If a tip is 10% of the total cost, that total cost is mostly fuel, wear and tear, consumables and hopefully some profit. Proportionally (depending on location) not that much of the overall payment goes to staff wages. So 10% of the total cost as a tip to the staff could well be 100%+ of their wages for that trip. Tipping as a portion of the wages bill would make some nice logical sense but I can see that it's unlikely to happen in this lifetime.
On the advance tipping, I'm sure there are more sophisticated articles about the links and lines between tipping and bribery but let me share my opinion. You might be interested in the official definition of bribery:
Giving or offering a benefit with the intention of influencing a person, to obtain a benefit not legitimately due.
Tipping in advance or promising tips to individual staff for things that are not normally included or available, especially for goods or services that damage the environment or degrade the other guests' experience sits very close to bribery for me. When travelling to countries where corruption is endemic, it would be nice to see tourists from first world destinations modelling good behaviour - paying legitimate fees to the company rather than the individual, paying attention to instructions, following the rules. And avoiding "let me do what I want and I'll make it worth your while" attitude that I'm sure we've all seen in action on occasion.
My pair of new retra strobes arrived this week and I got out for a dive locally yesterday. I own 6 inon Z240s and have been using them since 2010 so this was a bit of a change for me. Some thoughts and observations:
- Of the two diffusers received, one fits well and the other wobbles. It fell off in the car on the way to the dive site so I tied it to the strobe arm for the dive.
- The retras are bigger than the inons
- The only way to put the battery cap down while inserting batteries is on the contacts or on the o-ring, risking picking up dust
- There is no serial number on the strobes. Luckily my insurance company is prepared to add them to my policy anyway
- The recycle time occasionally becomes really long. Camera times show dark photos after a 25 second pause in one case, and after 3-5 seconds in other cases. This is on 75% and 100% power and I wonder if it is the overheating protection kicking in. Water temperature yesterday was 15 degrees.
- The pilot light is very diffuse, and I image could be difficult to see with in bad vis. It's nice to have two power levels and the button doesn't get knocked on/off like the inon aiming light and pre-flash buttons
All that said, I was very happy with the power, coverage and light quality of the strobes. The vis was good and I don't think my strobe positioning was optimal, so hard to judge backscatter potential. The colour temperature and brightness of the images was excellent. After 170 shots, the strobes were still showing three green lights out of four on the face plate. Here are a few comparative shots all on my Canon 5D4, 14mm lens and 8" dome, uncropped.
2 x Inon Z240s, full power, one warm diffuser, one standard diffuser, f8, 1/40, iso400
Kelp with the retras, full and 75% power, f13, 1/50, iso800
Taken after a 4 second interval, would have been nice with strobes:
Fish on the run, f10, 1/50, iso400
Eyes in the roof, f10, 1/200, iso400
Overall I'm happy with them and looking forward to taking them in the caves. I'll be interested to see how they perform off camera and in warm water.
RF doesn't work through the water. The only thing that does is visible light, and even then you will have trouble trying to pass the light through the surface of the water to trigger a sensor. My standard set up for strobes in water, camera out of water is an electrical sync cable with a visible light remote trigger on the end of it sitting on the shore. The sensor then needs line of sight to one of your speedlights but can be stretched a cord's length away from the strobe, and sensors are much less visible than strobes.
There may be an RF sensor that can attach to the electrical sync cable, but I suspect you will have to DIY. They don't work underwater so not many people trying to make them work with underwater strobes. I'd be interested if you find anything.
Alternatively go for visible light. Hedwig sells the triggerfish sensors and you can get electrical sync cables from any underwater camera shop.
Wider is better for caves, especially where you can't back up because there's a wall in the way. I prefer the rectilinear lenses but you do need to look at performance behind a dome port. Maybe consider a wide prime rather than a zoom? For cave diving there is almost no reason to zoom - why not just swim closer?
Some time ago I mentioned that I was using a basic backpack as carryon with a fully constructed camera & housing inside. Someone asked for photos and I never got around to taking them. Yesterday I was helping Dad work out how he is going to pack for an upcoming trip and took some photos. Behold - camera in housing, housing in back pack, within the carry-on size, and room to wedge three t-shirts (for padding) and a couple of strobes around it. I then take a shoulder bag/"purse" with laptop and back up drive, plus maybe a second lens.
The only real drawbacks here are back pain after carrying it across the airport and the risk that someone at the airline will want to weigh your bag, and subsequently try and force you to check it. Having a ratty looking backpack has saved me from being selected for random weigh ins. The advantage is that you land at your destination with a camera in housing and all you have to do is plug the strobes in and jump in the water.
Happens to me regularly with my Z240s. I switch between S-TTL and Full and after a while it usually starts working again. Sometimes turning it off for five minutes helps as well, or pulling the pre-flash button out. I keep an eye on the red light and charging noise to check whether I'm getting a full dump out of the strobe.
Beware of repeated shots at full power in warm water as the Z240s overheat and (as well as browning the tubes) it cooks the internal electronics.
While I tend to subscribe to the "if it's not broken, don't mess with it" philosophy, I serviced my own by putting the deep springs on my Aquatica housing after about 3 years of ownership. There was some grime on the o-rings behind each button and I felt better for having cleaned and changed them to less-squashed ones. I took the housing for a camera-free dive after the o-ring change to make sure all was well before submerging the camera again.
You'd want to have some spare c-clips on hand too as some of them go "ping" and disappear during removal.
If you have to mail the housing to get it serviced, I'd say the risk of it getting lost or damaged in transit is greater than the benefit of annual servicing.
The US is not the gold standard in border crossings, it's a nightmare. Three and a half hours in line is less than I spent in the line at LAX and the only reason I was there was to immediately leave the country on a connecting flight. At least you hadn't come off a 14 hour flight and were in approximately the same time zone you'd (presumably) just left. The USA is the only country that forces passengers in transit to pass through immigration. I avoid it whenever possible and have done very little diving in the Caribbean as a result.
I'm sure un-aware travelers feel the same way about Australia's quarantine inspections when they get hauled out over the apple they picked up on the plane, or the wooden souvenirs that get confiscated, or the way gear used overseas in freshwater gets gently boiled for an hour before being returned.
Each country can do what they want to you and your stuff including refusing entry and deporting you. It's a hazard of international travel and the only available defenses are a positive attitude and comfortable shoes for standing in lines.
There's one other option - leave it in the shed for a month, no batteries, no cables. Forget which strobe is the broken one, take them all diving and see if it works again.
My six Z240s have always been buggy. Being able to fix tubes has been a huge improvement, but they still play up on occasion for no diagnosable reason. At least one of mine only works on S-TTL and the other settings refuse to fire. Another does this temporarily and then swaps and has to be back on Full instead of S-TTL to work. One had a melted capacitor after dry cave shooting. One looks like something got loose inside and shorted across the circuit board - that one is currently cactus. Another won't do a full dump under any circumstances, just a weird little half-fire. I put the most reliable two on the camera and distribute the other four on the dive. If half of them work at full power and one more at some kind of output, the photos normally work. All six working at full power is a good day.
I'm looking forward to a pair of retras arriving in June to see if it's me or the strobes that is the problem. I suspect overheating from full power shooting is the underlying cause of the periodic electronic weirdness with the inons.
Yes, I've had exactly the same problem. They've changed the locking ring over to a much lighter metal and it corrodes a lot faster. Not an issue in freshwater, and then I went diving in the sea for a week and had to use multi-grips to get my triggerfish off the sync cords. I was unimpressed.
I have no solution beyond undoing them after every salt water dive. It's annoying and not good for the pins. Maybe I'll try some Tef-Gel or similar.
I haven't done it in a pool, but yes you will need one strobe above water to trigger optically. Watch out for overheating with it out of the water. Otherwise I think you are into custom-cable territory - something from camera underwater to floating wireless trigger, or something really long from camera to first studio strobe. Alternatively consider using big video lights instead, or all underwater strobes.
Also make sure your studio strobes don't fall in and electrocute your models.
I started with Instagram last year but I've mostly given up on it because I can't post from my laptop. My instagram workflow was post to Facebook, save to mobile, post to Instagram. If there was an export out of Lightroom desktop option I'd give it another go.