INON Z-330 Ultra Wide Strobe
Inon has just published what, many underwater photographers have been waiting for for a long time. The follow-up on the popular Z-240 flash which over the years have been upgraded several times and are now present as a Type-4 version, that Inon recently stopped producing. The name of the new device is “Z-330 Ultra Wide Strobe” and is expected to be released ultimo 2017.
At first glance, it might look similar to the former Z-240 model. But when looking at it with fresh eyes the new details will start to reveal themselves.
New front glass
Looking at the front of the unit, you will see that there are 3 light sources:
A 220 lumens spot/focus light mounted with a “Fresnel lens” that would provide the familiar “hard” light that the Fresnel lens is known for. And the usual 2 flash tubes, one of which turns horizontally and the other vertically. This ensures that the light is cast in all 4 directions relative to the subject. But in addition, the front glass is now “diffused” in front of the flash tubes. And that will definitely help spread the light even more.
It is a fact that both the Sea & Sea YS-D2 flash and the I-Divesite Symbiosis both have better light spread than the previous Z-240 … at least without the diffusion adaptors applied. But it may change now. If you want to take the new name into consideration, “Ultra Wide Strobe”, Inon has made a device that should shed light even further and claim that it has a coverage of 110 “. If you know Inon’s thoroughness, there is no doubt that it’s “real 110’s spread”.
The power of the device
The claim that Z-330 Ultra Wide Strobe has a 110 “spread without diffusor is interesting considering that the new guide number is 33. That is one unit more than both YS-D2 and Symbiosis who are both 32. (Wondering if Inon has speculated in this?). In any case, it is interesting to see if the effect of the light will apply to the entire light image. You may expect a slight decrease in power at the edges, but that applied to all light sources.
The button layout
Handling the buttons on the previous Z-240 was absolutely awful. The joke is, that the Japanese engineers have very little hands… in any case, it is one of the weaknesses of Inon’s flash systems, that if you dive with glows and in cold water they are tricky to operate. Over the years, many external manufacturers have come up with both expensive and great button extensions for Inon’s flash-buttons but also simple solutions like small pieces of plastic hose have been glued onto the unit. It seems that this has now been taken into account and particularly the large function button it long and can now be used with gloves in cold water. That makes us happy here in the Nordic Region.
At first glance, the function of the buttons appears to be the same as on the Z-240. Inon’s thoroughness has always been their weakness – no matter which products they have come out with… Whether it’s their manuals, their lenses or their accessories, you can be sure that it’s very detailed, bulky and full of small cleverly build pieces, and it always takes a long time to put together and to get your head into. But it has to be said that it’s also thoroughly done and that when things work … then it works well..!
On the new Z-330, Inon has listened to the feedback they have got over the years and made the menus on the unit a bit easier… better graphics. Since we did not have the device for real testing, we can not conclude if the features and functions of the buttons have also been changed, but based on the image material we have, the changes are not particularly diverse. But we are quite sure that Inon makes a larger manual that describes how it has now been simplified! 😉
It was important for Inon to come up with a brand new flash and signal innovation – and not just as an upgrade like Z-240 Type5. Type 4 has long been rumoured that it could not withstand exposures made repeatedly without getting too hot – and it has been important for Inon to show that there is a whole new strength behind the new device and that the guide numbers have become bigger and better than the competitors. We would have liked an even bigger change or a new combination of colours to illustrate this … but “never change a winning team” seems to have been the philosophy…
Though it seems like it’s the same flash with just a new name and better guide number there is a sense and feel about this that tells us that this IS, in fact, a brand new product. And if Inon has introduced updated security features against overheating in multi-exposure, they have long reached their goal.
It’s going to be fun to get the new device in hand and come out and test how well it works … under the surface!