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ADEX Singapore 2024 Coverage
By Nicolas Remy, April 20, 2024 @ 11:00 AM (EST)


I have just returned from the 30th anniversary edition of the Asia Dive Expo—better known simply as ADEX. Time flew by very fast during the packed event in Singapore, which saw almost 46,000 attendees over three days. Between the insightful talks given across three stages, the dive operators from all over Asia-Pacific and beyond, and the diving and imaging equipment manufacturers, there was a lot to see and do. Besides, I had two talks to give, a panel to moderate, and another one to attend. I wish I had been able to clone myself so I could have seen even more and met even more exhibitors!

For this report, I will cover the underwater imaging booths present at the show and a few resort and liveaboard operators that I had the chance to visit.
 

DPG Field Editor Nicolas Remy (far right) moderates a panel discussion on AI in underwater photography. From left: Peter Marshall, Anita Verde, Berkley White, Yoshi Hirata, Shane Gross, Oliver Martinez, and Pauline Wong
 

DPG Managing Editor Ian Bongso-Seldrup (far right) moderates a panel discussion on underwater imaging gear. From left: Zul Ng (Weefine), James Emery (Backscatter), Jun Ouyang (Marelux), Nick Khoo (AOI), Imran Ahmad (Seacam), and Yoshi Hirata (Nauticam)

 

Imaging Booths


Backscatter

Among all the gear and gadgets at Backscatter’s sizable booth, the star of the show was without doubt the newly announced Hybrid Flash (HF-1). I recently took the first look at this strobe aimed at hybrid shooters, which boasts a guide number of 40 and features a built-in 5,000-lumen video light. You can pre-order the HF-1 for a special launch price of $899, with shipping expected to start at the end of May. An optional snoot has also been promised for later this year.

A range of optional diffusers allows you to modify the color temperature of the Hybrid Flash’s light beam (5500K and 4500K) as well as increase the angle of coverage, from 120° without diffuser to 140° or 160° with the flat or dome diffuser, respectively. A noteworthy option is the ambient blue diffuser, letting you blend the strobe-lit foreground with the background. Diffusers are priced at $39 each, with $69 packages available as well.
 

Backscatter CEO Jim Decker and Marketing Manager James Emery with six Hybrid Flashes and a range of diffusers
 

HF-1 optional diffusers: The flat diffuser (center) increases the angle of coverage to 140°, while the dome diffuser (left) increases it to 160°—the ambient blue dome diffuser is pictured
 

Backscatter’s Mini Flash 2 (MF-2) compact strobe and MW-4300 video light were also on display, together with the Optical Snoot (OS-1), which is compatible with both devices
 

Becca Boring, Backscatter’s Operations Manager, shows off the range of GoPro housings and accessories
 

Introduced from the end of last year, the Backscatter Sharp Wide Lens Pro offers a 140° field-of-view while decreasing the focus distance. It is compatible with color-correcting filters via an ingenious slide-in system behind the lens

 

AOI

Next to Backscatter was the AOI booth, where I met with Managing Director Victor Tsui and Marketing Director Nick Khoo. Victor introduced me to the UCS-Q1 RC strobe, which was launched for the Japanese market in 2022 but is now available in the U.S. from retailers such as Backscatter; it turns out that UCS stands for “ultra compact strobe” and this is indeed a strobe with a comparatively small form factor. The strobe is particularly effective when coupled with an OM System (or Olympus) camera, as it supports the Olympus RC TTL mode. Moreover, Victor explained that AOI have refined the RC TTL protocol, optimizing it for underwater macro.
 

Managing Director Victor Tsui (left) and Marketing Director Nick Khoo in the AOI booth
 

The RC mode is good for general underwater photography, but when shooting macro, AOI recommends you pick the “i-Macro” mode, which is an adapted version of the RC protocol, designed to perform better for itty-bitty subjects
 

Visitors could experiment with nudibranch photography while staying dry! An OM System TG-7 compact camera was connected to an HDMI monitor, letting you try the Q1 RC strobe in RC mode and see the results on a monitor
 

Nick demonstrated an exciting new product—the UH-GPx housing for GoPro. The housing, which is compatible with the HERO9 through HERO12, features an integrated 5-inch Full HD monitor and battery pack (22.5W, 10,000mAh), which powers the camera, monitor and built-in vacuum check and moisture detection system. This bold approach turns the GoPro with its tiny screen and limited battery into something considerably more usable and versatile. For a limited time, AOI are offering the UH-GPx housing with a green ceramic coating and as a package with wet lenses in a rugged, padded case.
 

The UH-GPx housing features a large integrated rear monitor with a shade for better viewing in bright conditions
 

Inside the housing, a large battery powers the screen and the camera, giving an impressive operation time of 2.5 hours
 

Filters can be added underwater, sliding in at the front of the housing. Handily, the monitor shade doubles as a filter holder
 

The ergonomic rotating handles were my favorite feature of the GoPro housing. Nick demonstrated how they could be used (clockwise from top-left): filming in standard diving position; filming below the surface, while the user remains on the boat; and the all-important selfie mode!
 

AOI’s range of housings and wet lenses for OM System/Olympus cameras were also on display. According to Nick, the wet diopters were designed to be lightweight while achieving near edge-to-edge sharpness

 

Seacam

At the Seacam booth, I met with Seacam founder Harald Hordosch, who showed me a range of housings, as well as Seacam’s wet diopters and the well-known Seaflash 160 Digital strobes. The latest addition to the lineup, though yet to be formally announced, is their housing for the Sony a9 III, which is already in production.

Harald showed me the inside of one of Seacam’s Sony housings. The inside of all their housings is covered with a flock material, which he explained has three advantages: (i) It can absorb a cup of water and save the day in case of a slow leak; (ii) the black material stops light from reflecting inside the housing; and (iii) it looks cool! The booth walls were decorated with stunning underwater photos from Seacam ambassadors, including long-term user David Doubilet.
 

Seacam founder Harald Hordosh (right) and Singaporean Seacam ambassador Imran Ahmad. Unfortunately, David Doubilet and partner/collaborator Jennifer Hayes had to pull out of attending the show at the last minute due to a sudden family tragedy
 

Harald Hordosch has been the proud sponsor of the ADEX Voice of the Ocean competition for many years, offering the “best of show” winner one of his stunning high-end housings
 

Harald shows off the inside of one of Seacam’s Sony housings
 

Multiple Seacam housings were on display, together with their strobe arm system, Seaflash 160 strobe, diffuser and several ports
 

Also advertised at the booth was the new Raja Ampat Seacam Center, which is being established at Sorido Bay Resort on Kri Island. Guests of the resort will have the opportunity to borrow a range of Seacam equipment, including housings and ports, and dive with them in the lively waters of Raja Ampat. This first Seacam Center is launching in August 2024.
 

Nauticam

At the Nauticam booth, I caught up with CEO Edward Lai and General Manager Phoebe Lu, as well as Peter Mooney from Nauticam Australia. As you’d expect, there were several of the company’s housings, water-contact optics, and wet lenses on display. The newest kid in the block, the NA-A9III housing for the Sony a9 Mark III (now shipping), was displayed with the Fisheye Conversion Port (FCP-1) attached. This water-contact optic converts a standard zoom lens into an impressive zoom-through fisheye. Make sure to check out my extensive review of a pre-production version of the FCP-1.
 

The Nauticam NA-A9III housing for the Sony a9 III is shipping now
 

Also on display were the NA-OM1 housing, which fits both the OM-1 and OM-1 Mark II, and the CMC-2, SMC-1 and SMC-2 wet diopters
 

A fully assembled Extended Macro Wide Lens (EMWL) system was on show—with the new water jackets system. This optional accessory locks clear water in-between the EMWL parts, preventing floating particles from entering the system and degrading image quality.
 

The EMWL with the new water jackets system. A monitor hooked up via HDMI allowed visitors to see the “bugeye” view through this unique attachment
 

From left to right, the 60°, 100° and 160° objective lenses for the EMWL. The reversed angled viewfinder, visible on the back of the NA-A7RV housing, inverts the view and allows shooting the EMWL via the EVF, without a relay lens
 

How many Nauticam shooters can you fit into one selfie? From left to right: Nicolas Remy, Edward Lai, Peter Mooney, Anita Verde, Peter Marshall, Yoshi Hirata and Phoebe Lu

 

Sea&Sea

The Sea&Sea booth was showing off a range of strobes and ports, as well as their unique “universal” Sony housing, the MDX-αU, which is compatible with a7 IV, a7S III, a9 II, a1, and a7R IV and V, with the use of an optional conversion kit. On the strobe front, the range-topping YS-D3 DUO/YS-D3 DUO RED was on display. Sea&Sea is owned by Japan underwater imaging equipment maker Fisheye, which produces lighting products under the brand name FIX.
 

Sea&Sea’s Kaz Okada brandishes their universal Sony housing and their newest strobe, the YS-D3 DUO
 

Sea&Sea’s universal Sony housing can be modified via various kits, allowing the owner to keep the same housing when upgrading to another Sony camera
 

On display were three new FIX video lights in the Neo range, which are expected to become available in July: the LX-1200SW, LX-2400SW FS, and LX-4000SW FS. The lights range from 1,200 to 4,000 lumes and all feature wide (120°/5500K) and spot (30°/6500K) beams. They automatically shut off when a flash is detected, making them well suited for use as focus lights. As well as stepless control of power output, from 1% to 100%, the lights feature a remote control interface.
 

The new FIX Neo video lights boast a handy LCD display indicating the percentage power output dialed in (left) along with the runtime remaining (right)

 

Marelux

Next I visited the Marelux booth, where I met with founder Jun Ouyang. Marelux had on display housings for Sony and Nikon mirrorless cameras, as well as flat ports, domes, an HDMI monitor, and two new strobes, the Apollo III and Apollo S. The Apollo III is the larger of the two and features three flash tubes in a triangle formation, whereas the Apollo S has the more traditional dual parallel flash tubes. Both strobes have a native 110° beam angle, which can be expanded to 120° with diffusers, and support TTL, including the Olympus RC protocol. The strobes are high-speed sync (HSS) capable, too.

Both strobes feature a dome-shaped optical sensor, which allows them to be triggered wirelessly using Marelux’s Lumilink Optical Transmitter, mounted on the housing’s fiber-optic ports. Jun explained that wireless communication uses a Marelux-designed protocol, which ensures that the strobes cannot be triggered by other optical signals.
 

Founder Jun Ouyang (center) in the Marelux booth. The company places great emphasis on its ambassadors, with two dozen well-known faces adorning the walls of the booth
 

Left: The Apollo III boasts GN 44 and a recycle time of 0.6 seconds at full power. The strobe can fire at 10fps if dialed down to GN 22. It features both a red and white aiming light. Right: The Apollo S has a GN of 33 but also a recycle time of 0.6 seconds at full power
 

Demonstrating the Lumilink Optical Transmitter for triggering strobes wirelessly. It is compatible with the new Apollo III and Apollo S strobes
 

We also took a look at Marelux’s feature-packed optical snoot—the Smart Optical Flash Tube (SOFT). It uses a built-in battery to power its centered aiming light, thereby sparing the strobe’s own battery. According to Jun, the snoot can last for eight hours with the aiming light turned on, and there’s a red mode that minimizes disruption to wildlife. Jun demonstrated how the snoot’s integrated aperture gives you full control over the width of the light beam.
 

Left: The Marelux Smart Optical Flash Tube (SOFT) snoot. Right: The SOFT’s aiming light has a red mode that can be used when photographing skittish critters

 

Weefine

Weefine had, well, a very fine booth showcasing a range of underwater photography equipment, including housings, ports, arms, hybrid strobe-video lights, and various accessories to tweak the light beam of the latter.
 

Chinese company Weefine specializes in equipment for divers and underwater shooters
 

I was introduced to the WFH TG-Pro, a new housing specially designed for the OM System Tough TG-7 compact camera (as well as the externally identical Olympus TG-5 and TG-6). Depth-rated to 80 meters (260 feet), the housing contains a 18650 lithium-ion battery that can extend the camera’s battery life to as much as six hours. The battery also powers the built-in electric vacuum pump, which is activated via a single click. The WFH TG-Pro features an M16 port, allowing you to hook up an external monitor—there’s a Weefine housing for that, too!

I also checked out the Smart Focus 5000 (WF082), another recent addition to Weefine’s video light offerings. As the name suggests, the main beam is 5,000 lumens, but the light also sports red, blue and green LEDs; these can be used separately or togethe in mixed light mode. The red beam is ideal for focus use, while the blue beam can be used for shooting fluorescence. If you’re doing creative backlighting and want to try different colors without fiddling with filters, this is the light for you: It can be set up to alternate automatically between the three colors, while you’re still in shooting position. Like other Weefine lights, the Smart Focus 5000 also has a strobe mode, triggered via the built-in fibe-optic port. The Ring Light 3000 (WF058), which is designed to provide even lighting for close macro subjects, was also on display.
 

The Weefine WFH TG-Pro for the OM System TG-7 (as well as Olympus TG-5/TG-6). The video light attached to the right-hand handle is the Smart Focus 5000
 

Weefine’s GoPro housing, complete with tray, video lights and attachment rings for their wet lenses

 

Fotocore

On the Fotocore booth, I met with Raymond Bao, who demonstrated their M8 video light, boasting 8,000 lumens and nine power levels. The light can also be controlled remotely. In addition, we looked at their GTX strobe, which has a circular tube with a 160Ws output (GN 30) and a claimed beam angle of 150°. Running from three 18650 lithium-ion batteries, the GTX strobe is capable of firing 500 times on a single charge. The strobe can be triggered via fiber-optic cable or electrical sync cord.

Last but not least, we looked at the ST01 Macro Snoot, a 2,000-lumen video light with a narrow 10° beam. It can be combined with a six-color rotating filter, allowing you to easily change the color of the snooted light for creative purposes.
 

Raymond Bao at the modest Fotocore booth
 

The 8,000-lumen M8 video light (center). In the background (far left in the photo) is Fotocore’s GTX strobe
 

The GTX strobe has a circular tube with a 160Ws output (GN 30) and seven power levels, indicated via a small LCD display on the back

 

SeaFrogs

I concluded my tour of the imaging booths with SeaFrogs, which had a range of housings, ports and lights on display. Notably, this included their housing for the Nikon Z8, part of a new range of aluminum housings contrasting with the polycarbonate housings for which the company is known.

Also on display at the booth was their SF-01 strobe, which has a guide number (GN) of 32 and boasts a beam with a 120° coverage angle. Using two 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, the strobe supports both electrical and optical triggering.
 

Hong Kong-based SeaFrogs markets a wide range of underwater imaging products at competitive prices
 

The well-crafted SeaFrogs aluminum housing for the Nikon Z8 is depth-rated to 100 meters (330 feet)—as opposed to the 40-meter (130-feet) rating of their polycarbonate housings
 

Among the new products on display was an external monitor housing

 

Resort/Liveaboard Booths


Murex Resorts

Murex Resorts had a booth featuring the hot spots of North Sulawesi. Murex Manado is an ideal base from which to access dive sites on the mainland as well as the Bunaken National Marine Park. Murex Bangka is ideally positioned on the southern tip of Bangka Island, offering a quick access to sites all over the island, but also sites on the tip of North Sulawesi. If you’re headed this way, consider booking a “Passport to Paradise” and combine these two desinations with a stay at Lembeh Resort, for a luxurious experience in the world-famous macro heaven. Underwater photographers are well looked after at all three resorts, with large camera rooms available in both Murex Bangka and Lembeh Resort.
 

 

Solitude Liveaboards & Resorts

Solitude offers both liveaboards and resort-based stays—which is perhaps why the booth was always so busy whenever I tried taking a photo! Their Solitude One and Solitude Gaia boats operate in Palau, while Solitude One covers the Philippines, too, and Solitude Adventurer cruises around Indonesia. If you prefer being land-based, Solitude has resorts in two of the world’s best macro destinations: Lembeh and Anilao.
 

 

Master Liveaboards

Master Liveaboards boasts a fleet of 13 diving vessels covering 11 exciting destinations all over the world: Bikini Atoll, Maldives, Solomons, Galápagos, Myanmar, Thailand, Egypt, Palau, Truk Lagoon, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The Indo Master is the most recent addition to the fleet—a traditional pinisi-style liveaboard built from teak and ironwood that offers nine cabins for a maximum of 18 guests. Indo Master showcases the best Indonesia has to offer, with itineraries from 7 to 13 nights in Komodo, Raja Ampat, and almost everything in between.
 

 

Blue Force Fleet

Blue Force Fleet has liveaboards in the Maldives and Egypt, but we specifically spoke about their cruises in the Maldives, where they operate two boats (Blue Force One and Blue Force 3), covering a range of itineraries. The standard of accommodation on-board is very high, underwater photographers are well catered for, and it is possible to get certified and rent a Mares Horizon rebreather to take the experience to the next level. If you’re keen for a rebreather liveaboard, make sure to ask ahead of time, as Blue Force Fleet’s four Horizon rebreathers move between the two boats as needed.
 

 

Dive Damai

Dive Damai is another operator that treats underwater shooters well on-board their luxurious ships. The Damai I and Damai II traditional Indonesian boats operate various itineraries in Indonesia, including but not limited to Raja Ampat. Underwater photographers will appreciate the on-board camera room and just 12 divers on a 130-foot (40-meter) boat—where everyone gets their own personal rinse tank!
 


The ADEX team once again pulled off an exellent show, with fantastic networking opportunities and a breathtaking number of imaging talks, proving why the Singapore show is an absolute must-attend event. The next one is already fixed—it will take place at Suntec Convention Centre once again, from April 4th–6th, 2025—so you can already start making plans. See you there!
 



When purchasing underwater photography equipment like the products mentioned in this article, please support DPG by supporting our retail partner—Backscatter.com.

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