How to set up a Subal ND30 – Part three – 105 VR lens

Following on from the how to set up a subal housings parts one and two, part three is just a quick update really..

I have the Subal 105 VR port with manual adjuster knob (for use with the new Nikon 105 VR lens). The port comes with some instructions which I pretty much followed to the letter but here are some brief observations.

  • It turns the opposite way to the 60mm flat port!
  • It uses a slightly thicker oring, be very careful not to mix up your orings. I keep all mine in little resealable sandwich bags with the port size written on the front.
  • You have to attach the lens after the camera is in the housing (because the lens is too fat to fit through the back way). I keep the camera body cap handy so I don’t get any stray dust in my camera whilst I’m fiddling with my housing before I fit the lens.
  • Make sure the lens itself is switched to M/A unless you want to manual focus for the whole dive! As you put the port on its easy to knock that little switch so care is needed.

How to set up the Subal ND30 – Part two – Strobes

As promised this is the long overdue second section about how I personally set up my Subal ND30 (underwater housing for the Nikon D300). I have two Inon Z-240 type 3 strobes and sea-and-sea sync cords. This is how I put mine together. Other makes might be different so you should ask the advice of your dealer. Remember I’m still just a beginner and these instructions are mostly my aid-memoir.

Strobe sync cords.

To connect the strobe to the housing you need a strobe sync cord (or two). I have two different ones depending on if I’m using one strobe or two, but essentially they have the same method to attach.

The small end goes in the camera and the big end into the strobe.

Attaching the sync cord to the camera housing:

1) Take the plastic cover off the small end (and keep it handy)

2) Put the metal ring back on flat side first (I learned the hard way not he leave these metal rings on for storage, mine got salted on and took 3 burly men and a wrench to get it off again).

3) Grease the little blue oring

4) Take the stopper out from one of the flash ports on the housing.

5) The pins go in a certain pattern inside the port and the sync cord so line it up by twisting until it drops into place them push in firmly.

6) Screw the back part of the sync cord (not the metal ring) to tighten

7) Now screw the metal ring for extra tightness.

8) Take the plastic cover and port cover and screw together so they protect each other and stow somewhere safe and out of the way.

Attaching the sync cord to the strobe(s):

1) Take the plastic cover off the large end (and keep it handy)

2) Grease the little blue oring

3) Take the little plastic cover from the sync port on the strobe

4) Line up the little pins and holes in the sync cord and port (mine has a little yellow dot to line up too)

5) Once its dropped into place push down firmly and screw into place.

6) Screw the two little plastic covers together so they protect each other and stow somewhere safe.

I have one single cord for a single strobe and one splitter cord for two strobes so I only ever use one port on my housing. Don’t make the same expensive mistake I made, make sure you grease the orings on the port stopper for the unused port because if the water gets in your port will go rusty and need replacing! If you use two single sync cords I guess you wouldn’t get this problem anyway. When my port when rusty the first I knew about it was when my strobes were behaving very erratically, they were firing seemingly at random and wouldn’t stop for a while after I pressed the shutter, this didn’t happen during my test shots in the hotel, it happened on the dive because the housing was wet and the cord was shorting. I thought my camera was broken! Luckily it all went back to normal after we unplugged the affected strobe port from the little circuit board inside the housing.

See the original post for instructions on how to put together the main subal housing back and 60mm lens port and tokina 10-17 fisheye port.

see part three coming soon for 105VR lens…

Murder On the Dancefloor!

Tam threw one of her legendary murder mystery parties recently, what a fantastic chance for me to try out my new AF settings!

I must say, I do like the move-the-focus-point-around settings. I don’t think the 3D tracking is going to be much use underwater though. I thought it would be useful in tracking people ask they talked, laughed and generally moved their heads and it was not. Or perhaps the wine had kicked in by then and I was moving too ;)

Anyway, here are the photos. Laura was even the murderer this time :)  I also upgraded the firmware on my D300, there’s now a copyright setting where you can put your name or website so they go on every image! How cool.

D300 AF Settings

My camera is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment with a fool on the end. Whenever my photos do not come out as I expected or wish I find it hard to blame my tools, I know that if I’d set up the camera properly in the first place I’d have a higher likelihood of achieving the results I desire.

This is one of the reasons I’ve been meaning to get around to playing with the many and various Auto focus settings on my D300. When I first got the camera I gave the all new singing and dancing let-the-camera-pick-your-focus-points-for-you (big white rectangle setting on the back) a try and hated it! So I read the manual and the settings seemed very confusing, I picked the obvious old favs! It’s really hard to know what you want the camera to do when you have never had a camera like this before. My old point and shoot gave me no options to choose from, so I set the D300 to have one focus point in the center and use the ol’ focus and recompose technique. This is all very well but now I’ve had my camera for a year I feel the time has come to expand my horizons!

I enlisted the help of the interesting and informative Ken Rockwell guide to auto focus on the D300.

He recommends the annoying setting but I did find the guide useful in picking some new settings for myself.

I’ve set my auto focus menu settings as

a1 setting = release (as before). I like this, despite what Ken thinks, one of the reasons I click over to continuous focus is the fact that it doesn’t have to be in sharp focus to take a photo. Underwater you don’t just have a subject that is moving, you can also have current and buoyancy to take into account. Even a slight need to breath can ruin the focus on a macro shot so the shoot and see approach sometimes takes the pressure off and gets some great results.

a3 setting = 51 points (3D tracking), this is new originally I had it set to 9 points. I’d like to have the option of checking out the 3D tracking. From the small experiment I did by moving my camera around a fixed point it seems like the tracking only works on relatively slow moving things, not sure how useful it’ll be for fish. Also, it seems like it has to be quite a lot of contrast between the subject you are tracking and the background. We’ll see I guess.

For the switched on the back of the camera, I’ll probably now keep the big dial set to the dot (I used to have it set to L, which locks the focus point) so I can move the point around. I’ll probably keep the lower switch set to ‘tit’ as Ken so delightfully puts it. I’ll put it on the one above when I want to test out the tracking (of my one point). I don’t think I’ll ever find a use for the annoying ‘big white rectangle’ though.

What better time to test my new settings than on a trip to Lembeh Straits next month :) I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out!

Good news and bad news.

Which first? Well the bad news is that I’ve busted my housing already! The good news is I got to go and check out Ocean Optics new store in Basildon.

To all those with ND30s who only use one strobe port. Make sure you grease the Orings and tighten the port cover of the unused side before diving and flooding the port :( Its gone all rusty inside and my strobes were behaving most strangely until I unplug the affected port from the inside electronics.

I’ve taken my baby up to Ocean Optics  so that they can fix it. It’s always worth going to see them in person because they are such great people. Their shop used to be in the Strand (which was great for me since I live in central London) but they’ve expanded out to include the use of the underwater studios at Basildon. They have a great looking deep pool that is heated to almost 30 degrees. Now it’s a tube, a train and a bus to get there but it was worth the trip as I feel my housing is in the best care. Fingers crossed I get it back before our next trip!

PhotoFriday – ‘Rough’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Rough’

Click image to go to see alternate sizes.
Click here to see the rest of my ‘Venice’
gallery
.

These little fishes got such a rough deal! Since becoming an
underwater photographer I’m not longer able to eat fish without thinking
murderer! Totally hypocritical on my part since I’m not remotely vegetarian and
if calamari looks like onion rings I’m still tempted.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own)
for ‘Rough’ here.

Photofriday – Beauty

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Beauty’

Click image to go to see alternate sizes.

Click here to see the rest of my ‘Cebu’ gallery.

Taken whilst on holiday in the Philippines in March. How could these little guys be ugly ducklings – they are so cute! I couldn’t believe how many little baby animals one gets to see when you stray out of the City ;)

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Beauty’ here.

Mystery Macro!

After the trauma and indignity of having to go and try on dresses yesterday evening I came home and retreated into the wonderful world of macro. On the pbase forums there is a PAD (photo-a-day) challenge of “macro with a catch” which caught my interest. The idea is, you make a macro of something and everyone has to guess what it is. Then the next day you tell (or show) people what it was.

Here is my 1st attempt. Please feel free to join the guessing fun!

click the image for a larger version.

I’ll be showing the mysteries and their answers on this page:

http://www.pbase.com/suzy_walker/macro_mystery

New York Panoramas!

Yay for Photoshop CS3! Mike has built himself a new super duper pc whose boundaries he clearly wasn’t pushing… what better way to ‘test’ it than try and merge 11 full size D300 RAW files in photoshop :-D It only got a little upset with me, for the most part it churned away and allowed me to produce panoramas that my little teeny-tiny laptop would have been crushed under.

They look better at a bigger size (click the photos for a larger view)!

Above is an 11 image stitch of the view of New York from the Staten Island Ferry. Unfortunately the ferry was moving and the boat in the photo was also moving so see if you can spot the mistake in the stitch where the auto merge didn’t quite get it right?

Helipad, New York 2008

This is just around the corner from State street (we actually went to NY to work but that didn’t stop me wandering around with my camera before and after work)! I think this is a 4 or 5 photo stitch.

View from Empire State Building 2008

This is 9 photos. I like this one because it seems like an unfinished jigsaw (I could have done the jigsaw pattern in photoshop but it seemed a little cheesy). I have more of these Empire State building ones to process …. stay tuned.