Jump to content


Photo

Best BCD for New Underwater Photographers


  • Please log in to reply
42 replies to this topic

#1 ipepper

ipepper

    Starfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 24 May 2008 - 12:14 PM

Hi. I am new to the world of diving, but am an amateur photographer. I should with a Canon 20d and a 1d Mark ii. (I have another question on housings which I posted as a reply to the new gear post.) I would appreciate advice on a BCD. What are the best BCDs for someone who wants to do underwater photography. The advice I have been given so far is the Zeagle Stilleto and the Oceanic Excursion. Another person said go with a traditional BCD, such as the Oceanic Probe. Then there is the school of thought that says get a wing and harness system, which I know nothing about. From the point of view of photography, does one system have advantages over the other. I am leaning towards a weight integrated, back inflation system, but would appreciate any advice you could give.

And here is what I posted on the new gear posting:

May I ask for advice, too? I am new to diving, but am an amateur photographer. I shoot with a Canon 20d and a 1d Mark ii. I generally shoot with "L" series lenses. I was able to get a an excellent used Sea & Sea dx-350d, which would mean I would have to get a Rebel XT or XTI. I just learned of an opportunity to buy an Ikelite housing for my 20d. Which housing will be better for me in the long run: an ikelite or a Sea and Sea? I am VERY new to this. It appears that the dx-350d does not have a built in TTL so I would need an external one. Is that correct? What does this mean? What are the advantages and disadvantages of one housing over the other. One issue that concerns me with Ikelite is that I cannot find housings for most of my "L" lenses, or, when I can for some of them, I will not be able to zoom (such as on my 28-70mm). I have checked Ikelite's port chart for this information. I was able to find my only non-Canon lens for to use for this, which is a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. It is actually a nice lens. I will also be getting a Canon 100mm macro, which can use an ikelite housing. I would appreciate it if you could help me understand each of these housings so I know whether to get the ikelite housing for my 20d and sell the Sea and Sea, or whether I should keep the Sea and Sea. (I know that the 20d is a better camera overall. I am just investigating which housing is better.) In case you are wondering, I decided not to get a housing for the 1d. First, a lot of the features take two hands and, since I am new to diving, this would be cumbersome. Second, the 1d has a very low actuation count and is in perfect condition. I could not take a chance on anything happening to it. Thanks so much for this!

#2 davephdv

davephdv

    Doc Eyeballs

  • Senior Moderator
  • 2293 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Goleta CA

Posted 24 May 2008 - 02:12 PM

The best BC is no BC.

Otherwise go with back inflation. Keeps the BC out of the way. I like the smallest one I can find. I use the Dive Rite with the travel wings.
Dave Burroughs, Nikon D300, D2X, Subal housing, DS160 strobes

Life is a beach and then you dive.

My Website


#3 drsteve

drsteve

    Manta Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 483 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Santa Barbara, CA

Posted 24 May 2008 - 06:05 PM

I agree with Dave that back inflation is the way to go. I have a Balance BC and really like it. The key is to move weights around until you get perfect trim so that you can hang in the water without rising, sinking, or rotating. If you are new to diving, leave the camera behind until you have your skills down to the point that they are absolutely automatic. Bringing a camera before you have perfected your dive skills just adds to the task loading and compromises safety. Besides if your weighting and trim are less then stellar, you photos are going to suck anyway. I don't think that people should bring a dSLR until they have least 50-100 dives, preferably more.

...STeve
www.flickr.com/photos/drsteve/
Canon EOS 5D3, Aquatica Housing, Inon Z220+Z240 strobes, Sea&Sea TTL, ULCS Arms


#4 Halabriel

Halabriel

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 147 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:BERMUDA

Posted 24 May 2008 - 06:38 PM

Hi

As a photographer, you want to be as neutrally bouyant as possible, and a rear lift bladder has the best potential to get you neutrally bouyant underwater. I can't remember the exact science, (For the science bit...Click Here) but it goes something like this:- best bouyancy comes when the lift and weight coincide, i.e. put the air cell around the cylinder and push your weights as far back as possible - the result is a wing set up. Thus I actually ditched the whole BC style jacket for a wing and harness (also my entire rig is now bright blue - way more aesthetically pleasing than boring black)

I was going to go with the Dive Rite travel wing, but went with the AudaxPro Mauna Kea because they come in bright colours - by far the most important thing.
Hope this is of some help

Cheers

Hal

Edited by Halabriel, 24 May 2008 - 06:39 PM.

Canon Ixus 950is in WPDC-15 housing with Inon accessorization (D2000s strobe, UWL105 and UCL165 lenses).

#5 seagrant

seagrant

    Great Hammerhead

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 789 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Clearwater, Florida
  • Interests:http://www.oceangrant.com

Posted 24 May 2008 - 09:02 PM

I'm on my second Dive Rite Transpac with Travel Wings.

The first one has over 1,200 dives on it and I just figured I needed a new one now but I still wear the old one for work or volunteer related diving.

It is my fav BC by far and can be configured to fit just about anyone and it is a little more padded than a hard backplate. Mine is the small harness with x-small shoulders.

I must say though that Cathy Church believes that traditional BCs (not back inflated) are much better for underwater photography. Her theory is the air bubble is much closer to your body and easier to manage and stay still in the water column. But then Paul Humann won't wear anything but a horse-collar type BC - a vintage style he gets specially made now I think!

But with the transpac I don't have a problem staying still (neutral). I think the thing is just not to get wings that hold too much air and are hard to manage. I used to swear by weight-integrated but now have circumstances where I like a weight belt so I can drop it and come back for it if I'm exiting via shore and carrying a lot. Plus if you are on a boat that insists on you taking the BC off in the water it is faster and more polite to hand up a weight belt and save the crew's back muscles. But of course you can always remove the weight pockets too.

Good Luck! Best, Carol

Edited by seagrant, 24 May 2008 - 09:08 PM.

http://www.oceangrant.com
Facebook-Oceangrant

Twitter-Oceangrant

d300/Subal/ULCS/Sea & Sea 110s/16;12-24;60;105vr;Tokina 10-17


#6 ce4jesus

ce4jesus

    Giant Squid

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1639 posts
  • Location:Aurora Colorado
  • Interests:Anything Ocean (How'd I end up in Colorado?)<br /><br />A Christian Marine Conservationist?

Posted 24 May 2008 - 09:26 PM

I would work with your local dive shop and try a few out. With a camera in your hand that will possibly be quite negative by a 1lb or two, I tend to spend most of my time fighting to get my feet down. So while a back inflation was nice for diving without a camera, I found I liked the jacket style better combined with heavier fins.
Gary
Olympus E-520, TLC arms, Inon Z-240s, 50mm, 14-42mm woody's diopter

#7 Halabriel

Halabriel

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 147 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:BERMUDA

Posted 24 May 2008 - 09:51 PM

Hi again

So as you can see the real answer to which BC is....we can't agree.

Find what makes you comfortable and ignore all our personal preferences as they are unlikely to work for you. Confused? you will be :lol:

Cheers

Hal
Canon Ixus 950is in WPDC-15 housing with Inon accessorization (D2000s strobe, UWL105 and UCL165 lenses).

#8 ipepper

ipepper

    Starfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 25 May 2008 - 07:52 AM

Thanks to everyone for your comments, and to your advice about getting the diving right first! Having listened to all of you and having talked to other folks, the sense that I am getting is to go with a wing system. I looked for the Audaxpro and could not find a dealer here, and the ones in Europe are VERY expensive. So now the question is type and brand. Dive Rite seems to be the most common, but there seems to be a controversy about transpac versus the harness system, with more people opting for the latter. Halcyon seems to get mixed reviews. Some people love them, some think they are not that well constructed. And then there was the recall. OMS gets marks too. Anyone care to comment on wings brands and on traditional harness and backplate versus the transpac. Thanks again!

#9 davephdv

davephdv

    Doc Eyeballs

  • Senior Moderator
  • 2293 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Goleta CA

Posted 25 May 2008 - 09:32 AM

I use the transpac. I have the dive rite harness system with a backplate that I use with my drysuit. (No bladder). I think the two systems are quite comparable. Hard to tell because the backplate is great.

Scubapro has a BC that was originally made in the same factory as the Dive rite Transpac and were the same design. You might want to check out Scubapro. That British design that was mention looks very similar to the transpac. For some reason American manufactures only like to make gear in black. Dive rite does make some other colored bladders (not in the travel wings I believe). I have a blue one that is a little bigger than the travel wings. I bought it in case someone forces me to add it to my backplate system in order to dive.
Dave Burroughs, Nikon D300, D2X, Subal housing, DS160 strobes

Life is a beach and then you dive.

My Website


#10 Halabriel

Halabriel

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 147 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:BERMUDA

Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:25 PM

Dive Rite is an excellent and cost effective system. It is modular, so you can swap and change as requirements change.

The TransPac Harness and the Venture wing also come in Blue and Red - As you can tell I have this thing about introducing colour into recreational diving. It is colourful underwater, we are photographers dealing in colour - why should we be the most drab things on the dive?

Cheers

Hal
Canon Ixus 950is in WPDC-15 housing with Inon accessorization (D2000s strobe, UWL105 and UCL165 lenses).

#11 Milton

Milton

    Starfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 26 May 2008 - 05:32 AM

DiveRite with a Trek wing. Relocated D rings. It's very adjustable so once you get it set up for you then it fits like a glove - every time. Put it on, dive, take photos and then when you get to the boat you think: "Oh yes. BCD. Forgot I had it on."
My images on Flickr
Canon 30D. 17-85mm. Ikelite housing. 1 x DS-125 Strobe + standard arm.

#12 seagrant

seagrant

    Great Hammerhead

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 789 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Clearwater, Florida
  • Interests:http://www.oceangrant.com

Posted 26 May 2008 - 05:08 PM

Dive Rite is an excellent and cost effective system. It is modular, so you can swap and change as requirements change.
The TransPac Harness and the Venture wing also come in Blue and Red - As you can tell I have this thing about introducing colour into recreational diving. It is colourful underwater, we are photographers dealing in colour - why should we be the most drab things on the dive?
Cheers
Hal


My Dive Rite Dealer (I actually heard this from 2 big dive rite dealers in Florida - and Dive Rite is based in Florida) anyway they told me when I got my new dive rite BC - NOT to get the blue or red because it fades and ultimately it doesn't hold up as well after many dives. Something about the colored fabric isn't as durable as the black but maybe just isn't as durable because it fades so much???

Anyway 1200++ dives on my first transpac (black) and I'm loaning it to my girlfriend to wear tomorrow - still going strong w/original wings. My new transpac (black) has a couple of hundred dives on it and still looks very new. Not sure the colored ones would look that good now - don't know why dive rite added colors anyway??? Colors look good new but what about after 1000 dives?

Anyway just more info....... :-)

And try as many BCs out as you can in the pool, that is good advice too.

And have fun - finding the right dive gear should be fun!! Cheers, Carol

Edited by seagrant, 26 May 2008 - 05:09 PM.

http://www.oceangrant.com
Facebook-Oceangrant

Twitter-Oceangrant

d300/Subal/ULCS/Sea & Sea 110s/16;12-24;60;105vr;Tokina 10-17


#13 fdog

fdog

    Eagle Ray

  • Industry
  • PipPipPip
  • 395 posts
  • Location:Reno NV

Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:26 PM

The truly talented diver can dive in perfect trim, and maintain exact bouyancy and position with any system.

Doesn't matter if it's a jacket, BP/W, horsecollar and campack, or a monkey harness.

"Best" is a relative term; each piece of equipment has advantages, and issues. Pick the tool that's best for the job at hand.




<snip>

And try as many BCs out as you can in the pool, that is good advice too.

<snip>


The best advice yet!


All the best, James

Edited by fdog, 26 May 2008 - 07:27 PM.


#14 Damo

Damo

    Manta Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 451 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ireland
  • Interests:Getting close to underwater aliens- and pulling the camera trigger

Posted 27 May 2008 - 12:10 AM

Totally agree with u James- camera/photographic equipment/handling asides, if there is one thing I have learned so far...and it is that the basic requisite of any diver going into the water with a camera is that his/her diving skills (achieving a state of neutral buoyancy is a must) are honed to perfection without having to think about them....and that there is 120% awareness of your position relative to everything around you as you line up for the shoot......

safe snappy diving

:lol: :D




The truly talented diver can dive in perfect trim, and maintain exact bouyancy and position with any system.

Doesn't matter if it's a jacket, BP/W, horsecollar and campack, or a monkey harness.

"Best" is a relative term; each piece of equipment has advantages, and issues. Pick the tool that's best for the job at hand.
The best advice yet!
All the best, James


Nikon D200- Sea and Sea DX-D200, YS-90 Auto/Duo strobes: Nikon 60mm/105mm macro : Sigma 10-20mm wide, now also with added Tokina 10-17mm power.

'All animals are equal, tho' some animals are more equal than others.'-Comrade Napoleon

'If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets'- Gurney Halleck

Visit My Flickr Website

#15 ipepper

ipepper

    Starfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 27 May 2008 - 07:21 AM

Thanks for all of your help. I fully plan to hone my dive skills first, but want a BCD I can grow with. Here is what the choice comes down to: a Dive Rite Transpac with Rec Wingsm the Dive Rite harness, or the AudaxPro. I heard back from Go-Dive in the UK. It will cost about $550 US for the wing, harness and shipping. The transpac and wings will be in the same vicinity. My inclination at this point is the Dive Rite Transpac. I tried one on and it was very comfortable. It seems that the Dive Rite harness system would be more for someone doing technical diving. (Dive Rite itself advises to the Transpac when I gave them my criteria.) While I like the AudaxPro, my concern is service. Since I have to buy them overseas, I am assuming that I will have to ship them back to the UK if there is a problem. Does anyone have experience with the AudaxPro system?

Any comments on my logic from all of you helpful and thoughtful friends?

#16 tjgreen

tjgreen

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 165 posts
  • Location:North Carolina, US

Posted 27 May 2008 - 07:35 AM

I'll add a couple of cents. For what it's worth, I own all three types (jacket, back-buoyancy, and backplate/wing). They all have their uses, but I prefer the back-buoyancy for photography. Yes, it makes it a bit easier to trim out into the head-down/feet-up position that I prefer, but mostly, it's the lightest and easiest to pack for dive trips. Keep in mind that the Diverite and Halcyon backplate/wing systems, while great, are fairly heavy (even w/ an aluminum backplate); great modular system, but luggage restrictions are only getting more stringent.

Ditto on the try before you buy - most shops rent both. Would also recommend you don't buy until you're good in both jacket and back-buoyancy style (either wing or regular), since neither will fix lack of skill, and either will work if you're good. Otherwise, tough to compare them fairly - like buying your first SLR; who knows what camera best suits your shooting style until you actually have a style?
Tim
tjgreen.smugmug.com/underwater

#17 Halabriel

Halabriel

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 147 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:BERMUDA

Posted 27 May 2008 - 02:37 PM

Since I have to buy them overseas, I am assuming that I will have to ship them back to the UK if there is a problem. Does anyone have experience with the AudaxPro system?


I use the AudaxPro, it is without doubt the most durable system I have ever come across, but I understand your concerns about servicing. Talk to your LDS, if they say that they can service it OK, then go with that. If they are doubtful go DiveRite. I bought mine in the UK, but now live in Bermuda - I service all my own kit.

...Colors look good new but what about after 1000 dives?


and Carol...it is still the brightest of blues, although I have admittedly got some way to go for the 1000th dive (I am 1/3rd there!)

Cheers

Hal
Canon Ixus 950is in WPDC-15 housing with Inon accessorization (D2000s strobe, UWL105 and UCL165 lenses).

#18 MatthewAddison

MatthewAddison

    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 272 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Los Angeles, New York

Posted 27 May 2008 - 03:23 PM

If you travel a great deal and like a backplate, you might want to check out Deep Sea Supply. They make a Kydex backplate which weighs about 1 pounds, unstrung. www.deepseasupply.com
Nikon D3, S&S MDX-D3, S&S YS250 (2), Inon 45 viewfinder, ZEN underwater dome, 14mm, 17-35mm, 60mm, 110mm.
Outfitted courtesy of H2O Photo Pros - Newport Beach, CA
Visit My Website
Visit my educational not-for-profit foundation "saveourseas.tv"

A is A

#19 meister

meister

    Manta Ray

  • Team Wetpixel
  • 478 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Minnesota

Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:49 AM

If you travel a great deal and like a backplate, you might want to check out Deep Sea Supply. They make a Kydex backplate which weighs about 1 pounds, unstrung. www.deepseasupply.com

I recently went with a Halcion SS rig. Like mentioned above, it's a solid setup, but on the heavy side. I noted a forum where the lighter Kydex backplates were discussed. I wonder if these lighter setups wouldn't be a prudent move with the ever increasing weight restrictions...
Canon 5D, 5D MK III, Canon 15, 17-40 & 100mm
Aquatica, Ikelight
donhughes.us

#20 fdog

fdog

    Eagle Ray

  • Industry
  • PipPipPip
  • 395 posts
  • Location:Reno NV

Posted 29 May 2008 - 07:17 AM

As a point of reference, I do have one of the DSS Kydex plates that I use for travel. It's quite solid (it has supported doubles easily) and superbly made, as is all of the DSS gear - work of art is more like it.

In conjunction with a DSS tropical wing, it is incredibally ligtweight.

But that's assuming you use a BP/W, neh?


All the best, James