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Member Since 04 Feb 2007
Offline Last Active Aug 13 2013 07:43 AM

Topics I've Started

Surf or dive housing for galapagos snorkeling, what's best?

30 May 2013 - 02:42 PM

I will be going to the Galapagos islands for a mostly land based trip.    On those trips you usually snorkel at least once a day - with penguins, marine iguanas and sea lions.   Note that this is NOT the same thing as diving the Galapagos!


I have been once before (in the days of film) and used a standard dive housing.  That worked, but when you're right at the top and there is a lot of wave action it is pretty heavy and can be awkward.  Waves whack the camera into your face, etc.


I usually use Seacam housings (1DS Mark III, 5D Mark III and have 1Dx on order).   My sons use Seacam and Nauticam.


So my default housings for snorkeling will be those, but it has occurred to me that for rougher water a surf housing like SPL http://splwaterhousings.com/ might actually be better.  They are lighter, and generally meant to be used with one hand.


Does anybody have any experience with using these right near the surface for snorkeling?


padded wet bags for carrying housings in dive skiffs

01 January 2013 - 09:38 AM

About 20 years ago, I bought a couple of waterproof padded bags from Underwater Photo-Tech that used to be in Derry, New Hampshire. The bags are big enough to fit a housing and flash units (with arms folded). I have used them for years to carry my camera in the dive skiff. They are great because they are padded, so they offer some protection against the inevitable bumpy boat ride. They are waterproof so you can use them as a dunk tank if need be. When dry, you can even pack things (not housnings, but I often put other items in them) for travel.

I typically put the whole rig into the bag on the dive boat or shore, then ride out in the skiff or other dive boat, with the housing in the bag. It goes from the bag into the water, and then as soon as I hand the camera to somebody on the skiff it goes back into the bag. I have used these bags for so long that I don't even know what other people do.

Well, the zippers have finally given out so I need some new ones. I can't seem to find any current substitute.

I think that the bags were originally intended to be soft-sided coolers for taking to football games etc, but they were private labeled by Underwater Photo-Tech. UPT was apparently absorbed into Backscatter, but I don't see anything like this on the Backscatter web site.

I also can't find any other solution for carrying housings in the boat. There seem to be no end of specialized bags for carrying dive gear and/or cameras WHEN DRY, but I don't see any solution out there for this specific need - carrynig the wet housing to/from the actual dive.

I have looked at other soft-sided cooler bags, but so far everything I have found has drawbacks. Many of them are too rectangular - they are designed for six-packs of beer. They are not padded as well either. The larger ones tend to have wheels and so forth which won't really work.

Does anybody know where to get these? Or, if not, then what do you use to carry your housing to and from the actual dive site?

Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS lens - has anybody tried IS/VR underwater?

30 December 2012 - 03:57 PM

Has anybody tried the Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS lens, or more generally other IS lenses (which Nikon calls VR).

Canon claims that the IS system gives 4-stops worth of image stabilization in terms of shutter speed. If so that would be pretty interesting.

One alternative is to use the Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens, which gives you 2-stops.

Of course f-stop versus IS isn't really a fair test. For moving subjects (for example, fish) using the f/1.4 lens wide open will clearly be better - it would get you 2 stops of shutter speed which might help stop the subject. IS will not help you much with a moving subject.

But IS ought to be a help in a lot of other underwater situations.

If you want depth of field, so you want to be at say f/8 to f/11, then the IS lens could potentially save the day. Topside, one uses a tripod for such shots, but obviously that is very limiting underwater.

Normally the topside rule of thumb is that your shutter speed should be 1/focal length - i.e. 1/24th of a second (round to 1/30) for a 24mm lens. 4 stops of stabilization would imply you could go to 1/2 second.

This review http://www.the-digit...ens-Review.aspx has photos shot at 0.8 sec handheld that look pretty good. I doubt that this would apply underwater where you float around and have less stability. However it may still help.

I have used the Canon 100mm IS macro underwater, and the IS seems to help in terms of the image that I see in the viewfinder being more steady, but most macro shots use strobes for the light, and the strobe exposure is very short (1/1000 and sometimes much less), so the IS is going to be less important.

With WA shots, there is often a mix of strobe for the foreground and natural light for the background, where IS would be helpful. Wreck diving, silhouettes and other circumstances make IS potentially useful.

Some people use the 24-105mm IS zoom underwater, and might have some perspecitve on how much the IS helps.

I am less familar with Nikon, but their VR lenses ought to be pretty similar.