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Fins for photographers


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#1 DanB

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 07:06 PM

There does not seem to be a forum about scuba gear in general, but I'm sure this group has opinions about this kind of stuff too. Not all gear is good for all uses, so I'd like to get an underwater photographer's point of view.

Does anyone here really love their fins? If so, let me know why.

I've had the same pair of fins for the past 11 years (honestly) and they have finally worn out. I need to replace them but I've come to realize that I have thought very little about fins all this time. What makes for a good fin?

Being 11 years old, my last pair were basic, fairly stiff, and seemed to worked well. Is that the right formula?

What do you all think?

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#2 Rocha

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:30 PM

Hi Dan, I had a stiff pair (US Divers Blades) that worn out some time ago too, and I decided to get a pair of those split fins. I got the Scubapro Twin Jet fins (the gray ones) and I am still impressed with how good they are. They are very light, the first time I used them I seriously thought I had no fins on, but the thing is, with almost no effort I move as much as I did with my old ones!

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#3 MikeVeitch

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:44 PM

I use Cressi full foot free diving fins...

Love em, i haven't used anything but freediving fins for the last 3000 dives or so. Oh, except the one time in Palau they tried to give me a pair of neon yellow splits as rentals...i refused em.. :)

ie) i like stiff blades as opposed to floppy splits

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#4 Drew

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:51 PM

I use split fins for regular diving and some tech dives. I have the Bio Fin full foot and also the oceanic V6 and bio fin strapped. Use to have the atomic splits but they didn't fit well. Use the V6 the most since they are cheap and light to fly around with. Use to have a pair of white bio-fins to white balance the video rig since in current using a glove is not easy. Then a silver tip liked it too much that I gave it up.

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#5 RogerC

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 10:15 PM

Try the original scubapro jetfins (not twin jets). They are so short and wide that they are fantastic at all the wierd kicks we do (helicopter, scull, etc). They are really noticably better at that stuff than my old quattros were.

anybody got any non-black jetfins (pink? blue?)? they made them, been looking for some.

Or technisub Alas, been looking for those, too.

#6 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 11:54 PM

I use lightweight foot fins. Save 1-2 kilos over boots and normal fins when diving in the tropics. Which means I can take 1-2kg of extra camera stuff!

Alex

To answer Roger's question, I have a friend in Cayman who has the camp "egg-shell-blue" jetfins, I can't believe they made them in pink too!

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#7 TimG

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 12:48 AM

I replaced my 10-year old Cressi Frogs about 4 years ago with a pair of open-back, black Scubapro Twin Jets. They are excellent. However because of increasing concern over the amount of gear I now seem to be taking on my trips, I have switched to my lighter "pool fins" for warm-water trips, full-foot Cressis. These weigh about 2lbs less and I don't need to take boots either.

Does anyone have any experience though of Force Fins? I have a couple of mates (not photographers) who swear by them even though they look really weird - and they are expensive too.

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#8 Arnon_Ayal

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 12:49 AM

To answer Roger's question, I have a friend in Cayman who has the camp "egg-shell-blue" jetfins, I can't believe they made them in pink too!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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#9 Alastair

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 01:14 AM

I use scubapro large jetfins after a freind convinced me to give up my Mares Volo's........it was a good move as i have never looked back, very easy to manouver. never seen any coloured Jet fins though?
What about BC's? Jackets or wings?
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#10 Alastair

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 01:37 AM

Egg shell blue jet fins!!!

looks good with a neon pink wetsuit i bet :)
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#11 Giles

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 08:32 AM

I miss my CRessi 2000Garra 's

they were freediving fins but so good for diving ... gave nice balance when holding for a photo. However .. BIG and HEAVEY .. not everyones cup of tea

I also love my Scuba Pro Twin Jets (split fin) I bought for travel. They are easy to use .. they are bouyant but i like my leg position using them .. bad points about them .. you can't go backwards and twisting ankle movements aren't as effective for manouevering as they are with solid fins ... and worst thing ... they are useless for surface swims .. and USELESS in a current ... i dont know why they just are. but i still love em.
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#12 bacripe

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:37 PM

I use scubapro Jetfins (the original black ones) for diving with boots (cold water/drysuit). i highly recommend getting spring straps for them - much easier to put on/remove, and you don't have to worry about them breaking. You can also take the replacement straps from Twinjets and put them on jetfins for a quick release option. These are the fin of choice for many cave divers/technical divers because of their ideal combination of size and thrust - plus, if they're good enough for Navy SEALs, they'll probably work for me. They last forever also - I'm using my dad's original pair, which are roughly 20 years old. For warm water I use Mares Quattro Power full foot fins - great power (as good as most freediving fins) and nice size. The Mares Tre full foot is a good alternative for smaller individuals/weaker legs (I am 6ft/185lbs and a freediver - smaller people have trouble kicking the quattros due to their size).

Split fins are not very effective for small movements - they are a great fin if you have bad knees/ankles, but are not ideal for many situations (as highlighted by some others). If you're pushing a big camera rig, you won't move very well with them. The same goes for diving in current - they're almost useless. If you dive in these conditions and need ot hold your position for shooting, split fins are not what you want.

Or technisub Alas, been looking for those, too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


The Alas are a great fin, but they're not manufactured anymore (due to dioxin emissions, i think - some chemical byproduct got the process shut down). You can still find them occasionally, but they're usually had to come by for less than about $225 anymore - they're an extremely popular fin for underwater hockey/underwater rugby, so I keep my eyes out for them, but it's rare when a pair shows up.

Does anyone have any experience though of Force Fins? I have a couple of mates (not photographers) who swear by them even though they look really weird - and they are expensive too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I have never liked the force fins - they're not very good in heavy current. They perform a lot like split fins (although slightly better, i think) but not as well as other fins. That being said, they are one of the fins used by the US Navy SEAL program (alongside Jetfins) - I was told this is because of their compact size, but based on my personal expirience with them, i'm guessing some admiral has a brother who owns the Force Fin company.

These are basically my observations from working on dive boats - I've seen a lot of fins on a lot of people, with significant diving in current - the split fins just do not perform as well in general diving conditions as traditional designs.
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#13 PRC

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 10:57 PM

Origional style Jet Fins with spring straps.

Upside - Great in the water.

Downside - weight & you need to develop muscle that you did not know you had.

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#14 herbko

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 12:01 AM

I like the split fins also. They put the least load on your muscles. Great for someone not always diving to keep those muscles in shape. I've tried 3 different ones and really didn't noticed much of a difference between them.

On a slightly different note:

Do you think we can get one of the vendors to make ones with a large white patch, a large grey patch, and a Mcbeth color chart on them.

Eric, can we find a vendor to make a wetpixel special like that.
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#15 Drew

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:04 AM

Bacripe, interesting you mention that split fins don't do well in current. Every test(independent and otherwise) refutes that statement. Split fins are faster than normal paddle fins. In heavy curren, like those of Komodo or British Columbia, my splits jiggy with current much better than my jet fins.
I share your dislike of the force fins, but they are useful for frog kicks and other manuveurs like the helicopter etc. But they are heavy like the apollo biofins, and screw up diving balance.

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#16 Lndr

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:55 AM

are heavy like the apollo biofins, and screw up diving balance.

I'd have to say the negative bouancy of the Apollo Biofins is the one thing I do really like about them!! It saves me wearing ankle weights (though that is for drysuit diving B) ). The spring straps are their other grace ;) .... these two things means I mostly dive with these instead of my solid blade 12 year old, but still favourite, Reflex fins

In the tropics I love my old underwater hockey fins - Technisub Ala ... great for hovering, manouverability and speed/current

... hey! maybe a cable tie or two will fix that pesky split in my biofins :) :D

#17 dhaas

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 06:51 AM

Amigos,

Brian is young (he was one of the very able dive guides on my Shark Expedition with JASA this summer) and can push the likes of orginal heavy rubber Jetfins and probably a 2X6 nailed to his foot :) When I was 27, about 30 lbs. lighter and ran my one and only marathon in 3:27 I bought heavy and / or stiff fins, too.

These days I'm using the BLACK full foot Scubapro Twin Jets in tropical waters, and for dry suits and thick wet suit boots the Force Fin Pros.

I've know Bob Evans, inventor and creative type for 15+ years and he's been ripped off for his hydro-dynamic testing more than anyone in the diving industry. I've used the Pro stiffness models with bungie heel strap in currents up in British Columbia that left divers using "heavy bladed" fins crying for a break....Being able to kick longer without cramping and still make headway, like the full foot Scubapro Twin Jets pays off even in currents.

My humble opinion is most divers barely know how to swim efficiently, have on too much crap and then couple this with mega-size camera rigs.

Funny that many dismiss the black, slightly stiffer Scubapro Twin Jets. Howard Hall and Bob Cranston switched to these pushing around IMAX cameras and giant HD video rigs in conditions all over the world. And I'll bet they put in more time underwater on their MK155 CCR rebreathers than practically anyone. I dived with Bob a few years back and he and Howard were die hard Scubapro Jet Fin users. Must be good enough in currents if they decided to switch :D

YMMV

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#18 bacripe

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 09:16 AM

David has an excellent point, that I should have made in my post - I'm 22, in great shape, and do upwards of 400 dives a year. He also makes a good point about the black twinjets - I forgot about these. They are much stiffer than the yellow/gray/blue twinjets, and perform more like a traditional fin with less ankle strain.

The black twin jets are good fins for many divers - the most important thing to recognize is the different kick required to swim with split fins versus bladed fins. Unfortunately, this makes comaparing them relatively difficult - the machine that ScubaLab uses to compare fins kicks one way only - the most efficient kick style with bladed fins is different that that with split fins.

I'm sure part of my disdain for split fins is that I am used to kicking with a larger blade - a larger, slower kick stroke than with split fins (probably developed this from freediving). Split fins require you to kick with a smaller, faster kick to generate the most thrust.

If you have a good dive shop locally, they should let you try some different fins in the pool or on a dive (or borrow them from one of their instructors to try) so you can make a good decision on it. There isn't going to be one fin that works best for everyone, as i'm sure you've noticed from reading the board. Personally, put me in a pair of foil force fins and i can't even move - give me some quattro powers and i'm off to the races. Try out as many fins as you can - look at other divers who have similar body type/technique to you and see what works for them.
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#19 Paul Kay

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 09:19 AM

Hi Dan

I really like my Force Fins. They are lightish, VERY, VERY easy to get on and off, you can walk in the (really) and they do work well as fins too.

BUT, you need to try some as not everyone gets on with them (one friend found that they caused knee joint irritation after one dive) and they seem to respond best to a 'frog' kick - downside is they don't carry easily (in a hand) and the sizes are weird; like I said, you need to try them.

Even though they are pricey, I'd buy another pair (even though I still have my (24 year old) jet fins too)!
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#20 John Bantin

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 09:48 AM

We did some tests at Diver Mag. This is the result of one of them: http://www.divernet....2/finsintro.htm

I have two pairs of personal favourites: Apollo Biofin XT (heavy-weight that put my fins down) and Mares Plana Avanti Quattro (lightweight - fins up). Both are equipped with stainless-steel spring straps which IMHO transform any fin. I have just come back from, a trip using Force Pro fins. They need some getting used to but they DO work and take up little space in the baggage.

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