The Methods of Connection

You can control your underwater strobes via fiber-optic cables or by electrical sync cords. But which is the better solution?

We think this was a huge question for many underwater photographers a few years ago. Controlling via fiber optic cables is the newer solution but that doesn't mean necessarily it is the better. So what do we think about that in 2022?

This was an important question for us when we started developing our triggers. We felt the TURTLE should be a unit that is capable of controlling the underwater strobe both via fiber optic cable or by sync cord. And it was a good decision because a few years later both types are still in use. There are pros and cons- but some of the problems are simply not that important anymore.

Many things changed in underwater photography and there were new developments that really changed the scene. We think nowadays it's a must to install a vacuum check and leak detection system in your housing. Many of the leaks of the past were totally avoidable with a system like that. And some of us preferred the fiber optic cables because that meant one less spot where the water could enter the housing!

Now with the vacuum systems, it's not that big advantage anymore. If you carefully assemble your underwater photo setup, you do the leaking check, the sync cords are as safe as the fiber optic cables. For controlling your underwater strobes the new reliable TTL converters or Manual triggers (like our TURTLE SMART and TURTLE MANUAL models) offer an easy-to-use solution. You simply mount the trigger, contact the LEDs or the bulkhead, and that's all. 

And what about the battery life of the camera, and the recycle time of the built-in flash? If you use a trigger with quality LEDs, you don't have to worry about that, your setup should work flawlessly and the battery in the camera will be enough for taking lots of photos.

The real question is what kind of underwater strobe do you want to control? In 2022 there are many great strobes to choose from. We tested most of them and we happily share our experiences. 

If you are keen to use the Retra Pro's HSS function, your choice is very easy: it has only a connection for fiber optic cables. The legendary Ikelite strobes (even the newest models) are basically built for sync cord connections- and that is the best way to use them.

There are other underwater strobes like the Inon Z330 which can be connected by any of these two methods. When we test a strobe we use to check if the specific strobe works the same way if we control it via fiber optic cables or sync cords. It may be surprising, but some of them simply work better if you connect them by sync cords. The reason is simple: the sensors for optical control are not the same in the different strobes. For example, we really love the Sea&Sea YS-D3 when it's connected by sync cords, but it wouldn't be our favorite choice if we would prefer fiber optic cables.

Certainly, we don't know all the underwater strobes on the market, we can't test all the models of all the manufacturers. But we have a recommendation. Think of a complete system! Quality housing with vacuum system installed, good camera, reliable trigger, the strobe which fulfills your needs (quality of light, power, size and weight, special features, etc.) and in most cases that means you have an easy choice what kind of connection should you use. If you are lucky and you can choose any- enjoy!

Our TURTLE SMART TTL converters and TURTLE MANUAL triggers are there for you if any kind of connection you like!

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