Jump to content
ipepper

Best BCD for New Underwater Photographers

Recommended Posts

Hi. I am new to the world of diving, but am an amateur photographer. I should with a Canon 20d and a 1d Mark ii. (I have another question on housings which I posted as a reply to the new gear post.) I would appreciate advice on a BCD. What are the best BCDs for someone who wants to do underwater photography. The advice I have been given so far is the Zeagle Stilleto and the Oceanic Excursion. Another person said go with a traditional BCD, such as the Oceanic Probe. Then there is the school of thought that says get a wing and harness system, which I know nothing about. From the point of view of photography, does one system have advantages over the other. I am leaning towards a weight integrated, back inflation system, but would appreciate any advice you could give.

 

And here is what I posted on the new gear posting:

 

May I ask for advice, too? I am new to diving, but am an amateur photographer. I shoot with a Canon 20d and a 1d Mark ii. I generally shoot with "L" series lenses. I was able to get a an excellent used Sea & Sea dx-350d, which would mean I would have to get a Rebel XT or XTI. I just learned of an opportunity to buy an Ikelite housing for my 20d. Which housing will be better for me in the long run: an ikelite or a Sea and Sea? I am VERY new to this. It appears that the dx-350d does not have a built in TTL so I would need an external one. Is that correct? What does this mean? What are the advantages and disadvantages of one housing over the other. One issue that concerns me with Ikelite is that I cannot find housings for most of my "L" lenses, or, when I can for some of them, I will not be able to zoom (such as on my 28-70mm). I have checked Ikelite's port chart for this information. I was able to find my only non-Canon lens for to use for this, which is a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. It is actually a nice lens. I will also be getting a Canon 100mm macro, which can use an ikelite housing. I would appreciate it if you could help me understand each of these housings so I know whether to get the ikelite housing for my 20d and sell the Sea and Sea, or whether I should keep the Sea and Sea. (I know that the 20d is a better camera overall. I am just investigating which housing is better.) In case you are wondering, I decided not to get a housing for the 1d. First, a lot of the features take two hands and, since I am new to diving, this would be cumbersome. Second, the 1d has a very low actuation count and is in perfect condition. I could not take a chance on anything happening to it. Thanks so much for this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best BC is no BC.

 

Otherwise go with back inflation. Keeps the BC out of the way. I like the smallest one I can find. I use the Dive Rite with the travel wings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Dave that back inflation is the way to go. I have a Balance BC and really like it. The key is to move weights around until you get perfect trim so that you can hang in the water without rising, sinking, or rotating. If you are new to diving, leave the camera behind until you have your skills down to the point that they are absolutely automatic. Bringing a camera before you have perfected your dive skills just adds to the task loading and compromises safety. Besides if your weighting and trim are less then stellar, you photos are going to suck anyway. I don't think that people should bring a dSLR until they have least 50-100 dives, preferably more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

 

As a photographer, you want to be as neutrally bouyant as possible, and a rear lift bladder has the best potential to get you neutrally bouyant underwater. I can't remember the exact science, (For the science bit...Click Here) but it goes something like this:- best bouyancy comes when the lift and weight coincide, i.e. put the air cell around the cylinder and push your weights as far back as possible - the result is a wing set up. Thus I actually ditched the whole BC style jacket for a wing and harness (also my entire rig is now bright blue - way more aesthetically pleasing than boring black)

 

I was going to go with the Dive Rite travel wing, but went with the AudaxPro Mauna Kea because they come in bright colours - by far the most important thing.

Hope this is of some help

 

Cheers

 

Hal

Edited by Halabriel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm on my second Dive Rite Transpac with Travel Wings.

 

The first one has over 1,200 dives on it and I just figured I needed a new one now but I still wear the old one for work or volunteer related diving.

 

It is my fav BC by far and can be configured to fit just about anyone and it is a little more padded than a hard backplate. Mine is the small harness with x-small shoulders.

 

I must say though that Cathy Church believes that traditional BCs (not back inflated) are much better for underwater photography. Her theory is the air bubble is much closer to your body and easier to manage and stay still in the water column. But then Paul Humann won't wear anything but a horse-collar type BC - a vintage style he gets specially made now I think!

 

But with the transpac I don't have a problem staying still (neutral). I think the thing is just not to get wings that hold too much air and are hard to manage. I used to swear by weight-integrated but now have circumstances where I like a weight belt so I can drop it and come back for it if I'm exiting via shore and carrying a lot. Plus if you are on a boat that insists on you taking the BC off in the water it is faster and more polite to hand up a weight belt and save the crew's back muscles. But of course you can always remove the weight pockets too.

 

Good Luck! Best, Carol

Edited by seagrant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would work with your local dive shop and try a few out. With a camera in your hand that will possibly be quite negative by a 1lb or two, I tend to spend most of my time fighting to get my feet down. So while a back inflation was nice for diving without a camera, I found I liked the jacket style better combined with heavier fins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi again

 

So as you can see the real answer to which BC is....we can't agree.

 

Find what makes you comfortable and ignore all our personal preferences as they are unlikely to work for you. Confused? you will be :lol:

 

Cheers

 

Hal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to everyone for your comments, and to your advice about getting the diving right first! Having listened to all of you and having talked to other folks, the sense that I am getting is to go with a wing system. I looked for the Audaxpro and could not find a dealer here, and the ones in Europe are VERY expensive. So now the question is type and brand. Dive Rite seems to be the most common, but there seems to be a controversy about transpac versus the harness system, with more people opting for the latter. Halcyon seems to get mixed reviews. Some people love them, some think they are not that well constructed. And then there was the recall. OMS gets marks too. Anyone care to comment on wings brands and on traditional harness and backplate versus the transpac. Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the transpac. I have the dive rite harness system with a backplate that I use with my drysuit. (No bladder). I think the two systems are quite comparable. Hard to tell because the backplate is great.

 

Scubapro has a BC that was originally made in the same factory as the Dive rite Transpac and were the same design. You might want to check out Scubapro. That British design that was mention looks very similar to the transpac. For some reason American manufactures only like to make gear in black. Dive rite does make some other colored bladders (not in the travel wings I believe). I have a blue one that is a little bigger than the travel wings. I bought it in case someone forces me to add it to my backplate system in order to dive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dive Rite is an excellent and cost effective system. It is modular, so you can swap and change as requirements change.

 

The TransPac Harness and the Venture wing also come in Blue and Red - As you can tell I have this thing about introducing colour into recreational diving. It is colourful underwater, we are photographers dealing in colour - why should we be the most drab things on the dive?

 

Cheers

 

Hal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DiveRite with a Trek wing. Relocated D rings. It's very adjustable so once you get it set up for you then it fits like a glove - every time. Put it on, dive, take photos and then when you get to the boat you think: "Oh yes. BCD. Forgot I had it on."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dive Rite is an excellent and cost effective system. It is modular, so you can swap and change as requirements change.

The TransPac Harness and the Venture wing also come in Blue and Red - As you can tell I have this thing about introducing colour into recreational diving. It is colourful underwater, we are photographers dealing in colour - why should we be the most drab things on the dive?

Cheers

Hal

 

My Dive Rite Dealer (I actually heard this from 2 big dive rite dealers in Florida - and Dive Rite is based in Florida) anyway they told me when I got my new dive rite BC - NOT to get the blue or red because it fades and ultimately it doesn't hold up as well after many dives. Something about the colored fabric isn't as durable as the black but maybe just isn't as durable because it fades so much???

 

Anyway 1200++ dives on my first transpac (black) and I'm loaning it to my girlfriend to wear tomorrow - still going strong w/original wings. My new transpac (black) has a couple of hundred dives on it and still looks very new. Not sure the colored ones would look that good now - don't know why dive rite added colors anyway??? Colors look good new but what about after 1000 dives?

 

Anyway just more info....... :-)

 

And try as many BCs out as you can in the pool, that is good advice too.

 

And have fun - finding the right dive gear should be fun!! Cheers, Carol

Edited by seagrant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The truly talented diver can dive in perfect trim, and maintain exact bouyancy and position with any system.

 

Doesn't matter if it's a jacket, BP/W, horsecollar and campack, or a monkey harness.

 

"Best" is a relative term; each piece of equipment has advantages, and issues. Pick the tool that's best for the job at hand.

 

 

 

 

<snip>

 

And try as many BCs out as you can in the pool, that is good advice too.

 

<snip>

 

The best advice yet!

 

 

All the best, James

Edited by fdog
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Totally agree with u James- camera/photographic equipment/handling asides, if there is one thing I have learned so far...and it is that the basic requisite of any diver going into the water with a camera is that his/her diving skills (achieving a state of neutral buoyancy is a must) are honed to perfection without having to think about them....and that there is 120% awareness of your position relative to everything around you as you line up for the shoot......

 

safe snappy diving

 

:lol::D

 

 

 

 

The truly talented diver can dive in perfect trim, and maintain exact bouyancy and position with any system.

 

Doesn't matter if it's a jacket, BP/W, horsecollar and campack, or a monkey harness.

 

"Best" is a relative term; each piece of equipment has advantages, and issues. Pick the tool that's best for the job at hand.

The best advice yet!

All the best, James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of your help. I fully plan to hone my dive skills first, but want a BCD I can grow with. Here is what the choice comes down to: a Dive Rite Transpac with Rec Wingsm the Dive Rite harness, or the AudaxPro. I heard back from Go-Dive in the UK. It will cost about $550 US for the wing, harness and shipping. The transpac and wings will be in the same vicinity. My inclination at this point is the Dive Rite Transpac. I tried one on and it was very comfortable. It seems that the Dive Rite harness system would be more for someone doing technical diving. (Dive Rite itself advises to the Transpac when I gave them my criteria.) While I like the AudaxPro, my concern is service. Since I have to buy them overseas, I am assuming that I will have to ship them back to the UK if there is a problem. Does anyone have experience with the AudaxPro system?

 

Any comments on my logic from all of you helpful and thoughtful friends?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add a couple of cents. For what it's worth, I own all three types (jacket, back-buoyancy, and backplate/wing). They all have their uses, but I prefer the back-buoyancy for photography. Yes, it makes it a bit easier to trim out into the head-down/feet-up position that I prefer, but mostly, it's the lightest and easiest to pack for dive trips. Keep in mind that the Diverite and Halcyon backplate/wing systems, while great, are fairly heavy (even w/ an aluminum backplate); great modular system, but luggage restrictions are only getting more stringent.

 

Ditto on the try before you buy - most shops rent both. Would also recommend you don't buy until you're good in both jacket and back-buoyancy style (either wing or regular), since neither will fix lack of skill, and either will work if you're good. Otherwise, tough to compare them fairly - like buying your first SLR; who knows what camera best suits your shooting style until you actually have a style?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Since I have to buy them overseas, I am assuming that I will have to ship them back to the UK if there is a problem. Does anyone have experience with the AudaxPro system?

 

I use the AudaxPro, it is without doubt the most durable system I have ever come across, but I understand your concerns about servicing. Talk to your LDS, if they say that they can service it OK, then go with that. If they are doubtful go DiveRite. I bought mine in the UK, but now live in Bermuda - I service all my own kit.

 

...Colors look good new but what about after 1000 dives?

 

and Carol...it is still the brightest of blues, although I have admittedly got some way to go for the 1000th dive (I am 1/3rd there!)

 

Cheers

 

Hal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you travel a great deal and like a backplate, you might want to check out Deep Sea Supply. They make a Kydex backplate which weighs about 1 pounds, unstrung. www.deepseasupply.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you travel a great deal and like a backplate, you might want to check out Deep Sea Supply. They make a Kydex backplate which weighs about 1 pounds, unstrung. www.deepseasupply.com

I recently went with a Halcion SS rig. Like mentioned above, it's a solid setup, but on the heavy side. I noted a forum where the lighter Kydex backplates were discussed. I wonder if these lighter setups wouldn't be a prudent move with the ever increasing weight restrictions...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a point of reference, I do have one of the DSS Kydex plates that I use for travel. It's quite solid (it has supported doubles easily) and superbly made, as is all of the DSS gear - work of art is more like it.

 

In conjunction with a DSS tropical wing, it is incredibally ligtweight.

 

But that's assuming you use a BP/W, neh?

 

 

All the best, James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you travel a great deal and like a backplate, you might want to check out Deep Sea Supply. They make a Kydex backplate which weighs about 1 pounds, unstrung. www.deepseasupply.com
I would NOT recommend their Kydex backplate. Like everyone, I was interested for the weight savings but when I called to order it the sales guy tried to discourage me from buying it. I insisted, and when it arrived it came with a sticker warning me to avoid prolonged sun exposure! What kind of backplate softens or melts in the sun?

 

I would also say that the product seemed flimsy though probably fine for single tanks. The sales guy specifically recommended against using it with doubles.

 

Dive Rite used to make a 1 pound ABS plate though they discontinued it. It's easy to find 2 pound aluminum ones. I'm all for saving another pound but using a plastic plate that melts in the sun isn't the way to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Craig, did your plate actually melt in the sun? I'm curious, because I've left mine all afternoon in the sun without issues. Not saying that it wouldn't, just curious where the distortion point is.

 

I, too, got that "too light to handle it" feeling when I first picked it up, but I can assure you, it handles double LP85's just fine.

 

All the best, James

Edited by fdog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Craig, did your plate actually melt in the sun? I'm curious, because I've left mine all afternoon in the sun without issues. Not saying that it wouldn't, just curious where the distortion point is.

 

I, too, got that "too light to handle it" feeling when I first picked it up, but I can assure you, it handles double LP85's just fine.

 

All the best, James

I'm going by the manufacturer's recommendation of no doubles and no direct sunlight exposure. I wasn't concerned with the strength and considered the flexibility an advantage. I wish the manufacturer would withdraw the sunlight/heat limitation or fix it. I think there's a market for a very lightweight backplate.

 

I doubt the backplate would actually melt, of course. I'm sure the concern would be distortion of the plate over time. If I knew what that was and felt that replacing the plate periodically was fine, then I'd use it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use an OMS soft-pack: a plate slides in for twins in the UK, and out for travelling. A big wing in cold water, and a little wing in tropical water. It's heavier than the DiveRite Transpac, but flexible in use. I've just added OMS's new small weight pockets, which are really neat.

 

Tim

 

B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with fdog, the thing that outweighs all is buoyance/trim.

 

What could perhaps be more interesting when choosing BCD is location of dump valves and inflator variants, as from time to time you might be in an odd position taking photos (upside-down etc).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...