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Sad Ikelite Flooding Story w/ Uncanny Happy Ending


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#1 depelos

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 07:10 AM

I went for a dusk dive yesterday at Sunset House, Grand Cayman. I took my Fuji S2 in my beloved Ikelite housing with a brand new Nikon 60mm lens and brand new Ikelite port. (I'm going to Lembeh in Oct. so I really need to practice with the 60mm.) I climb down the ladder with my camera into the water and start putting my fins on etc. I start to see a bunch of large bubbles coming from my camera port and I immediately yank it out of the water and hand it to my dive buddy who is still on shore. A few choice words then followed, I'm sure. Anyways, I come to see that my ONE WEEK OLD Ikelite port had just come apart! And of course everthing inside the housing had now been baptized by sea water. Apparently the port is made from two main parts that had been glued together and the glue had come unglued. Really makes me question the quality of the port but my other Ikelite ports have been fine for over 2 years. So I cleaned up what I could and then we went ahead and started/finished our dive. After the dive, I sulkily drag my dive gear to the rinse tank. I see a very good looking guy come up just after me with a nice big Ikelite housing and strobe and as he puts it in the rinse tank I ask him what he's shooting. He said he was using a 100mm. I told him I was using a 60mm and then proceeded to ask him if he wanted to see what happened to my camera and my brand new Ikelite port. He immediately put on a very grim face and said, "Wow, I work for Ikelite and I don't like that." A bit dumfounded, I said, "You mean, you work for an Ikelite dealer?". He responded, "No, I work for Ikelite in the repair department." I just stood there with my mouth wide open in disbelief. :unsure: He continued to examine the failed port and kept expressing his amazement at how the port could have come apart like that. He even called over another very nice lady who also works in the Ikelite repair department so she could have a look at it. After much discussion, he apologized profusely, gave me his contact details and told me to ship the flooded equipment to Ikelite and the would make it right. I have never ever met anyone who works for Ikelite, but last night was definitely a good time to have a few Ikelite people around. I mean, really, what are the chances?!! I slept quite good last night considering what happened, and I know that it was due to the assurances from the genuinely concerned Ikelite folks I had met. So today I will be sending off the damaged good to Ikelite and will wait and see what happens. :rolleyes:

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#2 sdingeldein

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 09:54 AM

If every company was like Ikelite the world would be a better place.

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#3 kriptap

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:45 PM

I was diving with him when it happened and I was just as surprised as he was to see the flood (really) it was barely in the water when he thrust it to me on shore, the port just fell off, came apart. On closer inspection the glue holding the two parts together looks like the wrong glue. We continued and went diving but in sympathy I couldn't take a shot, his camera and lens was toast. But Ike said they will make it better and a company that will do that and in quick time, really does show the quality service we have all heard about.

#4 rinjani

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 11:41 AM

Glad to hear Ikelite will make it right for you...they always give good service. Funnily enough I picked up one of my old Ikelite ports last week, it had been sitting on a shelf for several years. The port fell apart in my hand. On close inspection the black front plastic ring had cracked right across where the tiny allen bolt (at leat that's what it looked like) went through the plastic. It appeared to have been too tight. I was kind of surprised to suddenly be holding three pieces of plastic and an O-ring where once there was a port. All I thought was "I'm glad I shelved that port years ago!"

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#5 depelos

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 06:47 AM

UPDATE: I just received a replacement Fuji S2, Nikon 60mm lens and port from Ikelite. I am truly impressed at their responsiveness and genuine concern for my situation. I'm leaving for some diving in Asia on Wednesday and Ikelite rushed to get me all the replacements before I left. Ikelite still has no idea how the port came apart like it did and they have never seen another one like it. Well, a big thanks to Ikelite for their great customer service. You guys are awesome!

#6 RebreatherDave

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 06:15 PM

I'll rank having your new dome fall apart in an exotic, tropical isle with two employees of the husing manufacturer their to promise you a whole new system right up there with getting struck by lightning.

That is great news they sparked you up, and way to go Ikelite!
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#7 Kasey

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 06:21 PM

The port could've just as easily fallen apart in Asia and ruined a great photo trip. Lets not be so quick to praise the repair of an unacceptable failure, eh? Quality Control poor - Damage control exceptional!
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#8 dhaas

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 03:53 AM

Any port or part can fail. Plus how many THOUSANDS of Ikelite ports are out there......(??????)

I don't hear people with mega $$$$$ housings think their mfr. has crappy quality when a button doesn't line up, ports leak due to change in o-ring specification, etc.....

Nothing's perfect and at least they made good on his problem :) Haven't read of ANY other housing mfr. replacing a camera due to their error.....OK, maybe those crappy little Olympus housings that they had a couple problems with one model I can think of....

But not the big buck ones.....

YMMV

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#9 cdoyal

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 11:14 AM

Any port or part can fail. Plus how many THOUSANDS of Ikelite ports are out there......(??????)

I don't hear people with mega $$$$$ housings think their mfr. has crappy quality when a button doesn't line up, ports leak due to change in o-ring specification, etc.....

Nothing's perfect and at least they made good on his problem :) Haven't read of ANY other housing mfr. replacing a camera due to their error.....OK, maybe those crappy little Olympus housings that they had a couple problems with one model I can think of....

But not the big buck ones.....

YMMV

dhaas


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#10 james

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 06:00 PM

I agree w/ Kasey - what would he have done if the port had fallen apart in Indonesia? That's just not acceptable.

But Kudos to Ikelite for quickly fixing the problem. In the past they've even sent cameras and housings to other customers in exotic locations (Bonaire most recently).

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#11 kriptap

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 03:04 AM

I don't know how you can say "That's just not acceptable" sh*t happens, whether it's a new car that breaks down on the first day or or a power tool, the important thing is, this the first time they have ever seen somthing like this happen and the they fixed it asap.

#12 dhaas

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 01:18 PM

I know both James and Kasey (who I met at last year's Wetpixel DEMA cocktail party) and know they are serious shooters and want equipment that works. Plus I consider them friends.....So I'll state, I don't know any industry where stuff is perfect, do you guys?

Screws strip, glue comes undone, circuit boards blow up, etc.....It happens.....To say a port, which is the only one I've ever heard of (and I know a LOT of Ikelite users out there) coming apart is "unacceptable" is a pretty broad brush stroke...

So I sure hope if anyone here on Wetpixel who has a Subal, Nexxus, Seacam Hugyfoyt or whatever has a problem with ANY part of their system, they'll post it and then we all can consider if it's "unacceptable" .

But I doubt we'll ever hear those complaints :)

dhaas
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#13 james

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 01:46 PM

Hi Dave,

I figured you'd come to the rescue on this one - hopefully my remark didn't sound as harsh as you guys are making it out to be. If my port just fell apart I'd be pretty upset, especially if it flooded my $3,000 camera, and put an abrupt stop to my $4,000 underwater photo vacation.

As an engineer, I know that some components are inherently more unreliable than others. Typically, the more parts and fasteners, the more unreliable. As the complexity goes up, the need for quality assurance, quality control, and testing goes up too.

Because of the above, and if I understand correctly, Ikelite does an in-water pressure test of their equipment as quality control, before it gets sold.

On the other hand, you can reduce complexity by design. My Seacam port is machined out of a tube of delrin. There is a port glass press-fit into the end, if it gets scratched, you can remove it yourself and replace it. There are no zoom or focus knobs on the port, because they are on the housing. There is no glue to fail, there are no parts to come apart. It's an awesome design - probably one of the reasons you don't hear complaints about it.

Cheers
James
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#14 dhaas

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 04:33 AM

Hey James (and others reading this thread :)

I have owned many housings over the eyars, and I understand the "bore seal" type many use as you describe. Using a type of glue that literally "melts" the two parts together is what I think Ikelite does. And evidently it works based on the thousands (easily thousands) of ports produced over the years....So I really wasn't trying to defend something that needs defending.

If you go on a $4K dive trip and your computer, regulator, etc. craps out, what do you do? You IMPROVISE...I've done it and many friends have done it so it should be part of your plan. When the best laid schemes go awry for PROS working in the field, they compromise their shooting ideas, etc. and come back with SOMETHING from the destination. I have really surprised myself with some happy results caused by problems.....Not trying to be unsympathetic......

I also agree that simple things work best as James states. But I sure don't see ideas of simplicity on this and other UW Photography message boards.....I see people "engineering" all types of bolt on, glue on, add on buoyancy tubes, light holders, port mounting gizmos, etc. And maybe that's part of the fun of this activity just like any hobby. Just kind of reminds me of bad TV shows like "Pimp My Ride" :(

I know many people after sacrificing mucho' $$$$ for a dSLR body can't afford a spare....But it sure can save the day in the odd situation.....Plus a back up plan to shoot with a different lens / port since usually the housing is OK and can be dried out and keep on workin to some extent.

A good conversation, with room for everyone's opinion....

dhaas


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#15 james

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 06:14 AM

Thanks Dave - great post and I totally agree. I sure don't mean to come down on Ikelite, a company I love and respect. I'm off to do a shoot this afternoon with no less than SIX ikelite strobes in the mix :-)

Cheers
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#16 drsteve

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 04:26 PM

Let me preface this posting with the comment that I haven't used Ikelite housings or flashes, so what I know about them is all secondhand.

One problem with the forums is that we pretty much only hear about horror stories. Whichever vendor sells the most product will probably have the most happy and the most unhappy customers. If we only hear about the latter, we can get an unrealistic impression of the actual failure rate. This doesn't mean that the horror stories are meaningless. It just means you have to take them with a grain of salt. On the other hand, if you hear about the same failure mode several times there is probably some truth to it.

Personally I ended up not buying an Ikelite housing for my 5D since I wasn't happy with port design and the housing was just too boxy for my tastes. A bigger factor was that because several friends have had a lot of problems with their Ikelite housings for other cameras. Problems including multiple housing and strobe failures. Perhaps they were just careless, but I didn't want to take the chance. Having great customer service is wonderful, but not if you have to call upon them too often!

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#17 dhaas

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 06:42 AM

Hey Dr. Steve,

Ask your California dive buddy Will (as in Will Chen of Santa Barbara) how he used and "abused" his Canon 5D Ikelite housing for a week with me in the Bahamas shark diving. Seems to me he (like dozens of happy Ikelite customers of mine) got some great shots with his Canon 5D. Plus the "boxy" size you refer to has been measured over and over on this and other forums....We're talking like an inch or two in either dimensions, with no room for flood error IMHO.

While I hear you on your photographer friend's recommendations and problems I've found 99% of problems to be user error. Many have never read the manual before their big $$$$ trip. Or gone to a pool.....They think because they spent some Bling Bling it will automatically turn them into a great photographer. I see lots of "snapshots" taken with $10K or more of stuff. Not picking on anyone since I truly believe only YOU should be happy with your shots. Just making a point that the same camera body and lenses go into many waterproof boxes....Then it's up to the musician to make the instrument sing :)

Maybe it's also because they didn't have someone familiar with the Ikelite sytems show them the correct way to get the most out of their new housing or strobe. I don't know.....

As you fairly state, when you sell the most products you are likely to hear more problems just by sheer numbers.

Too bad the majority who are making photos with their Ikelite products don't post as often.....It would be a flood on most forums :(

YMMV

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#18 drsteve

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 08:00 AM

Dave,

I agree that most failures are user errors, but I hear the number 99% bandied about, which I think is an exaggeration. There clearly are manufacutring defects that are not the user's problems. Consider this thread for example, having the port fall apart was not user error! I have another friend who had her strobe flood because an internal o-ring wasn't installed during manufacturing. On our recent Sipidan trip, Will had one of the rubber pads fall off his mode dial control. We won't mention the two 20D's that Will flooded :)

What would be valuable, but nearly impossible, is to separate out the user error/poor maintenace problems from the design/manufacturing issues. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not anti-Ikelite, I was just trying to explain why I went a different direction.

We also have to consider that although some designs are more prone to user error than others. Again, it is hard to tell from case studies.

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#19 dhaas

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 08:48 AM

Steve,

I agree that there are (and always will be) mfg. problems. I just think it's hilarious that people expect perfection.....I could do a search here (and on DDN) and find similar "mfg. failures" on Aquatica, Nexxus, Subal, Seacam, INON and many other brands.

I WILL admit to being biased because of the volume of Ikelite products out there, that I feel customer satisfaction will likely never be 100% successful.

Will and I talked about his floods. I can't remember if he felt it was him or the equipment. I know he feels a bit better after me showing him some tips.

I just seem to hear lots of people whining the equipment (and this applies to ALL brands) doesn't work when it usually is the user who:

1) Doesn't understand some basic mechanics of how something should go together.

2) Isn't willing to read the dang instructions which is SOOOOO prevalent on cameras, strobes, housings, etc. that I want to scream!!!

3) Never calm down and think through a problem....

Again, I equate this to the Bling Bling scenario....

In the end, we should be happy there are mfg. companies out there willing to invest significant time and $$$$$ to provide us with tools to show the world the undersea environment. We are a very, very small market when it comes to photography.

Enjoyed the discussion.....

dhaas
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#20 drsteve

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 09:28 AM

Maybe it is just that I design optical instruments for a living. I run the engineering group for a manufacturing company (http://www.wyatt.com) that makes low volumes of high complexity instruments, I can appreciate the problems that the housing vendors encounter . I deal with problems of user error every day, but when I hear about users consistently making the same error, it rings bells in the back of my mind that I should improve the design. I see lots of things about current housings that could be improved without much cost.

I am happy (and amazed) at the range of underwater products that serve our small market. Of course the smallness of the market is why the products are so expensive. I doubt anyone is getting rich, but there must be some profit in the business. When I was looking for 5D housings I found offerings from nine companies! (Ikelite, Aquatica, Subal, Seacam, Sea&Sea, Nexus, Hugyfot, Sealux, UK). All for one model of camera!

I also agree that people would be better served by reading the user documentation, although it can be hilarious. My Aquatica housing instructions (which are for the 20D since the 5D manual wasn't written yet) actually tells the user to remove and clean the o-rings AFTER EVERY dive. It also proceeds to tell the user that after installing the o-rings that you should do a pressure test to 30 feet without the camera by lowering over the side of the boat on a rope. Can you imagine doing this after EVERY dive?! I asked one of the owners of Aquatica why the instructions were so unrealistic and she basically told me they were CYA instructions.

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