Custom Neoprene Cover for Zen Mini Dome on my Nikon D7000 Nauticam rig - So nice!!
Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:12 AM
The problem is simply this: There is no suitable cover for this dome port.
The port cover that comes with the Zen Dome sucks out loud. As lame as it is on land, its worse in the water. And the way I dive - I need to keep this thing covered up when I'm traveling between sites.
I need the cam attached to me, but I need it to sling back and read behind me when I'm scootering. My solution was to add a length of 1" webbing. Works perfect. Been using this sling method now for 6 years on three different housings.
The issues come when I add a deco bottle or two - they're on the left side with the cam and the glass port will rub against the Aluminum of the bottles... not pretty.
I need a cover that will stay put. I need a cover that won't blow off when I scoot. I need a cover I can put on and take off underwater easily.
My previous solutions were adding bungee and grommets to commercially available covers. The problem there is the grommets pull out eventually as the neo stretches around the grommet.
The bungee mod was a workable, but not an elegant solution I've been using for years now.
I was just in Monterey - and at the end of a day's diving I went over to see Cricket at Otter Bay (www.otterbaysuits.com) - she makes custom suits, boots, vests and probably the finest cold water hood on the planet (the mighty OB 12mm Helmet we all wear!)
I took in my housing and my dome port. The design I wanted called for nylon webbing to run down the sides of the port cover, and across the front - sort of like the handles on a canvas boat bag. I figure you can carry bricks in a boat bag with that webbing-wrap handle design - if I used the nylon webbing as the anchor point for the port and not the neoprene, this thing will be tough, hold its shape and will last.
Cricket at OB quickly did some measurements, sketched it out, re-measured, made some more notes and sent me on my way - stating she'll call if she has any questions.
I received one call to confirm a few things, and a week or so later, I get another call saying its ready to ship... and the final price came in BELOW the original estimate (how often does that happen?!?!?)
The port came in yesterday. I could not be more fired up, I'm taking pics with my phone, and sending them out to everyone I know who would care... 'look at this... the thing is beautiful!!'
I get home last night and work on mounting this to the rig. I use two bits of bungee, and attach it to the handle brackets. It fits perfectly on the dome. To use it, I just roll it up to the top of the sunshade - out of the frame. When I'm done with the shot, I pull it back down, clip off, sling the cam back and scooter to the next site.
I play with it a bit and I think, "hmmmm - this may work well for my Macro Ports as well."
It does! It fits my macro ports when configured for my 60mm or for my 105mm.
I manipulated this for about 40 minutes last night while watching Chopped on the food network (best show ever.) I put on my glove liners, put on my dry gloves and started rolling up and unrolling the cover over the ports. Over and over... its gonna be simple and easy.
Tomorrow morning will be the final test - as I'll take it diving on the Yukon and some other wrecks and sties around San Diego on Saturday.
Many thanks to Cricket for her excellent customer service and to Otter Bay for such a great product. I can't wait to get this on the water and try it out.
More pics below.
Detail shots of attaching the dome port cover to my rig. I'll eventually go to some sort of quick release mount for the bungees. Right now, they're just tied on.
Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:14 AM
Zen Mini Dome - fits perfectly!
Works great on the Macro Port configured for 60mm
Works great on the Macro Port configured for 105mm
Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:56 AM
Canon 5D Mk III, 7D & 40D, 60mm, 100mm, 17-40L, Tokina 10-17, Nauticam 7D, Sea & Sea MDX-40D YS-250's ULCS arms, Lightroom
Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:57 AM
Do you think it will be easy to manipulate the cover underwater while using thick gloves?
On land with my dry gloves - simple!
In the water it *should* be easier, as the dry gloves actually increase in dexterity once I'm diving (they kinda vacuum onto my hands... better in-water manipulation than out of water)
We'll know tomorrow morning!
Posted 23 September 2011 - 10:59 AM
Looks great Ken, please promise me that you won't catch the line on the port release lever.
thought about that. With the gloves on last night, maybe a hundred or more roll ups and roll downs - never an issue.
Its a two-phase level - gotta push the top, and then flip the lever. Its a great design that would require purposeful intent to release... not simply narc'd fat fingering.
All the same - I promise.
Posted 23 September 2011 - 04:33 PM
Underwater Images My portfolio on Redbubble Topside Nature Images
In between housings. Nikon 60mm, 105mm, 10-24mm, 18-55mm, Tokina 10-17mm, Kenko 1.4 TC, SubSee +5 & +10 magnifiers & Inon Z240 strobes.
Posted 27 September 2011 - 02:11 PM
3 dives on the wrecks in San Diego - AL40 of O2, scooter, humping in and out of a couple of wrecks: this thing rocks!
I had complete confidence I wasn't gonna trash my dome (any further...) and was able to concentrate on the very ambitious dive plans and not worry a moment about my gear.
The straps need to be tightened just a bit - when everything was wet it all stretched a bit. But other than that - it was perfecto!!
The straps don't interfere with, nor do they increase the likelihood of actuating any buttons, levers or controls.
My one largest complaint with the Nauticam D7000 housing remains: there should be a lock on the AF / MF lever. Its in a bad place, and I'm constantly having to check to be sure its still in AF.
All was good. I'm so excited!!
Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:06 PM
Posted 06 October 2011 - 05:23 AM
Thanks Ken for the photos and info. I called Cricket yesterday and ordered one for my Nauticam T2i. $60 seemed a little high for a neoprene port cover but it is custom and I guess you get what you pay for. The one I first got with the flat port was so lame I lost it just walking between my car and the boat. And it's great that this one will fit both my flat port and the Zen. I had recently bought myself some 1 mm neoprene with the idea of making myself a cover, but paying someone else $60 is a better way to go than me spending hours trying to get it right. Thanks again.
We heart Cricket!
She makes the port covers for Backscatter - the top photo, my original pimped cover for the mega-dome is a Backscatter cover.
They're tough, well made and last for years. I got well over 900 dives and many tens of thousands of images on that first port cover.
$60 - the price per dive on this thing is pennies, and that officially makes it the cheapest piece of photo gear I own.
You're gonna love it.
Edited by mo2vation, 06 October 2011 - 05:24 AM.
Posted 09 October 2011 - 10:23 PM
just a thought - how about adding that nylon loop across all the existing port covers that you already own? seems like quite a simple job to stitch it over the neoprene.
it's a great fix, by the way. i'm going to try it out and see what monstrosity i come up with.
Kodak disposable film camera
"I use lousy equipment. I charge very high rates."