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HC7 and Cocos/Malpelo questions


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#1 NWDiver

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 08:49 AM

Leave for Malpelo and Cocos Tuesday and looking for more advice. Our set-up is the HC7, Gates, SWP25 and Greenforce 50s. Had hoped to have a pair of the new L&M LED 2000s but the delivery date has been pushed back to next month.

So questions on settings.

1. Focus. Go with manual and set at .3 meters? Dumb question 1, once I set this will it stay in Manual mode? Or do I have to reset it everyday?
2. If I recall people were split on filter or no filter? If shooting up to the sun to get the big school shot do you use the filter and WB or is the shot going to have to much red in it?
3. Confirming most felt that it was best to WB around 30ft? That any deeper and the camera has problems?
4. No lights when filming Hammerhead as it spooks them? Anyone know about the Silkies or Silver Tips?
5. Turn on or off the Steady Shot feature?

Any other suggestions welcome, thanks…

#2 Nick Hope

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 11:04 AM

1. Focus. Go with manual and set at .3 meters?

Be very careful with that approach otherwise you might come back with a whole trip of not-quite-in-focus footage when you look at it on the big screen. I don't know the exact optical physics of your port but if it behaves anything like the ports I have owned then I would go auto most of the time and keep your lenses and ports absolutely spotless so the camera doesn't focus on dust or scratches on them. But if you are shooting pelagics and it's a bit murky then "momentary auto focus" on something about as far away as the pelagics are, or on your fin or your buddy. The camera will then stay on manual focus. I like to do this regularly and not just leave it. If you go auto then check the footage after for focus hunting on the biggest screen possible (or on your viewfinder if you don't have access to anything bigger). I have shot stuff on 0.3m or whatever the camera gave me on a manual focus and then left the setting on and noticed later that footage is not quite sharp, particularly close-up footage. That's why I prefer auto if I'm fairly confident it won't hunt. If you're shooting macro then you have more time to switch between auto and manual depending what you want to focus on.

2. If I recall people were split on filter or no filter? If shooting up to the sun to get the big school shot do you use the filter and WB or is the shot going to have to much red in it?

I would mostly use the filter. Experiment with white balancing on the sun, your hand, and something white. Too much red is easy to take out in post but blown out green/white is a problem. Watch carefully for ND prompts from your camera and act on them! Remember the red filter is taking out a bit of light as well, which is usually a good thing for these shots.

3. Confirming most felt that it was best to WB around 30ft? That any deeper and the camera has problems?

Depends on how much light there is and how dirty or green the water is. You should get a bit deeper than that. The important thing is to white balance regularly on the way down. Literally every couple of metres. Cameras don't like to make a big jump in white balance. If you forget then sometimes you can get a "part-way" white balance off the sun at depth and then get a better white balance of your slate or hand or whatever you use (I use the palm of my hand). Once you're past the limit at which it will white balance, just continue with the last setting. Then you'll get to a depth where you might be better just taking out the red filter to let more light in and reduce gain noise. Deeper than that point I typically toggle the white balance mode between auto and manual (the last successful setting I got) to see which looks less bad.

5. Turn on or off the Steady Shot feature?

I leave it on. Others leave it off. Historically people didn't like to use it with housings that were prone to vignetting as the vignetting could change during the shot.

Hopefully someone else can answer your other questions. Have a great trip and do show us the footage!

#3 Mini Dive

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 05:50 PM

I have the HC7, Gates housing and SWP25. And I was at Cocos last June. You will want to set the manual focus. The HC7 tends to search in the blue water on auto. I used the red filter with manual WB and did not have any problems. The shot of the hammers with the sun behind them at Alcyone won't be a problem with the filter, you will be at 100-110 feet looking up. You won't need the lights except for night dives, unless you really want to swim with them for a few close-ups of critters. The sharks won't get close enough for the lights to do any good during the day. However, the SWP25 is great for bringing in the action. One last thing; if it has been a few minutes since your last shot, the HC7 takes a few seconds to start filming again and that wait can be infuriating.
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#4 Nick Hope

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 10:23 PM

In that case NWDiver get your manual focus testing done early in the trip. Momentary auto focus on your fin, and see what reading it gives you. Then momentary auto focus on something distant, and see what reading it gives you. Try each, and something in between. And if the readings are substantially different then study the footage really closely later for subjects being out of focus. And try it in different lighting conditions too. Something like a ray that swims from far off really close to you you'll want sharp all the way through.

#5 NWDiver

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 06:56 AM

Thanks for the input. May have to leave the still on board and play with the video. 24hrs and counting....

#6 Mini Dive

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 04:39 PM

24hrs and counting....


Make sure to take the opportunity to visit the Ranger Station in Chatham Bay, the suspension bridge is well worth seeing. If you are going on one of the Hunter boats, make sure to read the Christopher Weston 70 page book on the history of Cocos. The Okeanos may also have a copy, I don't know since I have only been on the Hunter boats. Enjoy :rolleyes:
Dive deep, play with sharks . . .

So long and thanks for all the fish . . .