In December 2021, Ikelite introduced not one but four new strobe models. There were refreshed versions of the company’s classic DS51 and DS160—the DS51 II and DS160 II. In addition, there were two exciting “hybrid” strobes—the 160Ws DS162 and the 213Ws DS230—armed with 2,500-lumen video lights. Now, Ikelite has introduced a new “standard” version of the DS230 with modeling light (as found on the DS51 II and DS160 II)—rather than the integrated video light.
Aside from the 205-lumen LED modeling light, other specs are the same: The strobe boasts an impressive guide number (GN) of 32, larger dials for easier operation with gloves, lightweight hard-anodized aluminum bulkhead, 10-stop control of strobe output (half-stop increments), and 110-degree strobe beam angle (with included diffuser). Electrical triggering is standard (with the option of a fiber-optic adapter), and of course, automatic strobe exposure is available by adding the appropriate TTL converter.
Priced at $1,295—$200 cheaper than the version with video light—the DS230 with modeling light will start shipping in May from retailers such as Backscatter. (Note that, per Ikelite, the DS230 with video light is delayed until Fall 2022.)
When purchasing underwater photography equipment like the products mentioned in this article, please support DPG by supporting our retail partner—Backscatter.com.
DS230 213Ws Underwater TTL Strobe with Modeling Light
Three factors define professional grade lighting: Quality of Light, Speed, and Dependability.
- Professional quality light for wide angle and macro
- Over 15% lighter than aluminum body strobes
- Made in USA
“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
The Ultimate Output for High-Impact Photography
Some situations underwater require as much light as you can get. The DS230 packs more flash capacitance to cut through the water and deliver sharper, more colorful, professional looking wide angle images. The DS230 has the power you need whether you’re shooting in a pool studio or out in the open water.
Read More: The Next Generation of Professional Underwater Strobes
Michael AW is a wildlife photographer, explorer, and an ocean advocate. He is the principal author and photographer of 39 books about the ocean. His accolades include winning more than 68 international photographic awards and being named as one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photographer. Michael AW’s essays and pictures have been published in BBC Wildlife, GEO, National Geographic, The Smithsonian, Nature, Ocean Geographic, Asian Geographic, Nature Focus, The Times, and Discovery to name a few. Photo © 2021 Michael AW
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.
“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
Norbert Wu’s underwater photography has appeared in thousands of books, films, and magazines. He was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal of the USA for his contributions to exploration and science in the U.S. Antarctic Program. He trusts Ikelite DS160-series strobes for his extensive fieldwork including time-lapse photography projects under the Antarctic ice. Photo © 2021 Norbert Wu
Quality of Light in a Lightweight Package
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.
For times when an even wider angle of coverage is desired, the optional Dome Diffuser # 4069.2 is available to extend the spread of the light with only a half-stop reduction of apparent brightness.
A custom formulated ABS-PC blend make the strobe fundamentally corrosion-proof and over 1/2 lb (237 g) lighter than aluminum-body strobes.
“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 there 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
David Fleetham is one of the most published underwater photographers in the world. His portfolio of over 200 magazine covers includes the only underwater image ever to appear on the cover of LIFE magazine. His work has taken him on several National Geographic assignments and his images are sold for use all over the world thousands and thousands of times each year. Photo © 2021 David Fleetham
Change Settings without Taking your Eyes off your Subject
Life moves quickly underwater and you need to be able to react instantly when your lighting needs change. Shooters who use manual strobe exposure settings prefer our large, click-stop dial controls which provide intuitive, tactical feedback of exposure setting.
The robust dial controls are now even larger and taller for comfortable use with even the thickest gloves. A slide lock prevents the strobe from accidentally being turned on when not in use.
“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
Jill Heinerth is an underwater explorer, writer, photographer, speaker, and filmmaker. A pioneer of technical rebreather diving, she has led expeditions into icebergs in Antarctica, volcanic lava tubes, and submerged caves worldwide. Jill is the first Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Her memoir, INTO THE PLANET, has been lauded by the Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, and the New York Times. Her children’s book THE AQUANAUT is a Blue Ribbon Selection for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Jill is a Fellow of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences, Women Divers Hall of Fame and the Explorers Club, which awarded her with the William Beebe Award for ocean exploration. Photo © 2021 Jill Heinerth
Flash, Recycle, Repeat
Your strobe is only as powerful as the batteries that drive it. Commercially available batteries do not have the low internal impedance required for truly fast recycle times. Even the best rechargeable AA batteries are sluggish in high-powered strobes and only get slower and weaker as their charge drains.
Our custom rechargeable cells power high frame rate firing from the first shot to the last. These premium quality industrial grade NiMH cells have been proven to out perform alkaline and lithium cells in real world underwater conditions, including the temperature fluctuations and storage conditions of the photographer diver. While 5 years is the average lifespan of a rechargeable pack, we routinely talk to shooters who are happily using 10-15 year old NiMH battery packs.
The battery pack attaches quickly and easily with a unique toggle lock that prevents accidental floods. You don’t even need to lubricate the o-ring. The strobe front is compatible with older NiMH Battery Packs # 4066.5 or the DS230 Strobe Battery Pack # 40066BK.
“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
Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Underwater Photography Guide and the Marketing Director at Bluewater Photo
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.
The Proven Leader in Underwater Lighting
Ikelite 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.
- Depth rating: 100 meters (330 feet)
- Power: 4 to 213 Ws
- Coverage angle: 120º without diffuser
- Power Control: 10 stops in 1/2-stop increments
- Modeling light: 205 lumen LED
- Color temperature: Daylight 5000K
- Guide number at 1m (ISO 100): 32 full power
- Flashes per charge: 300 to thousands dependent on power setting
- Recycle time: 0.1 to 1.2 seconds dependent on power setting
- Electrical sync connection: Ikelite ICS 5-pin bulkhead
- Battery: 7.2V 3300mAh NiMH rechargeable
- Dimensions: 91 mm diameter x 179 mm length (3.6″ x 7″)
- Weight with battery: 1243 grams (2.7 pounds)
- Buoyancy: Slightly negative in salt water
In the Box
- DS230 Strobe Front # 40230X
- Rechargeable NiMH Battery Pack # 40066GY
- Battery Pack Cover # 0591.4
- Smart Charger for NiMH with USA Plug # 0083.92 (or 0083.93 Euro Plug / 0083.94 UK Plug / 0083.95 Australian Plug)
- 1″ Ball Mount # 4081.4 (installed)
- Waterproof bulkhead cap # 9104.7
- Silicone lubricant 1cc tube
- 2 year limited warranty
Product # 40230US