Equipment / Gadgets
Intova Underwater camera
Intova may not be a familiar brand name, and many of you wouldn’t have heard of it until just recently, but it is actually a product range of the better known Sony. It has a compact and sleek design, is lightweight and has a retractable lens for easy storage. The Intova is a 10 Megapixel, Compact Camera with a 7cm LCD Screen, 3x Optical Zoom, has video capabilities and is available at a good price. The housing is 54m depth-rated. The camera doesn’t have a viewfinder but the large LCD makes up for it. It provides exactly what a point-and-shoot camera should have, plus it operates on two of the universally available AA batteries. It is a very good entry level camera for new underwater photographers.
Aqua Lung SlingShot fins
We scuba divers are a strange bunch! I know I’m generalising, but I’ve found that there is a sizable group of divers (myself included) who are constantly looking to upgrade and replace gear in an attempt to squeeze ‘more’ out of our diving experience. At the same time, manufacturers of dive kit have improved the quality of the materials to such An extent that it is almost impossible to wear it out these days.
And to make matters ‘worse’, most manufacturers have strong R&D programmes that are producing new products continuously. Replacing dive gear now is rarely prompted by need but perhaps by exponential boredom and a fair degree of panic of being left behind!
So why am I saying this? Well, a few days ago I was given the opportunity to test the Aqua Lung SlingShot fins. These fins are not new, having been available since mid-2008, but they’re not well known, at least not here in SA.
The look and feel, however, screams technology, and almost before I had them out of the packaging I had several curious divers at Miracle Waters approach me for information. The SlingShot is not a split fin but rather an enhanced paddle fin featuring a hinged single blade with adjustable tension via two bungees on each blade. Three settings are available on each blade with separate inner and outer adjustments to allow for fine tuning.
The construction is solid but appealing with considerable detail and colour highlighting the in-built technology. This contrasts with the growing number of ‘jelly mould’ mono colour fins on offer… with no disrespect to them.
I particularly liked the soft foot pockets and the straps. These straps not only allowed for fine adjustment but have small loops at the ends allowing for easy tightening and adjustment.
From a performance perspective, it was immediately clear that no attempt has been made to compete with split fins. The SlingShot fin is an original experience with sharp control and acceleration characteristics. Turns can be achieved with little effort and with precise control, i.e., no flutter. Set on the softest setting one can feel the ‘snap’ of the bungee rubber as stored potential energy is realised on the down stroke. Initially it feels strange’ but after a while it becomes part of the experience. The release of this energy boosts performance somewhat.
Adjusting the settings during the dive allowed for both power fining and flutter kick manoeuvrability with minimal fuss. I also liked the negative buoyancy characteristics which I found comforting.
In conclusion, I was pleasantly impressed with these fins – they’re thoughtfully designed, innovative, beautifully made and they look great. Sure, they’re not split fins but they are certainly competitive paddle fins, and as such, have a place in the dive bag of any seasoned scuba diver. It’s a case of horses for courses, Mac vs. PC, Mercedes-Benz vs. BMW...
Canon Selphy Printer
By Annatjie Rademeyer
Click, click, click. It has never been easier to capture memories than with your digital camera, but what next? Most digital fans store their photographs on computer, and those with a little more enthusiasm will back them up onto a CD. But the majority will be forgotten in file 13.
Canon has the answer to your prayers - the Selphy compact photo printer range. This little photo printer plugs either directly into your digital camera (if your camera has a print function) or into the USB port of your home computer. With a CD to smooth the installation process, you are ready to print your memories in less than five minutes.
Another great feature is the retractable cable that can connect directly to any Canon camera port, for direct access to your photographs.
Printing can't be more trouble-free than with the Canon Selphy. You simply insert the new print cartridge, which is supplied with each set of 36, 72 or 108 photo paper cassettes, tell your printer to print and you are ready. Each print cartridge is marked with the amount of photographs it can print - I tried to print one extra on the cartridge, but it wouldn't budge. Colours are printed in four layers and is quite fascinating to watch as your photographs emerge from the white page.
For more information, call Canon on 011-265-4900 or visit www.canon.co.za
Reliable, ‘life-like’ and easy to handle. These are just some of the features of the Prestan professional training aid mannequins. Working from the outside in, the bag is made from a durable nylon material with a zip to open and close easily. The bag also has a nice padded area stitched in to help with the sore knees on hard floors.
Two sizes of mannequin are available – adult and baby. The mannequin itself is made of a durable elastomer material that is easily cleaned with soap and water. They are also grease resistant. The AED (automatic external defibrillator) pads adhere without hassles and remove quickly without depositing any glue.
CPR Training Aids
When it comes to deciding which equipment to buy for your dive shop, price and quality are always the first thoughts. We usually tend to sacrifice quality for price, but with all these CPR training aids, you do not have to compromise on anything.
The adult and infant mannequins look very realistic and also feels very real too. They are made of a durable elastomer that cleans easily and is grease resistant. The AED pads also adhere easily and do not leave a residue when removed. The mannequins have an easily removable plastic ‘lung’, and they each come in a handy carry bag, with a kneepad to kneel on when you do CPR training. A very nice feature is the lights on the left shoulder of the mannequin (both adult and infant) that indicates the correct speed of chest compressions. All of these features help the student to teach themselves by feeling, seeing and hearing.
EmOx – Powdered emergency oxygen
Lightweight and easy to transport – these are not words usually associated with an Oxygen kit. The emOx oxygen kit is easy to carry and even easier to operate. With no moveable parts, it also does not need a regular service. Once the water and chemicals are mixed, you get 99,7% pure oxygen provided for at least 15 mins.
EmOx is very easy to use. Firstly, pour the chemicals (sodium percarbonate) and the catalyst (manganese) in the green plastic bottle. Add 450ml of tap water and pour 50ml of water into the chamber located at the neck of the bottle (to moisten the air), screw the cap with the oxygen mask on and you are ready to deliver the oxygen. Detailed instructions are printed on the 3 litre green bottle as well as the supplied information pamphlet. The bottle tends to get a bit hot due to the chemical reaction, so keep it in the carry bag. Once the reaction has stopped, the residue can be dumped anywhere because it is environmentally friendly.
The product has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the USA and tested for purity of oxygen by the SABS, the South African Bureau of Standards. The chemical can be stored indefinitely (at room temperature). It is also non-flammable, non-corrosive and non-explosive. The bottle and face mask are both re-usable.
EmOx is only an emergency oxygen unit and is to be used only until professional medical care is available. Refills can be bought in packs of four. This product is proudly South African and can be obtained from Divetek for under R900. Now divers and instructors don’t have an excuse not to have an oxygen kit.
At first I thought “just another dive torch” with an LED to make it look fancy. But I was pleasantly surprised when I switched on the Ferei W150 torch. It has a whopping 200 Lumens (One lumen is the amount of light that falls on a 1m square at 1 meter from the light source – read more on the web). It was brighter than the light in my bedroom when I switched it on... Below are some specifications for the torch.
- Size: 37mm (head diameter) × 26,5mm (body diameter) × 153mm (length).
- LED bulb with 100 000 hours life-span.
- The toughened ultra-clear optical glass has a very good ability of anti-stress in deepwater.
- The treated aluminum reflector gives a focus point and flawless beam.
- Aerospace-grade aluminum roll-resisting and cross pattern body.
- Military grade anodized body.
- High quality o-ring sealed construction.
- Magnet control on/off switch.
- Uses one 15650 Li-ion rechargeable battery (supplied).
- Maximum brightness and low battery warning blinking (when the battery level drops below warning value, the flashlight goes into warning mode – this warning blinking continues for 20-30 minutes until the flashlight shuts off completely, thus giving the user some time to change or charge the battery).
Firestryker flame suppressant is a manual, portable aerosol inhibitor with remarkable extinguishing capability. It is non-toxic and environmentally safe and comes in a small, compact, lightweight cylinder. The upper part of the device is a metal tube containing the extinguishing charge while the lower part is composed of plastic and serves as a support handle.
It uses a potassium powder jet – unique among fire extinguishers as the vapourising of the powder and the following condensation extinguishes the fire. The fire’s chain of reactions is thus interrupted by this action. The Firestryker works in two ways – potassium oxidizes easily in air, using up great quantities of oxygen and thus depriving the fire of oxygen. The second reaction is chemical and createsa stable link between the fire’s combustion particles and the potassium particles.
The unit is not pressurized and the aerosol-like jet is only produced when the charger is stricken with its base. The aerosol jet which is produced is essentially an inert salt that emits gas already present in the atmosphere.
The unit does not need to be tested or maintained, making it perfect to store in cars, offices and boats. It is also environmentally safe and not dangerous to human health. There are three portable models available, and depending on the size of the unit, it can emit the powder for up to 100 seconds. Firestryker is approved by the South African Bureau of Standards.
To order your unit, contact Jacques on 082-789-5865.
Ikelite Housing for the Nikon D80
By Rian BesterAs a professional photographer running a studio and doing all the normal activities that photographers do, I have always neglected investing money in my underwater photography equipment. For many years I used a compact digital until it finally quit on me. Having all the right equipment that you would often find in a photographers studio, I had to make a choice. How much did I want to spend? As underwater photography is part of my professional business, I decided that now was the time to put my Nikon D80 into the water. I contacted Ikelite and ordered a housing for my D80 – a thick heavy-duty housing moulded of corrosion free clear polycarbonate. As soon as it arrived I started playing to see if it all worked as advertised. This is what I found:
Mounting the camera onto the camera tray was as simple as placing your camera onto a tripod. You are also able to change the batteries and remove the memory card without removing the camera from the tray. The other thing I liked was that when you closed up the back of the housing, the camera and back panel inserted as one unit. Just make sure you pull all the knobs out before inserting the camera – it just makes it a lot easier. The ‘O-ring’ seal works well and once the housing is closed, you can actually check the seal which gives extra peace of mind. Another feature I liked was that the locking mechanisms, once in place, actually locked. And to release them meant first releasing the safety lock and then releasing the catch.
All the functions of the D80 were accessible at all times and I could, with ease, make all the adjustments to the camera that I wanted. The shutter release was easy to control in conjunction with the AE/AF lock button. Another great feature is that you can change lenses without dismantling the whole housing. This was handy when switching lenses between dives. The ports are also very simple to assemble. At first I looked at the port system and a huge question mark hung over my head. Could it be this simple? Well I was amazed! As simple as it was, it was just as effective – I still had a working camera. The housing was very easy to operate underwater both with one or two hands. The ‘super’ magnifier on the viewfinder also worked well. I was able to compose my images through the viewfinder with ease.
The housing also provides for full iTTL functionality with the DS series strobes and the TTL compensation knob on the housing works well. All things considered, this is a great housing which is very easy to use.
For more information, contact Ben on 012-465-6355 or visit www.mphoto.co.za
Marlin Marine Housings
By Daniel J. Parker
Two years ago I deflated that rental BC for the first time and was taken into a world like nothing I had seen before. I am sure that we all clearly remember our first time - I recall swimming alongside a turtle and being completely mesmerised by how gracefully and effortlessly they moved. "If only I had a camera here" I thought to myself.
Shortly after my return to the big city, I started looking for camera housings. Now you must understand I am a full-time professional photographer, so taking a pocket, one-button-does-all style camera down with me was simply not an option. I needed something to house my DSLR, as I wouldnâ€™t settle for any image results less than the best.
I looked into a few options which were either far too pricey given how fast technology changes, or they were cluttered with buttons I wouldnâ€™t use. Granted, you could manage each of your cameraâ€™s features underwater, but it isnâ€™t really necessary. I figured that my underwater subject wouldnâ€™t hold still for me while I got the settings right.
Someone then told me about Stuart Donkin and his company Marlin Marine. Stuart has successfully custom made underwater housings for still and video cameras for the past 15 years. By custom made, I mean that these beauties arenâ€™t mass produced, but rather made per order. Stuart will listen to what you want to achieve with your camera underwater, and add the necessary controls to make that happen. Creating a less is more effect, the controls are easy to use and fast to operate. Whatâ€™s more, as he only adds what you need, thereâ€™s no clutter, making the camera comfortable to use even with gloves on. I can adjust my user settings, shutter speed, aperture and ISO quicker than youâ€™d think possible. Zooming is conveniently placed with a well thought out mechanism and the shutter switch is comfortably placed within to avoid straining to take a picture. The housing has also been manufactured in such a way that it allows for the pop-up flash to be used if desired. Stuart also offers various lighting options to suit your needs.
But how tough is it? As this was my bread and butter going into the housing, it needed to be durable and tough enough to withstand the abuse it may receive during a dive trip. And it is â€“ before you receive your housing, it is pressure tested (wet) to 76m for one hour, and it spends a whopping 12 hours at 25m. There have been reports of these housings being taken down to well beyond the 100m mark. Local is lekkerâ€¦
These are housings made for divers by divers, and they understand what you need in a housing. The camera is easy to install and the housing is easy to seal, so kitting up wonâ€™t be extended by much time.
As it is constructed using machine engineered plastic billit with stainless steel fixings throughout, the housing is as pleasing to look at as it is to use.Â To prove their worth, Stuart supplies users the world over with his housing, shipping them off to America, Australia, UK, Israel, Mauritius and the Netherlands.
A worthy investment by all means, give Stuart a call and see what he can do for you. Donâ€™t panic if you arenâ€™t in Durban â€“ itâ€™s not pricey to make use of an overnight courier.
For more information
call Marlin Marine on 031-572-2975, email
or visit www.marlinmarine.co.za
Retail price: R7 100