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Adding TTL to manual strobe?

Discussion in 'Strobes and Lighting' started by stepfen, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. stepfen

    stepfen Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Greece
    I've got a S&S YS-02 strobe and I am very happy with it for my (mostly) macro shoots. I love its' simplicity and size/compactness. The fact that it is manual doesn't bother me at all - on the contrary I'm so used to it that I actually like it.

    I think though that it's time to get a second strobe as these shadows have started really annoying me.
    Budget is limited though. I really wish I could find another second hand YS-02 - but it seems there is nothing available for some time now.

    Hence new seems the only option. I was looking for S&S again. The YS-01 (manual+TTL) looks good but sells for about 380euros while the YS-02 (TTL only) sells for about 230euros which seems much more feasible.

    The question is how "bad" TTL is compared to manual? Especially taking into account that one strobe (my existing one) will be manual while the other (the new one) will be TTL. Can this cause problems? I am afraid that I will practically loose the manual control of my existing strobe, because whatever changes I'll do to it, will be practically canceled out by the TTL strobe except maybe for fine details like shadows etc.

    The way I (mostly) shoot now is that I set things (always in manual) around a sweet-spot for focal-length/aperture size/speed/iso and strobe power depending on the conditions of the dive and I make micro adjustments (quite often only strobe power) for each shot if/when needed.

    Keep in mind that my camera (sony a5100) has quite limited number of buttons hence most of the settings (eg flash compensation) are buried in menus and I'd hate to fiddle with these extensively underwater.

    Your thoughts please.

    Thanks a lot
  2. gstrek

    gstrek Photographer

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    I have a S&S YS-01 that I use in Manual Mode. TTL is an option but not mandatory.

    My camera is a Sony a6000. Since the onboard flash is TTL only, I set it to -3 Flash Exposure Compensation which is enough to trigger the YS-01. The setting on the YS-01 is set to the double set of lightning bolts which instructs it to ignore the pre-flash and effectively puts it in Manual Mode. I use the light level control dial to adjust the strobe power as needed.
  3. stepfen

    stepfen Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Greece
    I agree with all these - I use my YS-02 exactly like you do too. The thing is that YS-03 that I am thinking to buy (because it is much cheaper than YS-01) is TTL only. So I will have one TTL and one manual strobe and I don't know how well a manual strobe can be combined with a TTL one. That's what I am asking. Cheers
  4. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    I'm doubtful that you'll get what you expect that way. Admittedly, I use Ikelite strobes, but I would think that having one strobe sending a signal back to the camera and the other one just blasting away isn't going to work too well.

    I agree that adding a secind strobe is critical and it will make a huge difference in your images, but if you're comfortable shooting Manual, then I suggest sticking to that. There's something to be said for having a matching pair in terms of output.

    Just my opinion of course. :)
  5. Barmaglot

    Barmaglot Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Israel
    There are a number of ways it can work.
    While triggering a manual strobe off a TTL one will not give good results, the reverse is possible - Sea & Sea strobes have slave connectors in the front, so you can run a fiber optic cable from the camera to your YS-02, and from there to YS-01 operating in TTL slave mode. This way, when you want to adjust strobe power, you only have one knob to turn on the YS-02, and the other strobe will follow its setting.
    Alternatively, you can run both strobes in manual mode while shooting wide-angle, where TTL is less desirable anyway (short burn time on camera pop-up flash limits output of TTL strobes, cameras struggle to evaluate proper exposure with lots of water in the shot), and use the YS-01 alone on macro dives, where a single strobe should be sufficient and TTL helps you avoid blowing out highlights.
    A TTL-capable strobe is also a stepping stone towards a TTL-capable pair - if you decide that you prefer TTL over manual, at least in some situations, you may end up selling the YS-02 and buying another YS-01 or YS-03, and possibly a LED TTL converter.
  6. kmarks

    kmarks Divemaster

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    I use only a TTL YS-03 underwater with my S110, but I can tell you from experience on dry land with my DSLRs, 430exII's, and an older manual flash, that this will not end well. Like Stoo said, one strobe will be sending signal back to the camera (not really how it works, but kinda-sorta enough for this discussion) and the other will only go on the full power pulse from your camera, and only at the power you set it to.

    The problem will result from the camera not knowing what's going on. TTL works by a two flash system: the camera flash emits a low power preflash (and the TTL external flash will use this to then emit its own low power preflash) and the camera's built-in light meter reads the scene to determine how much flash power is needed to proper expose it. The flash is then fired (and the TTL external fires based on this flash's intensity) at the intensity the camera thinks is necessary. If you are triggering a manual flash on this flash, you're going to get an overexposure because the TTL flash is giving you the "proper" exposure and the manual is just adding on top of that. A potential workaround might be to dial back your TTL flash by lowering your Flash Exposure Compensation a few stops, but your results will be very hit or miss because the manual flash will always be firing with the same intensity, but the TTL will be constantly varying its intensity, and you said that adjusting the FEC on the fly is not really an option.

    Maybe a solution is to sell your YS-02 and get two YS-03s? It seems to be a seller's market on the YS-02. :)
  7. Ministryofgiraffes

    Ministryofgiraffes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Toronto
    I’d have to agree with the above 2 posters, it’s unlikely you are doing to get a concentric dump on both strobes when you want them.. at best you are going to end up with overexposure and i’m not convinced that any benefit will be so good that it will outweigh the issues/hassle of getting them to synch properly. (I’ve just ditched my nauticam trigger after 3 months of tests and the nauticam trigger manufacturer finally realizing that the Nikon TTL does not ACTUALLY work with the YS-D2Js only the YS-D2s and a Nikon Z7...that was 3 months of going crazy.. they are altering their website and literature to reflect it)

    Just sell everything and buy what you need, sure, it’s a couple of hundred dollars etc, but the alternative is likely hours of wasted time and probably more than a few frustrated/wasted dives and ruined shots...
  8. Chris Ross

    Chris Ross Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sydney Australia
    Trying to do TTL with a manual and a TTL strobe won't work very well most likely, but the reverse should work. TTL on these strobes works by mimicking what the master strobe does and you can decide which is the master, You would need to trigger the YS-03 from the YS-02 running a cable from one to the other - you can't trigger the -03 from the camera as it will just mimic the reduced power on board trigger flash. By mimic I mean power on the flash for the same duration. If the specs of the strobes are the same then they will have equal power from equal strobe duration.

    I say should work, S&S are known for having a relatively weak slave sensor and you need a good quality fibre optic cable to get the TTL strobe working properly, you regularly see posts from people having trouble with TTL on S&S strobes while manual triggering is fine - solved by a good fibre optic cable. On the other hand getting a YS-01 you can use in manual you know that will work.
  9. stepfen

    stepfen Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Greece
    YS-01 or similar seems the way to go...
    Thanks a lot for all the input
  10. bvanant

    bvanant Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: Los Angeles (more or less)
    Why not just get an Inon S2000?
    Lots of them out there used for not so much $

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