Canon G9, Ikelite housing #6147.09, Inon Z240 type 3 strobe

(My Canon G9 Underwater Photo Gallery can be found here)

The new setup. Finally. I cannot give many good reasons or advice what camera to buy for underwater photography. I wanted to stay in the range of compact cameras but nevertheless have as many possibilities for manual adjustments as possible. A photographer friend suggested the Canon G9, and off I went to buy it. The possibility to shoot raw is certainly a plus, at least for me because not every photo I take has the perfect exposure, and the choice of the proper white balance after taking the shot is also appealing for underwater photos.

I bought the camera online in Australia on http://www.shoppingsquare.com.au for the best price I could find within Australia. Only online companies on the asian market were able to go lower, but I decided not to shop there after reading a few internet reviews. After testing the camera at the surface I quickly needed an underwater housing. The generic housing from Canon is nicely slim and light, but there was no question for me, it had to be the Ikelite housing. I like the very robust manufacture, and I appreciate the long way of the release – wearing gloves this extra way enables me to push the release halfway and do further adjustments if necessary. The Ikelite housing is more than double the price of the Canon one, but the included tray and handle make up for some of the price difference. I purchased the housing again in Australia, from http://www.digitaldiver.com.au. I had a look at companies in the US, but the overall savings of maybe 50$ were not worth the extra waiting period and the need to ship the product back to the states in case of any issues.
I spent a few weeks deciding on the strobe I wanted to buy (for macro work this is mandatory with the Ikelite housing and the standard lens port because the port is producing a shadow on close-ups). The choice was essentially between the Ikelite strobes (which would allow hard wired D-TTL with the Ikelite housing and the integrated circuitry), the Sea&Sea YS110 and the strobes from Inon (D2000 and Z240). After weeks of review reading and online strobe comparisons I went for the Z240 from Inon. I like its compact size, the low weight under water and the possibility of optically transmitted S-TTL as well as the integrated modeling light. One key factor was also that it is compatible if I want to upgrade to a DSLR system later (well, much later, that is…). The Ikelite DS125 strobe would be really nice to have, but comparing prices I had to stay realistic. In Australia I would have payed 1315 AUD for strobe and arm, importing from the US would have saved me around 200 AUD, but with the purchase price over 1000 AUD I would have run the risk of paying import tax, nullifying all the benefit. I decided to buy the Inon strobe and the arm system from (Yuzo Kanda in Japan. The reviews on the internet were good, and I can confirm everything I have read about Yuzo and his shop. The initial inquiries by e-mail were answered within one or two days, the payment process was transparent and the products were shipped within a day after payment. And without special inquiry I was informed by Yuzo that my choice of delivery option (FedEx) would generate import tax requests and he would therefore change it to Japan post. The parcel arrived on the third working day after shipment.

Here is a summary of the costs:

Canon G9 + 4 GB SD card: 583 AUD (delivery 21 AUD)
Ikelite housing: 719 AUD (delivery 22 AUD)
Inon Z240: 58800 Yen = 588 AUD (delivery 4000 Yen = 40 AUD)
ULCS arm, clamps, adapters: 16180 Yen = 162 AUD
Optical cable kit W9: 8450 Yen = 85 AUD
Total strobe with arm: 835 AUD

Total for the whole setup: 2137 AUD (+ 83 AUD delivery cost)

To trigger the strobe I decided to use an optical fibre. It can be nicely attached to the deflector using the optical kit W9 for Olympus cameras when mounting the deflector in the “wrong” way.

The Canon G9 has two slots for custom settings which are nicely accessible using the mode dial. I decided to save one setting for macro shots and a second one for wide angle like shots. I saved the following parameters:

C1: Aperture priority, Aperture f/8.0, macro function on, flash forced, automatic white balance, -1.0 exposure compensation, center focus, center weighed metering.
C2: same as above, but f/4.0, flash forced and using slow synchro.

I intend to use the strobe in manual setting once I have made myself comfortable with the new system, where to place the strobe etc. To reach this goal a fair bit of testing will be necessary to determine the power required for different settings, depths and distances. For the first dives I tried to do without these considerations and used the strobe in S-TTL mode. I took all the shots with the -0.5EV diffuser on – while testing on the surface I simply liked the slightly softer shadow edges better. The strobe offers two S-TTL modes, one of them featuring a slightly lower power of the strobe. This S-TTL-low mode became very handy when shooting macro, in the standard mode the objects were very often overexposed.

I am looking forward to thoroughly test the setup. I am going to post the results here (and the pictures on flickr, at least the good ones ;-)).
———————
01/07/2008
After a few dives with the new rig…
I did a few dives during the last weeks and was well able to test the new setup, mainly for macro photography. A few comments:

– the two S-TTL modes work very well for most photo situations using the two custom settings described above. For macro photography the “S-TTL-low” mode usually provides better results. For objects with strong reflectivity the strobe power needs to be adjusted further.
– For the last few dives I used camera and strobe in manual mode (the automatic cancel circuit on the strobe needs to be turned off, the G9 doesn’t fire a preflash in manual mode. This is done by locking down the button at the back of the strobe). I am about to figure out the best settings for different purposes. The custom spaces C1 and C2 for macro photography now contain the following settings:

C1 (macro): aperture f/8.0, shutter 1/125s, macro function on, flash forced on lowest power, automatic white balance, center focus, center weighed metering.
C2 (wider angle): aperture f/5.6, shutter 1/100, macro function off, rest as above.

I usually swim around with setting C2 and with the strobe on 1/2 power. Macro objects tend to move less and give me more time to change settings… While shooting I tend to change the settings a bit and the strobe power a lot, mainly using the range of 1/2 to 1/8 power. For macro shots I used apertures between f/7.1 and f/8.0 and shutter speeds from 1/100s to 1/500s (dark background). For shots of larger objects I used f/4.0 to f/6.3 and shutter speed between 1/60s and 1/250s.
Results and comments can be found in this blog and on my flickr page.

15 Responses to “Canon G9, Ikelite housing #6147.09, Inon Z240 type 3 strobe”

  1. Lilli Pilli (#265, 6.7 m, 66′) - going manual… « Just another Swiss in Australia Says:

    […] and focusing problems. The G9 was doing a really good job focusing in the custom settings described here, and I was a bit surprised to find out that so many of my pictures were out of focus. The solution […]

  2. Rocco Says:

    Dear Roland,

    I would like to buy a similar system than yours (G9+ikelite+Z-240). I am having hard time selectig the correct ULCS arms, clamps, and adapters. Would you mind to share the reference of those parts (the ones I see in your picture above) with me so that I can buy them from Yuzo ? Last question: you mounted the w9 fiber optic from Olympus on the deflector. Is the deflector coming with the ikelite housing or did you bought it separately ?

    Thank you !

    Best Regards,

    Rocco

  3. swissinoz Says:

    To complete this also on the page I add the shopping basket from Yuzo’s shop as I submitted it to the main page.
    Two comments:
    – the battery charger comes for Japanese plugs, with a set of pliers this can be adjusted to Australian standards…
    – when buying the system again I might consider to buy two 5in arms instead of the 8in arm for additional flexibility (for macro shots).

  4. Delphi Says:

    Dear Roland,

    Justed wanted to say thank you for your post. After weeks of reviews reading, your website made me make the final decision. I decided to post the details of my setup as well, since it might help other people: http://g9underwater.wordpress.com/

    Cheers,

    Rocco

  5. Just another Canon G9 setup « Underwater photography with a Canon Digital Camera Says:

    […] another Canon G9 setup Here is another excellent web site about undewater photography with a Canon […]

  6. Just another Canon G9 setup « Digital Underwater Photography Says:

    […] another Canon G9 setup Here is another excellent web site about undewater photography with a Canon […]

  7. Canon G9 Underwater Photo Gallery « Just another Swiss in Australia Says:

    […] I have put a collection of recent shots on a separate page. – my camera setup and the settings I use can be found on this […]

  8. Nicholas Says:

    Hi

    You have inspired me to go the way of full strobes.

    Could you please tell me where you bought the Optical cable kit W9 from?

    Why not got for the original ikelite value meter?

    Thanks

    Nicholas

    • swissinoz Says:

      Hi Nicholas
      I got the cable kit from Yuzo in Japan, together with the strobe. I am not sure if you are talking about the Ikelite EV Controller (#4100.6) – I might be wrong, but I thought it only works with the Ikelite strobes.
      My Inon strobe offers 13 manual positions to adjust its power – this is definitely enough, no need for extra control as it is given with the Ikelite EV Controller for the Ikelite strobes.
      If I had an Ikelite strobe for my system I would probably connect it directly to the port at the housing and the hot shoe of the camera using a wired connection.

  9. Terri Allen Says:

    Greta review.
    I have just bought a G10 and am contemplating the new Inon s2000
    any htoughts?

    • swissinoz Says:

      Thanks Terri

      I didn’t hear of anyone using the s2000 yet, but it seems to be a great little lightweight strobe according to its specs. One thing to consider is if you are going to shoot often in low light conditions (well, still exploring all the caves? ;-)). The modeling light on my Z240 is coming in very handy in those occasions, and that’s one thing missing on the s2000 (and also, the D2000, I think). I will have a closer look at the specs, might get back to you…

  10. Terri Allen Says:

    Swissinoz
    Any further comments on the s2000?

    • swissinoz Says:

      Hi Terry,

      I don’t have any specific comments, but what I read about the S2000 on scubaboard and other forums is quite encouraging – I think it is indeed a good match for the G10.
      How do you intend to use the G10/strobe, fully manual or in any of the shutter/aperture priority modes? The s2000 should be functioning in sTTL mode for the latter, while in manual camera mode you will also have to use the strobe in manual mode with the G10.
      I never us the “Auto Exposure” mode, but other people using the Z240/D2000 type 3 strobes find it quite handy. The strobes are determining the necessary exposure with an internal sensor, which supposedly makes shooting in manual mode easier. This feature is missing on the s2000 and the D2000s.

      I guess you have probably come across this strobe comparison page

      Cheers,
      roland

  11. Simon Says:

    Hi, I’ve just bought an inon z240 strobe for my ikelite G10 housing and looking for ideas of how best to set this up on the rig.
    I found your article really helpful (thanks.) But I was wondering why you went for the optical cable and not a cable connection using your ikelite housings circuitry?
    I’m keen to find this our as I have yet to buy a cable to connect the housing to the flash………

    • swissinoz Says:

      Hi Simon,

      I am not sure if I remember the details on this correctly, but if so the reason for choosing the optical cable was the fact that I didn’t feel like digging too deep into what sort of cable and adapter I needed to link the INON strobe with the Ikelite housing. I also seem to recall that the circuitry of the Ikelite housing can only be fully exploited by Ikelite strobes, for example TTL functionality is not possible with other brands. The Z240 strobe can emulate that via optical cable though (I think they call it S-TTL…).
      Sorry that I can’t help you with real facts. I am very happy with the optical solution, which also doesn’t allow for any bulk head problems on the housing. I am pretty sure there are some cables out there which can link the Z240 to the Ikelite housing, but I am not sure whether this allows to use the full functionality. On the other hand I am shooting strobe and camera in manual mode, and a simple trigger signal would be enough for me (and safe camera battery if transmitted via hard-wired cable rather than the optical way).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: