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About jsnorman

  • Rank
    Sea Nettle
  • Birthday 04/28/1967

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Chicago, IL

Additional Info

  • Show Country Flag:
    United States
  • Camera Model & Brand
    Nikon D7000; Olympus TG-4; and Olympus E-M5
  • Camera Housing
    NA-D7000; Nauticam NA-EM5; Olympus PT-056
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    Two Subtronic Nova; Two Ikelite DS-125; Olympus UFL-2
  • Accessories
    ULCS strobe arms; GoBe 700 wide, UV and red; i-Torch Pro6+
  1. I just picked up a bargain on ebay - Aquatica 3 housings (2), and full set of ports (macro and fisheye domes), extensions and gears. I love my D800 but I also like shooting film sometimes so I thought I love shooting film and thought this might be an interesting way to try film underwater. I already have Nikon lenses so hoping I can at least use my 35mm and 50mm lenses which have all manual rings, as well as maybe the Tokina fisheye. Does anyone still shoot film underwater? I cannot find much info online about shooting film underwater. Would appreciate any advice on the following topics: 1) Any way to use modern (digital) strobes (Subtronic and Ikelite) with the Aquatica/F3? 2) Pros and cons of various film options underwater? Or any tips that are unique to shooting film underwater would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Ahhh yes! I did not understand how the excitation filters on the strobe would help rather than overwhelm the lighting from the organism.. .but now it makes sense. Thank you!!!
  3. Thank you .. what filters should I bring? I assume you mean filters/gells/diffusers on the strobes themselves, not at the camera.
  4. I just received my new iTorch Pro6+ and may have a chance to try it out next month (macro shoots). I am interested in how will it will work as a fill/add in light in UV mode (it is 2800 lumens, 120 degree beam angle, and UV is at the 420nm sweet spot for bio-luminescence). Any tips on the best way to make use of this? Will this be enough UV power to bring out luminescence in stills? I assume I will still need my strobes, but I was thinking to reduce power by at least full stop so the strobes don't overpower the UV. Or do I need a second UV lamp and just shoot without strobe when I want shoot creatures and corals glowing?
  5. I would like to change out my existing Nikonos 5 pin bulkhead on my Nauticam D7000 for an S6 bulkhead to use with Subtronic strobes that have an S6 connection (one digital, and a slave in analog mode). I have several problems would appreciate any thoughts/information on: 1) I cannot find an M16 S6 bulkhead threaded for the Nauticam port. Does one exist? 2) There are at least 2 M14 S6 bulkheads available. In that case, it appears I can use the Nauticam M16 to M14 stepdown bulkhead adapter. Any problems with that approach? 3) I plan to use my existing Nikonos 5 pin hotshoe connection, and cut off the Nikonos connector from the ribbon cable. Then, I can solder the ribbon cable from my existing hotshoe (N5) to the ribbon cable from the S6 for the Subtronics. I have decent soldering skills, so that seems pretty easy. However, I cannot seem to locate a wiring diagram that shows how to wire from Nikon N5 to Subtronic S6. Can anyone point me in the right direction? 4) Is there an easier way to do this that I haven't considered? I know 10bar used to make a short N5 to S6 cable, but it seems that is no longer manufactured. I also thought about buying the Subal S6 to Nikonos bulkhead that would be pre-wired, but not sure if I can get that bulkhead on my Nauticam. Any ideas would be appreciated.
  6. I was using a rental Dc1400 which unfortunately only shoots JPG so my post-processing is limited. Location: Nassau, Bahamas Equipment: Sealife DC1400 with Sealife Pro single strobe setup (rental, not sure of model) Subject: Grouper. I approached him the side and was slowly lowering myself to try to get a shut from underneath the Grouper; as I dropped down he started "warning" behaviors so I took a couple of pictures in sequence and then left him alone. I was about 2 feet away I think when he started "warning" me away. Exposure: ISO 400, F/2.8, 5mm focal length, 1/60th shutter Edits so far: - Adjusted color temp -21, and tint +21 (I focused on getting the purple gorgonian to the right shade as my tone/tint ruler) - Adjusted shadow lighting +52 because it seemed to improve the background which seemed a little shadowy and actually helped a little in contrast with the grouper even though I expected the reverse (initially tried decreasing shadows but it didn't work well); and white lighting -52 because the grouper's white stripes were slightly overexposed Problems (that I can see): 1) Main issue is the image does not pop the way I really thought it would. I wish I would have had a fisheye; as I was stuck with the DC1400 I opened it up to about 5mm which was the best I could do on spur of the moment trying to capture this warning. 2) I am having a lot of trouble in lightroom trying to increase the contrast between the grouper and the background. Both are similar enough in color that adjustments to color tone and white balance do not seem to make much different. I am used to RAW so the limited nature of JPG editing is frustrating me. 3) Angle of the shot is not ideal. I would have liked to get head on with him and/or slightly under him .. but since I clearly pissed him off, I stopped here. 4) Would have been better to have his eye in the upper part of the rule of thirds intersection point? I tried cropping to move him up and to the left a bit, but then I lost too much of his tail section. Maybe an example where being a little further away would have been better. Other thoughts and suggestions appreciated.
  7. I used the continuous focus + target tracking for this - the snapper was the target (target is marked in the viewfinder with a box) but I think the depth of field was lacking. Except for the lips, I think the fish itself is adequately in focus (do you think otherwise?). However, the front edge of the sponge could have been in focus if I had noticed. I really like the PL3 underwater. Very easy to handle and a big improvement over my Nikon D5000/Nimar setup. This was my first very short (4 dive) trip with it so I did not get a chance to really explore enough - I did not do any macro, and I used automatic exposure and TTL flash metering for most shots. I also forgot to bring two very important parts that killed a lot of my shots (missing was a small plastic mask for the internal flash which resulted in shadowing and spot overexpsoure; and an internal light blocking metal "antireflective shield" (like a flat donut)). I am waiting for some opportunities to take it down in Lake Michigan this spring to really test it out. I also now have the well-reviewed UFL-2 which should deliver much improved TTL control as the camera will control both the intensity and width of the strobe directly through the olympus RC system. I have a review on the gear review page for the PL3 that I will update as soon as I shoot again with the UFL-2.
  8. ugh .. when I converted to 700 pixels and a 100K jpg, I lost a lot of color tone especially reds!? It looks way way better on my original. First pic above is fixed version. I changed the sampling type on reduction and increased JPG quality a bit and now its better.
  9. Shot at St. Thomas USVI on March 13 using an Olympus E-PL3 with Olympus housing and single S&S ys-110a strobe on an 8" arm. I used auto tone in PS5.5, and cropped the image to move the subject a little closer to center (I intentionally did not center the subject entirely .. so critique away if you don't like). 42mm 1/60 sec ISO 200 f/5.6
  10. Thanks! That is exactly what I was looking for. Here is a short gallery of pictures in low res for posting purposes: Peek-a-boo! 19mm f/4.0 at 1/60 sec (cropped during post-processing) using AF-C (slight blurr is probably my handhold not the focus) "My precious .. all mine!" 14mm f/5.6 at 1/160 sec Wreck 42mm f/5.6 at 1/100 sec Nurse shark under ledge 40mm f/5.5 at 1/60 sec
  11. I have not seem many "amateur user" reviews on this setup, so I thought I would post my experiences with the Oly PT-EP05L (the housing made for the relatively new E-PL3) FWIW. I recently bought this setup after losing my Nikon D5000 setup (with a Nimar housing, and my very much loved 105mm f/2.8 macro lens) to a flood ..a flood that I attribute at least in part to having to lug around too much oversize equipment (yes, not testing the seal after changing lens was my fault; but changing lens and lens ports on a full DSLR housing is such a hassle that in the 30 minute SI on a crowded boat I wonder how many of us always do the seal check?). Worse than losing my camera, lens and housing was the fact that I missed shots of an amazing encounter with a Gigantic Grouper and an Eagle Ray that swam within 20 feet of me on the next day's dive. Ugh. I actually bought another Nimar housing, camera and of course 105mm macro lens after the flood, but then discovered that Nimar changed the port mount so none of my very expensive ports for the "older" model (which carries the exact same model designation!?) would fit!! Bad Nimar, bad. Lost me as a customer for life over that issue alone (and as an aside, my brand new, unused Nimar housing, standard port and D5000 camera body are going up on ebay and in the classifieds this weekend). Anyway, although I do plan to eventually buy the Subal setup for my even more loved D7000, cost and portability made that prohibitive for my most recent dive trip which I had to do as shore excursions from a major cruise ship (not something I would recommend to anyone serious about diving but that is another story). So, I decided to go with the very well-reviewed Oly E-PL3 and the matching housing the PT-EP05L. As a spoiler, I loved it! This was the best experience I have ever had diving with photo equipment. I will probably love the Subal even more, but the ability to take a 12.3MP camera, that shoots in RAW mode (yes it does!), has an interchangeable and decent quality lens system (including several f/1.8 and f/2.3 lens options at the higher end), and which fit in my carry on bag along with all my other "essential" gear (including: my strobe (Sea & Sea YS-110a), strobe arms and tray, batteries, chargers, regulator, dive computer, laptop and charger, 2 days of clothing, and personal care stuff) was just amazing! On top of that, I was able to fit ALL of my gear (BC, camera+housing+strobe assembled, regulator, dive computer, skin, fins, mask) into an the large over the shoulder mesh bag from aqualung! No more lugging my pelican case around! Those were the reasons I chose the system, here are some impressions after 4 dives: 1) The YS-110a worked great and connected very securely using a standard S&S optical cable. The PT-EP05L includes two optical ports. Once I setup the camera to use pre-flash sync. This is not the default setting on the E-PL3 so you need to go into the custom configuration menus (hidden by default) to set up the pre-flash. Also, the PT-EP05L comes with a small plastic mask to cover the internal flash when used with an external flash - don't forget to pack that small plastic piece like I did! Most of my shots were unaffected by the internal flash, but I lost a few due to the internal flash. I shot exclusively in TTL mode as I did not have enough dives to get comfortable with manual yet and I really wanted some good shots to start out with this system. 2) The E-PL3 supports Oly's RC controlled flash system which adjusts flash output and flash zoom automatically using TTL and infrared communication between the strobe and camera!!; but you need the Oly's UFL-2 (oly's new external strobe). I have ordered one from Walmart of all places (best price!?) but did not get it in time for the dive trip. More on that once I use it, but I can confirm that the E-PL3 has menu options for this feature. Very cool from such an inexpensive camera. 3) I shot exclusively with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II kit lens that came with the E-PL3. The PT-EP05L includes a standard lens port that is designed for this lens. I did also buy the "gear" so that I could adjust the zoom/focal length. Additional lens ports are available from Zen Underwater for this camera but I have not yet tried them (I am considering the flat low volume port for my Lumix f/1.8 45mm macro lens, as well as the dome port for wide angle). I don't love the 14-42mm lens, and in low light situations even with the S&S it was really not adequate (I had to boost ISO on nurse shark shot attached because I could not angle the strobe underneath the ledge; therefore there is an unacceptable amount of noise IMHO). However, the lens and gear fit like a glove and adjusting zoom was very easy. I used the 42mm to get the nurse shark, and backed it up to 14mm for most other shots. Having that flexibility was nice - I am thinking that with the addition of a second strobe and longer strobe arms I would probably be okay shooting with the 14-42mm lens. The autofocus worked without a hitch at all focal lengths between 14-42mm and was very fast (< .5 second except for a couple of close up shots where I had to back up a little to get AF to work). Further, I experimented with using the continuous target tracking AF and was very pleased - the stingray with "rider" was taken with continuous target based AF from about 20 feet away at full extension 42mm! 4) Camera speed was never an issue. On several occasions I shot 3 shots before I realized I had multiple exposures turned on (which is my standard setup above water) .. of course the strobe could not recharge that fast so the second and third pictures ended up too dark. But the point is that the camera had no trouble keeping up with me. It is not a D7000 to be sure, but it easily matches my now defunct D5000. 5) I really liked being able to frame my shot on the LCD screen. This is a huge luxury that you will only appreciate when you try it! The large LCD was easily visible and camera settings were easy to adjust underwater due to the LCD. Unlike the Nikon, the E-PL3 was designed to use the LCD only, so it does not suck battery life like live mode on a Nikon does. There is no viewfinder of course this being a mirrorless camera (there is one actually as an accessory but it won't work underwater). 6) I set white balance for underwater use (which is an option on this camera). However, I had to make some major adjustments to white balance on all my shots. Luckily Lightroom easily corrected white balance in almost every case. I suspect this is due to the raw format not using the auto white balance? but I don't know because I have never had an "underwater" option on my white balance before!? 7) Ergonomics were very good. I could easily enter the water with this camera in one hand, and except for actually taking pictures, I mostly carried the camera in one hand during the dives. This made it much easier to deal with my regular scuba gear!! ALL of the functionality of the camera was accessible, and buttons were clearly labelled consistent with the labels on the corresponding buttons on the camera itself. I would strongly recommend getting familiar with the camera top side, though, as oly's menu structure and button layout were foreign to me as a dedicated long time Nikon user. Luckily I had taken this on a few birdwatching trips with the 150mm lens and already was over the learning curve mostly. 8) You will need a tray and arms. Oly makes these, but I could not find the Oly tray and arms anywhere in the U.S. So, I got the generic compact "S" tray and arm set (with 8" arms) from Optical Ocean. The S tray is very compact was a great match for the Oly. You do need to make sure to line up the tray's ridge with the back ridge of the camera to prevent the camera from rotating, as the provided thumbscrew is not tight enough to prevent rotation, and there is not any left/right mounting screw holes on the housing to provide a more stable rotation free setup. Not sure if that was how the tray ridge was supposed to be used, but it worked. Additionally, with this tray, the camera would only work in one orientation - if you "flip" the camera around the shutter trigger was essentially blocked by the right arm. 9) Given the size of the camera's sensor and lower speed lenses (versus my Nikon anyway), I really think it is necessary to get 2 strobes and longer (2 piece) extension arms to be able to better position the strobes behind the very short snout of the camera lens. You will see backscatter on my shots because I had a lot of trouble positioning and moving the strobe on the short single 8" arm. My next trip I will use the UFL-2 with the YS-110a hooked up as slave, each on a two piece 12" arm. That should improve results re backscatter and lighting generally and may also make the 14-42mm lens adequate. 10) Did I mention RAW mode! I hate shooting in JPEG which is why I have always avoided the point and shoot uw camera. Having a usable raw mode on such a small camera is great! A number of shots were saved by Photoshop due to raw mode. 11) Battery life on the camera was outstanding. I changed the battery after the third dive; 2 dives day 1, 2 dives day 3 with lots of "tourist" topside pictures in between. I probably could have finished the 4th dive but I didn't want to risk it (and I had 4 charged batteries with me in any case). 12) The housing has 67mm threads for wet lens mounting. I bought the Oly macro lens but I did not use it because I had no good place to put the lens! I really need to come up with a solution to where to put the wet lenses so ideas are appreciated. I would probably buy some stacking macros for super macro use but without knowing where to put them when not in use, I am a little hesitant to shell out more $$. 13) Oring seal and locking mechanism was excellent. The Oring is extremely secure in the well designed oring grove (single oring fwiw). The locking mechanism is simplicity itself - you turn a large round knob/clasp that locks the back to the main housing. It is very very easy to close and there is a satisfying "click" when properly closed... and almost impossible to open accidentally. To open, you must push in on a lock release so accidental unlocking is very unlikely. The housing has a moisture alarm too if you install the batteries for that feature (also, batteries power macro target lights on the front of the housing, but I did not really get enough macro work in to notice if these are useful). My only experience with compact setups was the old Sealife DC800 and that did not come close. The DC800 was nice when I starting out with UW photography, but the Oly is at a whole different level. It easily matches the performance and features of my much larger Nikon D5000 setup (now defunct) at a fraction of the size and cost and in a size package that is only slightly larger than the DC1000 was. Even once I buy my Subal setup, I expect to take the Oly with me as a backup and alternate camera for dives with difficult water conditions where I might not want to risk or handle a more expensive and cumbersome camera. I would take this setup over my old Nimar/D5000 any day or night. Finally, cost wise .. this setup is a great deal and not much more expensive than a point and shoot which would be far inferior. Here is my tally (not including many extra lenses I got for topside use that may eventually make it into my bag for UW use with the Zen ports)... Camera and lens kit with 14-42mm lens: $649 PT-EP05L housing: $799 Sea & Sea YS-110a: $0 (already had, but expect to pay $700 I think for a new one or $550 for the UFL-2) S Tray and arm kit: $200 PPZR-EP02 Zoom Ring: $45 Total: about $1,700 An example photo is attached... I think I need to resize my photos so i can post some more which I will do later, sorry!
  12. Sorry for the bad photo, btw. I was snorkeling with my 7 year old daughter (without my flash rig of course) and could not keep my camera as still as when I am SCUBA diving, so out of the multiple shots I took only this one came out ok. It certainly does appear close to A. dactylomela and I have found several pics online that are really close (especially the black rings that seem to characterize A. dactylomela), but this one was very big, at least 10" maybe more. I read on Sea Slugsite that these can grow up to 16 cm in length but that would only be a little over 6" and this one was much larger. Perhaps I just saw an unusually large one? Can A. dactylomela get to 10"?
  13. Saw this at about 15' on a coral reef off Key West, Florida in July. Thought is was a frog fish at first, but on closer inspection it was too big and seemed more like a sea slug. Was at least 10 inches long, maybe 12 inches. Any help appreciated! Picture link (full pixels) here:Unidentified Invertebrate
  14. Yes! Cactus juice is the ONLY non-DEET alternative that has really worked for me in the deep mangrove swamps of Florida. The Cutter Advanced doesn't do anything for no-see-ums, and barely deters the super-aggressive mosquitoes out here. But Cactus Juice really does work.
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