Inon D-180 Strobe

Head of the Strobe. Note "T" configuration. Click to enlargeThe Inon D180 Strobe is a purpose designed medium power strobe (GN 18)for digital cameras. It features a "focus" light and dual flash heads built in to the face to give a more even coverage. The focus light automatically shuts off when the shutter is fired.

Back of strobe. Click to enlargeIts basic design philosophy is to slave from the cameras internal flash taking into account the "pre-flash" techniques used by many digital cameras to calculate exposure. This allows it to synchronize properly with the camera shutter. The strobe head has its own built in light/flash meter and quenches the flash after it has calculated the appropriate exposure. The photographer does have to dial in the aperture setting from the camera.

Alternatively, you can set the camera on manual output ( full, half, quarter) whilst still getting the synchronization correct. I tend to use this and set the power of the internal flash to minimum - it still triggers the strobe and has no effect on the exposure anyway (see below)

Lastly, you can deactivate the pre-flash recognition circuitry if your camera doesn't use it in the mode you are shooting.

The unit takes normal AA batteries (4) and I have found that good rechargeables are more than adequate for a double boat dive and my trigger happy fingers.

Fibre optic connectorScrew on base of fibre-optic connecter - make sure it is tight!The slave sensor is on the base of the strobe. I have found that it is quite sensitive as is, but needs the fibre-optic connector to ensure firing in all conditions. I have had one problem with this set-up. After the first 20 dives, a screw came loose from the base of the fibre-optic connector. Luckily, it comes with a spare and now I check all screws before each trip. I don't know if this is a common problem or not.

I have also added the Inon diffuser to my strobe for close up work. I found that there was quite a bit of "flare" when shooting bright subjects - like white nudibranchs. The diffuser has changed this for me.

In association with the connector, Inon recommend and supply their "clear photo system". Essentially it is a recognition that back-scatter is a major problem with compact digital cameras internal flashes. However, you need the internal flash to fire to trigger the strobe. The solution is to cover the internal flash with a filter that removes visible light but still fires the strobe via non-visible wavelengths. Back scatter solved. NOW I am not sure that Inon can take the credit for this! It was mentioned in several forums on the web long before I saw Inon's system. It turns out that developed/unexposed transparency film has the same filtration characteristics and I have also used this with great success.

I would like to acknowledge MARK RUPERT of Inon America who has supplied English translations of all the Inon manuals. His help to the underwater digital community is greatly appreciated. Full manuals are available at the Inon America Site.




  • Purpose designed strobe for digital cameras.
  • Works without a hot shoe.
  • Even coverage thanks to "T" shaped design
  • Compact yet powerful enough.
  • Multiple function modes make the transition to Manual easier.
  • Focus or "modelling" light a great value.
  • Limited manual settings if you don't use the inbuilt sensor.
  • Not a lot else

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Page updated  Tuesday, 15 November 2005