Underwater Strobe Comparison

Underwater strobes light up our world. They bring vivid color back into wide-angle and macro scenes, while also freezing motion to deliver crisp images of the subject. I’ve written this underwater strobe comparison in order to help you find the best strobes for your kit, whether upgrading or buying new.

The list and comparison below incorporates of some of the most popular underwater strobes on the market today. It’s an exciting time to be in the market for strobes as we have two fairly new models mixing it up with the workhorses of the past few years.

I’ve compiled specs into a comparison chart below, but note that it uses manufacturers’ available info, which isn’t always apples to apples (welcome to underwater photography gear).

Have questions about which strobe is right for you? Send me an email anytime.

Also, be sure to read my tutorial on Underwater Strobe Positioning in order to learn the best practices, tips and techniques for using your strobe(s).



Underwater Strobe Comparison Chart


Sea & Sea YS-03


This is a nice strobe if you’re on a lean budget or looking for a simple lighting solution, as it doesn’t offer manual strobe power control. My opinion is that strobes grow with you and if you really think you’ll get into underwater photography, try to spend the cash on the YS-D2J (which does offer manual control).

$300 | Learn More


SeaLife Sea Dragon Universal Flash

sealife sea dragon flash

The SeaLife flash comes with the Flex-Connect tray and handle, making it a quick solution for adding light to a compact camera and housing. Manual and TTL control, plus the quick assembly/disassembly of the arm system make it very simple to use. SeaLife also sells combo kits with dual flashes, a flash and light combo and more.

$399 | Learn More


Inon Z-330


Brand new for 2018, Inon released this follow up to the Z240 (which was very popular before the Sea&Sea YS-D1 (predecessor to the YS-D2)) hit the market. I haven’t had a chance to use the Z-330, but check out Adam Hanlon’s review on Wetpixel.

$650 | Learn More


Sea & Sea YS-D2J


The YS-D2J is the workhorse of many serious underwater photographers and my first strobe recommendation. I use the older YS-D2 model, but these rock. Enough said. Use the 100 degree diffuser set instead of the 120 degree.

$690 | Learn More


Retra Flash


Retra hit the scene a couple years ago with their LSD (light shaping device), helping spark a second wave of macro snoot photography. Backscatter showed me this new flash at DEMA 2017 and it looks very cool. You can check out Adam Hanlon’s review on Wetpixel.

$829 | Learn More

Ikelite DS161


A solid strobe with a reputation for quick recycle time, although the competition has now caught up. Aquatica housings also have an option for built-in Ikelite strobe compatibility for added convenience.

$949 | Learn More


Have more questions about buying an underwater strobe? Email me and I can help you pick out the best strobe for your underwater photo system and preferred photo subjects.



Best Underwater Cameras of 2018



Essential Editing Tips for Underwater Photographers

All Lightroom Editing Tutorials

How to Photograph Underwater Behavior

Brent Durand

Professional underwater photography and ocean adventure writer.