I have had an interest in photography, mainly focused on nature, since early days in university, progressing through a range of cameras from basic rangefinders up to the then top of the line Nikon F with photomic head. On learning to scuba dive in early 1980’s the photographic direction headed underwater. This was firstly with the Nikonos system, with macro tubes, close-up lens and legendary 15 mm wide angle lens. A developing interest in fish photography led to housing the Nikon F in a custom amphibious housing, with the 55 mm and 105 mm macro lenses.
For many years, photography became very sporadic as career demands increased. Then came retirement and a first step into digital photography. A seminar by Moose Peterson introduced the Nikon D100 as a serious camera with impressive results – much beyond the basic point-and shoots of the time (unlike the high quality which can be achieved with today’s products).
2004 wasa turning point, with the D100 housed in a Subal housing and a range of lenses from 60 mm macro through to 12-24 mm wide angle, along with the essential Inon Z220 strobes and a Z22 quad ring strobe. This was revolutionary. No more 36 frame limit and the ability to review and correct shots underwater rather than wait until at least a week after the shoot. But there were still serious limitations – noise in shadows and blown-out highlights if the sun was anywhere near in frame for wide angles being especially troublesome. There were however many fine photos produced with this equipment. Martin Edge’s“The Underwater Photographer” 3 ed is almost a how-to for the D100 and has many magnificent images.
Then came the D300, which was housed in a Nexus housing and coupled with a range of lenses including 10.5 mm fisheye, 60 and 105 mm macro and 12-24 mm rectilinear wide-angle. The Tokina 10-17 mm zoom fisheye was added later and the macro lenses swapped out of the much-maligned 40 mm and 85 mm macro when the originals got a bad case of lens cancer. These lenses are much lighter plastic construction (not a problem in a cast metal housing). They are sharp and are close to the original lenses in practical focal length because of the APS sensor. The D300 was coupled with two Inon Z240 strobes, and is the equipment I use underwater today.
Next came the sensational Nikon D800 with its 36 Mp sensor, wide ISO range, excellent noise characteristics and impressive range of operating features. This camera has rekindled my interest in land-based photography and led to a number of photographic trips within Australia.
My current kit includes the MkII 80-400 mm , 70-200 m f4, 24-85 mm, 16-35 mm wide-angle, 50 mm f1.4 and Sigma 15 mm fisheye (for its excellent close focus – essential underwater). This is supported with a Really Right Stuff tripod, ball head and pan slides.
Currently, I am exploring the mirrorless fourthirds format with an Olympus OMD EM5 Mk 11 for travel photography where the bigger DSLR kit is impractical or just too onerous.