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frogfish

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Posts posted by frogfish


  1. I'm not completely sure, but it may be the same blenny as this guy:

     

    DSCF1180_F.jpg

     

    ..which I've tentatively ID-ed as a Black-banded blenny (Melacanthus grammites). This one was shot at Komodo. From the angle on JPS's photo, I can't tell if his fish has the second lower black stripe or not.

     

    (And yes, that's the same fish as my "avatar" image up in the corner.)

     

    Robert Delfs


  2. I'm off to Singapore next week, and I plan to buy a Spyder so that I can calibrate my monitor. If only to stop the complaints from Marriard.

     

    In the past, I believed that there was no way to calibrate an LCD, but I understand that there is now a Spyder available which can be used to calibrate an LCD on a laptop computer.

     

    My computer is a Thinkpad T40 with a 1400 x 1050 pixel ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 LCD monitor.

     

    Does anyone have any experience and/or suggestions for calibrating an LCD? Any warnings, advice, suggestions about which of the various Spyder models available would be most suitable would be very welcome.

     

    Robert Delfs


  3. 1. Housing

    Does every housing come with arms or arms need to be purchased separately?

     

    2. Ports & dome

    Unlike land photography where one only needs to get the right lens for the camera (D lens for newer Nikon camera, etc), in U/W one needs to buy the ports & domes for the lens.

     

    3. Strobes

    Are there non-proprietary strobes which can work on any house/arm system? What are you considerations in getting a strobe? Do you need different strobes for different shots (ie macro, wide/scenic, mid/wide) or the strobes will be able to cover all situation.

    Ikelite sells arms for their housings, and perhaps a few other manufacturers as well. But a lot of u/w photographers buy arm systems components separately, according to what they want and need. For wide-angle, you will probably want an arm (or ideally two arms) made up of two fairly long (12") segments to get the strobes way out to the sides (or up, if you are only using one strobe). I like ULCS myself.

     

    For macro, the strobes need to positioned much more close to the housing and subject, so you would probably want to use one or two very short segments. In addition to these segments, the arm system would include a clambs which connect segments and other components and fittings to connect with your strobe and a T-plate or dove-tail fitting on your housing, which you may need to purchase. All these components can be used with either macro or wide-angle arm configurations.

     

    2) Ports and domes. Ports are either flat or dome. Dome ports (with a hemispherical glass or acrylic lens) are used for wide-angle, flat ports for macro. In general, you should be able to use a dome port for a wide variety of wide-angle and wide-angle zoom lenses by adding extension rings to position the curvature of the dome correctly with respect to the optical characteristics of different lenses. But there are some dome ports which can handle the general run of wide-angle lenses but may not work with ultra-wide (weitwinkel) angle or fish-eye lenses.

     

    With flat ports, the key factor is the length of the port. If you want to use both 60 mm and 105 mm macro lenses, you will need two flat ports, though you could also use a 60 mm port with an extension ring for the 105 mm lens, but probably only if you were willing to give up manual focusing.

     

    3) Strobes. Electronically, strobes connect to the camera through the housing circuitry, so in theory any strobe that can work with your camera should do. In real life, the problem comes with the synch cords and bulkhead connectors. Many housings come with Nikonos-style connectors in the bulkhead ports, which can be used with any strobe for which a synch cord is available with a Nikonos-style male connector on the housing end. That adds up to every strobe manufactured that I know about. If the housing you are looking at has a different kind of connector on the bulkhead port, check and make sure that synch cords are available that will allow you to connect the strobes you want to use.

     

    Some photographers do use different strobes for wide-angle and macro. And it's true that you can generally use smaller strobes with narrower beams for macro. But I (and many others) believe that large wide-beam strobes can be used perfectly well for both. I have a pair of Ikelite SS200's, which are very powerful and wide-beamed and excellent for wide-angle, which I also find perfectly OK for macro. (I should add that if you're shooting macro with large wide-angle strobes, it's probably easier with the 105 mm than the 60 mm. macro, because the 105 mm gives you more working distance, which makes it easier to position the large strobes.) I also have a pair of Sea&Sea YS-90DXs, which are less powerful than the SS200s, but which I also use for both wide-angle and macro.

     

    (The only reason I have two sets of strobes is that I live in Indonesia, and it can take several months to get a strobe back after I have sent it back to the US for repair.)

     

    Robert Delfs


  4. If you've been diving for a long time, you probably know very well what you need and like in a BC in terms of comfort, safety features, lift capacity, etc. I don't think underwater photography per se presents any particular special requirements. What works best for you diving presumably will still work for you when you're diving with a camera.

     

    But I will endorse Chrism's recommendation of a backplate and wings as an ideal rig for diving, and there are also a few features of this rig that I think are particularly useful for underwater photographers.

     

    Reduced drag is perhaps the most important. Carrying any underwater photo gear hugely increases drag, and pushing a large housing with long strobe arms deployed for wide-angle up current has to be one of my least favorite things. Anything that reduces drag helps, and a good backplate with a wing of the minimum size needed for the kind of diving you do will be much more steamlined than any jacket BC. I found that life underwater with a camera got a lot easier after I switced to a back plate and wing.

     

    Improved trim and maneuverability is another plus. Maintaining a good horizontal position in the water, being able to maneuver yourself and your rig in 3 dimensions and sometimes current without using your hands, and having your buoyancy under complete control are all important for taking good photos and avoiding damage to the reefs. Many divers find that a back plate and wing rig is much more conducive to maintaining good trim, maneuvering ability, and buoyancy control than traditional jacket BCs.

     

    Whatever you get, make sure you have a couple of good-sized half-bent D-rings just below each shoulder to provide places to hang your camera/housing when you need both hands free - to assist another diver, don/doff fins after shore entry, handle gear problems, or to deploy a delated submersible buoy (SMB, or sausage, or just hanging in or on the water on a long deco stop or wait for the chase boat). Gate clips securely fastened to the camera or housing are probably best, but this is one place where I personally make an exception and allow the use of a suicide clip.

     

    You might also take a look at the system you will use for stowing SMB and spool or reel, and make sure you'll be comfortable handling all of the steps involved in deploying the SMB with the camera or housing hanging on your shoulder D-ring without fouling the spool/reel/line on your camera, BC or other gear.

     

    My wife and I both dive with Halcyon 27-lb wings and backplates (mine stainless steel, hers aluminum), but there are good BP and wing rigs available from multiple manufacturers. Ours are fitted with no-name-brand zipper pouches on the waist strap to carry essential safety gear (folding snorkel, flashing strobe, dye pack, reef hook, spare mask). Our SMBs ride in Halcyon Storage Paks that bolt to the backplate, my spool is carried externally on waist D-ring, dive lights and knife on the chest straps, storm whistle on the inflator hose.

     

    Robert Delfs


  5. Hi.

     

    There are reviews of two housings for the Fuji S2 on this site, one for the Aquatica S2 housing, by James Wiseman...

     

    Aquatica S2 Review

     

    and one I wrote about the Subal FS2 housing...

     

    Subal FS2 Review

     

    I've used the 17-35 mm lens extensively with the Suba housing, using the FE2 dome, a 52 mm. extension ring and a +2 diopter. The results have been very satisfying. The 17-35 m is excellent for close-focus medium wide-angle and fish portraits. For reef scenics, the 12-24 DX, which uses the same extension ring with the FE2 dome on the Subal, may be a better choice.

     

    All the housings made for this camera you mention have their adherents and probably would suffice, though I do know one photographer who sold his Ikelite housing for the S2 and replaced it with an Aquatica. I've been very happy with the Subal housing. For me, the most important considerations in selecting a housing for this camera would be availability of high-quality ports that can be made to work well with the lens you will want to use (both now and in the future). For some of us, "high quality" for wide-angle would mean big glass - an 8 inch diameter glass (not acrylic) dome. For macro, having the ability to shift to manual focus on the 60 mm and 105 mm micro lenses can also be important in some situations - not all macro ports have this feature.

     

    Subal makes a housing for the SB-80 DX, but apparently there have been problems with getting this to work - see the Lighting section for extended discussions. Even if those problems can be solved, I'm doubtful whether this flash is really the best choice for wide-angle work underwater. I'd advise you to consider acquiring a pair of good dedicated underwater strobes. Ikelite, Inon, and Sea&Sea are some makes you might consider.

     

    Whether you house the SB-80DX or use dedicated underwater strobes, you'll need an arm system to mount the strobes onto the housing and a synch cord (or cords) to connect the strobe(s) with the bulkhead port on the housing. ULCS (Ultralight Control Systems) is one of the best arm systems, and Ikelite also manufacture their own proprietary arm systems for their housings and strobes.

     

    The arms can be mounted directly onto the housing, or you may want to consider purchasing a tray (basically just a bar bolted to the bottom of the housing to which handles and arms can be attached. In the case of the Subal housing, I've found that using a tray and mounting the strobe arms on top of the handles works better than arms mounted directly on the housing, and this may aalso pply to other housings using big glass domes with extension rings. This is because the large FE2 dome is very buoyant. When mounted on an extension ring (necessary when using the 12-24 or 17-35 lenses), the dome exerts a strong twisting torque, which wants to turn the housing face-up. Mounting the arms on a tray bolted to the bottom of the housing improves the balance of the housing and makes it much easier to use, including holding and operating the housing one-handed.

     

    Robert Delfs


  6. This is just my personal view, but I recommend using a double cord, for several reasons.

     

    (1) At least with some strobes (e.g., Ikelite), the ready signal needs to be disabled on one cord or bulkhead port if you are using two single cords so that the camera only receives a "ready" signal from one strobe. The Ikelite double cord is manufactured with the "ready" line disabled on one cord, which is marked with a red band.

     

    (2) Redundancy. Synch cords and the ports they plug into tend to be weak points in any system. Nikonos ports, for example, can be rendered inoperative if only a microscopic drop of water gets to the spring-loaded pins. If you have two functional bulkhead ports, using a double cord on one port means that you have the second port available as a back-up in case the primary port is damaged.

     

    For what it's worth, I usually carry two double cords and two single cords for my Ikelite strobes. I normally use a double cord plugged into one port. If that port goes, I use the second port. If one double cord goes, I switch the second port. If that goes, I can still resort to the single cords, disabling the ready signal on one port. (One one long trip last year, I ended up with only one strobe and one single cord still working.)

     

    I also carry a spare bulkhead port with a short ribbon connector that can replace one port on either of my housings. (Both digital and film housings are Subal, and use identical bulkhead ports.)

     

    Robert Delfs


  7. Thanks all for kind comments.

     

    Herbko: no filter, but I did use a bit of channel mixer and some curves on the blue backgrounds, and I may have overdid it. I could see the pinkish cast on the silver scales on a few of the shots when I looked at the screen in a different light than when I did the processing, but was too lazy to go back and redo them.

     

    Patterns: Those were the luckiest shots I've ever had of a juvenile emp ang. He was much more cooperative and willing to pose than any I'd come across before.

     

    The red frogfish is the reddest frogfish I've ever seen. It was very small, and sitting in front of Tauch Terminal at Tulamben in only about 9 meters depth of water. The yellow one was larger and only a few meters away, so I assume they were a mating pair, and that the red one was the male. Unfortunately, they both have moved on.

     

    Robert Delfs


  8. That's awful. I was Frogfish for so many years - some people who knew me from that board still call me that.

     

    I'll have to think about an alternative, assuming the "other" frogfish isn't open to offers (of a non-monetary nature).

     

    - The diver formerly known as "Frogfish"


  9. Sorry Scuba-kiwi. There's another underwater photographer I know who uses that handle (or something very much like it) on another list, so I thought you might be the same person.

     

    I like the photograph too. The beautiful physical situation - that chasm - also looks like one in which the diver might actually be using the light for good reason. I think my objection to models posing with lights applies mainly to shots where it's readily apparent that the model is holding a lit lamp purely as a prop for the image.


  10. Long ago, on a scuba-related board far away, I used the handle "frogfish". I'd like to drop the email-based name I used when I first subscribed to this board, but that seems to be the one thing that you can't change when editing one's profile.

     

    Do-able? Or would I have to close out the current account and start over?


  11. Sorry, ScubaKiwi (is that you, Viv?), but I'm with Marriard (and Donauw) on this one. I think the "diver-with-a-torch" looking at the seafan (or whatever) has become a cliche, something to try to stay away from.

     

    I think I would have gone for trying to light the fan and pick some color and detail, but I like the dark silhouette Paul has gone for here too, and the heightened contrast with the bright water behind it.

     

    Looking at this image, it strikes me that what would have been really interesting might have been to set the strobe way down so it doesn't illuminate the sea fan, aimed so that it could fire a detached slave strobe held by another diver next to or in a cranny on the wall on the left, illuminating Mae. So you'd have the sea fan close subject dark and in silhouetted against the light water, but a bit of color and detail on the diver further away.

     

    Robert Delfs


  12. The behavior of my SmartCharger never seemed to exactly match the guide written on it. On mine, the green light (diode) is just a power indicator - it is on whenever the charger is plugged in, even when there is no battery connected. (What's written on the charger would seem - to me - to indicate that it should only be on when there is a battery connected.)

     

    The orange light (diode) should be steady on when you first connect a battery (quick charging), then switch from steady on to blinking once the battery is fully (or mostly) charged, at which point the charger is supposedly delivering a trickle charge. If that's not happening, something may be wrong with your charger.

     

    But it could also be a problem with the battery(ies). If the battery can't take a full charge - or to put another way, if the charger isn't seeing the voltage it expects that would signal a full charge - then even a properly functioning charger would keep charging.

     

    (I've never understand what the "pending mode" described on the outside of the charger is supposed to mean.)


  13. Thanks.

     

    As to the recall, I should report that three days ago I sent a follow-up message to Scubapro, referencing my earlier communications, and noted that I hadn't heard anything back from them for three weeks.

     

    On this message, however, I cc'ed David Kot, who I believe is the head of Scubapro's regional office in Hong Kong. That worked - I got an email from him today with the contact numbers for their distributor here in Indonesia, followed by an email from their Indonesia office telling me where I could take the computer for exchange.

     

    You're absolutely right - as far as I'm concerned, these computers should only be used with the micro-bubble suppression feature disabled (level = 0). It's not just that the computer is too conservative, but if you get a bubble stop - which can happen very early in a dive - the computer no longer displays nodecompression stop time.

     

    Robert Delfs


  14. Thanks very much. None of my books have a picture of this fish, but Allen's Marine Fishes does have a drawing, and it does look that is the fish. The common name he gives for it is "Violet-lined Maori wrasse", aka Cheek-lined wrasse.

     

    Much appreciate the help.

     

    Robert Delfs


  15. Doug,

     

    I appreciate your point about buying from authorized dealers. All our Uwatec computers - the underwhelming SmartPro, my wife's Aladin Pro Ultra, the Aladin Pro Ultra I lost in Palau due to the defective strap design, and a couple of Aladin Airs - were all bought from authorized dealers. As it happens, those dealers are in Hong Kong, and I now live in Bali.

     

    That's why I tried to communicate directly with Scubapro, via the form on their website, and also an email to the address provided on the website for customers to use for communications regarding the recall.

     

    As far as I'm concerned, the SmartCom/SmartPro should have been recalled immediately after these models are launched because of the terrible implementation of the "micro-bubble suppression" feature that is the selling point of these computers. In my opinion, (and as explained in detail in the article cited in the original post), these computers are dangerous to use unless the micro-bubble suppression feature is disabled.

     

    And I still haven't received a reply to either of the messages I sent Scubapro in early November - that's nearly a month now. And I'm stlil not surprised.

     

    I'll probably buy a Nitek Duo or a Nitek He.


  16. The pix at the top of the Bali page were all taken on a lovely long-week-end worth of dives in late November with Avandy Djunaidi (Bali International Dive Professionals), at Tulamben, Ahmed and Kubu.

     

    The good news is that the Drop-off at Tulamben, which was badly damaged by silt after heavy rains last February, is finally coming back. Lots of fish life there on this trip.

     

    Click on Bali u/w images

     

    ..or else go to the Tabula Home Page and click on the URL in the sidebar.

     

    Robert Delfs


  17. The Ikelite digital meter (DM4200) is very nice. Large, very readable display, and easy to use - much easier than having to peer through viewfinder. It works well out of the water too, and can be used in incident or direct mode, and also to measure strobe exposures. 1/3 stop increments.

     

    In direct mode, the acceptance angle is 10 degrees, which I find more useful than spot mode on my camera's internal meter.

     

    It's not tiny, and you'll need a bracket to attach it to a non-Ikelite housing or arm system.

     

    Ikelite Digital Meter


  18. No disrespect intended here, either. I love(d) my SS200s. Ikelite's service response is indeed legendary, and they are nice people. The problem is that it's necessary.

     

    I suppose it's fine for those who live in the continental US and can get a dead strobe back within five or six days. Things don't work quite so smoothly if you live in a place like Indonesia. Both of my strobes have been back to the factory twice in the past year, which means they have spent more time in US and/or in transit between the US and Singapore or Hong Kong this year than working here. As I speak, one of my SS200s (and another belonging to a friend that I'd been using while my other SS200 was being serviced) are sitting in Singapore waiting for me to pick them up on my next trip.

     

    But they're nice when they work.


  19. To me "works" means that the lens produces pin-sharp images edge-to-edge, without unacceptable rectilinear distortion, through the full range of f-stops on subjects at a variety of distances.

    Then I suspect you'll probably want to use the +4 diopter Ikelite recommends.

     

    The 12-24 mm lens hasn't been out long, so the "experience" base still isn't very broad or deep. The fun of being an early adopter is that you get to make your own mistakes instead of just repeating others.

     

    I've seen a lot of statements about what works with this lens or doesn't made or cited (on this board and elsewhere) which weren't absolutely correct. Such as the claim that the 12-24 lens is intrinsically unsuitable for use with a diopter, producing unacceptable rectilinear distortion. It turned out the testers (quite reputable folks) were using the lens in a port that is unsuitable for the 12-24 mm. lens.

     

    I believe some dome ports can probably take the 12-24 without a diopter in a wide range of shooting situations. The big Aquatica dome may be one, and the Subal FE2 may be another. From what little I know about Ikelite dome ports, however, I'd be very surprised if leaving the diopter off worked well for you, given your requirements.

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