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gregarius

Best BC for U/W Shooters

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I've been diving a long time but have just started getting into U/W photography.

 

The information on this board is incredibly helpful for camera gear, strobes, housings.... Thank you, everyone.

 

At this point, I need to replace my BC and was wondering if there's anything special that U/W shooters look for and/or prefer in a BC?

 

Thanks,

 

Craig

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There is a discussion of travel BCD's here. We made it a sticky subject due to its ongoing popularity.

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Since my preference is not based on travel (although it's great for that too), I'd put in my .02 in this thread for a BP and wings.

 

My trim is much better in a backplate, since a lot of the weight is placed over your lungs. The crotch strap also makes it a very stable rig for inverted positions.

 

BP and wings are component based, so you can tailor the BC to your environment.

 

Chris

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If you've been diving for a long time, you probably know very well what you need and like in a BC in terms of comfort, safety features, lift capacity, etc. I don't think underwater photography per se presents any particular special requirements. What works best for you diving presumably will still work for you when you're diving with a camera.

 

But I will endorse Chrism's recommendation of a backplate and wings as an ideal rig for diving, and there are also a few features of this rig that I think are particularly useful for underwater photographers.

 

Reduced drag is perhaps the most important. Carrying any underwater photo gear hugely increases drag, and pushing a large housing with long strobe arms deployed for wide-angle up current has to be one of my least favorite things. Anything that reduces drag helps, and a good backplate with a wing of the minimum size needed for the kind of diving you do will be much more steamlined than any jacket BC. I found that life underwater with a camera got a lot easier after I switced to a back plate and wing.

 

Improved trim and maneuverability is another plus. Maintaining a good horizontal position in the water, being able to maneuver yourself and your rig in 3 dimensions and sometimes current without using your hands, and having your buoyancy under complete control are all important for taking good photos and avoiding damage to the reefs. Many divers find that a back plate and wing rig is much more conducive to maintaining good trim, maneuvering ability, and buoyancy control than traditional jacket BCs.

 

Whatever you get, make sure you have a couple of good-sized half-bent D-rings just below each shoulder to provide places to hang your camera/housing when you need both hands free - to assist another diver, don/doff fins after shore entry, handle gear problems, or to deploy a delated submersible buoy (SMB, or sausage, or just hanging in or on the water on a long deco stop or wait for the chase boat). Gate clips securely fastened to the camera or housing are probably best, but this is one place where I personally make an exception and allow the use of a suicide clip.

 

You might also take a look at the system you will use for stowing SMB and spool or reel, and make sure you'll be comfortable handling all of the steps involved in deploying the SMB with the camera or housing hanging on your shoulder D-ring without fouling the spool/reel/line on your camera, BC or other gear.

 

My wife and I both dive with Halcyon 27-lb wings and backplates (mine stainless steel, hers aluminum), but there are good BP and wing rigs available from multiple manufacturers. Ours are fitted with no-name-brand zipper pouches on the waist strap to carry essential safety gear (folding snorkel, flashing strobe, dye pack, reef hook, spare mask). Our SMBs ride in Halcyon Storage Paks that bolt to the backplate, my spool is carried externally on waist D-ring, dive lights and knife on the chest straps, storm whistle on the inflator hose.

 

Robert Delfs

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