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Kraken de Mabini

“My strobe won’t flash!” – Patterns of strobe failures.

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Posted (edited)

As strobe failures are costly, frustrating and often unpredictable, I have reviewed the strobe failures posted in Wetpixel these past years, to see what could be learned.  I searched for "Wetpixel strobe failure" (and similar) with Google; then when I grouped the posts by strobe make and model, the following patterns emerged.

Failure by Strobe Make:
Problems with the five strobes described below were the substance of the Wetpixel posts, while others, such as Retra, Subtronic and Hartenberger strobes had no published problems.


Ikelite strobes. Some models had battery compartment problems, mostly leaks; Ikelite provided spare parts and support to the user. 

Backscatter Flash. The recently introduced Backscatter Mini Flash has had some initial problems, handled promptly by Backscatter.

Inon Strobes and Sea&Sea YS-D1 and -D2 strobes had the most posted failures, while the other Sea&Sea strobe models had few or no posted problems.

Olympus: Two Olympus FL-LM3 strobes failed.

Other Patterns of Failure:
Time Frame:
Most failures or problems were posted within the past 5 to 6 years, possibly indicating that strobe aging plays a role. Let us recall that the Inon Z240-T4 dates from 2009, it is a venerable design.
Two strobes of recent manufacture, the Inon Z330-T1 & T2 issued in 2018 and the Sea&Sea YS-D3 Mk2 in 2019, are recent newcomers with no recorded failures thus far.

Country of Manufacture:
Sea&Sea in 2015 issued the made in China YS-D2’s with a number of problems; to correct this, Sea&Sea moved strobe manufacture to Japan with the release of the YS-D2J.  

Strobe Repair & Replacement:
I asked two large USA underwater photography dealers what to do if my Sea&Sea or Inon strobe misbehaved or failed, as I could find no mention of dealer or factory support or repair. Their answer was: ‘Buy a new strobe’. This may be because the strobe electronics are so complex that parts repair or replacement is too costly or not feasible.

How and Why Strobes Fail:
The details of how strobes fail, other than from flooding or breakage, are not available. To find out, we would need each failed strobe to be examined by the manufacturer, with the results by strobe make and model entered to a failure data base, and available to the public.  As such results are not available, my guess is only the manufacturers know, but they aren’t telling.

 The way the strobe are designed and built also needs scrutiny, as currently most strobes are built to be disposable. A repairable strobe is to be desired.

The Wetpixel Problem Strobe Post numbers are listed below by make. To retrieve the post, copy its number to the Wetpixel search box. Or use Google to find strobe failures published elsewhere. Type in the Google search box: “Wetpixel Underwater Strobe failure” or similar such as "strobe won’t work", etc, and you will get a long list of strobe failures published in Wetpixel and elsewhere.

Ikelite Strobes: Wetpixel posts 20094, 59771, 63652, 68037. 
Backscatter Strobe: 425090, 430147, 67277.
Inon Stobes: 30793, 43696, 59761, 60074, 61243, 62033,  63538, 63870, 63967, 66998, 67509, 67832. 
Olympus Strobes: 64768.  
Sea&Sea Strobes: 57102, 60723, 62778, 63061, 64202, 4223,4627, 64888, 65774, 67116, 67463, 67509, 68069.
 - End -  




Edited by Kraken de Mabini
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