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pooley

Regs and BCD recommendations

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Hi all, 

Planning for my 50th in 2022 has made me realise that my jacket and regs are about to  hit 20 years old - maybe they need to consider retirement...

Once we get the all clear for travel I think its about time I got a new set but not having bought anything for so long I'm way behind on the latest trends

I appreciate everyone has different tastes / needs for their gear but does anyone have any recommendations for travel friendly gear, or what to look out for, regs that are good for not shooting a  stream of bubbles in front of me etc?   

They'll be for warm weather diving,  I'll keep my Apeks environmentally sealed ones in case I decide to get cold, and as regards a jacket, I'm not the smallest or dantiest of blokes - 6'2", 16 1/2 stone

Cheers

Mike

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Hi Mike

I suspect you are going to get deluged in suggestions. Here's one for starters:

I bought a Scubapro Mk25 titanium first stage and S600 titanium second stage in 1999. Still brilliant after 1400+ dives. Scubapro upgraded them of course over the years but little has really changed. The titanium is great for travelling as it's significantly lighter.

For traveling I've used a Zeagles Escape since about 2005. I think I'm on my 2nd one. Packs small and fine for lift for up to 10mm of wetsuit (I'm a bit smaller than you). If you need more lift, take a look at the Zeagles Ranger. Built to last!

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Cheers Tim, I'm expecting a variety  of answers, but worth a shout in case there are any photo-specific improvements in design worth considering.

I keep seeing Zeagles in review comparisons,  no idea what they're like personally but they always appear towards the top in the tests

cheers

Mike

p.s. PSG - here we come :)

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1 hour ago, pooley said:

Cheers Tim, I'm expecting a variety  of answers, but worth a shout in case there are any photo-specific improvements in design worth considering.

I keep seeing Zeagles in review comparisons,  no idea what they're like personally but they always appear towards the top in the tests

cheers

Mike

p.s. PSG - here we come :)

Yep, Zeagles are very good. I can recommend them heartily and find them great for diving. Almost as good as that Philly Foden, the Stockport Iniesta. :yahoo:

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BCD is going to be more personal I think - the fit and feel and trying it on will be important. 

As for regs I use a Hollis 500SE - been using it for 5 year and has parts for life included.  The side exhaust I find excellent no bubbles rising through the field of view and it it's very compact and light so I hardly know it's there when shooting - very easy breathing. 

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Cheers Chris, not aware of these, I'll take a look

thanks

Mike

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I have the exact same gear as Tim, though mine were bought “only” in 2003-2005.  I expect to still be using them in 2035 if I’m still breathing. 

I think basic design (jacket vs back inflated) is more important than the brand.  Switching from a very good Scubapro jacket-style BCD to the back-inflation Zeagle made a world of difference in comfort and stability.  My wife and dive buddy switched to a Poseidon BCD at the same time and is even happier.  Both brands come in true sizes, are highly adjustable for fit, and have more options for trim weight placement. There are others of course. 
 

As for the regulator, I don’t notice much difference between various designs of the second stage that would make a difference for photography. However going fully air integrated with my computer and ditching the octo for a Scubapro Air2 secondary reg on the BCD inflator hose made a really big difference to my overall organization, streamlining, and comfort.  
 

if you haven’t shopped for new gear in 20 years, I suspect the biggest adjustment will be sticker shock! 

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1 hour ago, troporobo said:

if you haven’t shopped for new gear in 20 years, I suspect the biggest adjustment will be sticker shock! 

Good point!

And totally agree on Robert's point on an air integrated computer. No brainer.

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1 hour ago, troporobo said:

I have the exact same gear as Tim, though mine were bought “only” in 2003-2005.  I expect to still be using them in 2035 if I’m still breathing. 

I think basic design (jacket vs back inflated) is more important than the brand.  Switching from a very good Scubapro jacket-style BCD to the back-inflation Zeagle made a world of difference in comfort and stability.  My wife and dive buddy switched to a Poseidon BCD at the same time and is even happier.  Both brands come in true sizes, are highly adjustable for fit, and have more options for trim weight placement. There are others of course. 
 

As for the regulator, I don’t notice much difference between various designs of the second stage that would make a difference for photography. However going fully air integrated with my computer and ditching the octo for a Scubapro Air2 secondary reg on the BCD inflator hose made a really big difference to my overall organization, streamlining, and comfort.  
 

if you haven’t shopped for new gear in 20 years, I suspect the biggest adjustment will be sticker shock! 

Cheers Robert, 

I've never used a back inflation BCD,  but over the years I've heard positive things regarding the in-water stability, which obviously is a huge benefit for us on this forum. I've got plenty of time before I buy one so I can take a proper look. 

I also need a new computer as mine conked out on my last trip, I'd never even considered looking at an air integrated one. I only need basic air and nitrox readings - yet another thing to look at- it'll  keep  my busy when I'm on a night shift!

thanks again 

Mike

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Mike, if you are interested, I have a Uwatec Luna for sale: air integrated, good condition. Has a lot of miles on the clock but works perfectly. Complete with the transmitter you need on the 1st stage. If you are interested let me know and I can send more details. I've just bought the new model, the G2.

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Although I use a wing style BCD (a Halcyon Explorer) and at the risk of being slightly controversial, I am not sure the classic horizontal diving position is the best one for taking pictures with! There is some evidence that a slightly head up position is actually a more natural angle when viewing through a viewfinder, and this is probably easier to achieve with a more conventional style BCD.

I have been horrible to my Halcyon Explorer and it (somehow)m keeps going. I love the ability to create a weighted backplate with locally sourced weights and its light weight and durability.

For warm water, I have been using an Atomic T3 (which is very, very similar to @TimG's Scubapro MK25 Ti). Again, I have been horrid to it and it just keeps going...

 

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Posted (edited)

I cobbled together my BCD using parts from various manufacturers. So it could be called a hybrid or a bastard....

The back plate is aluminum but should be stainless steel for better positioning. As well it should be used with steel tanks. Failing that I have four weight pockets on the two straps holding the tank not visible in the photo. Using a lycra suit, which is all I really need for Hawaii, temp about 25C, I have all my weight in these pockets. This is not the safest for quick ditching but I can assume any position with extreme ease, horizontal or tilted up or down. To save on weight I have just one D ring on each side. This shot was on the way to Niihau Island with Kauai visible in the background. On my previous HI trip to this one, which was to the Big Island, I got towed to the surface by the left hand side D ring as I was attached to a short down line for a blackwater dive when a breeze kicked up. The captain had not deployed a drogue so we quickly became a sailboat. A significant amount of force was needed to do this as I am well over 200 pounds in weight. So having a real solid rig is important for some circumstances - I broke the plastic D-rings on a previous BC from much less duty. The yellow strap that you see in the pic is from the weight belt I used in the 1970s. The belt is now fairly supple so I am using it for the crotch strap which is vital to the backplate design. Note that there is a heavy buckle which is important for opening and removal while in the water - has not failed me yet. I see weights on the bench so this is before they got loaded. You can also see my Canadian sombrero - a wide rim Tilley hat in an empty tank holder. As well there is the strongest sunblock I could find in the yellow thing next top the camera. The captain did not like me spraying it so it was not used after this first day of the trip. The reg you see is the same model that Adam has. I have gone back to using a combo reg-inflator. The Atomic SS1 model has a clever design allowing quick removal from the wing inflator hose.

_Z6X3072.jpg

Edited by Tom_Kline

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Posted (edited)
On 4/14/2021 at 11:17 PM, pooley said:

Hi all, 

Planning for my 50th in 2022 has made me realise that my jacket and regs are about to  hit 20 years old - maybe they need to consider retirement...

Once we get the all clear for travel I think its about time I got a new set but not having bought anything for so long I'm way behind on the latest trends

I appreciate everyone has different tastes / needs for their gear but does anyone have any recommendations for travel friendly gear, or what to look out for, regs that are good for not shooting a  stream of bubbles in front of me etc?   

They'll be for warm weather diving,  I'll keep my Apeks environmentally sealed ones in case I decide to get cold, and as regards a jacket, I'm not the smallest or dantiest of blokes - 6'2", 16 1/2 stone

Cheers

Mike

I would not retire the Apeks regulators: after a full service they are like new (unless the MD is creeping up, then they need to become replaced). I use Apeks since 2007 and service them every two years by myself (it is important to me to have the same brand, my wife and me have five first and six second stages). A twenty year old regulator that is freshly serviced is much, much, more reliable than a four year old model that is just used and lying around somewhere. This is true for every regulator brand and the technics of regulators is unchanges since decades, no need to upgrade. Especially an UW photographer needs regulators he can rely on. If buying new anything I would take a regulator with venturi lever (as Apeks) - the extra air is good to have when beeing deeper and having to work, e.g swim against current etc. ...

Regarding the BCD, it is a matter of personal preference whether ADV or wing (After decades of ADV (first nothing, then the "toilet seat" type, then ADV), I am now happy with Scubapro Hydros wing). I find wing more comfortable UW, but you need extra bags, e.g. on th ediving suit. What needs to be replaced in all BCDs from time to time is the inflator valve, the rest can be used very long (depending on brand; no luck with Seac Pro 2000 HD, fell apart into pieces after only about three years of use (approx. 300 dives))...

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis

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On 4/15/2021 at 8:46 PM, adamhanlon said:

Although I use a wing style BCD (a Halcyon Explorer) and at the risk of being slightly controversial, I am not sure the classic horizontal diving position is the best one for taking pictures with! There is some evidence that a slightly head up position is actually a more natural angle when viewing through a viewfinder, and this is probably easier to achieve with a more conventional style BCD.

I have been horrible to my Halcyon Explorer and it (somehow)m keeps going. I love the ability to create a weighted backplate with locally sourced weights and its light weight and durability.

For warm water, I have been using an Atomic T3 (which is very, very similar to @TimG's Scubapro MK25 Ti). Again, I have been horrid to it and it just keeps going...

 

Thanks,  Adam,  interesting words on the jacket style

Mike

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21 hours ago, Tom_Kline said:

I cobbled together my BCD using parts from various manufacturers. So it could be called a hybrid or a bastard....

The back plate is aluminum but should be stainless steel for better positioning. As well it should be used with steel tanks. Failing that I have four weight pockets on the two straps holding the tank not visible in the photo. Using a lycra suit, which is all I really need for Hawaii, temp about 25C, I have all my weight in these pockets. This is not the safest for quick ditching but I can assume any position with extreme ease, horizontal or tilted up or down. To save on weight I have just one D ring on each side. This shot was on the way to Niihau Island with Kauai visible in the background. On my previous HI trip to this one, which was to the Big Island, I got towed to the surface by the left hand side D ring as I was attached to a short down line for a blackwater dive when a breeze kicked up. The captain had not deployed a drogue so we quickly became a sailboat. A significant amount of force was needed to do this as I am well over 200 pounds in weight. So having a real solid rig is important for some circumstances - I broke the plastic D-rings on a previous BC from much less duty. The yellow strap that you see in the pic is from the weight belt I used in the 1970s. The belt is now fairly supple so I am using it for the crotch strap which is vital to the backplate design. Note that there is a heavy buckle which is important for opening and removal while in the water - has not failed me yet. I see weights on the bench so this is before they got loaded. You can also see my Canadian sombrero - a wide rim Tilley hat in an empty tank holder. As well there is the strongest sunblock I could find in the yellow thing next top the camera. The captain did not like me spraying it so it was not used after this first day of the trip. The reg you see is the same model that Adam has. I have gone back to using a combo reg-inflator. The Atomic SS1 model has a clever design allowing quick removal from the wing inflator hose.

_Z6X3072.jpg

Certainly an interesting  BCD there Tom! Not sure I'll find anything like it in my local dive shop though!

Some good points in the text over what to consider though, so thanks

Mike

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13 hours ago, Architeuthis said:

I would not retire the Apeks regulators: after a full service they are like new (unless the MD is creeping up, then they need to become replaced). I use Apeks since 2007 and service them every two years by myself (it is important to me to have the same brand, my wife and me have five first and six second stages). A twenty year old regulator that is freshly serviced is much, much, more reliable than a four year old model that is just used and lying around somewhere. This is true for every regulator brand and the technics of regulators is unchanges since decades, no need to upgrade. Especially an UW photographer needs regulators he can rely on. If buying new anything I would take a regulator with venturi lever (as Apeks) - the extra air is good to have when beeing deeper and having to work, e.g swim against current etc. ...

Regarding the BCD, it is a matter of personal preference whether ADV or wing (After decades of ADV (first nothing, then the "toilet seat" type, then ADV), I am now happy with Scubapro Hydros wing). I find wing more comfortable UW, but you need extra bags, e.g. on th ediving suit. What needs to be replaced in all BCDs from time to time is the inflator valve, the rest can be used very long (depending on brand; no luck with Seac Pro 2000 HD, fell apart into pieces after only about three years of use (approx. 300 dives))...

 

Wolfgang

Thanks Wolfgang, 

You're right  about the Apeks orgs, I've kept mine serviced and I've no complaints about their performance, it was more a case of weight  considerations,  but  there may well be a case for sticking with them

As  for the  jacket, I think  its going to have to be a  case of spending time in a store and  looking at exact features

Mike

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Posted (edited)

Having been a Scubapro fanboy since my 1972 Mk5/ balanced adjustable (which I still have and works great), I have stayed with the brand throughout. My “current” reg is a Mk15/G250 from the mid 90’s. Still functions like new after service, and I feel no need to stray...

Well, I did a few years ago. I bought an Atomic SS1 stainless steel, which I took on one trip, and it sits neglected in a gear bag. It is for sale if anyone is interested. Too much bling for me. 
 

I retired my 90’s Scubapro Double Black stab jacket a few years ago and bought a Scubapro Hydros  back mount. I love this piece of kit, and really appreciate the thought that went into the design.

Scuba gear doesn’t really change very much. Any top of the line reg can be bought used for very little, and once serviced will be pretty much new again.

 

ian

Edited by ianmarsh

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Posted (edited)

I recommend you to change to a wing type BCD. Much more comfortable, it allows you to have all the area on the front and side of the torso to be free of obstacles. It make you fell much less bulky.
I do not agree with the the suggestion that Adam has made that a wing type BCD forces you to a more horizontal position. A wing type BCD has much more possibilities to organize the rig to allow you to have the balance underwater that suits you best. Of course that a semi-wing BCD is not so adjustable as a wing + backplate (hard or soft), but allows you to to have the torso free also.

Some technical divers put weight in a upper position on the back plate. That helps them to have a more horizontal position underwater. If you use a regular weight belt you will have more freedom do adopt the position you want underwater.

As is this for diving in warm waters, probably with thin suit and mono bottle I advise you to go for a small wing one (30lb - 13 kg), as it being smaller will cause lesser drag in the water.

I have a DiveRite transpac  with a wreck wing. I love the transpac, super confortable, but not so happy with the wing. My wing is too big and it is not a donut style. Go for a donut style! I am at this moment trying to convince myself I need to change the wing to a donut style smaller one ;)

my regulator is a Scubapro MK25 with S600 second stage. Very happy with.

I use an air integrated computer (Suunto Vyper air and Suunto Vytec DS) and I have the scubapro Air2 also. This is another thing I truly advise you: an air integrated computer (whatever the brand you prefer) and the air 2. It reduced the amount of weight you need to travel with, but even more important it allows you to reduce 2 hoses around you during the dive, witch means less thinks getting in the way of you moves and the camera (plus strobes and arms).

Edited by pbalves

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14 hours ago, ianmarsh said:

Having been a Scubapro fanboy since my 1972 Mk5/ balanced adjustable (which I still have and works great), I have stayed with the brand throughout. My “current” reg is a Mk15/G250 from the mid 90’s. Still functions like new after service, and I feel no need to stray...

Well, I did a few years ago. I bought an Atomic SS1 stainless steel, which I took on one trip, and it sits neglected in a gear bag. It is for sale if anyone is interested. Too much bling for me. 
 

I retired my 90’s Scubapro Double Black stab jacket a few years ago and bought a Scubapro Hydros  back mount. I love this piece of kit, and really appreciate the thought that went into the design.

Scuba gear doesn’t really change very much. Any top of the line reg can be bought used for very little, and once serviced will be pretty much new again.

 

ian

Nice one Ian, thanks for the input.

1 hour ago, pbalves said:

I recommend you to change to a wing type BCD. Much more comfortable, it allows you to have all the area on the front and side of the torso to be free of obstacles. It make you fell much less bulky.
I do not agree with the the suggestion that Adam has made that a wing type BCD forces you to a more horizontal position. A wing type BCD has much more possibilities to organize the rig to allow you to have the balance underwater that suits you best. Of course that a semi-wing BCD is not so adjustable as a wing + backplate (hard or soft), but allows you to to have the torso free also.

Some technical divers put weight in a upper position on the back plate. That helps them to have a more horizontal position underwater. If you use a regular weight belt you will have more freedom do adopt the position you want underwater.

As is this for diving in warm waters, probably with thin suit and mono bottle I advise you to go for a small wing one (30lb - 13 kg), as it being smaller will cause lesser drag in the water.

I have a DiveRite transpac  with a wreck wing. I love the transpac, super confortable, but not so happy with the wing. My wing is too big and it is not a donut style. Go for a donut style! I am at this moment trying to convince myself I need to change the wing to a donut style smaller one ;)

my regulator is a Scubapro MK25 with S600 second stage. Very happy with.

I use an air integrated computer (Suunto Vyper air and Suunto Vytec DS) and I have the scubapro Air2 also. This is another thing I truly advise you: an air integrated computer (whatever the brand you prefer) and the air 2. It reduced the amount of weight you need to travel with, but even more important it allows you to reduce 2 hoses around you during the dive, witch means less thinks getting in the way of you moves and the camera (plus strobes and arms).

The Scubapro is certainly getting the plaudits here! I've got ages to decide as I won't buy until travel is confirmed and I may well service my old regs, get a new jacket and air integrated computer rather than my initial thoughts. With regs though I'll look at those - I see them everywhere with divemasters and instructors. 

I'll have to find somewhere that will let me try a wing style BCD - so many seem to prefer them, but never having tried one I don't want to just buy one without at least a little pool test first

cheers

Mike

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I Mike

On the attached photo you can see my BCD (on the right) and my wife's one on the left.

She has a Scubapro Lighthawk BCD (a semi-wing) it is a quite nice BCD.

Note that the only hose you see in each of them is the regulator second stage (the second hose is connected to the air2). My wife has the Scubapro air 2 for octopus + inflator of the BCD, I have a similar system but from DiveRite. The air cells are inflated, but if you look closer into the picture, you can see that there are almost nothing on the BCD to be in front and on the sides of us. 

BCD.jpg

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One vote for wing style BCD for fotographer. Some years ago I put together a backplate & wing system for travels containing a light weight aluminium backplate and Agir wing plus two tank straps. That has been easy to travel with. The only disadvantage is the need of weights but, as Tim explained his system the setup allows you to distribute weight optimal way by using weight pockets - or even put a weight to the tank band if needed. This setup has been extremely good for shooting macro: you don't have any extras in front of you so you can go low if you use angled viewfinder. For wide angle the advantage is not so obvious. However, I would not switch back to jacket style BCD.

If you plan to travel with your setup you need a reliable but light regulator. For years I have used Apex Flight with no problems. When I bought it, it was the lightest on the market. Unfortunately, I think, it is now discontinued model.

During the years I have had both Scubapro and Apex regs. Both are quality brands and have worked fine. The reason why I switched to Apex is the availability and quality of service in my area.

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Since you are diving warm waters, I can recommend the BCD I've been using since 2009.  Oceanic Islander, with an integrated octopus.  Only 6 pounds in the suitcase.

I've been looking at wings, but I just don't feel any need to upgrade.  I've got 200+ dives on my BCD, it's in good shape, and I'm very comfortable with it.   I really do like the fact that it's pretty light as I have so much other gear to pack with it...

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Regulator: A couple of years ago I bought a Poseidon Xstream - and for me it is perfect. It has a side exhaust, similar to the Hollis mentioned above. No bubbles in front of your mask; it is streamlined so there is almost no drag in a current. It does not protrude much, so it will not interfere with a housing. The regulator is bullet-proof, the inner construction seems to be simple but very effective - and I find it very comfortable to breath with.

Both the Poseidon and the Hollis are a little bit "exotic", so if you should go for one of these it might be a good idea to know where to find a qualified/certified service center... 

 

Jock

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