View Full Version : How necessary is the external flash for underwater photo?

06-12-2008, 07:25
I plan to add an underwater housing for my Canon A95. Just wondering how necessary is to add the external flash as well? The canon housing for A95 comes with diffuser for camera's built-in flash. I just wondering how that built-in flash will perform underwater , and comparing to that, how much difference an external flash can make?


06-12-2008, 08:45
I'm no UW photo pro, just barely there myself with a small camera, so my observations are pretty basic. If you use just the onboard flash on the camera, two things happen ... your shots, particularly the closer ones, have a kind of flat, un-dimensional look to them. Also, you will see "backscatter", the light from the flash bouncing back off of small floaties in the water. If you move the flash away from the lens by getting a strobe, you can get a more three dimensional quality to your shots, and you greatly reduce the backscatter. Having said that, even for a small point-and-shoot, it may mean $400 plus to try it out. Up to you ...

06-12-2008, 09:32
I have a UW housing for my Canon SD700 IS and the photos needed work after the fact. You also lose a lot of the color. Shooting raw would be recommended, a funtion that's not available on the SD700. Strobes vary in price. I'm looking for strobes that will fit as I upgrade my camera equipment.

06-12-2008, 09:33
The onboard flash will give you issues with backscatter due to it being in line with the lense. However if it is a point and shoot it may not be worth the extra money for external heads. They will help to the backscatter if you do want to pay for them but they will be expensive. If you are in an area with good uw vis and depending on how your camera does you might be able to get away with natural light daytime shooting. Yeah it won't be able to get those night time pics but then again if you find the thred on night time without strobes there is some other advise there.

06-12-2008, 09:37
A strobe isn't necessary, but I wouldn't use the internal flash except to trigger one, or you WILL get backscatter. That pretty much means you'll have to shoot in bright, shallow water in order to get good results without one.

06-12-2008, 11:03
I have the Canon A620 and have been taking photos for a year now without a strobe or external flash. I have some amazing photos and won some contests for natural light. BUT the housing blocks the corner of the flash so the right hand bottom of lots of my photos will have a dark spot from this. Since I take photos on the Super Fine setting, I don't zoom all the way in so that I can crop that part out. Night shots don't come out unless you put your light directly on the item and depending on the depth, you will have a lot of blue items. If you do your settings right and take it out of auto mode and change it to program mode you should do fine. I don't think you need to spend the $$ depending on how into it you are. My profile photo is at 105' deep with no flash and I can send you some just so you can get an idea of what you will be looking at when you come up.:smiley9:

06-12-2008, 11:40
I have a Panasonic DMC-TZ3. Right now I only use the internal flash. I have problems with back scatter. When I get enough money, I want to get an external flash.

06-12-2008, 12:13
Internal flashes work well for macro photos, as a general rule. They're too close to the lens, however, to effectively use them for non-macro shots. Too much backscatter results.

That said, you can do a lot of really nice camera work with just the internal strobe. Stick close to the subject (no more than a couple feet away) for flash shots, and use available light for wide angle shots, and it's entirely possible to have very nice results. You'll be more less limited in the types of shots you can take with an external strobe, however, although the learning curve for managing a strobe is considerably steeper.

Personally, I'd start out with the internal flash and get a feel for things before investing in an external strobe. You may find you don't want or need one for the types of shots you want to take, or you may find yourself passionate enough about it that you want to invest in a much higher end strobe than you otherwise would have at the outset.

06-13-2008, 21:04
After about 10 feet or so, you'll lose enough color to warrant a flash... If your housing allows you to use the internal flash, it'll help. If you want to increase the number of keepers you get, an external flash is a must.

06-20-2008, 13:13
i will show examples of both. started how using cheaper camera then underwater without flash and then when i took the course i used an olympus with nice flash.

First is no flash, last two are olympus setup.

07-11-2008, 19:22
I also struggle with an internal flash (Canon s80). Macro shots work well but unless the water is nice and clear backscatter will become an issue.

There are lots macro opportunities though, it can be a good way to sharpen you skills on those manual settings before progressing to a strobe.

ScubaToys Larry
07-11-2008, 19:47
Here's a little article with some examples for you too: Photo Tips for Underwater Photography (http://scubatoys.com/store/joelarry/goodphotos.asp)

07-11-2008, 20:23
I have the Canon A620 and have yet to purchase the strobe. I have some amazing photos and some that are average. It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Are you just trying to remember your dives, display and show them or enter contests? I have actually entered contests with some of mine and had one published with only natural light at 105' so it really depends on what you are going to use them for and your pocketbook (they can get pricey). The one I am looking to buy will be over $700 with the arm and cable. Here are some of my shots .............