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Cressidiver

What NOT to buy....

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Ok, I'm a budding underwater filmer/photographer and before I make the time old mistake of actually asking "what should I buy?" I wont, I know there are endless possibilities and combinations depending on location, style, etc.

However, something I hardly ever hear about and do like to ask is: Is there any equipment/brand to NOT buy? i'm serious about diving, I want to go deep, I'll be in various settings as well. I'm not going to just be cracking pictures in 30 feet or less in prestine clear water of a beach in Hawaii. I want quality gear, and i know that there are "budget rigs" out there that all-in-all aren't worth the money and are bound to fail in some way. what should I avoid?

 

Let me clarify: I will be shooting DSLR, starting budget will vary depending on what is worth buying, I want to do this more for a profession than just fun

Edited by Cressidiver

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Are you interested in P&S or DSLR? What's your starting budget, keeping in mind that it will increase as you find out what you really need for a complete system?

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Let me clarify: I will be shooting DSLR, starting budget will vary depending on what is worth buying, I want to do this more for a profession than just fun

 

Rather than look at gear first, study your chosen market and look for what's missing and what gaps you can fill. When you know what you want to photograph the kit you will need may well be clearly defined.

 

If you know what you want to photograph, but are reluctant to say exactly what the subject is (understand that....), then just the broader environment/size/depth etc will help.

 

Good luck.

 

Decosnapper.

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I want quality gear, and i know that there are "budget rigs" out there that all-in-all aren't worth the money and are bound to fail in some way. what should I avoid?

 

I think you should understand one main point as you begin to pursue underwater photography.

A great number of the failures (i.e. floods, etc) are due solely to the underwater photographer and not a result of equipment failure. For example, a lack of attention to detail (for example, talking to other divers) when setting up the rig can often result in a subsequent flood during the dive. It is extremely important to be aware of how the rig is assembled before entering the water with your equipment. If using electrical connection for strobes (as opposed to fiber optic connection), that is a weak point and often leads to many problems no matter how good the equipment is.

 

Another cardinal rule goes something like this:

 

It's not IF there will be a flood, it's WHEN the flood will happen.

 

In short, what I think it's saying is that, no matter how good our equipment is, someday there will likely be flood in spite of everything we do to prevent it.

 

Once you go in with that attitude, you can cover your bases so the flood, when it happens, will have minimal to no effect on your shooting. For example, most uw photographers travel with backups and they insure their rigs.

 

Ellen

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However, something I hardly ever hear about and do like to ask is: Is there any equipment/brand to NOT buy? i'm serious about diving, I want to go deep, I'll be in various settings as well.

 

 

Something to consider are the housing ratings when you say you want to go deep. For instance looking at the 5D Mark II options, Ikelite & Sea & Sea are rated to 60m, Aquatica 90m (though they can be modified/ordred to go deeper), Hugyfot 100m. You mention video and stills. Though things are still developing (and more to come from Nikon I would bet), there are offerings that combina both, the 5D, the 7D, the T1i (all Canon), the D90 and the D300s (Nikon) with the possibility of others shortly from Nikon I would bet. (There are other P&S thats do both, and also video cameras that will have stills, with things like the soon to be released maybe Scarlet being an option.) On the offerings on the dSLR side of things, Canon would seem to have the edge right now in terms of also implementing video, but there is always swings between the two companies. And there are also options from other companies.

 

I shoot Canon just because the way things shook out, I had a Nikon dSLR as a gift and it may have been defective, but it was pretty bad. When I returned it there was a deal I could not pass up on a 30D. And people will argue and have opinions about housings and camera types until the cows come home, so try not to get too caught up in "this one does this better than the other."

 

As Ellen (Ornatte Wrasse) mentioned equipment failure will ooften happen. If you ask enough people, every brand of every camera and hosuing has failed for someone, somewhere. And often it is human error. Not to say something won't fail due to other reasons....

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A great number of the failures (i.e. floods, etc) are due solely to the underwater photographer and not a result of equipment failure.

While that is true... I'm battling issues right now with an Ikelite housing for my Nikon D300 that is letting water in through the controls. First it was just one control, which I now believe I fixed when I replaced the O and X rings on that control. It leaked subsequently so I sent it back to Ikelite. They claim they could find no problems but it leaked again on the second dive after its return. Some will say it was it was my fault, but I'm just back from a dive with an empty housing where I was able to easily cause water to enter the housing through 3 other controls.

 

I think it is safe to say that at least some problems will be the fault of the equipment and at this point in time I would recommend against Ikelite.

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While that is true... I'm battling issues right now with an Ikelite housing for my Nikon D300 that is letting water in through the controls. First it was just one control, which I now believe I fixed when I replaced the O and X rings on that control. It leaked subsequently so I sent it back to Ikelite. They claim they could find no problems but it leaked again on the second dive after its return. Some will say it was it was my fault, but I'm just back from a dive with an empty housing where I was able to easily cause water to enter the housing through 3 other controls.

 

I think it is safe to say that at least some problems will be the fault of the equipment and at this point in time I would recommend against Ikelite.

 

 

Just curious, what's your procedure of handling/cleaning/soaking housing after dives ? I gave up Ikelite too but for different reasons, I think the maintainence procedure made some differences on life span on o-rings, etc. I think weather/envrionment too. If I dive in very warm places, once housing exit water, they drys up fast and not to mention that will murder o-rings.

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Just curious, what's your procedure of handling/cleaning/soaking housing after dives ? I gave up Ikelite too but for different reasons, I think the maintainence procedure made some differences on life span on o-rings, etc. I think weather/envrionment too. If I dive in very warm places, once housing exit water, they drys up fast and not to mention that will murder o-rings.

The whole rig is soaked in freshwater for 10-15 minutes as soon as I get home. While it is in the water I exercise each of the controls - push the buttons, jiggle the knobs, etc. I then thoroughly dry the housing as I disassemble it. I play particular attention to the pushbuttons, pushing them until all the water comes out. I usually push them with a towel that soaks up the water as it comes out. The housing then gets left in a room that is fairly dry.

 

I should note that my D300 housing is my second Ikelite DSLR housing. I still have my D70 housing which I used from May 2006 until the end of 2008. It still works fine and doesn't exhibit the same issues as the D300 housing - I know because I took it for a test dive a couple of weeks ago while the D300 housing was with Ikelite. Interestingly, some of the pushbutton shafts on the D70 show signs of corrosion (I removed each one and lubed them before the test dive) but still no leaks at all.

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I would skip thinking about Ikelite not because it is a bad brand (i had 3 housings and where pleased with them, many very good photographers are using it with great results)

but you wrote that you would like to go deep 70m is not deep for most of other brands (around 80-90 is a standard now)

 

Ikelite takes a little bit more space due tho their design so it is not so good if you traveling that was one of my main reasons to switch

 

 

think more about kind of work you would like to do underwater are you in macro?, people?, wrecks? lots of traveling or meaby photos more from your backyard (some lucky bastards have nice diving places 10meters from their homes :) )

there will always be a main income maker for you, main client maybe,

remember that sometimes you are assigned cause you made some particular kind of job for someone and were recommended for someone looking for same kind of job/style

that will narrow your equipment necessity field

 

 

other than camera equipment worth considering is rebreather, more time underwater more time for taking pictures

 

try to build your system on will it pay for itself terms then you will survive ;) and rember you have to eat too :cry:

 

If You are in it as a Pro in spe remember that You will have to backup everything with another part of the system so it goes at least in pairs, not mentioning orings and accessories that should go in dozens :cry:

every part of equipment brakes in most unfortunate moments the same about computers cards, phones, clothing too :cry: - it is all your equipment if you cant do the assignment without it (try doing it without pants :cry:

 

never go cheap but do not overinvest :cry: should be one of your mantras

in my "abowewater :cry:" company we have 18 yrs old canon and nikon telephoto lenses that costed a fortune but worked through 18 yrs of heavy usage on olympics so they paid their own bills many times since purchasing

 

DO NOT BUY cheap memory cards, readers, cables, batteries, orings - small things may ruin your assignment the same as big stuff failure

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thanks everybody for the input, that really helps me keep things in mind as i look around for what to get. I understand that there is a certain amount of human error that is bound to defeat every system out there, but with that factor aside, its good to know what cases are higher quality and more user/feature friendly. One of you also mentioned that fiber optic cables and connections are better than electric, thats good to know. also the way some of you clean your rigs and whatnot, I know its not much but that can really make a difference in the long run. Please keep sharing!

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Not to rain on your parade, but I would avoid trying to make underwater photography a profession until you've dipped your toes in first....It can be kinda like golf... expensive and frustrating! Buy the best gear you can afford and have fun with it first! I would talk to the guys at Backscatter to get ideas on the equipment that will fit your needs....low key sales and a wealth of knowledge.

 

Cheers!

 

Mike

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Dear Everyone!

 

Please help me out, I'm lost on the BCD market, for UW photography.

 

Currently I'm diving with a DIVERITE SUPERWINGS wing, which is designed for double tank diving. And its quite a big one, not mentioning that I never dive with double tanks. Finding the right balance is very hard, because its impossible to have the same amount of air in the two sides of that wing. Its a bit annoying, but yet acceptable.

 

By now, I'd like to start UW photography, where stability, control, balance are just as necessory as the camera itself.

 

So, I'm about to find a back inflate, comfortable and easy to use BCD. I'm falling in love with the HOLLIS ATS, but I'm afraid of the same problem mentioned above. Will I have balance issues with this too? Someone recommended the ADUAXPRO MANUA KEA, but I didn't find anything for this BCD.

 

Or there are BCDs which are full rounded such as APEKS WTX32, would you recommend this style instead?

 

I'm lost, so pease help me.

 

I'm 188cm tall, and 82kgs.

 

I know that there is no exact answer for this, but some know-how, and experience would help a lot. To start shooting pictures I'd like to buy an Ikelite housing for my Nikon D90, and 1 or 2 strobes for it.

 

Thanks a lot!

Edited by skoos

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"Please help me out, I'm lost on the BCD market, for UW photography."

 

Are you diving in a dry or wet suit?

 

I'm diving with Halcyon explorer for 7 years now

http://www.halcyon.net/?q=bc/doubles/explorer

 

twin and single tank as well, and love it

 

 

try some stuff like eclipse (round single tank wing)

http://www.halcyon.net/?q=bc/eclipse

 

i've tried it from my wife and it is pretty nice for a single tank diving more stable than using twinset wing for single cylinder

 

here in europe yo can buy some stuf from Anhinga -it is a cheaper brand than Halcyon but very reliable and well built lots of friends are using them more hardcore (deep caves) than my halcyon will ever be used and they are fine

 

I've found that shortening inflator hose to very short lenght (so you can use it in good trim position ) helps a lot with stages, and camera

for stability remember about good positioning of weights - i found that even with single tank it is better to keep them on cylinder close to backplate attached to belt from bcd

 

with your height i think it will be more on upper part of cylinder to compensate for your lenght underwater ;)

 

Bart

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"Please help me out, I'm lost on the BCD market, for UW photography."

 

Are you diving in a dry or wet suit?

 

 

Thanks for your reply!

 

I'm diving in 5mm wetsuit. Almost always. I'll take a look at your recommendations, and again, thanks a lot!

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Move to a smaller wing and your buoyancy problems will improve dramatically. The Super wings are very large indeed and can be hard to control.

 

You may want to try the Classic "RecWing" or even the "Venture EXP Wing". The classic Rec Wing has worked well for me for years. I just got a slightly used Venture EXP Wing and am really enjoying the comfort, stability, and buoyancy improvements from the smaller wing. Having said that, I must also say that I have a jacket style BC that feels like I'm sitting in a Big Lazy-Boy chair when I'm floating at the surface. I prefer the Diverite Transpac harness style BC for most of my diving but also don't mind slipping into a jacket style BC every now and again.

 

Hope you get your buoyancy issues sorted out quickly and for not too much money.

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skoos,

something to keep in mind is that you will want total control of your buoyancy, not just horizontal or vertical, but lateral stability as well. I highly suggest sticking with a wing setup, they are far beyond many of the jacket style BC's when it comes to overall control. and just like finding the right shoes to fit your feet, you need to run your setup the way its meant to be, otherwise you will not only be fighting current or whatever natural obstacles stand in your way to shoot well, but you will be fighting crappy diving skill too.

 

If you have a doubles setup, dive with doubles( this is personally preferred, as it greatly increases safety and bottom time, especially when working out the bugs as a beginning shooter), if you have a singles setup, well..... the answer is obvious. One prime selling point for me was that I dive with a bunch of tech divers and they all dive wings because total buoyancy control in every angle and direction is crucial when your in tight wrecks or caves. if it didnt matter what BC you used than I think you would see many tech divers diving jackets.

 

Next of course is practice practice practice nailing your buoyancy! rack up pool time at first if you need to, then hit the ocean or whatever natural body of water you can get to the most. I dont know your present skill, but if needs be, dial in your buoyancy control while just diving, creep up on things and just hover, then back away, etc. that way you will already have a control foundation instilled before you take your camera and start shooting. I have noticed that novice shooters (not excluding myself at times) tend to get too into our shot, especially if we are frustrated or think we have something really cool and we blow our breathing right out the window. something to think about.

 

Nail your breathing, dial in your gear and practice the hell out of your buoyancy control! Bellyflopping on the choral while trying to shoot macro is never a good thing!

 

Happy shooting ;)

Edited by Cressidiver

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Dear Everyone!

 

Please help me out, I'm lost on the BCD market, for UW photography.

 

i will second the halcyon eclipse single tank wing, i love it. very compact, streamlined and well balanced.

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While that is true... I'm battling issues right now with an Ikelite housing for my Nikon D300 that is letting water in through the controls. First it was just one control, which I now believe I fixed when I replaced the O and X rings on that control. It leaked subsequently so I sent it back to Ikelite. They claim they could find no problems but it leaked again on the second dive after its return. Some will say it was it was my fault, but I'm just back from a dive with an empty housing where I was able to easily cause water to enter the housing through 3 other controls.

 

I think it is safe to say that at least some problems will be the fault of the equipment and at this point in time I would recommend against Ikelite.

 

 

I am pretty rough on my equipment. I do a lot of shooting and put miles on the camera, housing, strobes etc. I have never heard of Ikelite housings with leaking problems like you describe (I have used Ike housings for 10 years, maybe 12). I am not meticulous with my equipment either. I rinse it now and then, sometimes lube the o-rings. My friends cannot believe how I treat my equipment. So far Ikelite equipment has been very reliable. I have only flooded one housing in all of those years and it was because in a rush I forgot the back o-ring, my fault. Not only are Ikelite products reliable, their service is legendary. I have seen housings costing more than 2 1/2 times an Ike housing flood and the photographer getting no support whatsoever from the housing manufacture (when it was determined to be a manufactures error.....Nexus).

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Have heard that Lexar cards do not work well with Canon cameras.

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