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Newbie Lens/Dome advice for a Canon 50D system

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My wife and I drove down to Ft Lauderdale to visit Reef Photo yesterday for several hours to check out a variety of UW systems. She loved the Fisheye G10 system with Inon S2000 strobe (for herself), but she's fairly adamant that I should go ahead and get the Sea&Sea MDX-40D system for myself (Bless her heart). I'm still on the fence of the DSLR vs G10 debate given the enormous step up in price ($1500 vs $5000 bare minimum, $7000 configured the way I would want) assuming I use my current S&S YS-90DX strobes with whichever system I decide on.


For macro: I had previously assumed I would go with the Canon EF-S 60mm macro lens but after yesterday's discussion at Reef Photo and then playing around with my current Tamron SP-90 macro (playing the part of the Canon 100mm macro) and a Canon EF-S 60mm moacro for an hour or two, I am thoroughly convinced that the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 lens would be the better macro lens option for my UW style. It appears that there are two options for configuring S&S ports for use with the Canon 100mm macro.


#1 S&S NX Zoom port #51101, S&S Focus Gear Canon EF 100mm #31110 (This solution would place the manual focus control on the lens port)

#2 S&S DX Macro Port Base #30105, S&S DX Macro Port 50 #30106, S&S Focus gear for Canon EF 100mm #31132. (This would use the manual focus control on the housing itself)


Option #2 costs about $350 more than option #1. Is it safe to assume that having the manual focus control on the housing itself is significantly 'better' than having the manual focus control on the lens port?


For wide angle: I had assumed I would use my existing Canon 10-22mm lens (which I use a lot on land). However I think I now understand why the Tokina 10-17 is so popular for UW photography and I would probably go with the Tokina 10-17 rather than the Canon 10-22. What are the recommended dome options for use with the Tokina 10-17? Is the Zen 8" glass dome a good option for the Tokina 10-17? Is a glass dome really that much better IQ wise than an acrylic dome? Are glass domes less prone to scratching? Can you really buff out a scratch on an acrylic dome? Is there a dome that works well with the Tokina 10-17 but also provides more flexibility for a future lens purchase?


Thanks in advance for any/all recommendations, comments, opinions!



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i have both the Canon 60 and 100 and the 100 is the way to go. i am still trying to get the Canon 10-22 (or Tokina 11-16) go give anything close to decent results at the edges and corners and think your choice of the fisheye is correct.


with reasonable care, scratches on the acrylic dome (on the outside - just don't scratch the inside) are not a serious problem and i think the lower cost and lack of concern about handling and breakage make the acrylic dome the best choice for most people. consider what degredation is induced by the dome vs the water column you're shooting thru. an 8 inch should work with other wide angle lenses, just will take some fiddling with extensions and diopters


i don't think the location of the focus knob is a big deal in general, i use the autofocus or set the manual focus close and move the camera

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Thanks for visiting our store! I wish I could have been there to discuss this with you.


I don't really love either of the Sea & Sea solutions for the Canon 100. My favorite is made by Athena. I don't have product shots of it up, but it is nearly identical to this port, only slimmed down for the narrower Canon 100mm USM:



The port is smaller and lighter than either Sea & Sea option. The second major advantage I see is that the front is 67mm threaded to attach popular accessory macro lenses for super macro shooting.


Personally I very much prefer having focus control on the housing, but that is another individual decision where there are benefits to both styles. If my rig were very poorly balanced and I had to cradle the port with my left hand for stability, I'd want focus control there, but fortunately mine is not. I've started using these accessories, and really like the precise "one finger" focus control they offer:



a focus gear is also available, but you might shoot the lens for a few dives to decide whether or not you need it:



10-17 is excellent in the Sea & Sea Optical Dome Port, Zen Dome, and Sea & Sea NX Fisheye Dome. The Optical Dome will require an SX extension ring as well.


The Zen dome is AR Coated to be free from reflections and ground from the highest quality optically pure glass. The coatings on the Sea & Sea Optical Dome port are almost as good, but this port isn't a very good choice with 10-22 due to soft corners.


Obviously I'm biased, and I wouldn't consider using a plastic dome, but there are a lot of great shooters who do. It is a fact that an acrylic dome will be 3-7% higher in reflections, and less pure optically depending upon the material. Whether or not this matters to you and your photography is a personal decision, and a point I don't care to argue on the interwebs.

Edited by Ryan

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Hi Doug,


I have the same rig and I can reinforce what Ryan has said. Your going to love the 40/50D. The Tokina 10-17mm is a wonderful piece of equipment. I originally bought the ext. ring so I could take my 10-22 down when I bought the housing and it's never been wet. I would also ask you to think again about carrying a 60mm along with your new 100mm. It's a super sharp fish lens that will work in a lot of situations where the 100mm is somewhat limited (like less than stellar vis) You don't have to pick one you know, you can carry both. ( I should work for Ryan ;) ) I also purchased the focus gear for the 100mm and really haven't needed it. The AF on the lens does a great job if you have a focus light to help it out at night. So you could delay the focus gear until you add on the super macro wet lens when it might come in handy.


Ryan ,

You mentioned balancing your rig, and the lighter Athena port is very interesting. The rig Doug is talking about will be pretty well balanced with the dome but probably nose heavy with the 100mm macro setup. I really noticed it on my last trip to Cayman. What do you recommend to help balance out the rig? I wasn't able to stay in the same spot for as long as I wanted to, (20 min or more) I'd keep tipping over forward.




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