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ipepper

Best BCD for New Underwater Photographers

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To add my thought, is that i use Apollo Bio BCD, and i would imagaine having a back inflated one wouldn't work for me as i spend a lot of time on the surface, talking to snorkelers helping them with their equipment and trying to direct snorkelers. When im inflated (or 1/2 inflated) on the surface the air would go to the top of the aircell. not providing with much lift. But i can imagine that it would be great for staying under the water.. bouyency is key

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I personally prefer my gear to be as simple, compact and easy to repair as possible, I use my kit quite a lot and don't want something "fancy" with loads of moving parts (lever inflator)

 

I prefer using a light back-plate (1,25kg aluminium) and a small wing, I dive single tanks in tropics with 7mm semidry-suit.

 

My harness is as simple as can be, unadjustable shoulder straps, one buckle on the stomach, a D-ring on my right shoulder (to put the octopus hose inside) and thats it. No pockets, no nothing.

 

What I like about using a backplate/harness is that you get a more horizontal position in the water, that way you are able to keep your legs up more easily so you don't break corals or stir up sand!

 

Rant warning:

What I find really important is the weights, I see a lot of recreational divers asking for far too much weight when they check into the diving center, I think that if a diver is serious about photography and spends thousands on camera gear, then at least he/she (hehe, mostly he) should spend a little bit of time learning how to breathe properly! Rant finished smile.png

Edited by MortenHansen

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A lot of people are talking about all the benefits of the sidemount BC and Buoyancy in recreatinal diving. Does anybody has experience taking pictures with a sidemount ? Is it true that sidemount gives you more stability?

 

Thanks

Edited by FranzoMCK

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A good friend of mine does all of his camera diving on side-mount and he says its nice, he only does wide-angle, I could imagine that its really hard to stay clear of the bottom while doing macro shots though. If you can't dive perfectly with normal back-mount then I don't think starting to play around with side-mount will be a good idea.

 

-Morten

Edited by MortenHansen
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I think the gas management issue with side-mount is the biggest issue for photographers. I find I have a hard enough time finding subjects and then exposing and framing images correctly without needing to swap my regulators every 30 bar as well!

 

Of course the people who can are probably just better divers than me.

 

Adam

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I am a photographer and PADI Dive Instructor. I think the best BCD is the BCD that fits you well and you are familiar with. Integrated weights are always nice to have, but I have used a weight belt on many dives. I find it easier and faster to take off and I feel more balanced with the weight tight around my waist.

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Ok, here are my thoughts about it!

 

I use a Wing ( newer, but heavy) together with my Drysuit and a Jacket/BCD( older, but light) for travelling.

 

I can't really make up my mind which system I find the best for Photography.

It very much depends on where you are diving and how your weights are distributed!

 

With a heavily negative Bouyant Camera System a Jacket is better than a Wing, but can be corrected with some Floats.

Along a Wall I find a Jacket BCD better on my back, but can be corrected with some weights low.

Muck Diving ( or close to the bottom) a Wing is better, but can be corrected with some weight higher up.

 

Well, I assume that what I want to say is that it doesn't really matter which type of Jacket!

Just get used to it. The rest is just down to personal preference.

 

Sidemount:

I find that the Tanks are in the way for me while photographing.

 

/Erik

Edited by E_viking

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i'd recommend a wing (halcyon for me) with a steel back-plate for diving in your own country and aluminium for travelling.

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BTW a new cheap (and good) alternative is the new light monkey wing, I've heard some good things about them

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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

 

I would like to 2nd this....i just came back from Cocos Island. Used DSS Kydex backplate and 30lb wing...worked perfectly. Very light, very streamlined, packs and dives very small...no issues with 3mm suit and 15L steel tanks. Plus the backplates are available in different sizing for those divers out of the bell curve. Not cheap, but both shout "craftsmanship" when you see them.

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I now use a chinese made $90 ss backplate, a simple hog style $45 harness and a Zeagle 30lb donut wing- I like it's inflator design-it screws onto the hose so there is no hose clamps or zip tie fastening of hose to the inflation valve button/handle or dump valve end of the hose.

It is easy to deflate/inflate you can dump by simply pulling your inflator hose and also I like how freely the gas moves from either side of the wing as I rotate in any direction thru the water(wing bungee cord can be a problem too)....lots of other brands have a smaller passage at the bottom of the wing connecting each side under the tank, which can trap air making it less responsive "then instant", whereas the zeagle wing design is more rounded and flowing, also have some generic chinese ones that look like a good copy except for the inflator. It also screws up to a garden hose so you can flush it easy on the lawn or on concrete.

 

My wife uses my complete zeagle BP/wing setup which in my opinion doesn't justify the cost as well as a cheaper BP and harness using the zeagle wing and the ripcord weight pouches which attach to the plate, not the waist belt part of the harness. this save a fews hundred making the setup a few hundred cheaper.

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About 20 years ago I went to visit Charlie ( sadly no longer with us) and asked him "what's all this kerfuffle about wings then?" In response he groped around and threw one at me (quite literally), saying "try it out, see if you like it". I was hooked after the very first dive (Catherine Hill Bay, Central Coast of NSW, Oz) and I haven't looked back since and, no, I didn't take the camera, a brand new Nikonos RS AF in those days, with all the gubbins, on that dive. Even I know better than that.

 

Funnily enough, I still use a wing - and I sure still use a camera.

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ipepper - I cannot tell from your info where you are located, but if you are in USA, why not get a Zeagle Stilletto? (Or a Zeagle wing set-up)

It's back inflate, extremely customizable and VERY easy to size well for almost every body size.

While all the components may not be made in USA any more, the BCDs are still sewn in Florida - & very easy to get service in the USA if you need it.

I'm not a rep or related to the company in any way - just a very satisfied user of a Zeagle Stilletto since 2007.

 

As many other's have said: the key thing is to try many different styles & brands - who knows, maybe you will love the way the crotch-strap on a wing feels...

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Just purchased a Mares Prestige MRS and found it to be great! I enjoyed it trememdously on my last dive week in Costa Rica from which I returned from on March 2nd. I enjoyed the arm and shoulder freedom, integrated weight system great boyancy at the bottom while taking pictures. 2 Large pockets and lots of D rings to hook equipment to!

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G'day

 

My quest for the perfect photo BCD has led me from using traditional BCDs, a Zeagle ranger and finally backplate and wing (which I love).

 

The beauty of this system is multifaceted. Firstly it is modular. I started with a stainless steel backplate (zeagle) and used my old ranger wings. I then switched to Hollis wing (for single tank) and Halycon wing (for twin tanks). I bought my harness at a hardware store.

 

The 'D' rings are strong enough to hold a housed SLR on land. It frees your chest from paraphernalia. There are no cummerbunds, tightening straps, quick-release clips etc... to get tangled in your strobe arms.

 

It improves you trim (not your buoyancy) It is comfortable in the water (but not out of it).

 

Cheers

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I have been photographing a number of years with my Zeagle Ranger and loved it. Just recently switched to a SS Backplate and love it even more. I find it a lot easier getting the right trim with the backplate system.

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A lot of people are talking about all the benefits of the sidemount BC and Buoyancy in recreatinal diving. Does anybody has experience taking pictures with a sidemount ? Is it true that sidemount gives you more stability?

 

Thanks

 

 

I am a sidemount instructor and have to say that I don t think sidemount is appropriate for photography anywhere near a fragile substrate, as the cylinder is now your lowest point. Any contact with the substrate will be lead by an AL80 rather than a your body which has completely different consequences.

 

Having said that I ll probably use sidemount for Sardine Run this year, simply because I can be in the water in less than 60seconds.

 

Sidemount has no stability advantages over backmount and actually requires more time playing with weighting to ensure perfect trim, as compared to a regular Hogarthian backplate and wings set up. This is particulary true where people insist on using steel stages rather than far more easily managable AL80s.

 

Sidemount is an added tool to your tool box, if you will. It comes with it s own set of advantages and disadvanatages, but for most people will probably not be a universal solution :)

 

 

Erol

Edited by ErolE

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Another thing to mention would be the ease of taking off a hog styled harness boatside-

 

I clip off to a carabier to my harness top left D-ring on a short line tyed off to the gunnel rail, fully inflate the wing, unbuckle and slip out of the rig, leaving it in the water until I am back onboard then I swing it over the gunnel.

...lots easier then walking up the ladder at lest in a trailer boat, that has the deck level at water level. My camera I clip off to a rear bouy line and leave it in the water(few meters down) until the next dive to save it drying off.

Edited by DamonA

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