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eskasi

Sardine Run and Cage diving (what to use?)

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So, I decided to go nuts... I will be leaving for the Maldives on the Ocean Geographic expedition next week but already I am booking another trip for July :) Thanks to everyone who gave me advice for the Maldives trip! I am now planning to do the Sardine Run and a few cage dives for great whites including a breaching trip to see them blast out of the water at False bay :) I have a few questions about lens choice though....

 

For the Sardine Run, I assume the right lens for my D300 would be the Tokina 10-17? However, my only other (non-macro) lens I have is the Sigma 18-50mm HSM macro for which I have a zoom gear also. Should I consider using this lens during the sardine run as well? am I wrong in thinking that the Tokina is the right lens? I want to be able to take it all in but I wonder how close I will actually get to the action ... would be nice to get closer shots of predators in action. Would be great to hear from those with experience.

 

The same question for the Cage diving experience... I think the 18-50 is probably the best bet? Should I even consider the Tokina at all or will the shark end up looking far too tiny? :( If both are suitable, I was thinking of perhaps going in with the Sigma first then swapping out to the Tokina during a rotation if the sharks are coming real close.... or would I be wasting my time?

 

Perhaps its a silly question but I have not done any WA work in almost a year.... I'd rather not waste a dive with the wrong lens! I guess Maldives next week would be a good refresher for me but I feel safer to ask the pros here too!

 

Thanks to all who can provide some insight and some advice too! :B): I love this forum.

 

Cheers!

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Hi There,

 

I did the Sardine run two years ago and I only used my EF-s 10-22mm lens while diving and the whole time it was set at 10mm. I was lucky in that I had a Brydes Whale lunge feed through a bait ball and at its closest would have been no more 2-2.5m away even still the action is close and you shoot from the hip so to speak not with your eye in the view finder so that you can see what is going on around you (ie sharks , a few year back a diver did get bitten on th ehead as a shark bit the camera housing whiel the diver had it up to his mask). I also used the same lens with the Great Whites at Gansbai. You can see the photos on the attached links, none of the photos have been cropped.

 

Enjoy your trip over there.

 

regards

 

Matti

 

 

Sardine Run at Mboyti

http://www.mattiovaska.com/layout/0001/gallery_view.cfm?g=82

Great Whites at Gansbai

http://www.mattiovaska.com/layout/0001/gallery_view.cfm?g=85

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Thanks for the reply Matti. Awesome shots of the sardine run! That was some cool whale action you saw! What lens were you using for the topside breaching whales?

 

I am not familiar with Canon lenses. is the 10-22 just an ultrawide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel)? I assume so and that the Nikon equivalent would be the 12-24 DX lens. (I am using a crop sensor Nikon D300). Unfortunately, I don't have a 12-24. The lenses I have in my bag are the Tokina 10-17 Fisheye, Sigma 18-50 F2.8 HSM Macro and the Tokina 11-16 F2.8 ultrawide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) (for which I have no diopter yet or zoom gear.... but have enough time to purchase one)

 

I have not heard of too many people using the 11-16 wide UW. If there is anyone out there that uses it, what diopter do I need to get? I have both size extension rings for my sea and sea housing and optical dome port so that shouldn't be a problem.

 

From your shots, I think the 10-17 fisheye would work for many of the Sardine run shots.... I may take down the 18-50 on some dives to get tighter shots (at 18).... Is it worthwhile prepping my 11-16 wide for UW use? If I am not mistaken, some have said its a little soft at the corners? (I confess to not having done a forum search about this lens before typing this up and will do so after this).

 

Also, for the GW cage dive, I would probably be happier with the 18-50 or the 11-16 ultrawide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) (instead of the fisheye I think). I would much rather have a tighter crop on the GW than a lot of blue... the Tokina fisheye seems far too wide and I don't want shots of the cage.....

 

If there is anyone who would suggest something different, do tell! My camera bag is gonna get pretty heavy! Looking at using a 70-200 VR (and maybe TC) for breaching Great White shots (like in Air Jaws) and taking the 24mm TS/E for landscapes.....

 

 

 

Hi There,

 

I did the Sardine run two years ago and I only used my EF-s 10-22mm lens while diving and the whole time it was set at 10mm. I was lucky in that I had a Brydes Whale lunge feed through a bait ball and at its closest would have been no more 2-2.5m away even still the action is close and you shoot from the hip so to speak not with your eye in the view finder so that you can see what is going on around you (ie sharks , a few year back a diver did get bitten on th ehead as a shark bit the camera housing whiel the diver had it up to his mask). I also used the same lens with the Great Whites at Gansbai. You can see the photos on the attached links, none of the photos have been cropped.

 

Enjoy your trip over there.

 

regards

 

Matti

 

 

Sardine Run at Mboyti

http://www.mattiovaska.com/layout/0001/gallery_view.cfm?g=82

Great Whites at Gansbai

http://www.mattiovaska.com/layout/0001/gallery_view.cfm?g=85

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I also did the Sardine Run 2 years ago with my Canon 10-22 and as Matti says, it was on 10mm 99% of the time - gallery at http://gallery.me.com/philsokol#100166. The Tokina 10-17 should work well.

 

I'd also use the Tokina for the Great Whites u/w. I never got in the water in False Bay, but I can say the vis was bad. You're probably gonna need to have the sharks come in very close to the cage to get anything and I think your 18-50 might be too long. On the other hand, if the vis is decent the wide end will work as well.

 

For the topside breaching, the guy who ran our boat, Chris Fallows, has ridiculously amazing shots (widely published) and he recommended the 70-200 f2.8. I was using my 100-400 and didn't get anything decent the one day I was able to go out.

 

You will have a great trip!

 

Phil

Edited by philsokol

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I also did the Sardine Run 2 years ago with my Canon 10-22 and as Matti says, it was on 10mm 99% of the time - gallery at http://gallery.me.com/philsokol#100166. The Tokina 10-17 should work well.

 

I'd also use the Tokina for the Great Whites u/w. I never got in the water in False Bay, but I can say the vis was bad. You're probably gonna need to have the sharks come in very close to the cage to get anything and I think your 18-50 might be too long. On the other hand, if the vis is decent the wide end will work as well.

 

For the topside breaching, the guy who ran our boat, Chris Fallows, has ridiculously amazing shots (widely published) and he recommended the 70-200 f2.8. I was using my 100-400 and didn't get anything decent the one day I was able to go out.

 

You will have a great trip!

 

Phil

 

 

Thanks for that Phil! I did some research on that lens though... the Canon 10-22 is an ultrawide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) and not a fisheye? The Tokina may give much wider shots... having said that... I wonder what the Tokina Fisheye at 17mm is like compared to the 10-22 at 10mm... In this case, the Canon is actually more like the Tokina 11-16mm ultrawide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel). I have not taken this lens UW yet and must do some research here about diopters and port extensions for my Sea & Sea optical dome... not sure if its even recommended....

 

You have some spectacular shots there Phil. How successful was your run? Did you get out each day and for how many days? I love some of the closeups you got and assume the sharks were almost touching your dome?

 

I guess you will have to have a really good trigger finger to get good breaching shots and reflexes of a cat.... I gave myself a few additional days to do this... will probably go out 3 times at False bay over two days.... may even do more if the breaching sharks infuriate me with poor shots...

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Hmmm... yes... I am planning to go with Apex Predators... Chris Fallows is the operator I believe. I thought it would be better to go with them as their cage is a 3 man cage that takes 2 at a go... much better I thought for photographers than to have 4 people at a time in many other operations... I hope the water is clearer then :)

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I would try the Tonkina 11-16 rectilinear with a +2 B&W close-up lens. Without the dioptre I suspect the corners will be soft. I have the Nikon 12-24 which is unuseable without a dioptre behind a Seacam 9" Superdome. With a dioptre the corners are pretty good, but you sacrifice angle-of-view with a dioptre.

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I would try the Tonkina 11-16 rectilinear with a +2 B&W close-up lens. Without the dioptre I suspect the corners will be soft. I have the Nikon 12-24 which is unuseable without a dioptre behind a Seacam 9" Superdome. With a dioptre the corners are pretty good, but you sacrifice angle-of-view with a dioptre.

 

Thanks Pete, I will give it a go.... didn't know what diopter to get and don't have any to test. I also fooled around with the 10-17 and a 1.4TC. Added elastic bands and managed to use another focus gear for it. It seems to give a similar FOV to that of my 11-16 at it's widest but of course with some barrel distortion from being a fisheye.... That may be a good solution for me I think... will try that combination in Maldives next week but will also try find a +2 diopter for my 11-16. Thanks for the tip Pete!

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Let us know how things turn out! I was going to post this exact question (10-17 vs 17-40 for white sharks in SA), and would love to know what you ended up doing. Have fun!

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Hi There,

 

I can't quite recall what the actual angle of view was on the Canon 10-22mm but if you are using something similar you won't be dissapointed, For the top side photos of the whales and dolphins I was using the Canon F2.8 70-200IS. I was using two cameras on board that trip, underwater it was a Canon 20D in an Ikelite housing with the 8" dome and for the above water a Canon 40D with the 70-200.

 

Have a great trip.

 

Matti

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I am also heading to the Sardine Run for end of June. I am definitely trying the Tokina at 10mm...I was wondering if you guys could advise on whether or not to use strobes???

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I have done 2 sardine runs and am going on my 3rd this year the last one was easy as I was shooting a cropped sensor camera so the tokina covered me and I was very happy with this as my lens choice. This year I will be shooting A 5DMkii and have no idea which lens to use.

 

Option 1: Canon 15mm Fisheye – concerned about this being too wide 180 degree view.

Option 2: Canon 16-35mm mkii – concerned about this being too narrow 108 degree view and also more bulky to freedive with.

Option 3: Tokina 10-17mm with Kenko 1.4x converter – concerned about the image quality and corner softness.

Option 4: Canon 15 mm fisheye with Kenko 1.4x converter – concerned about the image quality and corner softness.

 

For those of you who have had experience on the sardine run you will know that sometimes you only get 10 minutes to get those shots and the rest on the week can be spent sitting on the boat looking for the action.

So this makes the lens choice all that more important as you might not get that second chance. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks

Mark

 

P.S. you will definitely want strobes to fill in those shadows.

Edited by MJvC

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I am definitely going to take the Tokina and shoot it at probably 13-17... having used the Tokina on a D300 (cropped sensor) with a 1.4 TC almost 90% on a trip to the Maldives last month, I think I may be using that combination a lot too during the run. Basically, its shoot scenes with whole baitballs using the Tokina and then hunting for individual shark and dolphin shots with the TC attached. The 10mm is simply too wide for the kind of shots I want to take.

 

Mark, this will be my first run. What are my chances of getting within touching distance of these sharks if and when the action is on? I am hoping to get more individual shark shots than complete WA scenes.... An example from my trip last month in the Maldives... a 2m Grey Reef that came almost within touching distance before turning away. Shot with a Cop sensor D300 and Tokina 10-17 with 1.4x TC

 

Do you have any page suggestions for people who want to follow how the run is doing this year? I have only found this Sardine Run report from an fisherman who updates his information regularly;

 

http://raymonddebruyn.myblogger.co.za/about/

 

4639068743_17f1318745_b.jpg

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I am definitely going to take the Tokina and shoot it at probably 13-17... having used the Tokina on a D300 (cropped sensor) with a 1.4 TC almost 90% on a trip to the Maldives last month, I think I may be using that combination a lot too during the run. Basically, its shoot scenes with whole baitballs using the Tokina and then hunting for individual shark and dolphin shots with the TC attached. The 10mm is simply too wide for the kind of shots I want to take.

 

Mark, this will be my first run. What are my chances of getting within touching distance of these sharks if and when the action is on? I am hoping to get more individual shark shots than complete WA scenes.... An example from my trip last month in the Maldives... a 2m Grey Reef that came almost within touching distance before turning away. Shot with a Cop sensor D300 and Tokina 10-17 with 1.4x TC

 

Do you have any page suggestions for people who want to follow how the run is doing this year? I have only found this Sardine Run report from an fisherman who updates his information regularly;

 

http://raymonddebruyn.myblogger.co.za/about/

 

Getting close to the animals is dependent on a lot of factors.

How close are prepared to get to the baitball will really determine how close you are able to get to the sharks. If your operator allows you to get close or enveloped by the baitball then your chances of getting those tight shots are really good. The sharks plunge right through the baitball with their mouths snapping so as you can imagine it can be quite dangerous. The other factor is how much of a frenzy there is around the bait ball. If the action is good and the sharks are feeding actively then there is no problem with scuba diving but if the sharks are just hanging around then as soon as there more than 2 scuba divers in the water the sharks seem to vanish. In this situation freediving might yield better results. You have to be able to get kitted up and in the water quite quickilt as some of the baitballs only hang around for a few minutes .

 

Good luck and be safe

 

P.S. The blog you are using for your reports is the same one I use.

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Thanks for the tip MArk... very useful info for a someone on their first time. Didn't consider sharks emerging from the baitball with their mouths wide open... *duh*... silly me. You are indeed right... many factors to consider.

 

Had a friend dive Protea Banks last week. No sardines yet as they were all still too far out. Water apparently still too warm. Someone else on the Scubaboard forums also seemed to confirm this. May indicate a slightly later than usual run (for divers)... Waiting on some other first hand news today and tomorrow...

 

Cheers,

KB

Edited by eskasi

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I'm booked for the last week of June/first week of July. As of right now things aren't looking great, but there's still time for a big swell or two to bring the cold water up. Here's some links to watch.

 

Sea Temp Chart (start praying for more blues!)

 

Sea Temp Anomaly Chart (shows most of the coast being +1-2 degrees above average for this time of year)

 

Swell Chart (start praying for more reds!)

 

 

Either way I can't wait because at the end of the day you are probably still going to do a lot of great shark diving and probably see lots of dolphins too. Not to mention the World Cup. So let's cross our fingers, build up good karma, give a few extra pennies to Buddha at the Chinese restaurant or whatever else it takes to appease the weather gods.

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There was a lot of lens examples in this thread:

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=29411

It also comes down to preference. Shooting fisheye you get nice scenes but you won't get up close and personal. The best shots I've seen have been rectilinear, 20+mm (APS equivalent). Doug's shot was a 14mm on a 1.6x I believe or maybe it was a 15mm fisheye. And it was cropped too.

 

FYi I'm in the transkei right now. You can follow Twitter updates on http://twitter.com/wpoceansafari

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What size dome are people using in cages? Will most cage holes allow an 8 inch dome to comfortably fit through, and allow for easy manouvreablity for composition?

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What size dome are people using in cages? Will most cage holes allow an 8 inch dome to comfortably fit through, and allow for easy manouvreablity for composition?

 

 

I actually asked the operators if their cage allowed for DSLRs with dome ports. It depends on the operation you go with I think. Some cages won't be able to accomodate even a small dome port... Not only did I not want to shoot with the cage visible, I also did not want to be in a cage with 4-5 other people.

 

I chose Apex Predators (Cape Town) out of False Bay. They have a 3 man cage but only take 2 at a time. This means much better angle opportunities. Going during peak season at False Bay also means being able to watch and hopefully shoot the sharks breach and attack seals (or the artificial seal/board) at dawn. Its where "Air JAws" was filmed. I was told that I can easily use a DSLR with a dome port... but using strobes would get tricky... I will probably still try using strobes on short arms if possible... I want to light those bellies!

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There was a lot of lens examples in this thread:

http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=29411

It also comes down to preference. Shooting fisheye you get nice scenes but you won't get up close and personal. The best shots I've seen have been rectilinear, 20+mm (APS equivalent). Doug's shot was a 14mm on a 1.6x I believe or maybe it was a 15mm fisheye. And it was cropped too.

 

FYi I'm in the transkei right now. You can follow Twitter updates on http://twitter.com/wpoceansafari

 

 

Thanks for those links and the info bro! Very useful. Good luck... I am following your progress on twitter :B):

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I can't speak to what you should use on the sardine run - wish I could though.... but I have done several great white trips in South Australia and recently added a dedicated page on my site on lessons learned and general technique & equipment related issues which may help with the cage diving question.

 

Here is the link: http://www.indopacificimages.com/index.php...rk-cage-diving/

 

Don

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