

When scuba diving with a DSLR camera you will find that there is a mandatory requirement for a strobe if wanting to get the most out of your camera. Smaller non-DSLR digital cameras in most cases do not support external flash equipment or even the addition of a controllable mounted flash, while DSLR cameras on the other hand, allow photographers the ability to add multiple flashes onto the camera. The amount of strobes and flashes used depends on the photographer and what scenes he most typically shoots. A common setup for digital underwater photography is the use of 2 strobes on either side of the camera. If the photographer wants to change the angle of the lighting he or she can select to only have the one strobe fire for the photograph, this can change the mood of a photograph.

Why Do I Need Strobes?

Well, if you're a DSLR user and you're looking to get a quality shot you will need a strobe because quite frankly, on-camera pop up flashes do not offer the power needed for many underwater scenes and you may end up with your subject completely out of the flashes range. Another reason why one should invest in strobes is because of the versatility it provides the photographer, on-camera flashes are very harsh with their lighting and often just ruin the colours of a subject, it's very difficult to find that perfect balance of aperture and shutter speed and then having it work in tandem with your regular flash. With strobes this is much easier and will allow you to get the most detail and clarity in your photos. When you're using an on-board flash in both underwater and general photography you are left with the light headed directly onto your subject, head on. There are few photographers who will be willing to use a flash without some kind of defusing or bouncing taking place. You want light to be distributed evenly over your subject without blowing out detail due to excessive lighting, something the on-camera flash struggles to do.

What's the difference between a flash and a strobe?

As mentioned before, the strobe attaches to the outside of your camera, it is either mounted directly on the sides of your camera via small rods or more commonly attached to arms which extend outward of the camera on either side. Flashes on the other hand are either built in to the camera, most often at the top or are attached to the camera in the same general location as the on-camera flash. The strength of the strobe is also typically much stronger than your on-camera flash allowing you to provide ample lighting for subjects which are quite a distance from the camera, even while underwater.

If you're currently looking to buy a DSLR to start underwater photography or if you're thinking of moving up from a point and shoot to a DSLR for underwater, be sure to include to the cost of strobes in your budget, as with flashes - strobes are not cheap.


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