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f1nutter

Run before I can walk – Housing for Nikon D700

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I have always been interested in wildlife, and for the last 6 years or so I have had wildlife photography holidays and built up quite a collection of equipment and images. These have all been land based; gorillas in Rwanda, lions in the Mara, polar bears in Spitsbergen, lemurs in Madagascar.

In 2008 I went to the Galapagos to photography the land animals. There was the opportunity to go snorkelling most days and, although I couldn't swim, I wore a life jacket and jumped in. My parents bought me an underwater housing for my compact camera and I was totally blown away by the underwater life. This inspired me to continue and now I swim 60 lengths a week and last year completed my PADI Open Water qualification.

Naturally, I want to photograph the amazing creatures in the deep but have a dilemma, which is where you guys come in.

I haven't been SCUBA diving since I qualified last year and would like to go somewhere exotic this summer. I am sure a lot of you suffer from the same problems that I do, namely "exotic trip equals new gear"!

I currently have a Nikon P3 and Fantasea FP3 housing. I also have a Nikon D700, 16-35mm f4 VR and 105mm f2.8 VR Macro lenses, as well as other lenses not suitable for underwater photography. I am thinking about getting an Ikelite housing and ports, possibly from Miami on my way to the Caribbean.

 

The case for doing this is:

Buy the housing before the camera is obsolete and the housing is no longer available

Cheaper from the States than the UK

It is financial viable for me at the moment

Can be used for snorkelling and half-and-half shots

 

The case against is:

Am I ready to handle this kind of gear after just 10 dives?

By the time I am a good enough SCUBA diver will I have changed camera and need a different housing?

I will probably only use it for a one week holiday every year or 18 months.

There are better housings available.

 

So, idle thoughts and comments please.

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Congrats on conquering your dislike of water. :) Welcome to the other 70% of your planet.

 

I would suggest starting your underwater photography with snorkelling photography (wide angle, available light), while building up your diving experience with a plan to take your camera diving later.

 

If you are Florida/Caribbean bound there are many subjects to shoot as a snorkeller. Such as (note that some are seasonal and some require licences etc):

Manatees in florida, Whales sharks in Mexico, sailfish in Mexico, dolphins in Bahamas, humpback whales in Silver Banks, sperm whales in Dominica, stingrays in the Cayman Islands etc.

 

You could do all that while building up your diving skills ready to start diving with your camera.

 

Alex

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Congrats on conquering your dislike of water. :) Welcome to the other 70% of your planet.

 

I would suggest starting your underwater photography with snorkelling photography (wide angle, available light), while building up your diving experience with a plan to take your camera diving later.

 

If you are Florida/Caribbean bound there are many subjects to shoot as a snorkeller. Such as (note that some are seasonal and some require licences etc):

Manatees in florida, Whales sharks in Mexico, sailfish in Mexico, dolphins in Bahamas, humpback whales in Silver Banks, sperm whales in Dominica, stingrays in the Cayman Islands etc.

 

You could do all that while building up your diving skills ready to start diving with your camera.

 

Alex

 

You can also practice in a pool.

If you start to feel too confident and think that you are ready to handle the equipment while scuba diving, just try to take some shots in the pool without touching the bottom. :(

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It took me a long time to stop (well, I still do, really) diving and taking snapshots. You probably want to photograph, rather than dive: the diving skills need to sink into the background and that can take anything between 50 and 500 dives. Free-diving is good, and it helps you to concentrate on the subjects (usually big animals); the fantastic thing is how close you can get. The Caribbean has a lot of easy diving: it's a good place to start. The Red Sea isn't bad, though the classic dives can be more demanding (50 dive + level). It's sometimes useful to try and copy images that you like as a way of learning. Howard Hall, Michael Aw, Andrea & Antonella Ferrari have all written books from this perspective that are inspiring for an experienced photographer.

 

Good luck!

 

Tim

 

:)

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This is a formidable investment. You probably have to have the scuba skills down to the level of reflexes to enjoy UW photography and to preserve the marine life while taking pictures. All to often one sees the photographers struggle with buoyancy control right on top of the coral.

You might consider renting the setup before you take a plunge. That saves you money and you can get the most current camera / housing combination for your yearly vacation at a fraction of the cost.

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First of all, congrats to your new discovered passion. :)

 

I fully have to agree though with the others. It took me a while to truly master my buoyancy. If you want to take proper pictures with good equipment, diving has to become second nature. Do some testing in the pool and use your compact camera to get more comfortable. I would also suggest to go for the advanced open water diver certification (if your time and wallet allows it) to get more experience and confidence. Proper buoyancy is one of the greatest factors of taking good pictures, being a good diver and keeping the reefs in one piece. Good luck with and I can't wait to see your progress. I am sure you will pick it up very quick.

 

Cheers,

 

Henrik

www.hwelle.net

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You may find your D700 a step too cumbersome for your current diving skills. It's easy to let your camera take your attention away from the diving. You need something you can tether and just let go of to focus on the more important business of staying alive and not kicking hell out of the reef.

 

If you want to spend some money and also improve your picture quality, suggest you get a strobe/flash for your P3 - one that is ultimately compatible with an SLR set up.

 

2p

 

EDIT

 

Actually the first step in the right direction is probably a copy of Martin Edge's book - The Underwater Photographer.

.

Edited by Balrog

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Thanks for all the information guys. I did think it would be a bit of an ask to do this so quick. I will try to build up my experience first.

 

I have now decided to go to the Red Sea in August and take my compact and see how I get on. It looks like I will defer my big purchase / trip for a year.

 

I bought the excellent book by Martin Edge a couple of years ago and will try to use some of his tips (shoot up!)

 

Pictures to follow sometime next month...

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You can also practice in a pool.

If you start to feel too confident and think that you are ready to handle the equipment while scuba diving, just try to take some shots in the pool without touching the bottom. :)

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You may find your D700 a step too cumbersome for your current diving skills. It's easy to let your camera take your attention away from the diving. You need something you can tether and just let go of to focus on the more important business of staying alive and not kicking hell out of the reef.

 

If you want to spend some money and also improve your picture quality, suggest you get a strobe/flash for your P3 - one that is ultimately compatible with an SLR set up.

 

2p

 

EDIT

 

Actually the first step in the right direction is probably a copy of Martin Edge's book - The Underwater Photographer.

.

 

I'm also new to underwater photography. I just picked up this book and it has been very interesting/helpful. Thank you for the tip!

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