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DrFiscus

Turks and Caicos lens question

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I am heading down to Beaches Resort in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, on April 25 for a week of diving. I am trying to figure which lenses I should pack - would prefer to lighten my packing load if possible. I am shooting a D300 in an Aquatica housing. I called the resort dive shop yesterday and got a totally worthless answer from one of the divemasters - something about "we have big fish and little fish - some people bring big cameras and some people bring little disposable cameras". I tried to expalin I had a really big (and expensive) camera but wanted to decide whether there is more macro stuff or more wide angle stuff worth shooting down there. I soon realized I was wasting my time. After a similar answer about water temperatures and wetsuits - "people wear regular wetsuits" - duh! - I had to double check that this guy really was one of their divemasters - he assured me he was - scary - scary stuff. I think I will bring a 3/2 and 1 mil just in case.

Anyway - does anybody know the Provo area well enough to aim me as far as more macro (choices of 105 VR and 60) vs big stuff (choices of Tokina 10 - 17, Tokina 11 - 16, and Sigma 17 - 70 HSM)?

Thanks.

Andy

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I am heading down to Beaches Resort in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, on April 25 for a week of diving. I am trying to figure which lenses I should pack - would prefer to lighten my packing load if possible. I am shooting a D300 in an Aquatica housing. I called the resort dive shop yesterday and got a totally worthless answer from one of the divemasters - something about "we have big fish and little fish - some people bring big cameras and some people bring little disposable cameras". I tried to expalin I had a really big (and expensive) camera but wanted to decide whether there is more macro stuff or more wide angle stuff worth shooting down there. I soon realized I was wasting my time. After a similar answer about water temperatures and wetsuits - "people wear regular wetsuits" - duh! - I had to double check that this guy really was one of their divemasters - he assured me he was - scary - scary stuff. I think I will bring a 3/2 and 1 mil just in case.

Anyway - does anybody know the Provo area well enough to aim me as far as more macro (choices of 105 VR and 60) vs big stuff (choices of Tokina 10 - 17, Tokina 11 - 16, and Sigma 17 - 70 HSM)?

Thanks.

Andy

I have spent one week down there a couple of years ago - the divemaster's almost right, they have 'big fish and little fish'. I think for the most part you will want a fish portrait type lens. Yes there's some macro but I don't recall this to be a macro specialty place. In order of importance, I'd take the 17-70, the 10-17, the 60, and lastly the 105.

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Andy,

My last trip to T&C I dove my dive skin and a 1mm suit but I am not home to check my log book for the water temp. I used a tokin 10-17 and my 105vr lens. I stayed on the live aboard so changing lens was not to diffcult. I would take these two lens back agian even with the weight limits on the planes. Enjoy your trip.

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I've been to Provo a couple of times and it's not a great macro location. If it was me, I'd go with the 10-17 and 60 for UW and bring the 17-70 for topside.

Edited by Lionfish43

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I think both of your questions are subjective. Six weeks ago it was 75 degrees on every dive consistently. I was fine with my 3mm Pinnacle and hood. One divemaster dove with only shorts and a shirt. A couple divers had 5mm suits. Several of us were all registering 75 degrees on our computer though.

 

We've done four live-aboard trips to the Turks and Caicos and will be returning again this Fall for a fifth. I agree with what's been said about fish and lens sizes. Lots of beautiful walls and corals, but lots of macro stuff also. For example, Neck Crabs on a wall, etc. Myself, I only completed one dive this past one-week live-aboard trip with a macro lens on, but I could have been happy shooting macro all week if that would have been my only option. I think you will find plenty to shoot should you decide to only bring one setup. I'm not sure this helped your decision much?

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Yay! A question where I can actually help out.

 

I worked as an Instructor on Provo for a year. Looking back through my logs the temp around this time of year wa between 75 and 77F. I used a 5mm until about May when it was shorts and rash vest. Joy! Viz at this time of year is generally pretty good about 100ft lovely blues.

 

As concerns what you'll see - a bit of everything. Some schooling Jacks and Snappers, some good soft corals. Great walls with sponges and corals for wide angle. I thought there was a fair amount of Macro stuff around - you should find shrimp most dives, blennies, the odd slug, Flamigo tongues galore.

 

As for the big stuff you should see reef sharks on several dives although they tend to be single and it's hard to predict which dive you'll see them on. No chumming there which is good but it does mean you rely on luck or your dive guides wrangling ability. Eagle rays are also pretty common so you should get some of them too. Oh - and turtles - you see quite should a few of them.

 

I'd nearly agree with Loftus about lenses except take the 60 before the 10-17.

 

I wouldn't dive with Beaches if I was you - they're very prescriptive (80 ft for 40 minutes first dive followed by 60ft for 30 IIRC). If possible I'd dive with Flamingo Divers - they have a smaller boat so smaller groups and are much less on a schedule than the other shops. Dive Provo (where I worked) and Turtle Divers are both fine too although they do tend to have to get boats back at set times so can be a little less flexible.

 

I was only beginning my photographic 'career' at that point and using an Oly 5050 but there's some photos of what you can expect in my Turks and Caicos Flickr set

Edited by wizbowes

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Yay! A question where I can actually help out.

 

I worked as an Instructor on Provo for a year. Looking back through my logs the temp around this time of year wa between 75 and 77F. I used a 5mm until about May when it was shorts and rash vest. Joy! Viz at this time of year is generally pretty good about 100ft lovely blues.

 

As concerns what you'll see - a bit of everything. Some schooling Jacks and Snappers, some good soft corals. Great walls with sponges and corals for wide angle. I thought there was a fair amount of Macro stuff around - you should find shrimp most dives, blennies, the odd slug, Flamigo tongues galore.

 

As for the big stuff you should see reef sharks on several dives although they tend to be single and it's hard to predict which dive you'll see them on. No chumming there which is good but it does mean you rely on luck or your dive guides wrangling ability. Eagle rays are also pretty common so you should get some of them too. Oh - and turtles - you see quite should a few of them.

 

I'd nearly agree with Loftus about lenses except take the 60 before the 10-17.

 

I wouldn't dive with Beaches if I was you - they're very prescriptive (80 ft for 40 minutes first dive followed by 60ft for 30 IIRC). If possible I'd dive with Flamingo Divers - they have a smaller boat so smaller groups and are much less on a schedule than the other shops. Dive Provo (where I worked) and Turtle Divers are both fine too although they do tend to have to get boats back at set times so can be a little less flexible.

 

I was only beginning my photographic 'career' at that point and using an Oly 5050 but there's some photos of what you can expect in my Turks and Caicos Flickr set

 

Nice pictures. Thanks for the info. Since I am going down to Turks with a group from DAN and we are staying at Beaches I am pretty well stuck diving with the group and using Beaches - I have even heard rumors that Beaches requires that I even get to show off my basic scuba skills to some divemaster whose parents hadn't even met when I got certified in 1973. I hope I pass their test.

Andy

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Better hope Drfiscus passes my dive physical or no diving for Andy.

 

I too am stuck with Beaches, captive DAN course member.

I will be taking my new 11-16 tokina, 17-55 nikon, 60mm nikon and if I have room the 10-17

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Better hope Drfiscus passes my dive physical or no diving for Andy.

 

I too am stuck with Beaches, captive DAN course member.

I will be taking my new 11-16 tokina, 17-55 nikon, 60mm nikon and if I have room the 10-17

 

That is too funny.... the 10-17 would fit in your pocket! There is always room for Tokina's best Fisheye for UW photogs ;)

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I had a great time with a fisheye, nikon 17-80 kit lens for fish portaits and"filling the frame" with sharks, and a 60mm macro for shrimps, etc.

 

Highly reccomend the Tokina 10-17 for snorkeling in Grace Bay, many of my best shots from the trip were taken there with a Magic Filter taped to the back of the Tokina Fisheye.

 

here's a few snorkeling pics:

448452510_AXgy3-M.jpg

 

448452727_j4Czt-M.jpg

 

448452714_Nuaku-M.jpg

 

448452615_WSvNx-M.jpg

 

The best snorkeling was in deeper water, ~20 ft, so good breathing skills were necessary to get down to the bottem, do a manual white balance, then compose the picture and shoot. in a single afternoon we saw dozens of turtles, several eagle rays and many other great subjects. The fisheye was critical for fast focus and easy composition while snorkeling.

 

Just a few thoughts.

 

John

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Better hope Drfiscus passes my dive physical or no diving for Andy.

 

Andy,

 

If you flunk Peter's physical, I'll write you a note to give you permission to dive......

 

Elmer ;)

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Andy,

 

If you flunk Peter's physical, I'll write you a note to give you permission to dive......

 

Elmer ;)

 

Thanks Elmer - I would have to kill myself if I actually failed a dive physical - I have very physically fit fat cells - and round is a shape in case you forgot. On the camera side of things - thanks everybody for your info - and very nice pictures with the Magic Filters - I will order a set for photographing Dominica's sperm whales in November.

Other unrelated news of note - St. Lucia just got a HBO chamber in Taipon Hospital in Castries and they are in the process of setting it up - primarily for wound care but can be used for recompression therapy in an emergency (I was in St. Lucia last night for a couple of hours - working).

Andy

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I stayed at beaches as well with my family (wife, nanny and my son) . Biggest waste of money Ive ever spent. $15k later I could have got the same dining experience at home at the local gas station and the same diving experience in mexico where at least they say thank you when they rape you over the prices of stuff.

Lastly, some malfunction on day 7,8,9 and 10 of a 10 day stay caused all the showers on our floor to smell like raw sewage while we showered, but lucky for me I complained (as did others) and got a free $150 credit towards another stay. I wouldnt go back for all the free stays I could want. Did I mention that when I dined there the water had a sewage smell at the same time the showers started acting up? I stayed with bottled water after that.

Dive masters are nimrods? oh yeah, I asked 3 different times before I left if I could dive my rebreather. No problem they said. Yeah right, luckily I had the foresight to look up a place on provo that was rebreather friendly and could do fills. Stayed at beaches and Dove with Big Blue divers. Amazing dive experience. Had 3 beautiful girls as captain/divemaster/assistant. When I went to load my gear on the boat I kept thinking they were just deck hands..hot deck hands but had no idea they were running the boat for my week there. Super cool girls too, we had alot of time to talk on the 45-60 min boat rides and surface intervals and they definately have their act together.

I heard though they are closed now? I remember seeing a post on rebreather world about it, but dont know if there was ever a definitive answer. Hopefully they are in business. They are WELL worth the time to go dive with. They will also pick you up and drop you off at beaches resort, which is very convienent.

The diving itself was OK at best. Its no Fiji, no Philippines, no Roatan, no palau, no..well, you get the picture. It was just okay diving.

 

If someone forced me to go there again, id just take my $15k and go buy a bunch of blow and hang out with some strippers, it would be money well spent compared to my beaches experience.

Edited by gbrandon

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If someone forced me to go there again, id just take my $15k and go buy a bunch of blow and hang out with some strippers, it would be money well spent compared to my beaches experience.

So funny, my only experiences in that area have been on the Aggressor, 3 trips. The diving was great saw a lot of life macro, wide angle, etc... One trip was memorable for a flood, fortunately it was on a reefphoto trip and I was setup on another rig (smart).

sharkportraittonywidewebsize.sized.jpg

tonycloseupgrouper.sized.jpg

 

Tony

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If someone forced me to go there again, id just take my $15k and go buy a bunch of blow and hang out with some strippers, it would be money well spent compared to my beaches experience.

 

So funny, my only experiences in that area have been on the Aggressor, 3 trips. The diving was great saw a lot of life macro, wide angle, etc... One trip was memorable for a flood, fortunately it was on a reefphoto trip and I was setup on another rig (smart).

sharkportraittonywidewebsize.sized.jpg

tonycloseupgrouper.sized.jpg

 

Tony

 

Tony et al:

If the service at the dive operation at Little Cayman Beach Resort is a 5 out of 5 then the service at the Beaches dive operation is a 1 out of 5. Disorganized - overcrowded boats - 1 dive master leading a group dive with 20 divers in the water - after we were told we had to dive with the group for a manadatory initial group dive even though most of our 20 people were instructors or divemasters - the least qualified were advanced open water - having to lug our gear all over the place without anybody from the dive operation offering to help with any of it - often just standing around watching people struggling with gear - having to gear up at your station on the boat and walking with full gear and fins to the back of the boat - cerytainly wouldn't want them to put seats in the stern and gear up there - horrible rinse and gear storage area - no camera rinse tank - no hoses for camera rinse on boat - etc. - Maybe somebody in management should go on vacation to Little Cayman Beach Resort and see how a dive operation should be run - or at least one that would make vacationing divers paying a lot of money happy and willing to come back.

Anyway - shot the Tokina to 11 - 16 yesterday - think I will like it but overexposed everything by accident - was setting shutter speed and f-stop like I was shooting ISO of 200 but had it set at ISO 400 (figured it out last night after the dives ) - had white balance on wrong setting - etc.

And yes - this post should really be in "Dive travel".

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I disagree with Andy's generous rating of the Dive operation, I would give then a -5 out of 0-5.

I would add left dive shop at 1PM got in the water at 330 PM.

Boat crew useless.

No rinse tanks for camera on boat or land, inadequate storage for gear at the shop.

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