AOI has announced it is joining the select club of underwater strobe makers with the launch of its first flash unit—the Ultra Compact Strobe Q1 (UCS-Q1). According to AOI, the entry-level strobe is designed with simplicity in mind, and offers only manual control of flash power and features just two buttons and one knob.
The Q1 features a built-in 700-lumen continuous light with three power settings, which can be used for macro photography, as a focus light, and as a dive torch. It also offers a modeling flash function, which fires a short burst of flashes to help users aim and position the strobe as desired—especially useful when using a snoot. The strobe has a non-removable ball arm and comes with a diffuser, which provides a beam angle of 85 degrees. The strobe requires two 18650 lithium batteries.
Available in black or white, the AOI Ultra Compact Strobe Q1 has an MSRP of $300 and is shipping soon.
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AOI Ltd continues to light up the underwater photography scene.
Any decent underwater photographer will tell you that lights are the 2nd most important investment. When it comes down to it, strobes are the preferred choice to obtain glorious colors and avoid the ‘blues’. But strobes can be an expensive and the learning curve can be steep.
Recognizing that the category lacks a good, affordable strobe, AOI is making its foray into the category with the AOI Ultra Compact Strobe Q1 (UCS-Q1). An entry level strobe or “My First Strobe” as AOI’s Managing Director, Victor Tsui puts it: “Underwater photography need not and shouldn’t be a complicated affair. During the research and development phase, ‘simplicity’ was a key attribute that kept surfacing amongst compact camera users. The popularity of the Olympus Tough series (TG-4/5/6) is largely attributed to the simplicity of the camera, especially for capturing macro subjects.”
Targeting first time strobe users and owners of entry level set-up, the design team kept in mind what the users wanted; ‘simplicity’. The control panel of the UCS-Q1 is kept simple with just two buttons and a single knob. The knob controls the power setting; the maximum brightness is at number 7 or the equivalent of Guide Number 22. Keeping the strobe to only manual function means that when used with an automatic compact camera, it is easy to obtain the desired the brightness. Just adjust the brightness of the strobe to match the exposure of the camera. The strobe has a very useable beam angle of 85 degrees with the diffuser on.
The left button activates the continuous light function, which has 3 power setting. The different power settings can be obtained by cycling through the button. The highest setting is at 700 lumens which is bright enough for macro shots or even as an underwater torchlight. The continuous light also works as a focus light, allowing for quicker focusing and determining the desired strobe position.
In keeping with the concept of “My First Strobe,” the simplicity aspect extends to the ownership experience and maintenance. The buttons and knobs are clearly labelled–making it easy to control, even with gloves on. The battery compartment is secured with a screw-on cap that is sealed with two o-rings to prevent accidental flooding. Should the battery compartment flood, it does not affect the electronic compartment as the two are kept separate and preventing a hefty repair bill? The strobe is powered by two 18650 lithium batteries, which offers a up to 2000 flashes on a single charge and provides consistent power delivery, even at low levels. The strobe is equipped with power stand-by and auto power-off features to conserve power and increase the lifespan of the strobe.
Being an entry level strobe does not mean it has limited functions and features. The longevity of the UCS-Q1 is further extended by the inclusion of modeling flash function. This function will assist in the correct placement of the snoot when it is used with the strobe. The modeling flash is activated by the user manually. When triggered, it fires the strobe in high frequency for a short duration, giving the impression that the subject is lighted up. This allows the user to visually confirm the snoot position and avoid having to shoot repeatedly to check if the snoot is positioned correctly. An easy to use and affordable 3-aperture snoot is available as an optional accessory. Standard accessories of the strobe are: A diffuser, spare o-rings, silicone grease, o-ring remover, secure line, and a battery storage case, however batteries are not included. A non-removable ball arm also comes attached to the strobe.
In addition to thoughtful design and considerate product features, aesthetics is just as important. One will immediately notice the aesthetics of the UCS-Q1 with its unconventional design. AOI believes that the unconventional design is reflective of what underwater photographers would want - that is to be as distinct as their creations. The strobe is priced at an affordable USD 299.00 and is available in black or white. To simplify matters for potential users and add even more value, AOI is offering the “My First Strobe” Starter Kit worth USD 99.00 for FREE* during the introduction period. The AOI Starter Kit includes a dry box, a cold shoe, a fibre optic cable, and a clamp. The bundled items allow the strobe to be set up in one of the more popular configurations for beginners.
AOI will preview the new strobe at the 28th Annual Marine Diving Fair, Tokyo, Japan, from April 2 to 4, 2021. The event will be held at the 3rd floor, Exhibition Hall C, Bunka Kaikan Building, Sunshine City, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan.
This and other AOI products can be found at booth C-10. For more information, visit your local AOI authorized dealer or go to www.aoi-uw.com, www.facebook.com/AoiUw on Facebook or aoi-underwater on Wechat.
*The FREE AOI Starter Kit may not be available every country. Terms & Conditions apply.
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