I often receive questions about what photography equipment I use, so I put together this page. I've listed the primary gear I'm currently using below, along with some brief comments to explain why.
Nauticam NA-D7100 Housing
I'm a huge fan of Nauticam's housings. The ergonomics are great, I've never had a flood despite being very rough on my housings, and Nauticam provides gears and ports for just about any lens I could want. The biggest reason I go with Nauticam however is that they release their housings much sooner than the competition after a new camera comes out. I don't want to wait a year into a camera's life cycle before I can take it diving. I use the housing with an external viewfinder to help gauge focus and framing. I use the D7100 because I strongly prefer DX over FX underwater, primarily because I enjoy the extra magnification for macro/supermacro. I used to own the D7000, but the autofocus improvements in the D7100 made the upgrade worthwhile for me.
The 105mm is my go-to lens for macro (and even portraits of great whites
). It's fast, sharp, and solid. I love using it with the teleconverters below for supermacro. I do not find that the lens has any trouble autofocusing in mediocre light with either teleconverter on the D7100.
Nikon TC-20E III 2x Teleconverter
I use this teleconverter with the Nikon 105mm for supermacro. I find the D7100 has no problem autofocusing in even mediocre light with this TC and do not notice any material fall off in image quality unless pixel peeping. It is very difficult to actually find and frame the subject at these magnifications, so sometimes I prefer the 1.7x below.
Nikon TC-17E II (1.7x) Teleconverte
This teleconverter is much the same as the 2x above, but a little more forgiving. If I won’t be able to bring down a tripod or at least lay down with the camera, I generally prefer this TC over the 2x.
Tokina AF 10-17mm
This is the best all-around DX wide angle lens in my opinion. It’s important in underwater photography to get as close to your subject as possible, to minimize image degradation as a result of shooting through water. The zoom range is perfect, the image quality is great, and its minimum focus distance is only .5ft (.14m). The fisheye effect can be pretty extreme at 10mm, but closer to 17mm it’s much more reasonable.
This lens is not nearly as wide as the 10-17, but it is great when I don't want any of that fisheye effect (ex. a shark starting to look like a tadpole if it gets too close). It's also a great lens when you need a little more reach for larger subjects that are harder to get very close to, like hammerheads. It's best with a very large dome - I use a 230mm dome with it.
INON Z-240 Underwater Strobe
I use 4 of these. Generally only two on the camera housing, but I carry around extras for off-camera lighting and backup. I use one of these with a snoot and remote slave trigger for shots like this
. I used to favor the Sea & Sea YS-250s, but while the YS-250s are a little more powerful and faster to recycle, the smaller size of the Z-240s and convenience of them taking AA batteries won me over. I’ve also had problems with the YS-250s reliability and lousy service by Sea & Sea.
Light and Motion Sola Photo with Red Focus Light
I have a couple of these focus lights. They’re really powerful (great for autofocus with supermacro) and the red light is sometimes useful for skittish subjects. The fact that the battery is fully sealed is great – no chance of a flood. However, the battery life seems be lasting less and less after only a year or so, which is disappointing for such an expensive light.