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First DSLR trip is to Lembeh, Any Tips?


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#1 showmetexan

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 09:58 AM

I have read through a million forums and posts about equipment and settings and you have convinced me to upgrade from my trusty Canon S-40 and S-80 to a Nikon D200 with Ikelite housing and 2 Ikelite DS-125 strobes. I have also chosen the 105 mm VR lens as my macro lens for a trip to Lembeh.

All I have to practice on here is the toads that hang out on my back porch at night. While I have some great toad pictures, I am worried that the settings I am finding are not going to work as well in the muck diving at lembeh.

Does anyone have any advise for me on settings to use from the bottom up? I appreciate any help I can get.

thanks

jon

#2 uw_nikon

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 10:18 AM

Get in the pool and practice with small plastic insects/lizards/frogs/etc (most toy stores have them) on varied backgrounds (light/mid-tone/dark).

Work on:
-general camera/housing handling

-how you focus
-single servo coupled with <shutter release> is a good place to start (half press the shutter release to activate AF, once focus achieve, it locks, and you can recompose then shoot. Note: camera will only fire if it thinks AF is "in focus" which can be frustrating at times)
-single servo activated with <focus button> on back of camera and decoupled from shutter release allows you to get focus close with AF and use camera movement to get (AF activated only by focus button on the back of the camera, finger off the focus button = focus lock, camera will fire every time you press the shutter release completely)

-critical focus
-plane of focus

-dial in your lighting technique

Take Care,
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#3 sgietler

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 10:25 AM

jon,

you are going to have a great time. I used my D80 and the 105mm lens for most of the time in lembeh. some of the fish there are pretty big and could also benefit from the Nikon 60mm F2.8 macro lens also.

the 105mm lens can be a little challenging at first, I would practise in a swimming pool, bring down little practise targets with you.

since your just starting off, I'd start off with ISO 200, 1/250th of a second, F7-F25. You want to vary the F-stop depending on the distance from the camera. use F25 for really close up stuff (1 inch wide), F5.6 or F7 for stuff far away, and f-stops in between for stuff in the middle.

A smaller aperature (larger F-stop number) will give you more "depth of field", but if the subject is far away and your aperture is too small, your strobes won't have enough power to light the subject.

set your focus mode to AF-S (single-servo) mode.

other people might give you different settings, give them a try, but don't worry about it too much, just practise and maybe pick up a book on underwater photography. There's a lot to learn but this will defintely get you started.

have fun
Scott

#4 showmetexan

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 09:03 PM

Thanks for the input guys, sounds like practice is the key. My housing came with one of the port locks in pieces and the other one cracked. They just informed me that ikelite wants me to send it to them for inspection since the jar that broke the port locks might have broken something else. This is gonna cut down on my weekends to hit the pool for sure. I hope I can talk them into just sending along a new unit so i can have it within a week. At least i hope to talk them into letting me keep the tray so i can set up the strobes and camera and play on land.

What do you guys use for your white balance setting for macro? Do you let the camera do it on auto or set it to flash?

Do you set your manual iso for every shot or just select and range and leave it on auto?

I am beginning to wish I had bought this camera before my trip to bonaire last fall. Frog fish just sit there and let you practice til you run out of air.

#5 sgietler

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 11:17 PM

when I first got my dslr, I shot macro in JPEG, and set my white balance to auto.

now I shoot in RAW, and set the white balance myself in adobe camera raw.

I would just set your ISO to 100 or 200 for the entire trip.

scott

#6 showmetexan

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 08:10 PM

I did not know I could adjust white balance after the fact with software, that is great to know. I will shoot in raw for sure and fight software later. I will play with iso 100 and 200 and see how they work.

I just organized my carry on pelican after hearing about the pelican boxes getting stolen by baggage handlers and cameras sold on ebay. This thing weighs 30 pounds with just my camera, housing, and strobes. I only hope to keep it under 40. Has anyone had any problems with weight for their carryon?

#7 stever

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 07:01 PM

you really want to shoot RAW. if you'r using photoshop or lightroom (which i highly recommend) you can adjust the white balance after the fact so long as there is something neutral gray, white, or black in the image (white seems to work best) - there usually is. or you can take an image of a white card at depth (which i've been too lazy to do).

but you should also shoot RAW for the improved dynamic range and exposure control

#8 ornate_wrasse

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:17 PM

I'll add to the excellent advice. If you're shooting in RAW with a Nikon camera (i.e. your D200) you should look into getting Capture NX. I've been using this software as my raw image editor and, although it does have its rough edges, I've been very impressed with its capabilities. Supposedly Capture NX is better for Nikon RAW images (NEF files) than some of the other raw image editors as it's designed expressively for Nikon RAW images whereas the other software is designed for the raw images of all cameras, not just Nikon. Anyway, you might want to check it out. It's great for NEF images and its U Point technology is impressive indeed.

Enjoy your new camera!

Ellen
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#9 showmetexan

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 07:38 AM

thanks for all the advice. I have been practicing in iso 200 moving the f stop for varying distances.

I think i will get the capture nx and the real world book on it and read up on how to use it on my 24 hour plane flight.

I am going to shoot raw and jpeg til i get used to using software.

I am thinking of diving with the modeling light on with my second strobe. The camera seems to focus much faster with a lot of light and the picture seem to be much more crisp. I think this will be especially true in the much diving of lembeh.

Does anyone else leave a modeling light on during day dives?

#10 ce4jesus

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 07:57 AM

The only other recommendation I'd have is to add a Woody's Diopter to your outfit. Cheap enough and the results are great. I just got back from some wonderful muck diving in the Philippines. The only technical issue I had was my focus light was mounted to the hotshoe on my housing and it didn't clear the port. So when I focused to within an inch of the port (minimum focus distance), I lost the focus light!!! You shouldn't have to worry with the longer working distance of the 105. Have fun.
Gary
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#11 Lionfish43

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 08:28 AM

Since you should have plenty of power from your 2 DS-125s I'd shoot everything on ISO 100. A good starting point would F 16 @ 125 on Manual. If you're not getting enough DOF go to F22 or more. More distant subjects use F8 -16.I assume you have the Ikelite TTL housing so you should set your flashes on TTL. Try to move one of the strobes farther away so you don't get flat lighting. I use AF-S for stationary subjects but I use AF-C most of the time.

I use Nikon Capture (I have 4.4 because my computer couldn't handle NX) and highly recommend it. It does add another program to your workflow but IMO the results justify it.
Larry Oberlander My Webpage
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#12 jeremyl

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 01:04 PM

You say to set camera in manual but strobes on TTL. I thought that was contradictory. I am noobie too... using a G9 in ike housing with Dual DS125's. I just returned from my second trip with this setup, and started to shoot manual. I set the camera usually on IS0 100, 1/60th -> 1/125th usually and max aperature (wich is 9.0 on this guy). I adjusted aperature a bit when I needed more light, but usually turned the strobes up or down to get the exposure. But I didnt think I could even be in TTL when camera is in manual.

Back on the advice topic... I do use the strbes modeling light a as light. It is my primary light for night diving, and during the day I use it to look for stuff and as a focus light if needed (although usually this was not too helpful, but also usually not needed). Careful not to get caught without battery charge if you use the strobes this way. Depending on your trigger finger, a charge may only last a couple dives. I have 3 batteries that I rotate around. I did this on a LOB and it was great, but I guess if youre stuck on a small boat for 2-3 dives you have no choice... just top off whenever you can.

#13 Lionfish43

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 05:30 PM

You say to set camera in manual but strobes on TTL. I thought that was contradictory. I am noobie too... using a G9 in ike housing with Dual DS125's. I just returned from my second trip with this setup, and started to shoot manual. I set the camera usually on IS0 100, 1/60th -> 1/125th usually and max aperature (wich is 9.0 on this guy). I adjusted aperature a bit when I needed more light, but usually turned the strobes up or down to get the exposure. But I didnt think I could even be in TTL when camera is in manual.

It's not contradictory at all. When you set you camera (DSLR) to manual mode it has nothing to do with whether your strobe fires in TTL or not. The strobes will still do TTL and give you a correct flash exposure. In manual mode you are taking control of the amount of light that reaches your sensor and making an informed decision on the overall look of the image. Use a slow shutter speed to lighten the background. Go with 250th and your background will be very dark. Use your f stop to control depth of field. Bottom line...you are making the decision and not just having the camera decide for you.

I don't know much about P&S so I can't say if your G9 works the same way.
Larry Oberlander My Webpage
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#14 sgietler

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 06:27 PM

You say to set camera in manual but strobes on TTL. I thought that was contradictory.


Exactly what Larry said.

#15 jeremypayne

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 06:37 PM

When you set you camera (DSLR) to manual mode it has nothing to do with whether your strobe fires in TTL or not ...

I don't know much about P&S so I can't say if your G9 works the same way.

There is a difference between the G9 and and DSLR in that regard. The camera (G9) only does TTL flash control in Program, TV, AV or Auto. In manual mode you only get manual flash.

I don't have TTL strobes myself, so I can't be 100% sure that's how it works with Ikelite, but I know the camera well and that's how it works with a Canon eTTL Speedlite attached to the hotshoe.
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#16 shifty

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 07:55 PM

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#17 meimei

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 08:29 PM

There is a difference between the G9 and and DSLR in that regard. The camera (G9) only does TTL flash control in Program, TV, AV or Auto. In manual mode you only get manual flash.

I don't have TTL strobes myself, so I can't be 100% sure that's how it works with Ikelite, but I know the camera well and that's how it works with a Canon eTTL Speedlite attached to the hotshoe.



hello..

I'm pretty new to this and am usina G9 w ike hsing n ONE DS125.

My Macro shots seem ok.. I tend to place my strobe above my housing....

But it is the WA shots that I am hving probs with. I use the 8" ultralight arms.. and kindda extend the strobe on the left out... but somehow my shots dun get v good colour... maybe subject is too far.. but if too near theres alot back scatter.. Also u can notice the right bottom orner of the frame tend to lose more colou.. I guess cos the strobe's beam dun cover it.

Do u think I need another strobe? Or can u gimme a tip abt the WA shoots??.. also should I trade in my DS125 and get TWO Inon Z240 instead?.. does it work w the sync cord?

Thanks!!

#18 zif2000

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 10:25 PM

I think there are a lot good tips. My macro technique is as follows

exp: 1/60
Strobes: Manual. Start at 1/2 power
F: Start on F/22 then vary to fstop or strobe power to get correct exposure for obects at the distance you are shooting.
Display: Always look at the historgram and then adjust. You should see a little bit of exposure all the way to the right without clipping on the right. If it is not making it to the right, decrease f stop or increase strobe power.
Format: Always RAW. If you are shooting SLR, you have no need for JPEG capture.
At first I would not try shooting every distance all at once. Pick say objecs 12" away, dial in your settings and practice.

I use AF-C mode (vs S) and use the focus lock button. This lets me quickly get the focus close, then lock it when I want to recompose.

I always use a focus light day or night. When you deeper than 50ft, you will need it.

Best tip: Enjoy, experimeent and try things. You will get the hang of it.
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#19 ce4jesus

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 06:05 PM

I'm just starting out with WA myself but my best results have come with 2 strobes set as far apart and I can, slightly back from the camera sensor plane and angled slightly outward. I put the strobes on manual and leave them on full power. I'll adjust the angle of the strobes as necessary to avoid hotspots and lack of coverage. I usually shoot with shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/60 with an aperture of 5.6 to 8.0 on a DSLR for reef stuff which is all I'm shooting right now. I know there are some guys on here shooting some outstanding WA who can probably give you better, more detailed advice.

Edited by ce4jesus, 31 May 2008 - 06:06 PM.

Gary
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