Aquatica Digital | AQUATICA A300 | Photo Guru Expedition - Earth Sea Publishing

Photo Guru Expedition - Earth Sea Publishing
REVIEWS,> / D I
'(•IfT and ACCESSORIES
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IEADQUARTERS Sue Drafahl and Bill
Harrigan assembled many of the systems we
tested on Cayman Diving Lodge's Eastern Skies
dive boat. Cayman Diving Lodge and Compass
Point Resort were our base for this guru
weekend taking our experts to some of the best
dive sites off the East End.
•S H October 2004
sportdiver.com
hen we put out the call for the latest and greatest in underwaterphoto equipment, we knew we
would receive a good number of digital systems. But we didn't expect them all to be digital. So we did what all good editors do — we
called in the experts. With photo gurus Bill
Harrigan and Jack and Sue Drafahl in tow, we
headed out to the renowned East End of
Grand Cayman to see what these systems
could do.
We tested everything from basic pointand-shoot cameras all the way up to professional systems with all the bells and whistles.
The visibility in the East End was phenomenal, and there were plenty of sites for our
gurus to explore during our digital shootout.
Dive after dive they pushed these cameras to
their limits to find out what worked and what
didn't. We could barely keep them dry long
enough to download the images.
W
SEA & SEA DX-3100 AOUAPIX WITH ULTRALIGHT
CONTROL SYSTEMS (ULCS) TRAY AND ARMS
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Sea & Sea 3.14-megapixel, amphibious camera MEDIA Smart Media IMAGE SIZE 2048
X1536, printable to 8x10 ACCESSORIES Modular wetmount lenses: 20 mm; macro framer; close-up lens
FEATURES Built-in color filter and macro lens.
STROBE On-board flash with diffuser; optional DX25 can be used with a fiber-optic cable CAMERA
TRAY AND ARMS Ultralight Control Systems Tray
with padded grip and single-strobe ball connector;
shown with spotting
light mount, but myriad options available
for most needs
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
The world's first amphibious point-and-shoot digital
camera - perfect for the
casual or beginner/intermediate shooter looking for
a compact, modular and
easy to use system
CONTACT
www.seaandsea.com;
www.ulcs.com
For Jack and Sue's field test
with this camera system, go to
page 99.
WITH A WORLD GONE DIGITAL, WE SENT OUR FAMOUS
SNAPPERS, THE DIGITAL DUO, JACK AND SUE DRAFAHL,
AND FIELD EDITOR AND TOP PHOTOGRAPHER BILL
HARRIGAN TO CAYMAN'S EAST END TO TEST A SEA FULL OF
THE LATEST FILMLESS CAMERA SYSTEMS
BY BILL H A R R I G A N AND J A C K & SUE D R A F A H L
padi.com
October 2004
37
OLYMPUS 5O5O IN LIGHT &
MOTION TETRA 505O HOUSING/
ULCS ARMS/SEA & SEA YS-90
STROBE
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Olympus 5050, five
megapixels MEDIA Multiple: Compact
Flash, x-D IMAGE TYPE Multiple: TIFF,
RAW, JPEG and more FEATURES 3x optical zoom, f/1.8 lens, 35 to 105 mm equivalent, IS0100-400 HOUSING TYPE Light
& Motion Tetra 5050 KEY FEATURES
ROC strobe control system, wet-mate
wide-angle and macro lenses, and
compact size STROBE Sea & Sea YS-90
STROBE ARMS Ultralight Control Systems adjustable arms
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Sophisticated yet intuitive imaging
system for intermediate/advanced
photographers
CONTACT
www.liqhtandmotion.com;
www.seaandsea.com;
WWW.ulCS.com; www.olympus.com j
For Bill's field test with this
camera system, go (o page 99.
SEALIFE REEFMASTER DC25O
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE SeaLife ReefMaster
DC250, 2.1 megapixels (DC300 and
310 come with 3.3 MP) MEDIA 8 MB
Internal; SD media external IMAGE
TYPE JPEG; movie-JPEG capable
FEATURES Point-and-shoot simplicity
HOUSING TYPE SeaLife, rubberarmored, tested to 200 feet KEY FEATURES One-button operation; land,
sea and external flash mode, expandable with 3x or 8x macro lenses, or
SD970 wet-mount wide-angle; can
accommodate one or two external
strobes STROBE E x t e r n a l slave
CAMERA TRAY AND ARMS SeaLife
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Great beginner camera with multiple
imaging possibilities
CONTACT
www.sealife-cameras.com
For Bill's field test with this camera system,
go to page 99.
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\\
Olympus 5060/Olympus housing I SeaLife ReefMaster
NON EOS DIGITAL REBEL IN AQUATICA A3OO
H O U S I N G W I T H I K E L I T E 125 S T R O B E S A N D
TECHNICAL LIGHTING CONTROL (TLC) ARMS
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Canon Digital Rebel, 6.3 MP, CMOS sensor and
digital-imaging processor MEDIA Supports type I and II media
cards IMAGE MODE Multiple; can shoot JPEG and RAW simultaneously KEY FEATURES Full-featured, SLR-type, 12 shooting
modes, seven-point autofocus, compact, lightweight body
HOUSING TYPE Aquat ica A300 KEY FEATURES Fingertip access
38
October 2004
Canon Rebel/Aquatica
A300 housing
to key camera controls, a bright viewing system, a precision-cast-aluminum body built to
military specs; and an ergonomic design STROBE
Two Ikelite DS-125s STROBE ARMS Technical Lighting
and Control Systems, ball-mount, 0-ring-free connectors
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Sophisticated, versatile, pro-level imaging system
CONTACT
www.ikelight.com; www.aquatica.ca
For Bill's field test with this camera system, go to page 101.
sportdiver.com
FUJI S2 PRO IN AQUATICA HOUSING WITH TLC
STROBE ARMS AND IKELITE 125 STROBES
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Fuji S2,12 megapixels MEDIA Dual slots for
Smart Media and IBM Microdrive IMAGE MODE Multiple KEY
FEATURES Full-featured, pro-level digital SLR (takes Nikonmount lenses), TTL compatible HOUSING TYPE Aquatica S2
KEY FEATURES Fingertip access to key camera controls,
bright viewing system, a precision-cast-aluminum body
built to military specs; and an ergonomic design STROBE I
Two Ikelite DS-125s STROBE ARMS Technical Lighting and
Control Systems, ball-mount, 0-ring-free connectors
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Sophisticated, versatile, pro-level imaging system with the
top-of-the-group image size
CONTACT
www.ikellqht.com; www.aquatica.ca
For Jack and Sue's field test with this camera system, go to page 102.
NIKON D100 IN IKELITE HOUSING WITH 125 STROBES AND TLC
STROBE ARMS
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Nikon D100, 6.1 megapixels MEDIA Compact Flash type I
and II; IBM Microdrive IMAGE MODE Multiple, JPEG, TIFF, RAW and NEF
KEY FEATURES Full-featured, pro-level digital SLR HOUSING TYPE Ikelite
KEY FEATURES Compact, ergonomic, intuitive, magnified image view for
easier framing and composition STROBE Two Ikelite DS-125s STROBE ARMS
Ikelite, ball-mount, push-button, removable strobe arms for maximum
lighting versatility
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Impressive flexibility and ease of use; this pro-level system helps make
the transition from film to digital much easier to handle
CONTACT
www.ikeliqht.com
For Jack and Sue's field test with this camera system, go to page 102.
SEA & SEA DX-3000
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Ricoh C a p l i o G3 series, three-plus
megapixels MEDIA Secure Digital memory card IMAGE
MODE Multiple KEY FEATURES Flexible point-and-shoot,
easy to use, inexpensive. Can take the MX-10 modular, wetmount 20 mm wide-angle lens, macro framer, and closefocus lens HOUSING TYPE DX-3000G STROBE On-board,
or external YS-25 connected with fiber-optic cable
STROBE ARMS Single, flexible DX arm and tray
40
October 2004
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
A do-everything point-and-shoot that
works well for beginner and intermediate shooters; Jack and Sue keep one on
hand to use as a backup to their pro
system
CONTACT
www.seaandsea.com
For Jack and Sue's field test with this camera system, go to page 103.
sportdiver.com
O L Y M P U S 5O60 H O U S I N G
SYSTEM AND ULCS TRAY/ARM
SYSTEM SPECS
OLYMPUS 5O60 IN I K E L I T E HOUSING WITH 125 STROBE
SYSTEM SPECS
CAMERA TYPE Olympus 5060,5.1 megapixels MEDIA Compact Flash type and xD
IMAGE MODE Still image: TIFF, JPEG, DCF (Design rule for Camera File system),
PIM2 (Print Image Matching), Movie mode: QuickTime® motion JPEG KEY FEATURES Compact, multi-position LCD and capture, 4x optical wide-angle lens, dual
media slots, available movie mode. HOUSING TYPE Ikelite KEY FEATURES special
conversion circuitry, single or dual sync cord capabilities, molded of corrosion
free clear polycarbonate, weighs less than 6 pounds. STROBE Ikelite 125 STROBE
ARMS Ikelight tray and removable arm system.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Powerful options in a small package for intermediate/advanced photographers,
especially those interested in advanced wide-angle imaging possiblities
CONTACT
www.lkelite.com
CAMERA TYPE Olympus 5060, 5.1
megapixels MEDIA: Compact Flash
type and xD cards IMAGE MODE: Still
image: TIFF, JPEG, DCF (Design rule
for Camera File system), PIM2 (Print
Image Matching), MOVIE MODE:
QuickTime® motion JPEG KEY FEATURES: Compact, multi-position LCD
and capture, 4x optical wide-angle
lens, dual media slots, available
movie mode. HOUSING TYPE: Olympus PT-020 KEY FEATURES: Double
o-ring construction, clear polycarbonate case STROBE Olympus FL-20
flash STROBE ARMS Ultralight Control Systems strobe arms with ball
mount connectors on an Ultralight
single strobe tray.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Nice, compact system - great for travel
and advanced/intermediate users
CONTACT
www.olympus.com; www.ulcs.com
For Jack and Sue's field test with this
camera system, go to page 104.
For Jack and Sue's field test with this camera system, go to page 104.
NIKON D1OO IN LIGHT & MOTION TITAN
HOUSING WITH ULCS STROBE A R M S AND
IKELITE 125 STROBES
STROBE Two Ikelite DS-125s
STROBE ARMS Ultralight Control
Systems, ball mount, f u l l y
adjustable
K
SYSTEM SPECS
£
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£
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CAMERA TYPE Nikon D100, 6.1 megapixels MEDIA Compact
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Flash type 1 and II; IBM Microdrive IMAGE MODE Multiple, Impressive flexibility and ease of use, this pro-level sysJPEG, TIFF, RAW, NEF KEY FEATURES Full-featured, protem makes the transition from film to digital much easier
level digital SLR HOUSING TYPE Light & Motion, anodized
to handle
aluminum KEY FEATURES Slide in camera tray, bayonet
CONTACT
mount ports, double O-ring seals, fully electronic fingertip controls, infrared smart grip controls, ROC strobe for www.liqhtandmotion.com; www.ulcs.com (strobe arms)
For Bill's field test with this camera system, go to page 107.
fully controlled, strobe independent lighting exposure
42
October 2004
sportdiver.com
Got the Camera,
Now Get Inspired
TAKE A PHOTO COURSE
Cathy Church Super Courses
www.cathychurch.com
ENTER A COMPETITION
Aqgnssor Photo Contest
www.aggressor.com
Peter Hughes Photo Contest
www.peterhughes.com
So/mar V Photo Contest
www.solmar.com
LEARN FROM THE PROS IN THE FIELD
Dive and Shoot With Jack & Sue Drafahl
www.digitalduo.com
Aggressor & So/mar Pro Cruises
www.aggressor.com; www.solmar.com
JOIN AN UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY CLUB
Dallas u/w Photographic Society
www.dups.org
Los Angeles U/W Photographic Society
www.laups.org
San Diego U/W Photographic Society
www.sdups.com
Northern CA U/W Photographic Society
www.ncups.org
Colorado U/W Photographic Society
www.cupsonline.net
Kona U/W Photographic Society
www.kups.org
Massachusetts U/W Photographic Society
www.underwater.org
South Florida U/W Photographic Society
www.sfups.org
INUING EDUCATION
Get your Underwater
Photographer specialty. For
more info, go to www.padi.com.
PELICAN AND UNDERWATER KINETICS
CASES
Let's face it, with all the apelike baggage
handlers who stand between your photo
gear and its destination, you're going to
need to buy a solid, well-padded case.
Pelican offers a variety of cases to fit
every underwater photographer from the
1510 carry on to the massive expedition sized
cube cases. They are available with pluckable
foam or customizable padded inserts.
Underwater Kinetics also makes tough
dry transit cases in a variety of sizes and
both companies offer excellent warranties on
their products.
You've traveled thousands of miles. You're on the
ultimate dive.The set-up is perfect, but your strobes
are pointed in the wrong direction and the exposure
is off! Don't let this happen to you on your vacation.
Finesse your photo skills or learn the basics during
an Aggressor Fleet week-long, live-aboard workshop with
experts like cinematographer Stan Waterman.The Jim Church
School of Photography team of Mike Mesgleski and Mike Haber also
dedicates a week of hands-on, in-water training to get
you the best shots. Don't own an underwater
camera? Rent a new digital unit on the boat.
Our guest photo pros will teach you tips and
techniques that will have you shooting awardwinning images in no time!
AGGRESSOR PHOTO WORKSHOPS
Mike Mesgleski & Mike Haber, Film, Digital & Video
Belize: June 18-25,2005
Galapagos: Aug. 11-18, 2005
Stan Waterman* & Mike Mesgleski, Video & Film
Truk Lagoon: Feb. 20-27, 2005
For more dotes and details, see our Worksriop Itinerary at aggressor.com.
www.pelican.com; www.uwkinetics.com
AGGRESSOR
FLEE
Y E A R S
1 984-2004
888-348-2628
www.aggressor.com
The
W o r l d - w i d e A g g r e s s o r Fleet V I
Aggressor Fleet Franchising. Inc.
is a franchise company.
Ph: 985-385-2628 • Fax:985-384-0817 • E-mail: info@aggressor.com
padi.com
• Call for details Photos by Carlos V.rgil./Ruck. Rod Klem and Wayn« Hasson.
DIVE GEAR Continued from page 43
SEA & SEA DX-310O AQUAPIX
Touted as the first amphibious underwater
camera, the 3.14-megapixel Aquapix from
Sea & Sea is compact and easy to use. The
front of the camera has a bayonet mount
that takes all the lenses from the modular
Sea & Sea MX-10 camera system, which
means you can use the 20 mm, macro
framer and even the fish close-up lens to
expand the capabilities of the Aquapix. It
takes readily accessible AA batteries and a
Smart Media memory card through the
sealed side door.
The Aquapix has a built-in color filter
and a macro lens, as well as an internal
flash. The on-board flash has a diffuser
that can be used or removed with the flip
of a switch. Although the on-board flash is
fine for many situations, the auxiliary DX25 is an option when you require more
powerful lighting. The camera mounts to
the standard camera tray that sports a flexible arm designed to hold the DX-25
strobe and fiber-optic cable.
Underwater, we found that we had
three choices when using the Macro/Color
Filter switch. When we switched the camera to Color Filter, we got great color
images down to 30 feet without using a
flash. When we wanted to use the flash to
photograph fish and other medium-sized
animals, we switched the camera to the
middle position, which turned the flash on,
and changed the ISO from 50 to 100.
Shooting macro subjects was a matter of
moving the switch to the macro position
and adjusting the power of the Sea & Sea
DX-25 strobe to achieve a correct exposure. In the macro position, we were able to
focus down to 4 inches from the subject.
The biggest advantage to the Aquapix
was its compact size and simplicity. With
the flashes turned off, the red filter produced some amazing color images.
The small icons on the LCD screen
are a bit difficult to see, but the rubber
LCD hood kept the light off the screen.
Not having f-stop or shutter-speed control
took some getting used to, but we soon
learned how to correct the exposure using
the exposure compensation and the flash
power settings. —Jack dV Sue Drafahl
OLYMPUS 5050/LIGHT
TETRA 505O HOUSING
&
MOTION
The Tetra 5050 is a rugged, compact housing for the five-megapixel Olympus 5050,
which has a built-in zoom lens. Light &
Motion's accessory wide-angle lens vaults
you into true wide-angle while retaining
the convenience of zooming in or out.
The LCD monitor functions as the
viewfinder. Adjust the brightness to one
setting below normal to get the most accurate view underwater.
Light & Motion's Remote Optical
Controller system provides automatic or
manual control of the external strobe.
Auto (best for macro) provides performance similar to TTL by firing a pre-flash
for the camera to evaluate before the actual flash. Manual (best for wide-angle and
normal photography) lets you dial in
exactly the power you want in 12 incremental steps. ROC works in auto and
manual with the full line of Sea & Sea
strobes as well as the Ikelite DS-50 or DS125. It also works with other Ikelite and
Nikonos strobes in the manual mode.
Don't forget to turn the ROC system on, or
your strobe won't fire at all.
Shutter delay makes the 5050 best for
slow-moving critters and reef panoramas.
The recommended procedure is to press
the shutter halfway to start the imaging
process, then push it the rest of the way to
take the picture. I found that one firm
press and a steady hand worked, too. After
some practice I got the hang of the timing
and was even able to get some sharp
images of free-swimming parrotfish.
Light & Motion is also working on a
housing for the new Olympus 5060 camera. Unfortunately, it was not yet available
when this test was conducted.
My tips for using the Tetra 5050: Go
to All Reset in the camera's menu, and
switch it to Off to keep the camera from
reverting to its default settings every time
you power down. To take best advantage
of the Tetra 5050, I'd use it to photograph
snorkelers in the shallows. Leave the
strobe off, or use it manually to provide a
little fill, and let that wide-angle lens capture some cool surface reflections.
— Bill Harrigan
SEALIFE REEFMASTER DC25O
The entire ReefMaster kit, including the
camera, the housing, the accessory lenses
and the external strobes, fits in a padded
case smaller than most briefcases. The 2.1megapixel camera features 8 MB of internal
memory but also accepts SmartDisk media
cards to greatly expand its capacity. The
similar ReefMaster DC300 and DC310
units come with 3.3-megapixel cameras.
October 2004
99
I got the best results by staying right
between five and six feet away. There is a
significant delay before the strobe goes off,
so hold the camera steady after you press
the shutter.
The accessory macro lenses allow you
to capture small subjects. The 16x macro
lens focuses on an imaginary 4-by-5-inch
frame located seven to 10 inches in front of
the lens. Putting the subject just above the
hole in the wand (with the wand extension
retracted) will produce the sharpest image.
The 8x macro lens is focused 10 to 13
inches from the lens and provides a 7-by10-inch imaginary box in which to fit your
subject. With this lens, place your subject
two inches in from the tab hole in the end
of the wand (with the wand extended this
time) for the best results.
To get the best results with the
ReefMaster, I'd head for clear water and
stay five feet from my subject unless 1 was
using the macro lenses. I'd try it topside,
too, because the housed camera without
the optional external strobes should make
a nice all-weather rig. Take it out in the
rain, rafting, snorkeling — anyplace wet
or sloppy — and still come back with photos when everyone else has packed their
fragile cameras away. — BH
The A300 could be a little awkward,
which was mainly caused by the camera
using the same dial to control both shutter
speed and aperture when shooting in the
manual mode. You have to screw in a skinny shaft on the back of the housing to
switch functions, then screw it out again to
switch back. It is not a problem if you're
content to shoot in one of the priority
modes or program for the entire dive.
The test unit was equipped with a
bayonet-mount dome port that easily covered the 18-55 mm zoom and is wide
Tfte
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CANON EOS DIGITAL REBEL/AQUATICA
A3OO HOUSING
The Aquatica A300 is a well-designed aluminum housing that is a nice match for
Canon's Digital Rebel. The camera 1 tested
came with a sharp 18-55 mm zoom lens
that provided a useful range underwater.
The only preparation required before
installing the camera in the housing was
to slide the zoom ring over the lens. The
ring fit with friction, so no adjustment
was necessary, and the camera settled
onto the mounting tray without fuss. The
camera and housing were frustration-free
and quite nice.
The camera zoom control is generously sized and positioned perfectly
under your left index finger. The A300
features an electronic shutter release, providing good control for depressing the
shutter halfway to engage autofocus. The
Digital Rebel is fast, providing virtually
instantaneous response to the shutter
release and no flash delay. The Technical
Lighting Control arms supplied by
Aquatica hold the strobes right where you
want them and can be dismounted easily
for hand holding.
padi.com
enough to give superb panoramas and overunders with Canon's 16 mm fisheye lens.
The dome shade/protector attaches with
eight tiny Allen screws, but it did the job.
I'll bet the Aquatica A300 and Canon
Digital Rebel would be a killer combination
with a 100 mm macro lens and a pair of digital strobes. Set the camera on 1/60 at f-22,
the ISO to 100 and the strobes on TTL, and
let Canon's fast autofocus do its thing. Try
this setup on a shallow reef at night, and
you'll come back with 100 nice images on
the card. — BH
800-338-3843
www.canebayscuba.com
800-442-0121
www.1hibiscus.com
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800-524-4746
October 2004
101
AQUATICA FUJI S2 PRO
Before this test in the Cayman Islands,
we'd had a great deal of experience with
the Fuji S2 Pro both topside and underwater. We love this high-end, 12-megapixel
digital SLR camera. It takes all the Nikon
lenses and is one of the few SLR cameras
that has full TTL exposure control underwater. Several manufacturers make housings for the Fuji S2 Pro, but for this test
we used the Aquatica S2 precision-castaluminum housing.
We found the camera pretty easy to
install in the housing after aligning the
focus control so that it would engage properly with the camera. The backplate of the
housing is held in place with two latches
that have safety clips to prevent accidental
opening. The twin-sync port allowed us to
use a twin-flash setup, which is often necessary when you want to shoot superwide-angle images. The two ergonomic
handles on the sides of the housing held
the two flash units in place, making the
system very comfortable to work with both
above and below water.
Christmas
Getaway
One feature we really liked was the
bayonet port mount on the front of the
housing. To change lenses, we twisted off
the port and, using the release button on
the side of the housing, easily removed the
lens through the front opening. The camera controls were also easily manipulated
with the micro buttons that carefully
aligned with each control. We also liked
the extra viewing port on top of the housing that displayed the information on the
top of the camera.
The dual-memory card port can be
opened and the cards changed without
removing the camera from the housing —
an added bonus. But you still have to
remove the camera from the base plate to
change the batteries.
We were most impressed with the
bright viewfinder image that projected
through the optical glass viewfinder in the
back of the housing. It made it easy to view
images underwater. We found the two
Ikelite 125 strobes to be very fast and reliable, and they easily outlasted us on a dive.
—Jack & Sue Drafahl
NIKON D10O IN IKELITE HOUSING
Departures available from various cities in the USA.
Call for more information.
80O-676-2826
E-mail: rick@bonnebeach.com
www.fantasyislandresort.com
102 October 2004
Spectacular Beaches
Inviting Rooms
Tennis Courts
Watersports
Diving
Breathtaking Sunsets
This is one of the most compact Ikelite
SLR housings we have seen yet. With the
twin strobe handles and all the features of
Nikon's electronic marvel, this Ikelite
housing is a dream to use. The camera is
easy to access with three strong latches
that keep this great Nikon camera dry.
The magnified image on the back of the
housing made it easy to frame and focus
images in both bright and dark waters,
and the menu controls are easy to find
and use.
One of the best features is that you
can change both the battery and the
memory card without removing the camera from the base plate. This allowed us
to quickly change cards between dives.
Plus, the camera battery charged quickly
and easily lasted through the dive.
We were also impressed that we
could use our 28, 20 and 14 mm lenses
all inside one port and still produce
sharp images without the use of diopters
for correction. We were even able to
remove the lens through the front port
using the lens release control on the
housing without having to remove the
camera.
A heavy-duty hot-shoe connector is
clearly marked with Front/Back to avoid
any errors when connecting the sync
sportdiver.com
cord. We found that the Ikelite 125
strobes charged quickly between dives
and furnished the necessary power we
demanded. Our biggest problem was that
we liked this combination of camera,
housing and flash so well that we had
trouble moving on to conduct other tests.
—Jack & Sue Drafahl
SEA & SEA DX-3OOO
The DX-3000 is one of the first pointand-shoot cameras we purchased for personal use a couple of years ago. This
three-plus megapixel camera and housing use the same bayonet mount that
takes the MX-10 camera's 20 mm wideangle lens, macro framer and close-focus
fisheye lens. Altogether these components make this an inexpensive camera
option that can do almost everything.
Setup for a dive is easy with the DX3000. Simply open the hinged backplate,
drop in the Ricoh camera, load the two
AA batteries, insert the SmartDisk
Memory card, check the blue O-ring surface, secure the back with a latch-lock
system and away you go. We like this system because it is very compact and easy
to use. On previous trips we would even
keep one of these cameras in our BC and
pull it out when we had finished using
our pro system.
Shooting with the DX-3000 is a little
different from many of the point-andshoot systems we have used, as there are
no f-stop or shutter-speed controls. We
quickly learned to control the available
light exposure with the exposure compensation control and to adjust the foreground exposure with the power settings
on the DX-25 strobe. When we wanted to
shoot fish or smaller critters, we found it
better to try the zoom first, as it had
almost no shutter delay. If we needed to
get even closer, then we switched to the
close-up mode, even though there was a
longer shutter delay.
For our tests we put the camera's diffuser down so that it blocked the direct
flash and tripped the DX-25 flash. This
flash connects with a fiber-optic cable, so
you don't have to worry about a sync
cord flooding. This unique Sea & Sea
flash has a special control for several
types of preflash systems. We experimented with a couple of settings to get
the best combination and found that setting No. 1 was best.
The camera comes with a rubber
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SOUTHERN CROSS CLUB
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BRAC CARIBBEAN
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CAYMAN AIRWAYS
Cayman Airways offers
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October 2004
103
light hood to provide better underwater
viewing of the LCD panel. The compactness of this camera makes it an excellent
candidate for both underwater photography and other water-sports activities like
river rafting. —Jack & Sue Drafahl
IKELITE OLYMPUS 5O60
The number of controls on the Olympus
5060 5.1-megapixel camera is almost
overwhelming. The good news is that
once you learn them all, you will have
more control over your underwater
images than you ever dreamed.
Ikelite's compact housing for this
camera does an excellent job, considering
the number of controls that have to be
aligned. One big advantage of this housing is that it is clear, so you can easily
locate all the controls.
Two controls on the side of the camera can be difficult to use at first since
both must be pressed at the same time
while rotating the control dial to compensate for flash exposure. Ikelite gives
you a special pull-to-position control to
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DIVI FLAMINGO BEACH RESORT
Year
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104
October 2004
•
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depress these buttons, and it gets easier
to use with practice.
We found the camera itself incredible: It allows you to zoom in to photograph fish, take wide-angle images,
macro and even supermacro, all by just
changing a few controls and hardware.
The camera is designed with a hot
shoe for TTL operation. Ikelite uses a
special sync system that enables the
Ikelite strobe to fire a pre-flash and then
a main flash to achieve TTL. Seeing the
flash fire twice for each shot is a little
unnerving at first, but it really works.
These compact flash units could easily
shoot more than 100 shots (200 with
pre-flash) and never hesitate on a recycle.
This is the first time we have used an
Ikelite housing that has a threaded port.
Because this port can take the new superwide Olympus lens without attaching it
directly to the camera, between dives we
could remove the camera and change
batteries and cards without having to
remove the large wide-angle lens.
The Ikelite base plate had one handle mounted on the left side. With a finger on the trigger and one hand on the
left handle, we found it difficult to use
when in surge. We suggest a twin-handle
system so you can hold the camera and
fire the shutter with one hand.
—Jack &• Sue Drafahl
OLYMPUS 5O6O
This is one of our favorite midrange point
and shoot cameras. Olympus has done a
great job as the housing is extremely well
made with all controls on the camera supported by controls on the housing. We
were most impressed with the double Oring construction of all the surfaces
accessed by the user. Even with the multitude of controls on the back of the housing, we found it easy to move around using
the multilevel controls to quickly find just
the right feature. We used the new
Ultralight digital tray and handle. It was
comfortable and worked great to maintain
the compact feel of this system.
For all our underwater tests, we
used the cameras internal flash. The
camera and housing do support TTL with
the Olympus FL-20 flash and sync cord;
however, we could not get it to work. The
problem was not the system but the fact
that we had missed a menu function on
the camera that linked the two together.
Post-trip testing of the two proved that
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the TTL flash would have worked great.
Oh, well ... next time.
A unique aspect of this housing is
the lens-port system. It uses two twist
locks that force the port against the double O-ring in the housing. On a previous
dive trip, we were able to remove the
standard port and replace it with the
superwide port and lens. This gave us the
ability to shoot some great wide images
while enjoying the benefits of shooting
with a compact camera and housing system. The downside to this wide angle
system is that you must remove both the
lens and the camera to change the batteries and the memory card.
We found the hood on the back of the
housing very useful as its long slanted shell
blocked out the extraneous light but still
gave us a clear view of the LCD screen.
Most amazing are the half-dozen combinations of white balance controls that give
more control over color balance than most
systems we have seen underwater.
Another nice feature of the camera is
its dual memory-card slot. This allowed us
to shoot either the Compact Flash or xD
card just by pressing a button. Since the
camera shoots both high-resolution still
images and 640x480 30 frames-per-second video, you can easily shoot video on
one card and stills on the other.
—Jack &> Sue Drafahl
NIKON D1OO/LIGHT & MOTION TITAN
HOUSING
Mayan Princess Hotel
Beautiful oceanfront suites, with an on-site PADI
Resort dive center, Amigos del Mar.
800-850-4101
www.mayanprincesshotel.com
mayanprin@btl.net
Turneffe Flats
A superior full-service dive
resort located in the heart of
Belize's best diving.
800-815-1304 • 605-578-1304
www.tflats.com • tflats@rapidnet.com
The Titan is a solidly constructed aluminum housing with bayonet mount
ports, a slide-in camera tray, cam-locking
latches and double O-ring seals on the
backplate. First impression: If all the buttons on those high-tech handles work,
this is going to be slick.
The Smart Grips are indeed slick,
with thumb buttons that let you control
aperture, shutter speed, strobe power
(independently or combined for two
strobes) and autofocus. You can keep
your eye on the viewfinder, thumb in the
settings you want and shoot. The ROC
system can be programmed in a few seconds to control most Ikelite, Sea & Sea
and Nikonos strobes in 12 steps of incremental power. Left and right strobes can
be programmed and controlled independently so you can mix and match.
The shutter-release lever on the
Titan is one of the best I've encountered
- positioned just right for my index fin-
ger and providing an excellent feel.
Couple that with the DIOO's no-delay
shutter release, and you're ready to rock
and roll.
To test the flat port, I made a night
dive with a 60 mm macro lens, and an
Ikelite 200 as the main strobe and an
Ikelite DS-125 as the secondary. It was
easy to check the results on the LCD, and
the ROC system gave me complete control to make quick adjustments. I used
the 8-inch dome port, which fits a variety
of Nikon wide-angle and zoom lenses, on
several reef and wall dives. The 16 mm
lens produced good results with this
port, although the 1.5x lens image-coverage factor of the D100 noticeably cut
down the angle of view. Nikon does,
however, make a fisheye 10.5 mm lens,
and I'd love to try the Titan again with
Nikon's made-for-digital 12-24 mm zoom
and a pair of Ikelite DS-125s or Sea &
Sea YS-120s. — BH
Special thanks to Ca_yman Diving Lodge,
www.divelodge.com and Compass Point, an
Ocean Frontiers dive resort, www.ocean
/rontiers.com.
ULTIMATE INSPIRATION AND HOW-TO
New Book From
World's Best Underwater
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This lovely coffee-table book combines Cathy
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illustrate Church's sense of whimsy and art, and
acute awareness of marine
biology. This 11by-10 inch,
144-page hardcover
book
contains 135
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Photo lessons
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got the exguisite shots that make this book a
must have for casual divers, serious photographers and everyone in between who loves the
exceptional beauty of the ocean.
Church's underwater photo journey began
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and confirms her status as one of the best to
ever take a camera into the sea.
For information or to purchase, visit
www.cathychurch.com.
S5
October 2004
107
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