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Light & Motion Bluefin HD UWA Lens

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Hey Paul, I haven't yet posted more UWA footage but i do have some good stuff. I have been shooting and traveling a lot and have not had much time to edit and post. I'll get on it soon:)

 

Thanks Shawn, I'm just about to post a new topic on the UWA asking for help and advice - I'd appreciate your thoughts too if you wouldn't mind?

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Well, this is only my thrid post or so here - so I better introduce myself:

 

I'm a professional cameraman (dry land!) and run a video production company in the UK. I've done a fair bit of diving in the past but not dived for a while and never been into u/w video before. I'm planning a 'once in a lifetime' trip in August to the Maldives and thought it'd be a great opportunity to get into u/w video + I'm a real gadget freak and LOVE sexy new kit!

 

So I bought a new Sony Z1U (for work too) and after reading posts and reviews here and elsewhere, have just received the L&M Bluefin FX1 housing (pro travel pack) and 100 UWA lens. I've not dived with it yet but planning to in a couple of weeks. I have tried it out in the hot tub though!!!! (Is that really sad?)

 

I've got a few questions that I'd like some advice on for anyone who's got this kit:

  • I wasn’t able to achieve neutral or positive buoyancy with the UWA on – even with the lights removed, no ballast, battery packs removed (and also tried battery packs with no batteries to give a little more buoyancy). Best I could achieve was still fairly negatively buoyant. Although I’ve not actually dived with it properly (with SCUBA), I could imagine it’ll be quite difficult to manage???
     
  • The UWA lens is extremely ‘lens down’ in the water – I’ve not tried weights in the back of the housing yet but with the problems above, this would add to the difficulties of use I’d imagine?
     
  • Zoom through was pretty disappointing, focusing at up to around 75% or so. I had read that this was meant to be 100% zoom through, but having read the latest specs, this wasn’t the case – real shame. Wide angle was quite impressive though.
     
  • A number of people have used an ‘Expodisk’ for great and easy u/w white balance (I've read the posts here) – by mounting on the colour correction filter arm (and using a CC filter on the camera). Apparently L&M were looking into this as a manufacturers option. Anyone know if they made any progress? Did anyone manage to fit one on the CC arm with the UWA fitted?

Re the buoyancy issue – this could be a problem for me as I was thinking of using the UWA lens for the majority of the time. Any ideas how the 80 deg lens compares? I’m wondering if I should have gone with the 80 instead and send back the UWA?????????

 

Importantly, how well can you trim the housing with the 80deg fitted (with/without lights)?

 

What’s really needed is extra buoyancy tubes that mount on the bottom of the housing maybe – guess they might have to be at least double the size of the battery pods though?

 

Any thoughts/help/solutions most welcome :blink:

 

Many thanks,

 

Paul.

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Paul,

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new purchase. You have come to the right place for answers. Look for my responses to your questions in-line below:

 

I've got a few questions that I'd like some advice on for anyone who's got this kit:
  • I wasn’t able to achieve neutral or positive buoyancy with the UWA on – even with the lights removed, no ballast, battery packs removed (and also tried battery packs with no batteries to give a little more buoyancy). Best I could achieve was still fairly negatively buoyant. Although I’ve not actually dived with it properly (with SCUBA), I could imagine it’ll be quite difficult to manage???
     
  • The UWA lens is extremely ‘lens down’ in the water – I’ve not tried weights in the back of the housing yet but with the problems above, this would add to the difficulties of use I’d imagine?
 
I have been able to trim and weight my housing using the UWA to just slightly negative and completely level. This is exactly how i want it. I purchased L&Ms tripod base mount ($75 i think) and used high density foam. I have the shorter battery pods from my older Bluefin 950 housing. If you are using the bigger pods, this option will need some adjusting. My set up is very nicely balanced, stable and still streamlined. I run with two track weights moved all the way to the back of the rails in the housing. I have pods attached with batteries inside (when using and not using lights). Below are pictures of how i configured my housing:
 

Zoom through was pretty disappointing, focusing at up to around 75% or so. I had read that this was meant to be 100% zoom through, but having read the latest specs, this wasn’t the case – real shame. Wide angle was quite impressive though.
 
Yes, you will only get about 75%...orginally they had hoped for 100% but final spec did not achieve that. Personally i almost never zoom with an UWA lens and save my macro for my flat port. Others may prefer full range though.
 

A number of people have used an ‘Expodisk’ for great and easy u/w white balance (I've read the posts here) – by mounting on the colour correction filter arm (and using a CC filter on the camera). Apparently L&M were looking into this as a manufacturers option. Anyone know if they made any progress? Did anyone manage to fit one on the CC arm with the UWA fitted?
 
I have now done a good amount of shooting with and without the expo disk. IMO it can deliver excellent results in the right circumstances. Seems to work majically in the lower contrast opaque blue waters of Florida and Bahamas (just finished testing there). I was able to achieve very similar results to the expo disck by applying red permanent marker to my white slate and performing a WB on that. Don't expect an expo disk solution for the UWA configuration...there is just not enough space. I am very happy with my WB results for the UWA using alternative techniques (red/white slate and surface WB)
 

Re the buoyancy issue – this could be a problem for me as I was thinking of using the UWA lens for the majority of the time. Any ideas how the 80 deg lens compares? I’m wondering if I should have gone with the 80 instead and send back the UWA?????????

 

The UWA is a serious wide lens. It is great for close range wide shots of pelagics, bommies, reefs etc. The 80 degree lens is an excellent all around lens. With the flip macro it has excellent range as well. This is my primary working lens. Personally, i use all three lenses frequently. UWA for ultra wide (weitwinkel), 80 for everyday shooting, and flat port for night and macro.

 

Importantly, how well can you trim the housing with the 80deg fitted (with/without lights)?

 

Here is what i use to trim my housing "perfectly" using the 80 and flat port:

 

HID Lights and Batteries Attached:

 

80 degree lens:

2 weights installed

looking in from back of housing...

-Right weight 3/4 toward back plate

-Left weight 2/3 toward back plate

 

Flat port:

2 weights installed

looking in from back of housing...

-Right weight 2/3 toward back plate

-Left weight just front of centered

 

Housing and no lights/batteries

 

80 degree lens:

4 weights installed

-right weights: 1 center and 1 7/8th toward the back

-left weights: 1 front of center and 1 3/4 toward the back

 

Flat port:

4 weights installed

-right weights: 1 center and 1 3/4 toward back -left weights: 1 1/3 toward back and 1 2/3 toward the back

 

Let us know if you have any more questions. I am sure other folks who are proficient with the Bluefin HD will chime in with their own ideas.

-shawn

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Excellent - many thanks for taking the time to reply in such a detailed manner :)

 

I do have the tripod mount coming but it's not here yet and is apparently of a different design to yours I believe.

 

I guess the foam also acts as extra protection as well :D Would be nice to have some kind of extra large battery pod that acts as a bouyancy device too.

 

I have asked my supplier (FEP - the UK distributor and service agent) if they can also ask L&M if they do smaller weights for the track system - seems like an obvious 'extra' product to help with fine balancing.

 

You gave me details of the balancing with the 80 - can you do the same for the UWA? - or do you always dive with this in just one configuration as above?

 

Maybe I should also buy the 80!!!! More cost...

 

Oh, one other question while I think about it - what kind of shots/work can you realisticaly achieve with just the flat port - is is only macro stuff? What do you see when you zoom in/out etc? Oh, and did you buy the macro flip for the 80 as well - I believe the standard one doesn't work with it?

 

I'm sure I'll have more questions later :blink:

 

Cheers,

 

Paul.

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Paul, my pleasure to help out.

 

More info in-line below:

I guess the foam also acts as extra protection as well :blink: Would be nice to have some kind of extra large battery pod that acts as a bouyancy device too.

 

It is actually great protection for inadvertant bumps! I think something in the battery pod solution may be in the works down the road.

 

I have asked my supplier (FEP - the UK distributor and service agent) if they can also ask L&M if they do smaller weights for the track system - seems like an obvious 'extra' product to help with fine balancing.

 

I would suggest not gettting too caught up on the the super 'fine' balancing. Once you dive with this housing you will find (as has almost all other users) that the trim and bouancy is top notch with the standard weights. Give it some time first before you start working on finer trim.

 

You gave me details of the balancing with the 80 - can you do the same for the UWA? - or do you always dive with this in just one configuration as above?

 

UWA trimming is the same with and without lights IF you use my suggested solution. Reason being is that in both cases you have battery pods with batterys attached. Batteries are the source of any negative bouyance. When yoiu aad light arms and light heads, you are adding a tiny amount of postive bouyancy in a relatively neutral trim location. In either case, 2 weights (1 on left and 1 on right) set all they way back (close to the rear door) is all you need.

 

Maybe I should also buy the 80!!!! More cost...

 

Certainly not encouraging you to spend more, but if i were you, i would absolutely own the 80 degree lens.This is the the primary workhorse for me and delivers crisp, sharp results.

 

Oh, one other question while I think about it - what kind of shots/work can you realisticaly achieve with just the flat port - is is only macro stuff? What do you see when you zoom in/out etc? Oh, and did you buy the macro flip for the 80 as well - I believe the standard one doesn't work with it?

 

With the flat port you can deliver stunning broadcast quality shots with full zoom through. A 1cm tall subject can fill your screne. I have nothing but good to say about it's macro capabilities. I know a number of folks who short med shots with the flat port and it is fine. Personally, when not shooting macro specific, i like a wider lens almost always.

 

I did purchase the flip macro for the 80 degree lens because it gives me more range with the lens. Honesly i use it infrequently b/c when doing macro work, i plan my dive and subject and use the best lens possible...my flat port. You may consider buying this and installing the expo disk for certain coditions.

 

-shawn

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I was trying out the housing and balance in the hot tub again yesterday :D (still not got to the pool or dived with it yet)) and after 15 mins or so, noticed a largish patch of condensation right in the centre of the lens (on the camera's lens I think). I'm guessing this was due to the temperature in the hot tub and the cooler glass in the camera's lens causing the problem.

 

Has anyone had this problem when actually diving?

 

I noticed some other cheaper manufacturers of housings have silica gel to put inside the housing. Anyone do this with the more robust/expensive housings?

 

Paul.

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Paul,

When filming on a rafting adventure travel project using the Gates A1 housing, the Fathom's lens formed condensation inside the lens itself. The air was warm and humid, the water freezing. I had to aclimate the housing over 30 mins to keep this from happening.

I would recommend not taking your housing too frequently into a hot, clorine filled hot tub. Extreme temps will do this.

Shawn

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We have had our lens on the little Navigator do the same when it gets cold (wind wise) and you are standing on the back of the boat WHale Sharking. Just point it at the sun and it would go away or jump into the warm water.

That's why they vacuum seal the ports to minimise it happening.

 

Phenom was OKAY last year, see what happens this year.

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Shawn:

 

I am trying to have the right buoyancy with my Sea&Sea+A1 with large battery+2X90W FAEMI LED lamp (battery inside...very negative) + superwide lens (very negative)+ext monitor (neutral).

 

I have balanced the lamps but still with a large floater on the base of the housing I have nose down.

I need to build a collar for the lens.

For the lamps and housing I have used an high density foam bought from ADVAL which looks pretty the same as the one you have used. It is very hard and with a spray painting it becomes very durable.

The problem with this material is that it is extremely expensive. I have searched for something similar in do it yourself stores, chemical product and even boat stores, ...no way they don't even know what I am talking about even if a show a sample piece.

 

Do you know the exact name of the material and where I could find it.

 

Thanks

 

Alberto

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I was wondering this too - although I'm in the UK.

 

I did see companies selling foam in the shape of custom surf boards!!! (a little on the large side!) - wonder if that's the right stuff too? Maybe I could get a small offcut etc?

 

Paul.

 

Alberto - how would you go about making a collar? 'tubes' of foam on an elasticated rope maybe??? Or something cut specifically like a donut shape?

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actually I have already built a collar with a plate of foam (thickness 25 mm) U shaped and a velcro leash. the final look was similar to the first showed in your photograph without the top side.

It worked fine but the problem was the material.

I used a low density foam which could not sustain high pressure and after few dives it collapsed like a sponge; the material I used was the foam used in building for thermal isolation.

 

alberto

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The closed cell foam I used is the same as what is in the "how to" link and is used in a surf board.

 

It has held up well. The only difficult part is the multiple coats of resin to make the hard finish. Actually, it's not really difficult, more of pain since it takes multiple coats and you have to wait for it to dry in between coats.

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