Building a beginner's rig for Great Whites @ Guadalupe Island

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tedblack

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Hey guys, lurker turned new user here. I'm a relatively new diver and one of my favorite parts of diving is collecting fun photos from my trips. I originally had a TG5, upgraded to a TG6, and that was recently stolen in Cozumel and I'm looking to rebuild a better rig that has some more advanced options but isn't too overwhelming for me.

I could probably use some tips and feedback because things like trays, arms, and strobes are still a bit foreign to me.

My next dive will be cage diving with great whites in October of this year. This is a trip I've been dreaming about since I was a kid so I want to be ready to capture some great photos and memories to look back on.

Here's what I currently have lined up:
  • Olympus TG-6
  • Olympus PT-059 housing
  • Backscatter M52 120 degree wide angle wet lens
  • Backscatter wide angle air lens
  • Ikelite tray with dual release handles
  • Sea & Sea YS-D3 strobe
  • Sea & Sea diffuser
  • Sync cable
  • GoPro Hero 9
  • Go Pro Hero 9 underwater housing
  • GO Pro Hero 9 Hot shoe adapter

I like the look and style of the Ikelite tray but I'm not sure if that's compatible with the PT-059 housing. I'd also need arms and the flex arms seem functional and easy but I'm not sure which adapters I'd need to connect those to that tray.

I don't take many macro photos in general. Ideally I will spend my time photographing my dive buddies, wildlife, wrecks, coral landscapes, etc. I figured the 2 wide angle lenses would be my best option to fit those needs.

I think the strobe, diffuser, and sync cable seem pretty straight forward but I seem to see a lot of posts with users have some challenges getting those set up and functioning properly.

The GoPro is just a fun add on. I think it would be nice to have that capturing video continually that I can review later or pull some nice clips from but I wasn't sure if the dome on the wide angle lenses would create an issue there.

Any help building this set would be appreciated. It seems like many folks here have tons of experience and I'd love to borrow some of that to help make sure I capture some great images on this trip.
 

mattleach

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I literally have the same setup with the exception of the Ikelite tray and i'm running the Sea & Sea YS-03 strobes. I have a Kraken tray with some adjustable arms. I use it regularly for shark dives in Jupiter, FL and get some great results.
 
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tedblack

tedblack

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I literally have the same setup with the exception of the Ikelite tray and i'm running the Sea & Sea YS-03 strobes. I have a Kraken tray with some adjustable arms. I use it regularly for shark dives in Jupiter, FL and get some great results.

hey Matt, thanks for the response. Is there much of a difference between the YS-03 and the YS-D3? The 03 your using is about $500 less expensive than the D3. I’d love to grab that one instead but I wasn’t sure if my photos were going to be less sharp with a less powerful strobe.

Are there universal connectors for the arms/tray?
 

mattleach

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I don't know too much about strobes as im pretty amateur when it comes to photography but the YS-03 strobes are TTL only, no manual settings. Im assuming the YS-D3s have manual settings and are probably more powerful.

Not sure what you mean by universal connectors. Here is my tray setup:
Kraken TR05 5+8in Arm & Single Tray Set

I purchased another arm to hold the second strobe so both sides are identical.
 

Barmaglot

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For the price of TG-6 and GoPro 9 plus housings for both you can probably build a Sony RX100V rig and get much better quality. For example, there's a barely used one for sale over at Wetpixel classifieds for 1100 euro, with a Nauticam housing, tray and vacuum system.
 
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tedblack

tedblack

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For the price of TG-6 and GoPro 9 plus housings for both you can probably build a Sony RX100V rig and get much better quality. For example, there's a barely used one for sale over at Wetpixel classifieds for 1100 euro, with a Nauticam housing, tray and vacuum system.

That’s true instead of the GoPro attachment I could upgrade to a nicer camera. I do like the idea of catching some video footage on the GoPro while I’m snapping photos manually. My girlfriend will be on the trip with me and I also like the idea of being able to take it off and let her have some fun shooting some video as well.

definitely a tempting idea though!
 

Akimbo

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As a general rule in photography, upgrading images starts with the sensor and lenses (which includes ports in this case). Getting a used rig with better glass and matching senor will yield better results/dollar. There are a lot of people following that rule selling their Micro 4/3rds system so they can move to full frame or faster video.
 
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tedblack

tedblack

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I see what you're saying. I was looking at the TG-6 and possibly the E-PL10 because the fit my budget (mostly). I'm trying to stay in the $2,500-$3,000 range for the time being. Probably upgrading the camera/housing as I get more experience. Would a full frame option take me well beyond my current budget or would that be something to aim for long term?
 

Barmaglot

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Would a full frame option take me well beyond my current budget or would that be something to aim for long term?

Full frame brings with it expensive lenses, expensive ports and expensive housings. A Sony A7C setup with 28-60mm lens, Nauticam housing + port, WWL-1 and CMC-1, which is basically as small, light and inexpensive as a full-frame rig gets while maintaining quality will run you over $8k before lights and/or strobes.
 

RyanT

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Not to derail the thread, but I was relieved to read it. From the title, I thought the OP was looking to build a portable to cage. What could possibly go wrong? :rofl3:
 

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