An underwater strobe is an essential part of the underwater photographer or recreational diver’s camera gear who wants to capture all the beauty the oceans have to offer with the most color integrity and image quality. They help to compensate for the decreasing light components with depth and create the right conditions for the perfect shots. The best underwater strobes should have a high strobe number per full charge, quick recovery times, be very bright, and should be highly waterproof.
Best Underwater Strobes
A search for the best underwater strobes has been conducted and a number of these strobes have been selected.
This powerful strobe comes with a rechargeable 7.2V, 3400mAh NiMH battery pack for extended use. Also, it has a 4800K circular flash tube, complete with a powder-coated reflector. These features combined provide the strobe with a soft, wide-angle coverage and this results in even visibility underwater.
- It has a smart charger.
- It has a diffuser and an electrical sync cord.
- The maximum depth rating is 300 feet (90 meters).
Among the features that make the Sea Dragon one of the best underwater strobes is its easy operation and high-grade construction. It is smaller than most other strobes, more affordable, and it remains functional at depths of up to 200 feet (60 meters). It has an anodized aluminum light head that disperses heat, and its battery compartment is expectedly waterproof.
- It has a removable 25W Li-Ion battery.
- The body is reinforced with polycarbonate for durability.
- Its universal mounting screw is compatible with most underwater cameras.
The SeaBlaze X2 has two light display versions which are dual-color (white/blue) and full-color RGBW Spectrum. The display has an output of over 6000 sphere-measured lumens and the device has a voltage capacity of 10-30V (DC). It is easy to install, with a surface mount that has a simple 3-wire setup.
- It has a naval grade bronze housing for durability.
- There is a blue/white crossfade mode.
- It is surface mountable.
The YS-01 provides you with a simple power option, as it needs 4-AA batteries to work. It is quite light, and its official weight without batteries is 15.8 ounces (450 grams). It has a few other notable features like a fiber-optic cable, an over-pressure relief valve, and an auto power-off function.
- It has a LED target light.
- The maximum depth rating is 250 feet (75 meters).
- It has a 10-level power dial.
The INON S-2000 is built to run on 4-AA batteries, and it is equipped with an on-board wireless TTL capacity. It comes with a 12-step manual to help you master its operation and it has a controller help you fine-tune the S-TTL auto exposure. Another feature that makes it one of the best underwater strobes is its circular 110 degrees beam coverage.
- It has a very compact body.
- It has a diffuser.
- The minimum recycle time at full flash is 1.5 seconds.
Underwater Strobes Buying Guide
To capture the best images while underwater, an underwater strobe is a must-have in your diving camera gear. They serve as a source of illumination and help compensate for the decreasing light with depth. Whether you need a strobe to serve as lighting to take nice photos, or just as a light source, it is important that you pick the very best.
We have reviewed the best underwater strobes on the market based on their specified features and customer feedback to help you streamline your choices. Now we will take it a step further and outline the factors you should consider when on the market for an underwater strobe before making a purchase.
Battery Life and Recovery Time
One of the most important factors to consider is the battery life of the underwater strobe you are buying. Also measured as the number of strobes per full charge, you want it to be as high as possible. On average, underwater strobes will come with ratings between 100 to as high as 350 strobes per full charge.
The recovery time, also known as the recycle rate measures how long it takes before the strobe can be fired again after an initial flash. The smaller the recovery time, the better as this will allow you to capture more images per time. The standard is 1 to 1.5 seconds, anything more and it may too slow.
Illumination Power and Coverage
You want the underwater strobe to be as bright as possible. Measured in lumens, a brighter strobe will create brighter images with more defined contrast. Your underwater strobe should also come with adjustable focus so you can vary the illumination between diffuse and focused. Diffuse light is great for capturing wider fields of view, while focused light will work great for macro photography.
Camera Compatibility and Triggering Medium
Another important factor to consider is the compatibility with your camera. While most underwater strobes are designed to work with a variety of selected cameras, it never hurts to check for the company specifications.
The triggering medium of your underwater strobe is another important consideration to make. Underwater strobes are fired either using a physical electrical medium or an optical sensor connected to your camera. Electrical triggering offers the advantage of superior accuracy and quick response but adds the need for proper waterproofing.
Optical sensory triggering uses the flash from your camera to fire the underwater strobe. While it is easier to use, the electronic sensor means more load on your battery and hence, shorter battery life.
Size and Weight
Like with any equipment in your diving gear, your underwater strobe should be as compact and lightweight as possible. This is a great quality if you are a traveling diver or underwater photographer for the most portability and minimal weight while you are underwater.