It has been a lot of fun setting up this camera rig.
Metal Distance Gauge to Set Manual Focus and Use Focus Peaking:
Metal Distance Gauge to Set Manual Focus and Use Focus Peaking:
This metal distance gauge was a lot of fun to make. I started this project because I was having difficulty using my macro wet lens and autofocus. The camera seemed to track a lot and there is a small range where the subject is in focus. By using a manual focus set-up I can instantly see when the subject is in focus especially an ideal focus area like the eyes. The result is more consistently good shots.
My macro wet lens has a shallow depth of field, and this metal distance gauge allows a fixed minimum focus distance to be set in the camera. So from this set focus point the subject will be in focus a short distance further away.
To start this project I had to take some distance measurements. In the past I had salt water aquariums, so I set up a testing tank with the specific gravity of salt water. I found that the distance from the outer edge of the UCL-165 M67 macro lens to the minimum focus distance point was 15.5 cm. The ideal focal range was found to be from 15.5 cm to 20 cm in front of the macro lens. The bracket is made to lock manual focus at just less than 16 cm.
To use this metal distance gauge I unfold it, which places a focusing surface (part of an old recreational dive planner) in front of the macro wet lens. This is the minimum distance where the subject is in focus. At this point I use autofocus to lock onto the surface. Now that focus is set, I switch to manual focus, which locks the focus to only this distance. One feature of manual focus I really enjoy is focus peaking, which shows a bright yellow glow around areas that are in sharp focus. This photo shows the back of my camera display screen when using manual focus peaking. At this point the metal distance gauge can be folded away underneath the camera tray, and I’m ready to take quick shots at the right distance.
Metal Distance Gauge Materials: Stainless steel bolts, washers, split washers, lock nuts, recreational dive planner, one inch wide aluminum strips, brass hinge, brass wire, Aquaseal, waterproof two-part epoxy putty.
Primary Dive Light Clamp:
I enjoyed making this clamp to hold my primary dive light onto the camera tray. I’ve been doing more night diving lately and found it awkward holding the dive light separate from the camera rig, so this solution seems to work well for me. There is a metal framework that runs through the whole clamp, which has been covered in a waterproof two-part epoxy putty. I sanded the cured epoxy and painted it black, and now the clamp looks like a bird with an attitude!
The Recsea Sony RX100 underwater housing is a great match to my land camera for underwater photography. I like this solidly built aluminum housing because of its compact design, making it less bulky on dives. The Recsea housing also has very responsive dials, and has the most user friendly rear control wheel to operate the back control wheel on the camera.
A big selling point of this housing for me is that wet lenses can be added underwater depending on the desired photograph. While on a dive the situation is always changing. You could be photographing a small subject with a macro lens and then a seal may decide to hang around for awhile. With wet lenses the macro lens can be quickly removed and a wide angle or fisheye lens can be put on the housing to capture a photograph of the seal.
This RX100 housing has no vignetting with fisheye lenses! This is a nice feature compared to other housed cameras where the lens needs to be zoomed in a small amount to avoid seeing dark corners on the images. The benefit of not having to zoom in slightly means that the lens aperture can be a wide f1.8 for photographs, letting in more light for each shot.
Inon UCL-165 M67 Close-up Lens:
This wet lens was a good option for my housing, and has a +6 diopter magnification. It is made up of high quality optical glass (2 elements in 2 groups), with a 67mm screw attachment mount. I’m using a quick release system, which allows easy attachment and removal of the lens to the camera housing while wearing gloves in cold water. I also set up a coil and bronze clip which attaches to the camera tray, so that if I get a bit clumsy and drop the lens it won’t sink into the abyss!
i-Das UWL-04 28M52 Fisheye Lens:
This lens captures a real feeling of “place”, as it has a wide 160 degree field of view. I like the idea of over-under shots and hope to experiment more with this technique in the future. I think it would be great to show a rocky west coast forested shoreline above and maybe a kelp forest below. Another option in the future I’d like to try would be to show salmon returning to spawn in a stream as well as some of the scenery above. Also because there is such a wide field of view this fisheye lens allows a diver to get much closer to the subject, and with less water between the subject and the camera, the colours will be more vibrant. This wide angle lens is sharp, and has high quality optical glass lenses and a hard coated plastic dome lens element. I added expanding coils with bronze attachment clips for the lens itself and the neoprene cover so they are secured to the camera tray. A big selling point for me was that this lens when used with my camera and housing will not produce vignetting. The lens hood is rotational so it can be lined up correctly to the housing, and there is a 52 mm attachment thread.
Recsea Quick Release Adapters for the Sony RX100:
These adapters have really made my diving enjoyable as a quick snap on or off of a wet lens is possible. Without these adapter parts, each wet lens would have to be threaded on with many turns, then treaded off to attach another lens. A slow process and a difficult one especially wearing dry cloves in cold water. The above photo shows the pieces that are attached to the lens port of the housing. The below photo shows the arm section (left) where an unused lens can be stored. To the right of this arm section, are the pieces that attach to the wide angle and close-up lens. This system is great to use and allows quick lens changes underwater.
The Sea & Sea YS-D2 is a fantastic strobe for underwater photography. The colour temperature of the light is 5600 Kelvin, so it mimics daylight. Included is a built in focus light, which is handy. The rear control panel lights up, providing a visual confirmation of the set mode, and also making it easier to change settings during a night dive.
I like the Nauticam Flextray with dual aluminum arms. Each arm has a five inch and 8 inch segment with ball joints. This is an ideal system to carry the weight of strobes and video lights.
The distance between the handles is also adjustable to best accommodate the housing.
The iTorch V10 focus light is mounted on top of the Recsea housing. Its purpose is to provide enough light for the camera’s autofocus to lock onto a subject.
The V10 has a red LED light included that is not recognized by fish and invertebrates but is powerful enough for the autofocus to lock. This allows me to get closer for a photograph.
A powerful 1000 lumen white light with a wide 110 degree beam angle can be used for video of small subjects.
This six inch flexible arm, made by Beneath the Surface, secures the V10 focus light to the cold shoe on top of the camera housing. I like this option, instead of a clamp, for quick easy positioning of the light.
These buoyancy floats, made by Beneath the Surface, attach to the Nauticam arms and decrease the weight of the rig underwater. The floats are made of a new high density foam that does not compress during recreational dives and so remain very buoyant. Each segment has up to four ounces of positive buoyancey, so they will lighten up a rig quite a bit.