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divrndeep last won the day on December 30 2019

divrndeep had the most liked content!

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About divrndeep

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  • Birthday 04/15/1959

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  • Location
    Monterey, CA
  • Interests
    World travel, wildlife photography.

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    United States
  • Camera Model & Brand
    Nikon Z7

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  1. CADiver, I have not had nor heard of any issues with Cancun or Cozumel. La Paz & Cabo San Lucas are the destinations that ding you for 16% of the cost that your camera & housing are worth . The customs agents now research your gear online while you wait and charge you that percentage of what they find on their internet search. After 15 years of diving & enjoying underwater photography, I stopped diving after my trip to La Paz in 2019 and donated ALL of my high end diving gear, dive computers, AND all my underwater photography gear (cam, housing, strobes, etc) to the dive team on the boat. It was a great trip and I saw everything I wanted to see, but I knew in my heart that I was DONE spending thousands upon thousands of dollars per year on dive & photo gear plus the cost to carry 100 extra lbs of gear on every trip. The travel industry gouges us on every level and La Paz extortion fees was just the last straw to break the camel's back. I have evolved to land photography and now enjoy world travel more since my load is lighter and I don't have to pay extortion fees for my underwater equipment.
  2. Respectfully, my heads up warning to photo divers was not one "individual event". Also, it is easy to minimize the surprise financial "hit" experienced by multiple divers I spoke to from different countries on varied flights, and separate tours when it did not happen to you.
  3. The 90's was a long time ago. Baja has gotten tougher in the past few years. If you are stopped, you will pay 16% of the value that the Customs agent researches on his smart phone for your camera gear. The limit for tourists is $3,000 worth of camera equipment for personal use. Most UW housings ALONE are worth more that $3,000. If you show your actual purchase receipts you will most likely pay 16% of that retail value to use your own gear anyway. It is not worth it for me. Until the dive industry takes action against the Mexican customs extortion fees, I will not dive there.
  4. Flying into Cabo or La Paz via Mexico City does not guarantee you immunity from Customs camera fees. Some of my friends were charged over $600 on their UW housings in order to be allowed to enter Baja Mexico with their gear. They flew into Mexico City from Switzerland, so they were a captive group that had to pay or go back home. It is truly bad business for Baja and the dive industry needs to take notice and take action!
  5. Fellow divers I know from Switzerland, Spain, USA, United Kingdom, etc were slammed with over $600 fees since they had nice camera gear with them. Some divers flew into La Paz, others flew into Cabo, One man who responded to my post on another website stated he was extorted by customs when he drove a car down to Baja to dive. He was quite irritated that he had to pay $300 for his own personal, amateur photo gear.
  6. Sorry you had to pay, but they are definitely targeting any photo diver they can find to extort more money. They are not just targeting Americans. They have been stopping vacationers from around the globe. If you don’t pay the extortion fees, they will not let you enter the country. They basically have you where they want you. No vacationer is going to risk losing a $4,000 “already paid for trip” by not paying the extortion fee for their camera gear.
  7. Only Baja Mexico seems to be an issue so far.
  8. I want to see representatives from The Solmar V, Fun Azul Fleet, The Valentina, The Nautilus and other dive operators in Cabo and La Paz stepping up to protest the extortion practices by the Mexican government that targets scuba divers & amateur photographers visiting Baja. Until Baja becomes more diver friendly and photographer friendly, I will not go there.
  9. Tim G, I only know that both La Paz & Cabo San Lucas airports are stopping divers and checking their camera gear. Many European divers I met in La Paz last week were also made to pay for their housings. Your Subal housing has a big price tag, so unless you can show documentation of it's current depreciated worth, you will pay $632 US dollars or 12,264 Mexican Pesos, or 574 Euros to be permitted to enter the country with your Subal housing. It's something I hope that the large diving and UW photographer industries can influence in reversing. Before my trip I was ready to purchase a new UW housing for my new Nikon Z7, but I held off since I did not want to be extorted for an astronomical fee. My UW set up that I brought along instead was a 7 year old Olympus EM-5 with plastic PT-EP08 housing which I felt would not raise an eyebrow. It's plastic for Christ's sake. I had to pay almost $50 to enter Baja Mexico with it. A Nikon Z7 housing runs between $1,700-$3,600 which translates to $272- $576 dollars in fees just to use my own camera equipment for a week. This nonsense needs to stop I think. The UW camera shop in town just lost out on what would have been a good $5,000 sale with the Z7 housing, ports, etc. I'm not about to buy a new UW system if I have to keep paying for it when I travel!! Again, I hope the dive/photo industries get onboard & raise hell about this extortion.
  10. TravelDave, 2 camera bodies and one Go pro might be interpreted by customs as 3 cameras. If you can, dig up the old receipts, bring them and also show the depreciation over the years for the items. That is what I would do next time if I REALLY needed to go to Baja again. I think I will wait to return until Baja realizes that no vacationing diver/photographer will want to visit as long as those kinds of extortion fees are in place for vacationers.
  11. Pro photographer Franco Banfi and his group of amateur UW photographers from Switzerland flew into La Paz from Mexico City last week the same time I was there, and they were nailed for hundreds of dollars. They check your passport at every stop. Unless you have a Mexican passport, they KNOW where you originated from.
  12. I would like to see how the dive community responds to this high tariff before I ever go back. I paid close to $50 in fees for a 7 year old Olympus plastic housing for my little mirrorless Olympus EM-5. I'm shooting with a Z7 now and this Mexican Photographer's tax stopped me from purchasing a housing for it for this trip. I used my old Olympus set up instead which was not ideal, but I'm not about to pay out money on high extortion fees, so the UW camera housing industry just lost a big sale. If you can cancel your Baja destination to go somewhere else, that would be one way to avoid the UW housing fees. If enough divers divert from Baja, it will inevitably affect the money stream. The dive industry there may take notice and plead their case to the government to cease the extortion.. Otherwise, spend $$ on an international carry-on ThinkTank suitcase which is soft sided, and put your housing & cameras in that. As long as they do not inspect your bag at customs, you may be able to fly under the radar, but be prepared with your credit card in Cabo san Lucas or La Paz if they look in your bag.
  13. ATTENTION AMATEUR & PRO UW PHOTOGRAPHERS planning a trip to Baja Mexico: Now that I have returned from Baja California, Mexico, here is what I know 1st hand. If you fly into Cabo San Lucas or into La Paz, Mexico, expect to pay a fee if the Customs agents stop you and notice that you have an underwater housing. The agent will Google the housing to see it’s worth, then demand that you pay 16% of that price. Many new DSLR UW housings are $4,000 or more. You will pay $640 US dollars to use that fancy new housing in Baja Mexico. The customs agent will also show you an official document in English that states you may bring in 2 cameras and the accoutrements involved, but the underwater housing is a fee by Mexican law. I ran into a pro photographer I know who happened to be staying in the same hotel. He was leading a small underwater photo tour in La Paz. The vacationers were all from Switzerland and they all told me that they had to pay exorbitant fees for their camera housings and their video housings at La Paz airport even though they were all amateurs themselves. Customs officials are targeting underwater photographers at the airport in Cabo San Lucas and in La Paz. If you have a hard-sided protective travel case for your gear they will stop you. The customs agent said I was allowed 2 cameras and the things that go along with that, BUT an underwater housing must be taxed by Mexican customs laws even if you are not a professional. He showed me the document in writing about this customs law. I told the officer that I was NOT a pro photographer, but the document he showed me specifies underwater housings as a taxable item. I told the officer that my housing was old and maybe worth $200 which is true since it is about 7 years old. He got out his cell phone and looked up the model name and number (Olympus PT-EP08 UW case for E-M5) and said it was worth at least $300. In order for me to enter the country and use MY OWN underwater camera case for personal use (I do not earn a living by photography nor do I sell my photos online or in another way) I had to pay $50 US dollars to keep my housing with me. FYI: Customs officers in Cabo San Lucas airport take credit cards for this "Photographer's Fee". Even though Cabo/La Paz is the nearest warm water diving destination to my home, this will be my last vacation here for underwater photography. If you have a nondescript, soft-sided carry-on suitcase that you can carry all of you underwater housings in, then do it. If you have to check your underwater housings through with a hard case and your dive gear is packed in a bag with a diving insignia on it, they will stop you. If they find an underwater camera housing in you luggage, the Mexican authorities will nail you for 16% of the value of that housing at the price that they find online.
  14. Looking to upgrade from your current UW camera system? I have a sweet Nikon D200 DSLR pro system for sale. If you would like to buy a complete, gently used & well maintained underwater camera set up, but can’t afford retail prices, then this is the way to get into Pro DSLR underwater photography. I bought everything brand new from Backscatter. Package price was over $12,000 new. Nikon D200 DX camera with the Sea & Sea UW housing has all the components needed for Macro & WA shooting. All equipment has been handled with extreme care, regularly maintained, in excellent working order, and has never flooded. Housing was fully serviced/pressure checked by Backscatter photo, and all o-rings and seals were replaced. Package includes all necessary ports, extenders, and gears to support wide angle & macro photography. This package INCLUDES the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom lens. DSLR UW Photography Package: Nikon D200 camera, compact flashcard & battery + charger. $1,400 Sea & Sea 200DX housing $4,000 Sea & Sea Dome port $700 Sea & Sea Macro port $320 Sea & Sea base rings $400 Macromate Flip Lens for super-macro shots $600 Tokina 10-17 WA lens $700 Zoom gear for 10-17mm lens $220 Focus gear for 105mm lens $265 Ultralight T Groove Base Adapters (2) $50 Hartenberger focus lamp & universal charger kit $1,000 2 Hartenberger batteries & 2 bulbs $200 Sea & Sea 45 degree Viewfinder $1,000 Inon D2000 S-TTL strobes (2) $1,380 Sea & Sea 5 pin synch cords (2) $250 Macro & Dome port covers $98 **Includes original manuals. All that is needed to complete this set up is Ultralight extension arms, and a pelican case! Of course you’ll need the105 macro lens, but most of us have that already. I will sell this entire package for only $6,200. Then you can start shooting like a pro now. Karen Schofield Diverindeep@me.com
  15. Come by & view my photography on display this month! It would be great to see some of you there! “OCEANA” Davenport Gallery April 5th-28th, 2012 (Open Thurs-Sun 11-5) 450 HWY 1 Davenport, Ca (located next to Roadhouse) Gallery: 831-421-0505 Artists Reception on April 14th From 4-7 pm. Hors d’oeuvres & wine to be served Underwater Photography by: Karen Schofield
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