Spotmatic underwater?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Phil Woodney, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. Phil Woodney

    Phil Woodney Member

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    Hi all,
    APUG has become my favorite source for on-line photo information, so I thought I would throw curve ball to see if anyone could handle it.
    I'll be heading to Egypt in January for my annual scuba-diving trip. I've begun thinking, "Instead of dragging my RB-67 outfit, why not carry a couple of Spotmatic SP-1000 bodies and a couple of lenses instead?" Naturally I followed that with the thought that I might as well see if anyone knows of a housing I could put one of these in for some underwater shots.
    And here's the pitch...Does anyone know where I might find a housing?

    Best regards,
    Phil
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Ikelite used to make plexiglass housings for most of the popular camera bodies of the 60-70's, but they have long since discontinued, they also had universal housings that could be used with a wide variety of bodies, your best best for something of this nature is going to be finding some store that may have some new old stock in a box in the back room, or making a strong run at ebay, there are also flexable heavy PVC housings made, but when I lived in Hawaii and dove alot, we found them to be very fragile and prone to tearing around rocks and coral.

    Dave
     
  3. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    There are some bag-like housings for more shallow depths.

    However, if I were you, I would check with subaquatic photo in Salinas (they have a webpage). They fix and sell Underwater photo stuff. They would know if you could find something you need, or what could be modified. Between them and the shop in Monterey (I forget the name right now) that they work with, you have as good a chance as possible.

    Keep in mind that at any real depth, you will need a strobe of some sort. By the time you have added that, you may want to consider a Nikonos. If you aren't going to be doing a lot of UW photo stuff, consider renting a camera.

    Matt
     
  4. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    wouldn't it be cheaper to buy a Sea and Sea nderwater camera?
     
  5. Phil Woodney

    Phil Woodney Member

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    Thanks for the replies! I guess the best idea would be to buy an older Sea and Sea or Nikonos. I was sorta hoping to avoid annoying my wife by getting another camera. Sigh. S'pose I'll start looking around.

    Phil
     
  6. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Seriously take a look at the rental rates where you are going to dive. If you are on a live-aboard, they often will load the camera for you, hand it to you when you get in the water, and take it from you when you get to the surface.

    This may sound like laziness, but it keeps you from flooding a camera. UW photo equipment takes a serious maintanence schedule (keeping O-rings clean, making sure everything is sealed correctly). My brother and I both had cameras flood on us a couple of days into a week long trip to Chuuk. Reason? We were using the wrong kind of O-ring grease on our strobe connections. Worked great on the camera, didn't work on the strobe.

    Flood a camera, and you are looking at a few hundred dollars in repair. Flood a cheap lens (35mm) and you are basically looking at junking the $100 lens. Flood a good lens (Nikonos 15mm) and you are looking at serious money.

    The 35mm lens on the Nikonos is good. The optics are actually really good. However, underwater, everything is guess-focus and fairly close. With the scatter in the water and the power of the strobes, you are doing most of your work in <10'. This means that a wide angle lens is very important. When I went to a 20mm lens, the number of keeper shots went up significantly. Why? Depth of focus. A 15mm lens (~$1,500, as I recall when I was buying, cheaper now) would probably help a lot more.

    Why bring all this up? Renting gives you access to wide angle lenses cheaper than buying. I say all this, but I own my Nikonos. They are pretty cheap now (NikV in bargain at KEH for $199).

    If you decide to purchase, check out the notes on the subaquatic website. He is really good about teaching maintanence. Also tricks like, "If your camera floods but the lens looks OK, point the lens up to keep the air bubble in the lens" or "if you get a flood, try to keep the water out of the viewfinder." It all seems really simple, but if you try to think of it underwater, your camera will probably suffer.

    Also, if you do purchase a camera, consider dive insurance. There are groups that will insure your gear. For a bit more, you can add your camera. I forget the name of the company, but they repaired both my camera and my brother's after the Chuuk trip.

    If you decide to go Nikonos, get the Nikonos V or the III. The III is the last of the all manual (no electronics) cameras. The IV had some odd auto-exposure mode that wasn't easy to get around.

    The 15mm lens is now about $600 in bargain condition at KEH. The 20mm is about $400.

    Here are my recollections of the lenses:

    1) 85mm Lens--good above water and below. I have never seen anyone use one.
    2) 35mm lens--good above water and below. because of the flat front port, this is more like a 50mm lens underwater. Cheap enough that you should have on in your kit. Good for macro (with tubes) and above water.
    3) 28mm--water imersion optics. I.e. only underwater use. Supposed to be a very good lens. Also can be used with tubes for macro. Probably better for UW use than the 35mm because of the wider angle and the water-imersion optics.
    4) 20mm--as noted above, much better for scenics underwater. UW only lens. Needs viewfinder.
    5) 15mm lens--I really wish I had one. UW only. Big glass dome (keep clear of scratches!). Be careful of old non-Nikon versions. Some of these project so far into the camera body as to cover the TTL sensor. Needs viewfinder.

    Ran-Anim!

    Matt
     
  7. Phil Woodney

    Phil Woodney Member

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    Hi Matt,
    I wish I could rent there, but we're heading to one of the tiny tent camps in the southern part and there are no camera avalailble for rent. What I'll probably do is to rent one here after the vacation and be prepared for next year.
    Thanks very much for the advice!

    Phil
     
  8. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    There is another option to consider--something like the Hanimex Amphibian. Basically, a point-and-shoot in its own housing. It is sort of a precursor to the Sea and Sea cameras. They are cheap.

    Here is one with a flash that didn't sell on eBay for $25
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Hanimex-Amphibi...oryZ4703QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    The off camera flash is a good idea to reduce backscatter (think Redeye for every speck of dirt in the water).

    It would give you something to shoot with. If you lose it or it floods, who cares?

    As I recall, these images were taken with the Hanimex--

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Matt