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albert kok

Ikelite housings: fiber optical or electrical?

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Most underwater housings equipped with fiber optic cables use the built-in flash of the camera to trigger the strobes. Ikelite DSLR housings for the Nikon SLR camera’s however use an electrical TTL circuit connected with the hot shoe that transmits the electrical signal via a bulk-head and sync cables to their strobes.

In these housings the Nikon pop-up flash cannot be used to trigger a fiber cable. The housing just doesn’t allow the flash to pop-up. Ikelite does sell an optical adapter that fires any of their strobes for housings fitted with fiber optic cables. But not for their own housings. Sea&Sea new MDX –D7100 housing does have this possibility for the Nikon D7100. And of course the new Nauticam D7100 housing. I wonder if Ikelite could not follow the same strategy? And offer their clients a (future) DSLR housing that provides both optical and electrical cable bulkheads. What you need first, is a small extension of top of the housing that doesn’t block the pop-up flash anymore..

Edited by albert kok

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I'm pretty confident that they won't do that. Not until their strobes work with fiver optic. I think they are pretty convinced sync cords are the way

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Several DIYers have come up with very small LED "flash" units that do fit the Ike housing bump atop the hotshoe instead of the sync cable to the internal TTL electronics and allow FO coupling right thru the housing wall, to fire Inon or other strobes (even Ike's w/ the FOadapter), but there's a catch... they only permit manual sync. A circuit that does full TTL communication with the camera and can fire and quench LEDs at the speed to be preflash etc for a TTL strobe to mimic is nowhere near as simple.

 

I did one but figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't buying anything over a sync cord than eliminating the watersealed electrical connex. Until Ikelite strobes support optically-coupled TTL mimickry, I don't see them adding the bump space. It just makes the next request "remove the TTL electronics from the housing...and cut the price" and helps sell other strobes like Inon.

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Unfortunately Ikelite block (intentionally?) on cameras with pop-up strobes the full opening of the internal strobe to avoid that fibe optic cables can be used.
Fortunatly their housings have a good working TTL converter and using their strobes gives you a nice working electrical triggered TTL system and they make great strobes,
but unfortunately their strobes are big and heavy.

Using adapters to trigger electrically any strobe in manual mode or the led "flash" you might archieve optical triggering, if this is enough reliable is beyond my knowledge,

but it is my belief that less adapters, converters and home built solutions will lead to annoying troubles sooner or later.

 

I fear that you will need to use a electrical cable and Ikelite strobe(s) or a Ikelite-> Nikonos cable to trigger any other strobe electrically in manual mode.

This very annoying "deisgn flaw?" was the main reason to NOT consider a Ikelite housing anymore and now i am very happy with that decision.

 

Chris

P.S. I have a complete DS-125 strobe for sale and i am in Europe

Edited by ChrigelKarrer

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One more additional point. With a built-in flash as optical trigger you will loose the TTL option (which is, by the way, OK for me ). To get around the Ikelite pop-up flash/Nikon problem, some people constructed clever little gadgets, such as micro LEDs attached on the hotshoe of the Ikelite DLSR housings. And flat enough to fit inside the Ike's housing. Like Hedwig Dieraert in Belgium (see: http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=44632) and Glowdive in Spain (and rtrski). But they never put them in production, I guess because their gadgets only worked with specific strobes or cables. But recently Sea&Sea brought an optical converter on the market mounted on the camera's hotshoe that converts the electronic TTL signal into a light signal. So less risk of draining the camera's battery by using the built-in flash. The converter is rather bulky so it would not fit at all in the Ikelite SLR housing. But it does fit nicely in the spare space above the hotshoe of their own housing.

Edited by albert kok

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You will find that most Ikelite DSLR users also use Ikelite strobes with the sync cord connection which gives them TTL in Nikon cameras. I personally shot with Ikelite DS161 strobes hard wired with the Ikelite sync cord into my Aquatica housing. I prefer the sync cord connection as it gives me access to higher sync speeds, quicker burst speeds, and allows me to take more shots with the battery as my flash isnt used. I always carry a couple of sync cords just incase but since Ikelite had re-enforced the ends of the sync cords I have not had one failure yet in several years and 1,000's of dives.

 

Regards Mark

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Hi Mark, yes I know. I have used these electrical sync chords with Ikelite strobes for many years. And the technology behind it is great. But with electrical open water connections you always risk leakage, corrosion, broken pins of connectors etc. Fiber optics just seems to me a more advanced way of using flash underwater. Without loosing TTL (for those who like it), sync speed, and too much battery power. Perhaps the time has come for Ikelite to make a step forward, and bring out a DSLR housing with electrical and optical connections. If they could also keep the price low, it could become be a great succes.

Cheers, Al

Edited by albert kok

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after debating about the cost of ike strobes (i.e. the 160/161), i went with the YS-D1 and use the ikelite S&S/Inon cable...although, it doesn't allow TTL, at least I can still use the D1 and will run a second D1 via FO slave.

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Hi, picking up the threads again after almost two years. I finally got myself the mini flat LED trigger from Hedwig Dieraert in Belgium that fits on the hotshoe of my Nikon D7200 (see pic1, my version has four LEDs). Even better, it also fits in the Ikellte housing that comes with this camera. There is not much space left on top of the housing, just enough. If you wish you can still file off a bit of the two little metal spacers connecting upper and lower green parts of the trigger.

To make this set up work you need two additional adaptations. First, the Ikelite 4402 strobe mount kit to attach your fiber optical cables to the front of the Ike housing. There is a narrow rectilineair window just behind the Ikelite sticker that you can use to attach the mount kit after removal of the sticker. Be sure that the four LEDs are lined up with, and close to that window (pics 2 and 3). I think that this might work with most strobes that accept optical signals. For the Ikelite DS strobes that are still electrically triggered you will need the new Ike 4401.1 optical adapters that also work with lower intensity LED signals. IF I can get this set up working, I have the nice choice between two options: electrical or optical triggerig. So, if electrical breaks down due to a short or whatever, I can switch to optical (and vice versa) between dives. So you allways have a back up lighting system (-;. I'll keep you informed of future tests in a submersed environment.

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Edited by albert kok

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When I switched from an Ikelite housing to Aquatica with optical bulkheads, I originally tried to use my Ikelite DS 161 strobes with the Ikelite F/O adapter. I had frequent failures to trigger the strobes(YMMV). I switched to Sea &Sea YsD1 strobes, and they work flawlessly with F/O cables and I can shoot TTL via F/O

if I wish. All without having to worry about corroded or failing sync cords ever again. I also can run 4 strobes or disconnect and reconnect off camera strobes underwater. I was an Ikelite fan boy for 25 years, but I will never go back to electronic sync cords.

Edited by diverdoug1

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Thie is a follow up of my (too) optimistic March 5 posting. Unfortunately I did not succeed in making the mini LED trigger from Hedwig work. The trigger fits op top of the Nikon in the Ikelite DSLR housing, which is nice. But It just wont fire my Ikelite D125 strobes (even equipped with the new optic adapters). I also tried the Inon cables. Same story. Its just the LED ouput that seems to be to weak to trigger the strobes.

Edited by albert kok

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When I did mine, it was to Inon z240s and I had to mount a fiberoptic cable at the top ball fitting to get the light from my little LED flash to the strobe sensor (on one - the second strobe triggered from the first just fine). My very first dive with it, this failed because I (in hindsight, stupidly) used a fairly fat (like 3mm dia) "lightpipe" fiberoptic which was just plain brittle. First time it got wrapped around the strobe arm it snapped. A friend has had a set I made for his Nikon and hasn't told me it did the same for him, but it's been years since we've talked about that specifically. Fortunately I took an Ike to Inon manual sync cord as a backup and off we went for the rest of the trip.

 

With all the talk of failing electrical sync, I've never had one fail. Of course I've also only been on say 5 actual photo dive trips in 6 years but I'd almost expect the 'infrequent idiot' dive photographer to be worse off than the near-pros, proportionally. Guess I'm not factoring in opportunity multiplier enough.

 

BTW I never marketed my LED flash because a) it's a battery, a single switching MOSFET, a couple resistors, and an LED - I mean, you should be ashamed to buy one, frankly. :angel: . (Hedwig made a much more fancy circuit but for manual flash triggering it's really unnecessary.) But b) at least for my hand-drawn circuit board and mounting it really was going to be a unique shape for every camera to fit the housing bump. I did one for my Sony A55, one for a Nikon (D90? I really don't recall at this point) and realized I just didn't have the wherewithal to plan and manage configurations to offer it for people.

 

That, and in my case - A55, electronic viewfinder first generation with no 'setting effect' menu option to prevent viewfinder darkening if the camera doesn't know a strobe is attached and settings seem underexposed - manual sync just wasn't a viable solution after all. My more recent cheap TOSlink cable adaptor to get light from an electrical sync-ed, TTL-triggered DS51 to my Inons would also likely let me mount the fiberoptic signal from my in-housing LED to the Inon without the breakage problem I had years ago - but I'd be back to manual sync and shooting blindly. I'll hold out that idea for an upgrade perhaps though since all newer Sonys have the menu option to prevent the EVF blackout (except Ike just went opaque with their housings....hmmm.....)

 

As much as I like the Inons for reduced bulk compared to the DS125-161 strobes, I have to admit I remain an Ikelite 'fanboy'. Their price for a housing with TTL circuitry is 3/5ths anyone else's equivalent housing without it. As poor as some of my camera choices may have been over the years (Oly 4:3rds E330 to Sony A55)..I'd never have shot underwater at all if it weren't for Ike. I'm not poor by any means and even sprung for a full frame A99 as my last (not underwater) body upgrade during something of a non-diving spell but $1200-1500 vs. $2500 or more for a housing remains a huge motivator for me. I admit I wish they'd come up with the electrical sync (with TTL connectivity) to light-output technique themselves (basically everything in the DS51 minus a big flash tube), but I don't really know the business metrics. Would that option, at say $150-200, let them sell more housings to people who wanted Inon or other strobes? Or would that cannibalize more potential DS strobe sales than it gained them in housing sales? The fact the Manta never came out tells me housing sales is the more important factor, but I could be wrong....

 

I've also never understood wanting to disconnect/reconnect a strobe underwater. The ONE time it would have been useful to me was with a Y cable when the 'primary' strobe (powering the TTL circuitry) lost battery before the secondary....if I could have swapped them I might've gotten another shot or two. Not exactly a game changer. I guess if you want to abandon your strobes or hand to a buddy to trigger optically from another angle (like with the Triggerfish) you can disconnect/ reconnect FO, but as long as I'm only electrically triggering one and the 2nd is optically slaved, I can still do that to a certain degree as well. (Not that I've ever tried.)

Edited by rtrski

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Hi This is meant to announce that as far as I am concerned the problem has been solved. The solution was to use lager diameter optic cables. I use the same Hedwig trigger as described earlier, but now connected it to a LED port attached via a cable to the lower front side of the housing. See http://www.simplesite.com/builder/pages/preview3.aspx?InitPreview=true&pageid=420484432 (16 July Blog).

Edited by albertkok2

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