I'm not familiar with Sea & Sea line, but I think there's a significant difference between Ikelite and Aquatica. These differences are reflected in the price of course... Ikelite controls seem somewhat "floppy" and less ergonomic to me. Aquatica (which I own) is precisely the opposite. It's also relatively compact comparitively.
As Tim pointed out, have a look at Nauticam and Subal as well. These would be similar to Aquatica in terms of build quality and all very good housings.
In my case, my final choice was simple... my first DSLR was used and purchased here. It was an Aquatica system. My second housing was also Aquatica. SInce I bought it new, I decided to support the local guys, here in Canada. I have been to the Aquatica plant several times and continue to be impressed with their products.
At the end of the day, you can't really go wrong with any of the brands mentioned, although if budget isn't a huge issue, I would be inclined to pass on the Ikelite housing, and buy a couple of their strobes instead. You might look into ease of access to service etc as the housing will need to be rebuilt from time to time.
Regarding lenses, I get the sense that you are thinking the 16-35 might work for "everything" but you might find that it isn't the best for anything, and you should perhaps consider both something wider and something longer and macro-ier (???). This is a separate decision from the housing however.
Going by your settings alone, I'd say that your shutter speed is far too fast... My "go-to" settings at ISO 200 in that sort of shooting would likely be more like f8, 1/100 or 1/125. If I was shooting close up macro and needed to increase DoF, then I'd shoot maybe f11 to f16 and decrease the shutter speed accordingly...
I use the same strobes, and they have tons of power. I rarely have mine set more than 1/2 or 2/3 power. I would suggest you try that and leave the diffusers in place...
Steve/Pete, you have some great shots there! Friends of mine travel to PI annually, but I have yet to make the trip from Tobermory! It looks spectacular.
So many people seem to thing that great diving has to be in warm water. Last year, I travelled to both the east and west coasts of Canada as well as a few spots in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. Personally, I love cold water diving, plus you can hang your beer in a bag off of the boat and it comes up "just right"! :-)
The reality is the dealer and Ikelite are two entirely different legal entities... and there may well be another layer in there as well... a distributor. Regardless of whose "fault" this was (and it sounds like the error occurred somehow between you and the dealer...) one thing that is clear is that it was NOT Ikelite's fault. (Or I assume this as you have not indicated that you ordered Part X and got Part Y from them... It was a case where you ordered Part X, but Part X wasn't what you needed... right?)
If I understand you correctly, ultimately Ikelite (who was not in anyway at fault) has agreed to exchange the part with you only paying shipping? If so, that seems like outstanding customer service to me... Or perhaps I misunderstood?
This is a shot of the Arabia in Tobermory, Ontario. I've been trying to get this shot for many years, but poor visibility, currents, uncooperative buddies and general lack of skill on my part prevented it. Taken last spring, in 110', 28°F water...
This image was featured in DIVER magazine in the November/DEMA issue. :-)
I had the pleasure of giving a slide presentation (What are "slide" presentations called nowadays anyway???) to a group of business leaders 10 days ago. My intention was to run a canned show with music, but they asked so many questions, that I shut the thing off, and went though the pics one at a time, and we talked about most of them. It became very apparent, very quickly, that these otherwise intelligent and successful people knew very little when it came to things "oceanic".
They knew virtually nothing of shark-finning, or that commercial fishing is utterly devastating for the most part, or that farmed fish create a whole new set of problems and on and on. They didn't understand how changing climate can have a major impact on our oceans.
I don't know about you folks, but about 99% of my good friends are active divers, so I had forgotten that my circle of friends doesn't represent the "Average Joe" when it comes to this sort of thing.
As photographers, we have a unique ability to show the public a side of our planet that most people will never see. As a direct result of that talk, 82 people know a bunch of stuff that they didn't before. That talk also led to two more talks on the calendar. I have decided to dramatically shorten my "pretty picture" component, and provide a little more emphasis on the talk/education part in the hopes of expanding a few more minds.
Having said all that, one guy, who runs a successful business came up to me after my presentation and challenged me on my comments about climate change. He had seen "a scientist" on TV and "the scientist" said that it was all BS. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that he probably say the guy on "Faux News"!
Ok, so I guess maybe a educated only 81 out of 82, but that's ok I guess.
Some companies just "get it". You're now a loyal customer for life. You have told a pretty targeted audience about your experience, and this will undoubtedly result in more sales for them. But that probably wasn't their motivation for replacing the light. Good people, making great products tend to do the right thing...
Well, I am a two -time Aquatica owner, so I've spoken to Jean and visited him at their offices a few times and he was always very helpful. But you kind of expect that, because I am a customer. I think that's his job... to help customers.
But in the past year, friends who have been struggling with their imaging have come to me for advice or help. I can often assist, but on two occasions I was completely stumped about the problem that they were having. One guy even posted on here and no one could help.
So in each case, I sent a note to Jean to see if he had any bright ideas. I should mention that neither of these friends are Aquatica users. Both use Ikelite systems. But in both cases, Jean responded within minutes to my email with the solution to the problem. Then he followed up a bit later with some 12 page technical paper that he had written that covered the the topic and solution.
As tempted as I was to take credit for this brilliance, I passed this information along to my friends who were amazed and happy!
So I tip my cap to Jean. He's a credit to Aquatica and a fabulous resource to call on.
Which doesn't mean you can all send him your bizarre questions.