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Newbie Rigs: What camera system did you buy?


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#1 Drew

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 06:12 AM

The most asked question by any newbie is one that many ask or do research on. So in the tradition of Mr Wetpixel himself, we will (try) to restart this quarterly thread to give newbies the most up to date new rigs from members who have made the plunge themselves.
So members who have recently bought new rigs, please feel free to add your opinions and feedback on your rigs so that others may benefit from your knowledge.
Thanks and happy shopping.

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#2 ClemensC

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 01:54 PM

Hi folks,

I bought my first point and shoot underwater camera (Casio Z77) this year and was very surprised of the good quality of the photos.

Here are some examples:
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

US$230 Casio Z77 + EWC-11 (3m) is the camera I used
US$324 Casio Z80 + EWC-130 (40m) alternative for divers

I have created a website with tips for this particular camera (but should be similar for other casio models).
http://underwater-ph....webconrad.com/

Full-size photos and videos can be found here: http://underwater-ph...otos-videos.php

Cheers
Clemens

#3 aussie

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 05:44 PM

I'll be watching this one closely. I just purchased a 40D, and am looking around at housings now. I hadn't dared yet put up the generic "what should I buy" question (although I have a fairly good idea already).

But, I would love to hear what 40D owners are thinking of their setups?

Cheers,
Ry.
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#4 Steve Williams

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 11:02 PM

Hi folks,
I put my first DSLR rig together this year. I have a Canon 40D in a Sea & Sea housing with 2 YS-250 strobes, UCLS arms and a Fisheye 48DX LED focus light. I have the ports and focus/zoom gears to support the Tokina 10-17mm and the Canon 10-22mm along with the 60mm and the 100mm macro lenses. Everyone will have their own "best system". What's right for me might not be what your looking for so I will attempt to talk a little about why I made the choices I did so you can have a little more info to make your own choices.

I was changing over from the chemical photography I had done using a series of Nikonos cameras. My motivation to move up to the DSLR came from a request by a developer to use some of my film images in a hotel/condominium project. This architect really liked my stuff and it was just enough of a push to get me started down the digital path. I knew I wanted a system that provided the best image quality and versatility I could reasonably afford. The nikonos system was great for it's day, and can still make some incredible images but you are severely limited in some areas. I wanted my new system to fill those holes.

I surveyed the available camera systems and purchased a 350D a year earlier so I could begin to learn how to deal with the digital world. My decision to go with a Canon was based on the fact that I had a lot of Canon glass from the film days. In retrospect a non issue since I would need all new lenses anyway, but I didn't know that. Sometimes it just comes down to Karma, I was celebrating my 40th year of diving so the 40D seemed like a great choice for my first underwater DSLR. ^_^ Actually it was positioned technically right in my wheel house. Very good image quailty, big LCD which I love, larger viewfinder, easy controls, etc. and it's not ridiculously expensive. I don't do underwater photography for a living or I might have made a different choice. I give my Nikon friends grief sometimes but in reality either system in the hands of a competent photographer can do amazing things. In retrospect the 40D was a great choice for me. I love what it can do.

The housing was a tougher chioce, I live in the desert SW so there was no place close by to put my hands on the different options. Eric's post from last years DEMA came at a great time for me. He went to the trouble to post images of all the new housings for the 40D that were still to be introduced and saved me a ton of work and travel. All of the folks on Wetpixel were a fantastic resource and helped me immensely. The best thing a potential buyer can do to save some growing pains is spend the time to research the posts here. In the end it came down to the Subal, the Sea & Sea and the Aquatica. The Seatool wasn't released yet and I wanted an all aluminum housing so the Ikelight wasn't on my list. Based on features and price point I choose the Sea & Sea and it's been very impressive so far. The new MDX housings are very nice pieces of gear. Solid, nice locking ports, very well made, with well designed ergonomic controls. The 40D was the first Canon housing for Aquatica and they didn't have the port selection available for Canon lenses at the time I was making my decision. The Subal is a gorgeous tool but I didn't feel I could jusity the additional expense. Again if I was making my living with it I might have made a different choice. On a business trip back east I was able to stop by the great shop of Underwater Photo-Tech in Derry, NH and finally lay my hands on real housings. This cemented my choice and the rest was easy.

The new YS 250's looked perfect for what I wanted to do and they turned out to be even better than I imagined. The miniscule recycle time on the big strobes is very different from my old Nikonos strobes and completely changed the game. Our past experiences always affect our decisions and I'm haunted by the time I was being looped by a manta in the waters off the outer reefs of Belize while I hung there stupidly waiting for the strobe to recycle. Never again, if I can help it. When it comes to light, I want as much as I can carry and control. The well written articles by Berkley White of Backscatter in Monterey came at a great time to help me decide on the strobes. The great guys at Backscatter were a superb help all along this little journey.

I decided on the Fisheye 48DX focus light. This is the LED version with 50,000 hr bulb life and a huge 10 hour burn time on one set of batteries. It's about half the price of the halogen version and uses the same difusers. It puts out plenty of light for the AF sytem of the Canon, a little over half power on it's adjustable output is all I needed. Ryan at Reef Photo was a big help in getting me set up with a small arm that would get the light high enough to get over the dome when I want to use it at night or for CFWA.

All in all I'm extremely happy with the system I've put together. I still have a lot to learn but I'm headed in the right direction. If you'd like to see what kind of images the system can do in the hands of recreational shooters on their first attempt take a look at our web page on Flickr (linked below). I have some old film images up and a new set called digital Bonaire from my first trip with the new rig. The macro shots felt much easier to do with the digital system than the old Nikonos. I found that good wide angle images were harder to get than I expected, I still have a lot to learn. The fish shots with the new system were miles ahead of anything I was able to do before.

One other note, I spent a lot of time reseaching the folks who advertise here on wetpixel and some who don't. In every case I got great, helpful, accurate answers to all my sometimes dumb questions. We are blessed with a group of fantastic people supporting and supplying us with equipment today that previous generations of divers never dreamed of.

So do your research, decide what you want the tools to help you do then use all the great resources at your disposal to find your own treasure.
Good luck!
Steve

The Fin Foundation
My Images on Flikr

Canon7D & 40D, 60mm, 100mm, 17-40L, Tokina 10-17, Nauticam 7D, Sea & Sea MDX-40D YS-250's ULCS arms, Lightroom


#5 aussie

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 04:11 AM

Steve, thanks for the great review!!! I've been closely watching what yourself and other 40D shooters have been saying on here, and waiting paitiently while doing as much research as possible.

The Sea and Sea is one that looks great, and I've been hearing a lot of good things about. My biggest worry though is the supplier here, and their after sales service. And I've decided I'm buying here in Aus, I've heard a couple of stories that have convinced me to do so.

The Aquatica housings are really appealing to me, and I've had the chance to handle one (on land), and was very impressed (as well as with the local supplier). Like you, I've decided to go an ali housing over another Ike, and the Subal is out of my price limit. So Aquatica is most likely the way I'm leaning (I've heard good reviews from a couple of others with 40Ds in them too).

So that's where I'm at. My plan is to have my 40D housed and with strobe by our comming summer (december for you northern hemisphere ppl).

Until then, my G7 will just have to do!

Cheers,
Ry.
Pedlow Photographics
My Flickr
On Twitter

Canon EOS 7D. Aquatica A7D. Inon Z240's. Canon, Tokina and Sigma glass.

#6 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 08:01 AM

I finally made the move this year, from shooting slide film in totally manual Nikonos IIIs and a housed Nikon F2 to shooting digital videos.

This has been a major new learning curve for me.. but its long past due.

I invested in a Sony HC7 video camera, a Gates HC7 Housing, the Fathom WG25 wide angle lens, and a pair of LMI SUnray 1000 LED lights.

Have only had the rig in the open water once, but will again soon.

edit..oops.. did I post this in the wrong thread...? doh!

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Edited by wolfeeldiver, 06 August 2008 - 08:05 AM.


#7 shil

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 05:25 AM

HI all,

Made the move to digital UW photography after using a nikonos II. Got a Oly SP-350 and PT -30 housing. Inon closeup and a wideangle. Seems to be a great rig. now to start the learning curve. This forum is a great place to accelerate that curve.

Shil

#8 Bucky7

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 08:25 AM

I've been using a Nikonos III and one of the last surviving SB-101's for about 15 years, and I finally lived up to my long ongoing threats to go digital. I've got a Nikon D80 and an Ikelite housing with a DS-160 strobe. The Nikon was driven by my own bias towards Nikon SLRs. For some reason, their controls just make more sense to me than do Canon's. My first SLR was a Nikon FE2 back in the 80's, and I've used them ever sense. The choice of the Ike housing was heavily influenced by financial considerations. I live in the desert of Arizona, and I don't get the chance to dive more than a couple times a year.

Given my infrequent dive schedule, I also picked up a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 zoom, so I have at least a fighting chance of getting a variety of shots on each dive. It looks like it's going to be a nice topside lens, as well.

My first chance to get this setup in the ocean will be on a cruise next month - assuming I don't flood it on the first dive, I'll post some results. In the meantime, I've been spending time with it in my pool, to get used to handling it and working the controls. There are a few more things to fiddle with than on the Nik III.

#9 tdpriest

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 06:52 AM

Who knows?

I have gone from Sea&Sea MMII to Nikonos V to Nikon Coolpix 5000/Subal housing to Nikon D70/Anthis-Nexus housing to Nikon D200/Anthis/Nexus housing.

Each was an improvement on the last, but using each benefited from the experience of the previous camera.

In general: a housed DSLR is more flexible and a big viewfinder and a big LCD screen are a great advantage, but the absence of shutter lag and the low-light performance of the camera along with its ability to handle contrasty images are the most important contributors to good images.

The Anthis-Nexus housings are good value for money and work well, but they are a little less easy to handle and much less sexy when compared to Subal. The 45-degree angle viewer that Inon make works well with the Anthis-Nexus housing, but it isn't as good, as robust or as expensive as the Subal version. I prefer the screw-in Anthis-Nexus domes and ports, but the Subal domes are very nicely made.

I have just won, had stolen and then replaced a Fuji compact, with a wide-angle converter lens. I would compare it favourably with a Nikonos V.

Strobes (flashguns) are important. I have moved from Sea&Sea to Inon strobes, and from cables to an optical fibre link. Once you have mastered the manual, and set up the strobes, the Inons do an excellent job of tracking the cameras TTL algorithm. I use a hybrid of Aquatica (TLC) and Ultralight components to make strobe arms.

I use focus lights for close-up photography, and haven't yet found an ideal one.

My love is wide-angle photography, and I have used a Nikon 10.5mm lens more than any other. The equivalent on a full-frame camera would be about 15-16mm. I have never been completely happy with zoom lenses.

If money didn't matter, I would say wait for a housing to become available and buy a Nikon D700. I would expect you to be very happy with a used D200 set-up, and even happier with a D300, but I don't think that there are quite enough advantages to justify upgrading to a D300 myself. The lead-time in housing design and manufacture means that the DSLR user is often faced with the dilemma posed by a near-obsolete camera and a newly-available housing. I strongly suspect that one's photography wouldn't suffer by skipping two or even three generations of camera improvements, so I would be looking for a buyer in a year or so, when I upgrade from D200 to D300+ or D700+, if I can afford to replace my wide-angle lenses as well....


Tim

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#10 01sugar2

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 08:05 PM

Steve, many thanks for the long explanation of why you chose what you did and for providing a look into some of your u/w photography background. Personable people make this site a very welcoming spot on the 'net that we all can visit and share information with each other. I too am a Canon shooter, and though my choices are a bit more limited (though not by too much) as I shoot with a 30D as opposed to the 40D, I think it's great to be able to learn what setups work and which ones don't from actual real-life applications and setups. "Thank you" to everyone who's contributed to this thread; I'm sure it'll help far more of us than those who have just replied.

Dustin

#11 Kari Post

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 03:40 AM

Any suggestions/recommendations for a housing for a Canon 5D?
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#12 cally88

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 12:21 PM

well I have finally made the jump to digital with my purchase of an alpha 700 with a an 18-70 mm lens. Yes this was a big step for me because I love my N70..... Although I am starting my research on housing units I would like some suggestions on lens sizes and also solid housings that will allow me to use all the Fx of the camera. Thanks for you time. Happy shooting cally

#13 randyj

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 01:59 PM

well I have finally made the jump to digital with my purchase of an alpha 700 with a an 18-70 mm lens. Yes this was a big step for me because I love my N70..... Although I am starting my research on housing units I would like some suggestions on lens sizes and also solid housings that will allow me to use all the Fx of the camera. Thanks for you time. Happy shooting cally

I have the Sony A700 as well and am pleased with the 50mmMacro and am looking at the 100mmMacro as well as the Zeiss lenses, just have to save all my aluminum cans to pay for it. I also utilize the 2.8 16mm fisheye for wide angle. This is housed in an Ikelite housing as there are few other manufacturers of housings for Sony and I already had the two DS-125 strobes. So far I'm happy with it.

#14 ATJ

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Posted 10 October 2008 - 04:13 PM

I bought a Ikelite housing for my Nikon D300 in February this year. (I bought the D300 in December last year.) This was an upgrade from the D70 also in an Ikelite housing and, for me, both were logical decisions as most of my existing gear would be compatible. I also have 2 x DS125 strobes from the D70.

Overall, I'm very happy with the Ikelite housing although as I have not used other housings, I have nothing to which to compare. I like the fact that the housing is clear so I can easily make sure everything lines up, etc., but also see any leaks. I find the housing easy to use and I can control all aspects of the camera except the metering selector (3D color matrix II/Center-weighted/Spot) but I never change that anyway, so it isn't a problem.

I have two issues with the housing:

1) the viewfinder port is too small which makes it difficult to see the whole frame in one go. I had the same problem with the D70 but it appears to be worse with the D300. The viewfinder on the D300 is larger and it looks like Ikelite use the same port on all their housings so it gives less visibility to the D300 viewfinder relative to the D70.

2) The shutter release is very close to the sub-command dial and I frequently take photos by accident when changing aperture.

#15 G girl

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 01:51 PM

Hi!
I was just successful in tracking down a Canon G9 camera and H20 housing. I have a trip to Honduras in less than 4 weeks and don't feel safe waiting for the G10 and housing!
Anyway, I have be told that I can attach a strobe to the canon housing. I think it has to go on a tray or something first?!? do any of you have any info or suggestions about adding a strobe?
I have been shooting with a canon powershot for a couple of years, and although not ready for the SLR plunge yet, wanted to impove my pics with a strobe....
suggestions?!?
Thanks much!

#16 Gustavo

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 01:15 PM

Hi everybody, right now Im in this same moment

I will thank your opinion about a camera and housing I would like to buy as my first underwater photo equipment.


Im planning to purchase the Olympus E-520 with the Olympus PT-E03 housing. Is it ok? Should I think in other housing?

Even though I have some knowledge in photography, I am a complete novice in underwater photo, and since I thinking to buy lenses and strobe as well, I would appreciate your opinion on what is best.

Olympus offers the UFL-2 underwater strobe. Should I buy that or other? Regarding lenses I would like to have at least a 50 mm macro and a fisheye. What would you recommend?

Do these lenses need some accessories in order to be used with the PT-E03 housing?

Im in desperate need, so any tip, help, suggestion will be more than welcome.

Thanks in advanced.

Gustavo, from Campeche, Mexico

#17 Blade305

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 05:16 AM

Hi Steve,
i recently have put almost the same system together like you have (just with the eos 50D) and I am going on a dive trip to the Maledives in 2 weeks. So my question is, what would be the best traveling case. You mentioned in another post (which i can't find anymore) that you liked the im2500 storm case. Did you really fit all the lenses, 2 strobes+light arms, housing, dome ports & 40d in that case?. I only have the 60mm macro+port and the 10-22mm+dome port and i was wondering if i might need another carry on.

P.S.:I am very new to wetpixel, so i apologize if i posted this at a wrong spot

Thanks,
Blade305

Hi folks,
I put my first DSLR rig together this year. I have a Canon 40D in a Sea & Sea housing with 2 YS-250 strobes, UCLS arms and a Fisheye 48DX LED focus light. I have the ports and focus/zoom gears to support the Tokina 10-17mm and the Canon 10-22mm along with the 60mm and the 100mm macro lenses. Everyone will have their own "best system". What's right for me might not be what your looking for so I will attempt to talk a little about why I made the choices I did so you can have a little more info to make your own choices.

I was changing over from the chemical photography I had done using a series of Nikonos cameras. My motivation to move up to the DSLR came from a request by a developer to use some of my film images in a hotel/condominium project. This architect really liked my stuff and it was just enough of a push to get me started down the digital path. I knew I wanted a system that provided the best image quality and versatility I could reasonably afford. The nikonos system was great for it's day, and can still make some incredible images but you are severely limited in some areas. I wanted my new system to fill those holes.

I surveyed the available camera systems and purchased a 350D a year earlier so I could begin to learn how to deal with the digital world. My decision to go with a Canon was based on the fact that I had a lot of Canon glass from the film days. In retrospect a non issue since I would need all new lenses anyway, but I didn't know that. Sometimes it just comes down to Karma, I was celebrating my 40th year of diving so the 40D seemed like a great choice for my first underwater DSLR. :bottled: Actually it was positioned technically right in my wheel house. Very good image quailty, big LCD which I love, larger viewfinder, easy controls, etc. and it's not ridiculously expensive. I don't do underwater photography for a living or I might have made a different choice. I give my Nikon friends grief sometimes but in reality either system in the hands of a competent photographer can do amazing things. In retrospect the 40D was a great choice for me. I love what it can do.

The housing was a tougher chioce, I live in the desert SW so there was no place close by to put my hands on the different options. Eric's post from last years DEMA came at a great time for me. He went to the trouble to post images of all the new housings for the 40D that were still to be introduced and saved me a ton of work and travel. All of the folks on Wetpixel were a fantastic resource and helped me immensely. The best thing a potential buyer can do to save some growing pains is spend the time to research the posts here. In the end it came down to the Subal, the Sea & Sea and the Aquatica. The Seatool wasn't released yet and I wanted an all aluminum housing so the Ikelight wasn't on my list. Based on features and price point I choose the Sea & Sea and it's been very impressive so far. The new MDX housings are very nice pieces of gear. Solid, nice locking ports, very well made, with well designed ergonomic controls. The 40D was the first Canon housing for Aquatica and they didn't have the port selection available for Canon lenses at the time I was making my decision. The Subal is a gorgeous tool but I didn't feel I could jusity the additional expense. Again if I was making my living with it I might have made a different choice. On a business trip back east I was able to stop by the great shop of Underwater Photo-Tech in Derry, NH and finally lay my hands on real housings. This cemented my choice and the rest was easy.

The new YS 250's looked perfect for what I wanted to do and they turned out to be even better than I imagined. The miniscule recycle time on the big strobes is very different from my old Nikonos strobes and completely changed the game. Our past experiences always affect our decisions and I'm haunted by the time I was being looped by a manta in the waters off the outer reefs of Belize while I hung there stupidly waiting for the strobe to recycle. Never again, if I can help it. When it comes to light, I want as much as I can carry and control. The well written articles by Berkley White of Backscatter in Monterey came at a great time to help me decide on the strobes. The great guys at Backscatter were a superb help all along this little journey.

I decided on the Fisheye 48DX focus light. This is the LED version with 50,000 hr bulb life and a huge 10 hour burn time on one set of batteries. It's about half the price of the halogen version and uses the same difusers. It puts out plenty of light for the AF sytem of the Canon, a little over half power on it's adjustable output is all I needed. Ryan at Reef Photo was a big help in getting me set up with a small arm that would get the light high enough to get over the dome when I want to use it at night or for CFWA.

All in all I'm extremely happy with the system I've put together. I still have a lot to learn but I'm headed in the right direction. If you'd like to see what kind of images the system can do in the hands of recreational shooters on their first attempt take a look at our web page on Flickr (linked below). I have some old film images up and a new set called digital Bonaire from my first trip with the new rig. The macro shots felt much easier to do with the digital system than the old Nikonos. I found that good wide angle images were harder to get than I expected, I still have a lot to learn. The fish shots with the new system were miles ahead of anything I was able to do before.

One other note, I spent a lot of time reseaching the folks who advertise here on wetpixel and some who don't. In every case I got great, helpful, accurate answers to all my sometimes dumb questions. We are blessed with a group of fantastic people supporting and supplying us with equipment today that previous generations of divers never dreamed of.

So do your research, decide what you want the tools to help you do then use all the great resources at your disposal to find your own treasure.
Good luck!
Steve


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www.hwelle.net
wavephoto305@gmail.com

#18 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 05:44 PM

Did you really fit all the lenses, 2 strobes+light arms, housing, dome ports & 40d in that case?.


Hi Blade,
Welcome to Wetpixel! How you get your gear from A to B depends on the flights and buses, boats, etc. I think the key is to have a flexible system. I use the Storm case because I tend to fly a lot in small turbo props where they take your carry on and throw it in the belly when you board. I carry my housing, 60mm and 100mm ports, both 250's, cords,focus light and arms in the Storm case. The bodies, lenses, spare o-ring box, portable hard drive, laptop and the big S&S dome go in my North Face "Big Shot" backpack. The dome diameter fits perfectly in the top of the pack. It's not a perfect solution, not sure I've seen one yet. The housing is a tight fit in the Storm. I had to remove the foam in the lid above the housing, and have to remove one of the synch connector plugs. If I'm in the situation where only one carry on is allowed I can put the Storm case inside an old Samsonite hard side wrapped in wetsuits. There are some great pinned threads on transporting your stuff to check out. Try this one. Hope you have a great time with the 50D. Be sure and let us know how it goes.

The moderators will move this if they want to keep the thread on track, no worries.

Cheers,
Steve

The Fin Foundation
My Images on Flikr

Canon7D & 40D, 60mm, 100mm, 17-40L, Tokina 10-17, Nauticam 7D, Sea & Sea MDX-40D YS-250's ULCS arms, Lightroom


#19 Benthic7

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 10:34 AM

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Well, here is the new rig: a Subal ND-30 with a pair of Inon 240s. Ports for my 105 mm and 12-24 mm, a Fisheye focus light, plus a bucket-load of miscellaneous parts (arms, sync cords, diopters, etc.). Ryan at Reef Photo was great to work with (as a lot of you fine folks here have said). My wife and I drove down from Tampa on a Friday back in July and spent about 4- 5 hours with Ryan looking at the Subal, Sea & Sea, and SeaTool. My original plan was to get the Sea & Sea since it had gotten good reviews and was more in line with my budget. It is a nice rig but it is rather large and my hands couldn't get around it. The SeaTool was actually the right size for my hands. However, the Subal was pretty much the same size as the SeaTool and I was able to work all the controls easily. I liked the locking mechanism on the Subal better and it came with a viewfinder whereas the SeaTool would need an Inon viewfinder. When everything was added up the full Subal system was maybe a $1,000 more than the system with a SeaTool, so I decided to go with the Subal. It did take awhile for my credit card to cool down enough to put it back in my wallet. :P

I'd recommend to anyone planning on purchasing a system to get hands-on time before you buy, if at all possible. Word of warning, though. If you plan on driving to Fort Lauderdale to see Ryan, bring a bunch of quarters because the meter maids down there are brutal....

I've had it the pool a few times with both the 105 port and the dome port. Neither port had a locking mechanism and I am a bit concerned particularly with the dome port. Ryan said he never had a problem with the dome coming off but I'm a true believer in Murphy's Law and was wondering if there is any thing that you guys do or use to ensure that the dome stays in place. Any input would be greatly appreciated. We are heading to the Solomons in about 2.5 weeks for a cruise on the Billikiki. I hoping its a good place for the Subal to get its first dunk in saltwater - but I'd like to keep the D300 dry.

And thanks to everyone that posts here. I learned quite a lot since I joined this site.

#20 stevezie

stevezie

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 02:51 PM

The most asked question by any newbie is one that many don't dare to ask or do research on before asking this one question. So in the tradition of Mr Wetpixel himself, we will (try) to restart this quarterly thread to give newbies the most up to date new rigs from members who have made the plunge themselves.
So members who have recently bought new rigs, please feel free to add your opinions and feedback on your rigs so that others may benefit from your knowledge.
Thanks and happy shopping.


OK I am asking - since my dive buddy has a very elaborate still photo rig, we decided it made sense for me to do some video instead of twiddling my thumbs - what should I get? Tape or digital? Any suggestions for a newbie including type, brand, price, and where to begin looking would be great. Here's the best part - keep it under $500. Hows that? Thanks in advance for all of the advice I am about to receive.