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Trip Upcoming - please help with gear


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#1 briangudas

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 04:13 PM

Hi all,
Would really appreciate some advice. I am going on a cruise in April (Tampa > Grand Cayman> Cozumel> Tampa) on Carnival Inspiration. I have a very small private charter (6 passengers, 5 hours) for stingray city in the Caymans and will do a reef snorkel in Cozumel. I own a lot of gear but I dont know exactly the best way to bring back a group of high quality underwater images without totally breaking the bank. I say that but I dont mind investing some $$ to bring back the image. We are going to snorkel and maybe SNUBA but my kids are still kinda young so I need to stay with them at the surface

Here is what I have

Nikon D3
Nikon D7000
50mm 1.4
85mm 1.4
28-70mm 2.8
17-35mm 2.8

Canon G9 with Water housing (Canon brand)

Options I am considering
1) Rent a housing for the D3 or D7000 and the 17-35mm (About $500 for the week). I will already be carrying one of these cameras so only the housing is additional gear
2) Use the G9 with the Canon housing ($0 but I worry a bit about image quality)
3) Rent a D2x and housing from a place in the Caymans ($350)
4) Buy an Olympus E-PL1 (Pen) and the Olympus housing and then resell the set when I return. Used camera, new housing about $1000, likely resell for about $900.
5) Nikonos V and go old school film... I shoot a lot of film but I dont know this camera ($200)

Honestly I am leaning towards the PEN with the housing as I have seen some great quality images in a small package but I am not committed to anything yet. We will spend a decent amount of time in the water, I really want a split screen shot with the stingrays from stingray city below and Caribbean skies above and I do like to print big so a low quality image will break down pretty quick.

I really appreciate any insight you might have
Thanks
Brian

Edited by briangudas, 18 February 2011 - 04:15 PM.


#2 derway

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 07:46 PM

According to http://www.imaging-resource.com/ the e-pl1 is much slower autofocus and shutter lag time than even the slow g9. I know I would find it very frustrating.

What you are wanting to do with the pix must determine what image quality you need. Perhaps the g9, kept at base ISO, will be adequate.
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#3 JackConnick

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 07:57 PM

Nikon D3 is pretty hard to find a housing for.

Ikelite housing is available for the D7000 at a reasonable cost. Others very hard to find.

You won't get over/unders without a large dome, larger the better. Stock EPL1 flat port /G9 isn't going to come close. Zen dome is available for E-PL1, but it's pretty small.

None of the lenses are that great on the D7000 uw. You want something like the Tokina 10-17.

Guess I'd look for an Ike D7000 and an 8" port, buy/rent a Nikon 10.5 or Tok 10-17.

Renting the D2x might not be a bad idea.

Jack

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#4 Deep6

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 07:59 PM

According to http://www.imaging-resource.com/ the e-pl1 is much slower autofocus and shutter lag time than even the slow g9. I know I would find it very frustrating.

What you are wanting to do with the pix must determine what image quality you need. Perhaps the g9, kept at base ISO, will be adequate.

Note what Don says about end use for your images. I haven't done the stingray shoot since '88. Then, they swam over my head. You don't need A/F; set lens at widest, pre-focus your camera and wait for the shot.
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#5 briangudas

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 08:20 PM

Thanks Guys,
If I could get a good over/under shot I would go likely 30x30 image size and very possibly high contrast BW. So thinking about the D3 with the 17-35 I could rent an Aqua Tech for 7 days $325 and the housing for that lens port for another $55...That would be the equivalent to an 11mm on the D7000 and should be a plenty wide I would think. It is a flat port which surprises me now that I think about 17mm... is the reduced surface area going to limit my chances of over/under? Here is the specific port.. http://www.borrowlen...aquatech_LPNWZF

Again I really appreciate the help, above water this is familiar territory... below is a whole different world

Thanks
Brian

Edited by briangudas, 18 February 2011 - 08:20 PM.


#6 JackConnick

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 09:19 PM

Not going to work well for over under. Remember you loose 1/3 to refraction uw. Rectalinear lenses result in soft corners. A Nikon 16mm FE would be better on that body.
You need a big dome for over under.

These were shot with a Zen mini dome and Tokina 10-17 FE on a D300s.

Posted Image

Posted Image


Jack

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#7 briangudas

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 09:31 PM

Nothing will sell me faster than images... I will talk to the rental guys and see if they have one for a D7000 and bring the 12-24 tokina (I have a lens problem... cant sell um) ...

Your images are stunning, exactly what I am hoping to capture. Thanks very much for sharing your expertise

Regards Brian

#8 Steve Williams

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 10:25 PM

Hey Jack, you might have mentioned to Brian that your wonderful images were at least partly the result of 30+? years of practise. ;)

It's a wonderful location Brian, you'll have a great time. One thing you might think about. Go over to the Wetpixel Flickr group page and do a filter on G9. It will bring up 700+ images made underwater with the camera you could check out.

It helps to get there very early before the tour boats if you can swing it. I'm guessing that's the sun coming up in Jack's images.

As long as we're showing off; Canon 40D with Tokina 10-17

Have fun and good luck!
Steve

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#9 DiverPam

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 10:24 AM

It helps to get there very early before the tour boats if you can swing it. I'm guessing that's the sun coming up in Jack's images.

Have fun and good luck!
Steve


Yes...Jack's images were taken as the sun was coming up. What a GREAT time of day to be at sting ray city. I would recommend using the widest angle lens that you have here. If you are using a cropped sensor camera, the Tokina 10-17 (leave it at 10mm) is great for this site. If you find a shot that you really like, stay with it and keep shooting until you get it right. You have no limit in the number of shots with digital.

Just an FYI - The local authorities do not allow boats to be on sting ray city any longer than 1 hour. And they are hanging around paying attention to this.

Here is one I took same day and dive as Jack - converted to B&W. Nikon D90 with Tokina 10-17mm at 10mm.
Cayman_2011_web__1_of_2_.jpg

Good luck and we look forward to seeing how everything turns out - DiverPam

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#10 ornate_wrasse

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:42 AM

I will talk to the rental guys and see if they have one for a D7000 and bring the 12-24 tokina


When the Tokina 12-24 came out, a lot of folks tried it underwater but decided that the corners were too soft with this rectilinear lens. A much better choice is the Tokina 10-17 which I highly recommend.

I used the D300 and Tokina 10-17 to get the following images:

Shot at 17mm focal length, f/8, 1/100, ISO 200
Posted Image

Shot at 17mm focal length, f/11, 1/125, ISO 400
This shows the boat that Diver Pam mentioned.
Posted Image

Shot at 17mm focal length, f/11, 1/100, ISO 400
This shows the dome port on the diver's housing
Posted Image

In regards to over/unders, a large dome port, such as seen in the above image, will be needed. I have used the Nikon 16mm Fisheye for the over/unders I have shot in the past. You could also use the Sigma 15mm Fisheye, which focuses a bit closer than the Nikon 16mm.

Be sure to let us know how your trip went. And be sure to post your images.

Ellen
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#11 JackConnick

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:56 AM

Hey Jack, you might have mentioned to Brian that your wonderful images were at least partly the result of 30+? years of practice. ;)

Steve


Gee, and I'm only 16! Umm, actually I have the good doctor Mustard to thank for helping us to "see" these images...

We used a Magic Filter, although I was manual white balance challenged...

Jack

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#12 briangudas

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 08:19 PM

Wow, I just looked at the flickr pool for G9... pretty nice stuff. Maybe I go the cheap route and do that ... These decisions should be easy right?

Thanks again for all the help
bg

#13 tdpriest

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 06:06 AM

Timing, timing and timing. I missed Stingray City in the early morning and the best that I could achieve was nothing like the images that have been posted. Steve's got a point, too: whatever you choose, give yourself lots of time and opportunity to practice, even if it's only with your family in a pool.


2009_Grand_Cayman_070_963_Grand_Cayman_Ocean_Frontiers.jpg


2009_Grand_Cayman_071_683_Stingray_City_Southern_stingray.jpg


2009_Grand_Cayman_072_685_Stingray_City_Southern_stingray.jpg


2009_Grand_Cayman_074_684_Stingray_City_Southern_stingray.jpg


I think that good light is the key: I used strobes to make up for flat light from above: slanting "dappled" light and no strobe illumination seems to be the way to get great shots at Stingray City. It's worth noting that there are at least two sites and that the shallow one is both easier to photograph and less crowded.

Tim

;)

#14 diver dave1

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 07:50 AM

So, the goal is a great big wall hanger pic, in one hour, staying at the surface, keeping the kids safe/interested, with gear you might have never used and will cost ~$1000 for buying the 10-17 and renting a housing/dome for the D7000 - or a bit less if you can find a 10-17 for rent. Does that sum it up more or less? Its great to have goals. This one might be ambitious. It can be met. Odds are likely not high.
Here are some other questions for you.
If you stick with the G9 and get reasonable but not great pics.. will you wish you spent the $500-1000? How badly?
If you spend the $500-1000 and do not get a great pic, will you wish you had not spent the money? How badly?
Will you dive/photo enough in the future to want a housing for the D7000? Here might be your chance to save the rental money and buy one. But its not an insignificant purchase..as you know.

When confronted with decisions, I tend to lean toward the 'spend whatever it takes for the great opportunity' and have to ground my leanings with a dose of reality. A bit of it deals with your family finances, which is a rather personal.
I try to access my skill/talent level (big on hope, less so on talent)..and be practical in my expectations while maintaining lofty goals.

If you spend the $$ for the top gear, you might want to spend a bit more and rent a personal guide to keep the kids interested/safe. Then you can focus freely on the pics and only check on the kids on occasion. Your odds might go up quite a bit if you can focus on the pics only. Actually, I think I would go for the guide either way - split attention is often no attention - both for pics and for safety/fun.

If any way to do it, I would rent the guide, find a way to scuba while the kids snorkel. Your odds go way up with any of your camera options. This gives you a real chance to stay down long enough to get a pic of the kids interacting with a ray...from the bottom shooting up. Would that type of photo be high on your 'goal' list?

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#15 briangudas

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 08:12 PM

Hi Dave, all excellent questions, good to hear the voice of reason ;-)

## So kids are 12 and 9 and pretty good swimmers, the younger one I will have in a life jacket just to be safe . We have a private tour, 5 hours with the 3 of us and another family of 3... Captain and 1st Mate so we should be able to spend time where we want too...

If you stick with the G9 and get reasonable but not great pics.. will you wish you spent the $500-1000? How badly? - ## Burning inside until I can get back...


If you spend the $500-1000 and do not get a great pic, will you wish you had not spent the money? How badly? - ## Not too bad... I like gear


Will you dive/photo enough in the future to want a housing for the D7000? - ## Maybe, the problem is I live in Michigan and that lake is murky most of the time

Here might be your chance to save the rental money and buy one. But its not an insignificant purchase..as you know. -
## Aqua tech housing for the D7000 is $999... not so bad, of course I would need a port. The other side of that is if I found I didnt use it in the next year I could sell the housing pretty easily I imagine, I am sure I would take a loss but likely less than a $400 rental for the week.


If you spend the $ for the top gear, you might want to spend a bit more and rent a personal guide to keep the kids interested/safe. Then you can focus freely on the pics and only check on the kids on occasion. Your odds might go up quite a bit if you can focus on the pics only. Actually, I think I would go for the guide either way - split attention is often no attention - both for pics and for safety/fun.

## My expectation would be 2 hours minimum in the water with the stingrays, 600 shots would be a good goal. I feel good about my ability to capture the image with a little practice, lots of luck and good light, at a minimum I get great shots of the kids with the rays

For this trip, shots of the rays super wide and shots of the kids with the rays will be my highpoints of my trip for sure, the broader trip is really for them (before they are too old and cool to spend spring break with dad)

Here is my stream, just a note I am working on 2 personal projects, BW film (Rolleiflex, Leica M6, Holga ... ya know the normal 3) and a 1mp iPhone project so the current quality is not what I would call technically perfect and razor sharp. You have to look back a few pages to see my normal Nikon output. I only post 1 image per day but in a given year I shoot 50-70K... http://www.flickr.co...dasphotography/

Thanks again for all the help
Regards
Brian

Edited by briangudas, 20 February 2011 - 09:02 PM.


#16 SandyS

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:40 AM

Hi Brian,

With the amount of money that you are planning to spend, even if you end up deciding to go on the lower end, you are still going to be shooting underwater, which appears to be a medium in which you are not experienced. Given the amount of money you are planning to invest, perhaps it would be worth spending a bit more by hiring a photo pro from Grand Cayman to go with you on the charter. The pro will be able to suggest settings and set-ups so that you maximize your shot potential.

There are several high quality pros on Grand Cayman. A question here on Wetpixel should create a list of pros quite quickly. Also, your boat charter operator may be able to suggest someone, as well.

Sandy

#17 Blackshaw

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:59 PM

I'm a fan of the rental gear, you can even get some great tips.
Looking at the money you are going to lay out, how about a Cathy Church class. She is the guru down there.

Good luck and be safe
EJB