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Everything posted by maractwin

  1. I use two different wide angle lenses with my 7DmkII. I would use the Tokina 10-17mm for mantas, as mentioned above. But I also have a Sigma 17-70 that I use, both on land and underwater. On land it's a good all-purpose lens. Underwater, with an 8-inch dome, it goes pretty wide while still giving me the option to zoom in a bit if the sharks aren't getting close enough or I want to control exactly how much of the reef ends up in a scenic.
  2. I put two squares of self-adhesive velcro (the hook side) onto the outside of the dome shade. That holds the Aquatica cover in place. -Mark
  3. The last two are: sand bass, Psammoperca waigiensis firetail dottyback, Labracinus cyclophthalmus
  4. I have both these lenses, and use both of them. I've done shark and manta dives where the big guys either don't show up or don't let me get close enough for the 10-17. With the 17-70 I can zoom in some, or go off and shoot other things without being stuck really wide. Yes, the Tokina is better for truly wide angle, but if you're not sure what you'll see on a dive, the versatility of the Sigma is helpful. But as long as I have the 17-70 behind a dome, even at 70mm I still don't really get close up "macro". But it's good for fish portraits and small reef scenes. -Mark
  5. I carry a Panasonic Lumix as a backup camera. Without a housing it is rated to 48 feet, but I've had it down to 100 feet. It's useful having a waterproof point-n-shoot on the boat deck. I've used it on dives where there were both macro and wide angle subjects expected: my SLR system setup for macro, and the Lumix in my BCD pocket for the occasional wide angle shot. It can't get me closeups of moving subjects because of shutter lag, and the onboard flash produces backscatter sometimes, but it is surprisingly capable. When I flooded my SLR on day 11 of 14, I was able to take photos the last three days with the point-n-shoot. -Mark
  6. I agree that it looks like a coconut octopus. However, I also think that the blue color might be an artifact of post-processing of the image. That precise shade of blue appears in the sand in each image, and in the third image you can see it clearly in the rocks and plastic behind the octopus. This is a color that is not common in environments like that, and is unlikely to appear naturally in so many places.
  7. I do use the Sigma 17-70 under an Aquatica 8-inch dome sometimes, though with a Canon 7DmkII rather than Nikon. I like the lens because at its widest, it is almost as wide as my fisheye, but it can also go tighter for when expected sharks and mantas aren't getting as close as you would like. -Mark
  8. We did a dive in high current, with instructions to get down to 60 feet as quickly as possible. So I was already that deep before trying to turn on the camera and discovering water drops inside the housing. By the time I could surface, it was already half-full of water. I'm not sure exactly what caused the flood. I'm suspicious that it might have been the vacuum port, but we were unable to determine for sure. The main o-ring was damaged by the time it got back to Backscatter, but I quit taking much care with the housing following the flood and the damage easily could have happened afterwards. This is the Aquatica vacuum system. Insurance paid for replacing the camera and lens, and overhauling the housing. I'm just back from my first dive trip since the flood. Things worked OK, but I am still unhappy with this housing. The strobe cables inside the housing can very easily come unplugged. I had one dive without functioning strobes, and twice more where my pre-dive check discovered that they wouldn't fire, so I had to open the housing, fix the cables, and re-seal it. With the door hinged so that it barely opens more than 90 degress, one time the door slammed shut while I was working on the housing, chipping the plastic latch. It still works for now, but I can imagine that breaking it beyond repair. -Mark
  9. The actual latch is fine. I have no question that it is properly latched closed when closed, and no concern that it could pop open. There's nothing to pinch my fingers (not that I had any problems with the previous latching system either). I have a vacuum system in this housing, but that's actually another source of complication that could fail. I had my first ever flood in twelve years of underwater photography with this housing. It was shipped with a defective vacuum system, and through mis-communication with Backscatter was unable to get it fixed prior to my first trip with the housing. So I dived without using the vacuum. The rest of the ergonomics of the housing I like. The shutter and knobs are easy to use. I've had no trouble with them slipping, something that I have seen on some other housings. The housing is about as small as possible with this camera body. I also got the Ikelite controller for true TTL strobe operation installed in the housing, and that works too. It's nice to have that option, though I still work in manual most of the time because I'm familiar with that and have more control.
  10. I don't like the new latching system at all. It is no longer possible for me to do a seal check with my fingers. I used to always run a fingertip around the o-ring, and the sealing surface, as I can more easily feel any hairs or sand grains than see them. With the new latching system, there isn't room to do this in several places. And with the back always attached rather than removable while open, the camera will no longer balance lens-down on the macro port with the back open. So I have to close the back repeatedly while working on the rig. If I did not have an investment in ports and other accessories, I'd consider switching brands. -Mark
  11. I just skimmed my photo library. I've got shots of this species from Komodo with a yellow tail. And from Fiji with a yellowish tail. The juveniles usually have a clear tail.
  12. I use the Canon 7D mark II as my primary camera, both on land and under water. I use an Aquatica housing. I upgraded last year from the original 7D. I upgraded for two reasons: the better focus system, and the GPS feature (useful on land only). It does focus faster and in lower light than the previous generation. As I have gotten older and now wear glasses (and dive with a prescription mask), I am no longer able to use manual focus. So I really depend on that auto focus, and want it to be quick and right. Another feature of this camera I like is the button to show a full screen giving all of the current settings. It’s an easy way to confirm that the camera is set how I expect it to be. And see what the mode dial is set to while inside the housing. I do a lot of fish photography. For that, picking out a small moving fish, I use center-sensor only focus in AI mode. As long as I can keep the fish near the center of the frame, the camera will focus on it instead of the background. I usually leave it in this mode for macro work as well, taking shots with the focal point in the center of the frame, then crop the photo later for more interesting composition. Sometimes I do switch to one-shot focus so that I can half-pull the shutter and recompose to avoid that crop later. For wide-angle work, I usually activate all of the sensor points and let the camera do its thing.
  13. I think this is a flathead, a member of the Platycephalidae family.
  14. That is a juvenile Checkerboard Wrasse, Halichoeres hortulanus.
  15. You are correct, it is Anyperodon leucogrammicus, or Slender Grouper.
  16. I often see them with this blue tinge. -Mark
  17. This is a peacock razorfish, Iniistius pavo. The colors are quite variable, but that long streamer on the front of the dorsal fin is distinctive. -Mark
  18. I had problems with an Aquatica vacuum system as well. At least half the time, I couldn't get it to turn on by pressing the button before closing the housing. I had to take the battery out and replace it each time to get it to function at all. Behavior was erratic when pumping out the system. Sometimes it would work as expected, turning green after about 15-20 pumps. Other times I would pump for a long time (counting over 75 pumps) and it was still blinking yellow. Only about one dive in four was it still indicating a vacuum at the end of the dive, though the housing appeared to be functioning fine. As I was out on a liveaboard at the time there was nothing I could do about this, so I ended up largely ignoring the vacuum system. That trip ended with my first ever complete camera flood, after 700 dives with housed SLR cameras. The cause of the flood isn't clear, but Aquatica & Backscatter are replacing the vacuum system as part of refurbishing the housing. I will be bench testing this system very carefully when it comes back. The design of the main seal on the latest generation of Aquatica housings makes it nearly impossible to do a visual inspection or run my finger around the o-ring. So that vacuum system isn't just insurance, it is a critical part of closing the housing. -Mark
  19. Possibly Istigobius goldmani. -Mark
  20. I would call the second damsel Dascyllus trimaculatus. In Fiji they usually have orange bellies. Note that most of the ventral & anal fins are dark here, rather than all orange as they should be on D. auripinnis. You can also see a hint of a white spot on the body. -Mark
  21. Yes, it's Helcogramma striata, the Striped Triplefin. The top-down view makes it hard to see the dorsal fin split into three sections to recognize it as a triplefin. But the colors are distinctive and this species is quite common in that area.
  22. Yes, I've dived with Gerry Allen on the Nai'a as well, and these photos were shot on a Nai'a trip. I'm trying to document the Fiji variants of the fish there, and am running into a few that are difficult to identify. -Mark
  23. Someone on another site identified this as Stegastes fasciolatus, Pacific Gregory. -Mark
  24. Here's a damselfish I've now seen in both Fiji and the Solomon Islands, in the surge zone on the reef crest and pinnacle tops in 10 feet of water. I suspect it is a juvenile coloration. Any ideas? -Mark
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