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Member Since 07 Sep 2003
Offline Last Active Today, 04:20 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: FS - Subal ND800 housing + Nikon D800

Today, 04:23 AM

All three of my Subal ND800 housings have now been sold.

In Topic: FS - Subal ND800 housing + Nikon D800

17 April 2018 - 11:26 PM



I had a machine shop make the stainless steel push buttons specifically for my Subal housings.  They helped quite a lot, but didn't totally stop the push buttons from sticking.  The groove, however, makes it very easy for me to "unstick" the button by pulling it outward.



In Topic: (60mm) macro behind mini dome port

31 March 2018 - 03:23 PM

I have used macro lenses behind smaller dome ports since my early years (late 1970's) in underwater photography.  


There are many advantages.  (1) The macro lens has a wider angle of coverage which allows you to shoot larger subjects with less water between you and the subject, which results in sharper images. (2) Because you are shooting "wider", you also have more depth-of-field in the resulting picture for any given f-stop. (3) With auto-focus lenses, the auto-focus is faster because what you are focusing on are the virtual images in front of the dome and the focusing "throw" between virtual infinity and virtual subjects that are closer is much less than the focus "throw" between actual distant subjects and closer subjects that you would have using a flat port.  


It has been quite a while since I've dived with a 60mm Micro-nikkor, but using the 70-180 Micro-nikkor zoom behind a smaller dome is one of my favorite shooting combinations.  One drawback in using a macro lens behind a small dome is that you cannot focus quite as close, which makes your achievable maximum magnification less.  As an example.  The maximum magnification of my 70-180mm behind a flat port is .75x.  Behind the small dome port I use, the maximum magnification I can get is about .4x.  


I feel that the reduction of this maximum magnification vs being able to shoot wider range of subject sizes, especially larger subjects like fishes and octopuses, is a trade-off I'm willing to make on many dives. 

In Topic: Moving from a Nikon D800 (FX) to a D500 (DX)

22 March 2018 - 08:18 PM

I have shot underwater with the Nikon D800 for the last four years, and skipped moving to the D810 because I felt it did not offer enough advantages vs the D800 to be worth the cost of new cameras and new housings.  Recently, though, I have moved to the D850, which I do feel offers significant advantages vs the D800.  I chose the D850 instead of the D500 for a number of reasons, most which I wrote about in the WetPixel DSLR thread "D500 vs D850?".  Unlike TimG, I had continued to shoot with "hard wired" strobes, so there was no additional expense when I moved my Ikelite 161s to the D850.  Like the D500, the D850 has Nikon's greatly improved auto-focus, which is first appeared in the D5.


With respect to housings.  Prior to the D800, I had been using first the Nikon F5, and then the D700, in Seacam housings, which I "abandoned" with the D800.  Abandoned because Seacam had, in my opinion, become increasingly control deficient.  No access to the programmable preview or function buttons. No port lock. Etc. And very heavy, very expensive viewfinders, which I replaced with Nauticam viewfinders while still shooting the D700. Nauticam viewfinders which allowed "in water" diopter adjustment.  With the change to the D800, I decided to try Subal ND800 housings which offered all the controls I wanted.  Unfortunately, in actual use, I experienced frequently recurring problems with the auto-focus point push buttons getting stuck in down position, which happened with both of the ND800 housings I was traveling with.  A problem which caused me to miss a number of good shooting opportunities while I was trying to "free up" the stuck button.  Eventually, with the help of a very good machinist, I replaced the original anodized aluminum push-buttons with buttons made of stainless steel which had a small grove which allowed me to easily pull the stuck push buttons back out, something which could happen as shallow as 3-5 meters. I looked at the Subal ND850 at DEMA, and initially ordered one. But when Subal couldn't fill the order in the "about a month" timeframe they had promised at DEMA, possibly due to their financial problems, I took this as a sign ( my order was jammed ) and decided I was unwilling to endure the possibility of fighting push buttons again.  


In early January, two months after DEMA, I decided to buy Nauticam housings for my D850s.  Reef Photo in Fort Lauderdale was able to provide me with Nauticam housings virtually immediately.  Like the Subal ND800s, the Nauticam D850 housing system offered me the possibility to use all my legacy Seacam ports and extension rings. I did need several new zoom gears. but there was no need for new ports and rings.  And I continue to use the Nauticam viewfinders which I had switched to years before while still shooting the D700.  So far, my only "in water" experience with the Nauticam housing has been in a swimming pool to try a new mini-dome port I bought for use with the new Nikon fisheye zoom lens.  My initial pool results with that port and lens were very satisfactory.  I still need more time for acclimatization to the control layout on the Nauticam housings, but I am very impressed so far and hope to get into the ocean with the new system soon.

In Topic: D500 vs D850?

22 March 2018 - 06:16 PM

I did not seriously consider the Nikon D500 when I made my decision to upgrade from the D800 to the D850.  You can have almost all of the D500 "advantages", if you want them, by shooting the D850 in the DX crop.  Or go midway between the two with the 1.2x crop.  If you shot the D850 in the DX crop, you have virtually the same MP image, but you can only shoot at 7fps vs 10fps. But no underwater strobe can keep up with either of those frame rates except at tiny fractional power outputs.  When you shoot DX with the D850, you see well beyond the DX area and can see fish and other animals that are just outside the DX area. Animals that may be about to enter you picture and which you might like to include by waiting momentarily for them to arrive. Or eliminate by shooting quickly.  A fisheye or wide-angle zoom of the same focal length, when on the D850 in DX will exhibit virtually identical depth-of-field as it does on the D500 if you are using the same aperture and same dome port.  


What you really get with the D850 for that extra money and slightly larger size vs the D500 is far more versatility. The versatility to choose when FX and 46MP will do a better job for you that DX and 20MP.   More of Nikon's FX lenses cost more than their DX equivalents (eg. 40mm micro-nikkor vs 60mm micro-nikkor or 85mm micro-nikkor vs 105mm micro-nikkor) and it is likely that you get more for that additional money in things like build quality which affects how long the lens will perform at top specs. Carrying this line of thought further - Alex in his review of the new Nikon 8-15mm fisheye zoom wrote that some of his mates were calling it the "posh toki". But Adam in his write up also mentioned that he and many others he knew had had at least one of their Tokina 10-17mm lenses fall apart or fail in other ways.  


You always pay for what you get. But you don't alway get what you pay for. Especially when you go the cheap route.  And in the Nikon system, all you have to do is look at the DX system as a whole, vs the FX system, and you can see where Nikon is putting their money and effort.  That is why I went with the D850.