A bad day for my flashes

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by laurie_m, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. Before I get the lecture.....I know, I should have been more careful. I had
    sandbags but didn't use them. I knew a storm was headed my way and should have
    anticipated the breeze.

    There, now that's out of the way, here's my problem, besides the hangover I'll
    have tomorrow morning after I drown my sorrows in a bottle tonight while kicking
    myself and banging my head repeatedly on the table.

    I was doing a pet portrait session today. The client wanted photos of her
    daughter playing with the dog in the pool (any guess where this is going?). The
    pool is mostly covered by an overhang so the light wasn't that great. I set up
    two flashes (SB800 and SB600) on light stands with umbrellas (being triggered
    remotely via SU800). After shooting for a while, a good stiff breeze surprised
    me and blew both stands over. The SB800 ended up in the pool. The SB600
    crashed onto the pool deck (fell out of the bracket on the way down).

    I grabbed the SB800 fairly quickly. The umbrella prevented it from sinking to
    the bottom but it was completely submereged. I noticed it was still powered up.
    I immediately dumped the batteries and did my best to dry it. I left the
    battery cover off and set it on the warm deck to dry in the sun. The SB600 was
    also still powered up. When I tried to test fire it, it acted as if it had
    fired, made it's little beep and everything. Though, it didn't actually flash.
    I think the bulb is broken.

    I have now placed the SB800 in the warming drawer of my oven on low. It's
    toasty but not too hot. Based on the condensation I'm seeing on the LCD
    display, it appears water got into that section as well as the top portion of
    the unit that swivels. I'll give the flash several days to dry out completely
    and try to power it up. Any thoughts on the odds?

    I tried to find information on replacing a bulb on the SB600. I found nothing.
    It is possible to do this? I suspect I'll be sending it in for service. Any
    idea of what this might cost? Would it make more sense to replace it?

    Luckily, I had a third flash (another 600) and was able to complete the shoot
    with that. Wish me luck on print sales. I'll probably be replacing some equipment.
  2. "I tried to find information on replacing a bulb on the SB600. I found nothing. It is possible to do this? I suspect I'll be sending it in for service."

    Laurie, Sorry to hear about your mishap. Best thing to do is to give these flashes a decent burial and replace them with new ones.

    Good luck!
  3. What can I say? One word: sandbags. You can make a fine "sandbag with a 1 gallon plastic
    milk jug and a bag of Playbox sand from Home Depot or Lowes.

    I would not have put the flash in the oven -- what you are doing isn't good for the LCD
    display --and just let the the SB-800 air dry for a few days
  4. Vivek, Sadly, you may be right.

    Ellis, I already have several sandbags and use them regularly. The thing is, I was moving the stands constantly in reaction to the dog and the girl. They were having a great time in the pool. There wasn't really time to move the bags too. When we started, it was dead still. The home is on Tampa Bay and the water was like glass-no breeze at all.

    The SB800 isn't in the oven. It's in a warming drawer below the oven. I have it on the lowest setting so it's under 120 degrees, probably less since I have the drawer open about two inches. I also have a fan circulating air over it. Right now, in Florida, the humidity is quite high. My efforts are more to lower humidity than to heat the flash unit. I'm just trying to get the water to evaporate as quickly as possible. The LCD is now completely clear but there's still a little condensation visible inside the transluscent peice on the top part of the unit.

    Regarding the SB600. Is it really not possible to replace the bulb for a reasonable cost. The unit certainly appears to be functioning normally otherwise. I've run through all the modes, programs, etc. It's even responding to the SU800, it just isn't emitting light. I would think it's most likely just a broken bulb. I guess if the 800 doesn't work when I try it in a few days and if it uses the same bulb as the 600 I might see if I can swap them out. I'll first need to find a very small screwdriver. If the 800 is history, and the 600 can be replaced for about the cost of repair, what have I got to lose? Perhaps with some velcro and gaffers tape I can make one funtioning unit out of the two that are broken. Or...I can just bite the bullet and place my B&H order. Luckily, I have no scheduled shoots next week.

    BTW...I'm downing my third Seabreeze, I'm feeling a little better now ;)
  5. Bad day indeed. Be pretty careful about DIY flash repairs. The charge / dump circuits have a lot in common with how defibrillators work.....

    At least you didn't fry the clients (OK, that's probably pretty low odds).
  6. ky2


    RIP. x2.
  7. I like small canvas bags filled with lead shotgun pellets better, as they are much more portable than a sandbag.

    But don't feel bad, Laurie. A very similar event sent one of my Speedlites into the mud the other day.
  8. In my humble experience, you cannot use umbrellas out doors, period.
  9. Send the flashes off to Nikon. They'll take a look at them and give you an estimate. If it doesn't make economic sense to fix them, then you're just out postage.
  10. Couple of weeks ago our granddaughter (age 3) dropped out cell phone in the toilet. I pulled the batteries and went through a slow drying process. When I fired it up again it worked--sort of. I could call and receive calls but the lcd panel was shot so everything I did had to be done blind. No way to see the menus so the phone had to be replaced.
  11. Wayne, my cellphone fell out of my little holster and landed in a puddle in the supermarket parking lot. It was not quite completely submerged but it was thoroughly drenched inside and out through the seams in the plastic case. It is fine now. I dried it in a low-temp oven for a while, just as Laurie is doing with her SB-800.

    Flash units with their capacitors and discharge circuitry are MUCH higher voltage animals, which makes the whole "is it really dry inside or not" question much more... um.... interesting.

    Be well,
  12. Yoinks, that does indeed sound like a bad day... I live in Tampa as well and I too was outside yesterday when some of those storms came through. Mercifully the only thing that got ruined for us was our pool party. Good luck with the flashes, I hope you can revive them!
  13. "Flash units with their capacitors and discharge circuitry are MUCH higher voltage animals, which makes the whole "is it really dry inside or not" question much more... um.... interesting."

    Reminds me of the occasion when I was a young boy and had my first flash unit. One of those real big ones with a shoe box sized metal housing hanging down your shoulder. Of course i had no money to have the flash repaired. So I gave it a try after learning from books about high voltage devices. The book did not tell me to watch where I put my finger. I burned a hole right across the tip of my middle finger. I got the ashes out easily though with a needle^^ and it only took a few weeks to recover:) . Some lessons stick forever. I have a pretty good idea what a high capacity high voltage capacitor can do^^.
  14. Fortunately although flashes pack a lot of volts the aperage is relatively low. Amps are what kill you.

    Years ago I was shooting a high school football game--in the rain--using an old wet cell Honeywell strobe that I had dug out of the newspaper storage room. I had the big battery pack you hung from a shoulder strap. Play was coming my direction. Put my Pentax Spotmatinc to my eye and tripped the shutter...
    Apparently the reason the strobe was in storage was because of some sort of short. When the flash went off it also put an estimated 510 volts right into my wet forehead The next thing I remember I was sitting on the ground, my Spotmatic was about 20 yards out on the playing field and I had a really nasty headache. The flash went straight from the game to the dumpster.
  15. Actually, I think the strobe was a Heiland.
  16. Re: Amps are what kill you

    I can tell you from personal experience that tinsel-wrapped kite string will bring about 11,000 volts from a power line to your hands. The fire department folks told my mom they tested a piece of the line later. They showed up because a few houses lost power...
    Why am I still here? The amperage was tiny and the exposure was brief due to the instant vaporisation of the part of the string up there at the power line. Even so, it was a memorable feeling! ZZZzzzzt.

    Be well,
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, your lightstands could have hit someone ....

    You may be better off with two SB-800's instead of two 600's, and there is still a $25 rebate for the SB-800.
  18. Well, Luckily, the 5 AA's in a very large pool went unnoticed. Actually, the flash was still powered up and ready to go. Of course, I didn't try it. I didn't even hit the off button, I just opened the battery door and dumped the batteries on the ground as fast as I could.

    I'm over the "trauma" and have decided I'll be ordering two new flahses today. Even if the 800 works in a few days, I'll never be able to trust it. The corrosive effects of chlorine and the likelihood of mold will eventually get the better of it. I can still see some moisture inside the flash so it's not looking good anyway.

    Todd, I've used umbrellas outdoors, successfully, many times (on calm days). This time, laziness and a lack of attention just bit me in the backside.

    Bruce, I'll send the 600 off to Nikon. I can see the broken bulb. Surely it won't cost a fortune to replace. The 800....it will either work or it won't.

    Shun, Why would you go with two 800s vs two 600s? I was thinking just the opposite. Now that I have the SU800, that's what I use to command the others. I also rarely use the flash at full power. So, I'm not sure that's an issue. Lastly, since I often use a combination of 800 and 600s, the refresh rate is really determined by the 600s since they're contributing to the overall light balance.

    Hmmmmmmm....am I missing something? I was already planning to add another 600 to the collection. So my thinking this morning was to order two 600s. That would give me three to work with, four if the broken one can be repaired. Then, if if missed anything the 800 offered, I'd go ahead and replace the 800. Otherwise, I'd order a fourth 600. Please let me know if you see a kink in my logic.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I would rather have another SB-800 because it has more power, has the 5th-battery option for faster recycle (important for weddings) and it can be the commander, while the 600 cannot. However, since you have the SU-800, the last advantage may not apply to you.
  20. The flash tubes in those units are not easily replaced, as the entire reflector assembly comes as one piece from the factory with silicone seals installed and such. It will likely cost you far more than buying a new SB-800 and heavier sandbags. You may want to wait as much as a week before trying to fire up the SB-800 as some moisture can get into places and stay there for a very long time. Also, if water creeps out, you can receive a very nasty or potentially lethal shock. I've been bitten by photo capacitors before (because I'm stupid) and you won't like it.
  21. Thanks to everyone for the advice, words of wisdom, sympathy, etc. Here's what I've done. I ordered two more 600s. That will bring me to a total of three flash units. I can get by with these for now. I do need a fourth but will wait to see if I miss the extra power of the 800. If so, I'll order another. If not, I'll get another 600.

    Shun, I've sworn off weddings. After the last one, I realized I didn't enjoy it. It was too much pressure and I didn't get any cake. It felt too much like real work.

    I'm also sending the 600 to Nikon for a repair estimate. I'll post their response. If it's more than half the cost of a replacement, I'll just decline the service.

    I sill want to see if the 800 will work once it's completely dried out. However, after reading some of the posts above, I'm leery about pluging in a lamp, let alone turning on the flash. I hate getting shocked. I could just put the batteries in , hand it to my husband, and ask him to turn it on.
  22. Just a quick follow up....I finally got up the nerve to try the now apparently dry SB800. I put in the batteries (all five) and it powered up and worked like a champ. I don't know how long that will last. The chlorine from the pool will likely cause corrosion over time. Still, I'm impressed that it's funtioning normally, at least for now. It worked both on camera and remotely (tried it on the D70, not the D2X- just in case). It seems to be 100% functional. I didn't expect this outcome after seeing the water sloshing around inside both the top and bottom sections of the unit.
  23. I have been a repair electricians for many years. This is how you deal with water(I learned this the hard way): turn the item off, remove the power/battery, blow it with airconditioner for a long time(72 hours or more). This will minmize the water damage. If you really feel lucky, find same item on ebay to get parts to repair/replace it.

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