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Subal ND70 Housing w/ Ultralight Handles???

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Thanks to all at Wetpixel for indispensible information on UW photography and housings. I am about to pull the trigger on my first UW dslr housing. It will either be the Subal ND70 or Sea & Sea.

 

I was speaking with a dealer regarding my potential purchase of the Subal ND70 housing for my Nikon D70. To get around the fact that this housing has only one strobe arm attachment point, the dealer is suggesting that I replace the stock handles with Ultralight Control Handles. Has anyone done this (and have pictures of the setup), or does anyone have any other suggestions for attaching a second strobe?

 

Additionally, I heard rumors that Subal is also making the same housing with a second flash synch port (eliminating need for y connector). Can anyone else confirm this?

 

Thanks for any and all responses.

 

Greg

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Hi Greg, welcome to Wetpixel....I borrowed this image from DigitalDiver.net to show you the ULCS handles on a Subal D70 housing

 

23490_1099365844_barksnd0102504-tp-011rand.jpg

 

Rand, where are you?

 

Karl

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I use the ULCS tray-mounted handles with the FS2 housing for the Fuji S2, even though that housing does have two strobe attachment points.

 

The main reason is for better balance. I use the 12-24 mm (and occasionally the 17-35 mm) zooms for wide-angle. Both lenses require use of a 50 mm extension ring. Extending the larger Subal dome port that far out in front of the housing generates a substantial torque on the handles.

 

This wouldn't be a major problem over a short trip, but after several days of liveaboard diving my wrists became very tired from the effort of keeping the housing from rotating dome up. This was particularly a problem on strong current dives, when I only had on hand for the housing and the force of the current was adding more force.

 

After a few days diving, I retired the Subal handles that mount directly on the housing and went back to the ULCS tray and handles. The tray adds a bit of useful weight on the bottom of the rig, steadying it. More important, using the tray creates a different geometry than mounting the arms on top of the housing, shifting the axis of rotation lower and almost eliminating the tendency to roll dome-up. This also leaves the top of the housing a bit more accessible. The downside is that the ULCS tray and handles add a fair amount of weight to the rig.

 

I think it is likely that the situation for the Subal ND70 housing would be similar if the big dome and extension ring were used for w/a, and this may apply to other housings as well.

 

Here's a pic of the FS2 housing using the ULCS tray-mounted handles with the big dome (but no extension ring in this photo), and another of the housing with the Subal handles and the strobe arms mounted on top of the housing. Both are from my review of the housing elsewhere on this site.

 

DSCF1654.jpg

 

DSCF1626.jpg

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Thanks for the deatailed replies and photos guys. Much appreciated.

 

Cheers

James

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Ok, here's the back view of my Subal housing with the ULCS handles attached. They mount the same as the original handles. In this picture, one strobe arm is connected to the ball arm that is provided with the housing, I've since moved the strobe arm back to the handle ball and use the orginal ball for mounting my mod light.

The ULCS handles are adjustable so I was able to move the right handle in to just the right spot for reaching the shutter release with my finger.

 

housing_back.jpg

 

Rand

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frogfish, I love the clips you have zip tied to keep your arms together! That is such an excellent idea, so I'm stealing it.

 

:D

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I didn't have seen those clips first... Really great Idea... im thinking about stealing it too ;-)

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Use a clip at the top too - so that you have a convenient "carrying handle."

 

Cheers

James

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James is correct. One more set of fastex clips at the top (with the arms folded) makes the whole rig into a rigid triangle that you (or anyone else) can pick up or carry almost anywhere. It works very well.

 

The other thing you can't see in this photo is a pair of suicide clips tied on near the top of the folded arms, which clip on to half-bent D-rings mounted on harness near collar-bone. It allows me to have both hands free to launch a submerged SMB, assist another diver, or whatever. Using both clips keeps the rig close to my body and symmetrical for swimming up-current, much easier than carrying it, esp. with arms unfolded. I know suicide clips are a DIR no-no, but I found gate clips were sometimes too difficult to hook and unhook on the surface in chop or big waves.

 

The fastex clips thing isn't my original idea - someone posted the suggestion to the u/w photo group two or three years ago. I'd give him credit, but I don't remember who it was.

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The other thing you can't see in this photo is a pair of suicide clips tied on near the top of the folded arms, which clip on to half-bent D-rings mounted on harness near collar-bone.

Could you be kind enough to post a picture showing the top part of the arms?

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The fastex clips thing isn't my original idea - someone posted the suggestion to the u/w photo group two or three years ago.  I'd give him credit, but I don't remember who it was.

 

It was Chris Simmons. http://www.kelpfish.net/tip_tame_arms.htm

 

A great idea, and one that I've used for years as well.

 

I like your idea of suicide clips on top. Have been trying to figure out something like that for emergencies.

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Can someone describe what "Suicide Clips" are? Or even better post a photo?

 

Simon

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Simon, "suicide clip" is a DIR term. It's just about any spring-loaded clip that can open by the force of something pushing against the gate.

 

DIR had it's origins in cave diving, which has lots of nylon line laying around; hence the term. The prefered clip is a stainless steel boltsnap (not brass).

 

Although all my gear has boltsnaps, I had quite a few years diving with suicide clips before boltsnaps became popular, and never had an entanglement, but why take the chance?

 

All the best, James

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I'm in Labuanbajo, Flores between trips. The TNC field office here where I've been doing some work these past days has satellite broadband internet access, so I've been able to get email and catch up.

 

My housing is currently set for macro, but I plan to reset for w/a tonight. I'll take a picture of the arm set-up Iincluding tops of arms) with the S2 and try to post it here before I head back into the park again on Saturday.

 

Re: suicide clips. I follow a lot of DIR precepts, but only when and where they make sense for me. I use bolt snaps (AKA gate clips) on my SPG, spool, back-up light, SMB, and primary 2nd stage. I also tried using bolt snaps for clipping the housing to D-rings on my harness for several months before finally giving up and switching to suicide clips.

 

The big problem was that it can be quite difficult to hook the rig on to the harness D-rings using bolt snaps, or unhook at the end of the dive, at the surface in heavy chop or waves. (Underwater, or calm conditions on the surface is usually not a problem.) The suicide clips are much easier to handle in this respect. They are fixed to the housing arms (not me) with line, so can be cut away, but I can't easily imagine a situation where that would be necessary.

 

I personally don't feel that this use of suicide clips poses any enhanced risk. Moreover, my experience has been that using bolt snaps (for this specific purpose only) can pose potential risks, because the difficulty in handling these clips on harness breast D-rings could make it difficult to unhook the camera before reboarding a boat or RIB in heavy seas.

 

Similarly, there are situations where it is important to descend immediately after hitting the water, and these situations (diving for a the top of a seamount, etc.) often involve negotiating strong currents, where you would want to clip off the camera rig in as streamlined a configuration as possible before descending. I've found this can be difficult with bolt snaps in heavy waves or surface chop, so using bolt snaps can make it diifficult or impossible to execute entry and descent according to plan, and thus potentially poses a hazard.

 

I'll try to post a pic showing suicide clip mounting later.

 

Frogfish

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Where can you pick up some of those fastex clips at?

 

Tony

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Hi Tony, Just about any camping supply store (Like REI or maybe Academy) will have them.

 

Cheers

James

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Awesome I am going to trick out my setup with those things. I just got my second arm and dual synch cord. Time to put on my old ys 120 strobes on there to check it for any problems. thanks James..

 

Tony

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...Re: suicide clips.  I follow a lot of DIR precepts, but only when and where they make sense for me...

 

Absolutely! Bravo!

 

BTW, I use Highland Millworks Drop Dees and Billy rings and have no issues with boltsnaps. Of course, these are definitely not DIR.

 

I'll confess I only wear BP/W when seriously overhead restricted, at which point my mindset is that my camera is a disposable item. It does hang pretty nice under the 40's, though.

 

All the best, James

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