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Everything posted by Undertow

  1. Hi Guys, The Associated Press have carried a story with my pics about the hopeful creation of a massive marine reserve around Bermuda: AP story on The Washington Post I shot pics of Phillipe Cousteau (Jacques' grandson) diving here in Bermuda (via the Pew Charitable Trusts) and the AP used a couple other pics of mine in the story too. I'm a bit surprised they used my reef/trumpetfish shot as the cover image. Just to be clear, as the cover image might be a touch misleading, the "Blue Halo" would be a pelagic reserve, with its inner boundary well outside Bermuda's reefs & fishing grounds. It would then extend to the edge of our 200mile EEZ. Its designed to protect against foreign vessels pillaging our part of the sargasso sea for pelagic catches like tuna and shark fins. The evidence is very clear that they are doing such. I was a bit chuffed to see the story in the "Top News" section of the AP mobile app today. Cheers, Chris
  2. good stuff for your first time, especially #3. Generally water really sucks the contrast from the light so if you're aiming for a landscape-style shot i'd say keep it sunny. There are plenty of situations where cloudy is better, but not yours methinks. Light will be too flat. As far as midday vs late sun, both can be great depending on how you shoot (midday isn't too harsh as often true topside). I'd say do both, get there midday and stay for the later light, especially if its remote. Play with the shadows later in the day. Exposure can be tough but experiment, the D7000 has good dynamic range. Try going into the shadows and shooting out to the light, exposing for the light to get that frame-within-a-frame idea that you're 3rd photo above kinda does. Shoot with the sun, shoot against the sun. Play with snell's window like in your 1st pic (angle at which you can see through the surface to the sky/trees above). Shoot reflections like the 3rd pic. Try more over/unders like the 2nd. Experiment. Then post your results. A great start though. Cheers, Chris
  3. i virtually never let anyone touch my housing. After a dive, I lift it onto the swim platform, giving the crew the obligatory "no thank you, I'll take care of it". Get out, grab camera, dunk, find the safest spot on boat for it. On a dive trip, I make it very clear the first day I'm the only one that handles my housing, unless absolutely necessary, like chuckin seas or a raised deck. Even then I hand them the camera such that the handle's the clear thing to grab, and only have them to hold it while I get out. I've seen too many screw-ups and spent too much money to risk otherwise. It amazes me when I see people hand off their cameras from the water and just go get cozy on the boat. Then I look into the rinse bucket to see multiple cameras/computers/torches piled thick, sloshing and banging into each other on a bumpy ride back. No, thank you. Imagine this on the 2nd day of a liveaboard: my friend and another guy have very similar ikelite rigs. The crew grabs my friends unlatched rig off the camera table and hands it to the other guy in the water, then swapping it out when the guy sees its not his. My friend returns to find his rig in the same spot, but completely flooded (they haddn't even noticed). Yes, this happened, though luckily the operater was willing to replace it. I never bother with a carrying strap, i find the handle works fine and the rig's already got too many bits & pieces - a strap would just get in the way. Though the above posted short rope with clips would be the least obtrusive. Strap or not, if you repeadly place your trust in random people to handle something that expensive, delicate & specialized you're just setting yourself up for catastrophe imho. Cheers, Chris
  4. i find myself shooting much more carefully now with the D800 - I realize how large the images are and its almost making me value each 'click' much more. Feels like back in the film days a bit. Still got my D700 when I just need to fire away. Of course I'm referring to topside, cant afford to house the D800 anytime soon (still D700 UW). then as loftus says, trying when I can to just pick keepers though it doesn't always happen.
  5. get the nikon 1.4tc and be done with it. The only reason you'd get the kenko would be to use it on a lens not compatible with the nikon. the nikon is far superior.
  6. oh, just a bit to add - conceptually - turn all automatic modes off. Set the camera to manual mode (within the flash synch speed), camera flash to manual, strobes to manual etc. Get rid of any decision making the system is trying to do. That would be my first suggestion to try.
  7. im sorry youre having so much trouble. My first thought, if the camera keeps showing you the "flash-off" symbol would be that perhaps the housing control is out of tolerance and hitting the flash on/off button on the camera (granted I do not know this camera, but assume it has a lightning bolt button that cycles "flash on/off/auto"). Perhaps this button is getting pressed at depth by the housing control? Also, what about TTL settings? Again, I don't know your strobes/camera, but if both camera & strobe are not set the same "TTL or Manual" then they will confuse each other and not fire correctly. I'd try setting the camera's flash to manual minimum power if tha'ts possible, then make sure the strobes are set to whatever optical synch mode and manual power and try that. Try everything also without the housing closed (just setup so the camera flash can still trigger the strobes) but do it with the housing open, to see if its perhaps a control out of alignment and hitting buttons when it shouldn't. You should get way more battery life out of your eneloops unless you're firing away at full power hundreds of times. I don't know the strobes, but I believe most strobes should get in the range of 200 full power flashes per set of batteries. Hope maybe that gives you some more troubleshooting ideas. Good luck. Cheers, Chris
  8. I do not use a diopter on my D700 + 16-35mm UW behind a 9.25" dome, I don't feel its needed at all. I don't have a housing for the D800. While I'm sure most lenses could benefit from AF fine tune, I'm referring to a serious discrepancy, as in things being noticeably OOF when shooting the 16-35mm or 24-70mm wide open. It takes a major error to have this issue with super wide lenses. The 24-70mm needed a max -20 tune on the D800 & the 16-35mm needed -15 (on a +20 to -20 scale). So far so good with that but I haven't analyzed it in detail, I just shoot & the pics now look in focus. To add to the original poster's question, I would only use top nikon glass to resolve the detail & DR the D800's capable of (which is incredible). To use anything less I think would be an insult to the camera and render the extra resolution/DR pointless. I don't know all those lenses (admittedly I was surprised at the quality of the DX Tokina 11-16/2.8 on my D300) but I'd never put a consumer quality variable aperture zoom on the D800. I would at the very least narrow that list down to the 14-24mm, 16-35mm and possibly the Tok 16-28mm/2.8 if it proves itself like the DX 11-16mm did. Cheers, Chris
  9. 16-35mm, love that lens. decent close focusing too (at least behind a 9.25" dome). Had a tough time deciding b/w that and 14-24mm and very glad i got the 16-35mm. the long end is very useful vs 24mm when you can't change lenses UW. I'm quite the 2.8 junkie but not had any issue with f/4 & D700. Tis a heap cheaper too. On a side note, my D800 + 16-35mm surprisingly had inaccurate focus & required an AF fine tune in the camera to fix. Been reading about a mutitude of relatively minor focus issues with the camera and i've had to fine tune for both my 16-35mm & 24-70mm. Anything longer focuses fine. Never had an issue with my D700. Still shooting D700 UW. Cheers, Chris
  10. I rarely get a chance to rinse my camera between dives and sometimes it does get stuck sitting in the sun even for many hours before i can rinse it. I would never sacrifice my ability to take pics based on such conditions. Housings can handle it. Cameras are meant to shoot pictures, not sit in a storage vacuum out of fear of imperfect circumstances. Happy shooting! Cheers, Chris
  11. That's a big question and there's been a ton of discussion in the forums. Its one of the primary issues shooting underwater and is dependent on a number of factors. Indeed, if your on-camera flash is not blocked then it will indeed give you horrid backscatter, no matter where you place your external strobes. Its simple to test, just turn the external strobes off. Posting a pic of your backscatter could help - basically if there's really large OOF (out of focus) blobs in the image, its likely a particle very close to the lens and you're somehow getting light right in front of the lens. Of course visibility is a massive factor, with backscatter nearly impossible to avoid in mid-poor vis. Strobe positioning is another factor, and people often point their strobes out slightly to light the subject with the edge of the beam, avoiding too much light hitting the water between the lens and subject. I started out with my strobes spaced far apart (for wide angle work) for the same reason, and much of the school of thought a few years ago was based on this principle. However, I find myself more often now keeping the strobes closer to the housing and pointing them outwards slightly. For example, if you space your strobes far out, but then have to point them inwards to light the subject, you'll still get backscatter. Granted the backscatter will be more side-lit and may not be as prominent. Its worth experimenting with and in the age of instant photo review, is easy to test in a few minutes (or perhaps worth a whole dive) UW. Hope that helps. Cheers, Chris
  12. I've just been reading about LiPo's for a different application due to their low weight. Indeed LiPo's are in a lot of portable devices. I believe they all have protection circuits built in. I would imagine the Salvo pack should also have one built into the battery pack itself. This will be sufficient to avert over discharging the batteries. A single LiPo cell is 3.7 volts and should never be discharged below 3V. Full charge on a 3.7V cell is 4.2V, but even the slightest over charging will damage the cell. The charge current should not exceed its capacity (i.e. a 2200mAh battery should be charged at 2200mA max). Chargers should be very specifically designed to do all this. I don't think they're inherently dangerous but they should be kept away from anything flammable. If they do ignite, they simply catch fire, they don't explode. I have read of LiIon batteries exploding (18650 batteries) during charging. However this is a non-proprietary battery with a non-proprietary charger. I think the warnings behind LiPos are conceived around this non-proprietary concept. LiIons are also hard shelled, which could build pressure, but LiPos are soft shelled. If you puncture a soft shell LiPo it will likely catch fire, ive done it before Any manufacturer that builds this battery into their product and includes an appropriate charger (like your laptop) should have enough necessary protection built into the system, including physically protecting the soft battery itself. LiPos are used a lot in the R/C heli & plane world due to their low weight. The issue there is customization, the batteries are not built into the system by the manufacturer, but by the consumer. Therein lies the safety risk as appropriate charging, discharging, physical protection etc is up to the consumer. I'm not sure where the Salvo would fall in there, it would obviously be designed to work appropriately within the proprietary system, though they're possibly not as fool-proof designs as, say a big laptop manufacturer. A quick search about storage charge says 3.85V (per cell) is ideal and should never drop below 3.5V (at rest is equivalent to 3V under load). They say store at full charge (4.2V) for no more than 4 days. Cheers, Chris
  13. Believe you me, topside photography experience means almost nothing UW. Even a pro's first time shooting UW will produce junk by their standard. Light just works differently. It depends on the goal for the project. If you just need some snapshots to document the event, just use the p&s. I wouldn't go all out on a serious dslr rig for just this project. Now your biggest advantage is the fact that its snorkeling in less than 15ft of water. You can shoot ambient light with (or without) filters much easier than trying to go the strobe route. So if you did want to house one of your cameras, you'd use the widest lens you have, add magic filters and just fire away. Balancing artificial light with natural UW is an immense challenge, requiring a lot of practice and skill to figure out. If shallow water & ambient only is an option, absolutely do that. Looks like your best super wide option is the canon with the 17-40mm but I'd never house a 1dmk2, the housing would be massive and weigh a ton. If you have any nikon super wides, like the 12-24mm or a fisheye, do that with the D200 & magic filters. The cheapest quality housing is ikelite. Cheers, Chris
  14. I wholeheartedly prefer my 16-35mm in a large 9" dome (D700). I don't really like the FE distortion. On my last trip i didn't even use my sigma 15mm FE. Mostly I use it at 16mm but the 35mm end is available for things like fish or shark shots (great for wide portraits with very friendly fish). One great example for me of its versatility is when we get the humpbacks migrating through here. 16mm is great for them but occasionally we run into dolphins & pelagic turtles, and 35mm works for them (if that's too wide, they're too far to make good pics anyways). With often no time to change lenses i've missed a few good dolphin ops in the past with the FE+TC i used for whales before . Of course that's a unique circumstance but it just reminds me how much I love that lens. Cheers, Chris
  15. indeed I had the same issue when I upgraded my D200-D700. I assume there's a tiny little notch in the corner to at least get a tool in. Even with the notch its tough as the oring's really tight. I use this plastic 'spudger' I got with a kit from ifixit.com when doing some ipod surgery a few years ago. Works great. I imagine a guitar pick could work too. Also be careful when replacing the oring. Since it can't freely slide around when mounted, if you don't set the oring very evenly, it could end up stretched in some spots and squeezed in others. So don't just push it back in by sliding your finger along the oring groove with constant pressure, that'll stretch it. Lay it over the grove and just push in a little bit at a time. Dunno if that makes sense but its not tough to figure out. Cheers, Chris
  16. obviously it depends on what you're plans are but most of the time 2 strobes are better than 1. the ikelite is a bit more powerful and will have better battery life. i only use manual flash UW - i don't see TTL being of much use at all. cheers, chris
  17. Whilst i'm not yet a cave diver, the prospect of a 2m long cable wrapping around a diver's body sounds quite sketchy to me. Also when that means that one hand holds a strobe and another a slave sensor - did i get that right? Even if both are mounted to a divers hand/arm that sounds like way too much task loading for a cave divers hands. Did your cave diving buddies agree to this?? Are they not using a black plate & wing for sidemount? Can you not mount the slave strobe directly to their backplate? Or would that mess with their physical profile too much? Granted with any air in the the BC, the wings will float up and probably take up the same additional vertical profile a back plate mounted strobe would. I'm just thinking as I write here, but i really don't like the idea of a diver wtih a strobe/sensor in both hands and wrapped up in a cable. Especially when they ahve to manage a canister lilght (with its own cable), gas supply with multiple regs & hoses, and often a reel too.... There's got to be a better solution, at the very least try mounting the slave sensor to the shoulder of the arm that's holding the strobe so the rig isn't taking up both hands with a cable running all over the place.....
  18. You use the actual focal length. The calculator expresses the magnification relative to sensor size. This is why 1:1 will be different depending on your sensor size. 1:1 on a m4/3 sensor will be a higher magnification than 1:1 on a DX which is more than 1:1 on a full frame sensor. Hence why crop sensor cameras have an advantage over full frame for macro. This means if you cut out a piece of paper the exact size of your sensor, then took a picture of it at 1:1 (at closest focus point for most macro lenses), it would perfectly fill the frame. 2:1 means a subject half the size of your sensor will fill the frame. Its all relative to your sensor.
  19. This simply won't be true anymore when a FX sensor has a DX crop with the same resolution as a DX body. The D800 has essentially the same pixel density of the D7000. So a 100mm lens on a D800 in DX crop mode will be more or less exactly the same as that lens on a D7000. The only difference is that you'll be throwing away more image captured around the outside. This is extra sensor using extra glass. So shoot a 100mm macro on the D800 if FX mode and crop it down in post to the size of a DX sensor and you'll have the same image as shot with the 100mm on a D7000. Of course, once nikon releases a DX camera with a higher resolution (i.e. say the D400 is 20-24mp) then perhaps we can start thinking about this again. But the game changer with the D800 is that is has plenty of resolution (at today's standards) when cropped to the size of DX sensor that it practically makes any DX camera less than 16mp obsolete. Except for perhaps the slow 4fps when shooting action. The only other way this distinction could play out is in the "Traditional" category of the OWU photo contest where cropping is not allowed...
  20. indeed, but none of the "crop modes" really matter cause that's all they are, digital crops. something we can all easily do in post. i.e. for those that would ponder 15mp with the tokina 10-17mm, why not just leave it in FX mode and crop as needed. its the same thing the camera's doing except you get all the extra data. A DX lens' image circle is still larger than a DX sensor and DX zooms often will have a partial range that will fully cover an FX sensor. granted it could be crap in the corners but i have seen it work. my tokina 11-16mm was quite decent at 16mm on my D700, before I got a full frame superwide.
  21. Absolutely the Sigma 15mm over the Nikon 16mm. I have both, though intend to sell the 16mm. It just doesn't focus close enough UW, to a very noticeable degree. Did a couple dives with it and went out and bought the sigma. Actually, wait, I lie...... the 16mm is better...... wanna buy mine?? Also, for over/under shots, the bigger the dome the better. At least 8".
  22. glad you solved your problem. indeed lens wipes are not enough to clean contacts. A pencil eraser is best and has solved many a lens/camera communication problem i've seen. I've even had issues with mild corrosion build up on a speedlight contact that could not be cleaned wiht an eraser and needed scraping with either a finger nail or even a metal edge, albeit gently. cheers, Chris
  23. you could get one of these: <a href="http://www.paulcbuff.com/vm120.php" target="_blank">http://www.paulcbuff.com/vm120.php</a> It may be a little much for airline carry on even though its tiny and super light (3.5lbs) for a monolight AC pack. You'll also lose a bit of efficiency in the back and forth voltage conversion but its a cool way to get a 120AC outlet anywhere. here's a great review that includes using it to power a mackbook air <a href="http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-11314-11226-11357" target="_blank">http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_pag...314-11226-11357</a>
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