Welcome to the next installment of the Wetpixel Rinse Tank. Since my last report, DEMA has been and gone, and for us Northern latitude dwellers anyway, the weather and water have cooled down considerably. As underwater photographers, we expend a lot of energy seeking products to do some fairly esoteric tasks, and often have to resort to improvising or building custom solutions to problems we encounter. It is nice therefore to find an off-the-shelf product that is simple but works very well. Most of tend to carry around large numbers of rechargeable AA sized batteries, and although plastic boxes are available to house them for carriage, often the catches on these seem to lose the ability to retain the batteries for long in transit.
Photographic luggage suppliers Think Tank have produced simple battery carriers that are ideal for the purpose. Being made of nylon cloth, with a velcro closure, they keep 8 batteries safe and secure while traveling or in a camera bag. 8 is a great number, as it allows for a battery change per strobe; in my experience sufficient for one day’s shooting.
I load the charged batteries positive side out, and the discharged ones negative side out to differentiate. I have been using these for the last six months or so and find them a great way to try and tame my battery chaos!
At DEMA, as I have written elsewhere, the GoPro HERO2 POV camera was the talk of the show. I picked one up while I was there, along with an underwater housing. The GoPro is supplied with a housing as standard, but the curved lens port on it means that the camera cannot focus underwater. Various manufacturers supply corrected housings with flat ports (Eye of Mine, Snake River Prototyping and Backscatter), and I was able to pick one up from Backscatter. GoPro are to release an underwater corrected version soon with reports suggesting that it will be available in March 2012.
In addition I got an Ultralight Control Systems GoPro cage with a 1” ball attached. This can be added directly on to my still housing, providing a POV perspective of what I have been shooting.
It also means that the camera is not attached by the somewhat vulnerable plastic attachment points on the bottom of the housing.
Samsung has developed a series of robust memory cards that are being marketed as water, shock and magnet proof. I have been given a 16gb class 10 SDHC version, and a class 4 8gb micro SD card. The idea behind these for underwater use is that in the event of a catastrophic housing flood, at least your images will survive. Predictably, the class 4 micro Sd is not really suited for use with SLR or video cameras as the write times are just too slow, whereas the class 10 version is very competent at both GoPro and SLR video capture (as well as stills). I’m not going to volunteer to pop open my housing at depth to test the cards, but may well take them for a dive without a housing to see whether they live up to their waterproof claim.
I mentioned in a previous Rinse Tank that I am planning to review the ZEN 230mm (9”) dome port. Whilst this is a superb piece of glass, I found that the difference in corner sharpness between it and an 8” Subal port when used in conjunction with a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens on DX cameras was simply not big enough to perform a proper comparison. I have also found recently that my eye is increasingly being drawn to straight lines in images, particularly where the eye (mind?) would expect straight lines to exist.
I have obtained a Sigma 8-16mm rectilinear wide-angle lens, and the appropriate port extension (40mm) and zoom gear from Reef Photo and plan to do some testing with the combination soon. I have had the opportunity to shoot it a few times, and am impressed with the results. Please stay posted for a more thorough review.
Whilst on the subject of reviews, firstly an apology. Wetpixel Associate Editor Alex Mustard and I set out to complete the review on wet diopters in August. Well for various reasons (not least of which is the release of several new versions), we are still writing it. We hope to be able to publish it soon. Please accept our apologies, and it will be worth waiting for! Secondly, upcoming reviews are plentiful and include a major review of housing options for the Sony NEX-5N, the XIT404 tripod and twist clamp legs, iTorch Pro 2, 4 and 555 lights, Light and Motion SOLA 4000, Scuba Diving “Through the Lens”” magazine and the travel version of the Caribbean Reef Fish ID book to name a few.