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Does a harness bcd improve shooting uw?

Bcd harness Help

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#1 Kyle



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Posted 05 June 2015 - 02:27 PM

Hey there,
so I'm dying to get a new bcd especially for uw photography. Of course I've googled and researched "best BCD for underwater photography" and the simple answer is simple: it comes down to personal preference.

My question to the more experienced divers, does a harness style bcd work better when shooting underwater? Is there better manueverablility? I believe Zeagle makes a few bed's with a harness. And Zeagle are pretty damn tough too.. Also Diverite is supposedly good..

Ive had my eye on an Apex black ice


However, the black ice doesnt have a cumberbun. Is this a big deal? Then there's also no harness.. Which is another worry... But i do love it as it has plenty of d rings that look tough enough to support my nauticam setup.

Also, I'm serious about diving, so Should I consider Environmentally sealed regs?
If so what do u prefer?

I'm willing to pay good money for great quality when it comes to a bcd and regs. Moneys not an issue to me. It just means Im eating more from the bin. Haha

Thanks for your help guys. I appreciate any thoughts and advice. I've seemed to be pulling my hair out and frustrated with so many questions...

Edited by Kyle, 05 June 2015 - 02:32 PM.

#2 troporobo


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Posted 05 June 2015 - 04:19 PM

I've recently switched from a traditional Scubapro to a Zeagle Ranger.  I made the switch primarily for comfort, after trying my wife's Poseidon a couple of times.  The Zeagle harness is indeed a lot more comfortable.  But to be honest, I don't find much difference for photography.  Adjusting bouyancy and trim is a little more predictable since I use both front and back weights now as oppoosed to a weight belt before.  But my old BC did not get in the way to begin with.  It may be because I dive only in tropical waters so don't need much weight and hence don't use the BC much for trim - it basically there just to keep the tank on my back. 

#3 liquidguru


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Posted 05 June 2015 - 04:47 PM

I honestly think it makes no difference what BCD you use. I personally prefer a BCD without the corrugated inflater hose. I use a Aqualung Dimension i3 BCD. It's incredibly comfortable, doesn't have the stupid inflater hose dangling down, very easy and intuitive to inflate and deflate without changing your body position. It doesn't have a cummerbund either and I do not miss it at all. 


For my reg and I prefer small and lightweight, with Miflex hoses. Less jaw-strain and I only really dive in tropical waters, so the seal isn't important.


I think whatever you go for, you will enjoy after getting used to it. Try to pick something that seems to suit your needs.

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#4 ChrigelKarrer


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Posted 05 June 2015 - 09:50 PM

I dive only wings, Zeagle Ranger and OMS FeatherWight.

The Zeagle is very very sturdy (mine have 1000+ dives on it) and comfortable, but very heavy while the OMS is a very light wing, perfect for traveling.


Regarding your question: what makes improving shooting photos and protecting the environment from you is the right buoyancy!

You can achieve thet wit a) experience and b) right wighted and correct weight distribution while the type of BCD is not really so important.

I personally prefer the wing type bcd for several reasons and to be honest, i have some problems with trim for the first minutes when i use a traditional bcd.


If you want a for-your-lifetime BCD then i suggest you a Zeagle Ranger, but due it's weight and size it's not very appropriate for traveling by plane.



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#5 TimG


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Posted 05 June 2015 - 10:11 PM

Another vote for it doesn't make much difference. Good buoyancy control is the key and with practice you can do that with any old BC.

I agree with Chris on the Ranger. I've had one for years and they are great for diving with dry suits.

But for me now the choice of BC comes down to its weight and size for travelling by air with loads of camera gear. The smaller the better and I bought a lightweight Zeagle.

So don't pull your hair out. Buy what appeals especially if money is no object. If lots of D rings floats your boat, sail on. It won't help you take better photos though.

On regs I'm not sure what an environmental seal actually does. Someone may well correct me, but I thought they are supposed to prevent freezing in low temperature diving.

I've had the same Scubapro Mk25/S600T since the late 90s. It's been great. And its light for travelling. A high quality reg will last you a couple of decades so buy something you really want and which reviews well. Sports Diver have just listed their latest top 12 regs. Many of them, especially the first stages, have been around for ages.

Whatever you buy though, do bear in mind weight for travelling by air.

Edited by TimG, 06 June 2015 - 10:10 AM.

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#6 SwiftFF5


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Posted 08 June 2015 - 03:59 AM

I have an Apeks Black Ice, but I don't use it for traveling.  It is my PSD BCD, and it works very well for that.  It isn't the lightest BCD around, so it probably would not be my first choice for traveling for that reason alone. 

Edited by SwiftFF5, 08 June 2015 - 03:59 AM.

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#7 Fischfreund



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Posted 08 June 2015 - 07:21 AM

I agree that any BCD won't improve someones photo and /or diving abilities but it might help to make progress.

When I switched from a standard BCD (Seaquest Pro QD) to a harness/backplate/wing combination (i.e. http://www.halcyon.net/bc) I almost instantly felt better underwater because it helps to maintain in a stable horinzontal position (also known as good trim ;-))

Also the harness results in greater mobility/flexibility of your arms because everything is now on your back and the buoyancy is moved to where it is needed: around your tank!

Needless to say that these types of BCDs are very durable and reliable (but to be honest not very lightweight and also a bit expensive)

From that point of view I tend to say that a harness/wing BCD (if used properly) might also improve underwater photography.

#8 Alison Perkins

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 10:52 AM

I don't know if a harness BCD will improve your shooting but it will hopefully improve your dive experience. I always hated having the inflation around my ribs. My choice is Halcyon. It's another you could consider. The less D rings the better - you just want a small number in the right places.


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#9 Storker


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Posted 11 June 2015 - 09:46 PM

Another vote for the BP/W alternative. Combined with a long hose/bungeed octo config, I have a clean front where nothing interferes with my rig when I clip it to my harness for entry/exit and great mobility for my arms.

It doesn't make me a better photog, though. It just makes it more comfortable to handle my rig.

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#10 bvanant


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Posted 12 June 2015 - 03:24 PM

My experience with BP/Wings was totally different. The BP/W system kept me far too horizontal; difficult to be moving into shooting position that is optimal.


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#11 adamhanlon


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Posted 15 June 2015 - 12:01 AM

I think the key features are simplicity and reliability. The last thing I want/need to do is to be busy fixing my diving gear or have to miss out on dives because it has failed in some way. Secondary feature is that it weighs as little as possible, in order to allow me to carry more photographic gear on trips.


I am unconvinced that the style of BCD is related to the ability to get amazing images!


In term of environmental sealing, this is important if you dive in gold water, but less so if not. 


For what it is worth I use a Halcyon traveller wing and either Apeks (cold water) or Atomic (trips) regulators.



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#12 Alex_Mustard


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Posted 15 June 2015 - 03:44 AM

I am unconvinced that the style of BCD is related to the ability to get amazing images!



I agree with Adam. But the ability to use one really, really well and dive with excellent control and buoyancy is one the most important skills in underwater photography. 



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#13 tangfish


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Posted 17 June 2015 - 12:03 PM

Pick the best bcd for your diving and don't worry about one specific for uw photography. uw photography all begins with being a good diver, imo, and that has a lot to do with your buoyancy and comfort in the water. A good fitting bcd with the right D-ring placements will be great for overall diving and will serve you well shooting photos as well.

#14 JamesR


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Posted 17 July 2015 - 08:34 AM

Throwing money at skill problems rarely fixes the problem...if your buoyancy is the issue, a new BCD probably wont make a bit of difference.


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#15 FatCat



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Posted 17 July 2015 - 01:01 PM

Not much to say on photography skills, but I'm with CamelToad on the buoyancy issue. Buoyancy control has little or nothing to do with what kind of buoyancy compensator you use. Back when I still taught dive courses I used to demonstrate this by using a plastic carrier bag instead of a BCD.


Look for something that feels comfortable and have a good hard look at the ergonomics and fit of the thing. When I went shopping for a new BCD to replace my trusty old first generation Beuchat Masterlift wing that had given up after twelve years, I tried the Apeks/Aqualung Black Ice. For me it's pure torture. It doesn't have any lumbar support which causes the tank (we dive with steel here) to pull down hard on the shoulder straps. It hurt. A lot. I ended up buying a Scubapro XBlack, which fits me snugly and allows me to hike a half kilometer to the water's edge over the dikes without any discomfort or back pain, which is a definite plus. It's also a back buoyancy BCD, which I prefer, but that is personal preference.


I'd say: focus on your buoyancy skills first.


As for the environmentally sealed issue: it's not important unless you dive in dirty or contaminated water. The environmental seal is a barrier between the outer pressure chamber and the inner pressure chamber of your first stage.This barrier is usually liquid silicone. It prevents build-up of debris and particulates in the outer pressure chamber (where the water pushes against the membrane to open the inlet valve in the internal high pressure chamber of the first stage) and yes, it does act as an anti-freeze protection. There are other cold water protection systems that are just as reliable but are cheaper and easier to maintain.

#16 ljj



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Posted 18 July 2015 - 03:32 PM

+1 for buoyancy control and water comfort. 


As far as BCD's are concerned I love my Halcyon Infinity system with cinch harness and would replace it with the same in a heartbeat.  The "cinch" system is an adjustable single webbing system that allows for ease of getting into and out of your kit, pretty much instant resizing for wetsuit to drysuit without the need for any extraneous clips and buckles.    Have someone who knows how to set it up help you get it dialed because a crappy fitting backplate and wing can be as bad as anything else that doesn't fit.   


If you are small stature, they have a short plate, and if you travel or need more flexibility in weighting, they have an aluminum version.  


The bottom line for me is getting kit that 'just works' when it comes to gear, i don't want to have to think about it underwater,  I want it to blend into the background so I can focus on the shot.  I do my part (maintenance) and it does its part (just works).  

With regards to sealed, are you diving in excessively cold water?  If not, don't worry about it.  I've been diving in Puget Sound and surrounding lakes for 25 years and have never had a reg freeze on me (knock on wood).  




Edited by ljj, 18 July 2015 - 03:34 PM.

#17 spot



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Posted 26 July 2015 - 04:32 AM

I've dived both for many years and control is the most important thing no matter what you use. BCD you get pockets Harness a couple of D-rings but practice your finning technique to, good technique can real help out. hope that doesn't sound to preachy.

#18 DamonA


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Posted 27 July 2015 - 07:10 PM

The pockets on BCDS seem to get in the way of lots of things you do in diving, photography especially.


As for trim, either type BCD or BPW can be poorly trimmed for the diver using it, starting with having the tank positioned too high or too low and what tank type/size you use; all of these affect trim substantially. Weight positioning and Back plate choice add another dimension, then there is wetsuit type and even the fin choice.


Only you, experiencing a diversity of types, trimmed up correctly can make a definitive judgement on what you prefer, cons and pros exist and the more diverse your diving experience is the more likely your skill can make up for the negative side of your choice- lying on your back at the surface in a BPW is an example.


The advantage in a BPW is adaptability,sustainablity and modularity, the BCD is the older of the designs and has inherent limitations for scope of use- you don't see many double sets on a BCD do you?


   Most divers don't do enough homework(they are creatures of habit) in setting up their rig for their specific requirement, so some come away after a short period of use with a reactive criticism which is often an alignment or weight placement issue. Having dump-able weigh pockets on the back plate can stop that issue of feeling too horizontal or when using an ally hire tank that is getting close to empty and positively buoyant, even simply a crotch strap adjustment, who needs a constrictive cummerbund when swimming fiercely into big current? 


So what your future path in diving will be- using foresight- can save you some expense in the future. Cost is not always a good way to judge the product either, you'll see very little difference in practical use to a $300 hog rig or Zeagle Xpress, to a halcyon $850 cinch rig.  You will notice that BCD's are looking more like a BPW with every years "new style", lots of them are now back inflate(zeagles are good example for this).


One thing I would avoid, is the complication of the unit, such as the inflator hose redesign, mares or aquanauts- it is a gimmick and it will cost more in maintenance, with no practical advantage over the hose style inflator- it could lead to fail in a situation where parts aren't available, then your hiring stuff on top of having a heavy luggage bag. So simplicity is a real benefit in practical use with anything involved in diving.


You could be mounting your new XCCR to your old hog backplate and harness oneday in the future- that would help you get less back scatter in the shot.....I would imagine

#19 Storker


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Posted 27 July 2015 - 11:01 PM

the more diverse your diving experience is the more likely your skill can make up for the negative side of your choice- lying on your back at the surface in a BPW is an example.


Is lying on your back on the surface a negative side of using a wing or back-inflate BCD? I actually prefer lying on my back on the surface, regardless of whether I use a jacket-style or wing-style BCD. It's very relaxing, and you get your feet up, avoiding shrink-wrapping your legs and crotch if you wear a DS. Using frog kicking, the surface swim back to the shore or the boat is also very relaxed and laidback (pun intended).


But I agree that dumpable weight pockets move some of the ballast from your backside to the underside, working as a keel and stabilizing you in a horizontal, belly-down position. I like that.

#20 DamonA


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Posted 29 July 2015 - 12:08 AM

No it is not a negative, you misunderstand the context of my words.


The negative is having an extreme off-centre of gravity. 


Lying on your back is a skill fix for it, but you could adjust your harness and add trim weight off the bottom of the backplate, then its not even an issue.  see the DIR website for fitting back plate to harness.


Yes, I like to lie on my back(see my inset picture wearing a BCD) and frog kick, even underwater I find it more efficient. But that's another topic- finning styles.


I don't like split fins :mocking:


ps I tried to attach the link the DIR site but it wont allow pasting, more w8.1 problems they don't stop coming.

Edited by DamonA, 29 July 2015 - 12:11 AM.

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