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Best BCD for New Underwater Photographers


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#21 craig

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 09:41 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 would NOT recommend their Kydex backplate. Like everyone, I was interested for the weight savings but when I called to order it the sales guy tried to discourage me from buying it. I insisted, and when it arrived it came with a sticker warning me to avoid prolonged sun exposure! What kind of backplate softens or melts in the sun?

I would also say that the product seemed flimsy though probably fine for single tanks. The sales guy specifically recommended against using it with doubles.

Dive Rite used to make a 1 pound ABS plate though they discontinued it. It's easy to find 2 pound aluminum ones. I'm all for saving another pound but using a plastic plate that melts in the sun isn't the way to do it.
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#22 fdog

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:49 PM

Craig, did your plate actually melt in the sun? I'm curious, because I've left mine all afternoon in the sun without issues. Not saying that it wouldn't, just curious where the distortion point is.

I, too, got that "too light to handle it" feeling when I first picked it up, but I can assure you, it handles double LP85's just fine.

All the best, James

Edited by fdog, 29 May 2008 - 12:50 PM.


#23 craig

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:20 PM

Craig, did your plate actually melt in the sun? I'm curious, because I've left mine all afternoon in the sun without issues. Not saying that it wouldn't, just curious where the distortion point is.

I, too, got that "too light to handle it" feeling when I first picked it up, but I can assure you, it handles double LP85's just fine.

All the best, James

I'm going by the manufacturer's recommendation of no doubles and no direct sunlight exposure. I wasn't concerned with the strength and considered the flexibility an advantage. I wish the manufacturer would withdraw the sunlight/heat limitation or fix it. I think there's a market for a very lightweight backplate.

I doubt the backplate would actually melt, of course. I'm sure the concern would be distortion of the plate over time. If I knew what that was and felt that replacing the plate periodically was fine, then I'd use it.
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#24 tdpriest

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 02:09 AM

I use an OMS soft-pack: a plate slides in for twins in the UK, and out for travelling. A big wing in cold water, and a little wing in tropical water. It's heavier than the DiveRite Transpac, but flexible in use. I've just added OMS's new small weight pockets, which are really neat.

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#25 whizzer

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 06:12 AM

I agree with fdog, the thing that outweighs all is buoyance/trim.

What could perhaps be more interesting when choosing BCD is location of dump valves and inflator variants, as from time to time you might be in an odd position taking photos (upside-down etc).

#26 sideshow_Gary

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 04:58 PM

To add my thought, is that i use Apollo Bio BCD, and i would imagaine having a back inflated one wouldn't work for me as i spend a lot of time on the surface, talking to snorkelers helping them with their equipment and trying to direct snorkelers. When im inflated (or 1/2 inflated) on the surface the air would go to the top of the aircell. not providing with much lift. But i can imagine that it would be great for staying under the water.. bouyency is key

#27 MortenHansen

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 05:59 AM

I personally prefer my gear to be as simple, compact and easy to repair as possible, I use my kit quite a lot and don't want something "fancy" with loads of moving parts (lever inflator)

I prefer using a light back-plate (1,25kg aluminium) and a small wing, I dive single tanks in tropics with 7mm semidry-suit.

My harness is as simple as can be, unadjustable shoulder straps, one buckle on the stomach, a D-ring on my right shoulder (to put the octopus hose inside) and thats it. No pockets, no nothing.

What I like about using a backplate/harness is that you get a more horizontal position in the water, that way you are able to keep your legs up more easily so you don't break corals or stir up sand!

Rant warning:
What I find really important is the weights, I see a lot of recreational divers asking for far too much weight when they check into the diving center, I think that if a diver is serious about photography and spends thousands on camera gear, then at least he/she (hehe, mostly he) should spend a little bit of time learning how to breathe properly! Rant finished Posted Image

Edited by MortenHansen, 10 January 2013 - 06:00 AM.


#28 FranzoMCK

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:27 AM

A lot of people are talking about all the benefits of the sidemount BC and Buoyancy in recreatinal diving. Does anybody has experience taking pictures with a sidemount ? Is it true that sidemount gives you more stability?

Thanks

Edited by FranzoMCK, 10 January 2013 - 08:28 AM.


#29 MortenHansen

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:56 AM

A good friend of mine does all of his camera diving on side-mount and he says its nice, he only does wide-angle, I could imagine that its really hard to stay clear of the bottom while doing macro shots though. If you can't dive perfectly with normal back-mount then I don't think starting to play around with side-mount will be a good idea.

-Morten

Edited by MortenHansen, 10 January 2013 - 08:58 AM.


#30 adamhanlon

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:21 AM

I think the gas management issue with side-mount is the biggest issue for photographers. I find I have a hard enough time finding subjects and then exposing and framing images correctly without needing to swap my regulators every 30 bar as well!

Of course the people who can are probably just better divers than me.

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#31 Angychesler

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:48 PM

I am a photographer and PADI Dive Instructor. I think the best BCD is the BCD that fits you well and you are familiar with. Integrated weights are always nice to have, but I have used a weight belt on many dives. I find it easier and faster to take off and I feel more balanced with the weight tight around my waist.

#32 E_viking

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:27 PM

Ok, here are my thoughts about it!

I use a Wing ( newer, but heavy) together with my Drysuit and a Jacket/BCD( older, but light) for travelling.

I can't really make up my mind which system I find the best for Photography.
It very much depends on where you are diving and how your weights are distributed!

With a heavily negative Bouyant Camera System a Jacket is better than a Wing, but can be corrected with some Floats.
Along a Wall I find a Jacket BCD better on my back, but can be corrected with some weights low.
Muck Diving ( or close to the bottom) a Wing is better, but can be corrected with some weight higher up.

Well, I assume that what I want to say is that it doesn't really matter which type of Jacket!
Just get used to it. The rest is just down to personal preference.

Sidemount:
I find that the Tanks are in the way for me while photographing.

/Erik

Edited by E_viking, 23 January 2013 - 12:27 PM.

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#33 maxman2402

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:02 AM

i'd recommend a wing (halcyon for me) with a steel back-plate for diving in your own country and aluminium for travelling. 



#34 maxman2402

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:05 AM

BTW a new cheap (and good) alternative is the new light monkey wing, I've heard some good things about them



#35 bfdc

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:59 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

 

I would like to 2nd this....i just came back from Cocos Island. Used DSS Kydex backplate and 30lb wing...worked perfectly. Very light, very streamlined, packs and dives very small...no issues with 3mm suit and 15L steel tanks. Plus the backplates are available in different sizing for those divers out of the bell curve. Not cheap, but both shout "craftsmanship" when you see them.



#36 DamonA

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:45 AM

I now use a chinese made $90 ss backplate, a simple hog style $45 harness and a Zeagle 30lb donut wing- I like it's inflator design-it screws onto the hose so there is no hose clamps or zip tie fastening of hose to the inflation valve button/handle or dump valve end of the hose.

It is easy to deflate/inflate you can dump by simply pulling your inflator hose and also I like how freely the gas moves from either side of the wing as I rotate in any direction thru the water(wing bungee cord can be a problem too)....lots of other brands have a smaller passage at the bottom of the wing connecting each side under the tank, which can trap air making it less responsive "then instant", whereas the zeagle wing design is more rounded and flowing, also have some generic chinese ones that look like a good copy except for the inflator. It also screws up to a garden hose so you can flush it easy on the lawn or on concrete.

 

My wife uses my complete zeagle BP/wing setup which in my opinion doesn't justify the cost as well as a cheaper BP and harness using the zeagle wing and the ripcord weight pouches which attach to the plate, not the waist belt part of the harness. this save a fews hundred making the setup a few hundred cheaper.



#37 ChristianG

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:20 AM

About 20 years ago I went to visit Charlie ( sadly no longer with us) and asked him "what's all this kerfuffle about wings then?" In response he groped around and threw one at me (quite literally), saying "try it out, see if you like it". I was hooked after the very first dive (Catherine Hill Bay, Central Coast of NSW, Oz) and I haven't looked back since and, no, I didn't take the camera, a brand new Nikonos RS AF in those days, with all the gubbins, on that dive. Even I know better than that.

 

Funnily enough, I still use a wing - and I sure still use a camera.


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#38 DocTock

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 02:52 PM

ipepper - I cannot tell from your info where you are located, but if you are in USA, why not get a Zeagle Stilletto? (Or a Zeagle wing set-up)

It's back inflate, extremely customizable and VERY easy to size well for almost every body size.

While all the components may not be made in USA any more, the BCDs are still sewn in Florida - & very easy to get service in the USA if you need it.

I'm not a rep or related to the company in any way - just a very satisfied user of a Zeagle Stilletto since 2007.

 

As many other's have said: the key thing is to try many different styles & brands - who knows, maybe you will love the way the crotch-strap on a wing feels...


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#39 RoatanMan69

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:39 AM

Just purchased a Mares Prestige MRS and found it to be great!  I enjoyed it trememdously on my last dive week in Costa Rica from which I returned from on March 2nd.  I enjoyed the arm and shoulder freedom, integrated weight system great boyancy at the bottom while taking pictures.  2 Large pockets and lots of D rings to hook equipment to!



#40 Guillaume L

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:05 PM

G'day

 

My quest for the perfect photo BCD has led me from using traditional BCDs, a Zeagle ranger and finally backplate and wing (which I love).

 

The beauty of this system is multifaceted.  Firstly it is modular.  I started with a stainless steel backplate (zeagle) and used my old ranger wings.  I then switched to Hollis wing (for single tank) and Halycon wing (for twin tanks).  I bought my harness at a hardware store.

 

The 'D' rings are strong enough to hold a housed SLR on land. It frees your chest from paraphernalia. There are no cummerbunds, tightening straps, quick-release clips etc... to get tangled in your strobe arms.

 

It improves you trim (not your buoyancy) It is comfortable in the water (but not out of it).

 

Cheers