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ComeFromAway

Focus Light Recommendations

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Hi all,

 

I tried venting to my wife, but she just doesn't understand my frustration when I come home with 950 images and only 10-12 hit their focus mark (i.e., tack sharp or close to it). So I'm venting here because I'm sure a number of you can sympathize... But I'd also like to explore a solution.

 

I shoot mostly in dark, tannin-stained water or clear water with dark bottoms and am 99.9% of the time shooting blindly. While some of the problem may be attributed to the focus point(s) simply not being placed on the subject, other times a fish will be directly in front of my camera, say 12 inches away in a position that would seem to be nearly impossible to miss focus, and yet the image comes back soft. This happened most recently while shooting a big school of 20-30 pound striped bass (Morone saxatilis). I think my camera (D7000) is just really struggling to find focus as the dark water severely reduces contrast.

 

So I'm exploring focus light options. One thing I'm concerned about is hot spots appearing on the fish if the light doesn't have a flash sensor and momentarily shuts off while the strobe fires. Any recommendations for good focus lights that could fit this bill?

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Others may have input specific to your Nikon but with my Olympus EM5 I often struggle in murky, water which often is one step from plankton soup or mixed with river silt and glacial run-off.

 

I started with a Sola 800 photo light as it can double for macro video. It has a red setting which doesn't scare most critters, amd I find my camera can focus with it even when my eyes cannot.

 

Pardon the pun, but for extra flexibility I mounted it to the housing cold shoe using a loc-line arm. This allows me to get it up and above a smaller subject, but also twist it down alongside the flat port to light up critters hiding in cravasses.

 

Having it higher than the camera also helps reduce backscatter on longer exposures.

 

The light is many times less powerful than a strobe flash, so I don't think it has ever impacted the images (except really long exposures) If anything it can provide minor fill light for shadows etc.

 

Lately I have been shooting a mix of still and video, so have a pair of Archon 2600 lumen video lights mounted on a 3-way clamp at then end of the first arm segment. I use one of them on low for focus and prefer the light from the side as it seems to produce less backscatter in turbid water.

 

Good luck & happy diving

 

 

Adam

 

Sent from my SM-G903W using Tapatalk

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I dive a couple of times a year in conditions like you describe... black, tannin-laced water. Last year I decided I was going to get some decent images of this little wreck. My previous experience was you have described yours.

 

So I added a little iTorch V10 and mount it on the cold shoe. I found that on the lowest white setting I was still getting backscatter. On the red setting my d7000 could focus fine and the scatter much less

 

The light was cheap but my one complaint is that it eats batteries so get a spare!

 

So

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I've been using a Sola 1200 as focus/video light with my various underwater camera systems since 2011. I love it! Whether a point and shoot, housing with strobe or DLSR, it works exceptionally well. This is the original Sola 1200 - outer ring of video/flood leds, and inner trio of spot leds. For focus I use the outer video leds on lowest power (usually) but can up the power to create a fill light. The spot works well for seeing if there are critters in cracks and such. Occasionally I use the spot to get deep in a crevasse to video an octo or something, but the light always comes through.

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