The Next Generation of Professional Underwater Strobes

What defines a professional strobe? Photographers with millions of images to their names need a strobe that combines quality of light, speed, and durability. The latest series of DS strobes exemplify these characteristics in a form factor with proven reliability, built of lightweight materials, and powered by the longest-lasting energy supply on the market. 

Photo Copyright © 2021 Norbert Wu Productions

"I’ve spent months shooting underneath the Antarctic ice in the past 20 years, including filming for the BBC Life series. Ikelite strobes have been the only ones I found to be dependable enough for professional use in the harshest conditions on Earth." - Norbert Wu

Reliability

The DS160 has earned its reputation for being the most reliable underwater strobe in the world, and that’s important to us. No strobe on the market today comes close to the number of hours of testing as our DS160-series, from the factory to deep under the Antarctic ice and everywhere in between. We are excited to build on this reputation with the next generation of the DS strobe line: the DS160 Mark II, DS162, and DS230 strobes.

Ikelite DS230 underwater strobe switch detail

If you've been using an Ikelite TTL converter, you may not recognize the power setting knob on the side of your strobe. For you control freaks out there we have beefed up our switch design for higher visibility and an even more tactile feel whether you're barehanded or wearing a thick neoprene glove.

Updated Ergonomics

To make the best even better, we have improved the strobes’ ergonomics with a new switch design and added a reflective detail to make them easier to see. The strobe controls are larger and taller for more comfortable use when wearing thick gloves.  A reflective detail makes it easy to see your setting at a quick glance. 

The large control diameter allows all control positions to be located within a defined semi-circle. When adjusting strobe exposure manually it’s important to be able to change powers intuitively without looking at the strobe. Click-stops at each power setting and a limited sweep allow you to quickly jump between TTL, full power and the lowest manual power setting without taking your eyes off your subject.

Jill Heinerth Underwater Photo Ikelite Strobes Copyright 2021

"I often need several strobes for my work in underwater caves. I have been using Ikelite strobes since about 1988, having exhausted several generations (and two color schemes)! Ikelite has always offered a robust build, high power and reliability. That is very important to me in the field." - Jill Heinerth

A slide lock prevents the strobe from accidentally being turned on when not in use.

Ikelite DS160 underwater strobes

The DS160 strobe has been a workhorse for professional underwater photographers around the world. Now this industry standard is even faster to keep up with the best of the professional mirrorless cameras on the market today. Whoever said the stobe would be the limiting factor in burst shooting hasn't used the new DS160 strobe yet.

Faster

We’ve re-engineered the internal circuitry to deliver a significantly faster recycle time of less than one second from full power discharge. The DS160 II and DS162 are among the very few underwater strobes in the world to support burst shooting at over 10 frames per second.

Superior Light Quality

Entry-level strobes dump raw light from a standard, straight flashtube to maximize guide number (brightness).  These strobes require light diffusers and filters to soften and warm light and smooth out the sharp edges and banding effects. Most add-on modifiers dramatically cut light output and reduce the effective power of the strobe. 

Lighting needs for underwater photography differ greatly compared to surface photography, so an off-the-shelf flashtube and reflector won't do. We have spent decades revising and perfecting our circular xenon flashtube for a perfectly gradated beam pattern and warm color temperature.  A 5000K color temperature balances with available light underwater to provide richer coloring and deeper blue water backgrounds when shooting wide angle. Models' skin tones will look more natural and reds and oranges will pop with more vibrant color. 

 

Copyright Michael AW 2021 Ikelite strobes

"Ikelite strobes have illuminated pictures in all my 38 books of the ocean and over 500 of my features in magazines. Ikelite strobes have lighted my subjects and scenes from beneath the Arctic to the Antarctic and underwater imageries from all seven oceans. As a working professional, I have tried and tested many other brands, Ikelite is the finest in its class bar none." - Michael AW

More Powerful

Some of you wide angle shooters have been asking for more power, and you’ve got it. The flagship DS230 strobe packs 33% more power than its siblings. 

The usable flash output is even greater underwater thanks to to the curvature of the strobe’s front lens and a chrome mirrored reflector. The DS230 strobe has the smooth beam you would expect from an Ikelite strobe of this caliber and does not require a light-reducing diffuser. The strobe’s power spreads over an ultra-wide 130º field of view with no sharp drop-off.

A custom formulated ABS-PC blend make the strobe fundamentally corrosion-proof and over 1/2 lb (237 g) lighter than aluminum-body strobes.

Underwater photo with Ikelite DS160-series strobes copyright David Fleetham

"I have been shooting Ikelite strobes for over 40 years. 95% of my library of over 300,000 images have been shot with DS160’s and DS161’s or their predecessors. The remaining 5% are available light. From back in my days shooting in British Columbia until now I have always relied heavily on full frame fisheye lenses for my wide angle photos and these can be challenging to properly light. The clean wide angle of coverage of these strobes have been essential to my success with these images." - David Fleetham

 

Better Video

Some of the best mirrorless and compact digital cameras today are equally strong in both still and video imaging, requiring more than ever from a lighting system. At the same time, airline restrictions are tight and it can be a lot of work just to get your gear to the site. The DS230 incorporates a powerful, 2500 lumen wide beam COB LED light array allowing you to effortlessly switch between still and video. 

The video light doubles as an aiming light and automatically turns off and back on each time you take a photo. In video mode light output is controlled in low, medium, and high power settings plus an SOS mode to signal others in emergency situations.

The Perfect Balance

The new D162 strobe combines the strobe light of the DS160 II with the 2500 video light of the DS230. This makes it the ideal compromise for shooters looking for the best bang for their buck.

Ikelite DS230 professional underwater strobe with video light

We were the first to introduce a strobe-video light hybrid with the DS161. Now we've turned it up to 11 with a daylight-balanced 2500 lumen LED video light as a standard feature on DS230 and DS162 strobes. Combining flash and video requirements cuts down on packing weight when you travel to your next destination.

The Only Strobe You'll Ever Need

From the invention of detachable underwater sync cords to the development of groundbreaking digital TTL electronics, Ikelite has remained committed to producing strobe systems that withstand the test of time.

Ike's theory was "smart housing, dumb strobe," resulting in the revolutionary concept of modular TTL intelligence. Simply connect the correct triggering device(s) and the DS230 will give fast and accurate output every time. This provides the ultimate versatility across camera systems, improves reliability, and insures against obsolescence as cameras with new TTL protocols are released on the market each year.  

Copyright Nirupam Nigam Ikelite underwater housing and strobes

"Underwater photography is the art form manipulating light to create the scene in our mind's eye. DS160 series strobes equip me with enough high quality light in my arsenal to match even the strongest of ambient light conditions - from lighting foreground subjects under backlit sun balls to illuminating the tiniest of details on the translucent tentacles of anemones. But most importantly, when these strobes are paired with an Ikelite TTL converter, I no longer need to focus on adjusting my strobe power to subjects that move faster than my fingers; the strobes does this for me. This allows me to focus on what's most important to any scene - composition. In a trip to the Revillagigedo Archipelago, I was fortunate enough to witness hundreds of the ocean's top predators and nailed each shot time and time again. With quick recycle times and accurate TTL, the only time I touched my strobes was to adjust position and paint the light the way I wanted it in a scene." - Nirupam Nigam

 

Flexibility in Triggering

The DS230 supports a wide variety of triggering methods to fit virtually any application in, out of, and around the water.

Trigger the DS230 directly from your camera using either an electrical sync cord with ICS-5 plug or by adding an optional fiber optic converter.  The DS230 supports exposure communication with most popular camera models using our line of high-accuracy TTL converters

Remote triggering is supported by both optional extension cords and/or optical slave converter. Position your strobes at a distance from your camera for a variety of creative lighting set-ups including cave lighting, off-camera wreck lighting, and pool studio photography. 

If you're unsure which connection is right for you, reach out to us for the right advice. We'll need to know the make and model of camera and housing you're shooting along with your shooting location and subject matter.

Backwards Compatibility

Your strobe is only as powerful as the batteries that drive it. If you have been shooting a strobe with AA batteries, you’ll feel like the throttle has been lifted. Our NiMH battery pack is engineered with super low impedance to support incredibly fast recycle times from the first shot to the last.

Ikelite DS strobe battery packs

Our proprietary toggle lock is the most fool-proof battery compartment locking mechanism in the industry. You don't even need to lubricate the o-ring, as long as it's in the right place. Just rotate the toggle and snap closed for a secure seal every time. 

When you’re diving a location where every shot counts, we recommend shooting a rechargeable NiMH battery pack like those used on our professional grade strobes. NiMH cells are long lasting, durable, and free of travel restrictions.  Lithium alternatives are sensitive to heat and humidity, degrade over time even in storage, and less environmentally friendly generally requiring disposal within 5 years. 

Copyright Caitlin Hale taken with Ikelite strobes and housing

"So many things make me want to scream through my regulator while I’m taking photos underwater; sometimes in frustration, sometimes in glee. A goal of mine is to avoid those frustrations as much as possible; so while I cannot always choose my subjects or diving conditions I can choose my equipment. Lighting is the most essential aspect for me in underwater photography, I rank this higher than the camera system I am working with. I chose Ikelite strobes. It’s like the goldilocks of lighting: just right! Quality of light, speed, reliability, consistency, durability, ease of use; it’s all there in Ikelite strobes. I’ve been working as a pro in the dive industry for over a decade, I’ve seen/worked with a lot of camera systems and set ups in my time and in all my experience nothing manages to deliver like the Ikelite DS160 strobes. They are my top pick and what I recommend to my photo students and divers." - Caitlin Hale

Legacy shooters will be happy to know that battery packs designed for DS160, DS161, and DS125 strobes are fully compatible with the new line. Those of you that are new to the DS strobe line will appreciate the fool-proof toggle locking design of the battery pack.

Ikelite DS51 strobe

New DS160 II, DS162, DS230, and DS51 II strobes feature a hard anodized aluminum bulkhead. These connectors reduce weight without compromising durability. It's time to lighten up and upgrade your old sync cords and housing bulkheads. Special care must be taken if you're looking to combine the (silver colored) nickel plated brass fittings with the new (black colored) aluminum ones. 

Ikelite housings and strobes started shipping with hard anodized aluminum bulkheads starting in 2021. These are distinguished by their black coloration. If combining new strobes with older equipment, we recommend extra care is taken when using plug connections with silver-colored nickel plated brass fittings. These fittings should be detached to clean and lubricate the threads on a daily basis to prevent the dissimilar metals from seizing up.  

Ikelite DS51 back detail

You definitely can mix and match compact strobes with your professional grade lighting. The DS51 is a great companion for times when you absolutely need the smallest and lightest strobe available.

Coming to Your Gear Bag

The new DS160 II and the updated DS51 II are available to pre-order for late December 2021 shipment.

DS230 and DS162 strobes are available to pre-order for February/March 2022. 

 

 

 

Ikelite Substrobe 150Ikelite was the first to introduce these underwater strobe technologies which are considered standard today: aiming lights, interchangeable cords, removable battery packs, smart charging, battery power indicators, wireless TTL slave sensors, built-in video lights, and TTL communication with digital cameras. We have the longest track record in the design and manufacture of professional strobe lighting for underwater use. We offer the only underwater strobes designed and manufactured in the USA and distributed worldwide to over 95 countries.

 

Additional Reading

Why You Need Strobes Underwater

The Myth of TTL Strobe Exposure Underwater

Connecting Two Strobes to your Underwater Housing

Common Questions about Strobe Firing, TTL, and Sync Speeds

RC1 TTL Receiver for DS Strobes & Olympus TG-5 Camera Review

Bulkhead + Sync Cord Plug Material Change

Batteries + Chargers for DS161, DS160, and DS125 Strobes

TTL Testing and Troubleshooting 

Large Bore M24 Port Modifications for HDMI Monitor Bulkheads

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