The use of the Snoot in UW Macro Photography

The Snoot is a light shaping device to reduce the amount of light in the picture.

So the main questions are: why should I use a snoot? Why should I add a complication to my shooting process and a cost to my set up?

Well, if underwater macropthotography is for you all about soft and even light the snoot is not for you, but if you like more shadow than light, you love high contrast and the dark side of wildlife than the snoot is the right tool for you.

And in my opinion, when using a snoot, the right mindset should be to give as less light as possible to the image.

There are different kind of snoot, everyone with their Pros and Cons.


Just a simple plastic tube (white inside – black outside) you can make yourself in few minutes.

Unfortunately the field of use is limited: just good for starting to add contrast and reduce the light in the photo and for backlight big subject. And, in any case, you have to go very close to the subject, otherwise the light spread to much.

• inexpensive ( DIY )

• you don’t see where is pointed
• light spread too much
• do not works with small diameter (too much loss of light)


This is the first kind of snoot I made myself using fiber optic cable and locline tube.

The power is not great so the use is limited at very close distance. Moreover it is not possible to see where is pointed.
For these two reasons it is always necessary the help of the buddy or Dive Master to direct it to the right point and to place it very close to the subject.

So you can understand it is a pain to use it but with a little practice and a good Dive Master you can get some interesting result that in no other way you can get.

• double point of light for special effect
• great bending , can be used very close to the bottom or in small hole

• need the assistance of a buddy or Dive Master to direct the light to the subject
• low amount of light , need to be very close to the subject.


This is the second kind of fiber optic snoot I made myself . Using a bigger high quality fiber optic cable the power is enough to light subject till 30-40 cm away.

Biut the light beam is fix and not narrow as I expected , even using a collimating lens, so I use it mostly working with the edge of the beam to create just a slice of light in the pictures.

• great amount of light
• bending is good enough to go into hole and small cave or to go parallel close to seabed

• unless your strobe focus light is right in the center you don’t see well where is pointed (that was my drama using INON Z240) and this is a real pain!
• using a collimating wet lens you can reduce the spread of the light, but not as good and not as sharp as the snoot that use a sealed optical lens (Iardino, Retra)
• the light beam is not adjustable


This is the snoot I use now regularly during my dive.

This is made by a combination of fiber optical cable that take the light from strobe lamp and strobe focus light (very important because you can see really very well where the snoot is pointed out!) and Optical sealed lens that create a real narrrow beam with sharp edge.

Of course it is possible to adjust the width of the light beam trough some inserts with decreasing holes.

I like Iardino snoot because it is possible to create a real strong and narrow beam to isolate to subject or part of it. Perfect even in super macro and for backlight small critters.

To take the most advantage from this snoot I usually prefer to put it on a slave triggered strobe and give them in the hand of a reliable dive master that can exactly put the light where is needed to create the picture.

• great amount of light in a compact size
• strobe focus light is very visible (also if not centered as INON Z240 – Z330) so precise position of the light is always possible even in daylight
• adjustable beam
• sharp edge of the beam is possible (if you need for your style of photograph)

• it cost more than the other solutions
• not possible to go real parallel to seabed for small subject ( …maybe Fabio Iardino will work for a new bendable version)


…and why not use use snoot for both strobe and continous light and add also a little bit of accelerate panning with low shutter speed?

In one next article we can have a look of this idea as well if you like.

WORDS and PICTURES by Paolo Isgro

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