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gslabbert

Equipmet setup for a 4 year world cruise

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Hi, I am new to this forum and have ben sent here via Jack & Sue Drafahl's book. I have searched this forum and reas most of what I could find on equipment for newbies, found a lot of info but felt a need to ask the question all the same.

 

As an insight, I have been diving all around the world since 1982, have a large array of land based photographic equipment, most of it based on Landscape and animal photography. I currently have a Pentax SF1 film SLR, Canon Elan7 and a backup digital point and shoot (Canon a630). I am at the point where I am going to move from film to digital for my land based photography.

 

I have not done any underwater photography, and need to buy enough equipment that will take care of my needs over the next 4 years. In November 2008 my wife and I are embarking on a 4 year around the world cruise starting in Ft Laurderdale, Fl, on our 42 ft catamaran and will be diving in just about every place possible. Most of the dives will be under 60 ft, but I will do a nitrox dive at the Blue Hole in Belize.

 

I need to setup my equipment so that it wil last and work in just about every environment, it needs to be digital, but not neccessarily dSLR. From my readings I have found that a good P&S will work pretty well and that dSlr's and casings get pretty bulky. Cost is not an issue, well it is in the sense that I do not want to spend stupid amounts of money on equipment, but Ihave to buy what will take care of the trip. I expect to have to replace at least 1 camera due to stupidity, the learning curve, flooding etc.

 

Based on what I intend to do can any of you long time photographers recommend an good equipment base. I have looked at Ikelight and Sea& Sea, but I really do not know where to start insomuch as do I go the dSLR route or the point and shoot route or maybe a combination.

 

Also lense and filter suggestions would be most welcome as most of my stuff is either tokina zoom lenses and fixed focal length stuff at 500mm and more.

 

Thanks for the help.

 

Gavin Slabbert

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Sounds like a fantastic trip.

 

Don't know what your level of diving experience is, but enriched air/Nitrox is not suitable for deeper diving. It gives you extended bottomtime on shallow and moderate depths. If you haven't done a lot of scuba lately, I would suggest to brush up and fine tune boyancy skills before boarding. Prefferably a couple of pool dives with the rig you end up buying. I have seen salty, die-hard, hardcore been-there-done-thats behave as total beginners UW when they get a dslr-rig in their hands. If no need - just ignore this comment.

 

When it comes to equipment - what do you expect/want to do with your best shots? Are you going to do an exhibition, write and publish articles for a magazine or a book? Blow up to postersize and decorate your home? Or if you're just uncomfortable knowing that the equipment might hinder you, considered you get everything else right? Get a dslr. Otherwise, you will do fine with a P&S.

 

Personally, I would get two smaller, robust dslr:s and use above and below water. If it where now, I would have a look at Canon 40D or Nikons new D300. But since your trip is a year away, things might change.

 

For UW-use with those cameras, I would get the Tokina fisheye zoom and a 60 and/or a 105 mm macro lens (Canon or Nikon depending on camera choice). If you want to complement with a wide rectilinear zoom, I would chose the Canon 10-22 for Canon and the Sigma 10-20 for Nikon. Many use Magic Filters with great success UW. Check out Wetpixeler Alex Mustards' pictures to see what they're capable of - he markets them as well.

 

Regarding housings: all of the usual suspects are good. They all have personality differences and they vary quite a lot in price, but on a larger scale they do the same job. Check out: Aquatica, Ikelite, Nexus, Subal, Seacam, Sea & Sea and Hugyfot (I own the last mentioned for D200 and love it, but would probably been happy with some of the others as well). There are a few others as well.

 

For strobes, get two small/medium sized strobes instead of one huge one for more flexibility (and perhaps a back-up strobe or two as well). There are a number of manufacturers, Sea&Sea, Nikon SB, Ikelite, Inon, Seacam, Subtronic... Which one to get depends a little on what housing you chose, if you need TTL or not, what colour temperature you prefer, if you want to use regular rechargable AA NiMH:s or are fine with a "odd" batterypack or built in batteries, etc...

 

good luck

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Chris thanks for the info, what you talk about makes a lot of sense. I was looking to get a couple of primary cameras and a backup. Yep the trip will be fantastic and I am really looking forward to it.

 

As for diving experience I have over 250 dives and 47 on Nitrox. When using Nitrox I dive to no more than 120 feet, which is deep enough for me.

 

As far as working with boyancy I think your suggestion is a good one. Doing a few pool dives with a new UW rig will definately help and I am not too proud to get back into the pool and learn the new techniques. I see no need to be proud or stupid just because I have years of experience.

 

Thanks again

 

Gavin

 

Sounds like a fantastic trip.

 

Don't know what your level of diving experience is, but enriched air/Nitrox is not suitable for deeper diving. It gives you extended bottomtime on shallow and moderate depths. If you haven't done a lot of scuba lately, I would suggest to brush up and fine tune boyancy skills before boarding. Prefferably a couple of pool dives with the rig you end up buying. I have seen salty, die-hard, hardcore been-there-done-thats behave as total beginners UW when they get a dslr-rig in their hands. If no need - just ignore this comment.

 

When it comes to equipment - what do you expect/want to do with your best shots? Are you going to do an exhibition, write and publish articles for a magazine or a book? Blow up to postersize and decorate your home? Or if you're just uncomfortable knowing that the equipment might hinder you, considered you get everything else right? Get a dslr. Otherwise, you will do fine with a P&S.

 

Personally, I would get two smaller, robust dslr:s and use above and below water. If it where now, I would have a look at Canon 40D or Nikons new D300. But since your trip is a year away, things might change.

 

For UW-use with those cameras, I would get the Tokina fisheye zoom and a 60 and/or a 105 mm macro lens (Canon or Nikon depending on camera choice). If you want to complement with a wide rectilinear zoom, I would chose the Canon 10-22 for Canon and the Sigma 10-20 for Nikon. Many use Magic Filters with great success UW. Check out Wetpixeler Alex Mustards' pictures to see what they're capable of - he markets them as well.

 

Regarding housings: all of the usual suspects are good. They all have personality differences and they vary quite a lot in price, but on a larger scale they do the same job. Check out: Aquatica, Ikelite, Nexus, Subal, Seacam, Sea & Sea and Hugyfot (I own the last mentioned for D200 and love it, but would probably been happy with some of the others as well). There are a few others as well.

 

For strobes, get two small/medium sized strobes instead of one huge one for more flexibility (and perhaps a back-up strobe or two as well). There are a number of manufacturers, Sea&Sea, Nikon SB, Ikelite, Inon, Seacam, Subtronic... Which one to get depends a little on what housing you chose, if you need TTL or not, what colour temperature you prefer, if you want to use regular rechargable AA NiMH:s or are fine with a "odd" batterypack or built in batteries, etc...

 

good luck

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Get 2 of everything. I mean, 2 camera bodys, 2 housings, 3 or 4 strobes, batteries, cables, sync cords, a lots of GB memory storage, at least 2 or 3 memory cards, and so....

 

since this trip is 4 years long get a couple of D300 with housings or 40d as recommended before.

 

Get micromesh kit to polish domes on the field in case of scratches.

 

For Nikon get tokina 10-17, nikon 17-35, nik 60mm and 105mm (Of course ports for this lens)

 

for topside a 70-200mm VR

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Like Felix says, redundancy! At least two of everything.

 

Since you are going to be in a marine environment for a long time, consider the high quality DSLRs and lenses that are weather sealed - you can (carefully!) rinse off salt spray; mold won't grow inside the lenses.

 

Consider availability and service. For example, can you get things shipped worldwide and have stuff waiting for you when you get into foreign ports? Establish accounts with people like Ryan at reefphoto.com.

 

See if you can get someone to sponsor your trip - magazine, equipment manufacturer...free stuff is good. If you don't ask...

 

Let the board know what you decide to do. Bon voyage and post while on your trip, whenever possible. We would love to hear how you are doing.

Edited by jlyle

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I'd probably look at Sea & Sea or Aquatica, possibly Nexus.

 

I'd probably look at Canon for a digital SLR, since you already have an Elan and probably some lenses, too.

 

Whatever you buy, dive with it at least 20 times before your trip. This will uncover stuff messed up at the factory.

 

Buy 4 strobes, cables for connecting individual strobes as well as a double sync cord.

 

While I wouldn't have a backup housing, I would get a backup bulkhead. You will probably already be carrying a soldering gun on your boat for other repairs.

 

Yes, you will need two camera bodies. One can be used as a land camera and backup. The camera will be the least likely thing to survive a flood.

 

Don't forget a complete list of the worldwide dealer network of whatever brand you buy. You never know where you might be when you need some parts.

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Based on your requirements: you need the most reliable housing and strobes you can get. I'm not going to post my opinion about what's most reliable here, however you can send me a private message if you're interested.

 

Cheers

James

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See if you can get someone to sponsor your trip - magazine, equipment manufacturer...free stuff is good. If you don't ask...

 

Excellent idea, I will talk to a number of equipment manufacturers, I did not think of that but it really becomes an extended review which could either be good or bad for the manufacturer.

 

Let the board know what you decide to do. Bon voyage and post while on your trip, whenever possible. We would love to hear how you are doing.

 

I will be setting up a website and I will definately post to the board on my trip. I will also be asking for out of the way dive sites and recommendations of where to dive. Also if anyone has a site that they would like photos of and just cannot get there IE: Marshall Islands Galapagos etc.. simply let me know.

 

The trip is not on any schedule, the current plan is 4 years, but if weather and sites hold us up, it could be 5 years. No rush, we are going to go essentially via the circle route, but we will take many detours.

 

This is a dive site so I do not want to clutter it with sailing info.

 

www.cruisingcouple.com

Gavin

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Many people think that the strobes, or, rather, the strobe bulkheads and cables, are the weakest link in keeping out the water.

 

Inon have an optical strobe cable that works well with Nikon DSLRs and Anthis/Nexus housings. If it works as well with the D300 as the D200, then I would recommend having a look at this system before choosing a camera/housing/strobe setup. Optical connectors will reduce the risk of leaks, and this particular system mimics TTL strobe control very accurately.

 

WARNING: strobe systems cause nearly as much emotion as the Canon/Nikon divide!

 

Tim

 

B)

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If you are in Ft. Lauderdale area, I strongly suggest a visit to Reef Photo (They advertise on the sidebar on this site). Ryan will be able to show you a number of different housings from point-and-shoot to high end DSLR.

This is the way I got started when trying to choose a housing. And I'm still spending. :)

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Blue hole requires a dive to about 130 to 140 feet. No Nitrox.

 

I agree with what most have said here. Things to consider:

 

Do you have limits on space?

How are you going to charge batteries?

How are you going to rinse the cameras?

Diving with no one on the boat, risk of currents how are you prepared for this EPIRB?

How and where are you going to service the housings?

 

Sounds like a fantastic opportunity. I am very jealous :) Plan well and have fun!

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Although Nikon appears to be back in the game, i'll give my opinion as a Canon user from travel and dive photo experience. I use a 20D for dive (Aquatica housing) and now a 40D (dry0. With a S60 and housing as ultimate backup.

 

you obviously want a combination for wet and dry as i do. i typically take a 10-22, 17-85, 50 f1.4 (for low light), 100M (to be replaced by a 60 macro for better autofocus), 70-300 DO (the 70-300 is just as good but bigger), and 100-400IS.

 

The dry part: i've had tremendous use of the 100-400 from boats. the 70-300 is a backup and used subjects might take exception to a big white lens. the 10-22, 17-85, and 50 are all obviously useful and the 60 macro may be as well.

 

the wet part: 10-22 for wide (but there's an argument for the Tamron 10-17 fisheye), the 60 macro, and the 17-85 if you don't know what's going to be there. taking two strobes is a good idea, but i'd get familiar with one before adding the second. i don't have TTL, but it would really be nice.

 

I think one housing should be enough (with a supply of spare o-rings) but you definitely want 2 SLR bodies for backup and one with a long lens while the other is in a housing. But you certainly want a point and shoot and housing as the ultimate backup.

 

and by all means check out eveything dry and wet (in a pool if necessary) well in advance

 

 

.

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re-reading your post and your belated transition to digital raises a couple very important issues

 

you need a reliable computer - perhaps a toughbook (and a backup computer) and multiple hard drives (i take two drives on a one month trip and would guess the hard drive failure rate at 4 years to be at least 50%)

 

shooting RAW provides not only a stop of dynamic range, but all color information available - i've been using Adobe Lightroom since August and it is extremely efficient for managing and editing images (there are some situation where you may need to go into photoshop, but for most people not many) - but there is a learning curve like anything else - do it before you set sail. Luminous Landscape is a good source of information on RAW processing (and much else)

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