By Jean Rydberg
We're excited to announce one of our favorite new products, the Manual Fiber Optic Transmitter for Ikelite DL and DLM Underwater Housings (SKU # 44700). This device attaches to a camera's hotshoe and allows you to trigger almost any of the most popular underwater strobes by fiber optic cord. This video will cover when and why to use it and how to install it on your Ikelite Housing. More of a reader? Scroll down for a step-by-step guide.
Please let us know you're watching by liking, subscribing, and commenting on our YouTube channel. Also, join the community of photographers who are learning more and getting better photos through our weekly newsletter.
Why Use the Manual Fiber Optic Transmitter
1. You want to use entry level strobes without an electrical bulkhead to attach a sync cord to.
2. You want to use fiber optic cords to eliminate extra waterproof connections in your housing.
3. You want to disconnect your strobe underwater.
When combined with our unique Quick Release Handle, fiber optic cords give you the option to completely remove a strobe from your system within seconds. Want to shoot some split-shots at the end of your dive without the added weight of your strobes? Take your strobe off and hand it up to the boat crew or someone on shore.
When combined with an Ikelite DS Strobe and Optical Converter # 4405, you can also quickly switch to firing your strobe remotely. The possibilities of creative lighting underwater are practically endless.
Our Manual Fiber Optic Transmitter is compatible with lots of different manufacturers of both cameras and strobes. This transmitter allows you to fire Ikelite strobes or strobes by INON, Retra, Sea & Sea, and more. With Ikelite DS160 or DS230 type strobes, you can even shoot at high frame rates, which is game changing when shooting a moving subject.
Remove your strobes without getting out of the water: detach the fiber optic cord, hand your lights up to the boat crew, and take it easy on the surface practicing your split-shots.
What’s In the Box
- Manual Fiber Optic Transmitter
- Battery Holder*
- Ikelite Lubricant
* Requires two CR2032 lithium single-use or rechargeable batteries, not included. You can find rechargeable CR2032 Batteries with a charger on Amazon for around $20US.
The transmitter threads into the same port we use for the standard electrical flash bulkhead in our housings. The transmitter features an imperial ½-20 thread.
How to Install the Fiber Optic Transmitter
Remove Bulkhead or Plug from Housing
Note: The Manual Fiber Optic Transmitter is designed for Ikelite Underwater Housings and is unlikely to work with other housings.
- If your housing has a bulkhead and hotshoe, disconnect the hotshoe from inside of the housing by unlocking the quick-disconnect tab. Save the hotshoe to plug it into the manual fiber optic transmitter. Note – if you happen to be installing this in a housing that has just a plugged hole where a bulkhead can be installed, you'll have to buy the hotshoe separately and make sure that it's compatible with your camera.
- Remove the retaining nut from the bulkhead on the inside of the housing using a 5/8" wrench.
- Remove the bulkhead, or plug, from the top of the housing using an 11/16" wrench. Store the bulkhead in a safe place. You will need the electrical bulkhead if you ever want to attach a DS Link TTL Converter.
- Check the that the sealing surface around the hole in the housing is clean and free of debris.
Before installing the transmitter it's important to double check the bulkhead hole for any debris. You want this sealing surface to be completely clean and very lightly lubricated.
Install the Transmitter
- Remove the nut from the transmitter and set aside.
- Check the o-ring on the transmitter for any debris then apply a very small amount of the provided Ikelite Lubricant to your finger - a little goes a long way with this lubricant. Apply the lubricant to the visible surface of the o-ring. You do not need to worry about lubricating the part of the o-ring you can’t see. Apply the rest of the lubricant from you finger to the sealing surface on the hole on the top of the housing.
- Insert the two leads from the transmitter into the hole on the top of the housing.
- Use your fingers to thread the transmitter into the housing. The fiber optic ports provide a really easy place to grip this and get some leverage. Do not use tools or over-tighten. Just make sure it is reasonably snug.
- Thread the nut onto the transmitter from the inside of the housing.
This retaining nut prevents the transmitter from loosening on its own. The nut does not secure the transmitter to the housing. The transmitter has already been tightened onto the housing creating the o-ring seal.
When tightening the nut, you must hold the transmitter in place on the top of the housing. Tightening the retaining nut without securing the transmitter will break the waterproof seal and result in a leak. Do not over-tighten the nut, just turn until snug.
It is recommended to dive without a camera the first time after installing the Manual Fiber Optic Transmitter. We also recommend using a vacuum system to check for leaks every time you assemble your underwater housing.
Install the Manual Flash Hotshoe
- Ensure you have the right manual flash hotshoe for the type of camera (Nikon / Canon / Sony / Olympus / Panasonic). If installing in a 200DL or 50DL housing, use the hotshoe that was originally installed in the housing.
- Align the hotshoe connector with its reciprocal port on the transmitter and press together until it locks.
The battery holder is two pieces: The bracket that attaches to the inside of the housing and the compartment that holds the batteries.
Install the Battery Holder
- The holder opens for you to place your batteries inside. When installing your CR2032 batteries, ensure you’ve properly oriented your positive and negative battery terminals with the corresponding positive and negative positions as marked inside the battery holder.
- ON/OFF switch: Flipping the switch off after every day of diving is good practice and will give you superior battery life. But the power save on the transmitter will easily allow your batteries to last through a week of driving without switching them on and off each day. Of course, it depends on how many flashes are getting out, but you should have no problem if you forget to turn it off in between diving. The important thing is to remember to have it switched to the ON position when you have your camera inside of the housing and want to take photos.
- Turn the switch to the ON position and slide the battery holder in the bracket.
- Connect the wires – red to red, black to black – to power the converter.
- Dry fit the bracket for optimum spacing before adhering the bracket to the inside of the housing. You want to make sure that you're attaching it to a place where it's not going to interfere with your other controls or wires on your housing. You'll also want to ensure it's located in a place where you'll be able to easily switch it on and off and slide the battery holder it in and out of the bracket when you eventually need to exchange the batteries.
- Once you've found an appropriate place, remove the protective backing on the adhesive and stick it firmly on the inside of the housing. Press and hold it for just a little bit to let it set. For the most secure bond, allow this to set somewhere cool for at least 24 hours.
You don't want to attach the bracket adhesive in a rush. Make sure you have enough time and a cool area to allow your housing and battery bracket to set while the adhesive cures. This will ensure a long lasting attachment.
Set Up Your Camera and Strobes
- Attach the hotshoe to the top of the camera. Ensure it is forward until it stops and has a secure connection.
- Drop your camera into the housing, reposition your controls and safely tuck your wires. Attach the back of the housing.
- Attach one end of the fiber optic cord to the strobe and attach the other end to the Fiber Optic Transmitter on your housing.
- Turn your camera on and have it set to enable external flash firing.
Make sure your camera has external flash firing enabled, plug in your fiber optic cords, and you're ready to dive in!
Remote Firing and Creative Lighting with DS230 Strobes and the High Sensitivity Optical Slave Converter
The Ikelite DS230 Strobes are a favorite among professionals for their wide, soft beam without the use of a diffuser. So many underwater strobes have to be shot with a diffuser or else you're going to get black bands in your image and harsh fall off. But, the DS230 Strobes offer a totally soft beam and they're also one of the most powerful strobes on the market.
DS230 Strobes are capable of burst shooting, which means that instead of taking one or two shots in single frame mode and hoping that your subject was looking the right way, you can just pull the trigger and let the strobe fire away in rapid succession giving you a ton of frames to choose from.
As an important note, when you're using this transmitter, you're shooting in manual power settings. Meaning you're setting the power of the strobe on the strobe itself. You'll need to rotate the dial when you want to change the power of the strobe.
Removing the fiber optic port from the slave converter on your strobe opens up a world of opportunities for remote flash firing.
With the High Sensitivity Optical Slave Converter attached to your strobe, you’ll be able to trigger your strobe in high speed, continuous mode. Or, by removing the the fiber optic port from the converter, you can even fire the strobe remotely. This is a fantastic option for creative lighting techniques, like backlighting wrecks. You can do this all on the fly while underwater with the combination of our removable fiber optic port and quick release mount handles.
We want to help you get the results you're looking for underwater. If you need more guidance, reach out today. Happy shooting!
Jean Rydberg, daughter of Ike Brigham, became President & CEO of Ikelite in 2006. Prior to that, she wisely pursued a degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics to prepare herself for the challenges of running a technology-driven manufacturing business with global distribution. Jean fully embraces the need to travel outside of her hometown of Indianapolis to experience good diving. She believes that any camera is capable of amazing results in the right hands, and anyone can become a great photographer given the right advice. When she's not working she's spending time with her husband, cats, and two daughters (though not necessarily in that order).