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About Gus_Smedstad

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  • Birthday 02/10/1965

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    Canon Digital Rebel XT
  1. That seems a tad long large for carry-on if it's rigid. Every time I've read about this, I've seen 9 x 14 x 22 as the limit. - Gus
  2. That's the schedule I ran in Bonaire, but I could drive to the dive sites in the rented truck, and dive whenever I was ready. My experience with shore-based diving elsewhere is that you get to the sites in a small boat, and the dive shops run either one 2-tank trip or two 1-tank trips a day, and that's it. It's completely not clear to me which dive operations run more dives than that, at least from the web pages. The descriptions of the all-included packages often state that you get just 2 dives a day, plus unlimited dives of the house reef. - Gus
  3. I've been looking at possible dive trips to Bali, Komodo, or Sulawesi. I'm particularly focused on macro photography, though I have a 10-22mm lens and dome as well. I want a trip where I'm doing 4 dives a day typically, so I've been looking at live aboards, since the shore operations I've seen all seem to assume 2-3 dives per day at most. Boats like the Paradise Dancer are attractive, but I'm suffering from a bit of sticker shock from the price. $430 per night! I can afford that, but I'm seeing prices from boats like the MY Liburan or the MV Tarata at more like $200 per night covering the same region. On the other hand, I'm having a hard time finding trip reports from the less expensive vessels. Things I'm looking for in a live-aboard: * Camera friendly (i.e. work tables, soak tanks) * Photography-friendly diving. I've been with operations where the dive master herds the group around, which can be a problem if I'm taking time with a particular photograph. A few reports I've read from the region indicate some boats are pretty rigid. I'm aware that a good guide can be important for spotting the smaller critters, though. * Nitrox. Not an absolute requirement. * Reasonably organized and pleasant crew. Again, I've read a couple of negative trip reports about specific dive operations. - Gus
  4. I received my Fisheye 500DX from Reef Photo today. It's bigger than I remember the HG20DX being. A good bit bigger. It's almost like having a third strobe, in terms of bulk. It seemed pretty nice, and I didn't have the problem HarryM did with his copy - fairly clearly he got a defective light. It didn't seem quite as bright as I was expecting, so being nerdy, I decided to test. I did my best to replicate the test conditions described in the Backscatter Focus Light Shootout. I shot a white surface at maximum output at a distance of 12" and noted the metering at 100 ISO. I assume the article images were shot at 100 ISO - the photos are missing their EXIF data, so I can't say for certain, and the article doesn't say. As you can see, beam width is very similar. The article specifies a white balance of 3200K, which makes the 500DX's beam appear very blue, even though it's white to the eye. I make the beam at about 20" in diameter at 12", where the article says the HG20DX is 18". However, the 500DX has a very definite 5" diameter hot spot, where the HG20DX's beam is very uniform. I'm less certain of the metering. I did try and duplicate the article, but even a slight difference in distance from the camera will make a definite difference in exposure. I measured 1/60th at f/10 and 100 ISO. 2 stops wider implies the 500DX only puts out 1/4 the light of the HG20DX, despite drawing about half the power. I can see why the 1000DX exists, though using 8 AA's instead of an expensive proprietary battery seems like a real advantage. I can easily stock a spare set of NiMH AA's for a lot less money than the $150 price of an extra lithium battery. I also tried the light at minimum power, and metered at f/4 and 400 ISO. That's 4 stops, or about 6% of maximum brightness. Fisheye claims 150 minutes with 2000mAh batteries at full power, so 40 hours at minimum power? I suspect less, but I'm not really interested in testing that. What matters in practice? I've only done a few dives with a real focus light, instead of relying on my dive buddy illuminating the target with her primary dive light. Beam width definitely matters, since you can't count on the light being precisely aimed at your target at macro distances, and your subject may not be center-frame at longer distances. The light doesn't have to be strobe-bright, it's not supposed to be a source of light in your photo, just enough for autofocus to work reliably. At macro distances, beam brightness is almost a disadvantage, since it might add a hotspot to your photo. For longer distances, brightness matters, but a bluer LED beam almost certainly penetrates water better than a ~3600K incandescent light like the HG20DX. I think a really fair comparison would be underwater, and distances of 3' or so. - Gus
  5. I have a bunch of those Eneloops - they're 2000mAh at 400ma draw. I'm not really set up to test draw over 500 ma, but I found a site testing them at 1.2a, and he got about 1850 mAh at that level (NiMH do hold up to high draw well). So 1.850 x 1.2 x 4 = 8.4 watt-hours gave you 60+ minutes, which implies the actual load is about 8 watts at full power. It'd definitely nice to hear from someone who has used all 3 lights we're discussing. I'm halfway wishing that I'd gone with the I-torch light, given your recommendation, but I suspect the differences are minor. Especially since I'm lugging around a DSLR housing, so the difference in weight is small compared to the total weight of my rig. - Gus
  6. Yes, you'd expect twice the burn time with half the power draw, unless the light's power management wasted energy. If anything, it should go a bit longer, because battery capacity is better at low current draws. We know the I-Torch's draw is about 1.9 amps at full power, which is really, really high. I strongly doubt you'll get 90 minutes of burn time at full power. Even a Sanyo 2700 is likely to give you maybe 70 minutes at that kind of draw - stated battery capacities assume a 10 hour discharge. Of course, maybe the stated 9 watt (3 bulbs x 3) draw is high, but given the claims of brightness, that doesn't seem all that likely. However, it's worth noting that you really don't need the light on all the time during a daylight dive. Unless you're shooting crevices or the underside of a wreck, ambient light usually gives you enough for easy focus. It's night dives where focus light burn time really matters, and I suspect the I Torch will probably last long enough for intermittent daylight use and a full night dive. EDIT: deleted the incomplete sentence. - Gus
  7. That I-Torch VDO light looks pretty good. They're claiming 600+ lumens from LEDs totaling 9 watts, versus 500 lumens @ 15 watts from the BigBlue and 500 lumens @ 12 watts from the Fisheye. That implies higher efficiency LEDs, which is possible since I found several references to LEDs yielding 100+ lumens / watt. It's also possible they're just exaggerating, and that a lab test would show lower actual output. In any case, that doesn't seem all that important. "Bright enough," low power consumption, a selection of power levels, and a wide beam seem more important to me. Burn time is always going to be a combination of the watt-hours available (roughly 12 watt-hours for 4xAA NiMH, 24 for 8xAA), and the power consumption (which is why a reduced power levels are attractive, you don't always need 500+ lumens). As you say, finding it for sale is difficult. The US sites they list as dealers don't mention that specific light, and the one place I found it online was in Hong Kong and out of stock. They had it priced at $299. One thing that would concern me about the Patima Big Bear is the beam characteristics. The photo at Reef Photo makes it look like it has a very bright hot spot, surrounded by a dimmer beam. It's very different from the 500DX image. Of course, the real problem with all of these images is that only the Fisheye photo is useful. You can't really tell what the beam is quite like from the BigBlue and Patima photos, only the Fisheye image shows it projected against a wall. - Gus
  8. I was seriously thinking about getting a Big Blue 1x5 or 3x5, at least in part because I'd like the auto-off feature. I've been toying with this since I got back from Bonaire, but felt I really needed to get my act together since we're now seriously discussing our next dive trip. I ended up ordering a Fisheye 500DX. I decided the flexibility of having a dial to control brightness was important to me. The Big Blue lights have only 70% and 100% settings, and from my experience with the HG20DX, the dial brings power down to about 30% of maximum if you want. And for the most part, I did want it that low most of the time with the HG20DX, and the light output of the two lights is similar. That's also an argument for the Big Blue 1x5, which is only 34% as bright as the 3x5 or the 500DX, but it's also nice to have the option of the brighter light if you need it. That, and I'm really quite confident that the 500DX is designed as a really broad beam focus light, and Reef Photo has some images of the Big Blue beam that look a lot narrower. - Gus
  9. What I'd really love to see is a photograph of a light's pattern at 1', rather like the Backscatter article comparing various focus lights. BossK claims a beam angle of 60°. The Fisheye HG20DX I rented in Bonaire had a beam angle of 100°, which is substantially better, but seemed like overkill when actually shooting. - Gus
  10. What's the beam width like on that? As I said upthread, I had a good experience with a rented Fisheye, and a large part of that was the very wide beam width. The little Princeton I bought was difficult to aim because the beam width was so narrow. - Gus
  11. You're right, the Fantasea and the Princeton 21 dive light I used both took AAA's, not AA's - I have no idea why I consistently mis-typed that. Very interesting about Reef Photo and the Fantasea Nano. It looks exactly like the Fisheye Mini. I'm not sure how wide a beam either throws, since mine flooded immediately, but the Princeton was way too narrow. I definitely have to get something with a broader beam. - Gus
  12. I brought one of those to Bonaire last week. It flooded on the first dive. Salt water + 4 AA's NIMH batteries = a nasty mess. I tried a Princeton 4AA dive light purchased locally as a substitute. The beam was frankly far too narrow, I had to constantly re-adjust the aim. In theory it was always parallel to the lens, but in practice it drifted. It's difficult to get a really stiff connection with a ball-and-arm system or even the YS-type bracket I used to hold the light. I rented a Fisheye HG20DX from Buddy Dive for 2 nights. The beam is ridiculously wide, far, far wider than I actually needed, and at the lowest setting it was more than sufficient for focus on a night dive. For crevices on a daylight dive, I did end up using the max brightness, which is very bright at night. I'm here looking to see if there's anything in between. The HG20DX beam width is really overkill, and battery life seems like an issue if you use it for more than night diving. And it's expensive. But it sure does work. - Gus
  13. Flickr set is here A few images (click for link to larger versions): I had one very nasty scare this trip. On Bonaire, you want to take your car keys with you. I used a Pak-Pak dive wallet for this purpose, which worked fine... until I came up from a night dive and found that the BCD flap was open and there was no dive wallet in it. Car keys, room key, house keys, all presumably at the bottom of the ocean somewhere. Nothing on the beach or near the pickup truck, which wasn't a surprise. However, after I'd given up and resigned myself to a very difficult night, I noticed a slight bulge in the front of my wet suit at the rib level. When gearing up, with the wetsuit half-on, I'd tucked the wallet into the wetsuit, prior to transferring it to the BCD. And obviously forgotten it. I'd finished zipping up the wet suit with the wallet still in it. Which was probably a safer place for it than a Velcro-closed BCD pocket. - Gus
  14. If by "extreme" you mean 5 dives / day, one of which is a night dive, I'm at that end as well. I get a bit tired after 4-5 days on that schedule, but on a 2 dive, even 3 dive schedule I feel there's too much dead time. - Gus
  15. You seem to have a lot of squid photos from Bonaire - I gather they're common? I haven't seen any to date. Turtles, sharks, and mantas, but no squid. You also have a few banded shrimp, it'd be cool to get some photos of those - I had a couple of shrimp photos from Hawaii, but they were hiding in rocks / coral so they're partially obscured. - Gus
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