What I Shoot With:

Camera Systems

“When it comes to brands, I view it as tools - or toys - of the trade,
not a religion!”

I have worked with a variety of photographic equipment. In my early days, my mainstay was Nikon, Canon 35mm as well as the Mamiya 6x7 medium format. Yes, three different systems all at one time.

Digital systems have brought producing great images to new heights. I have used it all – from Nikon, Canon and Olympus to Hasselblad’s gargantuan 50-megapixel monster, the D3D II DSLR. When it comes to brands, I view it as tools – or toys - of the trade, not a religion!


“Electronics really don’t belong in the marine environment.”

Taking digital underwater is as close as taking it into a war. The ocean is a hostile battlefield. Electronics are deathly allergic to water, especially salt water. Camera systems are not only subjected to the effects of pressure at depth, they often times get jostled, bumped and banged around by the environment.

Investing in the right housing should be looked at with the same eye. What is it made of? Are the camera controls user-friendly, even with thick gloves on? What about expandability? Can it accept and use a broad enough range of optics? Just the same as the constantly changing array of fine camera bodies available today, no housing is perfect, and I have worked with a few. Ikelite, Tussy, Oceanic, Aquatica, Nexus, and Seacam all have their merits.

The current system: the Subal ND30 for the Nikon D300. It’s small and lightweight, also making it relatively travel-friendly. Furthermore, balance and access to the camera’s controls is very good. Most important, this system has quality ports - a must for any underwater photographer! Between Subal’s 7-1/4-inch FE2 optical grade glass dome port and macro port with a couple extension rings, I can readily shoot with the optics I most prefer, like Tokina’s highly acclaimed AT-X 107 (10-17mm) fish-eye zoom, as well as their newer AT-X 124 (12-24mm) PRO DX II, to Nikon’s 60 and 105mm macro lens.

Lighting: I have used Sea & Sea strobes since 1996, which today are simply comprised of a small arsenal of high power YS-250’s. This can really crank out the light when I need it. Try lighting up an underwater cave passage 400 feet from the nearest exit some time.

Just as important as the strobes is the armatures that support them. I use a mix between both Technical Lighting Control (TLC) and UltraLight (ULCS) arms with buoyancy segments.

Copyright © 2010 Walt Stearns