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Everything posted by phxazcraig

  1. Seems typical for the times I've been there, yearly since 2014. There are schools of fish that come along, some very large. (Creole wrasse especially). Lots of smaller fish. Lionfish probably have changed the seascape from 20 years ago. But there is tremendous variety to be found. I see something new on almost every dive there, and I've dove there 170 times or so.
  2. No special critters or unusual conditions. This is just a nice section of a nice dive in Roatan off of Oak Ridge. I'm following the divemaster (David Valerio of the Reef House Resort) along the top of the wall. I love dive sites like this. Plenty to see and lots of places to poke around.
  3. Guessing here, but if the leak detector doesn't show a leak after 48 hours, then I think there actually was no leak at the surface. Which means something changed at depth, and I'm thinking that means that the pressure was enough to depress one of the buttons a bit. And that button has a defective seal that only shows up when it is depressed. Which would mean that it might be possible to find the leak at the surface by carefully holding in one button after another and looking for leak detection. Obviously this might take a long time - but perhaps might just show up almost as soon as the problem button is held down a few seconds. Another, seemingly unlikely, scenario would be the housing itself deflecting under pressure.
  4. For me it would be tougher, because I don't have the backpack. I have two suitcases, plus a roller, plus a waist bag. I normally just have to shlep the bags in/out of a car at the airport once in each direction. More than that gets challenging. If only I had a 3rd arm. Or that photo roller bag had backpack straps...
  5. After a year off, I returned to my usual dive spot in the Caribbean - Roatan. I come from the western US, and I've been to Roatan 9 ties. Covid protocols were in play for my trip, which took place the last week in September and first week in October, 2021. But once I got to Roatan, and out of the airport, just about everything was back to normal, though a reduced normal. Traveling to Roatan for me usually involves traveling through Houston. Or Miami, but I hate traveling to and through Miami. This year I had to overnight in Houston (or go via Miami) then pick up the 10am flight to Roatan. Aside from having to wear a mask the whole trip, when i got to Houston most of the airport restaurants were closed by 9pm. Getting into Honduras (Roatan) only required proof of vaccination. Once on site at my usual place - Reef House in Oak Ridge - it was really just back to normal the entire 2 weeks I was there. The day before I flew out I visited a doctor for a $20 quick test to allow me back into the US. Took about 20 minutes. Once back at the airport, it was back to masks. I did have empty seats on the Roatan flight. Looking at the crowd in the immigration hall, it seemed we had the usual amount of divers flying in, but very few of the usual local residents coming back home. (They go through a different line, and that line was very small.) All of the big resorts on Roatan closed for a year in 2020. I think they are just opening back up, but I visit at my resort's emptiest time of year so it is hard to tell. (My resort only has 11 rooms, so isn't representative.)
  6. I have just barely started trying video on my D850 (or any DSLR) on my last dive trip. After a few days of frustration, I figured out that you can't just fix things (white balance) in post with MP4 files like you can with NEF's. That at least got me something watchable once I learned how to set white balance. Now I'm trying to figure out other settings to make my videos look better. Specifically, shutter speed. (I'm assuming higher speeds may help when panning.) I shot my videos at 4k, 30fps. I set shutter speed to 1/60th, which really helped keep the ISO low while shooting ambient at F8, but which didn't necessarily give me the sharpest results. I know I'm supposed to 'see' motion blur in an expected way when setting shutter speed to double the frame rate. For the most part I like my videos so far, but not so much when I move the camera from side to side. Here's an example of one of my better videos.
  7. Had my first out-of-air experience last month in Roatan. Came back to the boat low (250psi) and then proceeded to video a new diver under the boat. Looked back at the gauge and saw 70 psi. As I ascended to the safety stop, I ran out and signaled to the divemaster I was out of air. He was there within a breath handing me a standard length octopus. I was holding my Nauticam D850 housing with dual strobes (clipped to my BCD). He sort of held onto my BCD from behind me, like a tandem parachute setup, with the octopus coming over my shoulder. No problem doing the safety stop with me looking at my dive computer on my wrist while holding the camera with the other hand. My divemaster thought nothing of it - said it happened a lot. Turns out there had been a diver there for two weeks who did this (ran out of air) on every dive!! He just came back to the boat with 100psi and expected some spare air I guess.
  8. Have you ever had your Nauticam housing serviced? If so, why, when? And how much did it cost? My D810 housing was four years old and nearing 200 dives, both of which are indicators for a service. Everything worked fine, but I didn't know if the housing really needed servicing or not. I looked up cost estimates (in the range of $500), but I never got any real details on getting it serviced. It was a partial excuse for me to just go get a housing for my D850, but that's now 2 years old with about 80 dives on it. Would love to hear experiences regarding housing maintenance by manufacturers in general, and how to tell when it needs to be done.
  9. Too late now, but I am interested in the details, particularly travel-related. I love diving Cozumel but haven't been in years. Used to be able to fly direct to Cozumel (from Tucson, I think). But then we lost that flight and it was a matter of flying to Cancun, getting a taxi to Playa Del Carmen, taking a ferry to Cozumel and then another taxi. And the reverse when you leave. With the amount of gear I have to haul it's a real pain to consider.
  10. I spent a couple of weeks in Roatan in October, some of it learning how to get an acceptable video out of the D850. For a few days we had unusually strong currents and surge. This video shows it pretty well. "Go With the Current, Not Against It"
  11. Indeed I did. Here is the following video, and in 4k this time. Actually I'll link both the Go Deeper 4k and the Spearing Lionfish 4k here: Here is the 4k version of Let's Go Deeper: https://youtu.be/UV9wje6xd84 And here is the Lionfish immediately after. https://youtu.be/dHd8y4ckH7U
  12. I've thought about going mirrorless, and the advantages and disadvantages for diving. I'm currently shooting a D850 in a Nauticam housing and very happy. Also used a D810 in a Nauticam for 4 years. Before that, a Sony RX100 II in ... a Nauticam housing. I've also used a series of Canon point-n-shoots before upgrading to DSLR. Coming from the Sony RX100 might be a similar path to your own. Here's the pros and cons I found, and where I think mirrorless has a serious edge. First off, I started with the RX100 and dual strobes. The strobes moved to the DSLR's so no advantage there, but some cost savings. Thing about the Sony was it had a pretty useful zoom range, though IQ was clearly not as good as the D810/D850. When I went to FX underwater, my lens choices were basically fisheye (ugh), wide angle 16-35, and macro, 60mm or 105mm. That pretty much left me as a 16-35 wide shooter or a 105mm macro shooter with nothing in between. So there's a bit of caution - lens choices are very limited. Once I started using the D810, it just excelled at stills. AF was fast and the camera very responsive. IQ outstanding. But video - I just really didn't ever do any video. AF not usable, and I didn't know video anyway. By the way, the 16-35 required a 230mm dome port, which is enormous and heavy and expensive. And it didn't give me decent corners until I added a S & S Internal Correction Lens. If you commit to wide angle on FX, it's definitely a commitment! The D850 was just more of the D810 - mostly faster autofocus. I started learning video with this camera last couple of weeks, and i have to say it does a decent job. But only if not trying to zoom the lens (noisy) or autofocus (almost hopeless). I think mirrorless has a big advantage here, save perhaps the D780. In fact I'm thinking that underwater, a Z7 II should be easier to use in most ways, or just about the same, as a D850. Underwater plays to its strengths, though I think above water I'd prefer a D850. It's just plain easier to do video on mirrorless cameras.
  13. Short video from last week in Roatan. I follow the divemaster over the edge of the wall to depth. (About 70-80 feet).
  14. What is your budget? I tried an RX100 II in a Nauticam housing for a year. For macro - extreme macro - I had a wet lens, but never got the hang of using it. Had a little wide angle wet lens as well for it. That gave it a pretty fair amount of versatility, particularly if you change wet lenses underwater. My rig had dual YS-D1 strobes and a focus light. Along with the camera the whole thing cost about $5000 new.
  15. Seems a classic case of too-high shutter speed for sync. While your shutter may sync to 1/250th, that doesn't mean your strobes will. It takes a bit of time to fire off the strobes which causes the sync problem. By the time the strobes fired, one of the shutter curtains was starting to close. I have the same issue with my D810 in Nauticam housing firing dual YS-D1's via the pop-up flash. 1/200th is reliable, 1/250th is not.
  16. I upgraded from a RX100 II to a DSLR in 2015. I bought dual strobes for the RX100, and that helped immensely, but the focus speed (and resolution) just wasn't good enough. At least I was able to transfer the strobes to the DSLR. I had a Nauticam housing for the RX100 and loved it, so got a Nauticam housing for the D810. And then a Nauticam housing for the D850. Must get item=vacuum leak detector, whichever housing you get. If the choice is between a D500 and a D800, I'd lean toward the D500 - mostly for the autofocus. I shot a D810 underwater for 4 years, and when I went to a D850 the difference was quite noticeable. Plus, shooting a 105vr for macro, I'm usually cropping to DX or further anyway. Personally, with my D810/D850, I often wished for a 180mm macro lens because it seemed it was just the right distance from subject for comfortable diving approaches. The 105 forces me to get closer than I'd like. I confirmed that one day by adding a 1.4tc to the 105vr, but I didn't like the loss of sharpness or focus speed. DX cameras have a lot more lens options than FX cameras, and smaller/lighter/cheaper ports.
  17. Depends a lot on how much hassle you can stand transporting your gear, and how much quality you want in your images. I shot for a decade with various point-n-shoots, mostly without flash. I got tired of not being able to get shots due to slow autofocus, and I got tired of point-n-shoot IQ without (mostly) flash. Now I love shooting my D850 with a housing and either a 16-35vr behind a big 230mm dome, or a 105vr behind a simple macro port. Plus dual strobes and a focus light. It only takes a carry-on suitcase, a waist bag, and some more space in a suitcase.
  18. I shot almost exclusively TTL for 4.5 years, with a D810 using pop-up flash to trigger YS-D1's. The last half-year or so I tried using manual more as I was anticipating going manual with a D850. (Didn't buy a TTL trigger, used the Nauticam-supplied trigger with the D850). I've only done about 50 dives under full manual. I've not mastered it yet, but I seem to have it down about as good as TTL was. TTL was somewhat unpredictable, with a tendency to overexpose a bit sometimes. As I learn more about using the strobes, I like having the control & predictability.
  19. I've been diving with a big dome port (230mm) for 5 years now. In all but one case I've had the crew hand me the camera after I get in and swim back to the side of the boat. Sometimes the back of the boat depending on the boat. I hand it back to them when I'm ready to get back on the boat. The first thing I do after they hand me the rig is to attach its strap to my BCD. On the boat I've had varied situations. Sometimes I have to share a dunk tank with some small cameras - not a good thing. Sometimes I end up getting a big plastic tub just for my rig. And sometimes I just have to use the 36-quart plastic cooler I use to tote the thing around as a dunk tank. (With no water, but at least it's shielded from other cameras.) The one time I did not go in and have the camera handed to me was a doozy. Did a hammerhead dive off Molokai in really, really choppy water. There was no way to just get back to the boat in those conditions. We went in by 5's, all standing on the heaving back deck holding on to rails until we had the signal to all jump in at the same time. Except me, since I was holding the D810 & 230mm dome over my head, before doing a giant stride into the water. Getting back on the boat at the end of the dive took it all out of me.
  20. No camera will get white balance correct underwater much of the time, if not most. Works OK in shallow, sunlit waters, or with good strobe lighting, but you ought to just shoot in RAW and correct later in post. I find it fairly easy to get white balance right in post, after a fair amount of practice. I use the eyedropper tool in Lightroom to get things close, then fine tune by eye and memory until it 'looks good'.
  21. I hope they aren't still soaking dive photographers with that big tax on dive housings! A few years back someone posted about flying into Cancun and getting hit with a special, hefty tax. Here's a Wetpixel article on the subject: https://www.wetpixel.com/articles/housing-importation-duties-levied-at-baja-airports We're talking 16% of the estimated value of the housing, as looked up on google right there at customs. Congrats on the housing. You'll have lots of fun with it.
  22. You'll rely on autofocus to focus the lens. Your housing needs to accommodate a zoom ring for a zoom lens. For a prime (macro) lens, you can get focus rings instead. How you shoot depends a lot on whether you are using strobes or not. If I'm shooting with strobes, I'm pretty much always in manual mode, playing with aperture for depth of field and strobe power for exposure. I've gotten used to manual strobe exposure too, after years of TTL. Not that hard, but be prepared in any case to do a lot of post-processing, so shoot in RAW. When I shoot ambient, typically with a wide zoom, I'm sometimes in aperture mode, but often I'm in manual mode just like with macro with one exception - I turn on auto-ISO. Which is the same thing as playing with strobe power in a way. The reason why I shoot manual is that I really want to set certain minimums and control them. I don't want shutter speed below 1/160th typically, in order to reduce blurred fish. Over 1/200th I get banding in the strobes, and that also means less ambient exposure. 1/160th is where I end up in compromising between strobe, ambient and ISO. Aperture I almost always use for depth of field in macro and corner control in wide. I never have enough depth of field in macro, and even at F5.6 I pretty much have huge depth of field at 16mm. But getting those corners sharp.... (I'm shooting a D850 with Nikon 16-35vr behind a huge 230mm dome port. I had to always crop edges until I added a Sea & Sea Internal Correction lens/filter. Now I can shoot at F5.6). And I want to control my ISO very, very much, especially with macro. I want my ISO set to 64 if I have enough light. I use the extreme dynamic range to give me options in post-processing. Those options disappear rapidly as the ISO rises. So there you have it - fix shutter speed, fix ISO (except ambient if you have to), fix aperture to the scene, and ... you're shooting in manual. Except maybe TTL flash.
  23. That's what I'd like, but it doesn't fit. I put all my dive gear into a checked bag. I put the majority of my camera gear into a rolling carryon. I put more camera gear into a largeish waist bag I use. Then I still have to put a macro port and a 90mm extension port in the checked bag. A second checked bag holds a laptop and some clothes and stuff. The bulk of my camera gear is a 230mm dome port, and a full-frame nauticam housing. It is quite a logistical hassle, mostly because of the size of the dome port. The roller bag weighs about 35 pounds, but if I could lug that much weight in a backpack could hold a lot more in the space where the wheels and handle go. Could possibly fit the macro port and 90mm extension into the bag - but then it would weigh close to 40 pounds. Note that I put the full frame camera inside the housing for travel. You can see the packing job it take here: https://www.cjcphoto.net/uwcamera/
  24. I'm with others with strobes - better one good one for now then a pair of underpowered ones. I started with a pair of YS-D1 strobes in 2015 with a Sony RX100 rig. Those arms and strobes moved to a D810 the following year and spent four years there before moving on to a D850 rig. (Last dive for me 2019). In 2019 one of the strobes failed, and I learned a bit how to shoot with only one strobe. Afterwards I bought two used replacements (as yet unfired) for several hundred $, So now I have three strobes, meaning a spare. I only shoot two lenses - 16-35 and 105vr. The strobe power is useful with macro up to 2-3 feet away at base ISO. For wide angle, it's tricky. No strobe is powerful enough to light everything in wide angle, and I get mixed colors a lot when I try. But no substitute for more power.
  25. Come to Roatan last week of September/first week of October and join me at the Reef House Resort. Especially in September, it's the off season for the Reef House, and I very often am the only guest and have the dive boat to myself. I'm shooting a D850 in a Nauticam housing, and they're used to dealing with it.
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