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Nicool

Member Since 08 Aug 2008
Offline Last Active Apr 27 2016 08:00 AM
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Topics I've Started

float arms and getting your gear neutral

27 March 2016 - 01:08 PM

Hi there,

 

I am writing in regards to getting underwater photography gear neutral underwater.

 

 

After a recent housing change i find my current set of arms and arms accessories unadequate, and before i order anything else, i'd like to give all this a decent thought, and hear some advice from others.

 

I started shooting in 2008 with regular ULCS strobe arms (2x 8" and 2x4"), which i completed with 4x large Stix floats and 4x jumbo Stix floats.

My feedback on this setup: obviously getting closer to housing neutrality made my whole shooting experience much better. Only painpoint was that those Stix floats take a lot of time to dry, but that's minor.

 

Moving to another housing in 2013 (NA-EM5 + 45 degrees Nauticam viewvinder + subsee +10 diopter), these weren't sufficient anymore, so i put the Stix floats aside, and replaced the 2x 8" ULCS arms by 2x Nauticam carbon fiber float arms (200mm x 60mm). 

My feedback on this setup: benefits were getting the right amount of buoyancy & arms drying easily, but i wasn't totally satisfied as i felt strobe arms manipulation to be trickier than with the Stix floats: i had to screw the clamps very tight to avoid the float arms from going up, and then strobe repositioning got unpractical. Also, i must say my gear wasn't symetric: i had a flexitray left handle, but no right handle (handstrap), meaning the right arm was closer to the optical axis than the left one. I believe this contributed to the un-practicality.

 

Now (2016) i am moving to a Nauticam DSLR housing (NA-D300s), complemented by my 45 degrees viewfinder. 

Photo here:

Attached File  IMG_0326.jpg   221.12KB   29 downloads

When shooting with 60mm macro + focus light, i don't have adequate equipment to make my rig neutral:

-my 2008 setup with Stix floats doesn't provide sufficient buoyancy, but i felt it provided great comfort in strobes repositioning. I tested it yesterday. Here's how it looks like one one arm:

Attached File  IMG_0327.jpg   299.94KB   29 downloads

-my 2013 nauticam float arms make the housing (too much) positive 

 

One idea i have is to buy 4 extra jumbo Stix floats, and add them to my ULCS strobe arms (2x 8" and 2x4"), replacing some of the large floats possibly. I tested (on land) that i could squeeze 4 jumbo Stix floats on a 8" ULCS arm + 1 jumbo & 1 large Stix floats on the adjacent 4" ULCS arms, and this would bring extra buoyancy, hopefully enough! Here's how it would look like on one arm:

Attached File  IMG_0328.jpg   295.8KB   32 downloads

 

Thinking/questions:

Have any of you got the same feeling that very large float arms (like my 200mm x 60mm Nauticam carbon float arms) make strobes re-positioning too cumbersome, because they are just too buoyant?

Would i workaround this problem and get a more user-friendly gear by spreading lots of Stix floats over the 4 arms sections?

Any other solution(s) to offset the weight of a large DSLR rig while keeping strobe arms easy to re-position?

 

thanks!!

Nicolas

 


Tokina 10-17mm on 24 MP APS-C sensors?

19 December 2015 - 06:39 AM

hi folks!

 

I am wondering whether somebody has analyzed how the venerable Tokina 10-17mm behaves on 24 MP APS-C sensors? 

Of course this won't be worse than the previous 16 MP generation (referring to Nikon's D7000), but i am wondering to which extent it takes advantage of the extra 8 MP of resolution?

 

DxO marks is a good source of information but unfortunately they didn't test this lens (at least on D7100/D7200).

Alexander Mustard's reviews are also a great information base, but during his D7100 review he didn't have a chance to shoot the 10-17mm.

 

Any experience to share?

 

thanks in advance

Nicolas


Advantages of hand-straps on DSLR housings

19 December 2015 - 12:06 AM

Hello Wetpixel!

 

I'd like to initiate a discussion on the benefits of hand straps for DSLR housings and discuss on which housing brands they can be found.

 

I started shooting with hand strap on my Hugyfot D7000 housing some years ago.

My feedback on this setup: their housing design is actually all made around this concept, it starts with the rounded shape of the housing, goes with the hand strap itself, and continues with the shutter positioning (a very nice level that you gently pull back: this design helped ensuring your hand would stay stuck to the housing, very neat design. It helps the housing being very stable when pulling the trigger.

 

Then i down-sized to an Olympus OM-D EM-5 in an Nauticam EM-5 housing, one of the reason being that Nauticam offers a hand strap option on most of their compact and "mid-sized" housings (mirorless). You can easily find these on popular photography shops. 

My feedback on this setup: very nice too, i really love hand straps, though the shutter design on the housing its a bit less comfortable (press-down). However it allowed me to get rid of the right handle, making it a very compact setup, very easy to pack!

 

Whatever the implementation, i think a hand strap is something great for us underwater photographers as we often need to use our left hand for something else, and then:

-a hand strap makes you confident your housing won't fall even if you're busy with something else (no need to hold tight, your hand is held tight)

-housing stability when pulling the trigger or pressing a button/lever: with a hand-strap i think you wouldn't have the issue reported by Alex Mustard during his Nauticam D-750 review (impossible to use thumb focus when holding housing one-handed): http://wetpixel.com/...icam-na-d750/P2

 

So i am a big fan of these hand straps, and wouldn't want to shoot without them.

That's where the issue comes: like many of you i am investigating how to spend the money i don't have in a new rig (Nikon DX housing), and the lack of hand strap options limit my choices. 

In my opinion, hand straps are offered on following D-SLR housing brands:

-Hugyfot (design described above)

-Subal: hand-strap attached to the housing right-handle directly

 

What about the other brands? Sadly i can't find such an option on Nauticam housings, and i don't think Aquatica or other brands offer it.

 

Thoughts? Who would be interested in having more of these available?

 

cheers

Nicolas

 

 

 

 


Shooting schools of barracudas

12 August 2015 - 11:04 PM

Hi folks!
I have the pleasure of 1/ being in vacations 2/ in avery nice resort (Villa Alba, Bali), whose house reef hosts a school of young barracudas (about 200 i'd say) who i meet on each dive.
Obviously i try to take wide angle pics of the school (currently shootimg micro 4/3, with a 9-18mm lens) but just like any shot of barracudas school, i am not satisfied with what i am getting.
I usually manage to get the barras pretty well aligned, but them they are not all lit the same, some are too bright some not. They easily get burned (contrast too high vs the dart blue water background).
I wish i could post some pics but internet connection is too slow here.
Would you habe any advice on how to get great barracudas shots?
Maybe reduce flash output (but this won't help with heterogeneous lighting)? Maybe shoot ambiant light?
My opportunities to shoot them again are limited as wifey keeps telling me about the great small stuff that she finds while i play in the blue, ans sooner or later we'll switch to macro... (I am the wide angle person).

Thanks in advance for your comments!
Cheers
Nicolas

which setup to shoot burst underwater?

10 August 2015 - 08:15 PM

Hi folks,

 

I am seeing more and more situations where i would like to shoot bursts underwater, such as approaching schooling fishes, rapid swimming hunters, or macro.

So, i am looking for advice on which setup attributes to look for in order to make it possible, i have in mind a few areas of attention:

 

Strobe exposure control: TTL or manual

I know most of you probably go manual, but having tried both, i must admit i still prefer TTL, which gets the exposure quite right in most of my experience.

And when shooting actions, i doubt even further my ability to get manual exposure right.

I am just wondering if the extra flashes needed for the TTL may limit the ability to shoot multiple real flashes, or limit the burst frequency. 

The answer might depend on the next point though.

 

Strobe connectivity: electric or optical fibers

Like many, i moved to optical fibers (got corroded electric cables twice...). It's great in terms of reliability, though it introduces a dependency on the camera's internal flash capabilities.

In manual mode, you workaround it by setting the internal flash to 1/64th of it's power or something like that.

When doing so, are we confident the internal flash won't be the limiting factor? 

So bottom line questions: are optical fibers a no-go for burst shooting?

Or OK... in manual only?

 

Which strobes?

Some strobes might be more capable than others in terms of burst shooting. Right now i use two Inon Z240 type IV, would there be suitable? Would others be better?

I must say i am puzzled by the userguide's recommendation to limit the number of shots, wait for the strobe to cool down, etc...

 

Camera continuous-autofocus capabilities (underwater)

Though burst mode could be used for still subjects to capture a given attitude, i foresee it mostly for fast moving subjects. Hence, there's a need for good continuous focus capability on the camera side. 

I am currently using an Olympus Micro 4/3 and i don't think these cameras are (yet?) fit for continuous autofocus. 

Before i used Nikon, and would not be against going back to this brand. So question is which of their D-SLRs would do the trick - not sure the D7000 is sufficient? Or maybe it is?

Something to add: i would really prefer to avoid full frames cameras, i could cope with the budget of an APS-C D-SLR, especially if i can buy it used, but full frame would be too expensive and bulky for travel (already have to carry 2 rebreathers, for wifey and myself...).

 

Any other criteria to consider for that setup?

 

 

thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts :-)

 

cheers

Nicolas