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October 4, 2007 ......... Ikelite D2X iTTL Adapter
Story and Photos by Franklin Viola
Finally, after years of swimming in the shadows I can finally come out of the sponge! Yes, as you may have suspected I have lived a fantasy life full of "custom" underwater photo products available only to a handful of professionals who shamelessly push design engineers to the brink of insanity with endless pleads of "can you make this," "why not," and "I need four."
I am absolutely thrilled my favorite two companies in the sub-aquatic fish-bowl -- Ikelite and Aquatica -- are working together to provide the most powerful tool available today in underwater photography ... Digital iTTL!
First, after loaning my Nikon D2X to the Ikelite strobe wizards for a few weeks,
they broke the code and built a D2X iTTL Adapter so their world-renown DS strobes
(DS51, DS125 and DS200) can "communicate" directly with the Nikon D2X.
Second, Ikelite has made available to Aquatica housing aficionados the installation of their rugged strobe bulkhead connector. Having used this TTL connection in the field for years (Aquatica housed F3, N8008, F4s and N90s), it is without question superior to the Nikonos V plug.Ikelite iTTL Adapters are also available for other Nikon D-SLR's (D-40 and D-200 to name a few) and for use with other manufacturers' housings!
What does this mean you ask? No longer do digital u/w photographers have to power-down their Ikelite DS strobes and/or cover them with sheets of white plastic to get "perfect" iTTL lighting. We are back to the TTL simplicity of shooting Film with the instant gratification and shorter learning curve of shooting Digital!
How do I shoot iTTL? Just like with my well-traveled, highly published-producing, now retired Aquatica housed Nikon F4s cameras and Ikelite Substrobe 200's *: I set the camera to manual mode, set my desired f/stop and shutter-speed, then apply EV compensation to the camera and "click". Because the camera is in "manual", the applied EV compensation ONLY effects the iTTL strobe output.
For macro subjects, I choose a high shutter-speed (usually 1/250sec) to avoid any camera shake and an aperture setting for maximum depth of field (f/16-f/22). Using my DS200's I found EV-1.3 to -2.0 to render excellent exposures at ISO 200. When shooting wide-angle, I first meter the ambient water (spot metering mode), set my aperture and shutter-speed to render a nice blue background, then apply EV compensation (-1.0 to -2.0 on my D2X) to "kiss" the subject with just enough iTTL fill-flash. Also, my D2X is always set to rear-curtain flash synch so I can go below 1/60sec if I wish.
* The Ikelite DS200, in my humble Texan opinion (oxymoron?), is superior to any u/w strobe on the market and is a true "professional" strobe. Quit whining about airline baggage restrictions. Power and coverage beats "butter-tub" diffusion on any reef of the week. However, the Ikelite iTTL Adapter works great with Ikelite DS125 and DS51 strobes as well as the mighty DS200. EV compensation will vary according.
So get your snorkel and fins in the pool before you assault the beach and do some testing ... Not on a white bottom pool surface. Use a medium blue towel so your iTTL exposures are accurate. Make me look like a moron ... will you?!
Click here or on individual photos to view iTTL technical shooting data.See more of Franklin's above and below water work by clicking here or on the logo at left.
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