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Flash recommendation YS-D3 or Retra


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Hello everyone,
during the last safari, the flash tube of my YS-D2 burst. It has now lasted a really long time and has had to put up with a lot - so it's ok. :)
But now I need a replacement.

I'm currently considering the YS-D3 or the Retra MaxPro. 
With all the accessories, the Retra easily costs around 1000€ more. 
What makes it so much better than a D3 - or rather, is it really that much better?  I always have to remember that I need two.... in case it's important, I currently shoot with a Canon R5. 

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So hard to define "better".  

I moved from Inon Z240 strobes. I find the Retras easier to use, controls are clearer, instructions (hardly needed) are WAY clearer. I really like the quality of the light (even, gentle, good colour), the various accessories (for me snoot and reflector); I REALLY like the HSS capability and use it a lot for the sunburst type shots. Compared to the Inons, the snoot/aiming light line-up is pretty much perfect.

After that, travel with just AAs and no additional chargers, very good battery life with Supercharger, quality build product, outstanding customer service.....

Yeah, they are sure not cheap, but, for me at least, I think they are worth it. And I don't lie awake at night thinking, "...wish I'd bought those Retras...."

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Hi Landvogt,

I burned out four(!) YS-D2 in the last years. For me Sea&Sea strobes are our of discussion, certainly never again. Inon Z330 is the direct competitor of YS-D2/3. Now I have four Z330 and they work, so far, ok (one has a loose contact at the "ON/OFF" switch, but works until now). Z330 are currently not available new, but a succesor product may be on the way...

I do not have Retras, but with the circular flash tube (preferred by many), they are in another league. Also top price (I would expect top quality also). Maybe a cheap and much better alternative to YS-D3 may be the SUPE Pro max, that has also circular flash tube, but is priced similar to the YS-D3...

 

Wolfgang

 

Edited by Architeuthis
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Just picking up Wolfgang's point, moderating on "Another Website", I did see an awful lot of issues surrounding Sea&Sea strobes.

I know you've had a good experience with yours, Landvogt, but I'd be a bit wary of them if I was in the market for new strobes. Rarely read of an problem with Inons and Retra.

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Definitely an upgrade from the Inon Z240. Can't say though from the Z330.

If you are snooting, the circular flash tubes of the Retra with the centralised pilot light made a world of difference over the Z240. 

Are you pleased with the Marelux pro snoot? Looks very cool and I really like the idea of the adjustable aperture. Does that work ok? I've heard anecdotally that the iris mechanism can be problematic.

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2 hours ago, Buddha said:

The Marelux is a great idea and the iris works great. However, it’s very heavy especially on a regular strobe. I’d wait for the plastic version to come out for sure. 

It is hard to beat the Backscatter MF-2 for snoot work. It's small, light, and custom designed to be used explicitly with a snoot. I rarely shoot macro without it anymore. I also sometimes shoot wide angle with an Inon 330 primary strobe and hit the subject of the image with the MF-2 snoot. And then pull of the snoot for other wide-angle shoots where the MF-2 is the fill light. 

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I have a pair of Retras and have zero plans to change them. 

Yes, they are expensive, but they give out great light for wide angle and the aiming light works really well with the retra snoot. 

My old YS-D1s served me well but I hear of too may problems with Sea and Sea these days, so I'd be tempted to look elsewhere if I were you

The backscatter flash looks decent but seems limited to macro and snooting, so for me its a choice of Retra, Inon 330 (my old Z240s did me good) and the new Marelux which I know nothing about

Mike

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I have the Backscatter Mf-1 & 2 with the snoots. I do use them more and quit frankly will probably continue too. I agree I think they are better sooted for macro. The Marelux look interesting but their color temp is really cool. I put filters on my 330 to bring them down to 4500k. I thought I saw they were above 6000k. I might be wrong.

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I wouln't even consider a Sea&Sea strobe, I have had D1, D2 and D2J, one of those D2J are still working fine, as spare. The other 5 I owned and the 4 of my dive budy died. Never again. That said, Retra plays in another league but they are not free of issues. In another forum someone reported a 2 retra strobes fail at the same time in a deep dive, one of my dive buddies have flooded one of them, and not by the batteries cap, so the strobe died after the warranty. After being working flawlesly more than 2 years. This doesn't mean the other brands are free os issues. I am running Subtronic 160 pro right now, one of them has gone twice to the factory for repairing, the factory response has been fast and right, but the issue was there. I can't talk of other premier league strobes but as far as I know they all work with dedicated batteries, which is for me a handicap and a point extra for the retra's. For me only one thing is clear, Sea&Sea never ever.

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I am going to put my head above the parapet as a Sea & Sea YS D3 user - and say I'm happy, both with the units and the service I got from S&S.  That said, I'm only in the water 3-5 weeks a year, and I am very particular about keeping my gear in order. Sort the gear then the beer, is my mantra!

I shoot M 4/3, and find that the dome diffusers with the 8mm fisheye gives a nice spread of light across the scene. The flat diffusers that come with them I use for every other lens.  
I also have the snoot - cheap for what it is, and the prism in it ensures the focus light on the strobe can be used - which is harder to do if one makes one's own.  I could see myself getting very frustrated without the light to help know where it's pointing. The out the box snoot is good for WA snooting; for macro it's a bit wide, but there are some easy mods that slot into the snoot and can give a really nice focussed beam. I made my own, and was also given a pair of printed ones to test - am planning to post my findings up one day, with some pics.   

I know others have had issues with performance, and with customer service.  I posted about an issue I had with my strobe on another forum.  That issue had a happy outcome, in which my unit was replaced free even though it was outside of warranty.   

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had the Sea&Sea YS D1/2 before getting the Retra Pro strobes. They are superior to the Sea&Sea in almost every way: the quality of the light is a lot better. You are getting a more even lighting, less hotspots, better color temperature (affecting the white balance and the tone of the blue of the water), a more even spread of the light. Also they are made of metal and just feel more solid and better made. The Sea&Sea have a reputation of have not the best reliability, the Retras did not fail on me a single time. Also you have a lot of accessories that are easy to mount/dismount and giving you more options. 

Recently I switched to the Seacam Seaflash 150D strobes which are just a little bit better in the quality of light than the Retras in my opinion. So you might want to consider those as well.

I don't know the Sea&Sea YS-D3, but for me the Retras were a definite upgrade to the YS1/2, well worth the money!

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  • 3 weeks later...
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