S-2000 Strobe Guide

By Lisa Collins and Steve Warren, owners, INON UK

INON pioneered the high powered, wide-angle, fast recycling miniature underwater strobe. It is nearly twenty years since the original INON Z-220 made its debut. Back then, Steve tested a prototype INON Z-220 and was astonished at the performance delivered by such a compact strobe that ran off just four AA batteries. In those days, high power combined with wide-angle coverage meant either very slow recycling times or huge, heavy strobes powered by massive rechargeable battery packs. As digital underwater cameras began to take over from film cameras, for which the Z-220 had been intended, INON introduced updated strobes culminating in the current range that all support digital compatible INON Optical Sync S-TTL automatic exposure control.

S-2000 3D

INON S-2000 combines a slim-line body with high power, wide-angle coverage and fast recycling. Just two intuitive controls operate it. The high visibility O ring is easy to check for a proper seal before diving.

The INON S-2000 underwater digital strobe was sometimes misunderstood when it was launched by even some quite experienced underwater photographers. Comparing it to the already diminutive INON Z-240 and D-2000, the tiny INON S-2000 was wrongly assumed to be a close up and macro only strobe because professionals did not believe that such a small underwater strobe could possibly house the technology needed for high power, wide-angle shooting with very short recycling times. In fact, the INON S-2000 has a guide number of 20, as powerful as the larger D-2000 and only about one stop less powerful than the Z-240. Like the INON D-2000 and INON Z-240 it offers 100 degree coverage without a diffuser and 110 with one. Recycling time, when fired at full power, is less than two seconds. So the INON S-2000 is not a ‘beginner’ or ‘starter’ underwater strobe at all. It’s perfectly capable of shooting professional quality pictures of general subjects, but does have an additional edge over bulkier competing strobes for lighting close up, macro, super macro and wide angle macro images. This is because the INON S-2000 has a short, slim line body enabling the strobe to be set alongside housing ports and wet lenses to make it easy to evenly light your subject at very close working distances. When using macro lenses or/and INON UCL close up lenses (owners of interchangeable lens SLR and compact system cameras often combine macro lenses with INON UCL close up lenses for greater magnification) , and as working distance between you and your subject decreases, the benefits of a slim line strobe for even lighting increase. For these reasons, some very accomplished underwater photographers rely on the S-2000 for their dedicated close up underwater camera systems. Professional underwater photographers often have multiple camera set up’s. The longevity of INON strobes means that some well-known underwater photographers who switched from other brands to the Z-220 or Z-240 many years ago are still using these for their wide-angle camera system and have bought the newer S-2000’s specifically for their macro rigs. Also many underwater photographers used cameras in the past that required hard wired cables, rather than fibre optics, which made the Z series of INON strobes more suitable than the S-2000. Today, many professionals have added or upgraded to cameras that use fibre optic cables which support the S-2000.

jamie watts in ice

Jamie Watts, polar expedition leader, writer-photographer, INON UK Expert and INON Uk underwater photography instructor shows off his INON S-2000 strobes on location in Antarctica. INON strobes are chosen by many professionals for their combination of high specification, user friendliness and reliability. INON UK works hard to provide professional support for our clients with equipment advice and back up, extended warranties and a range of underwater photography courses and events. Not all INON products sold in the UK are sourced through INON UK, which is INON Japan's official UK distributor. Our official dealer list will help ensure you enjoy the full benefits of being an INON UK customer and avoid buying a grey or parallel import. Image by Nicholas Gildemeister

The S-2000 is also an ideal strobe for use with INON’s specialist wide angle macro or bug eye lenses. The INON UFL-M150 ZM80 wet lens for compact and some compact system cameras and the INON UFL-MR130 EFS60 lens for SLR’s enable a unique form of extreme and dramatic close focus, wide-angle underwater photography, called wide macro or wide angle macro. These near fisheye lenses use ultra-compact front elements to enable the lenses to be placed into confined spaces, such as recesses in the reef, to photograph or video tiny subjects, while keeping their surroundings in sharp focus. A more conventional approach is to use wide-angle wet lenses, such as the INON UWL-H100 lenses or terrestrial fisheye lenses behind mini domes, such as the Canon 8-15mm with the INON X2-EOS70D or INON X2-EOS6D professional underwater housings for wide angle macro imaging.


INON's groundbreaking relay or bug eye lenses, such as the INON UFL-MR130 EF60 for underwater SLR cameras, enable stunning wide angle macro images to be taken. However, such photographs require very careful lighting. The tiny INON S-2000 is perfect for such extreme applications.

So who should choose the INON S-2000? It’s easy to say those on a tight budget, because the S-2000 is a very keenly priced underwater strobe, despite its premium specification. But it is always important to get the underwater photography equipment that will best meet your needs, not just now but into the foreseeable future as well. Underwater photography is an expensive activity and most of the cost for the majority of underwater photographers is not tied up in the kit, which, if chosen wisely is very long-lasting, but in the brief and expensive opportunities to use it. Owning the wrong equipment often only becomes apparent on location, when it prevents you getting the pictures you want, by which time it is too late to do anything about it.

As we already mentioned, the INON S-2000 is designed to be fired by your cameras built in flash via a fibre optic cable. Unlike the INON Z-240, the INON S-2000 does not have a connection for a hard wired cable. For many underwater photographers, a hard wired cable is not needed for their underwater camera. Having a connection point on their strobe that they won’t use anyway only adds a potential leak point that must be regularly maintained to prevent floods. Some professional cameras, such as the Canon EOS6D do not have a built in flash. To get around this, the INON X2 –EOS6D SLR housing has a built in converter to fire INON strobes via fibre optic cables using the signal from the cameras hot shoe. So the S-2000 is useable with this professional INON underwater SLR system.

X2 for GF1

The diminutive INON S-2000 digital underwater strobe surprised many hard bitten professional underwater photographers with its performance. The tiny strobe was sometimes assumed to be a close up and macro strobe only. In fact, it is as powerful as the INON D-2000 and shares the same wide-angle coverage as the classic Z-240. Fast recycling, S-TTL adjustable automatic exposure, full manual control and an extensive line of accessories make the INON S-2000 a professional level strobe.

The INON S-2000 offers S-TTL with cameras that have a built in flash. INON S-TTL (Optical Sync S-TTL to be precise) works by using the cameras own flash and flash meter to automatically control the flash output of the S-2000. Any changes to camera settings, such as F stop and ISO are automatically accounted for, reducing task loading on the underwater photographer. The accuracy of the flash exposure is dependent upon the accuracy of the cameras own flash meter. Because underwater photographers often work with tricky subjects, such as highly reflective fish or light skinned divers wearing dark equipment, both of which can fool camera flash meters and cause poor pictures, the INON S-2000 has a quick and easy to use adjustment control. This EV controller lets you darken or lighten the flash output to correct poor exposures created by a confused camera!

INON S-TTL is very helpful if you are just getting started in underwater strobe photography, are shooting fast moving subjects that keep changing their distance from you or have little time to devote to a subject or change camera setting because of diving conditions, such as during a high speed drift dive. Another reason INON S-TTL can be a lifesaver is if you are on a led dive. Many dive operators don’t gear led dives around the needs of underwater photographers. Mixing ordinary divers and underwater photographers can spoil the dive for both. Such dives often leave the photographer with little time to work a subject or adjust flash settings, in which case INON S-TTL can help you get the most from your grab shots. INON UK’s Learn with Lisa Days include a presentation that explains how to plan your dive trips to maximize your underwater photography opportunities. Lisa’s presentation provides essential guidelines to help you identify photographer friendly dive centres and liveaboards.

The INON S-2000 does not offer External Auto Exposure Mode, which is provided on the INON D-2000 and INON Z-240. External Auto Exposure Mode is rarely used as most underwater photographers prefer to either rely on INON S-TTL for automatic flash exposure or judge the exposure manually themselves. External Auto Exposure Mode is most useful for automatic flash control with cameras that lack a built in flash unit or for burst shooting with fast moving subjects. For those who like to control strobe exposure themselves, the INON S-2000 provides twelve manual power choices. The INON UK Understanding Your Underwater Camera and Strobe Day explains INON’s different flash exposure controls and when and how to use each in much more detail.

PT-054 set

The INON S-2000 is the ideal strobe for point and shoot criiter photography, as shown when mounted on this compact underwater camera fitted with an INON UCL close up lens. But its diminutive size belies the INON S-2000’s professional level specification. It is also a very capable underwater strobe for wide-angle photography.

The INON S-2000 is a true system strobe. INON offer a range of light modifiers to let you adjust its colour temperature and angles of coverage. Adjusting the colour temperature makes it possible to create more contrast between your foreground subject and its background. This can give your underwater photographs much more punch. INON worked with renowned professional underwater photographer Dr Alex Mustard on creating the colour adjustment filters for their strobe range. Diffusers spread the beam to make it easier to shoot wide-angle pictures. The INON snoot allows you to narrow the angle of your S-2000 in six progressive steps. Narrowing the angle of your INON S-2000 can help control backscatter in poor visibility, but is most often used for creative lighting effects. By creating a spotlight, you can isolate parts of your picture to lead the eye and create more striking compositions. The INON UK Level Two Lighting Course explains some of these creative strobe techniques in detail and includes practical exercises to help you learn and master these skills. Composition skills are one of the main topics covered in INON UK’s Learn with Lisa Days as part of INON UK’s continuing education programs for underwater photographers.

Sample colour temp

Working with famed underwater photography innovator, Dr Alex Mustard, INON have developed special filters and diffusers that change the colour temperature of the INON S-2000 digital underwater strobe. Doing so enables more contrast to be introduced between subject and background water column to create a more punchy image.

snoot on S-2000

The INON S-2000 is supported by a comprehensive line of underwater lighting accessories, including a snoot set that allows six different beam angles to be easily and quickly selected. Other light modifiers include colour temperature adjustment filters and diffusers. The INON UK Level Two Underwater Photography Lighting Course teaches advanced underwater lighting techniques.

The INON S-2000 does not have a built in modelling light, which is a feature of the INON D-2000 and Z-240. It’s easy to add an INON LE or LF series video light to your S-2000. A wide range of INON underwater video lights lets you choose the light that is best for you – for example do you want a light to help you see your subject for wide –angle photography at night, a light to help with focusing or one that can be used to shoot video clips? Once you’ve made your selection you’ll find INON’s extensive array of LE and LF video light mounts let you place your INON video light underneath or alongside your INON S-2000 strobe or on your strobe arm or camera housing. The choice of mounting options, including pan and tilt connectors, means your video light, strobe and camera can be configured in the way that best meets your own way of working. INON UK or any official INON UK dealer can guide you through your options.

strobe light holder

To assist with strobe aiming, night or overhead environment photography and finding subjects, an INON LE or LF video light is easily combined with your INON S-2000 strobe. A choice of INON video lights and a range of mounting options mean that it may be wise to discuss your personal needs with an INON UK official dealer.

Six Features and Benefits of the INON S-2000 Digital Underwater Strobe

Great Price Point

Entry –level priced professional specification INON strobe. The INON S-2000 incorporates all the key features expected by demanding underwater photographers. These include high power, wide-angle coverage, fast recycling and both INON S-TTL and manual exposure control.

Versatile Exposure Control

User friendly INON S-TTL makes getting strobe exposure correct automatically very straightforward. INON S-TTL is great for beginners getting started and more experienced underwater photographers working with difficult subjects. Twelve manual power settings provide complete creative control for experienced users.

Just Two User Friendly Switches

Rear mounted controls make operating your strobe from behind your camera quick and easy. Click stop manual power dial turns 360 degrees, so you can move quickly from full power to minimum power without spinning the dial back on itself.

Fully Supported by INON Lighting Accessories

True lighting system supported by full accessory line including snoot set, colour adjustment filters and diffusers, arms, tripod mount and four different off the shelf fibre optic cable lengths. INON UK Level Two Lighting Course teaches creative use of your INON S-2000.

Visible O Ring Seal

Visible O ring lets you quickly and easily check battery chamber seal before diving. Bright yellow O ring makes it easier to see hairs or other debris on O ring surface for increased safety.

INON UK Benefits Package.

When purchased from INON UK or an INON UK official dealer, you’ll enjoy a two year extended warranty on your INON S-2000 underwater strobe and significant discounts on INON UK underwater photography continuing education courses with Lisa and Steve and other INON UK underwater photography events. Not all INON equipment sold in the UK is supplied by INON UK, who are the manufacturer’s sole appointed agents in the UK. Some equipment is being sold by grey or parallel importers. Make sure you have our full support by ensuring your INON S-2000 come from INON UK or an official INON UK dealer.

The INON S-2000 digital underwater strobe is deceptive. It’s a professional level lighting system that delivers all the key features and benefits required by the serious underwater photographer. That it achieves this in such a user friendly manner and in such a compact package is testimony to INON’s design flair. The INON S-2000 is provided with a two year extended warranty and INON UK membership benefits only when purchased from INON UK or one of INON UK’s official dealers. Why risk a grey import?