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Bring a back-up body?


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#1 Hobbes382

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 06:21 AM

Just curious....

How many of you bring back-up camera bodies on your dive trips? How many have not, and have gotten screwed by their camera dying on them?

I know that shutter mechanisms have a finite number of cycles, with some models being rated higher than others. I've also heard that condesation can roast a camera, if you're not careful about moving your camera between A/C cooled cabins or cool water, and warm humid top-side air. I'm seriously thinking of getting a back-up myself. I moved to dSLR last year after my Canon S30 died in the middle of the Galapagos! No repair shops up near Darwin! :)

#2 cor

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 06:54 AM

Just curious....

How many of you bring back-up camera bodies on your dive trips? How many have not, and have gotten screwed by their camera dying on them?


My wife and I bring a total of 3 D2X bodies every trip, so 1 spare between the 2 of us. We load it as a land camera so we dont have to open the housing. On our last trip im glad we had it, because due to an unfortunately above water accident my wife's d2x was damaged enough to be unusable. (been fixed since :)

Id say, being as much spare as you can afford of everything. The only thing we dont have spares of is the housing itself.

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#3 dhaas

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:12 AM

In order of importance:

1) Back up camera body, although I've never needed one or had anyone on my trips need one. Used more for surface shooting while one is selaed in the housing ready to go. If your housing floods and toasts your camera they're usually 99.9999% user error. Rinse, wipe down re-seal and test and put your back up in and keep shooting.

2) Spare strobe cords and strobes. Why anyone would have a $2K + housing system and skimp on a spare $100-$200 cord is beyond me. Or be prepared to shoot single strobe if one of your duals dies....

3) The right ports / extensions to keep using any lenses you brought in case of a flood disaster. May not be what you actually envisioned shooting with, but at least you'll come home with some pics :)

YMMV

dhaas
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#4 bmyates

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:14 AM

I think there's a much higher chance of flooding than having a DSLR body die of old age (running out of shutter activation capability), but that's somewhat beside the point...

For many years, I traveled with two complete rigs - when shooting stills, I'd take a little housed camcorder, and vice versa. Many people I know have carried a little Nik IV or V as a backup. Last year, in part because I invested so much in my housing and strobes, I switched to just taking a back-up body. MANY of the folks on this board have taken that approach, and always travel with an extra body.

BTW, the backup body doesn't need to be brand new -- just a body that'll fit and work in a pinch; in my case I am able to use a 1D MkIIN as the backup for my 1Ds MkII (because they are identical size and have same controls), and it also doubles as a great topside camera.

Note that one of the issues is the extent to which your housing incorporates electronics that could get fried in a flooding situation. The worst of both worlds would be to haul along a backup body, and then find that it wouldn't work when you needed it because something (e.g., the TTL "brain" module) in your housing was ruined. I flooded an Ike SLR housing years ago, and even if I'd have had a backup body, it would have done me no good because the housing electronics got fried, so I couldn't use a strobe. The only electronics I'm likely to lose in my current housing in a flood are those of the moisture alarm, so I think using the backup body would be feasible.

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#5 dhaas

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:23 AM

Bruce is spot on Hobbes.....

One thing on flooding with electronics like Ikelite's excellent Canon eTTL2 and Nikon iTTL systems..........

On the Ikelite web site there are help pages showing the "trigger" and "ground" pins on their cords. I think under the FAQ or cord troubleshooting area.....

You could literally cut the hot she cord off, splice the two wires for tripping the flash from the appropriate wires and shoot manual flash. Not that I'm advocating tearing your housing apart!

But if you're on a big $$$$ trip and a flood causes problems, I sure wouldn't hesitate to try this solution.....Connecting two wires ain't rocket science.......

Plus break out the Magic Filter :)

dhaas
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#6 cor

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:32 AM

You could buy a replacement set of all your housing's electronics. For subal this costs a few hundred $$.

Cor
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#7 dhaas

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:49 AM

I don't think you can buy a whole bottom plate for an Ikelite. Nor would I likely ever need one......

This is another reason I like being able to SEE inside my housing, and not have it fit the camera so closely! Then at least I'd have a chance to turn the housing on its side, keeping salt water from running all over my camera / lens / eTTL2 base plate and likely saving it....

I'll gladly give up a whopping extra inch or two of physical space to have this "safety factor" :)

dhaas
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#8 jcclink

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 08:19 AM

Backup everything electronic (this may depend on how paranoid you are). Camera body, stobes, batteries, chargers (all dual voltage), sync cords, TTL electronics. Some type of independent backup for laptop (like an Epson 2000 etc). For housing a complete rebuild set - ALL o-rings, snap rings, bulkhead connector, hotshoe adapter, etc. If you have it then you won't need it - less chance of meeting Murphy. If anything does fail, buy one part for repair & a spare in case the same thing happens again.

Edited by jcclink, 03 September 2006 - 08:21 AM.

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#9 bmyates

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 08:42 AM

...This is another reason I like being able to SEE inside my housing, and not have it fit the camera so closely! Then at least I'd have a chance to turn the housing on its side, keeping salt water from running all over my camera / lens / eTTL2 base plate and likely saving it...


Unfortunately, if the flood happens halfway through a dive, that "chance" to spot the water inside may not be great (although I admit SOME chance is better than none!). Nobody I know swims with their housing in a nice level position. By the time you see water inside, saltwater has likely sloshed all over the place...especially around the bottom plate.

Frankly, the smartest place to put the electronics in a housing seems to me to be at the TOP towards the BACK, since most of us (holding at least one handle) keep that part higher than the rest almost all the time...

Bruce Yates
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#10 dhaas

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:13 AM

Bruce,

As you and I have dived together, you should know I firmly believe (and have seen) floods happen more at the surface then once submerged. Which is why I immediately look as soon as I'm handed my rig.....I've even see surface floods not be noticed by an UW photographer until he was 50' down and it was the first time he'd looked at his housing!! Unfortunately too late.......

Once at depth, very, very few catastrophic floods occur since o-rings are squeezed tighter....Yeah, you MIGHT have some water sloshing around in there from a shallower occurence.

I religiously do a "5 point" check right before I get in. All three latches totally closed, the two port locks clicked all the way in and then finally confirming the black compressed o-ring on my housing back!

Then as soon as I'm in.

I Do wish anythign electronic was up as high as possible, but I ain't in the engineering business.....I'm in the "using it to make photos business" :)

dhaas
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#11 Lionfish43

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:17 AM

Frankly, the smartest place to put the electronics in a housing seems to me to be at the TOP towards the BACK, since most of us (holding at least one handle) keep that part higher than the rest almost all the time...

Very good point Bruce. I sometimes do a lot of swimming without looking at my housing although I do check for leaks immediately when I first get in the water - that's when you're most likely to have a leak.

I use Aquatica housings so there's no electronics to worry about so that wouldn't really be an issue for me. I always carry an extra bulkhead connector and a set of O-rings as they're about the only thing on my housing that I couldn't field repair.

In my film days I always carried 2 camera bodies but then I used the same cameras for about a decade. With digital I've owned 3 different DSLR's in the last 3 years. I don't keep them long enough to invest in a spare. I do carry a Nikonos + 15mm lens as a backup but I've never had to use it yet.
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#12 Rocha

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:44 AM

As you and I have dived together, you should know I firmly believe (and have seen) floods happen more at the surface then once submerged. Which is why I immediately look as soon as I'm handed my rig....


Well, if that's the case, an electronic water detector works just as well as (or even better than) being able to look inside the housing. The water detector will be activated by minuscule quantities of water, likely to be missed when you look through the housing... Just keep looking at your red light when you're handed the rig (that's what I do anyways), if it flashes get it out of the water.

As for the OP, unfortunately I don't have the $$$ to carry a backup D2x, maybe some day when the magazines start buying my photos! :)

Luiz Rocha - www.luizrocha.com
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#13 Paul Kay

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 12:14 PM

Whether you carry a back up camera should depend on how important the images are relative to the trip! I ALWAYS carry a back up camera, flash cable (several) and have the spares sufficient to deal with the more common problems (hot shoe connection failure, mechanical lens failure, and so on). But you can go on and on, spare chargers, computer, etc. Its a bit like dive gear - you carry what is viable to deal with what you consider most likely to fail. For the super-rich and ultra neurotic at least one spare of everything!!!
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#14 dhaas

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 02:22 PM

Luiz,

It's not miniscule quantities of water I would ever worry about :) It's the BIG WHOOSH of a total flood :(

Evn en when I owned opaque housings I didn't trust leak detectors. Seen too many go off and cut short a dive for bit of stray water plus witnessed people chatting on a boat while a leak detector was screaming to the owner from the rinse tank. By the time he figured it out, it was toast. But then I'm no fan of untended housings in rinse tanks either....

Dunk, push the buttons and twirl the controls to flush salt water out and remove. Most dangerous place for any underwater system.....As far as this soaking for hours crappola', no way .........

LOOKING inside, through the port, back window, complete housing, etc. is still best IMHO......

dhaas
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#15 jcclink

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 05:00 PM

While leak detectors have their place, don't be under the false impression that they will save your camera & lens in case there is any type of leak. They will only tell you that its time to head for the surface, but it may already be too late for the camera. My backup camera is also my topside camera. Weigh the cost of a spare camera body (depreciated over a few years) vs the cost of a trip & the importance of your photos. Even a $1000 body I figure is cheap insurance, as my photos have high priority.

Edited by jcclink, 03 September 2006 - 05:02 PM.

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#16 bmyates

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 07:11 PM

...I religiously do a "5 point" check right before I get in. All three latches totally closed, the two port locks clicked all the way in and then finally confirming the black compressed o-ring on my housing back!

Then as soon as I'm in...


Words to live by! How many rigs would be saved if every diver was as careful before and as soon as going underwater on each dive! I agree completely that the time to be most vigilant about leaks is at the very beginning of the dive.

Bruce Yates
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"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damned fool about it." WC Fields


#17 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:38 PM

I have a different approach, which I mention not because I recommend following it, but to offer a counter opinion.

I shoot a D2X and I only have one camera body. In fact for the first 40000 photos I took with the camera I didn't even have a spare battery (I just bought one!). It does worry me that I don't have a backup, but I cannot justify buying a $5000 body just to sit in my camera bag (or to shoot topsides - because I can't be bothered to whip my main camera out of the housing).

My philosophy is that the world is not desperate for my next UW photos. So should my camera break down on a trip I would be better off to fly home get it fixed and re-book the trip. This would certainly be cheaper than the cost of a second D2X.

The way i look at it is that most UW housings don't flood unless it is by user error. So I am very careful I don't make one. And I don't expect the camera to be unreilable. Again I have never had a problem with a Nikon SLR or a flood with Subal SLR housing.

It is a risky strategy and I don't recommend following it. But so far it has worked for me. If I had a spare $5000 then I would buy a second body straight away. It just seems each time I do, there is always something better to spend it on.

Alex

p.s. Of course if you are cash rich and time poor then I would certainly have two bodies. But being a working UW photographer I am the opposite - cash poor and time rich!

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#18 frogfish

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 10:17 PM

While I do take Alex's point, and in my heart wish I could agree with him, I'm firmly in the have a back-up school. I've had cameras fail on a trip. I've seen other people have their sole camera fail on the 2ns or 3rd day of diving on a trip. It sure was nice having someone with such good eyes acting as a spotter for the rest of the trip.

Having a serious body always available for topside shots is important as well. (When a whale suddenly broaches or hoves alongside is not when I want to be scrambling to get my camera out of its housing, switch lens, etc.) So the effective cost of that back-up body, to me, is the difference between the the cost of the 2nd D2X and, say, a D200. Still nothing to sneeze at.

When I had a film housing, I had two F801s bodies, and I had a second Fuji S2's for my first digital housing as well.

I also carry two complete sets of strobes. I normally use three strobes for wide-angle, two for macro, so basically I'm carrying one extra strobe for redundancy. At least one spare set of synch cords.

While on the subject of redundancy, I dive with two computers (Diverite Nitek Duo and a Nitek Pro, which are identical to the Apeks Quantum and Pulse computers). Unless I know the operator has good rental/lend gear on board, I also carry a spare regulator set, or at a minimum, a spare SPG and back-ups for every hose.
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#19 Arnon_Ayal

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 04:54 AM

Lucky me, I don't have a 5000$ camera, only D70, so I can find a backup used body for ~500$ this days.
Actually I'm waiting with the purchasing of the backup body since I want to buy it as soon as possible to my next trip (not so close :) ) hope the price will drop even more.
I have a backup cords and some housing items as well, thinking of buying a backup bulkhead also from Ike.
I'm also dive with two computers, helped me more then once.

Edited by Arnon_Ayal, 04 September 2006 - 04:55 AM.

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#20 TimG

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 03:13 AM

Count me in too as a spare body carrier. It has always seemed to me that the cost of a second body compared to the cost of most dive trips is good insurance. And, as several people have pointed out, having a second body for topside shots sure beats trying to tear a camera out of a housing to catch the shot of a lifetime.
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