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Guide # 32 with 2,000 Lumen Video Light and LCD Control Panel
Multiple staff have dived (and own) this strobe. The strobe is powerful, easy to control, and recycles very quickly. It has a built-in video light, which makes the setup so much easier to travel with, charge, and mount on your underwater rig. No more carrying video lights and strobes seperately! You'll love having the ability to instantly switch from stills to video all on one device. It is slighly larger than other strobes, but much smaller than having a separate strobe and video light. It also holds an impressive battery life, ensuring you can shoot loads of stills/videos before needing to recharge.
This complete Underwater Lighting System (patent pending) is designed by iDiveSite (previously known as iTorch) for underwater photography and videography. It offers a user upgradable LED head and battery pack.
Symbiosis is defined as an interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. Likewise the Symbiosis system is a video and strobe in one body, and they can work separately or together. Additionally, you can always have an up-to-date video light, as the LED head is user upgradeable and can be used as a stand alone video light.
Read about our iTorch Symbiosis Review
We think the Symbiosis SS-2R is a great, high-quality all-around strobe. It's excellent for both close-focus wide angle, macro, and traditional wide angle. One SS-2R strobe has enough power for many lighting situations, two is perfect for very wide scenes and creative or even lighting. If macro photography is your passion amd you aren't very interested in shooting wide-angle, the Symbiosis SS3 strobe is an excellent tool for macro.
Pacific Northwest reef photographed with one Symbiosis SS-2R strobe
Pacific Northwest anemone photographed just using the Symbiosis SS-2R video light
When I first got my Symbiosis SS-2 in the mail, I was pretty skeptical. I had been a Sea & Sea user for a long time and subconsiously felt like a strobe is a strobe and can't really be anything more. I was also worried that the SS-2 have both functions as a video light and strobe but wouldn't be great at either. Boy was I wrong!! As a strobe, I like my Symbiosis SS-2 even more than my old Sea & Sea YS-D1s. They produce wonderful, even lighting with an excellent beam angle - especially with the diffuser. Colors really pop, and I feel like there is plenty of power to shoot heavily for a full day. The video light has been expanding my underwater horizons. I don't normally take video, but it's too good to ignore. I really feel like it's a professional video light and I started taking more clips during my dives. It's easy to switch between the video and strobe function. My one complaint would be that I've had my strobe freeze once when I was switching through settings really fast. But I've since learned to operate it at a steady pace and I've had not problems. That's definitely better than the 3 bulbs I've blown on my YS-D1s....
I received one of these from the SoCal Shootout last year, and it's won me over! I just ordered another to complete the pair. Being a creature of habit, I used my secondhand Sea&Sea YS-110a strobes exclusively for about four years, but one finally gave up after 500+ dives, and the other is on its way. My initial impression of the iTorch Symbiosis Pro SS-2 lighting system was that it felt very well machined, indeed its name was appropriate because one battery pack mysteriously powers both the strobe and video light, and the design was unique enough that I felt compelled to actually read the instructions. I was pleased to find it quickly became straightforward and intuitive to use.
The Symbiosis system weighs about as much as my YS-110a strobe and Sola 2500 light combined. The colour spectrum of the strobe matches my YS-110a exactly, very true to reality. When using one of each, I set both to manual, with the Symbiosis at 1/3-1/2 power to match near full on the YS-110a, and to my surprise you can't tell they're not a matching set from the images. Using only strobes, the iTorch battery far outlasts the 4 AAs in the YS-110a, which seem to run for 2-3 dives, so I'm hoping for only daily battery changes on my next liveaboard. It was convenient that the Symbiosis fit my pre-existing Sea & Sea sync cords and mounts, and the sync cord attaches behind the mount instead of in front of the strobe which keeps the cords far out of frame and simplifies snoot attachment. Being a terrible videographer, I have yet to fully test the light portion, but it has 50% and 100% settings for both red and white. Looking forward to seeing what else these iTorch systems can do!
I have been using these strobes for about a year now and they are great. I dive everyday and shoot recreationally both video and still photos. I charge my batteries about once every 6 dives. I love that they serve as both a strobe and video light making it easy fro me to shot both. I highly reccomend this product.
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