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About nathanm

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  1. Any word on whether the Nauticam vacuum product is on the market yet?
  2. I have the sigma 180 macro - also f/2.8 and with OS (image stabilization), and I am planning to use it underwater but have not done so yet - I need to get a port extender first. I tried it with a Nauticam outfit and while I had the right extender, the internal diameter of the front part of the port would not fit the lens. I will try it with my Seacam system when I get the right port extender. I want it for working distance and/or higher magnification at the same working distance.
  3. The cost of a housing for DSLR is generally about again as much as the camera (ranges from say 50% of cost of camera for Ikelite, 150% for Seacam). By the time you add ports, strobes and lenses, the camera is actually one of the cheaper parts of the system. It is also one of the least reliable. For example, I have had many more camera problems than lens problems over the years. So I always travel with two identical bodies - one is nominally dedicated to topside use, the other goes in the housing. I also tend to have multiple lenses - not duplicates, but as a post above suggested the 50 and 100 macro lens, and 20mm and 15mm lenses. I have had a lens fail (diaphragm stuck) and was glad to have a more or less comparable lens along. I mostly use the 100 mm and 15mm but the 50mm macro is small and cheap. A 20mm lens is pretty small too. I also try to travel with an extra set of strobes - in my case a pair of DS 125 manual strobes that I've had forever. I have had to use them a couple times when my much fancier strobes crap out. Note that this means bringing along an adapter or other cables so I can use them. Obviously if you can't afford two bodies that is a different story, but you have to figure that bad things can happen and dive trips are very expensive too.
  4. Well, I misread you then! Last time I was in the Galapagos (many years ago) I used a full UW housing set up for snorkeling, so of course it works. I had penguins all around me on more than one snorkel. A bunch of baitfish tried to hide near me, and the penguins zipped past me within a foot or so like a bunch of torpedoes. It's yet another example of you why you don't want to be a baitfish. However, maybe that was unbelievable luck.... The surf angle is that if there is a shore swell you can get sea lions that play in the surf. And the full housing is very heavy if you try to do much in the way of over/unders. So I might get one to try things like that. It surely isn't necessary. They now allow you to do kayaking in the Galapagos (used to be banned), and that would be another reason for a surf housing - i.e. basically for topside shooting, but you don't want to dunk the camera. I already use carbon fiber arms to add buoyancy. With the Inon popeye arms you can actually add too much and make my existing Seacam set up very positive. The 1DX Seacam is NOT out yet that I know of. I have had one on order for quite some time, and there does not seem to be a firm commitment to date. My guess is June, but it might be July. Fortunately, I don't have any trips for a few months so it doesn't matter that much to me. The only technical detail that I have at the moment is that the 1DX remote port option can do either shutter only (as with the current remote port) or full Ethernet. I would love to come up with a use for that - for example, UW time-lapse. It is a very special case that I may never use, but it does sound cool....
  5. Some further thoughts - I use the Canon 8-15mm and the 16-35 II, but I also use the 15mm and 20mm quite a bit. The 100 macro is a good macro choice, but I also have the Sigma 50mm which has the advantage over Canon 50 macro in that it will go all the way to 1:1. Seacam has some advantages in really exotic stuff. I have the polecam outfit with the remote video viewfinder for example. I have used that with the 1D3 to shoot high fps shots at the surface of billfish, for example. 1DX would be good for that too. For the 1DX housing the remote trigger cable is going to have Ethernet capability. I don't have a use for that yet, but it is pretty cool. Service for Seacam is always very good - Stephen Frink and Liz seem to be on call pretty much 7x24. They have fielded email or phone calls from me over the years. However, in general very little has gone wrong with the housing. Once I had to repack the O-rings on one of the pushbuttons, which was a bit tough on a dive boat without all the right tools but I got it done. Reef Photo has also given me good service for Nauticam. I also have a Nauticam 7D housing that one of my sons uses. It has not been as reliable as Seacam. Twice we have had problems with a plastic gear that controls the shutter button. The plastic gear teeth bend and then strip. It has also had problems with the rubber wheel that engages the control dial. I have had to do improvised surgery with gaffers tape and had to disassemble parts of the Nauticam to rotate the stripped gear to a spot where it still had teeth. I didn't have these problems with the Nauticam 1DX housing, but I only used it for one trip. You mentioned the joystick. Nauticam 1DX housing has "arrow keys" that let you use it. I don't know if Seacam will do this or not, because I don't have the housing yet. I am pretty use to changing the focus point using the dials (i.e. on 1Ds3 or 1D3) but joystick is faster/better. The Seacam 5D3 housing does not have joystick controls, but I don't know the status on the 1DX housing. On the 5D3 I miss the joystick a bit, not critically.
  6. I have the 1DX and use it a lot topside. Yes, it is heavier than the 5D3 (which I also use) but the speed is nice. The noise at high iso is also slightly better for 1DX (because it has bigger pixels). I use high fps in several diving contexts, but obviously it isn't useful for most underwater shots. In addition, since I have the camera (two bodies, actually) and use it a lot, so I want to take it underwater. If I didn't use the camera topside I probably would not buy it only for underwater use. I have a Seacam 1DX housing on order, and I recently used a borrowed Nauticam 1DX housing in Raja Ampat. The Nauticam housing is very nice and I considered keeping it rather than the Seacam. The "piano" buttons are very nice. It has full use of the arrow keys which is also nice. I have been a long term Seacam user so I have a lot of ports, viewfinders and other accessories and that is one factor. I am also more used to the control layout than on Nauticam, but I am sure I could switch. Another big factor for me is that I use Seacam strobes - which lets you do full ETTL. They are ridiculously expensive but they work very well. They are pretty much the full equivalent of ETTL on Canon speedlights. Yes, you can get good results with manual flashes. Topside I do a lot of studio photography and that is always manual. However, underwater manual flashes usually take a bunch of fiddling around. There are shots where ETTL works very well indeed, and since it is automatic it works for the first shot. That is really important some fraction of the time - quick action, a sudden shot, rapidly changing lighting or rapidly changing distances.... So my strobe rig is dual Seacam 150 flashes. Which can be used with Nauticam housing, but if you're buying from scratch might as well get the whole Secam outfit. Get the Superdome, fisheye macro port, and P120 port (works with 100 macro, 50 sigma macro). I use the 180 viewfinder, but the s10 viewfinder is nice too - I use that on 5D3 housing. There is no schedule at the moment for 1DX housing from Secam - I am told that it will be "soon", and that has been going on for many months. However, I have a lot of confidence that when it is done it will be very high quality.
  7. OK, this basically confirms what I was thinking - that a surf housing would be a good idea. SPL looks pretty good, but there are some other makes too. I like the Seacam 5D3 housing, but mostly my son uses it. It would be an issue for some cases. I used a Nauticam housing for the 1DX in Raja Ampat and that did have the joystick control. I did use it occasionally so this is certainly a consideration.
  8. I will be going to the Galapagos islands for a mostly land based trip. On those trips you usually snorkel at least once a day - with penguins, marine iguanas and sea lions. Note that this is NOT the same thing as diving the Galapagos! I have been once before (in the days of film) and used a standard dive housing. That worked, but when you're right at the top and there is a lot of wave action it is pretty heavy and can be awkward. Waves whack the camera into your face, etc. I usually use Seacam housings (1DS Mark III, 5D Mark III and have 1Dx on order). My sons use Seacam and Nauticam. So my default housings for snorkeling will be those, but it has occurred to me that for rougher water a surf housing like SPL http://splwaterhousings.com/ might actually be better. They are lighter, and generally meant to be used with one hand. Does anybody have any experience with using these right near the surface for snorkeling?
  9. This is great - just what I was looking for. What size cooler holds the full rigs? The 24 pack or larger?
  10. About 20 years ago, I bought a couple of waterproof padded bags from Underwater Photo-Tech that used to be in Derry, New Hampshire. The bags are big enough to fit a housing and flash units (with arms folded). I have used them for years to carry my camera in the dive skiff. They are great because they are padded, so they offer some protection against the inevitable bumpy boat ride. They are waterproof so you can use them as a dunk tank if need be. When dry, you can even pack things (not housnings, but I often put other items in them) for travel. I typically put the whole rig into the bag on the dive boat or shore, then ride out in the skiff or other dive boat, with the housing in the bag. It goes from the bag into the water, and then as soon as I hand the camera to somebody on the skiff it goes back into the bag. I have used these bags for so long that I don't even know what other people do. Well, the zippers have finally given out so I need some new ones. I can't seem to find any current substitute. I think that the bags were originally intended to be soft-sided coolers for taking to football games etc, but they were private labeled by Underwater Photo-Tech. UPT was apparently absorbed into Backscatter, but I don't see anything like this on the Backscatter web site. I also can't find any other solution for carrying housings in the boat. There seem to be no end of specialized bags for carrying dive gear and/or cameras WHEN DRY, but I don't see any solution out there for this specific need - carrynig the wet housing to/from the actual dive. I have looked at other soft-sided cooler bags, but so far everything I have found has drawbacks. Many of them are too rectangular - they are designed for six-packs of beer. They are not padded as well either. The larger ones tend to have wheels and so forth which won't really work. Does anybody know where to get these? Or, if not, then what do you use to carry your housing to and from the actual dive site?
  11. Has anybody tried the Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS lens, or more generally other IS lenses (which Nikon calls VR). Canon claims that the IS system gives 4-stops worth of image stabilization in terms of shutter speed. If so that would be pretty interesting. One alternative is to use the Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens, which gives you 2-stops. Of course f-stop versus IS isn't really a fair test. For moving subjects (for example, fish) using the f/1.4 lens wide open will clearly be better - it would get you 2 stops of shutter speed which might help stop the subject. IS will not help you much with a moving subject. But IS ought to be a help in a lot of other underwater situations. If you want depth of field, so you want to be at say f/8 to f/11, then the IS lens could potentially save the day. Topside, one uses a tripod for such shots, but obviously that is very limiting underwater. Normally the topside rule of thumb is that your shutter speed should be 1/focal length - i.e. 1/24th of a second (round to 1/30) for a 24mm lens. 4 stops of stabilization would imply you could go to 1/2 second. This review http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-24mm-f-2.8-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx has photos shot at 0.8 sec handheld that look pretty good. I doubt that this would apply underwater where you float around and have less stability. However it may still help. I have used the Canon 100mm IS macro underwater, and the IS seems to help in terms of the image that I see in the viewfinder being more steady, but most macro shots use strobes for the light, and the strobe exposure is very short (1/1000 and sometimes much less), so the IS is going to be less important. With WA shots, there is often a mix of strobe for the foreground and natural light for the background, where IS would be helpful. Wreck diving, silhouettes and other circumstances make IS potentially useful. Some people use the 24-105mm IS zoom underwater, and might have some perspecitve on how much the IS helps. I am less familar with Nikon, but their VR lenses ought to be pretty similar.
  12. Great information.... I have been using mine with older cards so far and was going to step up. Now, maybe not...
  13. I have both the superdome and the fisheye macro port (fmp). I tend to use fmp more. I have not noticed any image quality problems, and it is much smaller and lower displacement which helps with diving.
  14. I am not put off by it, but I try to be extra careful it doesn't get sat on or other issues in the dive boat, because you could presumably damage it. The thin proboscis is also very easy to bump into rocks if there is any surge.
  15. My experience is like that of other people on the thread. The lens can do some amazing things that no other lens can do. But it is also pretty hard to use, and the optical quality is not great. The net result is that with some extra effort you can get some amazing pictures.
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