Jump to content

Recommended Posts

As is well documented here I have a love hate relationship with my Subtronic strobes. I love the battery and recycling performance and the light in terms of warmth, coverage and power.

 

I dislike the weight on land, the non-removable batteries for flying. But the only thing that makes me want to look elsewhere is their unreliability.

I accept I shoot a lot and have to expect problems. But one or t'other of my Subtronics have let me down on three trips in the last 15-18 months (about half my trips). What is even more frustrating is that in September and then again in March it has been the same problem: the 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 power settings dumping on full power.

 

I don't ask too much of my strobes! I don't want clever iTTL or anything - I just want them to fire at the strength I tell them too!

 

What is annoying about this problem is that I have heard of several other Subtronic users suffering the same problem with similar (5 years or so) aged strobes (these are all pro-shooters doing 200+ photo dives per year - so this seems to be a high useage problem).

 

--------

 

So I want to buy some new strobes. And I would like some help.

 

I would most like to buy another pair of Subtronics. But before buying them I want to know if this loss of manual powers is a widespread problem - or is my small sample size is very biased. At present my confidence in Subtronic is diminished and I don't want to sign myself up to another 5 years of the hassle I have had in the last two.

 

The other two strobes I am considering are Inon 240 and the Ike 125s.

 

I have used a pair of Ike 125s before and liked them. But on paper I prefer the Inon's as I would like to get them as a lightweight Asian diving strobe (flying east from Europe has much tighter luggage allowances, than flying west!). And keep the Subtronics for wide angle or generous luggage allowance destinations (where the Inons could fly as backup).

 

I have been lent Inons several times as replacements or for review and never really fallen for them. Part of this was always because I was shooting one alongside my subtronic and their performance is obviously not up to Subtronic levels (when working).

At some point I'd like to try a pair - maybe I should on this trip.

 

I don't want Ike DS200s as they are too new still. A final point is cost. I think that the Ikes 125s are the cheapest. Which is attractive.

 

 

 

Anyway all of this is rather pressing as I am off to Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai very soon and need some strobes as my Subtronics are once again in Germany. And I am not intending to do Magic macro! So any advice much appreciated.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alex,

 

I've had 2 Ike 125s for 3 years now.... Diving almost every day. I love them, but they lack a little power for w/a. The most upsetting thing for me is that i have only done probably 6 weeks of diving with both strobes in the water at the same time, although this is mainly due to my remote location, having to wait for ages before i can send them off....

 

They go back to Ikelite for repairs or replacement often, but i do have to say that when i have been able to get them off to Ikelite I have had wonderful service and very quick turn around time.

 

I have seen many problems with the Inons over the years, but mainly with the early models, and usually the battery door.

 

I was thinking of going for Sea and Seas, but i hate the idea of 16AA batteries for 2 strobes.

 

If someone asks me what strobe they should get i recommend the 125's, but i havent tried many others...

 

Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My choice right now would be between

Inon Z240 pro

or

Sea&Sea YS 350 Duo pro

 

Inon is 1/4 the weight, but it needs AA's and you will probably need fresh batteries in both every day.

So the carrying of those extra batteries will add in the weight, and if you go with chargers thats still probably 16 batteries total and a charger for 8 at a time.

 

The Hartenbergers and Seacam's are probably too much money.

 

In my mind you won't be happy with a strobe that takes AA style batteries. So you are left with more Subtronics or Sea and Sea or Ike as you suggested.

 

I don't know which are easier for you to get serviced, but Ikelite isn't in england so you won't have fast and cheap turn around there. And I have no idea if Sea and Sea or Inon have european service places, maybe ikelite does too.

I would choose one of those brands dependant on servicing as you do hammer your equipment with brutal amounts of usage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you know I have 2X125's and for the most part like them a lot, on a low power setting you can fire of 4-6 shots continuously if you need to, but Ike say don't do it to often, but nice for the spawning dives! They recycle very fast even on full power, 1 second it right. Great focus light that Ike say will last for 3 hours if the strobe is not used or about 50 flashes per hour equivalent if they are. Quite light, easy controls and it tells you how much power you have left. The only small down side as Simon said above not very wide for wide angle, but on all I think they are a very useful strobe, but I have to say the new Seacams 250's have court my eye...damm..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love my DS125s. The only complaints i have with them are similar to those already mentioned with the wider shots.

 

quick recycle time is for me the one of the most important things, and even at full power they take 1 second. Not too bad. Those Sea and Sea YS 350s take 4 seconds and the Inon z240s 1.5 seconds "minimum" and 2.3 with Alkaline batteries.

 

The Ike's are the cheapest of the three, and I would choose them over the others regardless of price.

 

And they have those focus/pilot lights that are bright enough to use as a torch on night dives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Those Sea and Sea YS 350s take 4 seconds and the Inon z240s 1.5 seconds "minimum" and 2.3 with Alkaline batteries.

I didn't see that in the specs, wow the 120 recycles in a second with fresh batteries. What were they thinking doing that!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alex:

 

I wouldn’t write off the Ikelite DS200 because it is new. The SS200 and DS200 are essentially identical except for the new controller circuitry, which has been well proven in the DS125 and DS50. The SS200 has been a standard in the industry and I’m sure the DS200 will follow in its place.

 

A comparison between the DS200, and your Subtronic Alphas on Digitaldiver.net shows the Alpha and the DS200 are very close in size. The DS200 is only a half-inch wider and 80 grams lighter. Recycle time is quicker with the DS200 and you get an extra 40 watts of light output. The Alphas will give you more flashes per charge (about 70 more flashes) and a slightly wider angle of view. The Alpha colour temperature is also about 500º K warmer than the DS200 and 1200º K warmer than the Inon.

 

My experience is, it’s always easier to step up to a more powerful strobe than it is to adjust to a less powerful strobe. I may be mistaken but I think I remember you saying you liked the warmth of the light output from your Alphas. In that case, switching to a strobe with a 1200º K difference may become an obstacle for a while. Please correct me if I’m wrong about this.

 

And finally, you will also have to look at possibly upgrading sync cords, bulkheads, battery chargers, and adapters for strobe arms. These costs can add up quickly. Personally, I do think the smart charger should be included as part of the DS200 strobe package.

 

My decision on which strobe to purchase almost drove me crazy. On the aggravation scale, I would rate it some where between root canal dental work and income tax return preparation. :rolleyes: I do hope your decision will be less painful. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alex, it's probably totally unrelated, but since you have a subal/d2x and so do I, i can at least mention it.

 

I have had very similar problems with my Subal/ND2 with YS90DX strobes. Suddenly all power settings stopped working, and in my case i would get erratic fire results, where once every 5 shots or so it wouldnt fire at all. I sent my strobes to underwatercamerarepair and they said the main board was damaged. He couldnt tell me how/why. (not a flood). This has happened to 2 out of my 6 strobes.

 

I think its a problem with the strobe connectors on the ND2, which as has been shown before by you I think, gives you the CF saving issues. Since I never had the CF card issues, I didnt rewire my strobe connector.

 

I tried emailing Subal and Backscatter, but they are not answering, which I think is a little strange.

 

Cor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex,

 

I've actually never used any one strobe for 5 years, but I've used my Inon z220's for a couple of years (over 10,000 exposures), and have never had a single problem with them. As I understand it, the z240's are roughly the same strobe, but with a highest power setting twice as powerful as the z220's, so I think they're a great choice.

 

I personally use Eveready lithium AA batteries, which are lighter and last 4-6 times as long as NiMH or alkaline batteries (I get 10-15 dives out of each set of lithiums), although they have slightly slower recycle times than NiMH's.

 

As you may already know, Subtronic has just come out with a new "Mini" strobe that has its batteries in the (removable) ARMS. I believe they have 120 degree coverage and almost instant recycle time, but they're pricey (more than US$1,300 apiece as I recall!), and I don't know if Subtronic has eliminated during the past 5 years the problem you've been having with yours. I've been talking with Ryan at Reef Photo about getting a pair at some point.

 

If the new Subtronics ARE reliable, then a pair of them, plus a pair of Inons (assuming that the wiring/cabling is compatible, which I'm not sure it is) would provide a VERY potent arsenal of strobes for almost any diving I can imagine. Just be sure to double-check the credit line on your credit cards before you order them... :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have seen many problems with the Inons over the years, but mainly with the early models, and usually the battery door.

 

If someone asks me what strobe they should get i recommend the 125's, but i havent tried many others...

 

Simon

 

You may be confusing Inon strobes with another brand known for battery door issues. Inon strobes have one of the most reliable battery door closure systems available, in addition to the high reliability of the entire strobe system.

 

-Mark Rupert

Inon America, Inc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback.

 

My theory on the loss of manual powers on the Subtronics is that it is a component burn out - after very heavy use. I shoot 20-30000 shots a year with mine. And they are 5 years old. The Subtronics are not inherently unreliable - it is just very heavy usage. My guns are old too - and have outlasted my F100, D100 and are now onto the D2X.

 

I also don't think that the problem has anything to do with the D2X - as none of the other people I have seen with the problem use the same camera as me.

 

I won't get DS200s as I have seen too much water inside them in the past (in SS200 for many years). I favour the DS125s because I have used them, and many people here have great stories of their reliability (after the first 6 months of production - when this forum had many tales of woe).

 

I like the Inons too - as everyone says that they are reliable. But I don't like their cool colour temperature (as I believe that the warm colour of my Subtronics is a major factor in the Mustard blue(!) that characterises my shots). To explain that - a warm strobe allows you to choose a cooler WB value while getting the same colours on the subject. This means that background blues will be bluer. The other important factor is to get close! If you get close your strobe light will be even warmer and your blues can be even bluer.

 

But as I said - I am looking for a macro/SE Asian travel gun.

 

The other player is the new Sea and Sea strobe - YS110 - which is ultra compact and very powerful.

 

Annoyingly the YS110 and Inon 240 aren't available yet. Well at least to me! And I am off next week.

 

I really appreciate all the feedback - especially as this is a topic that has been rehashed many times.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex,

I just got my new 2 subtronic novas over the weekend. have not yet tried them. I also asked subtronic about the reliability issues I have heared also from elsewhere. they told me that the new stuff is much better than the older models. don't know (yet) if this is true. anyways, the nova comes with iTTL on both strobes, which I have checked on land only so far and I confirm it works pretty well. they also come with the new flash arm system having the battery inside of the flash arm (no problem for flying anymore...) a picture of my gear showing the subal ND2 with the novas is on subtonic's webpage (under nova, technical description). good luck with your choices!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I like the Inons too - as everyone says that they are reliable. But I don't like their cool colour temperature (as I believe that the warm colour of my Subtronics is a major factor in the Mustard blue(!) that characterises my shots). To explain that - a warm strobe allows you to choose a cooler WB value while getting the same colours on the subject. This means that background blues will be bluer. The other important factor is to get close! If you get close your strobe light will be even warmer and your blues can be even bluer.

 

But as I said - I am looking for a macro/SE Asian travel gun.

 

 

That warmer light is something I like about the DS125. Next weekend I have a contest and there is a CFWA I want to shoot with a lot of blue and a red/brown close subject. If I use the Ikelite I can move WB to the blue side at least 1 or 2 points. I am even thinking on putting a filter on the strobe so it can be even warmer.

But if you want a macro-travel pair of strobes I´d go with the inons (the best for travelling and cold macro light). The other day I saw Carlos Minguell with the F100/Subal and a pair inons with a piece of acetate in between the strobe and the filter (he told me that for film they were a little bit too cold...). He was happy with them...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since Carlos is a Magic dealer, maybe he was using bits of the filter! Thanks Davichin.

 

Also I found your strobes Juerg!

novagross_517.jpg

 

I would love to get more Subtronics - but I never get any feedback from them on why mine have to go back there every few months.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alex

 

One thing that is worth bearing in mind is that your Subtronics do produce a very 'soft' and to my mind, pleasing, light. I personally prefer this soft output to the somewhat harsher illumination offered by Sea&Sea, Nikonos SBs and Inons. I haven't tried the DS125s but have seen them fail (new!) too. The older Ikelites seem pretty tough but are weighty!

 

To be blunt, I expect that we will see new strobes from various manufacturers with interchangable battery packs in the near future. And I'm hopeful that reliability issues will be resolved as a new generation of units are designed and produced. Why don't you carry on with your Subtronics for another year and then see what's available? I know that Subtronics can be annoying (you are not alone in having to sort them out) but they do produce nice light!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I think you should define your requirements and priorities for yourself. If you really want strobes to replace your Subtronics for wideangle usage, I am sure you want strobes that come close to the coverage and warm even colour you are used to. The Ikelite DS-125 is definitely a type of wideangle strobe delivering this kind of light. But with a bit less power/brightness than your Alphas and maybe a bit less coverage - but I can’t tell for sure how much in real life.

 

You can eliminate the Inon’s colder hotspot almost entirely when using the -0.5 diffuser and get a bit warmer light too, but loosing some brightness of course.

 

For warm and wide light – I think your choices could kind of come down to Hartenberger/Ikelite/Sea&Sea(350)/Subtronic.

 

I think the Sea&Sea 350 is quiet big and has 5000K which is colder than the other ones.

 

I was looking for wideangle strobes with ring type tube / warm light / soft wide coverage. I find the DS125 are a perfect combination of those criteria while keeping size/weight/cost down. The others are simply much heavier and more expensive.

 

As I understand it, the z240's are roughly the same strobe, but with a highest power setting twice as powerful as the z220's, so I think they're a great choice.

 

Actually from 22 to 24 is a quarter f-stop, meaning it's about 25% more powerful from the specs.

 

Julian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think part of the problem with Ikelite DS-125 and 200 strobes may be related to usage. The back half of the strobe is attached to the front half by a pin in the middle. The 200s are probably more prone to the below problem due to their larger diameter.

 

It's very tempting to grab the back half to postition the strobe. That may cause the o-ring to lose it's seal if you crank too hard on it, particularly at the surface where there is no pressure holding the two halves together.

 

I make a point to use the strobe arms to move the strobes at the surface when adjusting them. Once I descend and get the arms tensioned, I usually adjust them by grabbing the back and gently moving them... even then I'm careful to not apply too much pressure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish I had seen this thread before making my own new thread about Subtronics!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alex,

 

I've owned Sea & Sea YS-200 - most pleased with them, very reliable. Never worked with the YS-350 but they seem quite reliable and offer plenty of power.

 

Switched to Ikelite's SS-50s and SS-200 years ago. 50's are like the Energizer bunny... they keep going... going... Flooded one battery compartment (user's fault), repaired in a snap by factory and greedy Ike asked $ 30... I could afford that!

 

SS-200 were pretty reliable although, out of 4, 2 eventually went back to factory for repair, no cost and very fast turnaroud.

 

Switched to DS-125 when digital fever caught me. Found that they offer the best size/price/power level combination. One complaint: I'd prefer my SS-200 for w/a stuff. However, in this post 9/11 and rejuvenated oil crisis, I can manage with the DS-125.

 

My suggestion with Ikelite: buy a couple of spare cables, they tend to go first.

 

Inon seems to offer a great power/price/weight/bulk ratio as well. I simply have more experience with Ikelite and, living just a few miles from the US border, they are easier to come by.

 

Subtronics seems like wonders but considering their price/bulk/battery offerings, I would agree with you and steer towards Inon, Sea & Sea or Ikelite.

 

Michel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgot to mention that my all-time favourites were the Subsea Mark 150.

 

150 beam angle, more power than needed and the most perfect lighting pattern.

 

They worked on non-rechargeable 510V batteries.(yes I know they made a rechargeable pack for them toward the end).

 

Did a quick calculation the other day: A digital u/w assignment would cost me more than $ 1.0K in batteries these days...

 

I guess I will stick to my Ikes.

 

Michel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing you may want to take into acount is the possibility to use Mathias ttl OEM converter (specially for macro strobes which are the ones you are looking for...) with your D2X then the list narrows a lot:

 

Hartenberger 125 HS TTL Digital

Hartenberger 250 HS TTL Digital

Hartenberger 625 HS TTL Digital

Inon D 2000W

Sea & Sea YS-60 TTL mod. Mike-Dive Speed-version of YS60 from www.mike-dive.de

Subtronic Maxi TTL

Subtronic Midi TTL

Subtronic Mini TTL '05 works with Nikon D100

Subtronic Nova

And MAYBE (not tried yet) Inon Z240

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good stats! A useful list!

 

Sad as it makes me I would actually pay extra NOT to have TTL circuitry in my new strobes. If I get another Subtronic I will pay them to take out the TTL circuitry if I have too. All I want is a control on the back that RELIABLY allows me to set the flash power.

 

Any other circuit that has control over the flash power is just something else to go wrong. I do not want any intelligence in my strobes. Just great light at the power I set!

 

I realise that my views are not necessarily the norm!

 

Alex

 

Currently shooting Sea and Sea strobes - missing my subtronics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex

 

How very true! There are some of us (I suspect a minority) who would agree totally with you on this - I would like a manual only, accurate, multi-power unit with horseshoe flash tube and warm tone. I'll ask Seacam but suspect that this would be a very small market indeed, in what is already a pretty small one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That would definately be my strobe, no circuits or intelligence, just a robust housing, interchangable batterymanagement, with big knobs knobs at the side.

 

I asked Ikelite a couple of times why they don't make the manual-controllers for the old strobes and never got a good respons back. If you can make a TTL-slavesensor for the analogue strobes (which are discontinued) you can also make manual-controller is my idea, must be a marketing thing to have us all upgrade to DS-strobes.

 

Fortunately there is Matthias OEM-converter now, so I can finally have some controll (from -3 EV to 0 in 1/3 steps) of my two SS100's which I still love, but it is a lot of wiring and rerouting which increases the failchange. (encountered once underwater that the battery of the convertor was empty....)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amusingly, I am out here in Sipadan and I am using a YS30 as my main strobe - with the YS90AUTO providing fill at about a stop less power (the power is set low to increase recycle time).

 

The YS30 just has one control - ON. Its is working for me today.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...