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Our Strobe Problem

Strobe Problem

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#21 drywh

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Posted 28 April 2019 - 10:55 PM

Curious where you able to get a new potentiometer and fix this?

Hi ! 

 

I don't think that the potentiometer is not broken, it just rusts the surface. I didn't continue to fix the flash because I saw that an electrolytic capacitor on the board had been corroded by seawater to leave only a little bit, so it is inferred that there are many electronic parts that are also affected by seawater, if I need to fix it. Spend a lot of time and look for problems one by one. If you know exactly which part is broken, then this fix is ​​easy and worthwhile. If the potentiometer is broken and you can't find a potentiometer with the same shape, I can find the same carbon film inside from other potentiometer , just replace the carbon film.

 

I don't think that the potentiometer is not broken, it just rusts the surface. I didn't continue to fix the flash because I saw that an electrolytic capacitor on the board had been corroded by seawater to leave only a little bit, so it is inferred that there are many electronic parts that are also affected by seawater, if I need to fix it. Spend a lot of time and look for problems one by one. If you know exactly which part is broken, then this fix is ​​easy and worthwhile. If the potentiometer is broken and you can't find a potentiometer with the same shape, you can find the same carbon film inside, just replace the carbon film.



#22 Larry C

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Posted 30 April 2019 - 09:20 AM

I have two frustrations with my Sea & Sea strobes.  First, although the battery compartment is well sealed, when a cap o-ring does leak and the compartment fills with acid from the batteries melting down in salt water, it corrodes all the contacts.  Cap, $59 last time I needed one plus cleaning out the contacts inside the base with vinegar and flushing with alcohol.  When the contacts and wires continue to deteriorate, $150 to open the body and replace the contacts.  Both of the strobes that I've done this to have failed shortly thereafter.  Loved my YS-110's.  Nice soft light, really nice ttl (when it worked) with my D300.  When they failed-sorry, they don't make the printed circuit board any more.  It's a paperweight.  This is the dilemma of modern electronics. We are dependent on PCB's that sell for more than the the complete product, so nothing is fixable.  When a transistor fails, throw the whole thing away.  Anyone need a used dryer or microwave?  The part is $500.  The warranty is $300.  The new product is $700.  Make them simpler, easier to repair and make parts available for at least the expected life of the product, please.  I suspect that 90% of the failures in strobes are similar, within a model range.  Make the part that fails more accessible and available.


D500 NA-D500, D300 MDX-D300, 2X YS-D1, Tokina 10-17, Nikon 60AF D, Nikon 105mm AF-D, Nikon 35mm f2.0, L & M Sola 800/1200

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#23 echo2600

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Posted 02 May 2019 - 07:40 PM

@Larry C, I think that you may have hit the nail on the head, without knowing it.... If the PCB costs more than the strobe, its likely because theres just no demand for the PCB - at least in the eyes of the strobe marketer.... Think about it from the PCB vendors standpoint - the strobe marketer (I use that term because its likely that they very little of the actual production) has been told by the PCB supplier what the expected failure rate should be... Armed with that information, the strobe marketers financial department looks at the cost of purchasing a reserve quantity of PCBs vs. the profit to be gained from non-warranty sales... Im guessing that it makes absolutely no economic sense to provide the PCBs as replacement parts.... I used to work in the motorcycle industry and we would regularly get complaints for end users the would lose and/or alter some seemingly inconsequential bit of a larger system (e.g. the plunger rod that goes between the front brake lever and the master cylinder. Under normal use conditions, the failure rate on that particular piece was less than 0.001%.... If the component did fail, during the warranty period, we would just replace the entire front brake master cylinder, because that was cheaper than ordering and warehousing parts that we knew we had no chance of selling before all of the potential profit was eaten up by logistical costs...

#24 Interceptor121

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Posted 02 May 2019 - 10:07 PM

I think we need to understand that the manufacturers have to make money and currently they way to do so is to sell you a new product. To give an example in the appliance market (Fridges, washing machines etc) typically you hold stock for spare parts for 10 years from the moment the product is not made anymore.

Some appliances like fridge, cookers last in excess of 15 years and as models are released and phased out faster and faster the most economical way to fix your old product gone wrong is to buy a new one.

This is driven by two considerations:

1. Repair costs are very high this is due to the fact that you need labour and that the spare part has to fund all the obsolete inventory you are keeping so they are sold at premium

2. As product become more integrated with electronics is harder to pull them apart and actually fix them

 

I am not sure what is the life span of a strobe but I am pretty confident that in average is well above 5 years. If I look at my Inon Z240 that became obsolete last year I am expecting them to be serviceable until 2028 however I am unsure if once they break it will be cost effective to repair them instead of buying new units

 

Having said that when a product is actually current being made and in support I would expect a manufacturer to be able to perform an out of warranty repair and I am pretty sure the cost would be exorbitant however the option has to be offered

 

In terms of users fixing their own devices this is entirely possible and it is already happening at least for cosmetic parts in the appliance industry. The consumer gets sent a spare part and instructions on how to fix it. It is also possible to give access to technical drawing and documentation and users can try and fix things themselves.

 

When it comes to underwater strobes I see no reason why the technical diagrams should not be made available to service partners however we need to be mindful that is so not cost effective for those guys to repair anything that they frequently send them back to the manufacturer anyway and that due to competitive reasons the manufacturers may not want to divulge their technical documentation

 

So unless there is a concept of 'open source' for strobes technical design I think repair in the field is not a real possibility


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#25 Kraken de Mabini

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 09:50 AM

Recently, when my strobes and those of friends have failed and been taken for service, the dealer could not repair the strobe. As an amateur, I examined a few of these strobes and found trivial defects such as dirty or broken battery contacts, these strobes are now fully functional. In other words, many strobe failures are easy to fix, and other failures, such as burned out xenon tubes, bulbs and capacitors, can be repaired given parts and training. There is no reason for the manufacturers not to make excess circuit boards and store them for later repairs.  Repair manuals and training should be part of strobe marketing.

 

As I see no effort by manufacturers or dealers to provide quality repair information or services, it seems that the apparent policy of some manufacturers and dealers is to sell new strobes, some of dubious quality, to maximize profit, and to treat us the underwater photographers as cash cows.

 

Victim talk and a passive attitude that justifies expensive strobes with no repairs, services or parts just worsens matters.

 

We need to be knowledgeable, aggressive and state clearly what we want:

 

Reliable, affordable strobes that can be repaired for a reasonable cost.



#26 Interceptor121

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 11:40 AM

Dealers and service are not necessarily compatible because a dealer makes money selling a product and doesn’t want to spend time repairing so typically they send the device back to factory
The distributors though should provide on behalf of the manufacturer in and out of warranty support
There is no legal requirements to provide out if warranty support however a manufacturer that has this commitment should be rewarded
I have had experience with sea and sea out of warranty service and it was terrible so I decided never to buy any of their products
I bought at the time 3 Z240 and one was not firing consistently they took it back and fixed it (repair not swap)
I have then looked for some after sale parts from Inon and the they have responded
Ikelite also appears to be serious from what I heard
I have no reports of seacam subtronic or other brands but would be interesting to compare


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#27 bvanant

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Posted 03 May 2019 - 12:57 PM

While it is true that replacing a broken flash tube can be done (sometimes easily some times not) repairing circuit boards in a world of ASICs and surface mount devices is not so trivial, especially ones that have been wave soldered. The days of discrete components sticking into a board with long leads that can be desoldered and then replaced and resoldered is long past. Practically in the dive market there are maybe 6 or 7  manufacturers of strobes and I suspect that all of them want to make good strobes because warranty repairs cost money. I like the concept of "Reliable, affordable strobes that can be repaired for a reasonable cost." but I along with most other photographers I know have had pretty good luck with the reliability bit (many of mine are more than 5 years old with many hundreds of dives each). It would be interesting to know what the true failure rate of strobes is (but no one will give you their data) but I suspect that the reliability bit is pretty good and the fact that I also suspect that most cases of strobe failure are operator error, not design flaws. The same arguments are true for pretty much any consumer electronic device, fixing a board costs more than a new board. Boards and components for the most part are cheap, labor especially skilled labor is expensive. That being said, I know that Devin at Pacific Housing Repair has done a lot of board level fixing things but the "reasonable cost" bit is still debatable. 

 

​As a discussion point, how many of you in this thread have used strobes for more than 2000 flashes (30 cents per picture). 

 

The main competition at the moment appears to be between Ike, S&S and Inon (and hopefully Retra in the near future) and I have talked to both Inon and Ike and they both are very proud of their designs and technology so I don't think the cash cow bit applies to them. I don't know about S&S but as japanes, I suspect they have the same pride in their stuff as Inon.  Personally after looking at the level of technology in the strobes, I have NO desire to start and underwater strobe business, but remain surprised that Nauticam hasn't yet built some strobes


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#28 Kraken de Mabini

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 06:05 AM

The strobe problem speaks for itself.

Here are some recent Wetpixel posts about the many heads of the strobe problem:

 

Is my Inon S2000 faulty?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63967

 

Sea & Sea YS-D2 flash tube broken, common problem?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=60161

 

Inon Z-330 ready light comes on early

http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63538

 

Inon z240 failure
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63870

 

Sea & Sea YS-01 only working in TTL mode?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63891

 

Flooded Strobe
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63652

 

Inon Z240 Battery Compartment... Watertight?
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=62033

 

My Story with YS-D2 Strobe
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63061

 

Sea and Sea D2 service center?
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63030

 

Flooded DS 51
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=20094

 

One Inon Z240 producing less light
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=61243

 

Ikelite SD125 - flooded?
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=59771

 

Issues/Problem with Sea&Sea YS D2 Strobe?
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=57102

 

                                                                              =end=


Edited by Kraken de Mabini, 05 May 2019 - 06:15 AM.


#29 Barmaglot

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 06:58 AM

Selection bias much? It's not like people tend to post when their strobes are working great and all - but hey, you're welcome to drop $6k on a pair of SeaFlash 150Ds, hardly any complaints about those :)



#30 Interceptor121

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 10:41 AM

I don't see evidence in the 13 links posted of bad behaviour of the manufacturer or the service center. With exception of YS-D2 issue that are a manufacturing problem well known the others are a mix of user error, floods, or some lack of functionality or understanding of it that cannot be classed as defect

 

 

I believe it is not very productive to go down this route. Based on my limited personal experience I have had 5 strobes, 1 was damaged by my error and yes the service response was not satisfactory but the unit kept working, one was repaired in warranty the others have had no issues

 

So far I have a 20% defect rate and 100% correction rate I consider strobe long lasting assets that have survived many cameras changes without problems


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#31 Kraken de Mabini

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 02:10 PM

These photo divers recently had bad experiences, at times impacted trips, regardless of why the strobe failed.

They posted their bad experiences to benefit the rest of us.

 

Those who deny or try to hide these bad experiences may have ulterior motives,

such as to support and encourage the sale of problem products, ie, two well known strobe makes.

It seems smart to read and listen, mull over and learn from the good and bad experiences of others. 

As the saying goes:

 

  • “Experience is a master teacher, even when it's not our own.”


#32 ChrisRoss

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 05:54 PM

The fundamental problem is that the market for underwater strobes is really quite small, combine that with competition driving prices down and you will get strobes built to a price point.  I suspect a lot of the problems with the Japanese strobes is cultural - they don't respond to emails because they only respond to email from the "correct" source that is via the dealers, Canon, Nikon, Sony are no different.  The usual arrangement for electronics is that the importer is responsible for warranty and service - but what ends up happening is that the volume of defects at the individual dealer level is too small to justify setting up a repair shop, so they get shipped back to Japan with long lead times. 

 

The big camera manufacturers have their own importers in each country  which deal with service and depending on the manufacturer provide more or less reasonable service, but their volumes are much bigger.  Warranty and service are not free - it is built into the price.  This is why grey market items are cheaper - they don't need to maintain the service and warranty facilities.

 

The posts quoted don't mean much without knowing how many strobes are out there and trouble free.  If they represent the failures from a few hundred strobes - there is a big problem, if they represent the failures from 100,000 strobes it's a different matter.   People who have reliable strobes are less likely to post and this type of forum draws in people who are having issues.

 

I'm not saying we shouldn't push for better product, the YS-D2J is an example of the response of a manufacturer to excessive failures.   But realistically I can see the issues faced by manufacturers with a complex small volume product being operated in a very harsh environment, we may be able to get improved reliability but it'll be at a price.  If Retra for example comes out with a much more reliable strobe with better service arrangements and starts stealing sales, that is what will prompt improvement. 



#33 Interceptor121

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Posted 06 May 2019 - 12:35 AM

 

These photo divers recently had bad experiences, at times impacted trips, regardless of why the strobe failed.

They posted their bad experiences to benefit the rest of us.

 

Those who deny or try to hide these bad experiences may have ulterior motives,

such as to support and encourage the sale of problem products, ie, two well known strobe makes.

It seems smart to read and listen, mull over and learn from the good and bad experiences of others. 

As the saying goes:

 

  • “Experience is a master teacher, even when it's not our own.”

 

 

Sorry but your accusations are laughable. Nobody is hiding anything the spirit of wetpixel forums is exactly one of putting your experience out there and see if there is someone that can help nobody is removing posts or minimising what has happened to fellow divers and photographers

 

You have put together a series of link that just do not prove the point you are trying to make. Many of those refer to user errors, floods or circumstances that do not relate to a proper use of the device and as such can't be considered faults

 

The only issue that is concerning in my opinion is the one of Sea and Sea YS-D2 here we are presented with a systematic manufacturing defect and the appropriate response should be a total recall of the products and service free of charge even out of warranty, it appears this has not happened and probably a consumer campaign would be worth it even considering the small size of the markets

 

Other episodes of users burning a flash tube of a strobe bought second hand without knowledge of previous use are very hard to link to any manufacturer intent

 

And finally we all have to acknowledge that most flashes are put to use in conditions that will potentially harm them one example that is quite clear to me is snoots

 

If you look at Inon snoot (that is not that ergonomic) and read the documentation it tells you that the flash tube need some space in water to cool down and that is why the snoot is designed that way then you go and look at other solution made flat on the strobe totally built in plastic you know that firing many shots will definitely kill the bulbs still people do it and wonder why the strobes die?

 

Underwater photography is a small industry where everyone knows everyone else brands that take good care of consumers get rewarded and at the same time some consumers choose to pay less maybe without knowing they will receive less service this is not unusual but typically you get what you pay for and warranty costs are built as part of your retail price. If that allowance is not there you will most likely receive poor service. Based on my personal experience of after sale with Sea and Sea and Inon I can say nobody refused to repair the strobe and in one case I preferred not to proceed however I still understand that repairing a device is expensive and there is absolutely no will by the distributor to train someone to make repairs when the size of the market is so small this is just reality and economics


Edited by Interceptor121, 06 May 2019 - 12:44 AM.

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#34 synthetic

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 06:12 PM

The most distressing thing about this thread is that Bill didn't get NEARLY enough credit for his Ikelite joke. 


Edited by synthetic, 08 May 2019 - 05:42 AM.

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#35 Tinman

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Posted 07 May 2019 - 07:07 PM

I had issues with an Ikelite DS161 strobe several years ago. The strobe stopped working during the first day of a trip to La Paz. I suspected issues with the battery pack and cursed a little over my failure to being a backup battery pack. When I returned, I called Ikelite and they directed me to send them both of my strobes. They fixed the problem strobe and did some a upgrade on both. In the end, I simply paid for shipping and they did the repair and upgrades under warranty. The work was done and the strobes were returned in less than two weeks. Both strobes continue to work very well.

 

During a dive trip to Hawaii, an o-ring on one of my Ikelite battery packs failed. This was unusual as Ikelite o-rings are usually 'bomb-poof'. I'm not convinced I didn't do something wrong to flood the battery.

 

When Ikelite dumped the use of lithium batteries, I took advantage of their exchange program and swapped my battery packs.

 

As I look down the road towards housing my Nikon D850, and read threads about strobe issues others are having, I can't help but think staying with strobes made by a reputable American company with a commitment to customer service would be a good idea.

 

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#36 Kraken de Mabini

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Posted 08 May 2019 - 02:09 PM

Strobe Failure by Make and Type:

 

A number of Wetpixel members write of their strobe failures (refs 1 to 3). To better understand these failures, they are abstracted and listed here by strobe make and type of failure.

 

Ikelite strobe:

User flooding: 3  

 

Inon strobes Z240 and Z330: 

Total failures: 7

User flood: 2

Battery failure, user fault: 1

Strobe internal failure: 1

Dim strobe flash: 1

New Z330, not working: 1

Partial failure - Z330 Ready Light turns On before ready:  1

 

Olympus strobe:

Potentiometer leak from shaft corrosion: 1

 

Sea & Sea Strobes:

Total failures, 35 

No user floods posted, but descriptions were unclear

YS-D1  Flash tube failure: 10

YS-D2(not J) Flash tube failure: 10

Body flood (not battery compartment): 3

Switch leak: 2

Cracked strobe body: 1

Does not turn on: 2

Erratic firing or TTL defect :  7

 

Failure Summary.

With user floods excluded, the results are:

 

Ikelite strobes had no posted strobe failures.

Olympus had 1 corrosion failure.

Inon strobes had 4 failures.

Sea & Sea 'made in China' strobes had multiple failures.

 

Comment:

Wetpixel posts are the only published reports of underwater strobe failures I could find, as strobe company annual reports and the number of strobes sold and of failures are not published.  

 

Strobe failure reports have become common in Wetpixel while those of other underwater photo equipment, such as cameras and housings are rare (refs 1 to 3).

 

In terms of reliability and response to problems, Ikelite seems to be the only company I know of that communicates with customers and provides satisfactory strobe service and repairs. 

 

Let us hope that the causes of YS-D2 strobe failures have been corrected by Sea&Sea now that it has relocated its strobe manufacturing from China to Japan (and re-labeled its strobe as the YS-D2J).

 

In closing, a striking post by Wolf Eel (2) helps understand part of our strobe problem:

 " I've had the exact same thing as Custom happen to my D1s. The flash tube design shortcoming/flaw was not addressed in the D2, which is why I did not upgrade to them. SEA&SEA's explanation to me was [paraphrasing] "we are very sorry but this can happen because the flash tubes are those taken from conventional land based flash units and simply housed in an underwater housing (sealed, traps heat) - we do not have the resources to design from the ground up a flash tube assembly just for this strobe.”

                                          - -

References

 

1. Please see this post’s (http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63956) replies dated April 25, 2019 and May 5, 2019.

 

2. Issues/Problem with Sea&Sea YS D2 Strobe?

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=57102  

 

3. Sea & Sea YS-D2 flash tube broken, common problem?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=60161 and below…

 

Inon Z-330 ready light comes on early

http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63538

 

Inon z240 failure
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63870

 

Sea & Sea YS-01 only working in TTL mode?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63891

 

Flooded Strobe
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63652

 

Inon Z240 Battery Compartment... Watertight?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=62033

 

My Story with YS-D2 Strobe
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63061

 

Sea and Sea D2 service center?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63030

 

Flooded DS 51
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=20094

 

One Inon Z240 producing less light
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=61243

 

Ikelite SD125 - flooded?
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=59771

 

Issues/Problem with Sea&Sea YS D2 Strobe?​

http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=57102

 

Scarcity of Z330 strobes (still)?

http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=63801

Non-working brand new Z330, see reply of 4 April 2019.


Edited by Kraken de Mabini, 08 May 2019 - 06:56 PM.


#37 Walt Stearns

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Posted 08 May 2019 - 02:50 PM

Yes, these are dark days for us underwater photographers. 



#38 diverkevin

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Posted 08 May 2019 - 06:45 PM

Thanks, Kraken de Mabini and subsequent posters, for this informative thread, from which I've learned a lot. Before joining this forum, I was completely unaware that the Sea & Sea black strobes were produced in China and had issues (my blacks have been trouble free for several years, knock on cambium).  In fact, I've been primarily a Sea & Sea strobe user for the past 15 years.  Only once did I try the Inon Z-240 strobes, but quickly gifted them to a friend as I felt they were not very ergonomic. Certainly the stellar Ikelite strobe reputation and their unmatched customer service are enticing, but I decided against buying the strobe due to the proprietary battery, thinking if I'm out in a remote region of the world, I want to be able to purchase standard batteries if needed. I see Eli has devoted many hours to researching strobes and providing useful information on their functionality and repair tips.  Thank you!

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#39 Tinman

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Posted 08 May 2019 - 08:19 PM

I've got several old Nikonos SB 105 strobes what work rather well and have never presented any issues. I exercise the capacitors regularly. The down side is that I can only use the SB 105s with my Nikonos cameras because no one makes a sync cord to permit use of the 105s with any other housings. While I do enjoy shooting film with vintage cameras every now and then, it would be nice to be able to use the strobes with my digital housing. Of course, it's not unreasonable for companies to stop making parts for vintage equipment; there's very little profit in it.

 

-AZTinman



#40 oneyellowtang

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Posted 09 May 2019 - 12:16 AM

Just to level set - given all the issues people have been talking about, am I one of the few that travels with n+1 strobes to account for potential field failure?

I normally shoot with 2 strobes, so I travel with 3 (now two Z330s and one of my older Z240s). When my daughter comes along it's a total of 4 (she shoots with a single strobe, and with my son shooting (single strobe) it's 5.