Beneath the Sea 2011

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Beneath the Sea 2011.
By Drew Wohl.

The end of March. Springtime is here. Yet there was snow last week. The NCAA Basketball Tournament winds down. But the team I root for got knocked out. Quickly. Well thankfully something is consistent. Beneath The Sea, the largest consumer Scuba & Dive travel show in America, now in its 35th year, is held at the end of March.

I always look forward to heading over to New Jersey, seeing old friends, meeting people I “know” via Wetpixel and of course playing with things. Housings, strobes, lights and other goodies that I have not had a chance to actually hold. As it seems that travel restrictions and weight becomes more of an issue on almost a daily basis, I was looking forward to checking out items that work well with Steve Martin’s “less get small” and headed off to Secaucus, NJ.

Over the years the show and exhibitors have changed, but fortunately some things are consistent and when I took my first quick run-through the aisles I was happy to see Backscatter, Reef Photo, Ikelite, Aquatica, Olympus and other familiar names. So once I scoped out the lay of the land, I started hitting the booths.

I walked over to Backscatter. After watching the show reel on the large television for awhile (stunning footage, looked great, mainly shot on Canon 5D Mark II) I had a chance to speak with Jim Decker a bit. Though I shoot Canon, I did pick up the housings for the Nikon D7000. Some very nice options in terms of size and weight from Aquatica, Nauticam and Sea & Sea.

Jim Decker at Backscatter booth with some toys.

Jim mentioned that they have some copies of the pre-production model of the Sea & Sea MDX-D7000. There were some changes when compared to the final model, including not being able to trigger the flash pop-up (make sure it is up prior to putting in the housing), but they can be had for $700 less than the final production model. Worth giving Backscatter a call on this one if you were thinking of a D7000 and housing it.

Jim pointing out pop-up button.

The Backscatter booth had the Sea & Sea YS-02 Strobe out on the table. This was one of the new wave of small things I wanted to check out, and I was not disappointed. It is small and light (as is the YS-01) and it is an item I will be considering for trips when I want to travel lighter.


Reef Photo was my second stop. Ryan and the crew were behind the table fielding questions and assisting people.

Reef has a good selection of Nauticam products, but unfortunately the housing for the 60D did not make it in time for the show, though it is due to be shipped out this week. Good news for the Canon shooters out there.

There was also a selection of “small” gear and one that Ryan mentioned as being one of his favorites small set-ups is the Panasonic Lumix/Nauticam combination. I picked up some the variety of small cameras and housings and once again I was impressed by the size/performance combinations that are available to shooters nowadays.

My wife had mentioned there was a new shop showing at BTS; Bluewater Photo and Video. When we passed by their booth we had to stop. Much to my surprise, one of the owners was Scott Gietler, and I recognized his name immediately from being a member here at WP. So after some introductions and small talk, we got into what Blue Water has to offer.

They are set up with a variety of accounts with the usual suspects in the industry, such as Light & Motion, Sea & Sea, Seacam, the Recsea line of housings and Dyron Products. If you are not familiar with Recsea, they are the manufacturers of SeaTool housings and SeaTool set a new standard in small and light when their Rebel Housing was released.

Blue Water had some new housings on display, including the Recsea for Panasonic GF2 and Sony NEX-5 ,plus some of the housings that were released late in 2010, including the housing for the S95 and G12.

Scott and housing.

Dyron produces a range of accessories, including arms and bouyancy arms, domes for Ikelite and Nauticam Housings (more on the way), macro port adapters and a 8MM circular fish eye lens for the Recsea, Ikelite and Patima G12 housings. It works throughout out the entire zoom range. The lens is the only one that provides a 180-degree view angle and also shoot Macro (1 inch wide)

Scott and Hubert Lacour (the designer of many of the items) were more than happy to field all questions and discuss the products and shooting in general, including lens and product design. The bottom line is that the products were light, felt good in my hands and look to be an option for people looking looking for high quality housings in small packages.

Hubert Lacour showing how difficult it is to handle the housing for the GF-2.

Light & Motion was around the corner and I stopped by there to speak with them. I had seen the Sola Lights (the Sola 500, Sola 600 and Sola 1200) specifications, but until you hold them in your hand, it is really difficult to get a sense of how small and light they truly are. L&M has three small Sola models, with one of the models being able to produce 1200 lumen. It was bright. Did I mention it was really small and lightweight?

The self-sealed unit comes with a small power charger (no bulky wall warts). Simply rinse the light off in fresh water after a dive, shake out excess water and it is ready to be charged. (Though it is not a bad idea to blow it dry or let it air dry if you can.) The lights, depending on the model, come with various accessories such as Velcro straps to attach it to your hand for night dives or adaptors to attach them to your existing arm set-ups. The accessories are also available for purchase separately.

L&M also had a pre-production model of the Sola 4000, which is rated at 4000 Lumen. Though not as small as the Sola 500, 600 or 1200, the unit is still relatively small and light. I have strobes that are larger and heavier by a good amount. The amount of light that is available in these small packages are real game changers in terms of both price points and portability.