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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

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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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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Posted (edited)

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/forums/index.php?showtopic=63967

 

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

 

Inon Z-330 ready light comes on early

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63538

 

Inon z240 failure
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63870

 

Sea & Sea YS-01 only working in TTL mode?
http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?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

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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 :)

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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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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.”

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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.

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Posted (edited)

 

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
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Posted (edited)

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

Edited by synthetic
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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.

 

-AZTinman

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Posted (edited)

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/forums/index.php?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/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

 

Scarcity of Z330 strobes (still)?

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=63801

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

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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Yes, these are dark days for us underwater photographers.

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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!

Kevlar :notworthy:

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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

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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.

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To further back up my earlier comment “these are dark days for us underwater photographers” is because I love all the moaning about how strobes are not as reliable as we think they should be. What is obvious, most, if not all don’t know or have memory of how it was back in the earlier film shooting days where your choices in underwater strobes came in the following flavors:

 

1. If you wanted to shoot wide-angle, the dam things were often the size of a coffee pot - think back to the old Ikelite 225 to 300’s or better yet, the Subsea Mk 150. Smaller strobes were only good for macro.

 

2. Most came with only one to two power settings – full and maybe ½ power, with the slightly more exotic featuring ¼ as well.

 

3. Sync cords: Most were not user replaceable and were highly prone to internal breaks right outside the bulkhead on the strobe. A common solution to create a strain relief was to wrap it with a s#%t load of electrical tape. Then there was the housing interface comprised of either Nikonos II or III bulkheads, or the wet connects comprised of EO and Sea Loc. All of which were true PITA’s.

 

Are our current strobe choices perfect? Hell no! Anything with electronics that are going into a marine environment is going to fail at some time, given the fact that anything electrical is deathly allergic to saltwater.

 

While I enjoy the fact that todays strobes are smaller and lighter and thus far more suitable for travel than those monsters of yesteryear, which some would rival the size of todays mirrorless housings, you should not place expectations that they will handle the work load of pro. The flashtubes in these mighty-mights work pretty well, but they have their limitations, namely because they were designed and built (Sea & Sea’s D1 and D2 are the first to come to mind) for the hobbyist market.

 

It is for the same reason professional fashion photographers use large monolights instead of on camera flashes that run on AA batteries.

 

I look at this way. If you are a moderately serious shooter, you invest in two. More dedicated shooters certainly three. As for the Pro (and those who think themselves a pro) you travel with at least four our more - redundancy is the mother of backups.

 

No one ever said underwater photography is an inexpensive pursuit, so be prepared to pay in order to play.

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Hi..strobes have big capacitors in them that can hurt you if you don't know what you are doing. Not as bad as some scientific gear based on capacitors (we had a nitrogen laser in our lab that had a label that said "touching the capacitors when charged will lead to death with a high degree of certainty) but still bad enough. I am pretty sure it would be tough to get insurance to cover that kind of risk.

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I'm in favour of right to repair, and I found inon's "we just replace the entire internals" approach frustrating and slow. But then I discovered a local electronics (non-strobe, non-underwater) place to replace tubes and life got much easier.

 

The best advance on reliability for all the smaller strobes would be an overheating cutoff switch. Burnouts shouldn't happen. Instructions to stop using the strobe for 10 minutes if you shoot a few times in a row at full power are ridiculous.

 

That said, I think strobes are the most reliable and certainly the longest lasting component of my entire rig. I started in underwater photography in 2009 using ikelite substrobes 150, 225 and 400. These were taken out of the garage, from my dad's stash of gear, originally purchased sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. They worked great for a couple of years until I eventually broke them and bought inons. It's just a shame that each strobe weighed almost as much as my DSLR aluminium housing...

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I have updated the list of available underwater strobes on 24 May, 2019 and it is here:

 

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=64076&do=findComment&comment=406545

 

It is in Google Sheets as a spreadsheet so that members can update or correct it. It needs work, including added strobes, also columns of strobe attributes. If you find errors or have additions or suggestions, please feel free to go ahead and please do your own editing.

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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

 

That's surprising, I thought the Nikonos strobes were using the Nikonos 5 pin sockets and cables, which were designed for these Nikonos strobes.

Most SLR housing manufacturers may install Nikonos 5 pin strobe sockets on the housing. That's part of their configuration options:

  • Aquatica (option for their D850 housing for example: #20084-NK Aquatica housing for Nikon D850 with Dual Nikonos connectors)
  • Nauticam (M14 NIKONOS 5-PIN BULKHEAD WITH MICRO CONNECTOR ~FOR NIKON TTL CONVERTER COMPATIBLE WITH NA-D5/D500/D850 Sku: # 26074)
  • Hugyfot (standard strobe port option for Nikon housing is Nikonos)
  • Easydive
  • Subal (they even make housing for your Nikon flashguns ...)

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HeinrichsWeikamp used to make TTL converters for many strobes but no longer do so. These included a bulkhead for your specific housing and strobe. I have one for my Nikonos 105, Olympus 8080, and Olympus housing but I no longer use that system. The HeinrichsWeikamp chart of applicable strobes included the Nikonos 105 but noted that it was at the limit of what they could provide due to the flash duration of the 105. It worked OK but I did get some over-exposures but this may have my lack of knowledge more than the converter. Sorry to see them stop making them since they had excellent response/customer service and even updated my board for free at one point.

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