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Everything posted by phxazcraig

  1. How much coverage will you need with your typical video? I've not got a video light, but I've used my focus lights as emergency video lights on rare occasions. (I almost never shoot video). My focus lights are a 2400 lumen Fishlite V24 and a 3500 lumen Kraken. Both are very bright for focusing and have multiple power settings, red light, etc. However, when used for video, even the Kraken only throws decent coverage for about 1-2 feet diameter at close range. Video lights underwater must be insanely powerful to do the job. Now if you want to shoot videos of macro subjects, a focus light will do. If you want to shoot wide angle scenes, no video light will do - if you are thinking of covering the whole scene. Unless you are in a very restricted environment like a cave or shipwreck, a video light just can't light up everything in a scene. More like balancing a dark area against a light one. (Maybe over/under shots for instance). If you want to shoot mid-range, like a diver or two (full-body) relatively close, a pair of powerful video lights will work. The ones I've seen on my dives (like videographers capturing your Kona Manta Ray dive experience) are just incredibly powerful with price tags to match. I'd just specialize in two strobes for still photography for now. For video work with ambient lighting - in most wide scenes I do I have to deal with ambient lighting outside the range of my strobes (still or video), and that means mixed color temperatures across the scene. Sometimes it's just better to crank up the ISO.
  2. I've only got experience with one strobe - the YS-D1. Bought two of them in 2015 and used them until my last dives last year. 300+ dives, and a lot of macro shots with a 105vr at F16-F40. On my last dive trip one strobe started shooting intermittently, then failed completely to fire. Shot the bulk of the trip with a single strobe. When I got home I bought two used Y1-D1's to replace the bad one. Figured if one failed, a second one may soon follow so now I have a spare to pack. (Oh joy, my suitcase was so underloaded to start with...) And then of course Covid-19, and I haven't been diving since, and I've not even tested the replacements yet. Sigh. These strobes are well known, as are the problems with the YS-D2 replacements. (Better choice is to get YS-D2j, which were made in Japan.) As for power, they have a lot. I don't think many strobes have more. As for wide angle, I assume they are like other strobes in that you need to attached a diffuser to cover wide angle. The strobes came with a 100 and a 120mm diffuser. They definitely work. Without them, there is no narrow/wide adjustment to the beam itself. I've been looking at the Retras for a long time now, certainly much longer than they have actually been on sale. I'm somewhat put off by the high price, but then all the powerful strobes are high-priced. Incidentally, other than the strobe failing, the only complaint I've had about the YS-D1's is the battery compartment. If you look at a D1 and then a D2 there, you'll see that S&S addressed my issue by putting in battery separators. When loading batteries into a strobe, especially on a rocking boat, it's easy for one to slide out of space a bit and block the other batteries from fitting. Not a big deal, but an annoyance that comes up a lot for me. I've used the YS-D1's with an RX100 II, a D810 and a D850. Worked fine with all. CJ
  3. I've tried this (only) a couple of times with my 230mm dome port. If you can stand on the bottom in the shallows, it will be a lot easier. Otherwise you need some way of floating the rig as it could be massively heavy to try to hold out of the water. I never was able to do it enough to get decent at it, but aside from the obvious lift-it-out-of-the-water problem, getting the lighting balanced between over and under was going to be an issue.
  4. I used that filter (B&W +2 diopter) with my 16-35 behind a 230mm dome port for 4 years. D810, then D850. To be honest, I never noticed a difference with the diopter or without, and I was always disappointed with the corners. I was resigned to cropping off the edges, until I got the Sea and Sea Internal Correction Lens. HUGE difference. Won't shoot without it now. I think I'm using a 90mm extension, by the way. I've heard the same rig used to be recommended with a 70mm extension. I'm pretty happy now with the rig. Had shot a lot with macro, but I'm learning to use wide angle to tell a story. Or would, once travel is easier again.
  5. If you could pull down the highlights a bit, I think it would look better. Less flash on the lead shark would be my goal. Seems like it could have been a bit scary.
  6. Holy Cow and LOL! I'd love to dive off Cuba. Can't imagine what a US dive operation would think of dives with crocodiles biting and nibbling the divers.
  7. I'm still using the first mask I bought back in 2006 when my late wife got me into diving. It had pop-out lenses to be replaced with the diopters of your choice. Those diopters were available in 0.5 diopter steps at the local Sports Chalet. Picking the right ones was simple. I took off my glasses, held up a diopter to one eye and tried to read the clock on the wall. The one that worked best got into the mask. Then I repeated with the other eye. 245 dives later, I still see fine out of it. The water will make things look closer/bigger, but it won't change your vision. Use what works well above water. My diopters were 6.0 and 6.5. My prescription is 6.25/6.5.
  8. I've had a couple. First, a 2400 lumen Fishlite V24. Now a 3500 lumen Kraken with the white/red/blue lights. The Fishlite had red/white. Neither had enough power for video, save perhaps a bit of macro. I don't night dive, and didn't find red or blue that useful. The newer Kraken, even though it has more power, has much more battery life. The V24 would not last a 1-hour dive. The Kraken does so easily, except at max power all the time. And even though I don't night dive, I find the light extremely useful as I dive in plenty of dim conditions on wall dives, or cloudy days at depth. I find you can never have enough light, so I'd recommend the 5800 - Except if the battery life is too short to get through a dive.
  9. I'm a Nauticam fan, but I have no experience with other high-dollar housings. I started with a Nauticam for my RX100, and when I moved on to a housing for my D810 another Nauticam seemed a no-brainer. After 4 years with the D810, I've now housed my D850 with another Nauticam. Good things - all the buttons and controls work, and some of the lever arrangements Nauticam uses are quite ingenious and work well underwater. Definitely get a vacuum leak detector - mine saved me once already when I forgot to clamp the lens port properly. I also use a 180 degree finder (never tried the housing without it - moved it from D810 to D850). It helps me to see the edges of the viewfinder, plus when I press my mask against it, the rig gets more stable. I have used three lenses. The choices are rather thin. I have used the 60 micro and the 105 micro, plus the 16-35 for wide angle. lens comments: -The 60 is too short. I used it for two dives and went back to the 105vr. -The 105 is just a bit too short. I would prefer 150mm. I even tried the 1.4TC (with extra 20mm extension), and while the focal length was good, the AF slowed up and I saw a bit of image degradation. However, the 105vr is an excellent, excellent macro lens for diving. -The 16-35. Hmm. I'm really just getting started learning how to use such a wide lens underwater, and I want to shoot with it more. I use a 230mm dome port, which is just enormous and I chose it because it was supposed to give better corners. It never was good - until I added the Sea and Sea Internal Distortion Lens. I'm happy with the performance now, should you go this route. I'm not much of a fan of fisheyes. Balance - I have a pair of strobes (YS-D1) on the end of 5 inch and 8 inch arm segments. I put a pair of Stix foam floats on the 8 inch arm segment and haven't changed since I got the D810 rig. It works pretty well for the macro setup. The 16-35 tends to want to torgue upward a bit. Both have slightly negative bouancy. Besides the strobes, I use a focus light attached to the top of the housing. The whole thing weighs around 30 pounds out of the water - more with the dome port.
  10. I agree - but with the proviso that low ISO's are used, preferably ISO 64. We're really talking about dynamic range here, and when you extensively post-process images, it's very very obvious that some files have a lot more to work with than others, and the difference is dynamic range. I find that extreme flexibility goes away rapidly, and you'll fell the difference even as low as ISO 200. Play with a file at ISO 64 and one shot at ISO 800 and it's night and day when you have a wide dynamic range in the scene.
  11. I do it once when I get the housing to check it out, and that's it. Really, with a vacuum leak detector, you don't really need to do that. If I'm on a typical dive trip, I'll prep the camera rig the night before and let the vacuum system tell me if i have a leak in the morning. No need to put it underwater for this test. (And I've seen problems surface with the test.) During the day, I'll typically crack the case at lunch time to swap camera battery, sometimes to download images as well, or change lenses. Get the rig prepped again before lunch and pumped back down so it has an hour or so to surface any new leaks. Meanwhile I'll typically be charging 8 AA's, a focus light battery and a camera battery to swap back in after the afternoon's dive. (For me, typical is two dives in the morning, a lunch break and one afternoon dive.) I'll typically not crack the case open while on the boat unless I need to fix some issue I missed. The camera battery lasts more than a day, even when I was shooting a D810 and using the pop-up flash a lot to trigger my strobes. My D850 doesn't have that, so the battery lasts even longer. Still, I typically change it at noon on general principles.
  12. I've got a couple of dive trips in with my D850/Nauticam rig (50 dives) and 4 years of previous experience with a D810/Nauticam. I have the 180 degree viewfinder, which I bought with the idea of it being a high eyepoint viewfinder to allow me to see the edges of the viewfinder from a mask. And it succeeds there for me. I also found that the best way to stabilize the rig was to press my mask up against the viewfinder to give it 3 points of contact. Anyway, I have no problem using the optical viewfinder, something I've done above water since 1960. The D850 can autofocus in conditions too dark for me to see the subject, so it seems a good match for my eyes. Live View? Underwater with moving subject and moving camera it seemed hopeless to me, but then I rarely try a video. I expect a D850 replacement to pick up Live View autofocus performance in the same way the D780 did, which would really help.
  13. Welcome to the party! I did the same thing (RX100 II) to D850, except I had 3 years of D810 in between. Nauticam housing here, 230mm dome, 16-35vr and 105vr. Dual YS-D1 strobes and a Kraken focus light. I don't have a ton of experience with the D850 rig (only about 50 dives, 150 or so on the D810 rig). But I can tell you a few things that have worked or didn't work. Let me start with stuff that didn't work, or was problematical. 1. 60mm macro - tried it with the idea of being able to shoot more normal subjects than the 105, but the problem here is that 60mm is way way too short for FX. 2. 1.4TC on 105vr - tried this with mixed results. I only tried it on the D850, but my feeling was that it slowed the autofocus down to about what the bare 105 felt like on a D810. I loved the 150mm focal length, which was just what I was going for. I typically do a lot of cropping because I can't get close enough, and the 1.4 + 105 was near-perfect. What stopped me was the loss of sharpness, which was minimal, but I could see it and it bothered me. 3. Bare 16-35. (Or with a +2 diopter). Performance for all those years on the D810 was lamentable. I always always had to crop corners and edges due to loss of sharpness. And then I discovered the Sea and Sea Internal Correction Lens. (More on that in the what works section). 4. Carrying the rig. Tell us what you've got so far, or planned. For me, everything revolves around that 230mm dome. It takes about half my carryon, and I can't just stuff things inside it or put it in a suitcase. I travel with a roller bag, and a waist bag, and I still have to put a 90mm extension tube (filled with arm clamps) and the 105 macro port in the suitcase. With the dome port mounted, the rig is over 30lbs above water. 5. Video autofocus. OK, I do next to nothing with video above water, so I'm not the guy to ask about this. But in my few attempts at trying to video something underwater, autofocus just seemed hopelessly slow. What works: 1. 77mm Sea and Sea Internal Correction Lens for the 16-35vr. What a HUGE improvement that $400 item made!! I don't even feel the need to stop down the lens for the corners on a lot of shots now. Don't shoot without this. 2. ISO 64. At least when shooting with flash, you want to live at this ISO once you see how much room there is to post-process here. It's amazing how quickly that latitude disappears, even by ISO 200 you can easily feel the difference. 3. Kraken 3500 focus light. Nice and bright, and the battery lasts the whole dive, unlike my old V24 Fishlite. 4. I use a Nauticam 180 degree viewfinder. It's an expensive accessory, but it makes it possible to see the entire viewfinder display with a mask on. It also helps to stabilize the camera when I press it up against my mask. 5. Minimum shutter speed of 1/160th. Depending on the strobe, going past 1/200th may result in shading. I found 1/160th when using the RX100. I generally shoot in manual now, including strobe settings. I used to use TTL on the D810, but I don't have TTL available on the D850, and frankly it's not been much of a hindrance or a learning curve on the strobe. I've been shooting manual on the camera for some time now, so no difference there. I'm usually starting at 1/160th-1/200th (with flash), F8 with 16-35 and F16 on the 105vr. F16 is often not enough depth of field, so I'm not afraid to go up to F32 there in cases. The wide angle is used more with ambient, and shutter speeds and ISO vary with conditions. Compared to the RX100 underwater, you are going to LOVE the D850. Except perhaps for the complete lack of lens options in the midrange. I sometimes find myself wishing I had the RX100 under one arm so I could grab the shots I'm missing between 16-36 and 105mm. Then one time in Jamaica I did switch back to the RX100. Boy, that IQ is disappointing once you've gotten used to a D810/D850 underwater. You'll love the focus performance of the D850, except for video.
  14. I don't have those strobes, but I've been diving with a number of cameras and strobes, and I never lube the orings daily. I especially don't like the idea of removing them, cleaning them and replacing them often and in the field. In my mind it's the best way to get a hair or thread in behind the oring. I lube them yearly, but then I only go on dive trips once or twice a year. The purpose of lubing an oring is so that if can slide and rotate a bit in the groove and not get stuck to a sidewall. If it gets stuck in one part, another part may be getting stuck onto a part that opens, and then you rip the oring a bit as you open the door/compartment. It doesn't need a lot of lube for that.
  15. I used to use the 'best of breed' idea - use Nikon Capture to edit my Nikon raw files, DPP to edit Canon raw files and Sony Playmemories (or whatever it's called) to do Sony raw files. It just go to be too much of a pain, and I went to Lightroom some years back. Even renamed all my digital files to organize them and eliminate possibility of duplicates. As you must know by now, underwater images can often use a lot of post-processing. I've gotten quite used to using Lightroom after a few years now. I'm still with 6.14 standalone, and the only issue I've seen so far is there is no lens correction info for my new 500F5.6 PF lens - which has been on the market 2 years.
  16. Good read. May I suggest you add at least something about the most common ways to get there, via east or west? To me, here in Arizona, it sounds like a pretty exotic location I have no idea how to get to. Craig
  17. I started underwater photography with a series of Canon point-n-shoots, culminating with the s120. (Which I still have.) I somewhat mistakenly thought a 1 inch sensor and strobes would solve all my problems when I upgraded the the Sony RX100 II, in a Nauticam housing with dual YS-D1 strobes, and a focus light, and some wet lenses. It was a 10x jump in cost to a total of $5000 or so. The strobes solved a bunch of problems, but the Sony's autofocus wasn't significantly better than my Canon point-n-shoot, and the slowness of it resulted in a lot of fish tail shots. Other than the strobes, there wasn't enough improvement from the s120 to make it worth the money. Since then I've moved to a D810 in a housing, and now a D850 in a housing. I'm happy with autofocus, less so with lens choice and logistics.
  18. Perhaps I could do with a drysuit, but I really don't want to go that route. I'm generally OK, I think, but for a couple of factors physically. Mostly I think water pumping past my lower back is at the root of my issues, but I'm also thin so have little padding, and I've lived in Phoenix for 40 years. You go through summers here (110F for weeks at a time, 99F at midnght...) you don't handle cold weather (or humidity) well.
  19. I'll have to check those references. Myself, I just use Lightroom. While I am on a trip, I do the best I can on a cheapish laptop in terms of post-processing. (I redo every shot once I get back home and can work on two large, color-balanced monitors). I end up with a single small Lightroom catalog that I simply import across-the-wire using my home network to merge laptop into desktop catalog. For me, that brings everything across, the I find file management pretty klunky in Lightroom. Once I get my files onto my main (Win 10) desktop, a scheduled batch file runs every night at 2am that copies new/changed picture files to a big NAS. I then have an immediate sync job that further copies photos to smaller NAS. I used to use a homebuilt Freenas box as my target, but I kept running out of space on desktop and NAS. I decided to try to get a big NAS and run directly from there over 1gbps ethernet. That idea was quickly abandoned as too slow, and I had to keep a lot of files on a local drive. But I made that a 2TB SSD drive for speed and just moved the rest to my NAS. The NAS has 27TB capacity, so I had plenty of extra capacity once I filled up my 4TB local drive to move things around.
  20. Thanks! I've wondered this for years. Every time I thought it was a Spinyhead, I'd see some picture of a blenny with almost antlers they were so 'spinyheaded'. These guys are all over the Roatan sive sites I go to, and even down at 60 feet sometimes.
  21. I've done a lot of diving in the Caribbean, mostly Roatan, and I'm confused about the blennie I see in Roatan. At first the divemaster called them Secretary Blennie, but some guides I used say that Secretary blennies always have an orange ring around the eyes. These never do. I think they are ether Roughhead or Spinyhead blennies, but depending on my source and the pictures, the subject might be one or the other, or neither.
  22. That picture was not 'a couple of megapixels'. That picture is almost uncropped and represents about 30-33mp of resolution. Here is a crop from it:
  23. I can't speak to Canon models specifically, because I shoot mainly Nikon. But in the Nikon world their is a choice that seems clear to me at the moment. That is, if you want to do video, go with mirrorless, and if you want to do stills, go with DSLR. That may be very Nikon-centric because it's a choice based on autofocus performance differences. My D850 is nearly unusable for underwater video where I am moving (surge) and a subject is moving and I'm trying to track the movement. A Z7 seems a much better choice. (Or, for the best video, a dedicated video camera.) As for megapixels, an enthusiast yes with a few caveats. Underwater you don't have a lot of lens flexibility, and I often find myself doing extensive cropping, especially with macro subjects. Going from a 12mp point-n-shoot (Canon) to a 20mp point-n-shoot (Sony) to 36mp (Nikon D810) and 45mp (D850), there is just so much more flexibility inherent in having enough pixels left after cropping to still have a decent image. Some caveats - high resolution may or may not be coupled with a loss of dynamic range, and dynamic range is extremely important underwater. One reason I love my D850 is the incredible post-processing latitude I have when shooting at ISO 64, even with 45mp. High resolution generally means upgrading your lenses and often your shooting techniques. Have you also considered the physical size of the gear you're heading toward? It's a real concern, getting worse as airlines clamp down on baggage limits.
  24. Here's a 36mp shot at F29 that still seems to have plenty of detail.
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