Underwater Flash Buying Guide

Underwater Flash Buying Guide


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Underwater photography requires specialized equipment for the environment the photos are being taken in. In order to create images with proper light, it is essential to get an excellent quality camera flash that can be attached to a water resistant camera. Flashes are the best camera accessory for underwater photography, they provide the same color temperature as daylight. Flashes for underwater photography are available in various types and offer a varied number of features.

Purpose of the Guide

A wide variety of camera flashes are available these days, and it can be confusing to find the one that fits your needs perfectly. To help with this, we have put together this guide to underwater flashes to provide an in-depth look at the best on-camera and external flashes for underwater photography.

What are Underwater Flashes?

A camera flash is a device that produces a flash of artificial light when shooting photos. Flashes for underwater photography, also called external underwater strobes, need to have less intense light to avoid distrubing the subjects of the shot. They also enable photographers to reduce backscatter and allow them to experiment with different lighting options.

In underwater photography, it is necessary to shoot small objects with a macro lens and capture large objects with wide-angle lenses. Most on-camera flashes have 100 degrees of coverage angle that is suitable for wide-angle shooting. Most experienced underwater photographers use two flashes as it becomes easier to cover a wider area for shooting.

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Features of Underwater Flashes

Lighting conditions determine whether the camera flash needs to be used for shooting photos. In underwater photography, the light levels drop significantly as the photographer dives deeper into the ocean to capture photos. So, most divers use underwater flashlights that can be attached to the camera while shooting. Let us check out the different features provided by the camera flash and how they prove beneficial for underwater photography.

Underwater Strobe Power

A guide number determines the power of underwater flash. The higher the guide number, the stronger the strobe. The formula used to calculate it is: guide number = distance * F-stop. For instance, a strobe with a stated guide number of 20 meters might have a guide number of 10 underwater. The guide numbers are mostly given in meters.

Strobe Angle of Coverage

A higher angle of coverage is required for wide-angle shots. The strobes available for wide angle have a coverage of 90 to 100 degrees in both the directions. The number for depicting angle of coverage can vary depending upon whether the flash comes with or without a diffuser.

Recycle Rate of the Underwater Strobe

The recycle time of underwater strobe is the time taken for a full dump. This signifies that the strobe fires for its maximum duration. Strobes with lower powers can recycle faster.

Shots Per Pull Battery Charge

The standard range is 100 to 300 shots per battery charge for a strobe in a full dump. The best rechargeable batteries available for the strobes are 2700mAh and 2900mAh.

Spotting Light

A spotting light is a light that comes out of the strobe to light up the subject and help with auto-focus. They can serve as a backup light on night dives or even as an emergency focus light.

TTL Converter Compatibility

Most modern cameras come with a TTL strobe control system. It proves useful for underwater photographers.

Color Temperature of a Strobe

Most of the strobes have a color temperature ranging from 4700 to 5600K. If the color temperature is a bit lower then it can help in shooting wide angle shots. Some high-end strobes such as SeaCam also offer adjustable color temperature.

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Utilities of Underwater Flashes

There are various kinds of on-camera flashes available for underwater photography. They are very useful when the light levels decrease in the sea. Some of the most popular DSLR flash for underwater photography are S&S YS-D1, S&S ys-110 & YS-110a, Ikelite DS-160, Ikelite DS-125, INON Z220, INON z240. Many professional photographers opt for these flashes for their DSLR cameras. Apart from DSLR users, there are also underwater strobes that support mirrorless cameras and even compact cameras.

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Top Manufacturers

In underwater photography, camera flashes play a vital role for shooting high quality photos. Many renowned manufacturers produce high quality underwater strobes. Let us check out the top leading manufacturers that specialize in creating camera flashes for underwater photography.


Canon is a world renowned Japanese company that manufactures imaging and optical products. Some of its popular products include cameras, camcorders, printers, camera flashes and many more. Canon’s DSLR flash units are popular among professionals who are into underwater photography.


Olympus is a world famous manufacturer that specializes in optics and photography products. It is a renowned company that offers a variety of imaging and optical products such as cameras, lenses, flashes, etc.

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Still have questions or need more information on underwater flashes? Contact us so we can help!