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Wearing a drysuit and shooting macro


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#41 james

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 05:20 AM

Thanks Mark and Tom. My suit has pretty big built-in boots that are stiff rubber.

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#42 scorpio_fish

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 07:22 AM

You may be overweighted. When I use a steel tank I use no lead in fresh water. This is a lam suit with modest fleece undergarments.

Dry suit diving takes getting used. I still haven't gotten totally used to it. At least I've gotten my trim right. Worse than taking a camera, I foolishly did my deco course (doubles and deco bottle) while using my dry suit for the just the fifth time. Sure was funny .....for the people watching me.

Just dive more in it and you will figure it out.
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#43 onokai

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 11:12 AM

Those are the best boots. Get big fins. Dry suit gear is just one more set of dive stuff.. I have seperate wieght belt /ankel wieghts- dedicated fins and hood different BC (larger). Hey this stuff is cheap- Toss in 2 Boston Whalers and a few commpressors as well as 20 tanks and the $ pile shrinks . Dive stuff is a bargin- Boats and camera gear are not. Happydiving Mark
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#44 Snappy

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 01:18 PM

I think there is a case to be made for using the BCD while using a dry suit. After all I assume you know the ins and outs of BCD boyancy, the only new aspect will be to balance that with a bit of air inside your suit.

In particular for someone not used to diving with a dry suit, it is essential not to get too much air inside the suit. Having a gentle squeese can be preferable to having air travel back and forth inside your suit. Certainly if feet alreade are a bit on the light side, chances are you will find yourself with air trapped in the boots and before you have had time to get it right you find yourself rocketing towards the surface. Head down, feet up/first.

To avoid it: use the BCD that you are familiar with for boyancy at first, and and use less air in the suit. Once familiar with the drysuit concept, one can work ones way into using less air in the BCD, more in the suit. Which will be warmer too, as a bonus.
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#45 onokai

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 01:37 PM

My last dives in Montery Cal to 80 feet with housing. at this depth one needs some suit air otherwise you get MONKEY bites. Thats the marks all over your body where the suit squeezes one. If the dive is shallow go easy on the air in suit . Hey this stuff is common sense and there are 10'000- cooks here so find what works for you. To add air or not to that is the question 10 divers where asked -and there where 20 answers. happy safe diving. Mark
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#46 Paul Kay

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:50 AM

What a fascinating thread! As someone who rarely dives in a wetsuit and having used numerous different drysuits (neoprene, tri-lam, rubber, mine, borrowed, hired, etc.), I've come to the conclusion that drysuits are ONLY about being comfy and warm. If they impinge on the dive then they are useless!

I work from the inside out so to speak - many of the superb modern 'wick-away' undergarments help shift dampness from sweat (assuming a none leaking suit) away from the skin so I feel warmer as this isn't causing problems. I add thin fleeces over these, then an undersuit and finally the drysuit. The comfort of this lot dictates how much air is required in the suit and so how much lead I need. I find that I always tend to favour ankle weights (1lb on each leg) and usually carry 24~30lb of lead (shot I find comfier) in a pouch belt.

I never use the BC for buoyancy control!

But I do not find trim to be any problem whatsoever these days. And reckon that I am no more clumsy in a drysuit than wet.

At the end of the day, a drysuit is probably about experience. I use mine all the time (in temperatures fro 3C to 23C) and using it has become second nature. If you are having problems using a camera with it (macro or otherwise) then you probably need to gain more experience in using the drysuit before adding the camera.
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#47 baddpix

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 01:26 AM

I find that a drysuit offers some advantages for photography. In a drysuit with some air in it, your whole body is buoyant, so it is possible to hover horizontally a few inches above the bottom.
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#48 tdpriest

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 04:16 AM

Hi, y'all.

Despite what it feels like, the problem is TOO MUCH LEAD!

This is implied in some of the comments, but not SPELLED OUT.

After many years in the United Kingdom (all that stuff about the warm North Atlantic Drift is hooey: a sub-50 Fahrenheit dive is not rare in the darker part of the year) I can say that:

a ) a neoprene suit is more difficult
b ) a membrane suit with too much air/too many underclothes is more difficult
c ) having air in two places is more difficult

Paul Kay has probably got very useful things to say, and published results to prove it, but what I would offer is my solution:

weight to be just neutral at the end of the dive, on the surface, using a membrane suit and the best hi-tech thermals (I use Weezle, they're great), with small ankle weights and try to stay at one level when shooting.

I get down to a level, set up my suit (no air in BCD, that's for back-up) and then set up my camera. I have found that the weight distribution with a stainless backplate and twin 7-litre cylinders is almost perfect, and I only carry a pound or two of trim weights if I have been out of the water for a few months.

Instability is caused by air bubbles in the suit, which make you feel light, but are actually a sign of TOO MUCH LEAD. Dry suits killed divers in the early days when they were knocked off their feet by the surge, held upside down by the air in their suits, and bashed their heads on the bottom. This stopped when "optimum" weighting was understood, so that inversion stopped producing two big bubbles of air around the feet: try it in the pool, with too much lead, and then try dropping lead in stages - it's a convincing demonstration!

Tim

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PS: I'd rather be in Bonaire (last week) or Egypt (next week), I think I've mastered the D70 sunburst, and I've just asked Pete Rowlands to send me a Magic Filter

#49 Water Rat

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 12:03 AM

Diving with your knees bent and using af "frog-kick" will help you controle the airflow to the legs thus making it easier to avoide negative legs. :lol:

#50 Nemo

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 01:49 AM

James,

Ive been diving dry exclusively for 14 years and dont seem to have this problem. I use only 4 lbs of lead, with a SS plate, but I dive steel tanks not AL. The steel (85's or HP 100's) are neautral when empty. I was able to drop 4 lbs when I switched undergarments from Thinsulate/fleece to a Dive Rite Primaloft undergarment.

I would try gaiters, but dont add more ankle wgt. your back will hate you for it. If you can move your trim wgt up that might help but honestly figure out a way to get rid of some of the lead 17lbs is way too much.
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#51 lauri

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 04:30 AM

I dive a drysuit regularly with twin steel tanks and a camera. IMO the only way to manage this gracefully(the key word here) is to look at the techniques used in technical diving. In fact, most photographers would benefit from the skill set of a technical diver, because a camera tends to make a simple recreational dive more complex.

1) Make sure you're correctly weighted. Most people tend to wear way too much lead. Too much lead -> too much air in the suit and the BCD -> more buoyancy change to manage even on small ascents and descents. If you can't stay on the surface by finning with your BCD and suit empty long enough to orally inflate your BCD you're probably overweighted.
2) Managing air in a dry suit and a BCD is not as hard as some people would like you to believe. Actually you can manage all your ascent/descent/buoyancy related stuff with your left hand in almost all common equipment configurations: the BCD and drysuit inflators are easily in the reach of your left hand, as is your nose should you need to equalize. The same applies to dumping air, as the shoulder dump is in the left arm... and this becomes instinctive very quickly. Put gas in your suit only to reduce squeeze and for warmth, manage the buoyancy with BCD. With a single tank you might just manage with the suit only, with twins and/or a negative camera setup using the BCD becomes a necessity.
3) Master horizontal trim - try to keep most of your lead as close to your center point (ie navel), speading it on the both sides if possible. An easy way is to take a 1-2 kilos off your belt and put it on the upper tank band. Think of your body as a lever, and you'll realize why ankle weights are a bad thing. If you have a problem with air in your legs, get gators, they do wonders to managing trim.
4) Master the frog kick. As it is symmetrical in the vertical plane you'll be much more stable, and can be reversed for quick stops and backing up (although this requires some practice and won't be easy with gimmicky fins such as hinged or split ones).

...these are very basic skills, and can be mastered in almost any gear, though the DIR folks will always start by first preaching about gear and then the skills. A DIRish setup will surely help, but it's not really necessary...

BR,
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#52 Paul Kay

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 02:49 AM

For what its worth, my last dive trip saw me using a very lightweight membrane drysuit (a Typhoon something-or-other) with a 4th Element Extreme Arctic thick pullover thingy, and Polartec clingy trousers (a bit tight-like but there you go) and an excellent Weezle extreme on top of these.

Lead and tank were as offered by the dive shop/boat so varied a bit as I didn't have portable weighing scales with me and, as all the kit was new, didn't know how much I needed anyway.

In spite of this I had 30 pleasant dives, never used the BCD, was pretty comfortable from 13~19C (I like being warm) and happily managed hour plus dives. The cuff dump was, as usual, a bit of a nuisance at times, but worked ok.

Which all goes to prove what? Well that really this drysuit business isn't all that much of a problem. If it IS for you, then as I've said here before you need to get more experience using drysuits in general. I watch too many divers flail about in drysuits and adding in a camera merely makes them notice just how much they thrash around.

I don't really think that you can be too prescriptive about technique in a drysuit - there are many different ways of using them as can be seen from this thread and what is right for one diver may not be for another. What is important is that you should be thoroughly at home in using one before adding in the camera. You can't buy experience!!!
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#53 DeanB

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 11:19 PM

" You can't buy experience"

There's a few girls down SOHO who will dispute that quote.. :lol: :lol:

Dive safe

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#54 onokai

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 11:20 PM

I always check bouncy at surface-I wear USIA(made in Oregon) underware and they are very bouyant-They are also very warm. Its a farmer john with full jacket -under is pagagonia long johns. In the DUI or Nokia suits or Viking- I use 30# and a couple of ankle wieghts. I'm a 6 foot 200# guy. this has worked for many years for me. I never use my bc except to float at surface at end of dive near boat. Every diver will have there own way on what works as I stated earlyier but for me in 30 years of dry suit work this works for me. I can stay in one place till the cows come home shooting macro and stay warm in puget sound the Queen Charlotes or Nor Cal as we as mid cal around Montery in this set up. Heres another set up which is much harder to shoot photo with. Only you older folks will reconize this setup. I'll make a post on it. Mark
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#55 CADiver

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 10:16 AM

Isn't it nice to have the leg up and body downward when shooting macro ? Won't kill all those critters underneath, & can get a more level shot. :wacko:

Here is what I sometime do and probably violate a few PADI safety rule ...
Say I am horizontal, with the weight of the camera forward at head level, I exhale and this will pull me down into position of where I want to shoot my picture, sometime needed one finger, other time may be not, and yet other time the camera might rest on some rocks. Take a few shots and inhale, this float me back and up and away. It's 5 to 10 seconds event. I don't really pay attention to where my legs are. If I have too much air in my leg, I will get my orientation right and get rid of some air first before approaching the subject again.
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#56 Arctic Dive Travel

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 10:04 PM

Hi James

Looks like you hit a popular topic there :lol:

One thing I haven't found in the answers (might be there though), is that by placing you tanks lower (In upright position) at your BC plate, you can shift some weight, without adding any. This is how I got rid of my ancle weights.

I use my drysuit in water temperatures between -1,7°C and 15°C. In the configuration for the warmest water I dont even need weights at all.

Good luck, Morten
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#57 zif2000

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 09:57 PM

I would ignore the people trying to give you exact numbers for your weights. As stated above you do need to be weighted exactly to the 1lb to minimize air and be properly weighted. I change my weight depending on my my port selction and which dive light I use. It is best to get it exact. Much more than a wetsuite.

I shoot macro with my drysuit and SLR and at first it was challenging. Everytime I got horizontal, the air would shift to my legs and I would go vertical. I use 4lb ankle weights and now
it is perfect. I can lay on the sand or stay horizontal with very little effort. I highly recommend it. Some people who do not like ankle weights use very heavy fins, but it is the same difference.
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#58 Timmoranuk

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 11:44 PM

I use a 5mm neoprene drysuit from O'Three and snug fitting polartec undersuits from Fourth Element. I just take the squeeze out of the suit and always use my BC (16 kg wing for single cylinders, 22.5 kg wing for independent twins and 30 kg backplate wing for manifolded twins) for bouyancy.

Recently I have started to use ankle weights as I felt that in conjuction with heavy fins (Scubapro Jets) and my lower legs raised in a wide legged 'skydiver' stance I achieve greater lateral stability and a finer degree of control in the water. I like to migrate a little air into my lower legs which helps relax my legs.

I tend not to use the shoulder auto dump and manually expel air from my left wrist seal by raising an arm but I guess it depends how quickly one moves in the water column.

This configuration allows me to adopt whatever body attitude I wish; flat and level, head up, inverted, but I'll probably change something next week...
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#59 rlx

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 02:13 AM

Two very simple things I found... I was so happy to be able to take my lovely thick wool socks diving I completly forgot about the foot over head syndrome they were about to cause! Either leave them on shore or never leave the ankle weights behind; and number two...weightbelts are GOOD. They move your weight further down your body and spread your lead distibution so the strain is not all in one place, integrated have their place but....

#60 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 12:49 PM

They move your weight further down your body and spread your lead distibution so the strain is not all in one place, integrated have their place but....

I drysuit dive a lot... I wear ankle weights, and used to wear two weight belts, distributing the weights around the bodyt. Now a days, I have one of the DUI Weight and Trim Harness (classic model) It works well. Its easier onthe body on the boat, shoulder straps help to take the load. And as the straps cross across the back, when in the water helps to distribute the weight, holding the body down.. I find this harness system easier to manage than two weight belts. Something worth considering.

Edited by wolfeeldiver, 08 October 2008 - 12:50 PM.