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james

Wearing a drysuit and shooting macro

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I'd recommend losing the camera until you are proficient with your bouancy in the Dry Suit. Give it 25 - 50 dives at a minimum to get really comfortable.

 

I don't buy the single air bladder as an absolute. I started this way, but once I became more comfortable in a dry suit, I found that I was a lot more stable using only enough air in the suit for squeeze. I typically add a little bit of air in my BC as I get below 40 feet or so.

 

I you need a lot of air, you are probably overweighted. New dry suit divers typically pile on the weight because they add way too much air to their suits and then can't get it all out as they ascend.

 

As for the ankle weights, this varies widely. Don't be afraid to take them off or even move them up to your knees if it helps your trim.

 

Finally, lots of Northwest divers I know have NEVER used a wetsuit. There is nothing wrong with learning in a drysuit. It may be more work, but your average cold water diver is probably a lot more dedicated and ultimately skilled than the average warm water milktoast. :blink:

 

Dave

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I use a neoprene dry suit and in the beginning used ankle weight, got rid of them, I found the trimming process very arduous at first, but then again your kind of learning something new when you switch to dry so yeah! it did take a few dives, but once you get it, man that stuff is comfy.

 

For the record is was taught never to use the Bc, but I think the person who recommended me that never had a housing underwater with a pair of strobe attached to it, I add just a few bubbles to trim for the camera setup, overall I think there is a lot of good suggestion in this tread, but the consensus is drop the ankle weight if you do not absolutly need them.

 

A little modification I did to my dry was to move the exhaust valve to my left forearm, thus giving me an easier access to it, remember that double flash housing in your right hand!, I think in the end dry suit is a personnal appproach, if it work for you and it is safe why not, there is a lot more variant in my opinion in dry than wet suits, material variation and/or combination, not to mention undergarment thickness, make the winning recipe for everyone impossible. But I'm glad your going dry James, the next step is to get you under the ice when you come up to visit Aquatica.

 

Cheers

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Having one source of buoyancy to control is not old fashioned - it is safer and in my opinion should whenever possible be restricted to the suit only. I have long argued against the use of ankle weight - they are just another crutch for trainees to lean on while they learn to control their buoyancy with their suit and gear configuration. If you carry weights around inside your suit then you are an accident waiting to happen.

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My suggestion is to go to a swimming pool (one with a nice deep end) with all the gear you will use when diving, including your camera system. Have a buddy get in with you with extra weights handy, set them on the bottom or something.

 

Weight yourself so you can get to the bottom and get horizontal. Have your buddy move your weights around until you can do this without effort. You can also play around with the total amount of weight you carry so you will not be overweighted. And I think you will find that after doing some diving that you will fine tune this placement of weights even further.

 

Some things that I have found matter to my weight situation: Fins. My fins are old Jet Fins and are heavy. I don't wear ankle weights. Drysuit. How my suit fits, what it's made of and size and material the built in booties are made of. Weight belt/trim system. I love my DUI weight trim system. It puts the weight down near my hips which helps the balance. Camera and housing. My new housing for the D70 weighs 8 lbs on land with no camera! I took a couple of pounds of lead off.

 

But try the pool thing, it really helps to get you started. Try hanging upside down and then righting yourself. I frequently turn myself upside down while diving to put air in my booties. I have lead feet and have to watch to make sure they don't stir up the bottom.

 

Best,

Kathy

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Oh, don't get me wrong, I've tried the pool - I even took PADI's trysuit course. My drysuit is pretty oldfashioned and it has big fat legs and built in rubber booties. It is a plain-jane Mares tri-lam suit, but it fits me pretty well and was inexpensive enough that I could see buying it even for a few trips a year. The feet and legs from the knee down hold a LOT of air. I tried trimming in the pool and even from a totally horizontal position, I couldn't keep the feet down and do a fin pivot. Hence the ankle weights. I guess if I wanted to buy yet more *($% I could get some gaiters instead...

 

I'm not a rank newbie, either to diving, or photography. I've got a BC that is perfectly tuned for my diving style. I can hang motionless in just about any position, when diving wet.

 

This trip was my second time diving dry. My first trip was in much colder water in California. I've not done 8 drysuit dives and I think I have the hang of it - I just need some fine tuning w.r.t. holding rock-steady in the water while I line up a macro shot - something that most people have trouble doing in just a wetsuit.

 

I appreciate everyone's feedback in this thread. I've certainly learned a lot and I see a few areas where I can improve my trim. Any and all further feedback is MUCH appreciated.

 

Cheers

James

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I guess if I wanted to buy yet more *($% I could get some gaiters instead...

 

Yeah, I tried ankle weights once recently (lent out my gators for a dive) and can't imagine using them again. The gators do such a better job of keeping air minimized from the knees down, and you don't "feel" them at all.

 

Felt like I was wearing steel boots with the ankle weights.

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Having one source of buoyancy to control is not old fashioned - it is safer and in my opinion should whenever possible be restricted to the suit only.... If you carry weights around inside your suit then you are an accident waiting to happen.

 

Whatever. I see newbies who can't achieve trim because they have too much air in the suit. They overweight themselves because of it. A suit is a suit - not a buoyancy device. PADI and others still teach only using the suit and that method, while ok for newbies, is outmoded with backplates and the newer methods of achieving trim.

 

The 2 2# soft weights I used inside my pockets were just that; way down inside my thigh pockets of a stretch undergarment. With slight squeeze on they never moved at all. I don't use them that way now, but they gave just a little trim lower on my body. While an unusual idea, the trim was in a good place. 4# isn't going to hurt anyone, even if they were on one foot.

 

I'm certainly not an accident waiting to happen (and resent that depiction, we are having a polite discussion here), dove probably 150 or more dives that way in all sorts of conditions, night, boat, shore, very poor viz, very high current - you name it. Have 500 dives in the same sort of conditions here in the Pacific NW and Canada and 9 countries around the world.

 

Jack

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Oh, don't get me wrong, I've tried the pool - I even took PADI's trysuit course.  My drysuit is pretty oldfashioned and it has big fat legs and built in rubber booties.  It is a plain-jane Mares tri-lam suit, but it fits me pretty well and was inexpensive enough that I could see buying it even for a few trips a year.  The feet and legs from the knee down hold a LOT of air.  I tried trimming in the pool and even from a totally horizontal position, I couldn't keep the feet down and do a fin pivot.  Hence the ankle weights.  I guess if I wanted to buy yet more *($% I could get some gaiters instead...

Cheers

James

 

James it sounds like the suit doesn't fit well on the legs. I would suggest the gaters or getting the suit re-cut a bit. Possibly wearing an extra set of long johns, socks or something might help. I've also used Dr Scholls pads in my boots. Another tip is to try wearing 'fin keepers" they are those triangular rubber band thingys over your boot/fin at the ankle; they will act like a gater to keep air from your boot and are cheap.

 

A good shop should be able to improve it. Otherwise you'll just be fighting it. The ankle weights are fixing the symptoms not the cure...they will cause other problems and tire you out.

 

Jack

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Hi James,

 

Welcome to the world of drysuit diving. I use a DUI Tech200 crushed neoprene. Don't think I'll ever change. As for buoyancy, weight, as you have heard is important. Not enough can ruin your whole day, making you flop for every ounce of movement. One question. Are you opening your shoulder valve all the way? If you do and then you bump it or even close it somewhat and forget, adding air to the drysuit can cause exactly what you are experiencing. It's the same as being underweighted. I sometimes close my valve a bit to get that lift at the end of the dive, then open it as I reach the surface, then switch to the BC after that. There is still room to be clumbsy. Any trapped air will move inverse to your desired positiong, especially the legs. I usually get vertical, make sure the valve is open and try to let the water pressure vent out the excess air to maximize my movement capabilities. When I am shooting macro, I leave that shoulder valve wide open.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Joe

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Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I was taught to use the drysuit for buoyancy, of course, because it's less task loading for new drysuit divers. My first drysuit was neoprene, and I ended up with a huge bubble at depth to compensate for the neoprene compression. At that point, I really didn't have any other experienced divers to discuss the problem with, other than my instructor, so I just started experimenting with using the BC, first only at deeper depths, as my own solution. It worked for me, I preferred it, and I eventually migrated to using the BC all the time, same as Herb and Jack and the cast55 article, even with my current shell suit. I leave my drysuit valve mostly open. I have found nothing complicated or dangerous about this approach.

 

As for ankle weights, I don't use them; however, I have a DUI with sock feet for rock boots (or wetsuit boots, which is what I use these days) over them, so there's no air pocket. Unless I'm on a wall, I shoot macro feet up, so having minimal air in the suit to begin with, and eliminating air around my feet helps alot. I don't have to make any buoyancy adjustments when I change positions from hovering to shooting.

 

My suggestion would be to minimize the air you need in the suit (even if you choose to use the suit for buoyancy), so evaluate your weighting. The negativity of your camera will also affect both the amount of buoyancy compensation you need, as well as your trim. You might take a look at neutralizing the buoyancy of your rig. I have floats on my rig, since I don't like having my camera as part of my weighting system! (starting from an RS, this was a big consideration!) Since the problem seems to be mainly around the feet, try gaitors, or you might consider retrofitting your suit with better fitting boots, or with sock feet, to eliminate any large air space. More ankle weight is not a great solution, as it causes other issues.

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James .. been a long while since I used one .. I also did the PADI course .. I had to .. if i wanted to dive in this lake i dived in .. in a dry suit they made you .. to makemoney of course. Anyway .. I had a dry suit just like yours .. what I could afford .. considering how much I would use it.

 

Solutions I would recommend that made me more comfortable.

Distributing weight, put the weight where you think you need it. This can be done with many devices, ankle weights, harness, extra weight belt around top of tank (my favourite) Once you have it distributed is when i trimmed the weight as I could feel which bits had too much and which had not enough .. thats my two cents

 

Oh and some people like to be weight nazi's in dry suits as well as in the tropical areas. Even though I too like diving with as little weight as possible, it is not always right for everyone, so remember .. don't be afraid to add some if thats what it feels like just because it seems like too much weight .. you know what you are doing, you know how it is meant to feel .. so do what feels right for you. I personnally dive with a lot of weight in drysuits cause i like a lot of air, in fact often my suit was filled so much when i was verticle the air would come out the neck guarenteed ... but i had good bouyancy and the air kept me snuggly buggly.

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i've been diving a bit, just started with the photo bit on the last ice dive. i only dive dry and have no problem with trim. this is what i have and do. once a year(last weekend) i spend the day with working on bouyance control with my girlfriend. i dive tec. ( steel doubles tanks, regs, ect) i also with gaiters and no weight. i dive with my feet slightly elevated. keeps from silting out, touching coral, ect. i find that neoprene suits are warmer and better fitting.

a course that i recommend for experance divers is a cave/ cavern course. altho this is "tec" it is way better that a bouyance course.

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Once you get your overall weighting sorted it just requires a subtle technique of keeping your feet lower than the rest of your body (When you are trying to stay still to take the shot). I wear ankle weights (0.3kg) for shallow photo dives but you still need to be aware of your feet not being up.

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A lot depends on the type of boot installed on your drysuit. If the boots are stiff and voluminous, you will need to use ankle weights. Gators will not help in this case.

Tom

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Just found this link and found it amusing. I'm with Linda as yo more weight may hurt more than help. i've got 4 dry suits hanging now. The dui 2000 is my fav. The other 2 are nokia's before they went into cell phones and the 4 th is a viking. oh I have a dui tri lamanent piece of s---. Ok one set of ankle wieghts is right for most . i never put air in BC unless I want to float on surface. I did not take a padi course on this but I have -Put Another Dollar In more than once.. One needs to make a few dry dives and get the hang of this. Wet suits are easier as they are like a no brainer. It takes awhile to learn your BC trim right?? This was so long ago I'm a bit hazy on the memory. But the dry suit is like the bc learning. I usually leave the dump open and trim by raising shoulder. A great set of underwear helps such as usia brand made in Oregon. They are the best. the Subal of warm. All my suits have built in boots except ths tri piece of ---. Ok i'm not a tri fan.. getting your wieght right is key you will need more than a wet suit any wet suit. Keeping in trim takes time. muti tasking takes practice. 20 more dry suit dives and you'll be a pro. Ps keep your feet down. Mark

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Thanks Mark and Tom. My suit has pretty big built-in boots that are stiff rubber.

 

Cheers

James

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You may be overweighted. When I use a steel tank I use no lead in fresh water. This is a lam suit with modest fleece undergarments.

 

Dry suit diving takes getting used. I still haven't gotten totally used to it. At least I've gotten my trim right. Worse than taking a camera, I foolishly did my deco course (doubles and deco bottle) while using my dry suit for the just the fifth time. Sure was funny .....for the people watching me.

 

Just dive more in it and you will figure it out.

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Those are the best boots. Get big fins. Dry suit gear is just one more set of dive stuff.. I have seperate wieght belt /ankel wieghts- dedicated fins and hood different BC (larger). Hey this stuff is cheap- Toss in 2 Boston Whalers and a few commpressors as well as 20 tanks and the $ pile shrinks . Dive stuff is a bargin- Boats and camera gear are not. Happydiving Mark

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I think there is a case to be made for using the BCD while using a dry suit. After all I assume you know the ins and outs of BCD boyancy, the only new aspect will be to balance that with a bit of air inside your suit.

 

In particular for someone not used to diving with a dry suit, it is essential not to get too much air inside the suit. Having a gentle squeese can be preferable to having air travel back and forth inside your suit. Certainly if feet alreade are a bit on the light side, chances are you will find yourself with air trapped in the boots and before you have had time to get it right you find yourself rocketing towards the surface. Head down, feet up/first.

 

To avoid it: use the BCD that you are familiar with for boyancy at first, and and use less air in the suit. Once familiar with the drysuit concept, one can work ones way into using less air in the BCD, more in the suit. Which will be warmer too, as a bonus.

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My last dives in Montery Cal to 80 feet with housing. at this depth one needs some suit air otherwise you get MONKEY bites. Thats the marks all over your body where the suit squeezes one. If the dive is shallow go easy on the air in suit . Hey this stuff is common sense and there are 10'000- cooks here so find what works for you. To add air or not to that is the question 10 divers where asked -and there where 20 answers. happy safe diving. Mark

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What a fascinating thread! As someone who rarely dives in a wetsuit and having used numerous different drysuits (neoprene, tri-lam, rubber, mine, borrowed, hired, etc.), I've come to the conclusion that drysuits are ONLY about being comfy and warm. If they impinge on the dive then they are useless!

 

I work from the inside out so to speak - many of the superb modern 'wick-away' undergarments help shift dampness from sweat (assuming a none leaking suit) away from the skin so I feel warmer as this isn't causing problems. I add thin fleeces over these, then an undersuit and finally the drysuit. The comfort of this lot dictates how much air is required in the suit and so how much lead I need. I find that I always tend to favour ankle weights (1lb on each leg) and usually carry 24~30lb of lead (shot I find comfier) in a pouch belt.

 

I never use the BC for buoyancy control!

 

But I do not find trim to be any problem whatsoever these days. And reckon that I am no more clumsy in a drysuit than wet.

 

At the end of the day, a drysuit is probably about experience. I use mine all the time (in temperatures fro 3C to 23C) and using it has become second nature. If you are having problems using a camera with it (macro or otherwise) then you probably need to gain more experience in using the drysuit before adding the camera.

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I find that a drysuit offers some advantages for photography. In a drysuit with some air in it, your whole body is buoyant, so it is possible to hover horizontally a few inches above the bottom.

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Hi, y'all.

 

Despite what it feels like, the problem is TOO MUCH LEAD!

 

This is implied in some of the comments, but not SPELLED OUT.

 

After many years in the United Kingdom (all that stuff about the warm North Atlantic Drift is hooey: a sub-50 Fahrenheit dive is not rare in the darker part of the year) I can say that:

 

a ) a neoprene suit is more difficult

b ) a membrane suit with too much air/too many underclothes is more difficult

c ) having air in two places is more difficult

 

Paul Kay has probably got very useful things to say, and published results to prove it, but what I would offer is my solution:

 

weight to be just neutral at the end of the dive, on the surface, using a membrane suit and the best hi-tech thermals (I use Weezle, they're great), with small ankle weights and try to stay at one level when shooting.

 

I get down to a level, set up my suit (no air in BCD, that's for back-up) and then set up my camera. I have found that the weight distribution with a stainless backplate and twin 7-litre cylinders is almost perfect, and I only carry a pound or two of trim weights if I have been out of the water for a few months.

 

Instability is caused by air bubbles in the suit, which make you feel light, but are actually a sign of TOO MUCH LEAD. Dry suits killed divers in the early days when they were knocked off their feet by the surge, held upside down by the air in their suits, and bashed their heads on the bottom. This stopped when "optimum" weighting was understood, so that inversion stopped producing two big bubbles of air around the feet: try it in the pool, with too much lead, and then try dropping lead in stages - it's a convincing demonstration!

 

Tim

 

B)

 

PS: I'd rather be in Bonaire (last week) or Egypt (next week), I think I've mastered the D70 sunburst, and I've just asked Pete Rowlands to send me a Magic Filter

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Diving with your knees bent and using af "frog-kick" will help you controle the airflow to the legs thus making it easier to avoide negative legs. :lol:

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James,

 

Ive been diving dry exclusively for 14 years and dont seem to have this problem. I use only 4 lbs of lead, with a SS plate, but I dive steel tanks not AL. The steel (85's or HP 100's) are neautral when empty. I was able to drop 4 lbs when I switched undergarments from Thinsulate/fleece to a Dive Rite Primaloft undergarment.

 

I would try gaiters, but dont add more ankle wgt. your back will hate you for it. If you can move your trim wgt up that might help but honestly figure out a way to get rid of some of the lead 17lbs is way too much.

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