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JDeighton

Need help picking a new rig please!

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Hi,

 

The time has come for me to take the plunge and upgrade to a DSLR rig. Need some help picking the right bits before I commit the cash.

 

I have a D700 that I use above water, but I'm thinking I'd be happier buying a new D90 and housing than taking the D700 under with me. Seems that the D700 housings are considerably more expensive than the D90 ones, to the point that a D90 camera + housing cost the same as the D700 housing alone.

 

Having the ability to fire the strobe(s) via the fibre optics instead of the electrical systems is appealing, and am leaning towards a Nauticam housing for this reason.

 

Looking at lenses it seems that none of my above water lenses are particularly well suited to underwater use, so I was planning on picking up the Tokina 10-17 as I think I'll get more use from the CFWA than a macro lens initially (first trip with the rig will probably be to Grand Cayman later this year).

 

For ports I like the look of the Zen 100mm dome - especially as it is so much smaller and lighter to travel with. I know that there is a risk of slightly softer edges compared to a larger dome, and that split over/under shots won't be practical, but the small size and ability to get close seem to be a good trade-off.

 

The final decision is whether I need a second strobe? I have an Inon Z240 already, would the 10-17 lens need a 2nd strobe to light evenly, or will I be OK if I use the one strobe to light the foreground and let the ambient light the rest? Would probably pick an Inon S-2000 as the 2nd strobe if necessary.

 

Anything I've missed from the list? Am I missing the mark with any of these choices? It's a lot of money to spend without being fairly certain you're doing the right thing!

 

D90

Nauticam housing

Tonkina 10-17mm lens

Zen 100mm dome

Focus/Zoom gears

2nd strobe (and arms)

Insurance

 

Many thanks in advance for your help.

 

James.

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hi their I have just purchased pretty much that same package. I have not received the housing ports etc yet but I have had the d90 for about a month and I think it is a really good camera although it is my first SLR. The reason I went with the nauticam was the option to use fibre optic connection as well as it has had some very good reviews. I got all of my stuff from optical ocean sales, Jack Connick who runs it was very helpful in making sure I got every thing I need.

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I also have a D90 in a Nauticam. Its an amazing setup and I highly recommend the Nauticam. The D90 is a fine camera and I don't think you will be wanting much that it cannot offer underwater.

 

The 10-17 is a fantastic lens from the limited use I have shot with it. I was thinking of the 100mm Zen dome as well, but in the end went with the 8.5" as I did want a lens that I can use wide rectilinear lenses with in the future.

 

I have 2x Inon Z240's fired optically. I use them 100% in manual with the 10-17 and maybe 50/50 sttl/manual with macro. Great strobe... nice and compact and powerful enough for wide angle. If your going to concentrate on the wide, I would recommend a second strobe, but I am sure you can get perfectly nice photos with just one.

 

Have fun! I have only recently in the past few months been shooting DSLR underwater... its a learning curve for sure... but lots of fun!

 

 

Cheers,

Chris

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Well, the D700 housings are larger, no question, but the price difference isn't that great about $900. The big difference is that you won't be shooting the 10-17, you'll need to go to something like a Nikon 15mm FE and probably think about a larger dome. However a full-frame camera is pretty nice, and you'll probably end up there anyway.

 

Yes, with those wide lenses you'll want two strobes. I'm not sure what other kinds of shooting you do, but a 60mm or 85 mm macro lens can be accommodated in the Nauticam N60G port.

 

You'll also want to address video/focus lighting. Fix or Big Blue have been my choices.

 

Jack

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I'm not sure what other kinds of shooting you do, but a 60mm or 85 mm macro lens can be accommodated in the Nauticam N60G port.

 

I think I'll probably add the 60mm later on. To begin with I'll concentrate on learning how to use one lens and style of shooting at a time!

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you'll need to go to something like a Nikon 15mm FE and probably think about a larger dome.

 

Nikon doesn't make a 15mm Fisheye lens. I think you are either referring to a Nikon 16mm FE or a Sigma 15mm FE.

 

Both accomplish nearly the same thing, although the Sigma 15mm focuses closer than the Nikon 16mm.

 

Ellen

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I am having a D90 with an Aquatica housing.

I am using a very similar setting and lens. I shot 99% of the time with a Tokina 10-17.

 

If you follow the link in my signature should see what can be achieved with a D90 / Tokina 10-17 and a pair of DS 125/160.

 

My full rig is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigeyebubblef...57603464291273/

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I like having 2 strobes when using my 10-17. One strobe would not be enough for wide angle. You might consider an extension for using a Kenko 1.4x with the 10-17. I needed a 20mm extension for my Nexus 1017 port, which is not too different in size than the port you are considering. You would likely need an additional zoom gear when using the extension and 1.4X as the 'normal' zoom gear would probably not reach the gear from the lens.

Your supplier should know for certain what you would need if you wanted to use the 1.4X.

 

Nexus can also use fiber optics and has a small dome for the 10-17 as well. I like mine but am not trying to sway your purchase...just pointing out the similarity to your first choice.

 

I agree with you, the smaller dome and housing size is certainly nice. I can fit my entire rig, housing/ports/domes/extensions/D90 body/lenses (10-17, 60 micro, 105 micro, 18-200VR for above water), two Z240's all in a Lowepro AT 200 backpack with some room to spare and it weighs under 25 lbs. The clamps/arms are packed separate.

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Thanks for all of the advice so far. I think now that I will need the 2nd strobe, so I'm just considering my arm options. A quick trawl of the lighting forum seems to have 5x8 as the most popular arm length combination - which is good as I already have that on my Z240, so could get another set of those to balance out the system.

 

I'm guessing that this setup would be fairly negatively buoyant underwater - Jack was recommending a set of arms with some buoyancy to offset some of this (which seems like sound advice) - I was looking at possibly getting another set of the ULCS 5x8 and then adding some Stix type floats - but then I realized that I could buy 2 pairs of buoyant arms for about the same price as getting the single matching pair and adding the floats, so now I'm back in the land of the undecided.

 

Finally, if anyone has any sage advice on how to explain all of this to the wife when I finally pull the trigger and it hits the credit card - please share!

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My small dome on the Nexus, with 5"+8" standard ULCS arms for each Z240, one large size stix float on the 5" and two XL stix floats on the 8" makes it less than one pound negative and really easy to use. I like having the non-float arms with the stix floats. The stix floats are easy to pack in lots of places.

 

As for explaining your upcoming insanity to the wife, there is no rational reason for most of us. But since they were insane enough to marry us in the first place, your odds of explaining 'insanity as normal' has a better chance than average.

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I agree that:

1-Pick one lens and learn to us it. I have a similer camera (D300) and a similer housing (SeaTool) and after two seasons I am still shooting a single lens (AF-105-VR) most of the time. Unless you are a lot faster learner than I (very possible) or dive a lot more per year (I have typically 25 dive days per year) It will take some time to get the hang of your new rig.

2-Stix arms. While there may be a maintenance problem with the screws on the ends, if you simply weight out the rig with a specific lens setup, you will not change the weight configurations much. The Stix arms appear to be the best way to balance bouyancy.

 

I do NOT agree on uneven arms. In getting used to setting your strobes you must make a cone of darkness in front of the lens where the water is NOT lit, yet light the subject adaquately. I have found that setting the arms wide and sometimes forward, sometimes backward relative to the lens works best. I think dual 9" Stix arms are the easiest but possibly the longer arms are even better. You probably need to talk to an expert wide-angle photographer on this. I am more a macro guy.

 

Regards,

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