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Sony A6XXX and battery life and strobe considerations

Discussion in 'Sony Snappers' started by Nemrod, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    Okay, not been here in a while so howdy. Still shooting my FIX/S90 (which is still in great shape) but I am now, seriously looking at a new rig.

    IMG-2518.jpg

    My top list now are the Sony A6400, Nauticam housing and WWL1 lens for starters. I plan to retain my excellent Inon D2000 strobes. Last night I ordered the Sigma 19mm lens for the WWL1 per Nauticam has 130 degree field. I was going to order the camera with the 16-50 kit lens which per Nauticam has full zoom through, 100 degree field, with the WWL1.

    But then I start digging into the online manuals and see the Sony A6XXX does not have a manual mode flash? That I can set to a low power for strobe triggering using my D2000 strobes in Auto mode (onboard strobe auto exposure). This has been my go to set up for nearly a decade now, Inon strobes on Auto, camera in either Av or M exposure modes with the camera flash set to manual and low power, no pre-flash. This conserved battery power and also gave good results and fast(er) response.

    So, how are folks setting up the strobes on the A6XXX series cameras? I notice the new Inon models have dropped the Auto exposure mode. Is the A6XXX series now strictly sTTL with the strobes? Is there shutter lag as a result? How is the battery life?

    Any advice appreciated for my new rig? Just so you understand, I want SLR like autofocus speed, I need speed and want to shoot in Manual and Av (aperture priority) exposure modes as primary. Mostly CFWA with (WWL1?) and flat port closeups but no macro (well maybe some), would love to shoot through three dives without opening the housing!

    One thing, I see the A6600 does not have onboard flash, Nauticam has a misprint in the site. What is used to trigger the strobes, this is the deal decider for me between the A6400 and A6600? Or is there something else I should look at?

    James, aka Nemrod
     
  2. Barmaglot

    Barmaglot Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Israel
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    Yes, the pop-up flash is TTL-only. You can use pre-flash cancellation on strobes if you want to run them on manual mode, but the TTL does add a little bit of shutter lag. Usually it's a non-issue; I've had my A6300 for over two years now, and only found it limiting once - I was trying to get a picture of a moray with its mouth open, and kept getting shots with the mouth closed until I figured out what was going on and pressed the shutter when its mouth was closed, getting this:

    iXlG9vk.jpg

    As far as battery life goes, I'm typically getting three dives out of one battery charge when using 10-18mm or 16-50mm, and 2 dives when using 90mm macro. A6400 should be similar, while A6600 will give you a lot more. I'm running mine with two SeaFrogs ST-100 Pro strobes which are TTL-only when triggered by fiber optics, and my typical settings are manual mode, 1/160s shutter, f/8-f/13 aperture and ISO 100 in macro or auto ISO 100-800 in wide-angle. I find that it's pretty good at accurately exposing the foreground using TTL flash, and fairly decent at exposing the blue water using auto ISO, although sometimes I have to drop the shutter speed a bit for a brighter blue.

    If you get the A6600, you will need an LED trigger. Nauticam makes one that is manual-only, you can see it in this photo of their A6600 housing - it's the grey plastic box on top of the hot shoe. Another option would be a TRT Electronics s-Turtle - that one will give you a choice of manual and TTL exposure, although they don't have a profile for Inon D-2000, only for Z-240 and Z-330. UW-Technics recently released a Sony-compatible TTL converter, but so far they only support the A7/A9 housings from Nauticam and Sea & Sea, not A6xxx. I recently received a pre-release version of the UW-Technics converter for SeaFrogs/Meikon housings; on land it seems to be working pretty good - planning to test it in the water next weekend.

    I'm not sure how the combination of manual power on the camera and automatic power on the strobes is working for you - in effect, it' should be firing the strobes at a fixed low power. If you're running the triggering flash in manual mode, then you typically run the strobes in manual mode as well, and use the appropriate knob to set the power output. Maybe the actual power output that you end up with is sufficient for your typical CFWA scenario?
     
    Schwob and Nemrod like this.
  3. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    Thank you for the info. The TTL lag is worrisome. Could be a deal killer to me.

    My D2000 strobes have onboard exposure control and metering. They do not need anything but a trigger flash. They also have full manual power setting and of course sTTL mode. The newest Inon strobes seem to have lost the onboard auto exposure. Yes, the Inon D2000 and Z240 have onboard metering and do not need the camera to do anything but trigger them in sync with the shutter to get good exposure.

    The profile would be the same for the D2000 as the Z240 but one less stop power output.

    I think the A6600 is out based on manual off camera flash control and an additional cash outlay to get it.
     
  4. gstrek

    gstrek Photographer

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
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    I shoot an older Sony a6000 in a SeaFrogs housing and a S&S YS-01 strobe. I use the strobe in manual using the double lightning bolt setting to ignore the pre-flash. It is unfortunate that the a6xxx camera flash doesn't have a manual setting.

    To preserve battery life on the camera, I set the flash exposure compensation to -3. There is still enough flash to trigger the S&S. (On my Olymupus, I can set flash to manual 1/64 power).

    I also shoot using Manual mode starting at 1/160, f8, ISO 100 and adjust the S&S using the Manual power adjustment dial.
     
    Schwob likes this.
  5. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    Hmmm, for three years now I have nearly pulled the trigger on a new rig and every time there is a deal breaker. I hate sitting on a pile of dedicated camera money and nothing to spend it on :( .

    So with the A6XXX in Manual exposure mode the flash is still TTL or is there even a flash available?

    This makes no sense at all. Especially in Manual exposure all I need is a flash trigger. Now in Av, I could use the sTTL on the strobes to mimic the camera strobe (like apparently everybody does?). So, shooting TTL on every shot, my strobes in sTTL, how many shots do we get from these buggers?

    I guess I bought a lens I do not need, well, Amazon makes it easy to return I hope.
     
  6. gstrek

    gstrek Photographer

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    267
    66
    28

    I shoot the camera in Manual and the external flash in Manual. Internal camera flash is TTL only but I only use it as a trigger.

    Alternatively, I can put my external flash on TTL, set my internal FEC (flash exposure compensation) to 0, but still use the camera in Manual mode (f8, 1/160, ISO100) and let the flash TTL take care of exposure.

    My choice of TTL or Manual flash is because my S&S YS-01 does both. Some flashes are TTL only.
     
  7. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    Thank you for the helpful info. Maybe I am making a big deal over nothing.

    I am afraid to get a camera with poor battery life and a slow shutter (lag). Both autofocus lag and flash TTL lag. I shoot every shot with flash, if the camera is slow in TTL flash then that is a no go---. They can brag about the fast autofocus to Hades freezes over but if the camera is slow with the flash on, well, dang that!

    I already got a sorta slow camera, I want a really fast one, tired of fish tails and reef scenics.

    What is your battery life? I note the Nauticam can accept an auxiliary battery.

    James
     
  8. gstrek

    gstrek Photographer

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    267
    66
    28
    I get two dives out of the battery on the a6000 shooting still photos. The shutter lag is almost a non-issue but the autofocus may sometimes hunt for focus. The newer a6xxx cameras should be much better.

    The SeaFrog housing does not allow for an auxiliary battery but it is a fraction of the price of a Nauticam housing. Very happy with the S&S YS-01 (it is 8 years old) and use Eneloop batteries. The flash batteries easily lasts 3-4 dives.

    I also have a very nice collection of fish butts, tails and reef scenics, many from my first u/w camera, Olympus 5050.
     
    Nemrod likes this.
  9. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

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    Thanks, I am rethinking my negativity. I like the A6400 in my hands, it feels solid, I like the dust and water sealing.

    My D2000 strobes do sTTL fine, it just always sucked the little battery in the S90 down in one dive. I want three dives, so maybe with the auxiliary Nauticam battery I could do that with the A6400?

    I wonder how the A6600 gets strobe signal? It has no onboard flash. The Nauticam housing seems to have a bump in the top and a slightly different shape than the other A6XXX housings.

    James
     
  10. Barmaglot

    Barmaglot Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Israel
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    The onboard flash is always TTL (i.e. fires twice) regardless of the camera mode.

    See the little grey box on top of the camera, with a green status LED?

    58mskwO.jpg


    Its other end contains two LEDs that line up with fiber optic ports in the housing: Mini Flash Trigger ~for Sony and Compatible with NA-A7/A7II/A7III/A7RIII/A7RIV/A9

    As far as the camera is concerned, it is a flash, and when the camera triggers it via the hot-shoe contacts, it flashes the two little LEDs, triggering the external strobes via fiber optics. Note that the Nauticam trigger is manual-only; you will not have an option of TTL exposure.

    Shooting wide-angle with 10-18mm or 16-50mm, I can get three dives out of my A6300 pretty reliably without an auxiliary battery. The 90mm macro lens takes more power, as it has a lot of heavy glass inside that needs to be moved in order to focus, so it's usually only good for two dives. The A6400 uses the same battery, so it should be similar. The A6600 uses the newer NP-FZ100 battery, with over twice the capacity of the older NP-FW50 (2280mAh vs 1020 mAh) so you can dive all day with one without opening the housing.

    Note that if you use an LED trigger to fire your strobes, you may need to change your fiber optic cables from single-core to 613-core for better light transmission, as the LEDs don't put out nearly as much light as an on-camera flash. Moreover, if your D-2000s are older, they might not work with LEDs at all - in 2009, Inon refreshed the Z-240 and D-2000 with the Type 4 revision, featuring a more sensitive slave sensor for working with LED triggers - if your strobes predate that, then you may need to either stick with a pop-up flash on A6400, or get new strobes.
     
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