The Ikelite booth showed a range of their lights and polycarbonate housings. Sean and Sean showed me new offerings for the Nikon D7000 and the Canon T3i. Also of note was the new Pro 2800 Video light. The big news from Ikelite is that they are rolling out a new design for their handle trays. The new design features tapered handles that have rubber strips along them. They seemed comfortable and my hands sat very naturally with the housing
The Reef Photo booth was another popular destination for show patrons and had a variety of products on display. Ryan was able to squeeze me in between being bombarded by questions to show me a few products. He showed me a Zen mini-dome adapted for the Olympus PT-EP03 housing, to be used with an 8mm Fisheye lens on the Olympus Pen camera. Ryan also had a creative and snazzy lighting display utilizing ULCS pieces – you have to wonder how much free time he has to come up with that…
Also on hand was Chris Parsons of Nauticam. He showed me the new compact housing for the Panasonic DMC-LX5. He also showed me a production version of the D7000 housing. Based upon suggestions in a review of a pre-production housing by wetpixel moderator Alex Mustard, the ergonomics and button placement for some of the controls were updated. Nauticam also will be rolling out a Canon 60D housing in the very near future.
Jean, Joe and Norma were manning the Aquatica booth. They had an assortment of housings and ports on display. They had their new AD7000 housing for the Nikon D7000. Additionally they had their compact AN-5 housing for the Sony NEX5 camera. Like its big DSLR brothers, fit and finish are impressive and it even had a port locking mechanism. There was a lot of engineering going into that small housing.
Mike Elliot from Xit 404 took me through a bunch of their camera-related products. Among the items he showed me were their line of zoom/focus gears, their quad-ball arm system and their new twist-clamp tripod legs. The quad ball system allows for four arms to be attached in the normal attachment point on a housing. This may be a good solution for people who want both strobes and video lights attached to their housing. Probably the coolest item I saw during the show was the Twist-clamp tripod legs. A simple twist and you can reposition the legs at almost any angle with a twist back locking it in place. The legs could be manipulated very quickly with no knobs to turn. The legs are extendable and various base plates can be attached.
Andrew Bausk took the time to show me a host of products at the Olympus booth. He showed me the new TOUGH line of cameras, which include the 610 and 810 models. Both cameras offer 14 megapixels, a 3 inch LCD, 720 HD video and water/shock/freeze proofing. The 610 is rated to 16 feet and the 810 is rated to 33 feet and has a GPS to geotag photos. A housing is available to make the cameras fully dive worthy. All Olympus housing are now available with fiber optic strobe connections. Andy told me they have done very brisk sales of their EPL2 camera and the PT-EP03 housing for it. The small size, interchangeable lenses, and high image quality from this system seems like a great idea with ever tightening baggage restrictions.
Finally, I was drawn to a large flashy booth that had beautiful Mac screens and iphones mounted in a row. The booth was ClickNDive.com and I was given a very thorough explanation of their website and technology system by Gary Hunt. Basically, they are a website that dives can book trips through and operators can have full automation. Booking a trip means the system sends u boarding passes and other documents via email. Release forms, diving history and other forms are taken online and forwarded to the dive operator. A boat manifest is generated. Much of the information is integrated via iphone app. Gary showed me a part of their app where the boat manifest can be used by a dive master to have their iphone check divers in and out of the water. They are developing an electronic bracelet that will allow the boat itself to check divers in and out of the water. The entire system is integrated with the ERIS (Emergency Response Information System) system – co developed with DAN. In the event there is a dive emergency an iphone can be used to go through the 18 steps of assessment, look up all the diver’s medical forms, and submit the information to DAN directly. Dan will even use the GPS location of the iphone to direct the emergency response to the nearest medical facility or chamber. The full integration of the system from clients booking to operators getting information to transfer of information in the case of an emergency really takes advantage of current technology. I was impressed and believe I have gotten a small glimpse of how technology will be used across the dive industry in the near future.