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Pitfalls to avoid


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#1 greenday61

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 07:56 AM

This is my first post.....and I'm new to this very helpful forum.

I am in the market for my first DSLR underwater rig. The only commitment I have made is that I own a Nikon D200 w/ a 12-24, and a 60 mac. This basically leaves all other options open for acquisition of my system. I have used point and shoots quite a bit and have gotten satisfactory results. I recently sold my Sea&Sea DX-8000G...I have enough experience to be dangerous..and i want to continue my journey to the next level(s)...avoiding as mant pitfalls as possible. My budget is flexible as I just sold a couple expensive non-related toys.....I don't want to say unlimited because it's certainly not BUT I'm willing to invest what's needed and grow into the system.

My next trip is in late May so my timeline is to own the rig ASAP and allow enough pool time prior.

areas of concern:

ports....start w/ both dome and macro?

strobes ....one or two to start?

TTL....yes or no...leaning no

expensive viewfinders?....I defintely have middle aged eyes

Housings.....all examined topside

I handled aquatica......liked it especially the viewfinder

Subal....worth the premium?

SeaSea...viewfinder didn't work as well for me



Any input on this sickness from the experienced would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers

Tom G

#2 greenday61

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 08:06 AM

Maybe I should have posted this to the gear forum but although I've used point and shoots a considerable number of dives, I very much consider myself a beginner !

Thanx!

Tom G

#3 RickM

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 08:22 AM

Welcome to the addiction! And you said the magic words, "My budget is flexible as I just sold a couple expensive non-related toys"

If you can look at the housing you have in mind I don't thing you'll run into any that are sub-standard anymore. I had been using a Sea&Sea housing for my old film Nikon SLR and it served me quite well. I have now switched to a Subal housing for my D200 and love it. Fit and finish and control action might be a little better than the Sea&Sea. I don't have the optional viewfinder so I guess I can't miss what I've never had!

I used to love TTL on the film SLR, but I was forced to switch to manual with the DSLR and I don't think I'd go back given the chance. I think my images have improved with the control of manual settings.

I don't know if you already own one strobe, or are starting with none but I greatly prefer dual strobes. There are disadvantages with drag and bulk but I think the lighting control far outweighs them.

Good luck with your purchase(s). Hope you don't have to sell anymore toys to feed the new habit! ^_^

Rick

#4 greenday61

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 10:54 AM

Thanx Rick

I'm planning on 2 strobes for the reasons you stated. I kept the ys-25 from my Sea&SEa PAS....i realize its only useful as a slave....so i will need to buy 2 new strobes. I'm currently thinking S&S 110's.

what strobes are you now using and are you satisfied w/ thier performance?

Is there any decision you made w/ your change to DSLR that you would have done differently?

appreciate the input

TomG

#5 AndyBarker

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 01:51 PM

HI ,
If your looking for housings try as many as you can before you buy.
I use INON strobes 220'z exellent & very compact. My housing is a
SeaCam. Good luck in your quest
Andy ^_^ :)

Andy Barker
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#6 rickcavanaugh

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 02:20 PM

Ask around about the overall weight of the camera, port, and strobes underwater.

My Subal for a D70 with 2 Inon strobe weighs a ton. Feels like it is 3 lbs negative. Arms get tired. Not the same housing as the 200, but you should ask the questions.
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#7 greenday61

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 02:40 PM

Great Point

i'll find out about the weight!

thanx

Tom G

#8 seagrant

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 04:41 PM

Ask around about the overall weight of the camera, port, and strobes underwater.

My Subal for a D70 with 2 Inon strobe weighs a ton. Feels like it is 3 lbs negative. Arms get tired. Not the same housing as the 200, but you should ask the questions.


Great Point

i'll find out about the weight!

thanx

Tom G


Tom,

I'm going to go through this very fast because I'm in a bit of hurry here. I did some in-water weight tests with the d200/Subal, etc etc etc. I did a lot of research and here is what I found out, it is true as far as I know, but don't shoot me if I'm mistaken on something.

If I were doing it different I would buy the d200 housing based on in-water weight. I didn't realize and was given erroneous info from those who I thought "knew" about the in-water weight of the various d200 housings. Granted I need it lighter than most because I suffered a hand injury last year and I don't want it to happen again. Search for my post on that and weighing the Subal/d200, it has accurate info.

But I wanted to post because you might be given the idea here that Subal is heavier. That is not true unfortunately. There are brands heavier in the water than Subal. Of course it has to be apples to apples so no weights can be tested without the same lens, port configurations. Here is what I know,

The Subal d200 is quite a bit heavier in the water than the Subal d70

The Subal with the 60mm and the 60 port is 2-1/2 lbs negative even before the Subal plastic handles are added. This is without strobes, arms, etc etc.

The Aquatica and the Sea and Sea and Hugyfot with the nearest same configuration, 60 lens and 60 port are heavier than the Subal d200. I don't know how heavy the Seacam is. It will be heavy if they didn't design in more air spaces than the others. But maybe Seacam did.

The Nexus d200 is about the same in-water weight as the Subal d200.

Ikelite d200 is lighter in water than the Nexus d200 and Subal d200. Again same 60 lens configuration.

I think Light and Motion will be a little lighter than the Nexus and Subal, maybe significantly so. That one just shipped and it is a different housing but it has more air space so might not be so negative.

Also from one report if the UK Germany housing really is only 1/2 lb negative with the camera then it is one of the lighter ones also.

The Inon strobes are heavy. I traded in my Inon d2000ws for the Sea and Sea 110s. The 110s aren't buoyant like the 90s, but they are about neutral. Still saved me a lot of weight. I'd like more buoyant strobes though, I'm looking into it. The 110s are adequate strobes, they aren't my favorite but I'm still looking for a wider beam and more buoyant, but the 110s aren't bad, I'm so so on them.

The Sea and Sea TTL unit weighs 14 oz above water and is 7 ozs negative underwater. It works pretty well if you want to get into it. I found it bad for wide angle (others have reported different-depends on what type of wide I think), but it works well for macro, if it works with your housing and strobes. It is easy to bypass if you want black backgrounds for your macro so it can be nice. But it does make your system weight lopsided. Plus you have to be meticulous about strobe/housing connection maint.

The Subal/d200 housing is laid out really nice and the shutter release is nice in a lot of users opinions. The buttons are easy to push, that was a big one for me because my Ikelite buttons would always become very hard to push even though I did the proper maintenance.

See which housing fits in your hands the best and has access to the camera features you want.

I know some one who just loves the shutter release on the Nexus d200.

If you buy a negative housing (most of the d200 housings are quite negative in the water because the camera is heavy for its small size); get a buoyancy system figured out before you invest all that $$$$.

Decide if you want a glass or non-glass dome port for wide. There are lots of posts about the benefits of each. Glass is a little heavier but sheds water better for under/overs. Glass is more durable but if you scratch it (and it is very possible to scratch), it will cost a lot to replace the glass dome. Non-glass domes scratch really easy but the scratches can be buffed out - maybe. Best thing is probably go with glass and don't scratch it........, yea right............

OK that is all I can type in a hurry. Yes there are pitfalls, I don't regret buying the Subal/d200, it is a good housing but given to do it over again I might do something different with all the information I have now.

The d200 isn't the only housing that is quite negative. Other cameras are being made smaller and heavier, housings and strobes are being made smaller and heavier (in water weight I'm talking about), this eases airline travel but is not a good thing for strain from a heavy housing underwater. You then have to research which buoyancy solution you want and how much.

Of course some will feel the strain of a heavy rig underwater more than others just as hand strength varies tremendously from individual to individual.

Hope this helps,
Carol

PS just reviewed your ?s, the Subal viewfinder (let's just call it the expensive viewfinder - but still it is a little less than Aquatica's new viewfinder and a lot less $$$ than the Seacam viewfinders, but I hear they are really great!.....), the Subal viewfinder is AWESOME, I couldn't live without it or some similar. Put some of your $$$ in the viewfinder, you won't regret it.

PPS I started with the 16mm Nikon, 60mm Nikon and 105vr Nikon, I'm happy I started with primes to learn. Get closer......., then learn a zoom. But many do it differently.

PPPS I'd start with two strobes, much more versitle. Especially if you get something like the 110s, any small strobe. IMO one of those would be very hard to learn with, I used to shoot with one Inon D2000 and it was very hard to learn how to position it. Two can be more forgiving and easier for wide angle.

Just what I have experienced Tom, Best, Carol

Edited by seagrant, 21 March 2007 - 04:59 PM.

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#9 greenday61

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 05:24 PM

Carol

thanx for the amazing post.....considering you were in " a bit of a hurry"

I can see that this is a great forum !

There are certainly alot of variables to consider. ......some of the above water fun I'd say

I have alot of stuff to review

THank Yo Carol!!

cheers

TomG

cool stuff on your site!

#10 John Bantin

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 01:40 AM

First, I suggest you don't get anythig you can't afford to flood!

Second, I have numerous housings of different makes. They are all good. The buttons are all in the same place because the camera dictates where they go.

Third, I have both glass and acrylic domes. I recently did an extra close-up wide-angle shot (in a pool) of a guy finning away from me. I knew he would be kicking the port repeatedly. I chose to use an acylic port and got out of the water from time to time to buff out the scratches. It's that easy, especially when you consider that acylic has the same refractive index as the water so small scratches are filled in by the water anyway.
The best dome for sharpness I have is acrylic (Sea & Sea) followed by the glass (Subal) large dome. However, in the sea I often use the Sea & Sea optical glass dome because, being slightly smaller, it is easier to push through a heavy current and I am prepared to accept slight corner unsharpness. However, nothing is as unsharp at the edges of a picture as one taken with a compact dome whether it be glass or acrylic!

Fourth, although I used stupidly heavy Subtronic flashguns (strobes) my rig is absolutely neutrally-buoyant in the sea. Why? because I attach high-density-foam floats to the flashguns and being highest they float the rig nicely. I can let go off it and know it's still there moments later!

Fifth, when I had trouble with flashgun reliability and had to resort to using only one, I discoverd that digital pictures could be just as nice if not better than with the more bland light from two flashguns.

Still confused? I am !

I hope this helps.

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#11 buddy

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 11:39 PM

if you can and want to afford it and intend to keep the rig for at least some time, then go either for Subal or Seacam...these systems are the most complete und in quality and render the best value overall IMHO.

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#12 philmayer

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 11:57 AM

I'm going to go against the majority of folks here and tell you that I love my Ikelite housings. I made over 50 dives with my D100 housing last year and didn't have any issues that weren't operator-related. :)

Yes, the Ikelites can flood. And so can every other housing out there. And so can your dive computer. It's very easy for me to see if the o-rings in my housing are seated, so I don't have to worry about flooding.

If my gear floods, I don't much care. It's insured, and I always have backup gear.

But if something mechanical fails on my housing, then I would be very unhappy. And so far, I haven't had any issues, and I don't expect any. Ikelite housings are very well engineered and simple to maintain.

The posts above about underwater weight are very important -- a very heavy, bulky housing will make diving with it a hassle. Some are better than others, but ALL can made neutral. Adding bouyancy to your strobe arms works wonders. There are even some guys who have added bouyancy around their prots to help with their rigs floating port-down.

There are some very intelligent and resourceful people on this board. Read as much as you can, then go out and try some of their suggestions. I guarantee that it will make you a better photographer.
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#13 craig

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 01:18 PM

A well-engineered system will reduced the possibility of issues that are "operator-related". Some systems are virtually immune to failure as they won't even close properly unless their seals mate. Other systems are known to potentially flood if you bang them on something while underwater. Yes, the flood would be caused by the diver but I would also blame the design.

I owned a Nexus D100, in fact two, for a number of years and logged countless dives of them yet only experienced a single sync cord failure apart from one problem due to rough boat handling. I never had a single flood no matter how slight and I am not one to fuss over o-rings in between dives. After changing camera bodies I switched to another housing manufacturer and experienced two major floods in three dives. At that point I'd handled housed cameras for 10 years so it wasn't an experience issue. I subsequently switched to Seacam and was totally problem-free.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, even though floods are nearly always operator-related, some manufacturers are not nearly as good as others at designing systems that are foolproof. When I seal up a Nexus port I know with absolute certainty that it will not flood. :-)

P.S. I agree that Seacam and Subal make great housings but I would put Nexus in the same class. Nexus ports and rings are beautifully made and they are ergonomically great IMO. I preferred the handling of my Nexus D100 to the Seacam that replaced it. YMMV. That said, I've decided to go with Subal for my next system. :-)
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