Jump to content
Caribbean_Corallimorph

Flooded my Ikelite e-330 housing

Recommended Posts

Hi, I just wanted to relate my recent story of my camera flooding. Last night I flooded my Olympus e-330 with 50 mm macro lens inside my Ikelite housing. Yup, I lost $1200 worth of camera equipment in less than 5 seconds. I'm still not exactly sure how it all happened, which bothers me a bit. Somehow the lens port managed to pop up after the dive and before the freshwater dunk tank. Details as follows:

 

My dive buddy and I had just completed a night dive at Tulamben in Bali. After a pretty good dive (great harlequin shots eating a starfish arm), with no camera trouble whatsoever, I emerged from the water to walk back down the beach to the car park. Being that it was nighttime and all, I kept my DS-125's modeling light on to use as a flashlight to help me walk down the beach without tripping over any rocks. In doing so I had to hold my camera sideways by one handle in such a way that the strobe, which is mounted on a deluxe ball-joint arm, was free to hang downward. The only thing that I can think of, is that at some point the strobe must have swung and hit the front lens port of my camera. If you are unfamilliar with the Ikelite system, the lens port is only attached to the housing body with two small plastic locks that snap over the plastic edge of the port with an o-ring underneath to create the seal. When underwater, the pressure pushes the port against the housing, so you never really have to worry about the port coming loose underwater, despite the dinky appearance of the port attachment mechanism. However, above water, without the force of water pressure pressing it tightly to the housing, I think that the dinkiness of the design displayed itself. I think that the strobe must have swung and hit the port just hard enough, and just at the right spot to pop one side of the port up. I never heard any "clunking" or popping sound indicating that this had occurred, but it is the only thing that I can imagine to have occurred.

 

When I got back to the car park and wash-down tanks, of course the first thing I did was place my camera in the freshwater rinse tank to remove the saltwater. Upon doing this I heard a much more intense "blub blub blub" sound of bubbles than I am used to when I do this (usually a few bubbles bubble out from the hollow strobe arms). And of course I put the camera in face up... I immediately pulled the whole unit out of the water to find my housing already 3/4 of the way full of water, and a 2 cm open gap between one half of the lens port and housing body. *%#&! The ladies' slim line sanitary pad inserted into the housing in case of a minor leak was certainly no match for this sort of deluge. I opened the camera housing up and emptied the water as fast as I could, removed everything, drying everything the best I could with only the illumination of the car's dome-light, in the dwindling hope that something can be salvaged. Afterall, it is only freshwater... The plastic snap-lock that hold the lens port down was pulled up, it appeared to be lifted significantly higher than I imagined they could be levered. However, it did not break the snap. In fact this snap appears totally fine at the moment. I was able to pop it back down into place, and it works perfectly. I would have expected that the amount of force required to pop up the lens port would have at least broken the snap, but obviously this is not so. This seems to be quite a weak point in design on Ikelite's part. Before the dive, I ensured that both of these snaps were properly seated and popped in.

 

Had this been during the daytime, the chances of this happening would have been much, much more slim. I certainly would have noticed such an obvious defect as a giant gap and a crooked lens port. With only the car's headlights for illumination, everything inside the rinse tank was shadowed and in the dark. I spent the rest of the night drying the camera and housing. There wasn't a lot of water in the camera itself, but there were definitely droplets in places where water should not be (like inside the camera's flash...). The lens (Olympus 50 mm macro) seemed to be mostly dry, so I hoped that I could at salvage this $400 piece of glass. There really wasn't any water inside the camera body itself that I could see. By the morning, there was a condensate fog in the interior layers of the lens's glass. I don't have much hope for my most important lens. After letting the camera dry completely overnight with all the orifices opened up, I put in a fresh battery (although the one inside at the time of the flood appears to be ok, wasn't wet, and charged normally. I didn't much hold my breath when I tried turning the camera on this morning, expecting the worse, and that's what I got. Nothing happened. Until I get a new camera I won't be able to test the lens, but I don't have much hope for it, even if I can manage to get the moisture out from inside the lens. So I'll have to buy another one of these macro lenses too. If I'm lucky I'll end up with a spare...

 

However, I just read on a recent post that Olympus lenses are "weather sealed". Can anyone elaborate? What sort of chances do you give this lens considering it only experienced a minor amount of freshwater? What can I do to maximize the chances of its survival? I currently have it inside the Ikelite housing sealed with a bunch of silica packets to absorb the moisture.

 

I never expected a flood to have occurred at this point. I am ever vigilant about double checking my o-ring seals on the camera housing after I close it up, re-checking again just before I get in the water, and checking one last time once I'm in the water. I always clean my o-rings and keep them freshly lubricated with Ikelite silicone grease. This is my tool, and the source of great fulfillment as a 24 year-old aspiring underwater photographer who is currently working as an intern developing coral aquaculture techniques, earning about $5 per day (50,000 Rp/day). Needless to say this disaster really takes the wind out from underneath me. My underwater camera setup is the most expensive item I own, and I saved my money for a year to purchase it. I take excellent care of it. I had always assumed that flooding is supposed to happen DURING the dive, not after it.

 

Fortunately, it appears that the TTL circuitry inside the housing that controls the strobe seems unharmed, and appears to be functioning properly. There was some moisture on the circuitry, but I unscrewed the covering and carefully dried it all out overnight. When the dead camera body is attached to the hot shoe, and the strobe is turned on, the TTL light lights up as it should. I can switch the circuitry to "manual" and adjust the strobe output with it this way. So I'm assuming that everything is fine, but I guess I won't be sure until I get a new camera to try it out.

 

Just last week I had ordered a new DS-125 to add as a second strobe, along with deluxe strobe arm and dual sync cord. Family members had chipped in such that this could be my Christmas present. However, due to some difficulties in being in Indonesia, and requiring that it be shipped to an address other than my billing address, I hadn't been able to pay for it yet. It is fortunate that my phone card hasn't been working, because I had been trying furiously to get in touch with the camera company (Helix Camera) that I purchased the strobe package from on eBay, in order to give them my credit card information over the phone. So basically, dodgy Indonesian phone networks saved me $800 on gear that now I really cannot afford. The company won't be very happy about me not purchasing the strobe I bought using the "Buy it Now" function on eBay. Perhaps they'll have some compassion to my situation, or more likely I will finally have a smudge on my otherwise perfect eBay feedback...

 

I can at least put that money I had planned on using for the strobe towards a new camera...again.

 

Also quite fortunately, the memory cards in the camera were unharmed, so at least I didn't lose any of the day's pictures.

 

I have just related my story to Ikelite, but I doubt it will accomplish much except hopefully spur a better port lock design in the future. Has anyone else had a similiar problem with their Ikelite dSLR housing? As you can see I have done nothing but support Ikelite in all my underwater camera accessories. I had been very pleased with the quality up until this point. It's sort of ironic that if I hadn't had this failure I'd be supporting Ikelite again with the purchase of a second DS-125 strobe package. It will be quite sometime I'm sure before I can afford to spring for this as I now need to give this money again to Olympus.

 

I also wonder about the TTL circuitry. Sending it back for maintenance at this point is not very convenient, although I do plan on doing so when I return to the States in March. If it turns out that my strobe is getting funny signals, then I suppose I will have to send it back as soon as possible. I won't know until I get my new camera. But like I said, as far as I can tell it seems to be functioning normally.

 

I knew that a camera flood was going to be inevitable at some point in my "career", I had just hoped that if it was going to happen, it would occur in several years just after a better model camera comes on the market, giving me an excuse to upgrade. Either way I got 65+ dives out of it and over 6,000 photos, many of them extraordinary. If I had taken this many pictures on a a film camera, I'd probably be saying "Well I guess it was about time something like this happened to me...". But I don't think anyway I look at flooding a 5 month old camera is going to make this any easier...

 

Hope everyone else had a better weekend than mine. But I am taking it pretty well. Its only material, its only money, I'm fine and healthy. I've still got a smile on my face. Within the larger context of the 24 hours of diving around this event, its actually a pretty amusing story. "Murphy's Law of diving after a camera flood" proved itself true on the following morning's dive (my buddy's camera was still fine, and he uh, needed a buddy for the dive), seeing a whole host of critters that I'd been hunting for for the past couple of months. Doh!

 

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer,

Cheers,

Colin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear about your flood but as you found out, the rinse tank is a very scary place. I hope everything works out and you're at least able to salvage your lens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear about your flood :D

Hope you can get back and running ASAP.

 

How many people have flooded their gear in wash tanks over the years?

 

I just leave it till the end of the day and wash my gear under the shower or garden hose when I wash the RIB down. Some days I forget all together :P Never lost a camera yet and never had a control not work due to salt built up.

 

If I do fill a tub...I take the camera out first or it's just a very quick in and out dump....never leave it soaking with a camera in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really sorry about the flood, it sucks to be in Bali and not have a camera! :P

 

Yes, Ikelite has its weaknesses, but so do all other manufacturers. The best is to put everything under a good insurance. If you have an American card and billing address you can have DAN insurance, make sure you invest on it when you get your next camera...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have owned two Ikelite housings, one for an E-300 with about 150 dives on it. I just purchased a second Ikelite housing for my new E-330 which now has three dives on it. I have never had a problem with either housing.

 

However, yours is certainly a cautionary tale, and I will now keep an eye on the port attachment just to be on the safe side. I also purchased flood insurance from day one since I figured that it is going to happen sooner or later.

 

I would also like to add my sincere regrets about the flood. Looks like you did everything right.

 

Rick Colman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the sad world of camera floods. After 7 years of no floods, I've two in one year.

 

My first was self-inflicted, but the full flood was avoided as the moisture alarm sounded when the camera was placed in the fresh water rinse tank. It was immediately yanked. Guess what, camera damaged beyond economical repair. The lens survived. It doesn't take much wate for a digital camera to become toast. It's not a Nikonos III.

 

The second flood was caused by a bumped port during transport from land to boat. This time camera and lens were toast.

 

It doesn't take much water to damage a lens. Weather sealing on cameras and lenses are for rain, dust and splashing, not major water.

 

When the lens gets wet, things generally go bad even if it still works. It's called mold. Cost of removing mold on the modern lens is generally cost prohibitive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!

 

Sorry to hear about that.

 

A word on water resistance of Olympus E-System parts. The pro series of lenses and the E-1 are spray water resistant. I've been out for hours in heavy rain with the E-1 and the 50mm macro. I had to stop because of the cold, not because of technical problems. I've heard of (reliable) stories where the camera was showered after a spray of beer or getting dirty.

The cheaper line of lenses (the 14-45, 14-42, 18-180 e.g.) and the 3-digit camera body line isn't spray water protected. Mounting a pro lens on an E-330 e.g. is unsafe because water may enter through the lens mount of the camera body (which isn't sealed as good as the E-1).

 

As long as there's only clean fresh water that entered the interior of the lens it may be a reversable effect. I'd send the lens in for service, at least for cleaning and checking. As for the camera, it may be cheaper to replace it but I would give it a try and check with the service too.

 

Helge ;-)=)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure how this applies to a DSLR however I dunked my oly point and shoot in a pool. I immediately took the batteries out and used a hair dryer (for several hours). There was condensate inside the lens but after using the hairdryer I was even able to get rid of that. The camera has worked fine since that day. The DSLR is much larger and might require more time to "bake" under the heat of the hairdryer. Just some thoughts. I hope it all works out for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!

 

Be careful with a hairdryer! Not all of the components may stand the heat. It's better to dry the camera in an environment that has "normal" temperature but extreme dry air.

 

Helge ;-)=)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that you failed to lock one of the port clips. When locked, I can't see any way they can pop loose short of breaking. That 'dinky' Ikelite system has been working for 1000's of photographers on 1000's of housings for many years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi!

 

Sorry to hear about that.

 

A word on water resistance of Olympus E-System parts. The pro series of lenses and the E-1 are spray water resistant. I've been out for hours in heavy rain with the E-1 and the 50mm macro. I had to stop because of the cold, not because of technical problems. I've heard of (reliable) stories where the camera was showered after a spray of beer or getting dirty.

Helge ;-)=)

 

I have an E-1 with 14-54 and 50-200. All of which I have gotten very wet. In fact, I got a good soaking during a whale watch (very small boat). I was worried about the salt water, so I rinsed the E-1 and 50-200 in the sink. My E-1 and 14-54 have also taken a quick dunk in the stream with no ill effects. (camera was mounted on my tripod which was held over my shoulder. I slipped and the camera fell backwards, but in the water for less than a second.)

 

I am suprised that the lens did not survive, but then again water pressure can do wonders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a similar flooding in Thailand with my S&S Housing costing me 1 of my D60s and my 16-35L Lens.

The Domeport unscrewed from the extension ring in the tank (probably when putting it in).

 

I would like to have a discussion if there is any sense in putting a housing into a rinse Tank after a dive.

 

After my unlucky flooding I though it through and my answer is: NO!

 

Rinsing the rig after the dive before opening it makes sense with a camera like the Nikonos (I think this is where the habit comes from) where the camera is the housing itself and you need to get rid of all saltwater before changing films. Maybe it makes a litte bit sense for a Film Camera where salt could damage film or the shutter when opening the camera.

 

But for digital cameras? A drop of saltwater or 2 on the camera does not harm it.

Getting the Salt off the Housing to prevent corrosion? Does not make sense when I am back in the water in 2-3 hours or even in 10 hour when it was the last dive of the day.

 

What I do: When I come out of the water before I open the housing I rinse the housing quickly with the sweet water shower you normaly have on the dive deck on the boat or at the base if you do land base diving. If you are on a small boat and there is no shower and I want to exchage card or battery inbetween dives it is not a real problem to skip the rinsing if you dry the housing a bit.

 

Even if the Housing is not tight the amout of water is small enough to give the camera a good chance to survive, and since it is an active process I have everything under control.

 

At the end of the trip or if I don't dive for a day or two I rinse the housing in a rinse tank without the camera but with a piece of lead in a t-shirt or small towel (when at home or available where I dive Softlead is best) in it.

 

What is your Opinion/Experience ?

 

 

Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for rinsing my camera gear after a dive: I don't use the rinse tank unless there's going to be hours before getting back to my room. I've seen a few camera set up's get damaged by careless people. Mainly, the lens or lens ports getting damaged by someone dropping their unit into it. I always instruct the boat people to NOT place my unit in the rinse tank as they take it from me at the ladder. I do believe in cleaning with warm fresh water and towel dry it before opening the unit. Salt build up can do some nasty stuff and dry out o'rings.

 

One last advice, be carefull at the saftey stop. Once flooded a Nikonos III and a 15mm lens when the line caught the lens and opened it just a little, not enough to realize what had happen till I took it apart.

 

Happy diving!

Jonathan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...