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camera table and dunk tank etiquette

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My next dive trip will be my first time on a liveaboard with a large camera system (DSLR, two stobes, arms). Any adivce on camera table and/or dunk tank etiquette would be most appreciated.

 

Tales of flooding in dunk tanks scare me too... do you leave your the camera in the dunk tank between dives, or is it best to rinse it, dry it off and put it someplace safe?

 

Should I bring an outlet strip, or is that frowned upon by boat operators?

 

So many questions, so little time ;)

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Do not leave yours in the rinse tank. Others will need to use it also. If you really need to keep yours in a rinse then carry a soft sided pop cooler and fill it with water and put your gear in it. I do not leave mine soaking while on a trip. I do perform this after the trip.

 

Also try to manipulate the buttons while using the rinse tank to flush out salt water from the harder to reach places.

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Just to add to Todd words.

I uses also soft sided cooler, it’s very comfortable also to carry your rig around.

Make a search here and you'll find a message of me describing how my strobe was fluid after a dive in a raising tank (the soft one ;) ) so it’s not recommended to leave your equipment for long time in the water.

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Just another note, If you have dived & your,e rig has not flooded

why shoud it in a dip tank? If you have not got to change lens or

download images do it in a dry environment take your,e time &

then dip it in the dip tank to test it. If it is going to leak it will leak

at 1 foot as well as 40 foot, be confident in what you are doing & your,e

equipment. have a great time on your,e trip.

 

 

Andy ;) :ph34r: ;) :ph34r:

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The dip tank is to rinse off breifly the salt water after the dive, then clean it when you get back to where your staying. My advice for camera dips are rinse it and take it out and put it in a soft cooler as stated above. I take my camera nearly everyday with me on the boat but wouldn't if it was not for the soft cooler. ;)

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Dip in the tank or take it out asap, the deck hands usually place it in the tank for you.

 

You want to rinse it is all, not a great long soak. Most floods happen in the rinse tank.

 

Then I just place it on the camera table.

 

Bringing an outlet strip is a good idea.

 

Jack

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Generally the boat crew will out the camera into the rinse bucket as you're back on the swimstep. Depending on the boat, it may be up to you to take it out of the rinse bucket or they may take it out as they get more cameras back. But basically, your camera will live on the photo table for the trip.

 

That being said, make sure it's stable. I frequently take my strobe arms and strecth them out to form a larger more stable 3-point platform (camera/strobe/strobe), which means the camera (if the boat rocks) doesn't roll off the camera table.

 

When you're moving your camera about the table (or anywhere else on the boat) be aware of and sensitive to other people's stuff. Because my rig is pretty large, I usually wait until everyone else is done fiddling so I'm not hogging too much space (and I can then take as long as I want since no one's waiting). You also want to check to see if anyone's left their housing open because you want to be very careful not to spray water into an open hosuing. (Forget whether or not it's a smart move - the reality is that people do it.)

 

As far as the power strips, I think it's a great idea. In fact, I carry two or three with me. But ask the boat crew if it's okay to plug them in and where you should plug in. I also let it be known to the other passengers that any outlets I'm not using are fair game for anyone else who needs them.

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If it's been a quick trip back from the dive site to the mother ship, then a quick dip in the tank to remove salt is all that's necessary. If it is a longer ride back, or if the housing and I are sitting on the tender waiting for other divers to come back, then I try to keep the housing wet (and cool) by covering it with a wet towel or, failing that, dunking it over the side every few minutes.

 

There will be times, however, when - for whatever reasons - these don't work and the housing may have been allowed to start to dry. If there is any possibility that salt has begun to dry in the controls, then you need to give the housing a good soak in fresh water as soon as possible, not wait until the end of the trip.

 

The biggest rinse tank etiquette items that I can think of are:

 

1. Don't just dump your camera gear on top of other people's rigs (or mine). If there isn't room to keep the rigs clearly separate, wait your turn, or at least ask for permission. The person whose gear is in the tank may be ready to take it out.

 

2. If it's necessary and/or you have permission to put your rig in on top of others, be very careful about uncovered dome ports, flat ports too. This is often where they get scratched.

 

3. Nothing, obviously, but camera in the camera rinse tank.

 

Frogfish

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I have rinse tank paranoia. I have seen far more cameras flood in rinse tanks after/between dives than underwater. Thankfully never mine. I will never let anyone else dunk my camera and I won't leave my camera in the rinse tank unattended, especially if the boat is moving.

 

I know a good soak is better for removing salt, but I prefer a quick dunk, swill out the main controls and then get the camera on the deck.

 

I also don't like camera tables, and depending on the type of boat, I prefer to have my camera on the deck. It can't fall from there.

 

I have some issues. Clearly.

 

Alex

 

p.s I have seen Kriptap's bag - and his personal rinse tank, storage and carry solution is excellent.

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Every thing that Alex said.

 

Rinse tanks are dangerous places....... the perfect place for a twisted port to come loose.

 

I've never seen a camera fall from the floor.

 

 

Peter

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Everyone has posted the right etiquite. I think it's important to remember to not get mad at someone elses camers that the divemaster stacked on top of yours when he grabs your rig from the end of the dive. Provide as much care to others' rigs as you would want on yours. As Alex stated, flods happen in rinse tanks for reasons that one can tie into mishandling of rigs to get to yours. I always immediately go grab my camera from the rinse tank after I de-gear. In some cases, particularily when there are oodles of budding photographers on the boat, to store it on a table in the galley (almost anywhere other than the tank is safer). Also, don't grab your rig by the port when it's in a rinse tank because the o-rings are relaxed. You can initiate a leak doing this. I learned that from the chinsy Subal o-ring...."now how the Fu*^&* did water get on my N90? It was dry when I came up!"

 

Ken Kurtis, nice to see you on Wetpixel. So you finally got rid of the Nikonos?

 

Joe

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A few thoughts on camera rinse tank and table etiquette and safety:

 

1. Remember that the rinse tank is not your personal camera storage facility. Even though you may not need to change film/batteries/memory, you still DO need to remove your camera from the rinse tank so others can rinse and/or leak test their housings if they want to without having to mess with your stuff.

 

2. Nothing but cameras, except maybe your dive computer/watch or dive light -- depending on the boat's rules -- should go in the camera tank unless the trip is over and it is understood by all that cameras are finished and the tank is fair game for wetsuit washing. Nothing like going to rinse your camera and seeing a film of suntan oil from someone's hood.

 

3. If the crew is placing your rig in the tank for you after every dive, it might be beneficial to take your port cover along with you, or leave it on the panga and show the crew which one is yours. That way, the cover will be on your port when it hits the tank whether you're there or not. One of the panga drivers (Michael, God bless him) on my last liveaboard would actually bring your port cover over to you if you were picked up by a panga different from the one that dropped you off!

 

4. Collapsible buckets and/or soft-sided coolers can be a great portable rinse tank if the boat's is too small or if the boat doesn't have a dedicated camera tank.

 

5. The camera table, like the rinse tank, is shared space. Be mindful that there are others who have just as much money and/or emotional attachment invested in their gear as you do.

 

a. If there is a compressed air bottle for blowing water off the housing, DO NOT blow the water onto other people's stuff! Also, some people are firm in their belief that the compressed air thing is not worth the risk of blowing air/water past any O-rings so give it some thought.

 

b. Always look to see who else may be working on something or have their housing open. If there is too big a crowd, wait a few minutes or move somewhere else. On the last liveaboard I was on, there was a large table at the bow and I would routinely move there to make room at the camera table and give me a place to work with less distraction. If you decide to take your camera into the salon to work on it, for goodness' sake, make sure you dry it off first. Also, be mindful that other people will be using the salon for things like eating and taking naps so don't hog all the space when there is a camera table for you to use.

 

c. If you do stretch your stobe arms out to stabilize your housing, at least make an attempt to do it in the least intrusive way -- I've been on more than one trip where one person does this and ends up taking up half the table. As has been said, the floor offers the least chance of a tumble -- however, check with the crew before placing your camera there.

 

d. Most boats will have shelves under the table; some boats even provide baskets on the shelves for people to use. Use the darn shelves. It is not acceptable to store all or your dryboxes and pelican cases on the camera table. However, understand that the shelves and/or crates are probably not watertight so don't store unprotected lenses or uncovered electronics there unless thay are sealed from the elements.

 

e. Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, once an electrical connection is proven to be functional and watertight, don't disconnect it. Others may argue this point, based on the fact that unless you clean things regularly, they may corrode together and become fused but I've never had it happen; I have gotten a connection flood from constantly disconnecting and reconnecting the strobe cords (see below).

 

THE GOLDEN RULE: Do unto others, etc.: Everyone has paid to be there -- just because you have a D2X and the guy next to you has a Fuji F810 doesn't mean he has any less right to be there than you. In fact, you should thank him because he could have a D2X, too, and take up just as much space as you do! As long as you think about how what you're doing is affecting everyone else, you're probably doing OK.

 

 

THE NOT-SO-GOLDEN RULE (the flipside): Having said all this stuff about being polite -- look out for yourself. You have paid to be there, too. I was on one trip where I tried to help out by disconnecting my strobe from the housing between dives to make room for all the stuff on the table. Ended up getting a drop of salt water on the contacts. I'm doubt anyone else really appreciated my sacrifice. If someone is acting in a way that is unsatisfactory, make a decision about whether the person is approachable. Some people are very nice people who don't realize they are doing something that is bothering you -- if it is that kind of person just let them know. Other people don't care or can actually get hostile -- if it is that kind of person, talk to your trip leader or divemaster. They should have experience in handling situations like this.

 

Power strips: Always take one. Be sure to ask the crew where it is OK to use it. Some boats have dedicated charging stations and don't want stuff like that in the cabins. Also: try to find a "world-voltage" strip if you can -- then you don't have to worry about transformers and stuff.

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I advise putting your port cover on before handing the camera to any of the deck hands. They often place it on the deck or in a rinse tub whilst you're still getting on the boat, so it is out of your control.

 

I've incurred a scratch on my dome port because they've stacked far too many cameras in the one rinse tub, and just looking at a acrylic dome port will scratch it.

 

ds

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Since the OP (original post) refered to liveaboard specifically:

 

I let the crew take my rig and plop it in the tank. I carry my dome beanie with me and make sure it's on before I pass it up.

 

I'll then get out of the water, stow my tank/BC, grab a towel, and walk straight to the tank.

 

Retrieve my camera and blot it dry, then plop it on the camera table. Then I'll go shower and dry off.

 

Just kind of keep an eye on camera table "traffic", and move my gear out of the way after servicing.

 

Be aware not all live-aboard camera tables are equal. Some are practically non-existant.

 

All the best, James

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I take the port cover with me to the dingy and take it off from the port last thing before going into water (actually some time I forgets to do it and its come with me all dive in the pocket). At first day I talks with the crew member on the dingy and brief him how to put the housing on board.

My photo equipment is always go with me from ship to the dingy and back, I'm prefers to soak it by myself.

If there is a long break between dives and during the night usually, the equipment is store in the room and not on the cameras table.

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As an ex liveaboard employee....

 

WHat we would do was:

Take camera off skiff and dunk in rinse tank, then put on the camera table. And then the same with the next one.

 

If you wanted to soak one or re-dunk it we asked you to please wait until we had taken all cameras off skiff and dunked them.

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On port covers, which several posters here have mentioned, I've never been completely confident of the protection offered by the thin neoprene "beanie" cover. Enough to protect against scratches from minor contact, but not nearly enough if someone starts swinging a weight belt around while gearing up in a small boat, or if someone picked up another rig by the strobe arms and the clamps were loose and the corner of a big strobe were to take a swing at my dome.

 

I recently had a local wetsuit/leather manufacturer make up custom covers for my large dome port and the macro port. The dome port cover has a very thick, shaped hard rubber insert built into it that completely protects the dome. I'll post a picture of it sometime when I have time. There's a few slight changes I'd make - this is really a prototype - but I'm very happy with this cover, and have thought about posting a thread to see if there are others interested in getting one of these. Now that he's made one, I'm sure he could run off copies fairly quickly and easily. The cost was surprisingly low - not much more than a new beanie from Subal.

 

Frogfish

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All good replies.

 

But do bring your own soft cooler. You never know when you will find yourself in a situation where the camera dunk tank is *not* an option. I've seen people dunk their heads in them to wet their hair to keep it out of their masks. I'm sure we've all seen it all from non-photogs. I'd much rather be on a boat with a lot of photogs, they keep the riff raff off the camera table and out of the tank. It's just like vegas at the high rollers section, buy-in at the table is $5k. Keep your damn mask and soda somewhere else.

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I have to acknowledge that I've had pretty good observation of the rules about the camera rinse tank from non-photographer divers on trips I've been on, including some when I was the only shooter. It's important that someone (ideally whoever's running the show, not me) explain this to non-photographers who may not have been on boats with shooters before. The sign on the camera rinse tank isn't always conspicuous, and it the reasons for segregated tanks aren't necessarily intuitive or obvious to someone who doesn't already know.

 

I've also seen photographers snap at an uninformed diver/snorkeller who was about to commit (unknowingly) a rinse tank offense in a manner that I thought was pretty objectionable and very unncecessary. Owning an expensive camera rig doesn't buy anyone the right to act like an asshole.

 

On the other hand, I do think photographers have become a lot more popular with non-photogs on dive boats since digitalarrived - people really enjoy seeing the quick compilatoin of peg selects at the end of the day, especially if they're in them.

 

Better reef etiquette on the part of photographers may have helped too. Thankfully, the days when (some) photographers thought they had the right to lie down on live corals* ( or engage in heavy harassment to get their shot are (mostly) over. Though I can think of aeveral live-aboard operators who would still say photographers are by far the worst offenders by far when it comes to damaging marine life and harassment. But I think there has been real progress.

 

*These were the same people who would normally dive over-weighted by 2-5 kg., so when I say "lie down on the coral' what I mean is major damage.

 

Frogfish

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Amigos,

 

All great replies to help to any photog on their first live aboard camera table journey....

 

I have to say I find some of the port cover comments detailing extreme concern for OUTSIDE damage surprising. Unless it's a really significant scratch they will never show in your photos. Inside damage is another matter to be cautioned against when on board and changing ports.

 

I have personally recovered 2 dozen expensive logo emblazoned covers floating out of diver's BC pockets! Hopefully I've prevented a few turtles from dying after possibly ingesting such items ;) I leave mine on the boat, putting my camera in a skiff or wherever with the port facing some non-damaging area (even using my own wet suit!)

 

I'm more concerned as a last check to ensure all latches are closed and port locks secured than to be futzing with a port cover. I think another thread traced several floods to people twisting their ports loose while removing or replacing covers, too!

 

Finally, I NEVER leave my system in a rinse tank....If not rinsed briefly by a dive guide as many mentioned, I put it in as soon as I un-gear, push all the buttons and turn controls to flush salt out. Then I pat dry the two most important parts. The port your lens looks through and the part you look through (eyepiece or clear back area on a P&S type camera housing.) Long term soaking may occur for abit after I get home.....But hey, my Ikelite Rebel XT housing is plastic and stainless steel, so what needs long term soaking?

 

Just a few thought that might be helpful ;)

 

dhaas

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Ken Kurtis, nice to see you on Wetpixel. So you finally got rid of the Nikonos?

 

Thanks Joe. Got rid of the Nikonos years ago (you need to come dive with us more often - sold it to my dive shop biz partner Billy, actually) and moved up to an N90 in an Ikelite housing. Flooded two of them (story follows) and then got a D70 in february. Got the Ikelite D70 housing in June, a day before I left for Indonesia, so shot my whole trip there digitally and have been a convert to the Pixelside ever since.

 

Flood stories:

 

Two were user error (me). One time I forgot to put the o-ring in an SB-103 strobe and couldn't figure out for the life of me why it wasn't firing underwater at the eel I had so nicely framed until I went "Uh-oh . . .".

 

Second time I got out of my rotuine AND didn't bother to get my reading glasses and never noticed that I'd neglected to put the o-ring in the port.

 

Lessons learned: Get a rotuine, stick to it, and when people try to interrupt you, politely (or not) tell them to wait until you're done.

 

My only flood-in-the-rinse-tank story happened on the Don Jose in Baja, when poor Hernan (their engineer and handyman & my friend) pulled my housing out of the rinse bucket and the port came off as he was removing it. I honestly don''t think it was his fault. I believe it was a design flaw in the port latches (which have been changed). the mfg said if they could replicate it they'd pay for the camera (a nice gesture on their part) but they said they couldn't duplicate the problem after I sent everything to them. I still think it was a latching mechanism design flaw but c'est la vie.

 

Bottom line is dont forgot the mantra: It's not IF your camera floods . . . it's when. Good reason to buy DEPP or some other sort of insurance.)

 

BTW, in the mutal admiration society, Joe Belanger has written a great book on diving in and around Catalina and if any of you are coming out this way, you should definitely pick it up.

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One more thing:

 

The scariest/worst thing I ever saw involving a rinse bucket happened on a UNEXSO (Grand Bahama) boat many years ago (and this certainly wasn't their fault).

 

They had a small rinse bucket/tub right by the ladder where you came back on the boat. They would take your camera from you and place it in the bucket. You got it out when you were un-geared and ready to do so.

 

On one particular dive, there were two of us with Nikonos-V/SB-103s in the bucket. We took off our gear, talked about the dive a bit, and then moved to the back to get our cameras. We took them out and began toweling them off.

 

Not more than 10 seconds later, another diver came up the ladder, immediately removed his WEIGHT BELT, and tossed it in the bucket where the cameras had been only moments before.

 

When we said, "What the hell are you doing???? That's a camera bucket!!!!" . . . his reply was, "I need to wash off the weightbelt so it won't corrode!!!!"

 

:-)

 

Like I said previously, it's NOT if but when. Of course the reason for the "when" may be totally out of your control.

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<<Underwater PhotoTech makes a soft-sided cooler for about $60. >>

 

Does this cooler fold flat for travel or is it hard sided? I couldn't tell from the website.

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I havn't seen the UPT cool bag, and would hate to do an UW retailer out of business, but camera-suitable collapsible coolboxes can be bought in almost any camping shop. I got a good one in Cairns last summer (err, their winter) for $20. It holds a Subal D10 housing with strobes and folds down to about 12"x8"x2" from its inflated size of roughly 12"x8"x8". Its acts both as a carrying bag and rinse tank.

 

Just watch out for how the handle(s) are stiched/welded on to the bag...... I'd hate to be hoiking the bag happily down the jetty to see the handle detach because of the weight of the system. Handles that are fixed right around the bag seem preferable.

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