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Member Since 14 Jul 2005
Offline Last Active Feb 04 2018 04:41 PM

#356193 Your Favourite/Best Image of 2014

Posted by johnspierce on 02 January 2015 - 02:45 PM

So many great photo opportunities this year, but my favorites were all from swimming with humpbacks in Tonga.image.jpg

#350963 Hammerheads

Posted by johnspierce on 30 July 2014 - 02:02 PM

Plenty of Hammers in Galapagos.  When we went in May, there were hundreds of them schooling at Darwin.  Another good place is the Bahamas where every January/February they gather in the shallows.  John Bantin wrote a post about it:



#344950 Vacuum leak detector question

Posted by johnspierce on 24 March 2014 - 07:13 AM

BTW, I have done many giant strides with an Aquatica housing while snorkeling with Whale Sharks.  I tried to hold it high near my head to minimize the surface shock, but had no issues at all. I'm sure the Nauticam is equally good for doing entries with housing.  My opinion is it will be even safer under negative pressure.  It would take a helluva shock to knock a port loose with a vacuum system and I have actually never seen a flood caused by a "damaged" housing/port.  


It's always an o-ring not seated or a port coming unscrewed, both of those occurrences are exactly why you want a vacuum system.

#344948 Vacuum leak detector question

Posted by johnspierce on 24 March 2014 - 07:06 AM

I have a vacuum system myself and the housing opens even without releasing the vacuum 


Hmm.  That's surprising.  When I pull my housing down to -10hg, I absolutely cannot open the housing.  I can release all the latches, pick it up and shake it hard and the back will not come off.  I didn't do that with the camera inside by the way :D  I might be able to pry it apart with a screwdriver (I'm not going to try that!), but my housing is absolutely "sucked" together and cannot be opened without releasing pressure first.  


Also, I can rotate the port if I put a lot of effort into it, but I cannot pull the port off when it's under negative pressure.


I'm using Backscatter's airlock system on an Aquatica housing, what housing / vacuum system are you using?



#344549 Nikon 1 V3

Posted by johnspierce on 16 March 2014 - 06:49 AM

Thumbs up:


- Higher Resolution sensor with higher ISO capability

- Faster focus, more focus points

- Faster shutter, 20fps wow.

- Smaller profile

- 120fps slow mo 720p video

- tilt LCD with higher resolution

- Touchpanel LCD


Thumbs Down:

- Eliminating the EVF and making it external

- Yet another 10-30mm lens.  What's that, 4 of them now?

- The new 10-30 doesn't even have a filter ring or hood!  Ridiculous.

- Sold as the complete kit only with lens, EVF and grip.  No choice. 

- EXPENSIVE!  Jeez, $1200?  That's a D7100. or almost 2 Olympus EM10's

- Using the accessory shoe for the EVF making it useless

- 120fps slow mo 720p video instead of 1080p.

- No 4k

- Yet another battery!  jeeez

- micro SD.  What, are they going for the GoPro market?

- Only two decent primes in their lens lineup.  All of the zooms with the exception of the 6.7-13mm are mediocre and slooooowww.


I sold my V1 and all my lenses recently.   The 1 series has great promise, but it's overpriced and Nikon keeps totally changing it's mind on what the "V" series is supposed to be.   I went to Olympus OMD with roughly the same overall size, better sensor and stellar lens selection, not to mention just being cheaper.   Yes, the Nikon 1 is impressively fast to focus.  Other than that, it's a "Fail" for me.




#341731 Mirrorless Forum?

Posted by johnspierce on 11 January 2014 - 09:16 AM

Yes, there *should* be a mirrorless forum because in 5 years the DSLR forum will likely have tumbleweeds running through it like the film forum of today.   Saying a DSLR will absolutely deliver an image superior to a mirrorless camera is completely ignoring the new Sony A7 which is arguably the equal of the Nikon D800 in image quality and about 1/2 the size.  Now, I'm a Nikon guy so I won't buy one, but we are definitely seeing the future of imaging in the A7.   EVF's are not superior to optical viewfinders today, but they will undoubtedly be superior in the near future.

#339812 Are buoyancy arms generally needed with a setup?

Posted by johnspierce on 23 November 2013 - 08:14 AM

Thanks for your responses everyone, I really appreciate the feedback! 
So it's clear from your comments that extra buoyancy is a must with this Ike setup. I got 2 sets of arms by Ikelite - its obvious that these aren't a favorite amongst you guys, but I am on a budget and they were a good deal so I'm stuck with them for now. What kind of buoyancy options are available for Ikelite arms? I've looked on website like backscatter and blue water photography but I can't seem to get a clear explanation as to what would work with these arms... the Stix looks like the most efficient and practical solution but do they work with Ikelite??

The Ikelite arms are just fine, just buy the jumbo stix floats for buoyancy - I used those for a couple of years on Ike arms. The buoyancy is more important than the actual arms. I like the ULCS arms better; but it's not that big a deal.

#339656 How did you flood?

Posted by johnspierce on 18 November 2013 - 07:28 PM

Time to do mine.


- First flood was in the rinse tank back in 2005 or 2006.  Front port was knocked askew resulting in total flood.

- Second flood was about 6 months ago in Fiji.  Still don't really know what happened, just saw bubbles coming from the top left of the housing where the surfaces mate.  I was about 20 feet down and by the time I surfaced the entire housing was full.  Opened it immediately, but didn't find anything obstructing the o-ring.  I'm very careful with my gear, but I did just change from wide angle to macro, so obviously I did something wrong.  BTW, the moisture alarm *did* go off, but the housing was already half full of water, so it really just added insult to injury.  My flood insurance worked better than the moisture alarm thankfully :D


At any rate, the one thing I am certain of is a vacuum system would most likely have prevented both floods.  My new Backscatter vacuum system arrives this Friday.

#339538 Post processing every time?

Posted by johnspierce on 16 November 2013 - 06:19 AM

Every image gets "some" processing since I shoot RAW. In most cases, a correctly exposed RAW image will look a bit flat and overexposed. If it looks exactly right out of the camera, I'm throwing away data.


Obviously, this is not universally true... Say, In the case of a silhouette where overexposure is the death of the photo, but still - I can always find some minor tweak that is required.

If you shoot JPEG, then the camera is tweaking the RAW image for you internally and it's modifying contrast, white balance, sharpness, etc., so you might get photos you are happy with straight out of the camera. I prefer to do my own tweaking rather than let the camera do it.

#339452 Fish eyes compared: Tokina versus Panasonic (test 2)

Posted by johnspierce on 14 November 2013 - 09:11 AM

I think you might have something else going on with your Tok 10-17 -- it just doesn't look sharp in any part of the image.  If it was just a Fine Tuning issue, it would be back or front focusing, but it just looks very "soft" overall. 

#339414 Fish eyes compared: Tokina versus Panasonic (test 2)

Posted by johnspierce on 13 November 2013 - 11:01 AM

OH yeah and one more thing.  Since you are comparing a 2.0 crop factor sensor against a 1.5 crop factor sensor, you need to "equalize" the aperture.


A 2.0 crop 8mm F4.5 would be equivalent to 11mm at about F5.5 on a 1.5 crop sensor which could account for the softness on the 10-17.  It might still be softer, I don't know;  I know the 8mm Panny is very good - but that would be a better test in my mind.

#335672 Aquatica port assembly

Posted by johnspierce on 11 August 2013 - 01:50 PM

Yeah, that's an interesting conundrum isn't it?   The port extension will lock to the housing, but the port itself is merely screwed into the port extension - no lock.


In practice, I've never had an issue with it, but the port will definitely rotate on the extension.  I just always ensure the port shade is in the right position and that tells me everything is good.  I suppose if a person wanted to "dedicate" an extension to a port forever and ever, you could epoxy it into place.


Trust me, it works fine.  If you have a flood it's more likely because you made a mistake sealing the halves of the housing rather than the port coming loose.


take care,


#330952 Zoom ring on Tokina lens came off - need help

Posted by johnspierce on 06 May 2013 - 07:44 PM

I talked with a rep in the Tokina repair department today. He did not sound surprised at my issue and seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. He assured me that they could get it repaired and back to me before the 16th so I could have it on my trip.  I am going to overnight it to them in the morning.  We had a short discussion how I use this lens, and he was very aware of the love underwater photographers have for this lens and completely got why I wanted this back for the trip.   At least I got hold of someone who understands a little bit. It makes it so much harder when a rep does not get it,   


Electrical tape is in my "tool kit/fix it" bag when I travel.  It is SO useful.   


Will update you when I get it back and let you know how it turns out.   I decided to have it repaired through Tokina since I have so many trips planned this year and do not want it giving out on me in the middle of a trip and no way to fix it. 


Happy diving - Pam


That sounds like a great deal Pam!  They fixed mine almost two years ago and it's been rock solid ever since...


safe diving,


#330835 Zoom ring on Tokina lens came off - need help

Posted by johnspierce on 04 May 2013 - 12:46 PM

Hi Pam,


The exact same thing happened to me two years ago on my first day in Isla Mujeres to shoot Whale Sharks.  I was freaking out.   I took it off and put it back on several times taking care to keep the black "tape" inside the zoom ring from crimping and I went ahead and used it.   It was a bit loose though and sometimes zooming it in and out was not very smooth, but it worked.  I tried to minimize the amount of zooming I did.  It got me through the sessions, but it was a bit touchy.  


So, you might pull it off and put it back on and just take care the black tape is not folding over or crimped in any way and then just use it.  I don't think you will have enough time to get it fixed before the trip, but you could send an email to Tokina and ask -- they might be able to do a rush job:


Send an email to:   repairs@thkphoto.com


When I got back to the states I sent it to them and they fixed it for $70 including return shipping.  Here's where I sent it:


THK Photo Products
7642 Woodwind Drive
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
ATTN: Repair Dept.


It took about two weeks, but I wasn't in a hurry.


Good luck!


#330828 Am I missing something? - Galapagos

Posted by johnspierce on 04 May 2013 - 11:23 AM


I appreciate all your input...what kind of depths are we looking at? It seems most is around the 60 ft mark. Or am I mistaken in my assumption? What are the dive times typically like?



Yes, you are correct -- it seems we spent a lot of time at 50-60 ft.   There were a couple of dives down to 80, but no real need to go deeper than that.  We had plenty of bottom time at each location because you would either a) drift with the current or b) find a place to "lock in" and watch the show.  The current was wayyyy too strong to swim against.


Now -- I should qualify a bit more about the current.  We did our checkout dive on the edge of the harbor at San Cristobal and there was no current at all.   Then, we went to Bartolome and Santiago and there was "some" current.  Still wouldn't want to swim against it, but think Cozumel-like current.  After that we went to Cousins and there was no current at all there.  


I was starting to think the Galapagos reputation for strong currents was exaggerated, then we went to Wolf.  Oh yeah!  Currents were pretty strong at Wolf and we would backroll in, swim to the bottom as fast as we could and watch the show.  Lots of eagle rays at Wolf along with plenty of silkys and reef sharks.


Darwin cranked it up about 3 notches over Wolf.   You backroll in right in front of the arch.  The panga is jockeying back and forth in the surge because where you drop there are two currents from opposing directions which are slamming right into the reef underneath.   Washing machine is an apt description.  Your goal is to get in as fast as you can, drop down to about 50-60 ft and find a place to hide in the rocks.  If you turn your head sideways against the current you are risking losing your reg out of your mouth or possibly your mask if it isn't pretty snug.   It feels like you are in a raging river.  Your regulator hose is shaking up and down and your bubbles go straight sideways with the current.


Then, you look up.   It's the Hammerhead Highway!  Hundreds and hundreds of them no more than 10 feet away swimming leisurely in the current, totally oblivious to the divers below.  Just simply one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.


On one dive, we all let go and drifted right up in the thick of the Hammerheads.  They gently parted way and allowed our group to drift along with them in the current as we slowly made our way to the surface.


You are gonna have such a good time :D