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Thinking of making the DSLR leap...HELP!!

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It is simply mind boggling looking at all the specs for DSLR's, housings, etc... Can someone outline a nice system for me? I've been shooting my Sea and Sea DX-1G for the last year with some decent results, but I'd like to make the jump up :fishblue: Of course I won't need strobes, I have my 2 S&S YS-110's.

 

I've been eyeing the Nikon D90. what's the best housing for this unit? Lenses I figure a macro zoom and a WA zoom too start..yes? Any input is mucho appreciated.. :D

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It is simply mind boggling looking at all the specs for DSLR's, housings, etc... Can someone outline a nice system for me? I've been shooting my Sea and Sea DX-1G for the last year with some decent results, but I'd like to make the jump up :fishblue: Of course I won't need strobes, I have my 2 S&S YS-110's.

 

I've been eyeing the Nikon D90. what's the best housing for this unit? Lenses I figure a macro zoom and a WA zoom too start..yes? Any input is mucho appreciated.. :D

The most common housings are from Subal, Nexus, Aquatica and Hugyfot. All are great housings, and there is someone on Wetpixel who loves their version. For macro I would recommend either the 60 or 105 lenses (avoid the macro zooms I think) and for wide angle the Tokina 10-17 is very very nice.

Have fun

Bill

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The most common housings are from Subal, Nexus, Aquatica and Hugyfot. All are great housings, and there is someone on Wetpixel who loves their version. For macro I would recommend either the 60 or 105 lenses (avoid the macro zooms I think) and for wide angle the Tokina 10-17 is very very nice.

Have fun

Bill

 

Forgive my nOOb-ness Bill, but why avoid the zoom? I also saw something about the Tokina saying it was a fantastic lens, but required a larger port than a nikkor? Here again.... total rook here :D The only housing I looked at a bit was the Aquatica prior to posting. I did see some folks talking about a Sea and Sea also. Ikelite? Also... does my strobe selection have bearing on the housing I choose for TTL connections/compatibility? Thanks Bill.

 

Greg

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I'm a Canon guy, so can't really offer an opinion about the D90, but as for lenses, I started with the 60mm and tokina 10-17 and would encourage you to do the same. The 60 is generally "easier" to use than the 100mm (or 105 in Nikon) and the tok is just a great u/w lens. As for putting a system together, I would call a couple of the fine sponsors here, particularly Reef Photo and Backscatter. Both very helpful in answering even the most basic of questions. Then go find a place where you can get your hands on a couple housings and see how they feel. Another fine wetpixel sponsor, H2O Photo Pros is right in your neighborhood (if you can't make it to Monterey or Florida!) or my local guys, Marine Camera Distributors if you're down San Diego way. There are several good housing manufacturers and the choice really comes down to budget and personal preference.

 

Warm up that credit card, baby!

 

Phil

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Forgive my nOOb-ness Bill, but why avoid the zoom? I also saw something about the Tokina saying it was a fantastic lens, but required a larger port than a nikkor? Here again.... total rook here :D The only housing I looked at a bit was the Aquatica prior to posting. I did see some folks talking about a Sea and Sea also. Ikelite? Also... does my strobe selection have bearing on the housing I choose for TTL connections/compatibility? Thanks Bill.

 

Greg

For macro, I don't think zooms are the way to go. For wide angle, the Tokina is a great lens. I concur that the 60 macro is easier to get going with and needs a smaller port as well. I don't know about the Nikkor wide angle fisheye zooms at all so you are on your own. As for TTL, you will need some sort of TTL converter. S&S makes one as do some others.

Bill

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Thanks for the great input guys! :secret: Well, just about everyone I talk too says the Tokina for sure. I'll also go by your guys reccomendation for the 60mm macro. Out of curiosity though...why this over the 100mm? Why is the 100mm more difficult?Edjucate me! :fishblue: SO!! so far we have the D90, YS-110 strobes, Tokina WA, 60mm Macro.

 

1. Which housing, I understand what you guys are saying about budget and prefference. Are any of them markedly more reliable (durability and or flooding wise) than the others? Or all they all in the same ballpark?

 

2. For TTL - 5 pin of FO? I always thought this was a no brainer with the 5 pin, but now Im seeing lots of folks talking FO.

 

3. Port for Tokina - Glass or acrylic? I understand the glass is better, until scratched...LOL. Is the overall image quality diminished using the acrylic?

 

4. Strobe arms - I guess I need to know which housing first?? Or does it matter?

 

Phil, I went by that shop in Newport a month or so ago, and it looked like they were remodeling and were closed. Luckily, Joe Liburdi came back out of retirement and opened a shop in Irvine :D I ordered my new strobe from him yesterday, and have been picking his brain a bit.

 

CC is gonna be maxed after a planned March Thailand trip... :fishred: So I think Im gonna have to break into the 401k piggy bank.. :D

Edited by sideways

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Thanks for the great input guys! :secret: Well, just about everyone I talk too says the Tokina for sure. I'll also go by your guys reccomendation for the 60mm macro. Out of curiosity though...why this over the 100mm? Why is the 100mm more difficult?Edjucate me! :fishblue: SO!! so far we have the D90, YS-110 strobes, Tokina WA, 60mm Macro.

 

1. Which housing, I understand what you guys are saying about budget and prefference. Are any of them markedly more reliable (durability and or flooding wise) than the others? Or all they all in the same ballpark?

 

2. For TTL - 5 pin of FO? I always thought this was a no brainer with the 5 pin, but now Im seeing lots of folks talking FO.

 

3. Port for Tokina - Glass or acrylic? I understand the glass is better, until scratched...LOL. Is the overall image quality diminished using the acrylic?

 

4. Strobe arms - I guess I need to know which housing first?? Or does it matter?

 

Phil, I went by that shop in Newport a month or so ago, and it looked like they were remodeling and were closed. Luckily, Joe Liburdi came back out of retirement and opened a shop in Irvine :D I ordered my new strobe from him yesterday, and have been picking his brain a bit.

 

CC is gonna be maxed after a planned March Thailand trip... :fishred: So I think Im gonna have to break into the 401k piggy bank.. :D

Both the 60 macro and the 105 macro let you shoot 1:1 so magnification is not the issue. Working distance and DOF however are quite different. One of the main advantages for me of the 60 is that it is a great fish portrait lens. You can shoot an anemone fish or an angel fish or a garibaldi and get it full frame and still be close enough for your strobes to light it well and for the water to be clear enough to get good clarity. With the 100 the same shot will be from a lot further away and you will need bigger strobes and cleaner water. The flip side is that if you are interested in super macro, the effect of an add on external wet lens is much more pronounced on the 100 than on the 60. Most macro shooters have both.

 

In my hands, FO is a much more useful way to go than electrical, depending on your strobes and your style of shooting. Also, FO means no need for a TTL converter. If you are doing wide angle in low vis, then optical will fire a bunch of times to get the right exposure and you will have to wait for the recycle time. For macro which is what I shoot mostly, it is a non issue and optical fibers are less prone to malfunction than electrical ones. For arms, I think ULCS are the standard independent of your housing. For flotation think STIX floats and arms. As for flooding, it usually has more to do with the operator than the equipment. As for ports, you can get great pictures with either and there are religious camps on both sides. I like glass (Nikon makes their lenses from glass for a reason) but it is expensiver and heavier than acrylic. If you are careful (I am not) then you should be fine.

 

Just my $0.03

Bill

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One of the main advantages for me of the 60 is that it is a great fish portrait lens. You can shoot an anemone fish or an angel fish or a garibaldi and get it full frame and still be close enough for your strobes to light it well and for the water to be clear enough to get good clarity.

 

This is true in good (Caribbean, Red Sea) visibility, not so true in green water where fish portraits are better with a mid-range... zoom.

 

For learning a fixed wide-angle is a way of avoiding the key mistake: zooming the lens instead of getting close. The 10-17mm is too tempting, so when the going gets tough I still prefer the truly wonderful Nikon 10.5mm lens.

 

Tim

 

:D

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Well I've been trying to sift through info and specs, trying to make heads and tails of things. So far this is where Im at...

 

1. Im pretty much sold on the D90

 

2. As far as a housing, the frontrunner is the Aquatica, secondary the Nexus. The Nexus appeals because of the FO option, none of the other housings I've seen have that. Price is about the same after you tack on the TTL converter for the Aquatica...yikes!!

 

3. Im sticking with my 2 YS-110's, now If im reading specs on housings correctly, there isn't a housing out there that wouldn't need a converter...except the Nexus.

 

4. Whats the thoughts on arm lengths? My guy tells me that longer doen't equate to better...opinions? Im fine with my sea arm 7's, unless theres a legit reason to spend the extra $$$.

 

5. Here's the nOOb questions.... I knew nothing about focus and zoom gears? Are they only for manual operation? Do I need them?

 

 

Thanks again for helping a rookie out :P

 

 

Cheers!

 

Greg

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4. Whats the thoughts on arm lengths? My guy tells me that longer doen't equate to better...opinions? Im fine with my sea arm 7's, unless theres a legit reason to spend the extra $$$.

 

5. Here's the nOOb questions.... I knew nothing about focus and zoom gears? Are they only for manual operation? Do I need them?

 

Hi Greg,

 

You will need a zoom gear when you're using that fantastic Tokina 10-17 lens. The zoom gear will enable you to change the focal length on the lens from 10 to 17 and anywhere in between. When shooting topside, it's very simple to change the focal length of the zoom lens. However, when you're underwater, you can't exactly do that as the camera & lens are inside the housing. :P I did see a post here from someone who used the Tokina 10-17 without a zoom gear, but he was limited to only one focal length (e.g. he was forced to shoot all the images at a focal length of 10).

 

As for focus gears, a lot of folks never use them and just use autofocus all the time. However, with some macro shots, some folks like to use manual focus as autofocus may hunt given difficult lighting conditions. The focus gear enables you to manually focus your lens.

 

As for your question on arm lengths, I'll just say that when shooting wide angle, a lot of folks (including myself) use longer arm lengths. It has to do with placement of the strobes to reduce or eliminate backscatter. However, when shooting macro, you don't need long arms and your strobes can be much closer to the camera housing.

 

Ellen

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Hi Greg,

 

You will need a zoom gear when you're using that fantastic Tokina 10-17 lens. The zoom gear will enable you to change the focal length on the lens from 10 to 17 and anywhere in between. When shooting topside, it's very simple to change the focal length of the zoom lens. However, when you're underwater, you can't exactly do that as the camera & lens are inside the housing. :P I did see a post here from someone who used the Tokina 10-17 without a zoom gear, but he was limited to only one focal length (e.g. he was forced to shoot all the images at a focal length of 10).

 

As for focus gears, a lot of folks never use them and just use autofocus all the time. However, with some macro shots, some folks like to use manual focus as autofocus may hunt given difficult lighting conditions. The focus gear enables you to manually focus your lens.

 

As for your question on arm lengths, I'll just say that when shooting wide angle, a lot of folks (including myself) use longer arm lengths. It has to do with placement of the strobes to reduce or eliminate backscatter. However, when shooting macro, you don't need long arms and your strobes can be much closer to the camera housing.

 

Ellen

 

Thanks Ellen!!

 

So, these gears, they are attached to the lens? And give you the ability I'd guess to control the function automatically? On the Arms.... what is the general opinion on length? Which set and size would you recommend?

 

Also, what other "Little things" might I be missing? I'll double check, but I don't remember the need for extensions for either the 60mm or the Tokina.

 

detailed shopping list....

 

Camera

Housing

Lens

Gears

Port dome

Arms

Strobe

Cables

TTL converter

 

 

What am I missing??? Things are getting toward the budget limit... what else am I missing?

 

 

 

Greg

Edited by sideways

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Thanks Ellen!!

 

I'm happy to help!

 

So, these gears, they are attached to the lens? And give you the ability I'd guess to control the function automatically? On the Arms.... what is the general opinion on length? Which set and size would you recommend for the Tokina?

 

In my case with my Subal housing, the zoom gear is attached to the lens and I control it by using a knob on the outside of the housing which uses gears which are mated to the zoom gear. Other housings may do the same thing differently. I leave the zoom gear more or less permanently on the lens since it's a bit difficult to put on and off.

 

For length of the strobe arms for wide angle shooting (i.e. your Tokina 10-17) check out this Wetpixel link:

 

Wide Angle Strobe Arm Recommended Length

 

There are also lots of other links out there and maybe others can offer a few that they have found useful. If I find any more that would be especially helpful to you, I'll post them here.

 

Also, what other "Little things" might I be missing? I'll double check, but I don't remember the need for extensions for either the 60mm or the Tokina.

 

detailed shopping list....

 

Camera

Housing

Lens

Gears

Port dome

Arms

Strobe

Cables

TTL converter

 

 

What am I missing??? Things are getting toward the budget limit... what else am I missing?

 

In my own case, using the Subal Dome Port, I did need an extension for the Tokina. Using the Flat Port for the 60mm, no extension was required in my case.

With the 16mm Fisheye and the 10.5 Fisheye lenses, however, I did not need any extensions at all when using those lenses behind the Dome Port.

 

I would also get a neoprene cover for the Dome Port to protect it when the crew hands it down to you and when you give it to the crew at the end of the dive. It may, of course, come with your Dome Port.

 

Eventually you may also want to purchase a Focus Light which is, in my case, mounted on top of the housing. This can range from an inexpensive purchase to well over $400 for the top of the line unit. When light is dim and when shooting at night, the lens will often hunt and be unable to lock focus. A focus light makes autofocus possible and many uw photographers use them. Definitely not anything you "need" right now, but it's something you may eventually want to buy.

 

Hope my comments helped even if they had you worrying about the "empty wallet syndrome". :P

 

Ellen

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I'm happy to help!

 

 

 

In my case with my Subal housing, the zoom gear is attached to the lens and I control it by using a knob on the outside of the housing which uses gears which are mated to the zoom gear. Other housings may do the same thing differently. I leave the zoom gear more or less permanently on the lens since it's a bit difficult to put on and off.

 

For length of the strobe arms for wide angle shooting (i.e. your Tokina 10-17) check out this Wetpixel link:

 

Wide Angle Strobe Arm Recommended Length

 

There are also lots of other links out there and maybe others can offer a few that they have found useful. If I find any more that would be especially helpful to you, I'll post them here.

 

 

 

In my own case, using the Subal Dome Port, I did need an extension for the Tokina. Using the Flat Port for the 60mm, no extension was required in my case.

With the 16mm Fisheye and the 10.5 Fisheye lenses, however, I did not need any extensions at all when using those lenses behind the Dome Port.

 

I would also get a neoprene cover for the Dome Port to protect it when the crew hands it down to you and when you give it to the crew at the end of the dive. It may, of course, come with your Dome Port.

 

Eventually you may also want to purchase a Focus Light which is, in my case, mounted on top of the housing. This can range from an inexpensive purchase to well over $400 for the top of the line unit. When light is dim and when shooting at night, the lens will often hunt and be unable to lock focus. A focus light makes autofocus possible and many uw photographers use them. Definitely not anything you "need" right now, but it's something you may eventually want to buy.

 

Hope my comments helped even if they had you worrying about the "empty wallet syndrome". :)

 

Ellen

 

When I think of a focus light, I think night diving. Am I wrong in this? With my DX-1G I seem to focus OK on day dives, on night dives I have my YS-110's that have the "Spot" lights on them. Is this a more pronounced issue with DSLR's? Or maybe I'm blind.... :P

 

I'm HOPING the ports come with neoprene covers ... if not, I'll have to get them. Good point in carrying them with me and having them on when handing the rig up. Also...feel free in helping me spend my $$$...LOL

 

 

 

Greg

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When I think of a focus light, I think night diving. Am I wrong in this? With my DX-1G I seem to focus OK on day dives, on night dives I have my YS-110's that have the "Spot" lights on them. Greg

 

That certainly depends on which environment you are diving in. Red Sea sunny mid day, you would have to be very deep in order to need a focus light. In my back yard (the Baltic Sea), in ten meters of water on a cloudy day, a focus light is really necessary. Also when I do macro > 1:1 I need a focus light to find focus. Remember that with a dslr you will most often have way less dof than with a compact, thus needing to get the focus exactly on the spot you want.

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That certainly depends on which environment you are diving in. Red Sea sunny mid day, you would have to be very deep in order to need a focus light. In my back yard (the Baltic Sea), in ten meters of water on a cloudy day, a focus light is really necessary. Also when I do macro > 1:1 I need a focus light to find focus. Remember that with a dslr you will most often have way less dof than with a compact, thus needing to get the focus exactly on the spot you want.

 

I'll make a decision depending on cost and need. For macro I have the focus lights on the YS-110's, I RARELY ever use them. Now, with the DOF issue, I'll see how my first trips go. I'll look at them, but its going to depend on cost. Thanks !!

 

 

Greg

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Here's a great article from Reef Photo summarizing the different focus lights available:

 

Focus Lights

 

Sometimes, even when diving in sunny conditions in clear water, a focus light is necessary. A case in point is when I was diving in the Bahamas on a liveaboard a couple years ago and went into a wreck to photograph orange cup coral and other interesting things. I was using my 105mm lens (the old version of the lens). It was extremely difficult to lock focus. That's where a focus light comes in handy. Even though the water was clear and it was sunny, the conditions inside the wreck dictated that I needed a focus light.

 

Ellen

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Also...feel free in helping me spend my $$$...

 

Hi Greg,

 

You'll find lots of folks here happy to help you with the above! ^_^

 

Seems like you've got it covered. A couple inexpensive little things to add to your kit:

a little custom tool kit with whatever screw drivers/allan keys for your housing

a spare arm clamp or two

spare batteries and charger for everything

spare o rings and o ring grease

o ring removal "tool" (one may come with your original purchase - a plastic collar stay from a men's dress shirt works great as well)

foam make up applicators (for cleaning out nooks and crannies w/o leaving fibers)

blue mechanic's shop (paper) towels (for bigger cleaning w/o leaving fibers)

assorted zip ties and duct tape (for general diving repairs)

 

And keep the credit card warmed up - there will be other lenses, gears, rings, ports, and toys along the way!

 

Phil

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Good list Phil! A lot of those items I have for my DX-1G, I'll have to wait and see what all comes with the cam. Ellen, I was under the impression that a focuslight mounted on your hotshoe and would auto shut off when you take the shot? Those ones in that article didn't have hot shoe attachments? If I have to turn it off and on every time.... I'll probably be using the spots on my YS's ^_^

 

I'll look around for some others, maybe they're out there? Well... Im off to Cabo San Lucas in the AM. My last trip with my lil DX-1G...it is a good little compact. Soon as I get home I'll be shopping!!!!!

 

 

 

Greg

Edited by sideways

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Hello, sorry no answer, more questions!

 

I've been looking at the d90 also but the camera is too slow in viewfinder mode for my taste.

 

I'm now considering Olympus e620 or the canon 50d. I want something leaps and bonds better than my G10. Any hints?

 

Cheers,

 

Rene

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Ellen, I was under the impression that a focuslight mounted on your hotshoe and would auto shut off when you take the shot? Those ones in that article didn't have hot shoe attachments? If I have to turn it off and on every time.... I'll probably be using the spots on my YS's ^_^

 

Greg,

 

The focus lights are not mounted on the hotshoe of the camera. They are generally mounted on the housing. In my case, it's mounted on the top of the housing. There is no need to turn them off when you take the shot. The one I have used in the past, the Focus Fix light, allows you to turn down the intensity when you don't need it for a shot to save battery power, but I probably wouldn't turn it completely off during the dive.

 

By my calculations, you should be diving now and having lots of fun using your soon-to-be-replaced camera. Let us know if you have more questions when you get back.

 

Ellen

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Well it was a fun trip Ellen! Unfortunately, there was no diving :( We drove up too Cabo Pulmo, 2.5 hours each way, only to get there and find the swells preceeding Hurricane Rick had just arrived. SO!! I never got my last dive with my soon to be back up rig :D

 

I have made my purchase, and thanks to you and all the other fine folks here for helping me go broke!!

 

Here's my new rig... After much debate, at least for now, I have decided to not go with TTL. I'm gonna take the bull by the horns and go man. :)

 

Nikon D90

Aquatica double bulkhead housing

Aquatica 8" Dome for fisheye

Aquatica Flat Port for Micro

Aquatica port extension

Aquatica zoom gear for Tokina

Aquatica gear for Nikon 60mm

Tokina 10-17mm

Nikon 60mm Micro

S&S YS-110 strobes

Ultralight 8" Arms x4, base adaptor and bracket, clamps, new style, 15 degree side movement.

2x sync cords

 

The new rig will get it's maiden voyage at the end of Nov, down in Playa Del Carmen... :) So I have a month to decide on a focus light.

 

 

Thanks again for everyones input!! It would have been a HELLUVA lot tougher with out it!!!

 

 

Greg

Edited by sideways

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Well it was a fun trip Ellen! Unfortunately, there was no diving ;) We drove up too Cabo Pulmo, 2.5 hours each way, only to get there and find the swells preceeding Hurricane Rick had just arrived. SO!! I never got my last dive with my soon to be back up rig :)

 

I have made my purchase, and thanks to you and all the other fine folks here for helping me go broke!!

 

Here's my new rig... After much debate, at least for now, I have decided to not go with TTL. I'm gonna take the bull by the horns and go man. :uwphotog:

 

Nikon D90

Aquatica double bulkhead housing

Aquatica 8" Dome for fisheye

Aquatica Flat Port for Micro

Aquatica port extension

Aquatica zoom gear for Tokina

Aquatica gear for Nikon 60mm

Tokina 10-17mm

Nikon 60mm Micro

S&S YS-110 strobes

Ultralight 8" Arms x4, base adaptor and bracket, clamps, new style, 15 degree side movement.

2x sync cords

 

The new rig will get it's maiden voyage at the end of Nov, down in Playa Del Carmen... :( So I have a month to decide on a focus light.

 

 

Thanks again for everyones input!! It would have been a HELLUVA lot tougher with out it!!!

 

 

Greg

 

 

Greg, I've been looking at a similar setup. Let me know how you like it. I haven't seen you diving lately.

Edited by diverrex

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Well it was a fun trip Ellen! Unfortunately, there was no diving ;) We drove up too Cabo Pulmo, 2.5 hours each way, only to get there and find the swells preceeding Hurricane Rick had just arrived. SO!! I never got my last dive with my soon to be back up rig :)

 

I have made my purchase, and thanks to you and all the other fine folks here for helping me go broke!!

 

Here's my new rig... After much debate, at least for now, I have decided to not go with TTL. I'm gonna take the bull by the horns and go man. :uwphotog:

 

Nikon D90

Aquatica double bulkhead housing

Aquatica 8" Dome for fisheye

Aquatica Flat Port for Micro

Aquatica port extension

Aquatica zoom gear for Tokina

Aquatica gear for Nikon 60mm

Tokina 10-17mm

Nikon 60mm Micro

S&S YS-110 strobes

Ultralight 8" Arms x4, base adaptor and bracket, clamps, new style, 15 degree side movement.

2x sync cords

 

The new rig will get it's maiden voyage at the end of Nov, down in Playa Del Carmen... :( So I have a month to decide on a focus light.

 

 

Thanks again for everyones input!! It would have been a HELLUVA lot tougher with out it!!!

 

 

Greg

 

Nice choice!!!!!

Almost identical to mine :)

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Nice choice!!!!!

Almost identical to mine :(

 

What are your thoughts?? Any pitfalls or things I should be aware of??

 

Hey Rex, I've been diving...just feeling too old to beach dive...LOL. Maybe if my honey buys me a scooter... I'll be there :uwphotog: Byt hey, if your looking into any boat dives, give me a holler!! Every time I go to the crabs site, I think of ya!

 

Greg

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