The Best Underwater Strobes

Underwater Strobes

Poper lighting with underwater strobes is the key for creating underwater images with colors that pop. In fact, if you don't have strobes, you might not have any colors at all when shooting underwater. With light and color loss starting just a few feet underwater due to a natural phenomenon called light attenuation, you will want to use an underwater strobe to take your photography to the next level. Underwater strobes reintroduce light at a level that we would see above water, bringing out colors from your subjects you would never have noticed with a naked eye. Pick an underwater strobe based on your style of photography looking at important features such as power (listed as Guide Number), beam angle, and recycle speed. Remember to think about other options such as diffiusers, strobe size/weight and the type of batteries required. This guide will help you pick the best option the first time so you can avoid the headache and cost of outgrowing a strobe or needing to upgrade when you buy a new camera!

BEST UNDERWATER STROBES FOR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY:

Sea & Sea YS-D2J

*Powerful, Fast Recycle and Easy to Use*

The Sea & Sea YS-D2J has reached a point of reliablity that makes this a top pick. New manufacturing has lessened any previous issues seen in earlier models. The YS-D2J produces even wide coverage with a warm light that reproduces colors accurately. This is an excellent choice for all camera types due to ease of use, overall power, beam angle and fast recycle rate.


iTorch Symbiosis SS-2

*Strobe + Video Light for All-In-One Solution, Incredbile Battery Life*

While it may look a little funky, the iTorch Symbiosis SS-2 strobe addressed a problem many underwater photographers face - how to pick between taking a good strobe or a good video light down for a dive. With a built-in, high quality video light, this all in one option means you do not have to choose! The strobe specs are in line with other top brands making it a great choice overall.


Inon Z-330

*Powerful with Unique Domed Port*

The Inon Z-330 is their flagship strobe, replacing the popular Z-240. This strobe features quality specs with high power, fast recycle time and improved larger controls for easier use. In addition it features a domed front port to help achieve a wider angle of view without a diffuser, and a shade allowing you to block off part of the beam angle to help eliminate flare in domes or backscatter in some shooting situations.


Ikelite DS-160

*Fastest Burst Recycle Speed with Soft Light Output*

The largest of the high end strobes, the Ikelite DS-160 is a real powerhouse. With this strobe you trade size for power and functionality. It is heavier due to the high powered rechargeable NiMh battery, so this strobe has a larger buffer allowing for more rapid firing before the strobe needs to fully recycle. The round flash tube produces a quality round beam of soft light, and wired TTL for Ikelite housings is very accurate. Favorite strobe for pros shooting fast moving animals due to its recycle speed.


BEST UNDERWATER STROBES FOR MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ON A BUDGET:

iTorch Symbiosis SS-3

*Strobe + Video Light for All-In-One Solution, Even More Compact*

The iTorch Symbiosis SS-3 strobe is the latest addition to the Symbiosis series. Even though the SS-3 only has one strobe head, it still features a combined video light and strobe in one compact body. It's even lighter and compact than other symbiosis strobes! It features 2800 lumens LED output and up to 700 flashes with a guide number of 20. In other words, the video light is a little more powerful than the SS-2 and the strobe light is a little less powerful. Therefor, we recommend this strobe for macro photographers, video oriented shooters, people on a budget and people with more compact set ups. 


Inon S-2000

*Ultra Compact, Great for Compact Shooters*

The Inon S-2000 S-TTL strobe is an ultra compact strobe that best suites compact camera users, but also works with DSLR and mirrorless cameras. It features a guide number of 20, a circular 110 degree beam angle with a diffuser, S-TTL, and 12 step manual mode. If you're on a budget, this is a great option.


*The TTL Macro/Compact Strobe*

The Ikelite DS 51 is the compact, budget sibling of the DS series. Despite being smaller it is great for many shooting situations - especially macro, low light situations, and with compact cameras. The highlight of this strobe is that it works with TTL converters and Ikelite housings for extremely accurate exposure in your images. The strobe's wide-angle diffuser increases the angle-of-coverage up to 80 degrees, softens the light and helps to reduce backscatter. The strobe can easily switch between TTL/Auto and any of the six (6) manual power settings for complete control over lighting the subject. The DS51 Substrobe's power rivals strobes twice its size, recycles in a quick 3.5 seconds, and provides 200+ flashes on a set of batteries. Much shorter recycle times and more flashes per set of batteries can be realized during TTL operation or when using manual fractional powers.


Sealife Seadragon Flash

*Budget Option*

The Sealife Seadragon Flash, although less powerful than other strobes, it is much more affordable and offers full manual controls for adjusting the power, and also has an "auto" mode.


Sea & Sea YS-03

*Budget Option with Limitations*

The Sea & Sea YS-03 has many limitations, but it is at a much lower price point than any other strobe. Not as powerful as the YS-D2, and only supports firing via TTL, no manual settings. Includes a very basic tray, flex arm and a fiber optic cable.


BEST UNDERWATER STROBES AND VIDEO LIGHT HYBRID SOLUTIONS:

iTorch Symbiosis SS-2

*Strobe + Video Light for All-In-One Solution, Incredbile Battery Life*

While it may look a little funky, the iTorch Symbiosis SS-2 strobe addressed a problem many underwater photographers face - how to pick between taking a good strobe or a good video light down for a dive. With a built-in, high quality video light, this all in one option means you do not have to choose! The strobe specs are in line with other top brands making it a great choice overall.


iTorch Symbiosis SS-3

*Strobe + Video Light for All-In-One Solution, Even More Compact*

The iTorch Symbiosis SS-3 strobe is the latest addition to the Symbiosis series. Even though the SS-3 only has one strobe head, it still features a combined video light and strobe in one compact body. It's even lighter and compact than other symbiosis strobes! It features 2800 lumens LED output and up to 700 flashes with a guide number of 20. In other words, the video light is a little more powerful than the SS-2 and the strobe light is a little less powerful. Therefor, we recommend this strobe for macro photographers, video oriented shooters, people on a budget and people with more compact set ups. 


USEFUL STROBE RESOURCES:

Learn more about lighting, techniques and creative options through our tutorials on the Underwater Photography Guide. Get detailed reviews, technical breakdowns and more!

 

OTHER USEFUL GUIDES: