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OK, I suddenly (as in a few days ago) found that I am headed to Rangiroa in a few weeks, and I'm scrambling to get ready!

 

From what I understand, most of the diving is FAST drift diving through channels in the atoll, and the most likely subjects are sharks (reef, lemon, and perhaps a few hammerheads), Napolean wrasses and mantas.

 

So...my plan is to take my 16-35mmII as primary lens (I'm shooting full frame), but also my 14mmII and Sigma 15mmFE. I might also take the Canon 35mm and/or Sigma 50mm or 70mm as shark/fish portrait lenses.

 

Oh, and I plan to use my long Cressi free diving fins (which make my total length about 10ft!). :blink:

 

How does that sound to those of you who've been there? Any other suggestions (either about camera gear or otherwise)?

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HI

 

Used to work in Rangiroa as did Mike Veitch, we both used long free diving fins and found these to be an excellent choice. Grab yourself a reef hook as well so you can hang into dead coral and rock with out damaging other stuff.

 

Avatura pass used to do the Silvertips dive, which also had the school of Trevally on it, that was a good option to do.

 

The outer reef of Tiputa pass has great turtles on it, as well as mantas.

 

The passes can be fast which is where a reef hook comes in handy, the Hammerheads were more towards February if I remember but you never know.

 

Lens wise, 16-35 would be a good choice, when we were there it was Nikons V 15mm lens mostly, or I used to shoot my 20mm with an N90 (Nikon).

Its a fun place, the currents bustle you through the pass on incoming tide, outgoing the water becomes very green and not the best time to do the passes.

 

At the end of Tiputa pass is the Aquarium dive site which has a small motu (island), if the current is screaming watch you dont end up on the motu. If the currents are not working (sometimes weather can shorten incoming tide times), then there are the corners and reefs outside, which have the turtles, mantas, eagle rays etc. There is some macro around it just depends on whether you can stop to take a photo of it.

 

Plus the bottlenose dolphins will hopefully show up, truly amazing in the mouth of the channel. Keep your eye out at sunset we saw some amazing bait balls with birds feeding which made for some cool land shots.

 

Hope this helps in some ways, Mike may chip in if he is on line.......

 

Have a fun time, and also enjoy the french cheese and bread!

 

Karen

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ya, i think the zoom will get the most use for sure, the 14 and 15 might be too wide for most things, although should come in quite handy for the turtles as they allow you to get very close.

 

The sharks are grey reefs for the most part and won't get that close, so 14 and 15 will be too wide for them. Do you have something like a 24-70mm? That would be very handy, but your 16-35 should be fine for the majority of shark action and the dolphins are Karen mentions. I often pined for a lens like that when i was there. When i housed my F90 i used the 18-35mm for most of the dives there over the Nik V and 15mm as it gave a lot more options when it came to mantas, turtles, eagle rays etc

 

Hopefully you will get lucky with weather and have some incoming tides so you can shoot the pass, often in May the tide goes out of the channel 24 hours a day due to winds from the south :blink:

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Very good information to know...my wife and I will be heading to Rangiroa in several weeks as well!!! We will be diving with 6 passengers.

We have already packed the reef hooks!

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Autopsea...Your "sunset crab" photo is phenom! Wow! I love it...

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We used to see hammerheads on 80% plus of every Pass dive in season, often seeing more than one. However that's in December - February.

 

The dead shark shot by Yves was to attract a Tiger.

 

Tiputa and it's eastern corner are nice for Mantas and Dolphins if you have some luck, if you're stuck on the inside there's apparently a sharkfeed site towards the south.

 

I sure as heck dont miss those days sitting out in the skiff in bad weather :blink: However the diving is awesome. Have fun

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HI

 

Used to work in Rangiroa ...

 

I don't remember you working...apart from wiping the greasy marks off Paul's brow!

 

JB

 

XX

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Great input, everybody - thanks a million for the help! (Oh, and Autopsea, I agree that both of your sunset crab shots are GREAT! Lots of other really nice shots in that French Poly gallery of yours, too!)

 

Sounds like the 16-35mmII really is probably the best choice, and will get the most use.

 

I think I'll also take:

- Canon 14mmII or Sigma 15FE on a dive or two, but won't bother packing both;

- Canon 35mm (Eric Cheng's favorite "shark portrait" lens), which might get some use;

- Sigma 50mm macro (which I like for fish/turtle portraits...and also for topside macro, e.g., crabs, spiders, etc.), but won't bother with the 70mm;

- Canon 100mm macro (for tinkering around in the shallows if/when the water's too rough to go out for big stuff)

- Canon 70-200mm f/2.3 for topside (bait ball action, etc.)

- a reef hook for sure! :blink:

 

That should about do it! I'll report back...

Edited by bmyates

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You are going to have a blast! I was out in Rangiro in December and it was amazing. Definitely ripping currents, I wish someone would have told me before hand to bring a reef hook!! I spent 4 days in Rangiroa and went out with Top Dive. Where are you staying? We never had any dolphins. But we did have a Great Hammerhead, along with Spotted Eagle Rays, and tons of sharks!!

 

Would love to hear how your trip goes. Of all the places Ive been, French Polynesia is my favorite place yet!! I dont think there is enough talk about the opportunities that exist out there.

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I don't remember you working...apart from wiping the greasy marks off Paul's brow!

 

JB

 

XX

 

 

he he, I was very under the scenes, hope you are well John xx back to you

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i don't remember her working either..

 

:blink:

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i don't remember her working either..

 

:blink:

 

I was always locked in the engine room to clean up your 5200 mess!!! Thats how you lost your hair.

 

x

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That wasn't 5200...

 

Evidently it makes you go Blind and Bald.....

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Since I started this thread, I thought I'd wrap it up with a brief trip report. You can find photos here, and some HD video clips - very rough - shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, on Vimeo. (Apologies for the green cast to two of the video; they were shot with a Magic Filter - I normally shooting RAW stills, and adjust WB after the fact, and that doesn't work so well with video! :) )

 

I was on Rangiroa less than a week, so only got to do 5 days of diving. While it doesn't compare to Indonesia for fish and corals, nor to places like Galapagos/Cocos/Socorro for big critters, it was a "very nice" place to dive. Several encounters with silvertips (lured in from deep water with one dead fish), and one dive with dolphins that was a high point. Lots of turtles - saw them up close on almost every dive. And riding the incoming current (only possible one dive a day) was a blast - as close to flying as you can come without a plane (there's a video clip at the Vimeo link above). :)

 

All of the advice in this thread was right on, and very helpful. And, while I prefer liveaboard diving (there are none in French Polynesia), the accomodations at Kia Ora were very nice, and the staff of Top Dive did a great job. I'll post some comments about the new camera in a different thread.

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My wife and I just returned from doing 26 dives in Rangiroa with THE 6 PASSENGERS:

 

ATTENTION: If you are accustomed to resort-style diving and being given a towel and Swiss hot chocolate when you surface, Rangiroa is not for your, BUT...

 

...if you like high-adrenaline, ripping current diving, Rangiroa IS THE PLACE TO BE!

 

My wife and I were very satisfied with THE 6 PASSENGERS dive staff. They are highly passionate about what they do, and it shows. They are not a bells and whistles dive operation, but then again, Rangiroa diving is not the place for posh perks.

 

Some of the action we encountered was a school of 25-30 eagle rays, many up-close-and-personal dolphin interactions, close up manta sightings, silver tip, grey/black/white tip sharks by the dozen, and abundant schools of many different fish including 1000s of reproducing surgeon fish, schools of niger triggerfish mating, and schools of the usual suspects - jacks and barracudas. The turtles are even more indifferent to divers than in Sipaden thus making them very easy photography subjects. There were multiple instances where we encountered 5-6 Napoleon wrasse concurrently. We also saw one sailfish.

 

"The Canyon" is definitely a high-voltage dive, and certainly not for beginner divers. Fortunately I followed the advice I read here on Wetpixel and brought (and used) a reef hook. It came in very, very handy!!! Expect to dive past 45 meters if you want to encounter the schools of grey sharks which populate the entrance to the Tipuata Pass.

Edited by AMW

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