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I'm looking at purchasing used underwater strobes for my system, and I'm curious what the common wisdom is on just how long strobes "live." I've read that the curved bulbs (e.g., Ikelite DS) last twice as long as straight bulbs... But what has your experience been?  Am I entering a world of hurt saving 50% up front, only to have to pay for expensive servicing, new bulbs, or even throwing the strobes out?  Or does a 7+ year old strobe still have plenty of life in it?  

Curious what the though is... 

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I've seen barely used Z-330s and YS-D2s suddenly die, with repair costs amounting to more or less a new strobe, while decades old Nikonos SB-105s are still kicking. I've seen claims, made by people with much more knowledge of electronics than myself and who had personally disassembled the devices in question, that the newer generation strobes such as Z-330 and YS-D2 use very similar or the same components as the older models (Z-240, YS-D1), but in the race to one-up the competition, manufacturers push those components much harder than before, resulting in reduced service life and higher failure rates. The original YS-D2 is particularly badly affected, but its Japanese revision (YS-D2J) is also known for fairly frequent failures.

One thing to keep in mind is proprietary batteries - cells tend to die a lot faster than strobes, and if your model doesn't take AAs or some other common standard, you can find yourself needing to rebuild a pack yourself, as the manufacturer may or may not be selling replacements. Sea & Sea YS-250 Pro is a good example of that - good strobe, if bulky and somewhat overpowered for most uses, but the batteries are long out of production. Ikelite's DS-160/161 also use proprietary batteries, and while they're still manufactured and widely available, I wouldn't expect this state of affairs to last for very long once they transition to the new model that they've been showing off at DEMA. Also, even when available, those proprietary battery packs tend to be expensive - the Ikelite one is $200, as opposed to less than $20 for a 4-pack of Eneloop Pros.

In general, Inon Z-240 is considered to be pretty much indestructible, so if you're looking for a used strobe, you can't really go wrong with those. It went through several revisions during its very long production run, so if you're going to use an LED trigger, look out for version 4 as opposed to earlier ones - that revision brought a more sensitive light sensor. Note, however, that perhaps due to their very high reliability, their value depreciates quite slowly, and even quite old examples tend to sell very quickly at a surprisingly high fraction of their original price.

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13 minutes ago, Barmaglot said:

n general, Inon Z-240 is considered to be pretty much indestructible, so if you're looking for a used strobe, you can't really go wrong with those. It went through several revisions during its very long production run, so if you're going to use an LED trigger, look out for version 4 as opposed to earlier ones - that revision brought a more sensitive light sensor. Note, however, that perhaps due to their very high reliability, their value depreciates quite slowly, and even quite old examples tend to sell very quickly at a surprisingly high fraction of their original price.

As a former long-term Inon Z220/Z240 user, I'd agree entirely with what Barmaglot has to say. And they are indeed one of the few items of  u/w gear that sell for a good price and indeed quickly. 

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I’ve been using Ikelite strobes for years. Currently I have 161s. I had to replace a battery on the one that is about 13 years old (bought used with). Both have been flawless and i use them a lot... thousands and thousands of shots annually. 
 

Back in analog days, I used 225s. They were great as well. Never any issues other than a battery replacement 10- years in. I still have them in my basement for some inexplicable reason. 
 

ive heard good things about INON as well, but Sea &Sea see to regularly have issues and in Canada, that means shipping to Japan for repair and from what I’ve heard, that literally never ends well. 

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Barmaglot makes several excellent points and recommendations.  I have owned several Sea&Sea and Inon Z strobes, and still prefer the Inon Z240's, even though they are discontinued and a bit old, from 2008 thru ?2017, they come up for sale at a bit over $300 each; I would prefer one with a ball mount and fiber optic cable. 
The Z330 type I are said to have hot spots, while the Type II are still too recent to have accumulated a performance and reliability record, same as the over-priced Sea&Sea YS-D3 strobes.  My inclination is to wait for a pair of Retra strobes to be offered for re-sale.

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I bought my Inon Z240 Type III strobes about 5 years ago - plus or minus.

I bought them used for about half the price of new ones. They still seem to work fine. I did replace the magnet switches for the Flash Cancellation last year as one of them seemed to have gotten flakey. That was cheap and easy and is, I think, generally considered a maintenance item anyway.

I keep thinking I should get new strobes as these HAVE to be ready to kick off. Buy new ones and keep these as backups. I probably will, in the not too distant future.

I was really looking hard at getting Retra Pros. But, I just happened to price them out yesterday, with the few accessories I would need or want. The total came to USD$3,500, before tax (for a pair)! Now I am back to thinking I'll get a pair of Z330 Type IIs for less than half the cost. I have not really suffered at all with the 240s, so I think the 330 IIs will be just fine for me.

Maybe I'll get the Retras some day, when I get hired for a pro u/w photography gig... *snort*

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On 9/8/2021 at 10:17 AM, Barmaglot said:

Ikelite's DS-160/161 also use proprietary batteries, and while they're still manufactured and widely available, I wouldn't expect this state of affairs to last for very long once they transition to the new model that they've been showing off at DEMA.

One good bit of news... the new Ikelite strobe (DS230) will use completely compatible battery packs... so no problem with that aspect at least. :)

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I bit the bullet and purchased two used DS160 strobes from a WetPixel user... They arrive on Monday. I'm VERY excited to start playing with them... Now to figure out what arms and clamps to buy! lol

Thanks for the advice and input! Much appreciated!

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On 9/8/2021 at 5:49 PM, DynamicDivers said:

I'm looking at purchasing used underwater strobes for my system, and I'm curious what the common wisdom is on just how long strobes "live." I've read that the curved bulbs (e.g., Ikelite DS) last twice as long as straight bulbs... But what has your experience been?  Am I entering a world of hurt saving 50% up front, only to have to pay for expensive servicing, new bulbs, or even throwing the strobes out?  Or does a 7+ year old strobe still have plenty of life in it?  

Curious what the though is... 

My strobes outperform any of my gear

You need to make sure you take me off the cupboard and do some shots to ensure they don't fail when you go on a trip

If instead you are in the water everyday then there is wear and tear I have no idea if professional resident photographer are subject to this issue

As resident instructor I would service a regulator after 300 dives as I would feel the perfomance dropping, this is however a mechanical device

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On 9/8/2021 at 11:02 PM, TimG said:

As a former long-term Inon Z220/Z240 user, I'd agree entirely with what Barmaglot has to say. And they are indeed one of the few items of  u/w gear that sell for a good price and indeed quickly. 

Yes The Z240's are work horses beyond compare. I am still using mine effectively since 2012. And I have only changed the magnets. 

They still perform flawlessly. 

I am about to travel to the Maldives next week and will be trying out the new SUPE Scubalamp D Max strobes. But guess what, am also taking the Z240's with me.....Just in case ^_^

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47 minutes ago, diggy said:

I am about to travel to the Maldives next week and will be trying out the new SUPE Scubalamp D Max strobes.

There was a user review posted a few months back; they're a bit of a disappointment.

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6 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

There was a user review posted a few months back; they're a bit of a disappointment.

Yea I believe so. Therefore will carry the Z240's too.

BTW, had seen that review and to be honest it did not seem too negative. Anyways the weight of each strobe is close to or just over a kg.:wacko:

Will post my results once I return. 

Diggy

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