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Everything posted by phxazcraig

  1. I'm on my 6th year learning how to use strobes. Bought a pair of YS-D1's back in 2014. One of them failed last September, and I replaced it with a pair of used YS-D1's, so to have a spare. I've done about 200 dives with them.
  2. Thanks to all for the suggestions so far. Let me address some points: 1. I have had several Henderson hyperstretch wet suits. I like them because they are easy to get on. I've also worn them out, lost them, and generally found myself getting cold in the 3 mil versions. (I get cold easily). 2. I almost always wear a full hood when I dive. 3. I am not concerned about the price of a custom wetsuit. I've had cheap wetsuits before, including Pinnacle, and I generally don't like them. (Took me over 20 minutes once in a dive shop to struggle into a 5 mil Pinnacle that had no zippers on arms or legs. 4. I am surprised in this day and age that there isn't a cell phone app to do measurements for a custom wetsuit, but if I have to drive to the LA area to get fitted, it's not impossible. 5. I have an Xcel 5 mil - it's 6'2", or so, for my 6'2" body, but it fits badly. The torso is too short, the legs a bit long, and it gaps over the small of my back, pumping cold water. I am more like 6'4" from the waist up, 6'0" from the waist down. Custom sounds pretty good to me.
  3. Oddly I never thought of pulling back the sleeve...
  4. Looking for feedback and recommendations for a custom wetsuit manufacturer in the US. I'm tired of wet suits that don't fit and pump water! I'm 6'2", with a long torso and shorter-ish legs. (33 inch inseam). I've only seen two kinds of wet suits in the 6-7 I've owned so far. Those that are set up for 6'4" people, where I generally have two inches of leg to fold back into a cuff. Or those that fit my legs, but are tight through the torso. The tight-torso fits (most of my wetsuits) leave a gap at the lower back that gets water pumped through. After a week of diving in 85F water, I'm freezing in my 4/3 wetsuit with full hood. Wetsuits must be better than this. It dawned on my to get a custom-fitted wetsuit, but I had never heard of them. Figured them to be very expensive too. But when I looked, the prices were reasonable, and there were a bunch of companies making them. So - recommendations? My next dive trip probably isn't until at least April, so plenty of time. I just want something like a 4/3 - something easy to get into and suitable for water temps in the mid- to low-eighties.
  5. I will certainly do that some of the time. The problem (as I see it) is the same I faced when wearing a dive watch in my earlier days. I had to take it off ever time I wanted out of the top of my wetsuit, and I'm prone to losing things in situations like that. The strobe arms are even more visible to me than my wrist.
  6. Like everyone else, I favor strobes over no strobes. However, for starting out just use the built-in strobe (through a diffuser, which should come with the housing). You'll be extremely limited on range, but at least you can light small objects close to you. If you are not doing macro, strobes can become problematical quickly. You can't light everything when shooting wide angle, and if you have lit the main subject, you'll have color balance issues with the rest. Wide angle often means two things are needed: clear water and a lot of sunlight.
  7. Yes, and you should get a housing that allows you to turn the flash on and off, with a physical lever or button if you cannot use a menu item.
  8. What a timely thread. After diving with a Cobra dive computer since 2006, I've finally changed to a wrist computer (Suunto D5). I too am very interested in using the computer mounted somewhere other than my wrist. As I've never used a wrist computer before, I'm interested in all sorts of options and stories about usage. My divemaster in Roatan has used a wrist computer for years attached to the front of his BCD. I see him glancing down at it during the dive, and while it may be a bit more convenient than me pulling my Cobra up to look at it, it's still about the same process. Since I have a big camera rig in front of me at all times, it sure seems a suitable place to put it. Some basic questions: 1. Strobe interfering with dive computer when triggered? I never heard of that before, so I'm wondering if it could every happen to me. 2. Prefer left or right side strobe arm? 3. How to orient the computer to be readable? 4. Problem distance from computer (D5 for me) and air pressure transmitter? 5. Use the supplied wrist strap, or come up with something else? I will have no backup computer, so I'm a bit worried about stories I hear of communications problems (how much does this happen), and battery life. I could bring my Cobra, but I wouldn't want it hooked up at the same time (more hoses), and anyway the Cobra would probably lock itself out from deco being ignored where I'd not be in deco on the new computer. My main reason for bringing along the old computer would be if I got out on the boat and noticed I didn't have enough battery life to dive because I forgot to charge it overnight.
  9. Suunto can easily do that. I'm going through the manual of a new Suunto D5, and it talks about pairing up to 10 transmitters at the same time. Something about keeping track of your buddy's air as well as multiple tanks (and gasses). You can also pair multiple computers to the same transmitter, so easy to have two dive computers tracking the same air bottle.
  10. It's a must. Night and day improvement, and it seems a LOT better than '2 stops better'. I'll never shoot the 16-35 underwater without it again.
  11. I've had my own IT consulting business for 20 years now. Amazing it's lasted that long as I'm primarily Novell/Micro Focus oriented. I've not had a non-BMW motorcycle since my Kawasaki Z1 got stolen in 1975. I went through several beemers before ending with a 1985 K100rs purchased new in Germany and shipped back. Had that bike until sold in 2015. Bought the K1300s in 2014, and I have 24,000 miles on it now. Don't get to tour on it like the old days, partly due to new girlfriend not so into it. Nowadays my focus is on underwater photography. Wish I could ride to dive sites on the bike!
  12. The D800 in a good housing should be just fine underwater. I shot a D810 for years underwater, and a D800e for years above. The main advantages of the D810 are mostly lost or unnecessary underwater. The sensor is 36mp, and it's good. Shoot at base ISO as much as possible and have great fun processing the raw files! Last year I moved up to a D850, and the one advantage that really jumped out is focus speed and accuracy.
  13. I can only speak to my experience with the Sea and Sea Internal Correction lens, on a Nikon 16-35vr behind a 230mm port on a 90mm extension. Since I have no idea of the 14-30's capability for dome port shooting, the S&S filter may or may not help. I also do not know if the smaller port size will create a problem (compared to my 230mm), but I suspect it will. Still, it may be that adding the S&S filter to a 14-30 improves it enough to be usable behind a small dome port. A 165mm dome port seems maybe more sized for fisheye than rectilinear wide angle. I shot the 16-35 and 230mm dome for about 4 years on a Nikon D810. I was always disappointed with the corner performance. The first time I got shots back with the new port I was profoundly disappointed. Couldn't believe I was hauling all that weight around just to get those shots. Didn't matter what aperture - I ended up cropping all the time. I also tried a +2 diopter - noticed no difference. Last year I added the S&S filter, and also upgraded camera from D180 to D850. With the filter, the difference is amazing. I no longer have to crop, nor really stop down much either. It seems a lot better than a 2-stop improvement to me. You can see for yourself, indirectly, except you can't really see the cropped-out corners from my D810 shots. But my web site (www.cjcphoto.net) has links to two dive trips in 2019. All the wide angle shots were taken with the 16-35 and S&S filter. So - potentially this filter could be good for you. It only comes in 2 sizes, for now, 77 and 82mm, and the 14-30 takes the larger size. (Seems even less likely to be happy behind a small dome.)
  14. I only have experience with the YS-D1. Shot a pair on my RX100 II for a year, and another 4 years with my Nikons. Lots of power, works with the on-camera flash triggering it in TTL mode.
  15. Any feedback. OK, what sort of camera, lens and port combo are you using? The edges and corners are looking pretty poor in the first shot. Looks a bit like wide angle through a flat port. The white balance seems a bit off. In all three shots, colors look pretty subdued. What ISO were you using? If you aren't out of dynamic range, I suspect you can improve your post-processing skills. The second shot has that nice juxtaposition of diver and fish, but the diver pose is awkward, and I find the brightness on the face to be distracting. At the same time the Trumpetfish is a bit dark and dull. Sticking your logo on the first two is distracting as well. In the third shot, there is low contrast, low color and seems to lack a bit of detail. Not sure if the ISO was high, or perhaps it was cropped a fair amount, but it just looks a bit off, or weak. Underwater photography can be a lot about post-processing. I find myself shooting at the lowest ISO I can use in order to maximize my dynamic range. I then pull down highlights aggressively as well as raise shadows. I find myself taking an image with extremes in dynamic range and reducing that range to fit in my desired output format, usually web-based. After pulling down highlights and/or lifting shadows (often simultaneously), I often have to introduce contrast back into the image. And that blocks up a shadow or blows a highlight, so I interactively work on the edges of the histogram to try to tame those elements, And white balance is often a challenge. It would really help to know more technical details of what lens, camera, port, extension, ISO, and post-processing steps you've tried. A similar shot for comparison: Compared to your last shot, this one shows more color in the sponges. What post-processing did you do on your shot? http://www.cjcphoto.net/roatan2018/images/page254.html I've got a short web page I made for family and friends to give them some idea that the camera didn't take those shots, but rather post-processing 'made' them. Before and after shots here: http://www.cjcphoto.net/beforeafter/index.html
  16. No, I think you might be misinterpreting what I am describing. As for the o-rings, I noticed after a couple of years that I no longer had good control of the drag setting as I tightened my clamps. It was pretty much getting to be all or nothing. Crank those clamps down TIGHT, or they were just too loose. Very hard to set a good amount of drag where the strobes didn't move, but could be turned to the right position easily. At one point I decided to try putting some grease on them - what a mistake! Eventually I determined that the orings were probably worn, and I replaced them all. After replacement, good as news. Crank down a little tight, can still easily turn the strobes as desired. What I am taking about I suppose COULD be just due to movement at the housing/arm o-ring But it seems more like a general bending of the entire strobe arm. Think about rushing into a position and suddenly stopping. You have the camera already almost at your eye, but as you bring the camera up, those strobes are 'bouncing' an inch or two at the end of their arms (wide to the sides) and the camera is bouncing in the opposite direction a quarter- or half-inch at a time. Think of a car with worn shocks going over a bump and one end of the car bouncing up and down and gradually dampening out to nothing.
  17. You can also sometimes get the group on your side. It can be very helpful to have 5 pairs of eyes in the water looking for small subjects instead just your own, if they are inclined to point them out to you. Helps to offer to get some diving photos, as many divers have relatively few good shots of them diving.
  18. I recently went on a two week dive photography trip and found one of my strobes was broken on the 2nd or 3rd day. Learned to shoot with a single strobe after that. First suggestion, for the most part you'll have an easier time if the strobe is a lot closer to the dome than hung out to the sides in a typical 2-strobe setup. Second suggestion is that light aiming becomes a lot more critical. If your strobe has a modeling light, it may be a good time to put it to use. Third, if you use a diffuser to get around the critical strobe aiming a bit, you lose light power, and you're starting off with half the power you 'need', so ... be aware of the trade. With one strobe you can get very dramatic highly direction and contrasty lighting. You might try making use of it as opposed to trying to cover that up.
  19. My suggestions are general as I only have experience with Nikon FF and not Sony. I have used D810 and D850 underwater for about 5 years now. My comments are about the focal lengths and related accessories and should be applicable to Sony as much as Nikon. On the D810 or D850, I have tried the 60 and 105mm macro lenses and the 16-35 vr wide angle. Each macro lens has a dedicated port. The 16-35 goes behind a big (230mm -it's perhaps larger than you think) dome port and a 90mm extension. Some comments on each: 1. 60 macro - on FX it is simply too short. Do not bother with a macro in this focal range as you will be right on top of any subjects to the extent you can hardly light it. 2. 105 macro - on FX it's near ideal, though I find myself cropping a lot because I can't always get close enough. I tried it with a 1.4 teleconverter, and while I was finally satisfied with the working distance, I thought the TC robbed a bit too much sharpness. I would be dissatisfied shooting a 90mm with the reduced working distance. 3. 16-35 vr - it needs two things to be good. A big dome, and a Sea and Sea Internal Correction (ICL) lens to 'fix the corners'. By big dome I mean 230mm, or even 240mm. The S&S ICL is designed to work with 230/240mm domes and comes in 77 and 82 mm sizes. It costs $400. I shot the 16-35 for 4 years without the ICL, and I was always disappoint with the corners - until I got the ICL. HUGE difference, and I will not shoot the wide angle without it anymore. Note: I use a 90mm extension, but I've seen older recommendations for a 70mm extension. I cannot say which is better, but the 70mm recommendation was earlier than the 90, so I assume an improvement. I don't have an F2.8 choice, but I can't say I miss it any. I always stop down for decent corners on wide angle (DOF on macro, edge quality on wide), and a typical setting is 1/160th at F8. Used to be F11 or more until I got the ICL, and now I can shoot at F5.6 in most cases and still have decent corners. I am not much of a wide angle photographer, though I'm learning. The 16-35 is very often too wide for me, and I find myself setting it t 35mm and getting right on top of a small subject, then cropping a lot. Going even wider would generally just cause me more issues, but then I'm not much of a wide angle guy, and it may be partly the type of dive locations I favor.
  20. I hear you. I went from RX100 in Nauticam housing to D810 in Nauticam housing, and when the 230mm dome port showed up at my door I was shocked. I had never seen a big dome before, much less tried to carry and pack it. That said, I went from D810 to D850, and I'm happy with the result, but the argument for a D500 over a D850 underwater is a very strong one. Not only can you use smaller domes, you have more lens flexibility as well. For FX, there amazingly is no normal zoom lens support. My choices in the water are 16-35 or 105 macro. If I liked fisheye, I could get the 8-16 zoom I suppose, but I don't care for a fisheye. I tried the 60mm macro thinking I would have something a bit longer than the 16-35, but still have macro capability. Within the first dive I realized the reach was far too short for macro and never dove with it again. A comment on the big dome port. I was disappointed to see how bad the corners were with the big dome and 16-35, at all apertures. I invariably ended up cropping corners and edges to limit blurred edges. And then I got the Sea and Sea Internal Correction lens. Suddenly I could shoot wide open and get decent results. At F8 the IQ is nothing I've ever had before. I'm finally happy with the results and feel justified in packing this enormous (and expensive) piece of equipment.
  21. The STIX just add to the problem which would be there without them. The strobes have enough drag and mass hanging out on the end of the 5+8 inch arms to cause most of the issue. When I have to fin quickly to get into position for a shot and then stop, the whole rig seesaws back and forth for a second or two with camera and strobes moving in opposite directions. I figure a smooth, round float would be more streamlined and perhaps have less of an issue in this respect. Not to mention being a bit easier to push the whole thing through the water. When I'm in a hurry for more than a short distance, I usually turn the rig sideways, putting one strobe between my legs and the other up around the side of my head to streamline it. Oddly I don't seem to have to issues with the amount of floatation going between wide angle 230mm dome and 105mm macro ports.
  22. Hah! I am not alone. I too was shocked when I saw my 230mm dome port. I had never seen one before mine showed up with my first DSLR Nauticam rig.
  23. My complaint is drag in the water. Sometimes I need to rush into a shot, and those arms have a lot of drag. They also pogo back and forth when I stop after going quickly, and that moves the camera back and forth for a second or so. I shoot the same STIX weights for both dome and macro ports, and they have sufficient buoyancy.
  24. 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.
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