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the_shooter

Housing for S2...recommendations?

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Hi,

 

I am an experienced land photographer looking to dive into u/w photography. So in terms of U/W I am a complete newbie.

 

I have an S2 Pro, 17-35, SB80dx. What else do I need to do u/w? What housing do you recommend? Ikelite seems to be the cheaper than Sea and Sea, Aquatica. Any reasons? Your views will be very helpful to me.

 

Thanks.

 

With regards,

Louis

www.pbase.com/louispang/

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You will need some mounting arms, an underwater flash (or a housing for your SB80DX), and a cord to connect the flash to the camera.

 

The 17-35 is a good starter lens (except for the $$$$) as it focuses close and will be good for fish shots and middle wideangle.

 

As for housings, you can choose from:

 

Sea and Sea

Aquatica

Ikelite

Subal

Seacam

 

They all have their pros and cons, but in general (very general) terms, they are easier to use and have more features, the more $$$ you spend. It's a shame, but it's life.

 

Cheers

James

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Hi.

 

There are reviews of two housings for the Fuji S2 on this site, one for the Aquatica S2 housing, by James Wiseman...

 

Aquatica S2 Review

 

and one I wrote about the Subal FS2 housing...

 

Subal FS2 Review

 

I've used the 17-35 mm lens extensively with the Suba housing, using the FE2 dome, a 52 mm. extension ring and a +2 diopter. The results have been very satisfying. The 17-35 m is excellent for close-focus medium wide-angle and fish portraits. For reef scenics, the 12-24 DX, which uses the same extension ring with the FE2 dome on the Subal, may be a better choice.

 

All the housings made for this camera you mention have their adherents and probably would suffice, though I do know one photographer who sold his Ikelite housing for the S2 and replaced it with an Aquatica. I've been very happy with the Subal housing. For me, the most important considerations in selecting a housing for this camera would be availability of high-quality ports that can be made to work well with the lens you will want to use (both now and in the future). For some of us, "high quality" for wide-angle would mean big glass - an 8 inch diameter glass (not acrylic) dome. For macro, having the ability to shift to manual focus on the 60 mm and 105 mm micro lenses can also be important in some situations - not all macro ports have this feature.

 

Subal makes a housing for the SB-80 DX, but apparently there have been problems with getting this to work - see the Lighting section for extended discussions. Even if those problems can be solved, I'm doubtful whether this flash is really the best choice for wide-angle work underwater. I'd advise you to consider acquiring a pair of good dedicated underwater strobes. Ikelite, Inon, and Sea&Sea are some makes you might consider.

 

Whether you house the SB-80DX or use dedicated underwater strobes, you'll need an arm system to mount the strobes onto the housing and a synch cord (or cords) to connect the strobe(s) with the bulkhead port on the housing. ULCS (Ultralight Control Systems) is one of the best arm systems, and Ikelite also manufacture their own proprietary arm systems for their housings and strobes.

 

The arms can be mounted directly onto the housing, or you may want to consider purchasing a tray (basically just a bar bolted to the bottom of the housing to which handles and arms can be attached. In the case of the Subal housing, I've found that using a tray and mounting the strobe arms on top of the handles works better than arms mounted directly on the housing, and this may aalso pply to other housings using big glass domes with extension rings. This is because the large FE2 dome is very buoyant. When mounted on an extension ring (necessary when using the 12-24 or 17-35 lenses), the dome exerts a strong twisting torque, which wants to turn the housing face-up. Mounting the arms on a tray bolted to the bottom of the housing improves the balance of the housing and makes it much easier to use, including holding and operating the housing one-handed.

 

Robert Delfs

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Let me go through the list with my thoughts.

 

Aquatica makes a great product, aluminium construction. They have a great choice of ports (including a big dome) and pricing is very reasonable. They have a standard Nikonos style strobe connector. They are an excellent product, at a great price point, and would be my choice. Aquatica are also believed to have a housing for the SB80DX in the pipeline.

 

Ikelite's housings are made from a clear polycarbonate, and are very reliable products, with a wide range of lens ports. They are great value for money. Only real downsides for mine are: lack of a big dome port; the proprietary strobe bulkhead connector limits your choice of strobes; size (they are a large housing). OTOH, the o-rings are visible, and you can see a leak or incorrectly positioned o-ring. Ike is known for top notch, first class customer support. Their strobes are excellent, and are my first choice for UW lighting.

 

Sea & Sea - traditionally an excellent product, but I think they have come up short in the digital SLR housing market. They have foresaken the slim, well finished product they had in the 35mm SLR housings, and gone with a large, boxy product. The plastic back has been prone to control mis-alignment under pressure. Great range of ports, and a standard Nikon 5-pin strobe connector.

 

Subal - my last choice. A really well finished product, great range of ports and standard connectors. But, expensive, and every Subal I owner I know has had a flood or near miss through the bayonet mount used on the ports. Service and support varies from country to country (although this is the same for all, but at least with Aquatica and especially Ikelite, their head office is very attentive).

 

Seacam - first class product that has all the good features of a metal housing, standard strobe connectors, glass ports, and an amazing viewfinder system. Stephen Frink of Seacam USA is on these boards, and provides good support, as does Michael AW in Australia. Very expensive.

 

I would personally recommend you consider Aquatica housing and Ikelite DS125 strobes. But hey, thats my digital setup of choice!

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Ikelite seems to be the cheaper than Sea and Sea, Aquatica. Any reasons? Your views will be very helpful to me.

 

While generally true, list price for the Ikelite S2 housing is $1800, while Sea & Sea and Aquatica are only slightly higher.

 

Ikelite is mostly plastic, including ports. Sea & Sea is also non-aluminum. Aquatica is aluminum.

 

Another important feature is port compatibility. While Ikelite ports are cheaper, making the overall system less expensive, it often requires using/carrying several more ports if you use a variety of lenses. With Aquatica, I carry two ports and several extensions that allow me to use 5 different lenses.

 

The 17-35mm is a great lens, underwater and topside. It is my most used lens.

 

Ikelite doesn't have a port system that allows the use of this lens. The Aquatica does.

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Ikelite doesn't have a port system that allows the use of this lens. Aquatica does.

 

 

I don't think that this is a fair statement. I am now using the aluminum backed Ike housing for the S2 and use the 18-35mm lens with Ike's wide dome port (6 inch). I also use the 12-24mm lens with the same port. I know there has been some discussion regarding the lack of sharp edges at some of the widest angles, but I have been very happy with these combinations overall. The zoom gears for each of these lenses also work very well.

 

If given a 2nd chance at choosing systems, I would choose the Ikelite again.

 

Just my 2 cents worth,

 

John

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THe 17-35 and many other lenses are not compatible with the Ikelite port system. They are too "fat."

 

Cheers

James

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James,

 

By "too fat" do you mean that the lenses are physically too big to fit in Ike's port? I thought the 17-35mm lens was similar in size to the 18-35mm (both nikon). I know the 18-35mm and the 12-24mm will physically fit.

 

The 17-35mm and many other lenses are not compatible with the Ikelite port system.

 

From what I understand, the only commonly (at least on this board) used lens which will not fit in Ike's ports is the 70-180mm micro.

 

John

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From what I understand, the only commonly (at least on this board) used lens which will not fit in Ike's ports is the 70-180mm micro.

And that's what makes this board so great! :D

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You will need some mounting arms, an underwater flash (or a housing for your SB80DX), and a cord to connect the flash to the camera.

Do you mean that apart from getting a housing, I'll also need to buy mounting arms, and housing for SB80DX or strobes?

 

I've read somewhere that SB80DX is not suitable for u/w because its coverage is not wide enough. Is that true?

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Hi,

 

Thanks for the pouring of information to my first post. Now I am breaking down considerations to a u/w photography system to the following (and correct me if I am wrong)

 

1. Housing

Does every housing come with arms or arms need to be purchased separately?

 

2. Ports & dome

Unlike land photography where one only needs to get the right lens for the camera (D lens for newer Nikon camera, etc), in U/W one needs to buy the ports & domes for the lens.

 

3. Strobes

Are there non-porpriety strobes which can work on any house/arm system? What are you considerations in getting a strobe? Do you need different strobes for different shots (ie macro, wide/scenic, mid/wide) or the strobes will be able to cover all situation.

 

Clearly these are newbie questions. I hope this is not to elementary for this forum :D

 

Thanks again for your help.

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Hi Louis,

 

You CAN use the SB80DX housed, but the housing will cost you almost as much or more than just buying an underwater strobe. Also, it's only good for macro shooting, IMO.

 

Cheers

James

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Hi,

 

Thanks for the pouring of information to my first post. Now I am breaking down considerations to a u/w photography system to the following (and correct me if I am wrong)

 

1. Housing

Does every housing come with arms or arms need to be purchased separately?

 

2. Ports & dome

Unlike land photography where one only needs to get the right lens for the camera (D lens for newer Nikon camera, etc), in U/W one needs to buy the ports & domes for the lens.

 

3. Strobes

Are there non-porpriety strobes which can work on any house/arm system? What are you considerations in getting a strobe? Do you need different strobes for different shots (ie macro, wide/scenic, mid/wide) or the strobes will be able to cover all situation. Housing land strobes is not optimal, and really not optimal if you can't dedicate them to the task - I believe you are better off with dedicated UW strobes.

 

Clearly these are newbie questions. I hope this is not to elementary for this forum  :D

 

Thanks again for your help.

1. Strobe arms need to be bought separately. The housing is just the base model for housing the camera and controlling the camera. You also need to buy ports for your housing to fit your lenses - these are also considered separate items. So you need to buy housing, strobes, strobe arms, strobe cords (these are also separate) and ports for your lenses.

 

2. Yep. And the optics discussion about wide angle lenses, dome ports and soft edges will fill several books. Glass is the most consistant optically but is heavy and gets scratched easily and is expensive. Acrylic is lighter and has the same properties as water so minor scratching is not noticable - also cheaper.... That is the executive summary.

 

3. Strobes - MOST strobes work with most housings. There are several different types of connectors - Ikeilite (used by Ikelite), couple from Sea & Sea (used by Sea & Sea) and Nikonos (used by most others). You can buy cords that will connect most to most, but some don't work well. Worth asking or sticking to one manufacturer fairly consistantly. Also TTL for DSLR is not always available - fortunelty you have a S2 so you have a wide range of strobes you can use and still maintain TTL. I'd stick to Ikelite or INON if you buy a non-Sea & Sea housing (which you will want to do - Sea&Sea has not done a good job on the S2 housing IMHO - especially compared to their great film camera housings).

 

S2 housings - a few quality choices from the least expensive to the most expensive. I'll not go into why - but I currently have an Aquatica housing with Ikelite Strobes. The strobes are hold overs from my film housing.

 

Not the easist decision in the world to make. There are plenty of S2 users on this forum so we have lots of opinions which we are more than happy to share...

 

 

M

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I don't think that this is a fair statement.

 

Why is that not a fair statement? the_shooter has a 17-35mm lens already. This is a $1300+ lens of great quality. Why would it be unfair to point out that he can't use it with an Ikelite housing. It's a fact as stated on Ikelite's website.

 

From what I understand, the only commonly (at least on this board) used lens which will not fit in Ike's ports is the 70-180mm micro

 

I wouldn't classify the 70-180 as common, but it's not the only lens not supported by Ikelite. I couldn't get a port for my 200mm micro either.

 

I've owned and shot an Ikelite housing for several years. As I built up my lens inventory, my port inventory also grew. If you shoot wide angle, 16mm fisheye, 60mm and 105mm, you can end up packing four ports. For the same lenses, I pack one dome and one flat port with short extension.

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1. Housing

Does every housing come with arms or arms need to be purchased separately?

 

2. Ports & dome

Unlike land photography where one only needs to get the right lens for the camera (D lens for newer Nikon camera, etc), in U/W one needs to buy the ports & domes for the lens.

 

3. Strobes

Are there non-proprietary strobes which can work on any house/arm system? What are you considerations in getting a strobe? Do you need different strobes for different shots (ie macro, wide/scenic, mid/wide) or the strobes will be able to cover all situation.

Ikelite sells arms for their housings, and perhaps a few other manufacturers as well. But a lot of u/w photographers buy arm systems components separately, according to what they want and need. For wide-angle, you will probably want an arm (or ideally two arms) made up of two fairly long (12") segments to get the strobes way out to the sides (or up, if you are only using one strobe). I like ULCS myself.

 

For macro, the strobes need to positioned much more close to the housing and subject, so you would probably want to use one or two very short segments. In addition to these segments, the arm system would include a clambs which connect segments and other components and fittings to connect with your strobe and a T-plate or dove-tail fitting on your housing, which you may need to purchase. All these components can be used with either macro or wide-angle arm configurations.

 

2) Ports and domes. Ports are either flat or dome. Dome ports (with a hemispherical glass or acrylic lens) are used for wide-angle, flat ports for macro. In general, you should be able to use a dome port for a wide variety of wide-angle and wide-angle zoom lenses by adding extension rings to position the curvature of the dome correctly with respect to the optical characteristics of different lenses. But there are some dome ports which can handle the general run of wide-angle lenses but may not work with ultra-wide (weitwinkel) angle or fish-eye lenses.

 

With flat ports, the key factor is the length of the port. If you want to use both 60 mm and 105 mm macro lenses, you will need two flat ports, though you could also use a 60 mm port with an extension ring for the 105 mm lens, but probably only if you were willing to give up manual focusing.

 

3) Strobes. Electronically, strobes connect to the camera through the housing circuitry, so in theory any strobe that can work with your camera should do. In real life, the problem comes with the synch cords and bulkhead connectors. Many housings come with Nikonos-style connectors in the bulkhead ports, which can be used with any strobe for which a synch cord is available with a Nikonos-style male connector on the housing end. That adds up to every strobe manufactured that I know about. If the housing you are looking at has a different kind of connector on the bulkhead port, check and make sure that synch cords are available that will allow you to connect the strobes you want to use.

 

Some photographers do use different strobes for wide-angle and macro. And it's true that you can generally use smaller strobes with narrower beams for macro. But I (and many others) believe that large wide-beam strobes can be used perfectly well for both. I have a pair of Ikelite SS200's, which are very powerful and wide-beamed and excellent for wide-angle, which I also find perfectly OK for macro. (I should add that if you're shooting macro with large wide-angle strobes, it's probably easier with the 105 mm than the 60 mm. macro, because the 105 mm gives you more working distance, which makes it easier to position the large strobes.) I also have a pair of Sea&Sea YS-90DXs, which are less powerful than the SS200s, but which I also use for both wide-angle and macro.

 

(The only reason I have two sets of strobes is that I live in Indonesia, and it can take several months to get a strobe back after I have sent it back to the US for repair.)

 

Robert Delfs

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Just to clarify. I may have mixed up my quotes.

 

I thought that the statement that "many lenses were not supported by Ikelite's port system" was an unfair statement. Two lenses, one of which I wasn't aware of people using, did not seem like "many" to me. Maybe I'm just getting defensive of Ikelite but, personally, the 6omm, 105mm, 18-35mm and 12-24mm provides all of my needs (for now :D ).

 

I was also under the impression that the 17-35mm WAS usable. I now admit that I was wrong.

 

I agree that if I already owned the 17-35mm lens I would go with a housing that supported it.

 

John

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By "too fat" do you mean that the lenses are physically too big to fit in Ike's port? I thought the 17-35mm lens was similar in size to the 18-35mm (both nikon)

 

The 17-35 is an F/2.8 throughout it's range and is considerably larger in diameter than the 18-35. It will not work with Ike's housing.

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Scottyb,

 

Didn't you just get back from somewhere (Bonaire?). How was it. Weren't you using the 12-24DX for the first time?

 

 

John

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I did return from Bonaire last week. I had some success with the 12-24 but I'm not sure how well it is going to work with Ike's small dome. With the exception of WA closeups, I had no luck using the +4 diopter that is recommended. I will continue trying different combos on my next trip on the Cayman Aggressor. Hopefully, I will get some filter advice here beforehand.

 

I miss that Provia/Velvia surreal blue water.

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Talk to Craig about the filters. He got some incredible blue water shots on his Turks and Caicos trip.

 

Cheers

James

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Scottyb,

 

I've been using the 12-24DX wtih the +2 diopter. Give that a try.

 

John

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I did return from Bonaire last week. I had some success with the 12-24 but I'm not sure how well it is going to work with Ike's small dome. With the exception of WA closeups, I had no luck using the +4 diopter that is recommended. I will continue trying different combos on my next trip on the Cayman Aggressor. Hopefully, I will get some filter advice here beforehand.

 

I miss that Provia/Velvia surreal blue water.

I have been hearing many rumours that Ike is going to release a 'big' dome. One of my 'friends' even said he had one but I haven't seen him for several months and he is notorioulsy unreliable. Maybe Ike can confirm this one way or another.

 

The only thing I really miss is getting the detail in sun bursts - so I need more dynamic range of colours. I actually don't miss the surreal blue water very much.

 

BTW, the 12-24mm DX lens maybe the best lens I have ever put on a camera - it is outstanding. I have been using it behind the Aquatica large dome and I am not seeing any soft corners (except when it is my fault).

 

M

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I've been using the 12-24DX wtih the +2 diopter. Give that a try.

John, I am plannining to take a +1 and +2 on the next trip. I will be more inclined to experiment on the live-aboard.

 

BTW, the 12-24mm DX lens maybe the best lens I have ever put on a camera - it is outstanding. I have been using it behind the Aquatica large dome and I am not seeing any soft corners

 

I agree, I am impressed with the lenses sharpness. I just need to work on the combination. Better yet, maybe your friend is right and there is an 8" dome in the works.

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