Ikelite DS51 TTL Strobe

It's a given that as you progress from a small camera in a 40m rated housing with a built in flash that you start spending some serious cash, you need to look carefully to see what is available, I think I did and this is what I bought!

In fact in shades f the old Remington advert I bought two so that I could really b*gger about with my lighting and I think that it has paid dividends on my macro shots. However I would suggest that you need to do some research and decide if you will set up for one or two strobes, there are different bits required for each set up!


My Current Set-up (one of them)

My current set-up, as shown above is based on an ikelite housing with a Cannon G10 camera, whilst I know that there are other potential 'better' cameras this suits me fine, the housing is rated to 60m and the strobes 90m so there should be no problem with the strobes when I use the set-up down to the rating on the housing.

It all started life with a single strobe but I found that the lighting opportunities for macro photography, which is my main passion, could be poor and the extra strobe brought loads of opportunities and benefits. The problem was that in changing the set-up I needed to replace the housing tray and lead, neither of which are cheap, thank gawd for ebay where I could claw back some costs.

You may notice that the set-up also has a focussing light, a very, very useful bit of kit if your subject is in a poorly lit area or indeed if you are night diving somewhere warm and expensive looking for nudibranchs, they are a worthwhile bit of kit and off-set against a three grand holiday?......

Some of you who have a 'Sea & Sea' strobe will say that these have built in focussing lights and indeed they do, I have such a strobe and I like it but the focussing light really isn't that good and I do rather prefer the high output offered by a standalone light.


The controls and battery compartment

The controls on the strobes are not especially difficult to understand, you simply set them to TTL, wait around three seconds for the orange LED to illuminate and starting shooting, for those who want a little more control you can manually set the power output to one of six set-points allowing any small changes to optimise lighting to be made.

The strobe is powered by four AA batteries which are located in a small, sealed enclosure which is accessed from the rear of the strobe. Now this access panel is secured by a large knurled nut and is basically a clear piece of perspex, with a machined recess holding an O ring. I have had a strobe flood on vacation, I guess that there was some dirt on the O ring so guys and gals take great care in emoving, cleaning and greasing the O ring, the recess and the mating surfaces any dirt and you will get a leak!

On the plus side because the battery enclosure is sealed most floods are easily repaired, the most important thing to do is get the 'leaking' batteries out so that they don't corrode away too much of the connections.


The front, the diffusers are 'orrible to keep in place

A downside.......these strobes are supplied with diffusers which do a very good job, the problem is that they 'click' in place via two slots on the front of the strobe, you can see one slot just above the octopus logo. These plastic diffusers aren't secured to the strobe via any lanyard so the first job that you should do is make up such a restraint otherwise you will loose these pieces.

Over time the clips on the diffusers slowly distort and they easily drop off, this shouldn't be a problem if you have a lanyard but with no lanyard the positively buoyant diffusers simply float £10 a pop you will quickly attach lanyards!


The electrical connection, keep it clean!

I have touched on cleaning and cleanliness already but just to reiterate that the electrical connection should be removed, cleaned and greased after every dive!

Whilst it is possible to use self-grips to remove frozen up screwed joints surely it's better to avoid the situation? You also run the risk of slipping and 'ripping out' the connector on the strobe effectively ruining the entire assembly.

And now what are the packages and costs?

Well for the strobe only you would be looking to pay in the region of £350, not cheap but it is a well made piece of equipment.

For a package including good old fashioned rigid arms with universal ball joints plus the interconnecting cables you would be looking to pay in the region of £450, so to set up with two strobes you are going to pay neck-end of £1000 on-top of the housing and camera costs, so it isn't cheap.

However if photography is 'your thing' having a pair of reliable, well made strobes opens up another door to your hobby.

Richies rating : 8/10, these ikelite strobes are the way to go but they will cost £1000 so it's quite an outlay.

PS - When you have made your choice and you are considering parting with your hard earned cash please think about 'future proofing' your kit, ensure that the strobes can be transferred to any other housing/camera combination should you have camera troubles, you might get a couple of hundred quid for the strobes on ebay but they are timeless and you could re-cycle through your diving career!

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