Friday, June 18, 2010

“Taking a Dip with the Duckies” (or don’t try this with your Speedlight!)

We went to a local park last evening to do a photoshoot for a local couple. It was at
Bowring Park, a lovely park, the largest in the city. I decided it would be nice to get
a few shots down by the river.

We were setting up and as I was telling the couple where I wanted them I heard something
fall behind me. I won’t go into the details but as I turned around I almost wet myself
as my new Canon 580EXII Speedlite bounced on the river bank and then, “PLUNK”! It was
in the Waterford River with the ducks, sinking out of sight!

I lay down my camera and crawled down the river bank on my knees, the flash rose to the
surface and I pulled it from the water. I figured it was bye bye Speedlite. I could see
water in the flash head and the LCD display was half filled with water. I immediately
removed the batteries. There was no water in the battery compartment!

Modus Operandi

I immediately wiped down the flash removing all the water from the outside. Upon arriving
home I took a small precision philips screwdriver removed the base and two screws on the
head as well as two screws on the body, under the head.

I did not take the flash apart. I tried to repair a broken Vivitar flash before and I
found those ratcheting heads can be almost impossible to reassemble. I opened up gaps in
the unit and attempted to shake what water I could out of it! I would insert the the
catchlight and wide angle panels, shake the flash and extend both panels and wipe the
water from the panels. I would then reinsert the panels and complete the process until
water no longer showed up on the panels. I also shook the flash with the panels extended
to remove water. Water was still evident in the display and in the flash head and I left
the unit upright all night hoping more water would drain from it! In the morning most of
the water was gone, a few small spots remained in the display and head.

Later on that morning at the suggestion of a friend, with the screws still removed I
placed the flash in an airtight bag with some desiccant hoping the desiccant would remove
the remaining moisture. An inspection four hours later showed three small spots of
condensation in the display. The flash looked much better than I ever though it would and
I decided to fire it up and I’m happy to say it is working perfectly!

I think one thing that might have helped was the homemade diffuser I use.
This helped seal the head a little more and also helped to absorb the shock of the fall.

Does a Canon 580EXII Speedlite bounce? Yep!
Does a Canon 580EXII Speedlite float? Thankfully!

Now while I got one damaged umbrella my flash seems to be working perfectly!


  1. Brian, I followed you over her from Neil's Tangent blog and just read this. I had a similar occurrence a few months ago when a gust of wind caught the umbrella and sent my 550EX flying into the shallow edge of a lake!

    The impact of the flash against the rocks under the water caused the batteries to pop out and I think this helped save the flash, even though it let a lot of water in too - but it meant the power was cut almost straight away.

    Later I put the flash in the fan-oven in the kitchen and left it bake away at 50 celsius. Not too hot, but hot enough to evaporate away the water. It worked as the flash still works fine.

    I read afterwards that a cold-room (NOT a freezer!!!) such as those used for storing meat and produce is the best place to use because of the extremely dry air in such an environment.

  2. Hi Thorsten thanks for the information. Glad to hear of another story with a happy ending. My 580 EX II is my best and most powerful hotshoe flash and I'm so glad I managed to revive it! :-)


Thank You for your comment!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.