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Frequently asked questions about DS strobes

Most questions about product assembly and operation are covered in the product instruction manual. Please read your manual thoroughly before attempting to operate your Ikelite equipment.

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Firing + exposure

Most DS strobes will operate in TTL when set properly and attached to an Ikelite TTL system. We've tried very hard over the years to produce what we call "smart" housings and "dumb" strobes. By building sophisticated TTL electronics into our housings we can usually make sure even older digital strobes will be able to communicate according to the newest TTL protocols. Hence your strobe is still good long after the camera becomes obsolete.

Compatibility of DS strobes with TTL electronics varies per camera make and model. Some of our original older DS strobes may not work, or may require an update, to be used with the most modern TTL protocols. Refer to the web page or instruction manual for your housing model for complete details on strobe compatibility by serial number.

New strobes are compatible with all past and current Ikelite TTL systems.

Set the camera at its widest aperture (like f/2.8) and trip the shutter while the camera and strobe are aimed at a very close, well-lit subject. The strobe should produce only a small blip of light. Repeat this with the lens covered and the strobe should produce a full power flash.

Some strobes will emit a flash by themselves when turned on or switched between power settings. This is considered to be normal as long as the strobe does not continue to fire by itself when left in that setting. Repeated auto-firing or self-firing of the strobe is almost always caused by a bad sync cord. If the problem persists after replacing the sync cord, please return the strobe to Ikelite for evaluation.

An AF35 or DS strobe attached to an optical sensor may fire at very shallow depths or when they detect the flash from another diver's camera. This is normal and unavoidable. To conserve batteries the strobe should be turned off when not in use.

At this time, it is not possible with our strobes, nor with our competitors' strobes. The maximum sync speed is set by the camera. Surface flash units send a code to the camera telling it to use high speed sync (also known as focal plane flash). However, this dramatically reduces the guide number (brightness) of the flash, making these high speed sync modes virtually useless underwater. These modes also require the flash to fire in a series of pulses at a very high repeating rate, which is devastating to certain components in your underwater strobe, decreasing reliability and increasing failure rates!

It depends on the camera's flash protocol—i.e. when it sends a signal to the external flash.

For Nikon DSLRs, we accommodate rear curtain sync.

For Canon DSLRs, we do not support Rear Curtain Sync as it would preclude the use of non-Ikelite strobes.

For Canon G-series cameras up to and including the G16, we do accommodate rear curtain sync. However, Canon modified their flash protocol with the release of the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II. At this time, we do not support Rear Curtain Sync with the G1X II or later models.

Yes. Use our testing + wiring diagrams found in the Sync cords + wiring FAQ.

Shooting dual strobes

Absolutely not... this is the digital age!

A dual sync cord is recommended to connect a second Ikelite strobe to any hard-wired Ikelite TTL system. A dual sync cord is the only way to utilize the TTL electronics with both strobes.

A second Ikelite strobe can also be added as a slave strobe using the Optical Slave Converter. In this case the second strobe would be firing each time with a manual exposure setting selected on the slave strobe. The Optical Slave converter may allow greater freedom for creative lighting by allowing you to place the second strobe at a much farther distance from the system than a cord would allow.

The secondary strobe is designated by a red band at the end of the cord that attaches to the strobe. If you want to turn one strobe off while shooting, it must be the strobe that is connected to the red-banded end.

No. The caps including with our sync cords are intended to be dust caps for storage only. The caps fit loosely on the ends to prevent the o-rings from taking a set over long periods of time. There is not enough pressure exerted on the o-ring to keep the end watertight at depth. Diving with a dust cap on your sync cord WILL result in a flood which will NOT be covered under the one year limited warranty.

You may dive with a second strobe attached that is left in the off power position.

We do not offer any dual sync cords that would provide hard-wired attachment of two dissimilar strobes. You can use dissimilar strobes by using one strobe as a slave. Keep in mind you may need to adjust pre-flash settings on your strobe to make it fire at the correct time. Refer to your strobe's instruction manual for more information.

Your photographs may appear more appealing with two strobes of different intensity.

The same effect is achieved with two identical strobes by placing one closer to the subject. Strobe placement is how you provide the lighting ratio. TTL exposure will be slightly more accurate with matching strobes and/or strobes with the same angle of coverage.

Attach the less powerful strobe to the secondary side of your dual sync cord, designated by a red band at the end. If using an Ikelite Digital TTL system, set both strobes to TTL. When using an Ikelite dSLR housing with built-in TTL circuitry set the internal switch to the correspond to the less powerful strobe.

DS50 and DS51 strobes

The battery compartment door should be tightened snugly with a coin or screwdriver for leverage. The top of the door should end up flush with the body of the strobe. Do not continue to muscle the thumbscrew past the point of snugness, which risks turning the battery compartment post and cracking the strobe body.

A new clear battery door allows you to see when the battery compartment is properly sealed. The clear battery door assembly #9440.45 is available for purchase to carry as a spare or to update older 50, DS50, DS51 and AF35 strobes.

It is not necessary or recommended to lubricate the battery door o-ring. While lubricant will not damage the strobe, excessive lubricant can attract dirt and interfere with the seal.

Flush the battery compartment well with fresh water and allow to dry completely with air from a blow drier or scuba tank. Rinse with alcohol and dry completely again. Do NOT reuse batteries that have been exposed to water. Install fresh batteries and test.

When you return to your trip and/or if the strobe is still not working, return to Ikelite for repair of the flooded battery compartment.

The DS50 and DS51 Substrobes accept four "AA" alkaline, NiMH or NiCad batteries. Lithium Ion batteries are NOT recommended due to their effect on the strobes' recycle times and the batteries' thermal switch characteristics.

DS125, DS160 + DS161 strobes

It is not necessary or recommended to lubricate the battery o-ring. While lubricant will not damage the strobe, excessive lubricant can attract dirt and interfere with the seal.

Make sure you are using a fully charged battery pack. Turn the power dial to the TEST position to check the charge on your pack. Even the highest quality batteries have a range of life expectancy. If you have a battery pack that's more than 2-3 years old, it may be time to try a new one.

Due to safety standards in place for lithium ion batteries built into a product, our 4067 Lithium Ion Battery Pack features advanced protection circuitry to help prevent overheating, short circuiting, or damage to the battery pack during charging. Due to this safety circuitry, your strobe battery pack may go into a sleep mode after discharge or prolonged periods of rest. To wake the battery pack up, simply turn your power knob back to the TEST position, then turn it back on. The battery will continue to operate normally while the strobe is in use. We always recommend checking that your ready light is on when you're ready to shoot photos. If it shines red, you're good to go!

If your strobe still will not turn on, please return the errant unit for service.


Toggles bear the brunt of the force required to waterproof your strobe and may wear out after several years of opening and closing. To reduce this strain, we recommend detaching your battery pack from the strobe front prior to storing the strobe for extended periods of time.

In the event that your battery pack toggle has broken, replacement toggle kits are available worldwide through your local Authorized Ikelite Dealer in both black (NiCad or NiMH) and gray (Li-Ion), MSRP $15 each. If your battery pack is within warranty, please be prepared to send a copy of your purchase receipt and/or a photo of the date code which is engraved into the face of the pack in MM/YY format.

A 1/4" nut driver is required for the replacement of a battery pack toggle (not included). Alternatively, you are always welcome to return the battery pack for necessary service and testing.

DO NOT attempt to use or transport a battery pack that has been flooded or water damaged. Cells which have been exposed to water are potentially hazardous and can damage the electronics in your strobe front. A water damaged battery pack should be disposed of properly and replaced with a new pack.

Always store your packs in a dry location at a temperature of less than 30°C (86°F). Approximately 20-40% of the packs capacity will drain when left idle for a month. This is normal and unavoidable. We recommend charging your battery pack every 2-3 months to maintain its capacity for peak performance on the first few uses of your next dive trip. The lost capacity will be recovered after two or three charger/discharge cycles.

Do not store your battery pack completely discharged.

Each type of battery—NiMH, NiCad and Lithium Ion—has its own charge termination characteristics and requires a compatible charger. Using the incorrect charger may result in over-charging and damage to the battery pack. Refer to your battery pack's instruction manual for information on compatible chargers.

The center contact of the receptacle into which you plug the charger has a split pin that can get squeezed together preventing good electrical continuity. Take something like a small screwdriver and spread the center pin slightly so it provides a snug fit with the plug. The socket is diode protected to only allow electricity "in" so you do not need to worry about a short circuit if you touch the side of the socket.

First, check that you're using the correct charger for your battery pack. Chargers for lithium ion batteries are not interchangeable with chargers for NiMH and NiCd batteries.

Second, make sure you're interpreting the LED correctly. Smart Chargers for Lithium Ion (Product numbers 4067.1 and 4067.3) blink while charging and switch to solid when terminated. The Smart Charger for NiMH and NiCd (Product number 4066.1) runs precisely the opposite: it is solid while charging and blinks when terminated.

If the charger still won't terminate, it may have been damaged by moisture or an electrical surge. Discontinue use immediately and replace the charger. Use of a charger which will not terminate charge can cause permanent damage to the pack and may be a safety risk.

In our experience, the solar chargers on the market are extremely slow (as in days), do not charge all types of rechargeable cells, and often do not charge compatible cells fully. Under-charged cells will dramatically affect the performance and recycle time of your strobe. We are not aware of a solar charger that can adequately re-charge the high capacity cells used in our DS-series strobes.

DS200 strobes

Yes! Make sure the o-ring and sealing surface are both completely clean and very lightly lubricated. Failure to do this can cause the o-ring to roll or become extruded.

Sorry, but we are not able to offer upgrades from non-DS 200 strobes to DS200 specifications.

Sorry, but due to the lack of availability of certain electronic components, we are unable to offer upgrades for DS200 strobes.