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Seacam Handles

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I dropped my Seacam housing onto some nice soft concrete last weekend. Fortunately it landed on teh handle. Unfortunately it bent teh handle so that the housing lock on one side won't open fully. Has anyone tried to strighten these handles. I'm afraid if I try brute force it will break.

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Why don't you unscrew the handle using an allen key? Then go to your Seacam dealer to get a new one. Or you could switch to ULCS arms which have a bit more flexibility in distance setup. I prefer the Seacam handles for my hands but it's definitely a personal thing.

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I dropped my Seacam housing onto some nice soft concrete last weekend. Fortunately it landed on teh handle. Unfortunately it bent teh handle so that the housing lock on one side won't open fully. Has anyone tried to strighten these handles. I'm afraid if I try brute force it will break.

 

I bented Seacam handle few times when I was using Seacam housing & it was not a big deal to

fix it as Seacam handle was kind of soft. Also, there was same story in Q&A in Seacam USA

web site about bent handle. I fixed it with rubber hammer myself.

 

Sam

Edited by shchae

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They should straighten - I've bent a few straight anyway - just unscrew them first! I think that the idea was that the older type, metal handles absorbed the energy of the impact if dropped - by bending! The current handles are made of a plastic material and also absorb energy but they don't bend - they are interchangeable with the older metal ones so you can replace them easily enough if you want to.

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I have never liked the fact that Seacam attaches their handles to the rear half of the housing. Mechanically it makes no sense. Almost all the weight of the housing - the front portion of the housing, the port and any extension tubes, the camera and lens, and any strobes attached to the housing - are all in the front half of the housing. Having the handles on the rear half, and carrying the housing by those handles puts all the stress of the weight on the two latches and two locating pins. If a catch should give way or come open, the whole front portion with the camera might go crashing to the ground.

 

I finally did something about this. On my new D700 housings I've attached bars to the strobe mount blocks. And attached nice comfortable rubber-covered Ikelite handgrips to the bars. This also lets me place the housing on my legs, with the port aimed downward between my legs, so that I can simply remove the housing back to change either the compact flash card or the camera battery without ever taking the camera body out of the housing.

 

This allows me to leave the D700 camera body in place for day after day of diving. And the port in place as well if I don't want to change lenses. For most days that I've been shooting here in Bali, I've dived with the Nikon 24-85 in one housing and the 105mm with a short extension tube in the other. All I need to do most evenings is simply take off the housing back, download the CF card and put it back in the camera, and change the camera battery. And then put the housing back on again. Just a quick three to five minute operation.

 

Plus recharge my strobe batteries.

 

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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I highly recommend swapping for the plastic handles. They are light and provide a MUCH better grib than the slippery metal ones.

 

Cheers

James

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James

 

I fully agree - I replaced older handles on my existing housing as soon as the new ones were available - much better!

 

Fred

 

Whilst I follow your reasoning, in practice this is a none issue and I have never heard anyone query the handle placement prior to your post. In practice AFAIAA its not a problem and I too often place the port between my knees during dis-assembly.

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Paul,

 

Since I am not a habitual internet dweller, I am not familiar with what your acronym AFAIAA means. Perhaps it stands for - As Far As I Am..???. Whatever it means, I simply said that I have found the rear handles illogical from a mechanical standpoint, and sometimes irritating. And solved the problem by attaching different handgrips onto the front half of the housing. And though I, too, often placed M y F5 housings between my legs when changing the film, this worked better with a thinner diameter port, such as any macro port, but was, I felt, more precarious with a superdome mounted. And rather than just complain, I did something about it. Also, when you lift off the rear half of a housing with the rear-mounted handles, the curves in the metal handles were a place a little water might remain and might drip onto the camera as you lifted the rear housing half off. I haven't used Seacam's new handles so I can't really comment on them. And I didn't.

 

People might think I am only looking for faults in Seacam. If I owned another housing I would be equally critical. But despite the things that I didn't like, I did buy Seacam again, two of the D700's. And certainly this decision was made in large part so that I could continue to use my considerable number of ports, extension tubes and custom-made lens gears including manual focusing gears Seacam doesn't make at all. I do feel that Seacam has done some things very well. I DO LIKE Seacam's new style housing latches. Much better than the previous style. I ALSO LIKE that Seacam has moved the push buttons for auto-focus selection to the right where they can be pushed with your had remaining on the right handgrip. With the housing at your eye! They don't always work as smoothly as I would like, but it is still a big improvement.

 

I also feel that the silver color of the Seacam housing has several disadvantages. Firstly, my own experience suggests that many small animals become more "aware" of a housing sooner if it is brightly colored and may react adversely sooner than if the housing is darker. I did a fairly extensive test with a white F4 Aquatica vs a camou painted F4 Aquatica on shrimp gobies about fifteen years ago. Moving first one housing and then the other a couple inches closer to the shrimp goby. About 70% of the time the goby "dove" when the white Aquatica moved, even if it was only being move to the same distance from the goby at which the camou housing had already been moved. I feel the same is true, or maybe even more true, with Seacam silver. Maybe the housing appears a bit like a silvery predatory fish like a jack. I have covered the front of my D700 housings with a black PVC tape which holds well in the salt water. And have been satisfied with the results. On my current trip, in Bali, there have been a number of times when the bright sun reflecting off the back of the housing made it more difficult to see the image and the info on the LCD screen as I checked these after shooting. So additional black PVC tape on flat areas of the housing back and the viewfinder will be forthcoming.

 

I absolutely DO NOT LIKE that Seacam decided not to include a control on the D700 housing for the ambient light metering pattern. Different subjects are often handled better by different metering patterns and having to choose which one you will use on a dive, prior to the dive, is not a good idea in my opinion. When shooting in the manual exposure mode, and particularly more stationary subjects, I usually prefer spot metering and use this to determine the exposure setting for the "water color" component of the picture. And then use the spot meter again to read the primary subject which gives me an indication of what flash compensation setting to use with my i-TTL flashes. This works very well when conditions are fairly constant. When things are happening faster I may prefer matrix metering, sometimes using it in combination with either shutter or aperture priority exposure modes. And again use the flash compensation control to vary the flash output without affecting the ambient light meter reading or exposure. Seacam's lack of a metering pattern control made switching between the exposure modes impossible until I added a control which allows me to choose between two of the three metering patterns by depressing the function button on the D700 with a simple flip of a lever.

 

I absolutely DO NOT LIKE Seacam's new shutter release. It may look great on the shelf, but a wet finger tends to slide off when you try to use it. I have to put additional force pushing against side of the housing which makes a smooth slow release more difficult than the trigger on the F5 housing. So much so that I cut gooves in the control on one of my two housing. I like this much better and will do it to the second shutter release as soon as I have access to the right tools again. In the meantime, I'll use a razor blade to score the plastic.

 

I prefer that a housing allows me to use as many of a camera's capabilities as possible. Not one that limits my access to these capabiliites.

 

Despite already being the most expensive housing, Seacam charges an additional several hundred Euros for the M-S-C control on the D700 housing, a control which most other housings include as part of their standard fare. Will a metering pattern control be the next "pay extra" option with Seacam? Or maybe the shutter release?

 

Fred

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Fred

 

An interesting post but, as in most of life, I do have to say that preferences vary.

 

I know what you mean about wildlife becoming aware of a housing, however I am of the opinion that it is more to do with the port reflecting the subject matter and also perhaps looking like an eye (from a distance). Oddly enough I had this discussion a couple of weeks ago whilst diving to take identification photos of fish with (50 man-dives). The general opinion from the four of us involved (marine scientists/photographers), was that reflections of the fish being photographed were the most likely cause of fish (specifically gobies) becoming 'aware' of and reacting to the camera. Having, like yourself, dived with various housings (incuding the white F4 Aquatica) I'm still not convinced that colour plays an important part - perhaps a seaweed camouflage cover might be a test option (I have actually considered making something up myself, but it would need to break up the distinct outline of the port)?

 

As a manual exposure photographer for the vast majority of the time I would personally not bother with the metering option (I use Canon anyway) and I do much prefer the new shutter release as it stands (and I did Seacam 5D/5D2 dives back to back and found the later housing much to my preference).

 

So inevitably it seems from your post that not everyone will be happy with everything I'm afraid, and whilst these are, of course, my personal opinions and preferences, I can't speak for Seacam themselves about design/cost/control inclusion decisions.

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Hi again Paul,

 

I totally agree with you that individual preferences vary, which is why it is nice that there are a number of different housings on the market. Not just one.

 

I also agree that reflections from the front of the port could be a factor. Last December I had a coconut octopus leave his protective pieces of coconut shell and come right over to touch the small "macro dome" on the housing I was shooting him with. Did he see his reflection in the dome? Or did he look at the nice "dark hole" and wonder if it would make a better "home"? He didn't say. But he was sufficiently interested to investigate the port for himself.

 

In my shrimp-goby trials, both Aquatica housings had the same port on them, so the reflections factor should have balanced out over the long run, which left only housing color as a significant difference between the two. I frequently wear a camou-colored wetsuit, as do many spear fishermen, who feel the lack of a large defined shape sometimes allows them to get closer. Most of the time I think my camou wetsuit is good only for a few laughs. But maybe, just maybe, one dive in a hundred, something comes a bit closer or lets me come a bit closer. And I get a good shot that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. I think its the same with housing color. So I'll keep wearing the camou wetsuit. And keep darker tape on the front of my housing, though I'll probably add a few tan and olive green patches to the now all black front, which should break its shape a little better.

 

In the case of the reflected sunlight making the viewing of the LCD screen more difficult, there is no question in my mind that dark tape will help. And that on these rearward parts of the housing, a really flat black color, either anodizing or perhaps airbrushed on, would probably be even better than the smooth black tape. I used the same black PVC tape around the viewfinder on my F5 housings for years and there was no question in my mind that it helped. And others who used my F5 housings agreed. I'm a bit peeved at myself for not thinking of adding the tape before this Bali trip. Most of my earlier diving with the D700 housings had been under more subdued ambient light conditions where the silver color, and reflections off it, were somewhat less intrusive. But I think black would be better all the time on the back of the housing and viewfinder.

 

And yes, I almost certainly want, and am willing to pay for, more extensive controls and capabilities than many other underwater photographers who are willing to accept their housing just as it comes out of the box. On my housings, both the earlier F5 housings, and now the D700 housings, when I switch the auto-focus control lever from M to either S or C, the manual focus gear on the lens is automatically disengaged. I no longer have to try to pull out Seacam's smooth manual focus knob and rotate it to stand on a pin,in order to disengage the manual focus gear, a task which is almost impossible to accomplish against significant water pressure. And like the metering pattern on the D700 housing, it is something that you really need to decide on prior to the dive with Seacam housings, unless your lens is an AF-S type. The question I would ask is whether more underwater photographers would use manual focus more often, and gain the benefits of having this capability, if it was really simple for them to switch between manual focus and auto-focus when they wanted to? Again, its a matter of personal preference. And as always, I vote in favor of more choices and more capabilities.

 

Like you, I use manual exposure the majority of the time, but I like having the option to switch to an auto-exposure mode when it is to my benefit. If a fish swims around you in an arc, the ambient light falling on it, and the water color behind it, changes as the angle of the sunlight on the subject varies. Using an auto-exposure mode compensates for these differences more rapidly and more accurately than trying to continuously reset the shutter speed or the f-stop manually, which is why almost every serious camera, including your Canon 5D & 5D2 have these exposure modes. The less time and effort you spend on camera and housing mechanics, the more you can spend on things like composition and focus. And the more good pictures you get. Particularly on those one-shot opportunities.

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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