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First Dives w/ Aquatica S2


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#1 james

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Posted 05 June 2003 - 07:52 AM

Hi Folks,

Last weekend, I got to make the first dives with the Aquatica S2 housing. This housing will be on display at Seaspace in Houston this weekend, so Aquatica was kind enough to send it down early for me to try out.

Here's a photo of yours truly with the housing set up onboard the MV Fling (yes, I know I look funny, but try to concentrate on the housing):

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I was able to shoot the 60mm, the 70-180 Macro zoom, and the 16mm Nikkor fisheye on this trip. The housing is truly impressive w/ the 70-180 port mounted...

Here are some photos from the trip:

60mm:

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16mm:

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70-180 (w 1.5 diopter):

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I am pretty busy getting my talk ready for Seaspace, but I will post a review of the setup and more photos of the actual equipment next week. I liked the housing a LOT.

Cheers
James Wiseman
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#2 yahsemtough

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 11:10 AM

Headline...Man caught on deck holding his equipment ! :D

Someone had to throw one in.

They certainly make a great housing.
Todd Mintz
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all photographs posted Todd C Mintz

#3 james

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 11:33 AM

On deck? I hold my equipment underwater too...:-)

Cheers
James
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#4 yahsemtough

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 12:52 PM

Sorry, had to put one in, I have been wound up tight with way too many things that need immediate attention.

End of June it should all go away...

Diving in August and October Yeah! Hoping to join you in February 04
Todd Mintz
tmintz.com
all photographs posted Todd C Mintz

#5 DaveH

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 01:28 PM

James,

I am trying to decide on how best to house my S2 Pro. Based on your experience, and not wanting to steal the thunder form your much anticipapted S2 Pro review, but can you offer any advice regarding choosing the Aquatica system vs. Sea and Sea or Ikelite?

I am also wondering how bulky the 70-180 was, and how difficult it was to focus. I own the lens, but have always shot macro with a nikon 60 or 105 in a housing.

I would appreciate any insights. I am anxious to place a pre-order if you think the Aquatica is the way to go.

Thanks,
Dave Harrison

#6 james

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 07:11 PM

I have always felt that it's not my place to tell people what to buy. I have used a fair amount of equipment, and each piece has it's pros and cons, and its price.

That must be the number one question that Jack and Sue Drafahl got at last weekend's seminar though - "Which camera and housing should I buy." Jack was very good about answering "Just about anything out there above 3 megapixels will fit your needs."

With that said, I'd be happy to tell you the things I liked about the Aquatica housing. You can look up the price, compare features, and decide what's right for you. Better yet, try out some other housings to find out what's important to you. I have handled (or shot) housings by Sea and Sea, Nexus, Ikelite, Aquatica, and Subal.

I like the fact that you can take the back off the Aquatica housing without "disturbing" the camera and you can change your card and batteries. You actually have to loosen the camera a bit on the tray, but after that you can actually change batteries w/o unmounting the camera or lens.

I like the "wide mouthed" port opening. You can fit just about anyone's lens in there.

I like the buttons on the back.

I like the controls for aperture and zoom and shutter. You can use then w/o having to take your eye away from the finder.

I like the big 8" dome port.

I like the port for the 70-180. It has a knob on the front of the port for manual focus and you can use your left hand under there to help support and steady the housing. As you will see from the photos - it's an "artillary piece" with that lens mounted. I also shot the lens in auto when in bright light and it worked well believe it or not.

HTH
James Wiseman
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#7 scorpio_fish

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 05:42 AM

Dave,

I haven't shot the 70-180mm, but I have used the 200mm macro, which uses the same port extension.

It's a bit of bear to use. It's a long lens. If you push your strobes out to the front of the lens port, it gets pretty unwieldly to hold. Of course it depends on the strobes you are using.

I also found it a pain just to get the focus gear in the right spot in order to use the knob, but that may be just me. James and Craig have gotten some good shots using this lens. My hats off to them. I have trouble getting the manual focus just right. Any camera or subject movement ruins the focus. This can be overcome by manually focusing to get it close and then move the camera in and out to the right spot. It has always been hit and miss for me. This versus the frustating focus hunt and constant refocus of AF.

I'd start out shooting the 60mm and/or 105mm. I used the 60mm with the D100. This was the first time I had shot the lens in quite a while. It was pretty easy. I also used the 105mm, which hunts quite a bit, even more with the D100, but I found it worked fine.

If you want to expand, then all you have to do is buy another port extension. I'm pretty sure I won't be using the 200mm with the D100. Here's a photo of the various Aquatica port extensions.

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#8 james

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 06:52 AM

I agree w/ George on this one. The 70-180 is not an easy lens to use. But neither is any macro lens above say 100mm. You're trying to find something less than 36mm across at a distance of something like 2' from the lens while peering through the viewfinder - not easy. Then add manual focusing...

You do have to get your strobes close to the subject and that means getting them out in front - sometimes a good ways out in front. It takes some getting used to and a well balanced rig. Craig uses ultralight buoyance arms as the front segments on his rig and I decided to buy 2 of them at Seaspace (2 x 8").

We'll see how it goes. In any case, when we are talking about shooting 1:1 or greater - we're not talking about "beginner" photography. This may be where the nice 2" lcd screen on the point and shoot cameras is nice - but then again, you can't really use it for MF like you can w/ an SLR.

Cheers
James Wiseman
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#9 Rob Esaw

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 10:21 AM

James, get some leashes on those strobe diffusers.

I made some with jewellry wire and aluminum closers. Tip - keep 'em short.