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phxazcraig last won the day on November 17

phxazcraig had the most liked content!

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About phxazcraig

  • Rank
    Wolf Eel
  • Birthday 10/19/1953

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • Interests
    Photography, especially underwater. Diving. Motorcycling (numerous long distance trips on one BMW or another, including Europe). Chess - used to be a tournament player years ago. Travel (63 countries, 50 states). Computers (self-employed IT consultant for 19 years).

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  • Show Country Flag:
    United States
  • Camera Model & Brand
    various Nikons
  • Camera Housing
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    Sea & Sea YS-D1
  • Accessories

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  1. I would (and did) choose a Nikon D850 in a Nauticam housing. I had previously been using a D810 in a Nauticam housing for the previous 3 years, so the upgrade was a natural one. I had a Nauticam-housed RX100 before the D810, so the Nauticam part goes back. Previous to that a series of Canon point-n-shoots in matching housings. Why the D850 now? After all, not only is the D810 just fine (same lenses and strobes), it also has a pop-up flash, which allows me TTL flash control. (There is no pop-up flash on the D850. The new housing has to include a non-TTL flash trigger, at extra cost.) I upgraded partly because after 3 years and more than 100 dives on the old housing it was due for an $800 overhaul. And I wanted my D850 underwater anyway. It turned out to be a significant upgrade as the autofocus system is just amazing on the D850. The D810 wasn't bad, but there were some types of shots where I took many with the D810 hoping some to be in focus and one to look great. (Blennies in surge current) With the D850, all the shots were in focus. Made a big difference with the 105 macro, not so much with the 16-35. I only have two lenses for the D850 underwater, because there are basically very few choices for FX. I don't like fisheye, which rules out about 1/4 of my options, and I find the 60mm too short for FX, which takes out the other 1/4. The 16-35 is ... ok, bare, but it's really nice with a Sea and Sea Internal Correction Lens screwed on, behind a 230m dome port and a 90mm extension. Those who have not held one of these rigs (FX DSLR with 230mm dome port) have no idea how big they are. The big dome may give great images, but it's a significant - in fact it is the most - single biggest logistical challenge to move it around. Packing it, carrying it, or using it underwater. The Nikon 105vr is a near-perfect lens underwater. Very sharp, focuses accurately (and quickly with the D850), has useful VR, OK working distance. My only complaint is wanting a bit more focal length, for extra working distance. I like the working distance of the 105 with a 1.4tc on it (and 30mm extension), but I didn't like the drop in focus speed and sharpness. I've only used a pair of Sea and Sea YS-D1 strobes for the past 5 years, starting with the RX100 rig. One of them recently failed, and I bought a pair of used ones for spares. I generally have no issues with the strobes. I don't know why the one died, but I had flooded the battery compartment on it a couple years (and 50+ dives) earlier. I had a Fishlite V24 focus light on the D810 (and the D810 needed it). It was giving me problems, so I replaced it last year with a Kraken 3500. Nice, bright light (with red and UV/blue light settings). Battery life on the Kraken at least double the Fishlite.
  2. I'd like to have it as an option and starting point - especially in-camera if it works with video.
  3. I've tried anywhere from ISO 200 to 2000 at times with my D810 and D850. I certainly see noise and loss of clarity at 2000, but it's the loss of dynamic range that kills my appetite for high ISO much earlier,. I do so much processing of my shots that I quickly miss the ability to both tame a highlight and boost a shadow, sometimes dramatically so. I love shooting at ISO 64 because the files are so ... rich and nice to work with. Reminds me of shooting Ektar 25 medium format and seeing how rich and deep the prints were, compared to ISO 200 standard print film.
  4. Since my wife died I have no dive buddy, so I've taken the approach of booking my diving during the off weeks of a resort I like in Roatan. Most of the time (late September) I'm the only guest there and most of the time the only diver on the boat. The divemaster is fabulous at finding things to photograph, and he really knows the dive sites. (Some 20,000+ dives in them over the years). I get three boat dives a day in for two weeks. 34 dives this last trip, and only about 4 dives with other divers.
  5. Hmm. I'll throw in my two cents, but I've not shot the new mirrorless cameras, nor do I feel any particular desire to. I've been shooting Nikon DSLR since 2004, and Nikon SLR since 1992. My mirrorless experience has all been with point-n-shoot cameras, mostly Canon, and then a Sony RX100 II. I've shot all of those mirrorless cameras underwater, and the Nikon D810 and D850 also. Initially I was drawn to mirrorless (point-n-shoots) for IQ and price. IQ meaning 'better than the ISO400 disposable film camera' I used first. But I was drawn to the live view experience as well, being able to see my composition in the rear LCD while swimming along or just holding the camera out with one hand. Ultimately I was tired of missing the shots I so often missed with point-n-shoots, due to poor autofocus. This colors my perceptions somewhat as I became more and more demanding of a camera that quickly and precisely focused where I wanted it. Eye of a critter peeking out from behind something - wide point-n-shoot autofocus couldn't capture that. Fish swimming by - seems to get a lot of shots of fish tails swimming out of frame. I also got tired of the lack of colors, so I took the next step up: went to a 1" sensor (RX100) and added flash (dual YS-D1 strobes). The total cost of camera and rig (included a couple of wet lenses for macro and wide angle I never ended up using) was $5000. Nauticam housing. What I got was a nicer point-n-shoot that had huge advances over my previous cameras only because of adding flash. Autofocus was still too slow. So MY choice was to get one of my DSLR's underwater so that I could finally resolve my autofocus issues. I bought a D810 Nauticam housing, a 105mm macro port and a 230mm dome port. Here's where I can give some advice. I really wanted much better autofocus with the DSLR, and I got it. I also added an expensive high-eyepoint eyepiece so I could more easily see everything from behind my mask. I spent a lot of money for this capability, and for macro I pretty much got what I wanted. For wide angle, not so much, until recently. The recent addition was a Sea and Sea internal correction lens that really, really, really works well and fixes my corner issues with the 16-35 in the dome port. Should you end up with the Canon 16-35 in a full frame camera behind a big dome, you would be well-advised to get this correction lens too. OK - so here's what I gave up, and you should be aware of these tradeoffs too, if not already from your current rig. 1. video. Yes, I can do video with the D810 or D850, but to be honest, mirrorless cameras have always been easier to shoot and tend to have better video autofocus. With any of my point-n-shoots I felt right at home switching to video mid-dive and filming a video sequence. The autofocus on the D850 during video is almost unusable, especially if the camera is also moving. In general, it's much more limiting. 2. focal range. All my mirrorless cameras had a mildly-wide to moderate telephoto zoom lens. To do wide angle, I needed a wet lens. To do macro, I needed a wet lens too. My DSLR choices are the opposite - no choices in the middle. I'm either wide to very wide (16-35) or I'm macro with the 105vr. The Canon choice would be the 90mm macro, and I think that's too short for full-frame. 3. travel-friendliness. I bet your current rig fits in a carry-on, or at least a suitcase. Mine doesn't. I use all of one roller bag for the housing, dome port, strobes and a few odds and ends. I put the camera in the housing, with a lens (or port) attached. I put the lenses and backup camera (RX100, in its small housing) in a waist bag, and then I still have the macro port and 90mm dome port extension (filled with clamps) in a suitcase. If you go full-frame, you go BIG. You also tend to have less lens choices. I'm very pleased with the quality of the shots I get now, but the cost in $, size and weight is up there. A compromise well worth looking at is a DX/APS-C format DSLR. In the Nikon world that would a D500. With a DX/APS-C format camera (mirrorless or not) you get noticeably smaller wide angle options. You also get more focal range options. You still have autofocus during video issues (with Nikon, not sure about Canon here). If you value video a lot, lean toward mirrorless. If you value stills, lean toward a DSLR. That's primarily on the basis of better autofocus performance. Consider also that systems designed for mirrorless (including the lenses) may focus silently, while older design DSLR lenses can have a lot of audible clicking and whirring while focusing.
  6. I have spent all my time in Roatan at one operation - the Reef House Resort. I went once in 2008, and went back in 2014. Started going back every year. The Divemaster (David) is fantastic at finding things. We dive well together. I've followed him on over 170 dives.
  7. Kind of what I thought. Non-divers like macros but don't buy them to hang on a wall. Non-divers like the big stuff that is kinda boring - a turtle, a shark, maybe a diver near something colorful, perhaps a military wreck. They just don't understand or identify with the cool stuff. I did get a bit more used to using my wide lens on this last trip. (Forced myself after losing one of my strobes early on.) And what I realize in retrospect is that macro shots show a colorful subject, but wide angle tells a story. I had a great story planned out last summer in Maui when I was going to dive on the Corinthian at the same time my girlfriend was passing by in the Atlantis submarine. I told her to get some shots of me. She didn't take a single one, not being anything like a photographer, unlike my late wife. But I got some nice shots of the sub... PhxAZCraig
  8. Since I can't seem to upload even 2mb here, I took the small images and zipped them up together and uploaded to my website. If you want to try to ID these shrimp, please download and unzip the JPG's from here: www.cjcphoto.net/misc/shrimpid.zip If needed, I can provide the raw files as well. PhxAZCraig
  9. I tried more and cannot upload. This is a ridiculously small limit for uploading files....
  10. I went back through my 3 images of this Algae Hydroid looking for shrimp. I can't really say I've found anything in the 7-9 clock region, unless the out-of-focus lumps on the end of the 'stalks' are creatures. Can't tell. But I am 99% sure I've found two shrimp that I cannot identify in there. I made extreme crops of the sections of interest. What I see is a shrimp pretty much dead center in the image, and another one at about the 5:30 o'clock region about halfway out from center. Both look to have eyeballs on stalks, and possibly black down the center of the back flanked by striped 'rails'. I also think I see a pair of eyes on stalks at about the 5 o'clock position just outside the red algae center. I will attach these extreme crops below:
  11. What sort of images sell? Macro? Wide angle? Shots with divers? Shots without divers?
  12. Now that I know what to look for I'm going to be looking closely in the future. Too bad I'm just finding this out now after I'm done with dive trips for the year. I've spent 9 weeks over the years diving in Roatan. I wonder how many times I've missed out here? I've learned to look closely in and under anemones for crabs and shrimp. I'll add hydroids. I think I'm going to need to get a wet lens diopter to get more magnification for shrimp like this and wire shrimp. I've been looking at the three images I've got of this hydroid colony, and while I don't think I have any skeleton shrimp in focus, I do think I'm seeing something in a couple of areas. I'm going to go back, do some 100% crops of certain areas and repost here to see if I'm seeing things that aren't there. For instance, I think I see something right in the center of the mass, just above the red algae in the center. PhxAZCraig
  13. Size - bigger than a fist, but not a lot? I did not touch it. Going from the few hydroid examples at Florent's Reef Guide online, I think it may be an Algae Hydroid. Florents' example even comes from Roatan. I saw several of them over two weeks. I've never heard of Skeleton Shrimp. Tell me more. Where do you see them? I have two other shots about the same but maybe slight focus differences. PhxAZCraig
  14. Wow, that 70-180 is a lot bigger than I had expected! I was thinking of something about the size of my 105vr with the 1.4tc attached. For that I just added a 30mm extension ring, and it really had the focal length I wanted. Problem was, I also saw more image degradation than I was willing to accept. I have a focus gear for the 105vr, by the way, but never used it. I like the speed and accuracy of the autofocus on the D850, but that is with the bare 105. Adding the TC also slows it down noticeably, probably leading to some of the loss of sharpness in some cases. I keep thinking about maybe a Sigma 150, but I don't know if it is too wide for the 105's macro port. The 105vr only takes 62mm filters, and it seems the Sigma takes 72. I also read that the OS is a bit suspect and the autofocus accuracy is a bit more suspect. Sigh. PhxAZCraig
  15. It's like the third newest post in this forum. "'What is this? Coral? Hydroid?" One would think it is an obvious .. whatever it is. They are not uncommon in Roatan. I keep thinking some kind of coral, but I keep not finding anything quite like it. Bipinnate Sea Plume? Not quite. Christmas Tree Hydroid? Nope. Maybe an Algae Hydroid?
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