We report on the on the SeaDoo Seascooter which has given us service on close to 5-years of diving around the world – how did it fair?

Three Problems - Solved

In the Marine Life section of this issue you can read and see my very close encounter with a large Green Turtle in Tenerife – where all the action was happening very fast! But I had a problem; I was shooting in the RAW format and it was taking an age for each picture to load onto the 4GB SD Card – and I was missing oodles of shots! At the time I managed a temporary solution by ‘panning the action’ but I needed something better – I needed speed of download – would it be possible?

If I get a problem there is no doubt – you will have the same problem – in this case it’s those awful white water-mark stains on your underwater housing lens and supplementary wide-angle lens – by trying to remove them there is a very good chance that you will scratch the port or lens surface – the solution is dead easy and it’s a readily available solution costing just a few pence – easily available everywhere but not from your local Fish n’ Chip Shop!

Copyright © 2008 Web design by Chris Punton

Three Problems - Solved

Text and photography by David Oldale

I took the shot and waited for the data to download onto the SD Card, and waited, and waited and so on… In the meantime the Turtle was swooping in – out – over and around. I would hate to guess on the number of shots I was missing! Coupled with this the camera seemed to be taking an age, from the point of me pressing the shutter-release to the picture being taken (shutter-lag). Had I been shooting in the JPEG Format this wouldn’t have been a problem. At the time, I made the best use I could of the situation by – composing the shot, pressing the shutter release fully whilst panning with the subject (in this case the Turtle) until the shot was taken some good few seconds later. Funnily enough it worked reasonably well! I did note that shutter-lag was far longer when the camera was set in the macro-mode as the lens had to slide fully out then in before finally focusing on the subject. And yes, I did need a macro setting at times as the Turtle was coming to within an inch (25mm) of the wide-angle lens. I also noticed that as I was taking picture after picture in quick succession, the time between shots was lengthening more and more.

Back at the Holiday Diver Offices in Tenerife I told of my problem to Publisher Paul (who is a bit of a wiz-kid and expert on computers/digital cameras and the like). His reply, ‘you need a fast SD Card for your camera’. I explained that I had a fast SD Card in the camera – it’s 4GB!

‘No, that’s not necessarily fast; 4GB is the capacity of the card not the read/write speed!’ Things were now getting a little clearer!

Back in UK I had a word with Sea & Sea (manufacturers and suppliers of my DX-1G) who confirmed Paul’s comments. My next port of call – Cameras Underwater, from whom I purchased my 4GB SD Card. It seems the card they originally supplied, although one of the best makes (SanDisk) was only standard as far as its read/write speed. They also explained that many of the cheapo cards available on the market could be far slower than the one they supplied!

‘Okay – but can I have a faster card?’ I asked.

‘Yes, but we only have in stock the SanDisk Ultra high speed SD Card at 2GB, that is able to read/write at 15MB/s.’

I ordered two, which were received the following morning and then played around by shooting shot after shot (on the highest RAW setting). My pictures were being stored onto the card in a little over one-second – even after shooting 30-pictures on the trot so to speak. Fan-bloody-tastic! My only question – why hadn’t Cameras Underwater explained all this when I first purchased my original 4GB SD Card from them?

Whilst advocating in the past using a 4GB card, I am rather more than happy with a card of 2GB capacity – the reason being that should a card ‘crash’ I would only loose up to half the number of pictures I could have stored on the higher capacity card. And surely 106-images is plenty for anyone before the need to swap over to a new card (based on the 10MB Sea & Sea DX-1G Camera set to the highest RAW setting).

The 2GB SanDisk Ultra high speed SD Card (as mentioned above) purchased from Cameras Underwater costs less than £13 inclusive of postage. First Problem Solved!

Those White Stains! Come on – you know the problem well! You get back from a dive, immerse your camera in fresh water to rinse off contaminants, do or do not as the case may be wipe it down with a soft absorbent-cloth to then notice white rings or stains dried onto the supplementary lenses or lens port of the camera housing. Try as you might these stains are a bugger to remove! Lens cleaner doesn’t work and continual rubbing and polishing even with a lens tissue or lens cloth will lead to one thing – fine scratches over the lens surfaces – to which there is no-remedy other than to purchase a new lens or port – expensive or what!

However all is not lost as there is a liquid you can purchase for just a few pence – anywhere in the World that will just melt away the contaminant (white mark) from the lens/port surface – it is called Malt Vinegar and it only needs just a small droplet applied with a lens tissue. It really does work – like nothing else! But make sure it is Malt Vinegar and not the stuff usually supplied at your local chippy – most of that is a non-brewed condiment and not vinegar although it tastes very similar.

Still on the subject of Vinegar, here is a tip from a world famous underwater photographer – after a trip away he always on returning would soak (for 2-hours) his underwater camera equipment in a sink full of clean fresh water to which has been added two-tablespoons (30ml) of Malt vinegar. After this he would just rinse off under clean running water – just to remove the Vinegar smell! This also really does the trick because even though we all soak our underwater camera equipment for a couple of hours in fresh water at the end of every day after diving – the clean fresh water will not get rid of all the salts that seem to get into every nook and cranny. The addition of just that small amount of Vinegar in water dissolves those salt deposits admirably. If you are diving abroad, and god forbid you have tasted the so-called tap drinking water and it tasted salty – that is because the drinking water has been taken from the sea to be processed for drinking through a desalination plant – where all the salts have not been removed. In this case, I would advise the two-spoonful’s of Vinegar treatment on a nightly basis. Second Problem Solved!

The word is that your eyesight starts to decline after you reach the age of twenty-six! Going by that statement at my age I must totally blind. Whilst that is not quite the case I find I do need a pair of specs for reading – my excuse being that manufactures print things far too small on cans and food packages. But joking aside, I do hate those bloody LCD screens on digital cameras because although I can see the composed image easily – I can’t read the camera settings as displayed on that small screen. It being the case that I have to hold the camera at arms length hoping that I can read off the data and it takes an age! Over a number of months I have learned that to achieve a certain setting I must give one knob so many clicks to the right and to achieve another setting I turn another knob a certain number of clicks to the left and so on – and then due to my age I forget the lot!

I enquired about a magnifying lens that would slip over my DX-1G LCD screen – unsuccessfully. In the end I had a brainwave and phoned CPS Partnership (distributors for TUSA dive equipment in the UK) as my mask was manufactured by TUSA. All right, I know that you can buy corrective lenses for masks but my eyesight was fine for everything except reading small print – especially the LCD screen data. Nathan at CPS had the answer. It seems his company was given for trial some time ago optically correct, small silicone half-moon lenses that would not only fit all masks, they also came in various dioptres and could be changed at will into different masks – so by getting a new mask it was just a simple job to swap over the silicone implants! I enquired as to the cost to be told they’re free as we only had a few of them as samples, however we’ve only got one set left, if a +2 dioptre is any good to you. Although at a very slightly stronger dioptre than my reading glasses I felt that this would hopefully solve my problem.

Two days later I was fixing the small lenses to the bottom of my mask with addition of hot water as required by the instructions but, would have to wait a statutory 24-hours of drying out before I could test the results. Boy – did they work! With just a glance down (just like bi-focals) I could read all the data on the LCD screen and by looking straight ahead I had normal vision for distance with the lenses not causing any distraction – I was back in business!

As stated above I had the last set of lenses that CPS had in stock but all is not lost as these lenses are available in the UK at a number of dive shops. Price: probably less than £30. For those interested Neoptx, Miramar, Florida 33025, manufactures them in the USA. they are called OPTX 20/20 STICK-ON MAGNIFYING LENSES. As a footnote: I have been told that a UK distributor has been appointed ‘but whom – I know not!’ Third and final Problem Solved!

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