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Member Since 31 Mar 2006
Offline Last Active Jun 02 2016 05:27 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Galapagos: camera friendly exposure suit and gloves recommendations

13 January 2014 - 10:14 AM

I returned from two weeks in the Galapagos in Mid-October 2013.  Darwin and Wolf were running 74 to 76 F, but we had a number of dives at other locations where temperature was as low as 56F.  I did use a 7mm, and on the cold dives a 5/7mm hooded vest over the top of the 7mm.  On the other hand I used the work gloves with kevler dots like these:


http://www.amazon.co...vler dot gloves


This was my second trip to the Galapagos, and both times I brought kevlar wetsuit gloves and the work gloves, on both trips I used the wetsuit gloves once and the work gloves the rest of the time.  At least for me they were more then adequate for holding onto the rocks and barnacles.  They are cheap enough and light enough that I brought a spare pair, by the end of the second week I switched to the second pair as I had started to shred the first pair, at $10 a pair I can't complain.  These provide almost no warmth but it is simple to operate your camera with them on.  


At the risk of starting a debate on the merits of various fins, I will add that I made a last minute packing decision that for me really paid off photographically.  I switched out my normal diving fins for my Cressi 2000 HF's.  I did not bring a high end free diving fin as they are more fragile then the Cressis' and as others have said the Galapagos environment is really rough.  I won't speak for anyone else but for me I find I can kick with much more force with the Cressis' as long as I am in shape then with any traditional Scuba fins.  I used a pair that is large enough for me to wear a thin neoprene sock both for warmth and protection from blisters on a two week trip.  The extra power from the fins allowed me to get a couple of key shots at Darwin and Wolf especially appreciated when pushing my large DSLR housing.   I only offer this as a suggestion if you are comfortable with larger fins, the demands of diving in the Galapagos are enough that I wouldn't take a new pair of fins if you haven't used them before or at least tried them extensively in a pool.  You are traveling far enough that it is better to have equipment you know works for you then take a chance.  I'm not sure when "Whale Shark" season starts at Darwin and Wolf, but these fins especially shine with Ms. Big.  Both my fin choice and glove choices worked O.K. even on the very cold dives with a 7mm suit.  

In Topic: New Housing "Airlock" Vacuum from Backscatter

02 July 2013 - 06:40 AM

I just returned from Bonaire as well, we arrived home last night at midnight.  We purchased two of the Backscatter systems, one for myself and one for my wife both worked great with no issues at all with any buttons, and we routinely pressurized to 10lbs.  I am using a Seacam housing.   I have the simple system without the lights, although our housings have audible and visible leak detection as a back up.  I was away for 16 days and made 52 dives with the housing my wife made about 30 with hers.  Changing lenses, downloading cards and restoring the vacuum was quick and easy.  The only difference I noticed between my housing when it was under vacuum and prior trips was that I had to remember to release the vacuum to open the back or to change ports.  I grew to appreciate that the Backscatter system requires you to insert the pressure gauge to release the vacuum, originally I though it would be nice to have a switch on the valve that is attached to the housing, but knowing that the default position has the valve sealed, and the valve is only open if the gauge is plugged in makes it almost impossible for me to make an error and depressurize the housing by accident.  The system is easy to use and extremely light for travel.  This system very quickly became second nature, and barely added any time to my camera rigging/derigging.  


I was originally disappointed that I purchased the system from Backscatter without the lights before the one with the electronics was available.  Now I am happy with the current system and I am not sure I would upgrade for the additional cost if I could do it again.  Although I have not used a vacuum system for years I did have one with indicator lights installed on an RS in the 90's, I am much happier with the Backscatter system then I ever was with the RS.  I can see the obvious advantage in general of indicator lights but for me it is not a big deal if they are missing.  The ancient system in the RS probably is not comparable to more modern systems, but it did drive me crazy on my last dive of the day when I changed film and re-rigged the RS, I would then apply vacuum, and check after 30 minutes and have the green light.  The next morning the light was red and I knew it was the temperature change, but I could either ignore the red light or repeat the pressure test.  With the RS the pump was not mechanical it ran off the pressure fitting on your B.C. as I recall so it was really kind of a pain to pressurize.  I think the biggest factor to consider with any system is how easy is it to use, from my experience if there is a choice between a hand pump and one that requires air or a/c or even batteries to run I would choose the hand pump.  A hand pump reduces the chance that you will skip the vacuum just this once because of lack of an outlet, batteries etc.  


This is not meant as a comparison to the other available pumps, this is a rare case where I did very little research before purchasing.  It was an impulse buy based on an email Backscatter sent out before release of their product.  It is also not meant to recommend going with a no light system over one with lights for anyone.  For me I think this is the right choice, based on my prior experience but I think it depends upon the system, your rigging protocol, and your comfort level as well as any incremental cost.  Finally I have no connection to Berkley White or Backscatter other then having made purchases from the Backscatter store in the past.