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Anyone use a "pole-cam"?

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Curious if anyone has set up their housed DSLR on the end of a pole to do some just-below the surface shooting? How would you attached you housing securely to the pole? What method would you use for activating the shutter?

 

Thanks, Keith

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Hi Keith,

 

Sea and Sea makes a nice bar that can be attached to their handles, which provides a beefy place to attach a pole. A good way to attach the pole is to go to West Marine and get a doodlebug or other kind of adjustable head brush. Remove the doodlebug or brush head and bolt the handle and head assembly to the bar on your housing.

 

The simplest way to release the shutter is to mount an eye-bolt to the handle near where you hands are and run a piece of non-stretchy string down to your shutter release. Drill a small hole through the release to tie the cord and route the string so that when you pull it activates the shutter. Don't pull too hard!

 

This is the way Jim Abernathy had his simple pole-cam set up and it worked really well for him.

 

Cheers

James

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Great info, thanks James. I was thinking of a much more complicated setup using some fance cord with a bulkhead through the side of my housing. I think a safety cable of some kind might also be in order incase the housing broke free of the pole. :)

 

Keith

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I haven't been able to get the string method to work reliably. The better way is to wire a remote through one of the bulkheads. I did that on my old Sea & Sea housing, with a bit of help from friends.

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I notice that you use a Seacam - the latest offering of the EOS1DSMkII housing does have an option for a remote release (S6 type) socket and you can get a 10m cable to operate it (I have the socket but no cable as yet. The threaded hole in the base of the housing is 3/8 Whitworth and in the top is 8mm. I'd loctite a fitting into either of these. Somewhere on Seacam's website is a shot of a housing being used on a pole I seem to remember. You might be able to tell how it is mounted from this!

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I think adapting a brake cable and lever from a bicycle might work well to trigger the shutter.

 

Alex

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On a recent Bahamas trip on our boat Shear Water, Laz (http://www.thelivingsea.com) had rigged a pole cam for his Subal 20D housing with a remote release. His solution was to wire it through a bulkhead - he spliced together a strobe sync cord (on the camera end), a few feet of cat5 ethernet cable, and a standard remote release on his end of the cord. It seemed to work quite well. As far as attaching the camera, since his housing has built-in handles, Laz attached a tray handle to the bottom of the housing with a bracket built onto the arms.

 

Brian Cripe

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How about using triple clamps and a long arm segment to create a solid bar across the top of the housing. Should be easier to rig a PVC to that bar. It also creates some redundant security compared to relying on a single threaded bolt - locktite or not! I'd havve a hard time submerging my Seacam + D2X by a single bolt!

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I suppose rigging the mechanics that hold the housing to the pole will differ from one setup to another but my original thought was to simply connect the pole using a ULCS clamp to the ULCS ball where my focus light goes on my housing. Ryan at ReefPhoto suggested against this as this connection was not strong enough to hold the weight of the housing and strobes. We ultimately decided to use an ULCS tray with two handles, two clamps connecting a pair of 8-inch arms. These were connected using an ULCS triple clamp to which a third ball was bolted with plenty of reinforcement onto the pole. Talk to Ryan or Dave Haas about this.. They love coming up will this kind of stuff!

 

I was surprised at just how much my camera rig weighed when attached to the end of a 12' pole (and my Subal is actually one of the lightest housing in the market). Make sure you don't skimp on the pole. I purchased an aluminum telescopic pole used for cleaning pools (HomeDepot) to which I made multiple reinforcement modifications. I also have a line connected to the housing in case something fails (DAN doesn't cover if I drop the housing 1000ft.).

 

For the electronics, I simply soldered the plug on a $15 Canon aftermarket remote switch (much better than Canon's $40 cra#py alternative) to a female end plug that mates with the bulkhead's. I then wired 12 ft of cat5 cable (last minute thing) to an Ike sync cord and wired the remote to the other end. If you want something a little more elegant and durable you can probably have Ike custom-build you a sync cord with however much cable you need.

 

I'm in the works of running the other two wires from the video out on the camera through the same sync cord to a small external LCD. It might sound like overkill but for just a few bucks I think it saves me the trouble of verifying the composition and lets me make real-time changes without pulling the whole rig out of the water.

 

ONE WARNING -- Make sure no one is standing behind you (especially on a boat) when you're using the polecam setup. Luckily the folks on the shark trip had quick reflexes (ie. Brian Cripe. LOL!) otherwise I'm sure I would have pole-swiped a couple of them.

 

It's a lot of fun and the results so far have been pretty good. Best of all, you can keep your distance from those sharp teeth! Sure beats getting bi&tch-slapped by a Tiger shark (James?!?! LOL).

 

tiger.jpg

 

 

Laz

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Here a drawing I did that uses the base of an old boat vhf antenna, this set up is fairly easy to set up and come across, is light and adjustable, you'll notice the housing is upside down(there is a picture rotate feature in the software somewhere :) ), thus taking advantage of the sturdy mounting points provided by most manufacturer, this mount allows for angle adjustment and was originally designed for a Right whale shoot that never occured. one step further for mechanical release housing would be the addition of a bicycle brake handle and cable for triggering purpose.

 

A safety cable should be attached to the housing in case of severe bi&tch-slapping by a Tiger shark :)

 

regards

post-1676-1119119080_thumb.jpg

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Here's Jimmy almost whacking someone with his trigger arm:

 

050403_123654_echeng5190.jpg

 

And here's why a string trigger won't necessarily work -- sometimes the poles are really long, and you need two hands to hold on and yank the thing up when a shark tries to eat it:

 

dsc_1634.jpg

 

One image taken with the setup (blurry!). I nearly lost the camera here:

 

030905_140436_5693.jpg

 

I did what Laz did. Ike *may* create a custom cable for you, but he won't be happy about it. :)

 

Note that Watt uses the metal hotshoe on his Sea & Sea housing to connect a ULCS ball that he uses for his pole cam. Not the smartest method, in my opinion, but he still gets the shots .:)

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Here a drawing I did that uses the base of an old boat vhf antenna, this set up is fairly easy to set up and come across, is light and adjustable...

This is similar to what Jim Abernethy uses for his setup (except that he had a bar machined that bolts across his handles, so the rig is right-side up). However, I found that it only works if you're planning on floating the housing on the surface. A heavy housing and strobe setup can do bad things when mounted using plastic!

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Oops, base should be metal ! forgot to mention that.

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This is similar to what Jim Abernethy uses for his setup (except that he had a bar machined that bolts across his handles, so the rig is right-side up).

 

Jim actually uses a bar that Sea and Sea makes, it will work on other housings also depending on handle width - it's Grip Stay part #56450.

 

Laz forgot to mention one of the best features of his setup - a dome port that belongs to someone else, so you don't have to worry when you stick it in the mouth of a tiger shark :)

 

Brian

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Eric et al:

 

Canon folks are lucky in that their cameras have a rempote control port that just takes a 2-wire triger to trip it. Nikon folks aren't so lucky...:-( A few f-mount cameras can be remote controlled via USB or Firewire, but that takes a computer, which isn't practical. I guess it might be possible to use an IR remote and a fiber optic cable.

 

Cheers

James

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Jim actually uses a bar that Sea and Sea makes, it will work on other housings also depending on handle width - it's Grip Stay part #56450.

Yeah -- I used to use that bar, too. But I believe he had a second one machined as well, because the Sea & Sea version was a ridiculous $180 or something. Horribly priced!

 

Hmmm. I think I'm confusing machining parts. I think the new part he had machined was a tray adapter to make the 20D work in a D60 housing.

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I did what Laz did. Ike *may* create a custom cable for you, but he won't be happy about it. ;)

 

Note that Watt uses the metal hotshoe on his Sea & Sea housing to connect a ULCS ball that he uses for his pole cam.  Not the smartest method, in my opinion, but he still gets the shots .:)

 

Hehehehe! I wasn't going to mention that part about Ike creating the custom cable. LOL!

Poor Ike has got more than enough things to do especially with his new 90 degree sync cords setup. I wonder when Ike last went on vacation? I'm sure whenever and wherever it was.. there wasn't an underwater housing in sight. :)

 

Jim actually uses a bar that Sea and Sea makes, it will work on other housings also depending on handle width - it's Grip Stay part #56450.

 

Laz forgot to mention one of the best features of his setup - a dome port that belongs to someone else, so you don't have to worry when you stick it in the mouth of a tiger shark  :D

 

Brian

 

Oh no... You're gonna get me in trouble with Ryan. :D

Ryan was actually VERY NICE to let me use his own personal dome as mine didn't make it on time for the trip. As I'm sure Ryan can attest, there wasn't a single scratch or bite mark on his dome. Sheewww!! :)

 

Jimmy's setup is really great and it has proven itself to work well. He now even has a similar setup on his new (very heavy) HD camera too. Then again, we were only in 15ft of water. I wonder if either of us would have tried it at one of the many abyssal dropoffs?!?!

 

polecam.jpg

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Eric et al:

 

Canon folks are lucky in that their cameras have a rempote control port that just takes a 2-wire triger to trip it.  Nikon folks aren't so lucky...:-(  A few f-mount cameras can be remote controlled via USB or Firewire, but that takes a computer, which isn't practical.  I guess it might be possible to use an IR remote and a fiber optic cable.

 

Cheers

James

 

3-wires.. 3rd (half press) adds auto focus.

 

With the D70 and my Olympus 5050 IR remote I semi-rigged a remote trigger using a fiber optic line down to the IR sensor on the camera (good reason to own an Ike housing).

 

I believe (name escapes me now) there's a company that makes wired remotes for Nikon. They even have some timed-triggered remotes and such. I remember them from when I was going to house my D70. I'll post the url when I find it.

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I think it's the "Digisnap" or something like that. Is that the one you're thinking of? The creator (Mark something) is a member here.

 

Cheers

James

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Can anyone tell me if i can simply cut the cable my Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 (for 20 D), insert a however long cable I need in between, connecting those three wires with duct tape or wathever? If so, can I use pretty much any kind of wire or do I need some special kind?

 

Canon makes a 10m extention but it has to be ordered with quite a bit of waiting time, and I could use this cable in just two days time...

 

Pole enthusiasts may want to look at this page: http://www.jordanstallard.com/splhousings/housings.HTML

 

or

 

http://www.aquatech.com.au/products/access...accessories.htm

 

made for surfing photography, perhaps you can get some ideas for your own rig there.

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Yup.. Any kind of wire will likely work although a good, flexible type with a good amount of water proof silicon will last longer. There's just three thin wires inside that remote - nothing else.

 

Ack! It's ridiculous to see what Canon charges for their remote. Worst of all, their remote switch (RN-80N3) is nothing more than three pieces of metal that make contact as you depress the button. The remote alternative that's sold for $10-15 on ebay is actually a nice little circuit board with a switch and there's even a sync port on the side for controlling multiple cameras.

 

Snappy, I do recommend you solder, silicon and shrink wrap the connections. Remember you're dealing with a wet environment and any water that creeps in is likely to cause your camera to go haywire (trust me! LOL).

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Thanks for the quick reply! And the warning about proper protection of the connections. The setup I have in mind right now is, however, for an onland pole shoot. I hope to get some good snaps of BASE jumpers without falling off the cliff myself!

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Great ideas folks! Thanks. I will check with S. Frink about a bulkhead for the plug in the side of my Seacam, but does anyone know off hand if this a Seacam item or can I use a more generic bulkhead to pass the remote shutter release wires through to the camera inside? I'm not looking to cut corners, unless you want to see a grown man cry when he opens his housing to find a soaked 1DsII effervessing (sp) :)

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Hi Keith,

 

You can use any kind of bulkhead that will fit in that hole. Ikelite is my favorite since it's so robust and you don't have to worry about effing up those tiny little pins living deep inside the Nikonos bulkhead...:-)

 

If you are really into this, you could even make a 3 pin wet-mate bulkhead connection.

 

Cheers

James

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