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buoyance arms review

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The problem with tape would be the same as shrink tubing previously mentioned. The floats are not smooth-surfaced, so water would get underneath the tape and be very difficult to flush out/dry out. I would expect that you'd end up with floats that would leak/ooze old disgusting moldy, smelly, putrid water into your bag/case all the way home from diving. In short...yuck. :glare: ;)

 

 

Has anyone tried the wraps used to hold foam padding to motorcycle dirt bike cross bars? The same principal should work on the floats. They use a vinyl or fabric piece of cloth that has mating velcro strips sewn along the length of the material which is sized to wrap around the length of the foam. The velcro is adjustable and makes removal easy. Their foam strips are cut lenthwise and would make adding and removing the foam quick.

 

I am not suggesting actually using the cross bar pads as they are too soft and the wraps tend to make your rig look like tropical fish with all the colors, but I believe the principal is fairly sound. What do you think?

g17979.jpg

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Has anyone tried the wraps used to hold foam padding to motorcycle dirt bike cross bars? The same principal should work on the floats. They use a vinyl or fabric piece of cloth that has mating velcro strips sewn along the length of the material which is sized to wrap around the length of the foam. The velcro is adjustable and makes removal easy. Their foam strips are cut lenthwise and would make adding and removing the foam quick.

 

I am not suggesting actually using the cross bar pads as they are too soft and the wraps tend to make your rig look like tropical fish with all the colors, but I believe the principal is fairly sound. What do you think?

g17979.jpg

 

The motorcycle / motocross pads look neat enough that I am going to the bike store today. Hopefully the pricing will be tolerable. I am heading to Little Cayman on the 8th of May and I will report when I get back.

Andy

;)

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Since it seems more and more people are using John's arms, id love to hear what people think about them so far. Ive been pretty happy (john is sending me some new stuff to experiment with also), but how is your experience?

 

Cor

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I have seen photos of the ULCS arms, and they are rather torpedo like. (I'll let ULCS post the photos when they're readily available). It would not be wise to carry them on board a plane. The issue is that with the increased girth, you need new longer clamps in order to be able to fold the arms flat together. It looks like a great system, but means an almost total arms system replacement to get the bouyancy I would like. I really like the holes in the regular ULCS arms, as I like to secure synch cords and a carrying handle to them. Not sure what I'm going to do now, but a hack saw and cable ties with the Stix floats may be what I try next.

Cheers,

Marli

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You only need one new clamp to put between two NEW buoyancy arms so they will fold together for handing them up to a boat or handing down. So you only need to replace one clamp out of three.

 

Here is the buoyancy chart

 

Arm Length Amt. of buoyancy

8†4.5 oz

10†8 oz

12†11 oz

14†14.8 oz

16†1 # 2 oz

AC-CSL

 

With two arm lengths, 1 AC-CSL, 2 AC-CSF, and 1 strobe and 1 base adapter:

 

Arm lengths Amt. of buoyancy

Two 8†neutral

8†& 10†1.75 oz

Two 10†7 oz.

10†& 12†8.3 oz

Two 12†11.2 oz

12†& 14†15 oz

Two 14†1 # 3 oz

14†& 16†1 # 6 oz

Two 16†1 # 9 oz

 

 

The new style clamp (AC-CSL) is needed to put between the two new arms if you want the arms to come together. This clamp weighs 1.3 oz more than the regular clamp.

 

Salt water is approximately 1.026 X more dense than fresh water. All these tests were done in fresh water.

 

Size difference between new and old buoyancy arms and new and old clamps

 

New arms should be ready by Monday next week

 

Terry

post-1621-1177469801_thumb.jpg

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Thanks, Terry for clarifying about the clamps! They look like a great product.

Marli

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Since it seems more and more people are using John's arms, id love to hear what people think about them so far. Ive been pretty happy (john is sending me some new stuff to experiment with also), but how is your experience?

 

Cor

 

Am thinking of getting some of the STIX arms - any more feedback?

 

Any idea if there is a black version now?

 

Cor - any feedback on the new stuff you've been sent to experiment with?

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John has sent me another stix item to look at. This one has been requested by several people, including myself. Just as I had bought a package of shrink tubing for the upcoming shark trip, John shipped me these to have a look at:

 

168703652-S.jpg

 

Just what we needed! And as you can see he also moved the hole off center. He says it's to make it easier to close the arms up tighter. I haven't actually tested that myself. Personally I never had a problem with the hole in the middle.

 

Cor

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It would be great if the bouyancy foam was offered in a section that is compatible with the ULCS arms that most of us already have.

Edited by pmooney

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Some people have reported that the Stix arms do not properly hold a strobe but actually sag. On the wetpixel bahamas trip I was able to verify this with Bruce who had this problem. His arms definitely did not hold up. We quickly found out the cause of this, he was using older ULCS clamps. When we replaced his clamps with mine, which are a newer model ULCS clamp, his arms held like they're supposed to.

 

So, it looks like if you have old style ultralight clamps, it may not be a good idea to use them with the stix arms. The balls will slip inside the clamps which is very annoying.

 

184782644-S.jpg

 

Cor

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I hope they work with the TLC clamps I have from Aquatica. Maybe I better get the rig in the pool before we head off.

 

Anyone else tried them yet?

 

Todd

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Since it seems more and more people are using John's arms, id love to hear what people think about them so far. Ive been pretty happy (john is sending me some new stuff to experiment with also), but how is your experience?

 

Cor

 

I’ve been using the StiX arms for over 90 dives and I am quite please with their performance. I am just negative with the dome and a tad more negative with the macro ports. I have a Subal D2Xs housing, Inon Z 240 strobes, ULCS clamps and four 9 inch arms with 3 of the SX 90 and ½ of the SX 40 white floats covered with black heat shrink. I have not had any problems with smell or mold under the heat shrink. My system is just rinsed in fresh water and air dried. The only problem is some chipping or chaffing of the ball that is clamped to ULCS ball at the housing. My system is routinely handed to me and picked up by the arms by the boat crew without any problems.

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I got a set of the StiX floats from John. With the help of a friend who has an extensive machine shop we added them to my TLC arms.

 

Here are two 12" and two 8" arms. Using these with my Subal D2X housing, The superdome, 70 mm ext. ring and the 17-55 my set up had neutral buoyancy.

 

There is some slight compression of the foam. This set up was very slightly positive at 20 ft and very slightly negative at 65 ft. It is very slight. You could let go of the housing, adjust your gear for 10 seconds or so, and the housing would have moved up or down a foot or less.

post-72-1188750637_thumb.jpg

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I used just a pair of Stix 9" floats and arms along with my regular 5" ULCS arms, and 42 dives over 10 days and no sore elbow. Had to wear more lead, though :blush:

I cut up my old wetsuit and made neoprene wraps with velcro closures. Worked like a charm.

Cheers,

Marli

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I don't get it.

 

I'm not trying to be provocative - I just don't get the need for a near-weightless rig.

 

I like a heavy rig. I schlep my Nikon D200, 105 Macro lens, Ikelite housing and dual DS-125's and Fisheye Focus light through SoCal Surf, with a Scooter weekly. I'll do 3 or 4 dives a day with this rig.

 

A heavy rig is easier to manage in the surge. It moves less, its more stable, and my shots are clearer. Is it a pain to lug about, yeah. But being negative makes it easier to negotiate on the scooter, easier to position in the surge and easier and more predictable to manage UW.

 

What am I missing? I see lots of people strapping pool noodles and stuff to their rigs, but I don't get it. I've never seen a dry photographer trying to make their rig lighter when bracing for a shot - we like a heavy rig on land. I like one under water.

 

Am I out of step?

 

---

Ken

Edited by mo2vation

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It all depends on what you do underwater. You may not need it, lots of people do. I tend to sit still at one spot for a long time taking supermacro images, 3:1 or even higher is not uncommon for me. This can sometimes even be a whole dive. I also tend to do mostly verticals. Have you ever tried sitting in 1 spot for an hour with a very heavy super macro rig focussing on a tiny critter as it moves around holding it vertical? It kills my arms. Now extrapolate to 30 days in a row on a liveaboard.

 

Also, i bet lots of land photographers would love a weightless 800mm lens shooting safaris instead of lugging that extra 50 pounds around :)

 

Cor

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What am I missing? I see lots of people strapping pool noodles and stuff to their rigs, but I don't get it. I've never seen a dry photographer trying to make their rig lighter when bracing for a shot - we like a heavy rig on land. I like one under water.

 

---

Ken

You don't see photographers on land trying to make their bodies neutral either, but it's incredibly important to do so when they dive. Gravity is an entirely different issue underwater.

 

On land you inherently have leverage to deal with the weight of the equipment. In the water, you usually don't. Holding a overly heavy, or light, rig for any length of time applies a torque to your body that may make it difficult or impossible to get a shot that you want. Not all diving affords the luxury of firm handholds and places to kneel or lay down. Some photographers also lack the physical requirements necessary to cope with a heavy rig. A few pounds, while easy to deal with on land, can be a real struggle underwater. Diving and divers are not created equal.

 

I absolutely hate a positive rig though I'm sure I could get used to it. A macro setup shootable with one hand is a thing of beauty.

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I don't get it.

 

I'm not trying to be provocative - I just don't get the need for a near-weightless rig.

 

I like a heavy rig. I schlep my Nikon D200, 105 Macro lens, Ikelite housing and dual DS-125's and Fisheye Focus light through SoCal Surf, with a Scooter weekly. I'll do 3 or 4 dives a day with this rig.

 

A heavy rig is easier to manage in the surge. It moves less, its more stable, and my shots are clearer. Is it a pain to lug about, yeah. But being negative makes it easier to negotiate on the scooter, easier to position in the surge and easier and more predictable to manage UW.

 

What am I missing? I see lots of people strapping pool noodles and stuff to their rigs, but I don't get it. I've never seen a dry photographer trying to make their rig lighter when bracing for a shot - we like a heavy rig on land. I like one under water.

 

Am I out of step?

 

---

Ken

 

Ken the Ikelite d200 housing is probobly the lightest d200 housing on the market - Norbert Wu shoots that one with one hand (macro). So I wouldn't refer to your rig as "a heavy rig" - even with the Fix light and your strobes. Yes it is a little negative but nothing like if you put the 105vr/Fix light/125s etc on an Aquatica or a Sea and Sea d200! And Subal is heavier than Ikelite too just not so much as these others.

 

Still I have the Subal ND20 and when I put the Fix light, all the clamps/arms/ 105vr (which is heavier than the old 105) and 2 Sea and Sea 110s my rig is over 5 lbs negative underwater (I've weighed it.) That hurts my hand/muscles/joints over time (it did contribute to a painful injury last year that took months to heal). Also nitrogen bubbles love strained muscles and joints to gravitate to - so is is also a pressure related concern for divers also. That's why working divers use lift bags and are actually supposed to use lift bags even for surfacing even comparatively small amounts of negative underwater weight.

 

I just love the Patima BCs for buoyancy that Sam (shchae) got for me. Plus I add a little corecell foam and a corecell collar for the 105vr that Ryan Canon made for me (thanks guys this showed a lot of caring). This way my rig is manageable deep and I can dump the buoyancy for extreme shallow shooting. I have several posts on the BCs and how they work and the weight tests with pics I did of my rig if anyone wants more info search for them.

 

I do agree Ken that in the surge you need something a bit negative (and you have it with your setup). But take a heavier setup than yours deeper and there could be problems developing right away or over time (as Cor pointed out in his post - Cor also helped me a lot with buoyancy data - I've appreciated all this help...)

 

Some photographers also lack the physical requirements necessary to cope with a heavy rig.

 

Count me in here!!! :) But I will whup you guy's *** on bottom time per tank of air......... :D

 

Thanks Craig I appreciate your post. :) Carol

Edited by seagrant

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I agree that the weight issue is primarily a macro photography issue. First of all, when shooting wide angle with a dome port, most housings are "light" enough (due to the extra air in the dome port) that they're not a problem. Furthermore, shooting wide angle requires (in general) far less exact "aiming" and less holding the camera in precisely the same spot shot after shot. Shooting macro with a heavy rig is FAR more taxing on wrist and arm muscles.

 

As for the above/below water comparison, it's an apples and oranges comparison. Topside photography involves the ability to brace/support the camera, e.g., either with a tripod, monopod, or just an elbow braced against your body supporting the camera from below. Underwater, you are generally holding the rig out in front of you with all of its weight supported only by your arms/wrists. As has been stated, in macro photography, you may have to try to maintain that position for many minutes while trying to compose/capture the shot. For a fair comparison, take a regular DSLR--even with a small lens--and hold it out in front of your body "freehand" for a full minute (or two) and see if you don't start to feel a fair amount of muscle fatigue.

 

Next time you're diving with someone who is shooting macro with a Seacam or Subal housed DSLR, ask if you can borrow it underwater for a few minutes, and do the "holding steady out in front of you" routine for several minutes, and you'll have a new appreciation for people's (including me :) ) quest to make housings closer to neutral (I think most of us want our rigs to be slightly negative).

Edited by bmyates

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I never had this problem, but I´m shooting D50 on Ike with 125´s.. Maybe with the D300 I start to see some of it...

 

However a lot of folks with I used to dive with (most of them double my age, but I´m not saying this is an older people problem...) constantly complain about the sore elbow when shooting macro. Some of them use ikelite and some subal´s with DS200 and D2Xs wich is a really heavy rig.

 

Now what they do is take a foam tube (the ones childrens use to play in pools) and shape pieces the size of the arms segment (most of us use ULCS buoyancy arms).

 

With Ikelite I used to place a piece of foam in the space ikelite left for the buoyancy weight on the double tray under the housing.

 

BTW, Ike guys, why you´r still leaving this space? DSLR rigs are mostly negative... instead, seal this space, in a way it leaves an air space on the tray, we need positive not negative buoyancy.

 

Am I wrong?

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Good stuff to think about, everyone.

 

I hadn't thought that I might be out of the demo for these arms, seeing as I'm shooting probably the lightest DSLR (read: lightest underwater) rig out there. The Ike rig isn't too tough to manage, and I will often toss it into the column to change my grip - as it sinks slowly.

 

To Cor's point - it depends on how / what you shoot. I shoot macro 70% to 85% of the time in SoCal. And here, I'm not trying to hover over sensitive and fragile coral for extended periods, holding a heavy Aluminum housing to get the shot. I can generally brace and rest on the rocks, sand, wreck or other structure.

 

Terry from ULCS sent me a PM that got me to thinking - even with the comparatively light Ike rig, its still a schlep (especially on the Scooter - where having a neg rig is a good thing.) What I was thinking as I was going through this is how the buoyancy of my rig is biasing my shots.

 

There are shots I'm conscientiously and doubtless sub-conscientiously passing on because a one handed Macro for me is usually not a great shot with my current rig. Even the size of the Ike rig I'm sure is biasing my shot selection.

 

This has been a good exercise for me to think about. Thanks everyone.

 

 

Ken

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I used them for the first time in PNG and they did make things a bit easier on the rig. My Aquatica would be heavier so it was not neutral but definately less downward pull. The one thing that did make them harder to use was when I rotated the housing when shooting macro to vertical. The positioning of the arms made one side more bouyant. I had to play around with configuring them to ease this pull.

 

Todd

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Thanks Todd for the feedback. I expected that problem going vertical but I'm kind of used to that already with my pool noodles.

 

Did you go with the medium size floats or the jumbo-sized ones?

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I have an canon rebel xt with Ikelite housing 8" dome port and have an Ike ds125 strobe and am interested in the 4th generation arm but am not sure how much buoyancy I will need as I am just beginning this. Any suggestions on which to go with?? Thanks for the help!

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