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Galapagos: camera friendly exposure suit and gloves recommendations


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#1 Interceptor121

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 02:04 PM

Hi There

 

We are currently planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands mid May.

 

The suggestion of almost all operators is to dive with a 7mm wetsuit with gloves and hood.

 

This does not seem particularly exciting so I have done some research and found that the water temperatures are tropical for Wolf and Darwin islands (23/24C with occasional thermoclines) and much colder for other islands down to 18C with 14C thermoclines in specific sites. Air temperature will be between 22 and 27 C with averages of 25C.

 

I generally dive in a 3 or 5 mm wetsuit and after that I switch directly to a dry suit however I have been told that there is quite a bit of hanging onto rocks that may puncture the suit (I have a Whites fusion plastic with 1mm neoprene around it) plus it can get quite hot before getting in the water. Furthermore there can be strong currents where the additional drag of the dry suit may be a problem.

 

Before investing into a 7mm that I will pretty much never use after this trip I was thinking of taking a 5mm with a polypropylene top (fourth elements thermocline) and polypropylene hood for the warm sites and a 5mm short john and 5mm hood for the cold sites. The idea is to have the least lead required and be more agile when possible.

 

I have also been told that gloves and reef hooks are the norm, I have and know how to use a reef hook but I only use gloves for cold water. I have a pair of fourth element 5mm gloves and I would not dare to use them to manoeuvre the camera. I was thinking a pair of scuba pro or mares amara 2mm gloves should be sufficient as the water is not that cold.

 

As anyone who has been there had any experiences with similar exposure suit and in general are there other options I should consider??

 

 


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#2 MikeO

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 05:05 PM

It has been a while since I went to the Galapagos. I don't really recall what kind of suit I wore. However, I do recall that I used a pair of gloves that were dual thickness. I just did a bit of searching and I found them again online. The brand is Seasoft. They make a 3mm/1.5mm glove that would fit the bill. Thumb and forefinger are 1.5mm, 3mm for the rest. Kevlar fingers and palm, which is handy due the barnacles in the Galapagos. Not inexpensive, by the way.

http://www.seasoftsc...vlar-glove.html

Edited by MikeO, 02 January 2014 - 05:07 PM.

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#3 eyu

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 06:10 PM

A typical dive at Wolf and Darwin is to do a back roll and kick like crazy to 70 or 80 feet where you grab onto the boulders with both hands and hold on for dear life.  There is nothing agile about the diving there and you need to stay with your group or risk getting lost (forever).  The currents and surge are strong.  If you turn your face sideways your mask will flood if your strap is not real tight. You need kevlar gloves, normal gloves get shredded. A 7mm or dry suit is the way to go.  A 5 mm is not enough warmth.  I took my camera rig on one dive at Wolf and soon found out that it was difficult to hold onto a boulder with one hand and my camera with the other. 


Edited by eyu, 03 January 2014 - 04:20 AM.

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#4 kkfok

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 06:36 PM

I used a 5mm wetsuit with a 3mm vest with hood in my previous trip to Galapagos (June 2011) and it was fine. However I think a pair of thick gloves is a must as there were really wicked surge and current in Wolf (landslide) and those boulders can be really sharp. My buddy used a pair of normal dive gloves and was cut badly.



#5 Interceptor121

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 12:08 AM

I found those on sale in UK http://www.deepblued...oves-14182.html

3mm Kevlar and reasonably priced at £25.95. 3mm should be ok for use with a camera. I wonder if the kevlar will actually scratch it?

 

Frankie which boat were you on and have you got memories of sharp thermoclines? What gloves did you use?

 

Sharp boulders do not sound safe for my dry suit


Edited by Interceptor121, 03 January 2014 - 12:09 AM.

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#6 kkfok

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 07:38 AM

I was using a pair of Mares gloves 3/2mm. It was Galapagos Sky, sorry that I don't not have much memories about thermoclines, I was too concentrated at shooting hammerheads and fighting against the surges.


Edited by kkfok, 03 January 2014 - 04:28 PM.


#7 Interceptor121

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 05:18 AM

Thanks for the info Frankie I will make sure I hang on to the boulders

 

In the end I went for a Fourth Element Proteus 5mm with 5mm short john and hood (plan to use the short john and thick hood only in the colder sites)

 

I bought a pair of Scubapro Kevlar Grip gloves 3mm

 

I will also carry my Oneill Thermo X Top 13 Oz and fourth element thermocline hood for wolf and darwin those equate to 2.5mm neoprene

 

So that should do the trick


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#8 Oceanshutter

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:53 AM

We just got back from a trip to Galapagos in August. I believe the water is colder then, than in May. But at wolf and Darwin, you could have gotten away with a 5mm and a vest hood combo. Those dives are the warmest for sure. 72 for us. Not sure of your itinerary, but cousins rock was about 7 degrees less than Darwin. And then on the west side of Isabella....it was bone chilling 56 degrees.

I don't plan in using my 7mm that I bought for the trip again.....but I was sure glad I had it.

Also, the Kevlar gloves are a pain....but necessary for Darwin and wolf. However, I used regular gloves, non neoprene/Kevlar for the other dive sites not at Darwin and wolf. And they worked just fine.

Be prepared, as photography, and video is very difficult there, and to temper your expectations. I shoot video, and I believe you do as we'll......the animals would not get near me with lights on. So it was frustrating. Turning them on at the last minute, wouldn't work either. Hammerheads don't come in very close....at least not for us.

In my opinion, Galapagos is a very fun and exciting destination that everyone should do. Make sure to do some land tours as well. That aren't part of the boat. North Seymour is a must. My only issue with Galapagos is, that good footage is hard to come by. The viz, cold, current surge, and the fact that the sharks are skittish, make it difficult. But it is sure fun!

Hope that helps....you are going to have a great time.

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#9 Interceptor121

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 03:14 PM

Very useful info Dustin thank you
I hope I will not freeze I have few more questions for you
When you say normal gloves what do you mean? Was it for warmth?
Also did you use a filter and what lens did you have on the rig?
I shoot sharks in natural light only I have only managed with bamboo sharks to use lights I am not expecting the shark to come close with the lights which I plan to use for seahorse that am told are there and other close up
Probably I won't need a macro lens!


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#10 kkfok

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 05:01 PM

Dustin is right, I felt pretty cold at Punta Vicente Roca in my 5mm wetsuit+3mm vest with hood and the water temperature was around 18 degree Celsius.

 

I shot with my panasonic TM700 at that time, I tried to shoot with a filter, it certainly helped to bring out the color but footage were too noisy. Finally I decided to shoot without a filter. I think it is a good idea to shoot with a filter if you have a camera with much better low light capability than my TM700(like your RX100 II)

Macro lens...the redlipped batfish is not that small that you need one.



#11 Oceanshutter

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 11:03 PM

Very useful info Dustin thank youI hope I will not freeze I have few more questions for youWhen you say normal gloves what do you mean? Was it for warmth?Also did you use a filter and what lens did you have on the rig?I shoot sharks in natural light only I have only managed with bamboo sharks to use lights I am not expecting the shark to come close with the lights which I plan to use for seahorse that am told are there and other close upProbably I won't need a macro lens!


The gloves both my wife and I have, in addition to the Kevlar ones we bought for the Galapagos trip, are a thin leather on the fingers and hand. They were enough to keep our hands warm, and no so thick to cause issues with camera. Using these gloves during the coldest dive, was fine....it got a little cold but I would rather deal with that, instead of the thick plugs.

I use the canon 5d mark ii.....but I don't use filters. I think white balance is too hard with them, and I don't like losing the stops of light, and lose of quality. The waters are quite dark there. I started using the 17-40mm and I just don't like the quality of it...the zoom looked horrible. So I switched to the 15mm fisheye halfway thru the trip. Better quality, but need to get closer obviously. I left my macro home. The only thing I would have used it for would be for the red lipped batfish....but it was worth it to me to bring all that extra gear for one subject...I figured I was there for the big stuff and I was going to focus on that. No regrets. Also, we only saw 1 seahorse. Again not worth it... If you want that go to the philis, or Indo..

Hope that helps.
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#12 Interceptor121

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:58 AM

Thank you Dustin very helpful
I have yet to receive those gloves I am concerned that they are clumsy but am hoping with only 3mm not an overkill
I normally don't use gloves except in cold water for teaching and I don't have a camera when I do
If the Kevlar are to difficult I may have to buy another thinner pair maybe 2mm
I understand now the issues with the lenses I use a Sony rx100 and with the filter I go in auto I don't bother doing custom white balance this may be an advantage in this trip
The water does look fairly green though so I was wondering if a magenta filter would be better albeit there are none available for the lens I use!
For macro I use wet lenses so I don't have to change I think I will leave it on the caddy just in case

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#13 Oceanshutter

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 05:55 PM

Thank you Dustin very helpful
I have yet to receive those gloves I am concerned that they are clumsy but am hoping with only 3mm not an overkill
I normally don't use gloves except in cold water for teaching and I don't have a camera when I do
If the Kevlar are to difficult I may have to buy another thinner pair maybe 2mm
I understand now the issues with the lenses I use a Sony rx100 and with the filter I go in auto I don't bother doing custom white balance this may be an advantage in this trip
The water does look fairly green though so I was wondering if a magenta filter would be better albeit there are none available for the lens I use!
For macro I use wet lenses so I don't have to change I think I will leave it on the caddy just in case

 

Yes that will be easier.  The WB wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  plenty of sand to go off of.  At darwin and wolf, it was more a blue water...And even at Punta Vicente Roca....We had stellar viz when we were there.  The bluest water I have ever seen in fact....But we were very lucky...I had heard that it was normally much worse viz than what we had.  And based on some other videos I have seen of the sites....we really lucked out!  The green water is more the cousins rock area...

 

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#14 Interceptor121

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:18 AM

What about water entries? Did you guys roll in with the camera in hand?
That's not what I normally do and I am a bit concerned

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#15 Oceanshutter

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 07:36 AM

What about water entries? Did you guys roll in with the camera in hand?
That's not what I normally do and I am a bit concerned

 

The only time I rolled in with the camera was an spur of the moment dolphin pod that came by after we got in the zodiac after the dive.  Granted.....the currents weren't as strong for us as they could have been.  We had more current in Komodo, and I did backrolls there with the camera.  I just hugged the dome, and made sure I went straight back.  It was fine.....even with my ikelite housing that has questionable port locking...

 

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#16 Interceptor121

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 01:18 PM

That is encouraging I really would prefer not to jump with the camera!

 

Thank you again I will keep you posted on my return


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#17 conger

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:14 AM

I returned from two weeks in the Galapagos in Mid-October 2013.  Darwin and Wolf were running 74 to 76 F, but we had a number of dives at other locations where temperature was as low as 56F.  I did use a 7mm, and on the cold dives a 5/7mm hooded vest over the top of the 7mm.  On the other hand I used the work gloves with kevler dots like these:

 

http://www.amazon.co...vler dot gloves

 

This was my second trip to the Galapagos, and both times I brought kevlar wetsuit gloves and the work gloves, on both trips I used the wetsuit gloves once and the work gloves the rest of the time.  At least for me they were more then adequate for holding onto the rocks and barnacles.  They are cheap enough and light enough that I brought a spare pair, by the end of the second week I switched to the second pair as I had started to shred the first pair, at $10 a pair I can't complain.  These provide almost no warmth but it is simple to operate your camera with them on.  

 

At the risk of starting a debate on the merits of various fins, I will add that I made a last minute packing decision that for me really paid off photographically.  I switched out my normal diving fins for my Cressi 2000 HF's.  I did not bring a high end free diving fin as they are more fragile then the Cressis' and as others have said the Galapagos environment is really rough.  I won't speak for anyone else but for me I find I can kick with much more force with the Cressis' as long as I am in shape then with any traditional Scuba fins.  I used a pair that is large enough for me to wear a thin neoprene sock both for warmth and protection from blisters on a two week trip.  The extra power from the fins allowed me to get a couple of key shots at Darwin and Wolf especially appreciated when pushing my large DSLR housing.   I only offer this as a suggestion if you are comfortable with larger fins, the demands of diving in the Galapagos are enough that I wouldn't take a new pair of fins if you haven't used them before or at least tried them extensively in a pool.  You are traveling far enough that it is better to have equipment you know works for you then take a chance.  I'm not sure when "Whale Shark" season starts at Darwin and Wolf, but these fins especially shine with Ms. Big.  Both my fin choice and glove choices worked O.K. even on the very cold dives with a 7mm suit.  



#18 Interceptor121

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 01:09 AM

Thanks for the tips conger. I use mares avanti Quattro power for spearfishing as my diving fins. They are not as rigid as the gara but are just 4" shorter. I found this to be he best compromise between agility and power compared to a full length apnea fin. I got myself Kevlar gloves 3mm. My concern is now about knees and elbows am thinking about Kevlar volleyball or skateboard pads. Temperature should be 64F at the coldest in may much warmer than October. However am planning to keep an eye on the captain logs and in case pack my dry suit. Currently I have a full 5mm plus a 3mm hooded vest and a 2.5 over shorty with some unsergarments. When I put all those layers on with two hoods, undrgarments, hooded vest, wetsuit and overshorty I feel like I have an armour. I have 10.5 on the torso, 7.5 on upper arms and legs and 5 on calls, forearms and head. My only concern are my foot as my socks are only 2.5mm. I hope I won't be shivering!!!

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#19 Aliens

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 05:41 PM

Rolled in with camera. Wore a drysuit with thin fleece undergarment very glad I had it. Those with 5mm suits felt cold after 2 long dives. For the whalesharks at Darwin I just had housing and arms and no lights

Red lipped batfish are fantastic, cold dive very well worth it. I used just my zoon lens didnt brign sep. macro.

Dont need reef hooks. We just used thick gardening gloves. dont need dive gloves. Wolf rock you cna tuck in out of the current easily to view sharks etc. One member did puncture a suit just take a repair kit.

Knees and elbows stay off the bottom, ha ha

Use Scubapro heavy jet fins. Were fantastic.

 

Our boat had suits on board for hire if you do want to change to a wetsuit.

If you are use to some current it is not that bad. yeh Komodo is worse.



#20 Interceptor121

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 09:29 PM

Rolled in with camera. Wore a drysuit with thin fleece undergarment very glad I had it. Those with 5mm suits felt cold after 2 long dives. For the whalesharks at Darwin I just had housing and arms and no lights
Red lipped batfish are fantastic, cold dive very well worth it. I used just my zoon lens didnt brign sep. macro.
Dont need reef hooks. We just used thick gardening gloves. dont need dive gloves. Wolf rock you cna tuck in out of the current easily to view sharks etc. One member did puncture a suit just take a repair kit.
Knees and elbows stay off the bottom, ha ha
Use Scubapro heavy jet fins. Were fantastic.
 
Our boat had suits on board for hire if you do want to change to a wetsuit.
If you are use to some current it is not that bad. yeh Komodo is worse.

What time of year did you go?

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