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heymo

Tips on shooting Black Water Dive?

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Hi All,

 

I'm heading to the Big Island in a couple weeks and planning to do the Black Water Dive while I'm there. I've done the dive before, but plan to try shooting it this time and could use some pointers.

 

I have a Canon 50D with an Ikelite housing, Ikelite DS160 and DS52 strobes.

 

What lens would you suggest? I have ports for a 10-20mm, 17-85 wide angle lenses, and 50mm & 100mm macro lenses.

 

Any suggestions or pointers would be greatly appreciated!

 

Beth

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Hi beth,

 

I've actually been reading up on the subject as I am planning my first trip to dive in Kona also. here's a few links I found after a quick search that seem to have some good tips.

 

Black Water Night Dive

 

Kona "Pelagic Magic" black water

 

I intend to start with my Nikon 60mm Macro, easy and fast focus. depending on how it does I may try the 105mm. I'll bring lots of light and just play with the strobes alot.

 

Take care,

john

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Hi beth,

 

I've actually been reading up on the subject as I am planning my first trip to dive in Kona also. here's a few links I found after a quick search that seem to have some good tips.

 

Black Water Night Dive

 

Kona "Pelagic Magic" black water

 

I intend to start with my Nikon 60mm Macro, easy and fast focus. depending on how it does I may try the 105mm. I'll bring lots of light and just play with the strobes alot.

 

Take care,

john

Nope, been there - done that. I used a Nikkor 60 mm macro with a flat port on a Nikon D80 APSC ~= 90 mm for full frame 35. It was too tight. I think my 17-70 or 10-17 FE + 1.4x TC in a dome port would have been better. You will need a very bright light and many of the subjects will be quite small and semi-translucent. I switched between AF and pre-focused MF. You will need excellent buoyancy control. The dive is AWESOME!!! That is a trite and over used pa, but it really is AWESOME!!!

Bob

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Thanks John, Bob. You've pointed out exactly the dilemma I'm hvaing...to shoot macro or wide angle lens.

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Thanks John, Bob. You've pointed out exactly the dilemma I'm hvaing...to shoot macro or wide angle lens.

Just did two of the dives. On the first, I used the 60 macro lens in autofocus. NO GOOD. (Canon 7d). On the second, I prefocused at about 4 inches and used the move the camera in and out method. MUCH MUCH better. The Tokina 10-17 with a teleconverter and small CFWA dome will be my next attempt. The guys who do the dive a lot shoot the 60 mostly pre-focused and cry when something big comes through. The 100 is way, way too hard for me at least.

Bill

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Thanks Bill. Really debating now between using the 50mm macro or the 17-85. The 17-85 is a crappy kit lens, but it gives me a better range of focal points to choose from. The 50mm may just be too limiting.

Edited by heymo

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Thanks John, Bob. You've pointed out exactly the dilemma I'm hvaing...to shoot macro or wide angle lens.

Hi Beth,

At the risk of being place on the rack for heresy, I have a modest proposal. Consider you end use for the images. Is it a double page spread for NG, may be some nice 11 x 14-teens for the den, or post on your web site? Shoot a little wide and crop. You will be drifting with the current, but your subjects will be going faster. Do you have rock solid buoyancy control? Will your subject be exactly where you want it in the frame? Your 50D has 15 Mpx. I think you only need about 8 mpx for a 200 dpi 11 x 14 print. Shoot wider and give yourself some breathing room and crop. If you do more than one of these dives, try both macro & a wider angle. I don’t know your system, but with the Bare mini dome port (4-3/4”) I can use the 10-17, 10-17 + 1.4x TC, and the 17-70 with a 50 mm PE. Smaller kit, less fuss, lots of range. You might consider replacing the 18-35 with a better lens that can shoot 1:2 macro with a fairly wide range.

Bob

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Thanks again Bob...that was my thought about shooting wide- more options as well as being able to shoot something bigger. (and there are some big things that float up from the depths!)

 

I would love to have the Tokina, but it is not made for my 50D. ( I believe there is one availbe for the 40D and below) I do have a 10-20 WA but I'd be afraid the critters would look like backscatter they'd be so small...eventually I will upgrade that lens but am limited to what ports Ikelite can accommodate as of now. I have a 24-105mmL- but the lens diameter is too wide for their port system.

 

Loftus- the Tokina 35mm DX Macro looks like a great lens...and would fit in the same port I use for my 50mm. But all the reviews I've read say you have to be right on top of what you're shooting to get the 1:1 ratio...and on this dive that's not always possible.

 

I really appreciate all your input. Will definitely post when we get back if I get anything, and will try to include metadata as well.

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Thanks Bill. Really debating now between using the 50mm macro or the 17-85. The 17-85 is a crappy kit lens, but it gives me a better range of focal points to choose from. The 50mm may just be too limiting.

If they are your only two choices use the 17-85, the 50 is only 1:2 and focuses so slowly as to be painful. The 35 macro is nice optically but extends so much that getting the working distance correct is really tricky.

Bill

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Bill- I should clarify. My 50mm Macro is a Sigma, and the ratio is 1:1....

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Hi Beth. My post on the subject was referenced above. I used the Canon 60 mm macro and would do so again. Many critters are quite small. I would have been unhappy without a macro lens. A VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY bright focus light will be your best bet. From my other thread:

 

I went to Jack's and bought a very bright focused beam flashlight. I chose the Princeton Tec Shockwave LED light. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the handle. I went to the local hardware store and picked up some stainless steel hardware. I mounted the light on my camera housing using my existing loc-line. The light is quite heavy outside the water and would break apart the loc-line. So I waited until I was in the water to connect the loc-line.

 

Once underwater the light worked great. I could easily focus, as long as I could keep the critter in the beam.

 

I can't emphasize enough the importance of a powerful spotlight if you want to use autofocus. A FIX Light or other bright wide focus light is completely inadequate.

 

Enjoy! It's an AWESOME dive. :)

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Hi Beth. My post on the subject was referenced above. I used the Canon 60 mm macro and would do so again. Many critters are quite small. I would have been unhappy without a macro lens. A VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY bright focus light will be your best bet. From my other thread:

 

 

 

I can't emphasize enough the importance of a powerful spotlight if you want to use autofocus. A FIX Light or other bright wide focus light is completely inadequate.

 

Enjoy! It's an AWESOME dive. :P

actually you need A VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERYA VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY bright focus light. My wifes 2 x 1200 lumen lights were fine. My 2 sola 600s not so many.

Bill

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I am planning this dive in late May/early June. Based on comments above, I take it my single 200 lumen Big Blue 1x5 is not nearly sufficient. Yikes! Not sufficient for autofocus only.. or not sufficient for taking pics at all?

And adding a 500 lumen Fix is not sufficient either and not even a sola 600? I am not looking to spend $1000 for lights for a single dive

Any suggestions for reasonably priced satisfaction on this dive?

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I am planning this dive in late May/early June. Based on comments above, I take it my single 200 lumen Big Blue 1x5 is not nearly sufficient. Yikes! Not sufficient for autofocus only.. or not sufficient for taking pics at all?

And adding a 500 lumen Fix is not sufficient either and not even a sola 600? I am not looking to spend $1000 for lights for a single dive

Any suggestions for reasonably priced satisfaction on this dive?

I used a LED 44 (220 lux) with an old model Nikkor 60 mm micro lens on a D80 body. The light is nowhere near bright enough, but sometimes it would AF. I mostly used MF & MF pre-focus. The light was bright enough for me to spot little critters. I suggest you use a wider lens than the 60 mm.

 

Since you have a Nexus housing, you can MF or AF. Consider renting a focus light.

 

Bob

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I am not understanding something here.

It seems the critters are small yet its suggested to use wider than 60mm. What am I missing?

I currently have a 60mm micro and a 10-17 with 1.4x in a small dome. Which is recommended and why?

Do some larger fish/creatures come around?

Edited by diver dave1

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I am not understanding something here.

It seems the critters are small yet its suggested to use wider than 60mm. What am I missing?

I currently have a 60mm micro and a 10-17 with 1.4x in a small dome. Which is recommended and why?

Do some larger fish/creatures come around?

Many folks suggest using the Tokina 10-18 with a 1.4 in the small dome with the understanding that the relatively infinite DOF will let you shoot like mad up close. There are occasionally some larger creatures but most are quite small. I went the 60 route, pre-focused. The next time I will go the 10-17 route with the 1.4 and see how it goes.

Bill

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Many folks suggest using the Tokina 10-18 with a 1.4 in the small dome with the understanding that the relatively infinite DOF will let you shoot like mad up close. There are occasionally some larger creatures but most are quite small. I went the 60 route, pre-focused. The next time I will go the 10-17 route with the 1.4 and see how it goes.

Bill

That's what I am thinking. If I do this dive again, may be the 10-17 + 1.4x TC or the Siggy 17-70. The Tokina would ceertainly be easier to use.

Bob

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To Follow up, The Black Water dive was fantastic! a truly unique experience.

 

I used a D200 w/ 60mm 2.8 D. 2x 90DX strobes on manual control and 2 focus lights. One to look far and one pointed to illuminate the critters once I had them in front of my lens.

 

I shot w/ autofocus, which seems good enough. the surge was just enough to make manual focus really hard.

 

I went with "Big Island Divers" which offer the Manta night dive and Black Water dive back-to-back on the same night. It makes for a long evening and we didn't get back until almost midnight, but that fit with my schedule better.

 

below are a few pics from the evening:

 

1206267378_8Jsjt-M-1.jpg

 

1206267423_UmtjC-M-1.jpg

 

1206267402_TzcjL-M-1.jpg

 

1206267410_wdLFo-M-1.jpg

 

Take care,

John

Edited by jarhed

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yahoo! sounds like fun. great photos.

 

Did you have good shots from the manta dive?

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Here's a few from the manta dive, it was challenging, mostly due to all the stuff in the water (plankton attracted to the lights, and all the silt kicked up by the numerous divers there.)

 

1206286663_99N49-M-1.jpg

 

1206286696_AcYNH-M-1.jpg

 

1206286709_a8gqz-M-1.jpg

 

Overall a fun and very rewarding experience. We were luck to have over a dozen mantas feeding around us for about an hour.

 

I used the Tokina 10-17 for these and generally used other lights to focus to avoid all the "stuff" attracted to the lights from gathering in front of my dome. because the D200 isn't too good at high ISO, I tried to keep it below ISO 200.

 

Take care,

john

Edited by jarhed

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I used a D200 w/ 60mm 2.8 D. 2x 90DX strobes on manual control and 2 focus lights. One to look far and one pointed to illuminate the critters once I had them in front of my lens.

 

I shot w/ autofocus, which seems good enough. the surge was just enough to make manual focus really hard.

 

John,

Do you recall what 2 focus lights you used?

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What I really need... is someone interested in renting a very powerful light for this dive. Since its a short term need for me and a significant purchase, it seems to make sense to rent the light if someone is willing to offer a rental. The dive shops do not rent anything powerful enough which is not too surprising.

 

anyone interested in renting a 500 lumen or stronger light for this dive? We can work together to make certain its insured for the dive and trip, etc.

 

dave

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