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S.U.P.E.R. Part 7: Nauticam SMC

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In our ongoing series S.U.P.E.R. (Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Equipment Reviews), Nick and Caroline Robertson Brown from Frogfish Photography review new underwater photography equipment, general diving equipment, and some older favourites too. 

For the seventh instalment of S.U.P.E.R., Nick and Caroline take a look at Nauticam’s Super Macro Converter (SMC).

Nauticam SMC – OMG

Frogfish 3The Nauticam Super Macro Converter (SMC) is a wet lens designed to fit on the outside of your camera housing to give magnification to macro marine life (or anything else you wish to shoot). It has a 67mm screw thread and is compatible with a wide range of cameras and lenses. It is the first lens of this type that has been completely designed from scratch for use underwater, and this is evident when you use it – it offers huge magnification, and yet still the images are crisp and sharp. I used the lens with my Nikon D7100, Nauticam housing, 105mm lens and a flip dioptre that allows you to easily move from macro to super macro without having to unscrew the lens from the port.

Frogfish 4

My first impression – WOW. In Indonesia, sometimes the guides can point out creatures that are so small, my eyes struggle to even see what they are pointing at. But with the SMC, I could take photos of these critters. You do need good diving skills to get the best from this lens, as you are required to be quite close to the subject and perfectly still to focus and take the shot. In currents and surge, while keeping your fins off any delicate coral or marine life, you need to be patient to capture the image you want. Indeed, as I mostly shoot in wide-angle, this lens took a bit of getting used to. Suddenly you look down your viewfinder and the world is hugely magnified, and it takes time to be able to locate the subject, get close enough to focus and get into a suitable position to take a shot, before said critter gets bored and wanders off. But it is worth the effort, as new macro subjects suddenly became possible, and previously boring shots of small subjects that were lost in the frame will now pop out in their full glory.

Frogfish 2

I also enjoyed the chance to experiment with the lens to pick out the intricate details of larger subjects; for example, focusing on the details of an eye. On our recent trip to Manado in Indonesia, I was able to fill the screen with tiny creatures like pigmy seahorses, minute colourful shrimps and the details that make up the incredible camouflage on the many frogfish our guides found for us (none of the images in this review have been cropped). I would use the 105mm lens without the SMC first for some of the larger subjects, getting a more conventional shot to start with, and then using the flip dioptre holder, I could move the SMC lens down into position, ease forward towards the subject, and get some amazing detail shots too.

Frogfish 1

The quality does come at a price, with the desirable, but not necessarily essential, flip dioptre holder coming in at £159.95 and the SMC itself costing £399.95. However, I would not want to be without either when I am next getting into the water to have some macro photography fun.

Frogfish 5

For those that love macro photography, this is a superlative accessory. There is also something about using this lens that is addictive (maybe it should come with some sort of warning). There are plenty of acronyms within the underwater photography world. In this case perhaps they should change the name of the lens from SMC to OMG!

For more information about the SMC from Nauticam visit www.nauticam.co.uk/nauticam-super-macro-convertor.

To find out more about Nick and Caroline and Frogfish Photography, visit www.frogfishphotography.com.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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