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Posts posted by frogfish

  1. No, I don't think you're missing anything at all. This was one of the points I was trying to make in my comment above, to the effect that the 24-85 extends quite a lot through its zoom range, and that my problems with this lens may have been related to the fact that the port I was using wasn't really optimal for either end.


    In addition to the wonderful 12-24 DX, the front element of the equally (or perhaps more) spectacular Nikon 17-35 mm also doesn't much when the lenx is zoomed. I haven't had any of the problems I experienced with the 24-85 zoom with either of these two lenses.



  2. Just my $0.02, but I would urge you not to let the tragic recent bombing in Jakarta affect your plans. The threat of terrorism is global, and a serious incident can happen anywhere. The Indonesian people (and Balinese) have already paid a huge price - in economic terms, and in their own blood - for the murderous acts of a very few terrorists. It's not nice or pretty to think about, but keep in mind that all of the innocent victims killed and most of those injured in last week's in Jakarta bombing were Indonesians. Ordinary Indonesians who work for foreign embassies or high profile hotels, or whose work involves visiting these places daily, are the ones who should be worried - and some are - not visiting divers.Cancelling your plans to come to Indonesia only helps ensure that the terrorists' real objectives will be realized.


    The possibility of another terrorist incident in Indonesia (or elsewhere in the region) can hardly be discounted, but the risk to you on the sort of trip you and your friends or clients have been considering is truly minimal, significantly less than the chances that you will be in a serious car accident on the way from your home in the US to the airport.


    There are a few simple precautions that make sense, not just in Indonesia, but almost anywhere, these days:


    - avoid unnecessary visits to embassies and/or major international hotels in major cities. If it is necessary, when you do enter or leave an embassy or major hotel, proceed quickly through the security clearance area and/or lobby to your destination;


    - avoid high-profile nightclubs and bars and events mainly frequented by expats;


    - avoid loud or obnoxious behavior in public, and do not call attention to yourself as an American (or whatever you are), ie., don't wear t-shirts with US, British or Australian flags or insignia, "fuck Osama" legends, etc.


    - In Indonesia, use Silverbird taxis in Jakarta, Bluebird taxis in Bali, and reliable drivers elsewhere. (It's not that drivers of other taxis pose any particular risk, but drivers from these companies are more professional and will get you where you are going quickly and directly, without unnecessary detours - intentional or otherwise;


    - After arriving in a foreign city or location, check the locations of nearest hospitals and/or emergency medical services (including operations specializing in emergency medical services for expats such as SOS) and carry a piece of paper their telephone numbers and addresses with you;


    - Carry a first-aid kit (the presassembled ones made by Adventure Medical Kits are decent) when travelling and know how to render emergency first-aid.


    Most of these apply to all international travel at all times, but not enough people bother. The most dangerous likely risk you will face travelling in Indonesia - or anywhere for that matter - is a traffic accident. Use taxis instead of renting motorcycles, or - if you must take a motorcycle, at least don't ride motorcycles in traffic wearing just sandals or flip-flops.)


    I should add that I'm someone who moved to Bali three months after the tragic bombing in October 2002. I don't hang out in Kuta bars (and never did), and I rarely have occasion to go to major international hotels in Jakarta, though I do sometimes. I was in Sumbawa last week when the recent Jakarta bombing occurred. I received numerous sms messages on my mobile phone from concerned Indonesian friends - including Islamic friends - who wanted to make sure I knew what had happened, and to express their horror and concern. I'll be in Jakarta later this week, for meetings in connection with monitoring of the upcoming presidential election. It didn't occurr to me to consider changing those plans as a result of last week's incident, and it doesn't now.



  3. I have some images of what is almost certainly dynamite fishing damage on Indonesian reefs, though not before and afters of the same specific site, and it's impossible to be certain about cause of damage unless you are there immediately after the event.


    I would be willing to supply some of these in low or medium-resolution jpeg format for the uses you describe. Email me if you are interested...



  4. Alison,


    Actually, the last eruption of Mt. Agung (in 1962, I think) is the main reason there is a world-class dive site at Tulamben. The Liberty had been beached after being torpedoed during WWII, and after being salvaged for valuable stuff, sat on the beach for almost twenty years before the earthquakes that came with the 1962 eruption kind of bumped it into the water.


    As far as I'm concerned, the Liberty is the dive at Tulamben. Except on the rocky points at and beyond the end of the bay, there really isn't any coral reef here - the Liberty sits on black volcanic sand, which does have its own attractions, however. The drop-off, the other good dive at Tulamben, a wall that does have some nice coral, was badly damaged in early 2002 by silting after heavy rains, but it's starting to come back, and should only get better from here on out.


    Menjangan is more classical 'reef" and "wall" diving, and I like it a lot, though for me the Tulamben is unique and a more interesting site. The rubble you saw in 2000 may have been the result of the bleaching in 1997/98, which hit Menjangan pretty hard. Almost all of the shallow water species, esp. acropora spp.,, were completely wiped out. There's been a very good, fast grow-back over the past four years. I was amazed when I last dived at Menjangan, about 6 months ago, at how good it looked. If you know what it looked like in 98/99, you'd know that most of the shallow water corals are new, growing on skeletons and rubble substrate left over after the mass bleaching episode, but most people don't notice that.


    You're right about the currents at Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. I go there a lot because it's the closest and easiest dive site for me, and I've had some of my best and worst dive days there. Fortunately, the last one (about two weeks ago) was one of the best - four very relaxed and happy mantas for 45 minutes at Manta Point in the morning, in good vis (though I didn't have my camera - housing is in Austria being serviced) and three mola molas at Crystal Bay in the afternoon, also good vis and conditions. If only all days at NP were like that...



  5. But do carry a good surface marker buoy (sausage or lift bag) and learn how to use it - IANTD's deep air course provides training in deploying a lift bag or other SMB using a spool or reel at deco depths. And a good audible signalling device (horn or storm whistle), and some sort of emergency beacon - either a flashing strobe or a powerful back-up light that you carry on every dive (and don't use as a regular dive light on night dives).


    There definitely will be times when you get separated from the group and find yourself on your own.

  6. I initially also thought this might be Pterois antennata (Spotfin Lionfish), as James suggested. But now I don't. Here (below) is what I think is a P. antennata. The head is quite different, and the spots on the fins are much more prominent.




    The juvenile P. Volitans (Common Lionfish) also has prominent pectoral fin rays, but they look quite different too:




    I've never been satisfied with the listings on the entire scorpionfish family in any of my sourcebooks. There seem to be quite a few scorps in the Indo-Pacific that don't show up in any of the standard works, (that I have), but are clearly distinct species.



  7. I wholeheartedly concur with the previous posters suggesting two 12 inch arm segments.


    At full extension, 2 x 12 arms makes it possible to get the strobes far enough off the optical axis of the lens to shoot startlingly clear shots even in what seem very bad viz conditions.


    I also think you'll be happy with ULCS. But I would consider getting a couple of their little dumbbell arms for macro. For my rig, shooting a 105 mm lens, even 8 inch arms are still too long for macro.



  8. Stephen,


    I've heard about your SOS BC-mounted automatic surface marker, and also read one or two of your earlier posts about it. I've never actually seen one, so it's hard for me to understand how you can be sure that there is no risk (even 0.001%) that a malfunction couldn't lead to the device unintentionally inflating or aquiring buoyancy underwater.


    Knowing your photography, I'm sure this must be something you've completely figured out, and that it isn't a problem. But I'm afraid this still probably wouldn't be the SMB for me.


    I've done some informal tests on the distances that a standard (5') SMB is visible under various sea conditions, and the results weren't encouraging. I prefer much bigger SMBs. I use one made by OMS which is 10 foot long, 8 inches (measured flat) across. This marker is the one I want to have if I ever surface and find a squall has blown up while we were down. (It will fit in a Halcyon backplate storage plack, but is easier to carry behind the butt, flaked and tucked into two bungie loops mounted on the holes a the lower corners of the backplate.)


    I've also had boat drivers tell me (on occasions when I and other divers surfaced far from where we were expected) that mine was the only marker they could see when we were first spotted. It's always with me - I carry it on every dive.


    Also, as my comments in this thread above probably have already suggested, I also think it's important to have the capability to deploy the SMB at depth (along with training and practice to do it right), not just on the surface.


    But good luck with this product - I hope you do very well with it. Any safe product that gets more divers to carry and use surface markers has to be a good thing.



  9. Deploying an SMB underwater may be only taught as an advanced technical diving technique, but I've seen a number of instances where open water divers attempted to do this, in once case with what could have been very serious results.


    The Scubapro sausage is - or at least was - sold together with a loose piece of line about 7 m long to allow it to be deployed from safety stop depth. It did not include any instructions or warning that divers should not attempt to inflate the device underwater without training.


    I don't think underwater deployment of SMBs is just for technical or decompression diving. It can be vitally important in a drift dive situations, particularly in remote areas. Divers can become separated and may be carried in different directions by currents. The chase boat is only going to be able to follow one set of bubbles.


    SMBs can (should, in my view) also be deployed underwater prior to ascent in areas where there are a lot of dive boats or other watercraft.


    Deploying a SMB at the surface doesn't really entail any risk, and I didn't mean to imply that I don't agree all divers should always carry some sort of surface-deployable visual marker. My concern is that people are buying (or may be being provided) sausages that come equipped for underwater deployment, and do sometimes attempt to use them without adequate training, preparation or experience..


    (I also often carry two SMBs, or rather an SMB plus a lift bag.)



  10. There is a point at which really strong currents make shooting macro impossible. If the current is strong enough that you need to brace yourself, you may have problems handling a housing and strobes with one hand, and there is also the risk of damaging marine life. I try not to shoot macro if the current is too strong for me to maintain a steady position by finning alone.


    If the current is truly strong enough to make a reef hook necessary, you may encounter problems handling your camera rig and it's extra drag. You definitely want to have some way to clip your rig on to a D-ring in case it's not possible to deploy the reef hook (or to unhook) with one hand.


    But there are still great w/a opportunities even when the current is really ripping. The great visibility conditions in Palau makes for great "drive-by" w/a shooting on drift dives. Peleliu Express can be a fantastic high-speed high-vis drift. Just don't forget your SMB (sausage). If you miss your pick-up at the end of that dive, the next stop is the Philippines.

  11. You might consider converting to LAB colour space and playing around with the curves in LAB. LAB isolates all the lightness and darkness information in the L or Luminosity channel, putting color information in the a and b channels. That makes it easier to adjust contrast or correct scans that are too dark by using moves in the L channel, without changing colour values.


    The a and b channels are very poweful if the image needs color correction to get it closer to the original slide. Steeping the a and b curves will enhance saturation and restore some of the color contrast lost in the scanning process. Using a Nikon LS2000 scanner, I find almost every scanned image needs at least some correction in LAB.


    You mention problems in highlight areas, which suggests that curves is probably the right tool. You can move up the quarter- and mid-tone sections of the L curve to lighten the overall tone of the image while keeping the lightest areas close to their original values.

  12. A SMB (surface marker buoy, AKA sausage, safety tube, etc.) and sound signal device (air horn or whistle, but preferably both) should be carried on all open water dives. Like davephdv, I carry a signal mirror too. I would also add a flashing safety strobe and back-up light to the minimum list. I also carry a dye pack in some situations, such as drifts, or any dive in an area of strong currents.


    The problem with SMBs is that divers are not trained to use them until they get to the divemaster level in the PADI system, or seek technical dive certifications, such as IANTD advanced air. Some SMBs are sold with a line attached for deploying the device underwater. There have been numerous incidents of divers injuring themselves trying to use an SMB underwater without adequate training. It's easy for a loose line to becomes tangled on the diver's BC etc., causing a rapid involuntary ascent after air is injected into the device. The thin, loose line included in some commercially available SMBs is useless anyway - a safety reel or spool should be used.


    The real question is why PADI doesn't provide training in use of surface signalling devices in the basic open-water (or failing that, in the so-called "advanced") courses. If PADI treated usage of visual and sound signal devices as fundamental skills (which they are), then PADI divers would purchase and carry them (cf. the ubiquitous and unmistakable sign of a PADI diver - wearing a snorkel strapped to the mask on every dive) and some might even be able to use them.


    Safely deploying an SMB underwater using a spool or safety reel is a technique that needs to be learned and practiced. I believe all divers should carry signallig devices, but untrained divers should never try to use an SMB until they have already surfaced. Forcing divers who don't know how to use SMBs to carry them could just create new kind of hazards..

  13. DiveGypsy,


    Thanks for your post, which has got me thinking. When I tried the 24-85 underwater a few years ago, it was using the smaller Subal dome, with an extension ring. As I recall, I also think I was using a +2 or +3 diopter, which might have been a mistake. The problem wasn't really sharpness, however. More all around lack of contrast, but there were other problems. There wasn't a single keeper on the 2 or 3 rolls I shot that day.


    My main interest in trying this lens at that time was to find out whether it might be possible, in a pinch, to shoot an acceptable macro through a dome port, using the 24-85's 1:1.5 macro capability. In other words, to mount the lens for wide angle but retain the capability to shoot close-up or macro. If this had worked, it would have been pretty neat. The macro shots I took that day weren't exactly complete failures, but they weren't very impressive either.


    I've recently thought about trying this lens underwater again, but with the bigger dome. It's also easier to dive where I live now, so the "opportunity cost" of this kind of experimentation isn't what it used to be. I guess one thing holding me back has been that I've been so happy with the 12-24 and 17-35 zooms underwater for wide angle, and have also been experimenting with the 10.5 fisheye. If I did try the 24-85 underwater again, it would only be with my film SLR housing, not the S2. Like you, I don't see this range as terribly useful for 1.5x framed digital.


    Also, the lens extends in length quite a bit through the zoom range, so I suspect that it would be necessary to select an extension ring that would optimise for one end. Befire, I would have said that obviously the end to optimise for should be the wide end, but it sounds like you and Pat are actually using the 24-85 as a macro +close-up lens. Are you also shooting it in a flat port? I hadn't thought of this before, but I will now.


    As I said, the lens is still my favorite "walking around" lens above water.



  14. I'd also urge you to "byte the bullet" and pick up Photoshop CS. It's the standard, and for some good reasons.


    Learning Photoshop is a long-term process, one which may never end. The sooner you start putting together an undertanding of how to use this program the better.


    Once you've bought in, the upgrades for new releases are reasonably priced. The "guts" of the program and the skills needed to use it have remained pretty stable over a long series of upgrades. The main differences (for me, at least) between CS and its predecessors are:


    (1) the ability to do almost all image adjustments in 16-bits rather than having to convert to 8 bits early in the process;


    (2) a very functional file viewer that works well enough to make it unnecessary to purchase this as a separate item;


    (3) - last but not least - a very powerful and easy to use built-in plug in for converting raw digital files into photoshop work space, which now covers almost all digital cameras in current use.



  15. I'm glad to see the 24-85 2.8-4 D getting some attention - it's my favorite "walking around" lens. Not quite as sharp and colors don't "pop" the way do with the 17-35, but this is a very decent compromise, sacrificing a very small amount of quality to get a much wider zoom range. The fact that this lens extends into the micro is a bonus - it's quite usable for bugs or flowers. This is the lens that "lives" on whatever camera I'm carrying topside, on a walk, or in the car. (If I carry any additional lenses in a bag, I will take the 17-35 and/or the 80-400 VR.)


    But I wasn't that impressed using this lens underwater. I got a zoom gear for the 24-85 from Subal and tried it out - admittedly only once, two or three dives on one day, and using my full-frame film SLR housing. Results were poor, for me anyway. Not an experiment I'm likely to repeat, though I've keep the zoom gear in case I ever need to use it as a back-up lens.


    When I started underwater, I only used prime lenses - the 20 mm and 28 mm for wide-angle, plus the 105 mm for macro. I still like the 20 mm., but nowadays use the 12-24 and 17-35 for digital w/a, and would use the 17-35 with my film housing. I'm still learning to use the 10.5, but it's starting to make sense to me.


    Here's my list:



    w/a: 10.5 mm f/2.8 DX ED G

    12-24 mm f/4 DX ED G

    17-35 mm f/2.8 ED

    20 mm 2.8 D (no longer used much)

    28 mm 2.8 D (no longer used much)


    macro: 105 mm 2.8 D (w/ 3T, 4T diopters + 2x teleconverter)



    24-85 f/2.8-4 D

    12-24 mm f/4 DX ED G (digital only)

    17-35 mm f/2.8 ED (digital or film)

    50 mm f/1.8 (low-light, lightest weight)

    80-400 f/4.5-5.6 D VR


    About the only lens still on my "wish list" is the 70-180 macro zoom, but I think I can get by with the 105 mm for awhile yet.

  16. I started with a F801s in a Subal housing. I've still got it, and two working F801s bodies. They're worth much more to me as a back-up housing than I could ever get putting them up for sale. I plan to be using it again this summer while my S2 and housing are both being serviced.


    You can take some great pictures with a F801s in a miniflex housing. Subal ports are very good, particularly the big dome. I think you'll find that the F801s autofocus works adequately for anything except hypermacro, which is true of newer cameas as well. Synch speed isn't the fastest, but it's not a major limitation either.


    Be careful loading film into the F801s. They have a tendency to jam mid-roll if the film is misaligned when loaded.


    Don't worry about paint chips or scratches on the outside of the housing. That just shows the housing has been used and loved. Do inspect the mating surfaces where the housing closes and the o-ring groove for scratches, dings or corrosion, but I'll bet you don't find any problem.


    The bolt closure system on the housing isn't the fastest or easiest, but as long as you take reasonable care, it works well. The biggest disadvantage with the housing I can think of is that - if you use a tray bolted to bottom of housing to mount strobes on, you pretty much have to remove the tray before opening back of the housing.


    The Miniflex normally comes with a single Nikonos-style strobe port connection on the upper left, but there is a plug on the bottom where you can install a second strobe port. This is worth having done, giving you a built-in back-up if the main port packs it in. Be very careful removing the Nikonos plug - make sure all is dry, tilt the housing so that the port opening is facing downward as you remove the plug, and immediately swab the inside of the port with a Q-tip or similar. There are spring-loaded pins inside that will seize up immediately if even a tiny a drop of salt water gets in. While on a trip, leave the cable in. (This is not specific to the Miniflex - lots of new housing use this Nikonos-style strobe connector, but if you haven't used a housing before, this is one of the classic weak points in many systems.



  17. It might be worth thinking about using two strobes for a shot like this. The shadows created by using a single strobe can be dramatic, but here I think the viewer just wonders why one arm of the coral is well-illuminated and the other not. One strobe can be set to a lower power to avoid lighting that is too even. If you're limited to only one strobe, you might consider positioning the strobe above the port instead off to the side.


    I think I'd also like this to be a bit sharper, or perhaps a bit more depth of field, but still keeping the background blurred, which helps the main subject stand out.

  18. Tulamben is on the northeast coast, just north of Mt. Agung, Bali's largest volcano. It's about a three hour drive from Denpasar and main tourism an hotel areas in the south of Bali - 3-1/2 hours if you're coming from Nusa Dua. Some people do Tulamben as a day trip, but that's too much driving for too little diving AFAIC - I'd recommend staying at one of the dive resorts at Tulamben for at least 2-3 days.


    The main attraction for most divers is the Liberty Wreck, a WWII freighter (not a Liberty ship) which was beached after receiving a torpedo. When Mt. Agung erupted in 1962 (?), local earthquakes resulted in rolling the hulk into the water, where it now sits on its starboard side just off the rock beach, deck facing deep water.


    The Liberty Wreck is a shore dive. Think of it as a biodiversity dive rather than as a wreck dive. The highest parts of the wreck, formerly port side, are very near surface, while deepest area of the wreck (near bow) is only 30 m. The surrounding area is mainly black volcanic silt. The wreck is covered with interesting soft corals and other inverts, and there is a vibrant and varied population of fishes, all very accustomed to divers, so photo ops are many and varied.


    Macro subjects commonly seen include frogfishes, ornate ghost pipefish, thorny seahorses, jawfishes. Visibility is often only so-so, but there are nice wide-angle possibilities on the wreck (which is breaking down nicely, very 3-D), including subjects such as a resident school of jacks (big-eye trevallies), very large potato cods (groupers), Napoleon wrasse, and lots of triggerfishes (titan, clown), surgeonfishes, etc.


    You will probably have seen a lot of the same macro subjects at Wakatobi, but then again who can ever get tired of these wonderful critters? I do very much enjoy shooting wide-angle on this wreck, particularly on morning dives, which sometimes offer better visibility.


    The "drop-off" - a nice wall on a rocky point not far from the Tulamben wreck, used to be a great dive, but was badly damaged by silt during river flood in early 2003. This site is coming back, but still not what it once was. You can arrange for a jukung (local craft) to take you around the point to some nice coral sites a bit further away that were not affected by the flooding.


    Other dive areas in the Tulamben area which can easily be reached (by vehicle) while staying there are Amed (to the east) and Kubu (a couple of miles west).


    The three best known places to stay at Tulamben are the Mimpi (upscale accomodations, particularly good if you're travelling with non-diving spouse), Paradise (the original, basic but inexpensive and perfectly adequate accomodations) and Tauch Terminal (German run, nice rooms, caters mainly to European clientele. All are a reasonable walk from the Liberty wreck. It's mandatory to allow porters to carry your gear - this provides major source of income to residents of the local village. Mimpi and Paradise will cooperate with outside operators, Tauch Terminal does not.


    I've stayed at all three, but nowadays usually stay at the Paradise (to keep costs down), and arrange dives in the area through a local Sanur-based operator. Contact me by email at




    if you'd like specific recommendations.


    If you're going to be in Bali between now and the end of September, I would also urge you to consider Nusa Penida for mola mola. It's one of the best places in the world to see them. Also a good manta site, though not always accessible, and some excellent drifts. Currents can be tricky, so I think it's important to dive with someone who knows the area.


    Menjangan (on northwest coast) is also nice. There's a nice wall, and an interesting sandy point, also an older wreck at about 40 m. This is more conventional indo-pacific reef diving, but what's wrong with that? Secret Bay, a very nice (and famous) macro site, is also accessible while staying in the Menjangan area.








  19. Yes, we were snorkelling. The perception was that whales - like dolphins - wouldn't like the sound of regulator bubbles, though I don't actually know if that is true.


    South Africa isn't my part of the world - I live in Indonesia. Although diving with this humpback turned out to be the highpoint of the trip for me, this was not organized whale diving - the objective of the trip was the Sardine Run - baitballs and the predators that follow them. Humpbacks just happen to be migrating up the East Coast of Africa at the same time, but aren't involved with the sardines,lthough I was told that two humpbacks were observed bubble-netting near PSJ this year.


    Whale and dolphin watching are the major activities while waiting for the sardines and their predators to arrive, and people do jump in the water with them when they can, but a quick swim-by is generally all you get in the water, if that.


    I believe organized opportunities to dive/snorkel with humpbacks are possible in Tonga and a few other places in the South Pacific, something I'm looking into for next year. Mozambique - where the humpbacks we saw were headed - is also a possibility.


    Edit: There's a bit more discussion of the 300 m limit for approaching whales on the Nikon 80-400 VR thread under Tips and Techniques ..




    ..where I posted some topside pictures of humpbacks taken with that lens.



  20. Actually, Asian Diver will do an editorial story on any location anywhere in the world as long as someone is willing to "pay" for the story by buying a big enough ad. They've been broadening their scope with more out-of-Asia stories this past year in an effort to broaden their advertising base, so I don't think submitting images from the Caribbean is really safe either.


    The mystery about this contest scheme is that Asian Diver pays almost nothing for photographs as it is, so they aren't going to save much money using contest entries for free. Maybe their photo well is finally running dry. (It's starting to look like it.)


    I know one of the editors at AD, actually a very nice guy who I think is doing the best he can, but they have to work within quite rigid commercial guidelines.


    I did a piece for them some years ago, and I've let them use a few pictures in the past. Another (commissioned) piece I did for them a couple of years ago, which was a (negative) review of a widely advertised dive computer, was killed by the publisher out of fear that it might offend the manufacturer, a major advertiser. (That fear might have been well-grounded - AD isn't the only dive magazine that has spiked a negative about that particular piece of gear.)


    Anyway, Marriard's point is absolutely right - nobody should ever enter a photo contest on these terms.


    - Frogfish

  21. Whitey,


    I'm very happy with ULCS arms. My set-ups are:


    W/A : 2 x 2 12-inch (30 cm.) - (the 'get 'em out wide' school

    Macro: 2 x 2 3.5 inch (8 cm.) - the little dumbells


    Arms mount on top of the handles on a ULCS tray.


    My primary strobes (when they're working) are Ikelite SS200s. I don't think I'd want to use anything but ULCS O-ring-style fittings with these heavy strobes. ULCS clamps work very well, and hold up. Tightened down, they will hold the strobes stable in any current that I can handle.


    Mounted on long arms for w/a, the SS200s can stil be a problem out of the water. I use fastex clips to hold the arms together out of the water, a system that can probably be adapted for arms from any manufacturer. Use plastic ties to attach one half of a clip near the end of the second strobe arm section, and the other near the base of the first section. Another clip ties the two arms together near the top of the first arm section, making a nice rigid triangle.


    I just wish ULCS (or someone else) would consider making buoyancy (tube) arm sections out of carbon fiber, the stuff Gitzo uses for their tripods. On any given trip, these arm components add up to significant weight.

  22. Great shots, Eric! Personally, I'd very much like to do some dives with tigers somewhere. (I'll just bring an old wetsuit that I can throw away after the dive. :D )


    Mark Addison (Blue Wildnerness) and other operators in South Africa have also been running tiger dives at Aliwal Shoal near Durban for the past few years. It wasn't that long ago that most divers felt believed tigers were intrinsically too dangerous to be in the water with except in a cage. Now all that seems to be changing - people are even free-diving with great Whites.


    Some people, however, are concerned that a proliferation of operators offering encounters with potentially dangerous animals such as these will eventually lead to a serious accident, which could also lead to tighter regulation of this sort of diving in some countries and other follow-on effects. Any views?

  23. I agree with James that the issue here is blurry corners, not vignetting. For u/w shooting, the problem is often caused by an incorrectly shaped dome or, probably more often, if the nodal point of the lens is not correctly positioned with respect to the dome.


    When I used to shoot with a film housing, I shot wide angle with a prime 20 mm lens and the Subal small dome. All my images had significant corner (and edge!) blur. It wasn't a problem shooting a subject in open water, but iI had to crop if there was any significant detail in the corners or the edges.


    Shooting the 12-24 DX with the larger Subal dome (and a 50 mm extension ring), I haven't had this problem at all at any zoom power. The lens per se probably isn't the issue - both the Nikon 20 mm prime lens and the 12-24 DX have excellent edge-to-edge sharpness. There is also the 1.5x built in crop factor on the 12-24 (relative to another lens used with full-frame SLR with the same dome).


    P.S. [quick edit after seeing Dave's post above]: The 12-24 DX is not only an IF (internal focusing) lens, but the movement of the lens when zooming is minimal. Interestingly, when zooming in from 24 to 12, the forwardmost lens element initially moves back slightly, then moves forward again as the zoom power approaches the shortest focal length. In any case, the change in position is very small. It this lens is properly matched to a dome port with the right extension ring, he shouldn't have any trouble with corner or edge softness with the 12-24 DX lens at any zoom power.

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