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Posts posted by frogfish

  1. Scotty,


    What does "works without the diopter" really mean? You want your lens to produce pin-sharp images edge-to-edge, without unacceptable rectilinear distortion, through the full range of f-stops on subjects at a variety of distances. You may find that the lens "works" without a diopter (underwater) at f/11 or f/16 on a subject occupying the center of the frame at a distance of 3-4 meters or more. But what about low light conditions when you want or need to open up to f/5.6 or f/4? What about close-focus wide-angle? What about detail near the edge or corners of the frame?


    Similarly, a diopter-less set-up might focus reasonably well on a subject occupying the center of the frame with featureless blue-water all-around, but fail miserably when there is important detail near the edges and corners, particulary at wider aperture settings. Remember that the lens is actually trying to focus on the virtual image created by the dome port, and that virtual image is curved, following the geometry of the dome-port. This is part of the reason why larger diameter dome ports require less powerful diopters. Without the diopter, using wider f-stops with less depth of field, you may find that the center of the virtual image is sharp, but the edges and corners go blurry as the curvature of the virtual image bends inside the inner limit of depth of field.


    Shooting tests in a pool with textured or patterned tiles makes it easier to determine whether the lens is holding focus edge to edge at different subject distances and apertures. Some time ago I and a few others here posted some pool tests using the 12-24 with different domes. The results were very interesting, and showed that differnent domes produced very different results.


    Ikelite's recommendation presumably is designed to allow the lens to work with their dome in a wide variety of shooting situations at the full-range of f-stops. Maybe you never shoot CFWA, or perhaps you always shoot in bright tropical waters at shallow depths, around mid-day, and never dive when it's cloudy. If so, then perhaps you can get by with a less powerful diopter than Ike recommends.


    By all means experiment with less powerful diopters and even no diopter, but make sure your tests cover the full range of shooting situations you will want the rig to handle in real life.


    Robert Delfs

  2. ... While testing the setup, I was unable to get the camera to fire with the diopter attached (almost like it thinks it is out of focus) but it fires every time without the diopter, even in the dome.

    The reason it thinks it's out of focus is that it is out of focus. Out of the water, with the +4 diopter, the camera is seeing everything pretty blurry, so it won't let you fire a shot.


    +4 is a lot of diopter, but that's what this dome apparently requires with this lens.


    I concur with the advice to do some test shooting in a pool before you go off on a trip. One of the very nice things about u/w digitals is that the film you use for testing is free, the camera remembers what settings you used in its EXIF files, and you can look at and analyze the tests immediately.


    Have fun with your 12-24.

  3. Sanur has a lot going for it - calmer and more quiet than Kuta, a semi-real place (which Nusa Dua really isn't), and well-positioned close to the airport, or for heading up to Ubud for a day (or places like Tulamben or Nusa Penida for diving).


    You can find bungalows etc. as cheap as you want, but in the "reasonably-priced but-still-a -real-hostelry-category, I'd check out the Parisata (used by a lot of divers when transiting Bali or waiting to get on live-aboards). It's maybe 100 m. from the beach (lagoon beach). If you want to be right on the beach, try to Besakih (economial, but maybe a bit more than Parisata.


    The Tandjung Sari is probably the best place in Sanur, a bit past its prime perhaps, but very nice, and run by nice people. This is where I'd stay, if I were you, and it was in mh budget.


    If you want a larger hotel with all the facilities (including tennis courts etc., the Bali Hyatt is nice, and quite reasonable for what you get.


    Nusa Lembongan is nice, but I agree with the poster, a bit pricey. All things considered, if I only had a few days in Bali, I'd stay in Sanur and dive Nusa Penida - Nusa Lembongan by boat. Send me an email if you'd like a recommendation on a very good photographer-friendly dive operator in Bali.

  4. I just heard from another friend on another list also suggesting the Nitek Duo. He also says that the Nitek3 display is very hard to read.


    Looking at the description and features of the duo, it sounds very much like a Nitek+ with a bigger and more readable display, which might be exactly what I'm looking for.




    Robert Delfs

  5. Tom,


    Thanks, that was very helpful. If I were interested in doing multiple gas dives, I think I'd be looking at the Abyss, which I understand does allow planning of multiple gas dives in the way that you describe, and also gives you a choice of a large range of algorithms. I'm not trimix qualified, and not likely to ever go there, so the Nitek 3 sounds like all I need, unless the cost difference between the 3 and He were small enough to make it worthwhile buying the He just for the better display. I've also heard that the Nitek3 display is pretty poor, with very small characters.


    I'm interested that you don't find the Nitek3/He particularly conservative, in that the Nitek+ wrist computer is much more conservative than the Uwatec, which I always considered to be on the conservative side itself. Or so some of the ratings said.


    Helga, please excuse the rant, which was triggered when I started to pack my dive bag for the week-end, started the put the Uwatec computer in the bag, and then remembered the recall and realized that I hadn't heard anything back from Scubapro/Uwatec in a week.


    I am irritated at the changes in this company, which I used to trust. My wife and I still own (and use) a lot of Scubapro gear (four computers, including two older AladinAirs and my wife's NitroxPro and three regulator sets, plus assorted gauges and stuff, and I've even done Scubapro's regulator tech course. For me, the real turning point was the cover-up of the defects of the Aladin X Nitrox.


    I've got about 220 dives on the SmartPro, which maybe puts me in the danger zone, or maybe past it. (Your description of the problem is quite different from what Scubapro is saying on their website, which makes me feel even more nervous.) Even if the risk of a life-threatening failure may be very low (particularly as I always dive with a second computer), I try to make it a rule to never dive with any piece of gear that I know has a serious flaw or problem.


    I don't expect anyone's equipment to be perfectly designed, engineered, or manufactured. It's a real world out there, after all. But I do expect companies I trust to take responsibility for problems when they arise, and resolve them as expeditiously as possible.


    When my year-old Halcyon Pioneer wing developed a pinhole leak about seven months ago, I had a reply to my first email reporting the problem within 24 hours, and the wing airshipped to me here in Indonesia arrived less than two weeks later. Halcyon didn't even wait until the defective wing I shipped back to them arrived. Halcyon's gear isn't perfect, nor cheap, but having had that kind of experience will keep me buying and using their stuff for a long time.


    Robert Delfs

  6. Living in Indonesia, I sometimes get a bit behind on things, so it wasn't until my long-delayed copy of Diver (UK) finally arrived that I learned that Scubapro was carrying out a "voluntary recall" of almost all SMART computers due to a software programming error which "may cause the alert signals to stop working properly and, in some instances, the screen may freeze..[giving inaccurate information] such as depth, tank pressure, ascent rate, etc."


    The "recall notice" is on all scubapro's websites....


    Recall notice


    Those of you who may read the critical review of the SMART computers I wrote a couple of years ago (accepted enthusiastically by the editor but "embargoed" by the publisher of a dive magazine which shall remain nameless) already know that I'm no fan of the so-called "micro-bubble suppression" feature on these turkeys, which when used can replace the no-stop-time display with meaningless and useless information. (For those that haven't, the URL is:


    Embargoed review of Smartcom/SmartPro computers


    With the bubble suppression disengaged, however, the SMARTPro and its lame cousins seem to function more or the same as the NitroxPro etc., though costing nearly twice as much. Used in this way, I've assumed that my SmartPro was safe, and have continued to use it as my primary dive computer - backed up by a NitekPlus (that I really like). Until now, of course.


    Scubapro's website offers to "replace your SmartPro or SmartCOM with a new one within 90 days or sooner, either through authorized dealers or by filling out a form online. The recall notice isn't dated, but I gather that the announcement was originally issued in July.


    I bought my SmartPro from an authorized dealer in Hong Kong, and I don't know if the shop claiming to be a scubapro agent here in Bali is "authorized" or not - when you click on "Dealers" on Scubapro AsiaPacific's website, you get a page that says "Under Construction."


    Since the dealer route was looking shakey, I filled out the form on the website, and just to make sure, sent an email with all the relevant information to their processing center for handling the recall


    That was last week. It's probably unrealistic for me to expect to have heard anything from Scubapro within a week, given the lawsuit they're dealing with in the US over an alleged cover-up of possible fatal flaws in the original Aladin Air X Nitrox, and another suit by Johnson Outdoors filed against John Ashour, the dismissed former head of the global diving division (Scubapro/Uwatec) over a variety of alleged offenses (including attempting to drive down the value of the division so that he could buy it at a discounted price), not to mention the ongoing investigation of Scubapro's business in France by the EU competition division.


    JSOnLine article on Johnson Outboard legal and liability woes.. (and many more..)


    It's sad to see a company that once made products I admired, used (and recommended to others) come to this, but my main concern now is getting a replacement for my possibly lethal SmartPro. I dive a lot, and don't like the idea of diving with only one computer - the NitekPlus. (Besides which, the data display on this otherwise wonderful little machine is too small for me to be happy using it as my primary computer.)


    Given that Scubapro probably won't start counting off days in their "90 days or less" replacement promise until they decide to acknowledge that I've contacted them, which may be never, I wonder what the odds are of my getting a new computer from these geniuses sometime in calendar 2004.


    Maybe it's time to start thinking about buying a second computer with a bigger display than the NitekPlus to serve as my primary computer. Anyone out there using a Nitek 3 - any views? Or are their other suggestions? My basic criteria are:


    (1-10) Reliability;

    (11-16) good conservative algorithm;

    (17) nitrox capable;

    (18) easy-to-read display,

    (19) long-lasting and/or user-replaceable battery,

    (20) a secure strap allowing the computer to be worn without a safety lanyard - another big problem with the newer Uwatec wrist mount computers.


    (Losing my old Nitrox Pro while taking off my gear in the water (90 m) in Palau was what led me to the stupid decision to buy a SmartPro to replace it.)


    Robert Delfs

  7. I've got the Trekker Classic - looks a lot like the image James posted.


    The large pocket on the back was mainly attractive to me for carrying film, back then - plenty of use for it now, though I wish the zipper were mounted on the top rather than diagonally across the middle of the pocket. The side-mounted accessory pouches are good, though I still spend a lot of time fiddling with the straps.


    It would also be nice if there were a separate, smaller pocket somewhere outside for carrying passport, tickets etc., when flying.


    Robert Delfs

  8. Just to weigh in - I've been very happy using the 12-24 with the FE2 port, 50 mm extension ring, and +2 diopter. Much sharper images that I previously got with a 20 mm prime Nikon lens and the SWB port. The FE2 port, 50 mm extension ring and +2 diopter also work very well with the 17-35 mm, if you want to bring fish and similar shy subjects in a bit closer.


    I'll be interested in doing some test dives without the diopter, and figuring out exactly how close the focus is.


    Robert Delfs

  9. Ah, Crown Royal. Seagram, when it existed, was a great company that made some fine products. Crown Royal was one of the best. I worked for Seagram (as a consultant) for quite a number of years. I could never quite get used to the idea of being paid to goout to a nightclub in Beijing and get completely pissed on Cordon Bleu, but in retrospect I have to admit it was a great gig while it lasted.



  10. I don't think you need to carry your ULCS arm sections in your carry-on. These are very rugged pieces of gear, and should be happy to travel in your dive gear bag.


    I carry mine in the dive bag in a long zippered nylon pouch I found somewhere, which probably provides a little protection against scratching and banging around, but is mainly just to keep them together in one place. Clamps and other bits and pieces are carried in a velvet draw-string bag that once cradled a bottle of Chivas Royal Salute.

  11. I use TTL for wide-angle much of the time, and almost always for macro.


    The biggest advantage of TTL for wide-angle, IMHO, is the ability to control both strobes output while bracketing by adjusting the flash compensation control on the housing. Bracketing effective strobe power while shooting manual strobe requires adjusting the power settings on each strobe. Assuming both strobes are mounted on long strobe arms on each side of the housing (as they should be for w/a), this is rarely really feasible when shooting animals or fish, though it can be done for static reef scenics.


    Using TTL requires a relatively close subject that occupies a substantial portion of the frame, but this limitation also applies to shooting TTL with a film SLR.

    I've found that w/a TTL on the S2 needs -0.5 to -1.0 flash exposure compensation; I use one of those settings as a starting point for bracketing the flash exposure.


    This Barramundi cod (Cromileptes altivelis), shot with the 17-35 mm zoom, is an example of an ideal subject for w/a TTL.




    In contrast, this shot of two Moorish idols (Zanclus cornutus) needed manual strobe control - the main subjects don't fill enough of the frame to generate a good return to the TTL sensor, and there isn't anything else big enough or close enough in the background to help. Using TTL here would have probably blown out the light-colored areas on the Moorish idols.




    Here's some more shots, including both macro and w/a, using the Fuji S2, most (but not all) of which were shot using TTL.


    Komodo - Fuji S2


    Robert Delfs

  12. Looking at the individual RGB plates (as per James' suggestion) and examing the RGB values for different points in the blue can be quite useful.


    Taking the original image, the lighter blue points in the upper part of the image have values in the general range of R:0 G:245 B: 243. In the lower darker portions, the water registers R:0 G:50 B: 105.


    Not that the green value in the lighter upper part of the image is stronger than the blue value. That's not what you want for blue water.


    ChrisQ's corrected image has values that are much more in line with what you would want (and what you would get shooting, say, Provia 100 under similar conditions - the light blues are now around R:0 G:171 R:255, while the dark portions comes in around R:0 G:65 B:161. Note that the flesh tones and color of the sea fan also fall into place as well, even on the "quickie" corrected version.


    The original image is well within the range that can be easily corrected in Photoshop, as ChrisQ's adjusted image shows. It would be even better to get the values closer to what you want with the EX converter.


    I think all of us who are using the F2 are working at finding the "right" EX settings to make these pictures work. I haven't come up with a set formula yet, but here are a couple of examples of shots I've taken with the S2.


    In the first example, I think the blue is fine though the image isn't much. The original was considerably under-exposed, by the way, and brought back up in the EX converter by a stop or more.




    In the second, I'm happy with the color balance for the main subject, but the green element in the lighter parts of the background water is too strong, but I wasn't able to correct without throwing off the colors in the main subject.




    (What impressed me about this image was the blacks. In the full resolution image, the various different shades of black on Carlo's hood, BC, camera and gear are all very distinct. I was never able to get that kind of separation of different blacks when I was shooting film.)

  13. Most of the little shore diving I've done has been at Tulamben, in Bali. Entries and exits are usually not a big problem there, but on a couple of occasions the waves have been big enough to make things difficult. The fact that the "beach" is made up of large rocks has been a concern.


    One approach is to have a buddy carry your fins into the surf so that you can concentrate on keeping the camera safe. (If you're both carrying cameras, one diver can still carry both sets of fins and wait beyond the surf line, and the other can bring the cameras out one at a time.)


    As mentioned by Marc and the redoubtable "Scuba_Kiwi", if you're shooting wide-angle with long strobe arms, having a reliable arrangement to keep the arms under control for the walk to the dive site and the entry is very important. I use a system of three fastex clips that makes the entire housing and arms into a rigid triangle.


    I also have two "suicide clips" attached near the middle joint on each strobe arm. Either (or preferably both) can be clipped on to D-rings on the chest straps of my harness, allowing me to have both hands free to put on or take off fins etc.,


    Having both hands free is also vitally important if you want to release a delayed SMB (submersible marker buoy) - or need to render assistance to another diver either on the surface or underwater.


    Incidentally, I personally consider handling an SMB to be a fundamental skill, which unfortunately is not part of the standard PADI course curricula. If this is something you're interested in knowing more about, here is the link to an article I wrote a couple of years ago for Asian Diver:


    Surface Survival Techniques (from Asian Diver Annual Edition 2002)


    One final matter worth thinking is arranging to keep your housing damp until you can get it to rinse tank. A small towel folded up inside a pocket (or hidden on the beach near entry/exit point), soaked in sea water, can help keep the housing and its seals from drying out while you're walking back to your car or whatever. Keeping a large bottle or two of fresh water in the car (in addition to what you need to drink after a dive) to rinse off the housing might also be worthwhile.

  14. Subal also supports the 24-85 zoom. It takes a 40 mm extension ring and a +4 diopter with the FE2 dome.


    I tried this lens with my film housing with the SWB port a few years ago, and didn't have much good to say about that combination. Might be better with the FE2. I do use this lens a lot above water - it's become my standard land camera lens for trips, both for 35 mm film SLR and the Fuji S2.


    As for using close-up diopters with prime lenses, I always use a diopter with both the 20 mm and 28 mm prime lenses. But whether a diopter is required - and which one - is primarily a function of the dome port optics. In general, larger diameter domes don't require as much diopter magnfication as smaller diameter ports. I need a +3/+4 diopter for almost any lense used with the SWB port, but only +2 with the FE2.


    Check the manufacturer's recommendations.

  15. On a related topic, some boats here in Southeast Asia which carry both local and expat crew (divemasters) have instituted a dual tipping system, with one tip divided among the (local) crew aboard, and a separate tip for the expat divemasters.


    In the case I'm thinking about, there was strong encouragement to participate in tipping the local crew, while the DM tip was presented as being optional.


    I guess I see the logic, people coming out of very different economies etc. etc., and as a practical matter, I can see that it takes more money to attract expats to this work (even if it isn't much compared to "real" jobs), and I liked that there was explicit encouragement to tip the local crew, but I'm still not sure how I feel about the double standard.

  16. The late, great Jim Church's justly famous "cows through a gate" analogy may be the clearest and best explanation of how shutter speed and aperture work in photography. Certainly the best explanation for anyone who has encountered difficulty with the standard textbook coverage. See:


    Jim Church's Cows


    This is the link to the first page - there are side links where Jim goes on to expand the analogy to explain depth of field, film speed, lenses, light meters, pushing and pulling film, etc.



  17. Mkshultz,


    I'm not sure what arm system you're talking about (Ikelite?), but no arm system is designed to hold relatively heavy strobes in rigid positions out of the water, and it is unrealistic to expect them to do so.


    This is generally not a problem with short macro arm lengths, but heavy strobes on long wide-angle arms can be unwieldy and difficult to handle out of the water. There are a variety of solutions. If you are using twin arms, you may be able to fasten them together with a double gate snap, creating a relatively stable structure that is easier to carry and handle on a small boat, etc. Another approach is to attach fastex clips with ties.


    Here's a partial view showing how this is done - you can see two fastex clip sets holding the strobe ends of the arms to the base. There is another fastex clip set (not visible in the photograph) holding the two arms together.




    If it's a single arm, you'll have to come up with a different approach. One I've seen involves wrapping the arm segments around the housing and using a double gate snap to hold everything together. Whether and how this might work would depend on your arm system, the number, type and length of arm sections, etc.

  18. Linda also asked whether she can connect two strobes with either a dual OR two single cords.


    For some camera and strobe combinations, connecting two strobes with single cords may cause problems because both strobes will be sending a READY signal back to the camera on the same line. A work-around is to disable the READY signal on one sync cord.


    As far as I know, this is the only time there is a meaningful distinction between PRIMARY and SECONDARY strobes - the primary strobe is the strobe with the live READY signal connection to the camera. On Ikelite double cords, the SECONDARY connector is disabled and marked with a red collar - I don't know about Sea & Sea double cords.



  19. Yes, and - to join the refrain - in a hearatbeat.


    I've just made the same jump you're contemplating - from the F801s (aka N8008) to the S2. It won't bother me at all if the S3 or something else comes out next week or next month. I'm pretty confident that this camera and housing will keep me happy and busy for a good long time.

  20. Lovely shots, Paul. I absolutely agree that the 12-24 DX is a fantastic tool for wide-angle. Basically, it gives restricted-sensor-frame digital cameras the same range of acceptance angles (and first rate optics excellence) that the 17-35 provided to full-frame film SLR cameras. Some wide-angles I've taken with this lens have been sharper and better than anything I was ever able to do with a prime 20 mm lens on a film camera, though some of that difference may be attributable to use of a different dome.


    But the technical discussion on the other thread is relevant for anyone considering acquiring this lens. I've been knocked out by the 12-24 DX, but it's becoming clear that results can be disappointing if the lens is used with an inappropriate dome, and/or incorrect extension ring or diopter. There's no universal answer to the question of what is the "right" extension ring or diopter - this depends on the dome. Until more housing manufacturers' have come out with authoritative recommendations on the optimum configuration for their equipment, prospective purchasers of the 12-24 DX will have to rely on other users in the community of u/w photographers for information to help them decide whether this lens will work for them. (So Paul, please tell us, what dome, what extension ring, what diopter were you using.)


    Let me also endorse James and Scorpio_Fish's advice to John. Shooting wide-angle with a film camera has usually meant (at least for me) using ISO 100 film (Provia), and that often meant working at the edge of usable exposure values except when shooting very shallow near mid-day in bright sunlight. In essence, that meant shooting manual, often with the aperture wide open or close to it, with all the negative implications (for depth-of-field, edge-to-edge sharpness, vignetting, etc.).


    Digital cameras which perform well at ISO 200 or 400 (and which can be switched to even higher ISO values mid-"roll") are a very different situation, there's so much more EV room to work in. Aperture priority mode never worked for me when I was shooting film wide angle, but it seems to work very well with a digital SLR. Just remember to keep an eye on the shutter speeds the camera is giving you. If the ambient light level changes, or your subject moves to a different position relative to you and direction of sun, you may need to adjust aperture.


    Since you're using the Fuji S2 Pro, you have the option of TTL as well as manual strobe. Provided you're close enough to the subject and it fills a substantial portion of the frame, TTL can work well for wide-angle. I've found that you need to set the flash compensation to -0.5 or -1.0. Aperture priority can be convenient in fast-moving situations shooting pelagics etc., where it can be difficult or time-consuming to adjust manual settings on both strobes between shots. Once you have the right aperture-shutter speed combination (in manual) for the ambient background dialled in correctly - of if aperture priority is doing its job - you can bracket the power of both strobes up and down with the flash compensation controls while taking a near-continuous series of shots. It's worth practising a bit with the controls so that you're comfortable adjusting flash compensation while looking through the viewfinder.


    Robert Delfs

  21. Further to above, if you're looking more for pelagics and not for macro/reef stuff, you might consider Malapascua, which has acquired some fame in the past few years for reliable sitings of thresher sharks. Apparently it's almost guaranteed, but the visibility usually isn't very good.


    Robert Delfs

  22. Just a quick response to some of the information posted in this thread above.


    1) Tubataha. As Swordfish says, only accessible for about six weeks around May, and only by liveaboard. There are actually several different reefs that are dived on these trips (including Maender, Jessie Beazlie). Tubbataha is the main attraction, a huge atoll (several miles) rising straight up from the bottom of the Sulu Sea. Some dynamite damage at the top, but great walls. It's not really a macro site, as far as I'm concerned. Lots of sharks - mostly whitetips. We also saw a couple of big schools of sailfin snappers, which are very pretty. Clouds of pyramid butterflyfish. Like most oceanic seamounts and atolls, you don't get the biodiversity that you would closer to a landmass, but it's great diving, and a very interesting place to go.


    2) Puerto Galera. The Canyons is the "signature" dive at Puerto Galera, and it's definitely a strong current drift under most conditions, as are some of the other dives in the same area. But currents vary according to tide and moon - I've done the Canyons as a wide-angle dive, and also as a macro dive, numerous times. It can be tricky handling a wide-angle rig with long strobe arms when the currents are strong.


    But more importantly, the Canyons and Hole-in-the-wall aren't the only dives ta Puerto Galera. There are many others which are very different, including several superb macro sites. Sabang Bay and Little Laguna Bay are protected, and have lots of great stuff to see and shoot. I've seen lots of frogfish, pygmy seahourses (only 100 m. from the Point Bar jetty, but I'm not sure that sea fan is still there). There are wrecks sunk in Sabang Bay by the local dive operators that have magnets for sea life, including great macro subjects. Great for night dives too.


    Puerto Galera is the only place I've ever shot (or seen) a Harlequin shrimp. (At the sunken dry dock, near the end of Little La Laguna.) Spectacular nudibranchs at many sites (overlapping some of the species found at Anilao, directly across the Verde Strait from Puerto Gallera). There's a white black coral forest with schools of shrimpfish on a seamount near the Galleon channel, a deep dive, but very nice. And if you're qualified for technical diving (or interested in becoming one), there are lots of really deep dives that I've never done, and a very active technical diving scene.


    I'm leaving out Verde Island, just across the Channel, which is not dived everyday but can be worked into any visit, which is spectacular for both macro or wide-angle. Two main dives there, the pinnacle and the "Little Canyons", truly great.


    There are several good operators in Puerto Galera, and a lot of crummy ones as well. I used to dive there a lot when I lived in HK, and always dived with Asia Divers, who I like, but there are others who are said to be good as well. TechAsia is Asia Divers' technical diving subsidiary or branch, something like that.


    Robert Delfs

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