Monthly Archive for May, 2010

Byron Bay Shootout – Days 6 & 7

Ornate ghost pipfish have been fairly elusive during the week

As we move into the last few days of the competition, we’ve had a number of new competitors from around the country join us here at the Byron Bay UW Shootout.  The last few days have generally leant to better macro photography conditions, however the wide angle opportunities around the Cod Hole have still been abundant with large schools of fish hanging around on most dives.  Sundive have been running up to 8 boats a day, giving photographers ample opportunities to work on their entries.

Weird and wonderful small creatures have been spotted during the week, including ghost pipe fish, devil scorpion fish, mantis, marble and bumble bee shrimp, porcelain crabs, cuttlefish, and a huge range of nudis, giving photographers a massive range of subjects.  Some dives have involved divers moving not more than 10m from the boat, and still having a huge range to shoot.

Aquatica and Nauticam demo housing have been going out with new and old photographers alike, and we’re offering a prize  for the best photo taken with one of our demo housings.

One of the biggest highlights of the week has been the showing of the documentary The End Of The Line.  This highly acclaimed film opened the eyes of many of us, and one I would highly recommend.

We’ve only one day left of shooting for the competition, then photographers and videographers will be hectically finalising their entries for the 5pm deadline.  Could be a big day!

Byron Bay Shootout – Day 5

Matt Shepherd's photo of the day

Macro and mid range zoom lenses were the choice for most shooters today at the Byron Bay Shootout.  The water had clouded up a touch, giving most photographers the excuse they needed to start concentrating on the macro category.  The results we’ve seen thus far have been great, meaning this will be one more hard category for the judges to pick a winner.

Another section not to forget about is the categories for the compact cameras.  With about 1/3 of our shooters using compacts, often equipped with strobes and wet lenses, we’ve got high expectations of what these guys and girls can produce.

The atmosphere in between dives around Sundive has been great too, with loads of smiles on diver’s faces, and non-stop camera talk.  The Scubapix showroom has also been a popular place to play around with the latest toys.  Tonight’s State Of Origin game may well create a rivalry between some of the divers however (go NSW!).

As I sign off watching the sun set over the bay, I can only hope the following few days of the comp continue to provide these great conditions we’ve been experiencing.

- Ryan.

Byron Bay Shootout – Day 4

A friendly leopard

Julian Rocks really turned on the good conditions for us today, with viz over 20m, and large marine life everywhere.  Not bad seeing most of us turned up with macro lenses due to the dark and rainy conditions early in the morning.  We quickly changed to wide angle setups though, and the sun even came out for most of the day.

Once we were under, we were greeted by countless eagle rays, leopard sharks and shovel nosed rays.  Not bad seeing the last few days had been feeling like winter had kicked in.

For those of you still contemplating joining us at the Byron Bay Shootout, I’d recommend making the trip.  In between the great conditions, and the $15k worth of prizes up for grabs, you can’t lose!

Byron Bay Shootout – Day 3

One of the locals - a grey nurse shark

Another fine day at the Byron Bay Shootout today.  A few grey nurses were seen, as well as turtles, eagle and pygmy manta rays.  We’ve seen plenty of smiles as competitors have come back from their dives.  Looks like the competition may be heating up!

With the clear water most SLR shooters have been opting to shoot wide angle, which should make it a popular and hard to judge category.

Byron Bay Shootout – Day 2

Videographer Wayne with his Gates system

The clouds came over Byron today, but the water also cleared up a touch more, giving competitors in the Byron Bay Shootout the chance to dive in some good vis and with some amazing fish life.  Turtles, eagle rays, schools of jewfish and carpets of wobbegongs were just some of the life that greeted divers as they slipped under the calm waters around Julian Rocks.

Demo housings from Aquatica and Nauticam and lights from Light and Motion have been in the water on every dive, with contestants bringing back some great shots.  It’s still early in the week, so if you’re in the area, feel free to book on a dive and take some of our gear for a spin.


Byron Bay Shootout – Day 1

Wayne and Matt getting redy for the first day

Hello from sunny Byron Bay!  The team from Scubapix are down here for Sundive’s Byron Bay Shootout 2010.  Underwater photographers from around the country have once again converged on Byron in Northern NSW to compete for over $15,000 in prizes.  The turnout thus far has been excellent, with many more photographers arriving during the next week.

Reports from the divers that have been out today have been excellent (this photographer’s yet to get wet, fingers crossed for tomorrow!), with tonnes of marine life around.  For those of you that haven’t ever dived the Byron area, the main sites are around Julian Rocks, a rocky island about a km off the coast, that is home to a huge variety of creatures, from the big (manta and bull rays, leopard and grey nurse sharks, etc), to the small (invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp, ghost pipe fish, etc), and everything in between.  Huge schools of fish can be seen  hanging around the Cod Hole, a giant swim through that’s also home to, you guessed it, a number of large potato cod and even the occasional Queensland grouper.

Myself and Peter are on site for the week of the shootout, with a number of housings from Nauticam and Aquatica and lights from Light and Motion for contestants to take for demo dives.  We have a range of new gear on display too, including the new Light and Motion Stingray G2 housing and Zen ports.  However, the hottest product of the day is the brand new Light and Motion Sola 600 light.  This is the first time one’s been seen in Australia, and the response has been great.  Perfect for either an aiming light for your SLR or a self contained video light, and in an unbelievably small package.

If you’re in the Byron area, be sure to drop by Sundive to say hi and check out the latest gear.  I’ll be posting some photos of what they get up to during the week, as well as daily updates for those of you that can’t make it this year.


Nauticam Enhanced 180° Viewfinder Review

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to dive with a Nauticam Enhanced 180° viewfinder on my Aquatica 7D housing.  I’d always resited purchasing an enhanced viewfinder, convincing myself that I could see enough through the standard viewfinder that came with my housing (and previous Aquatica housings), and that I didn’t need to splash out on the upgrade.  All of that changed the day I jumped in the water with this new toy.

The Nauticam Enhanced 180° viewfinder

Installing the viewfinder onto the housing was a lot easier than I was expecting.  First the standard Aquatica viewfinder was removed, by simply removing a few o-rings inside the housing and sliding it out, then it was as simple as sliding in the Nauticam adaptor, attaching an o-ring, and sliding in the Nauticam viewfinder and attaching one last o-ring to secure it into place.  A quick dunk test in the rinse tub to make sure everything was sealed, and I was ready to go.

Nauticam Enhanced 180° viewfinder attached to a Nauticam housing

My first impression of the Nauticam viewfinder before getting it wet was wow, this could be impressive.  It didn’t add anywhere near as much weight or bulk to my housing as I’d expected, and looked promising walking around the boat taking photos.  Of course I couldn’t put this to the test until I was under, so I got in for what would be my first of many dives with what would become almost a necessity for my SLR rig.

As expected, the enhanced viewfinder gives a larger, clearer and brighter picture of your image.  What I wasn’t expecting was just how large, clear and bright it would be!  With dive mask on, I could see the entire image through the 7D, as well as all the details of my manual settings, even with a few centimetres between the viewfinder and my mask.  No more moving my head around trying to make sure everything I wanted was in frame, no more squishing my mask against the housing to try and get my eye as close to the camera as possible. 

A tightly framed shot of a lizard fish, using Nauticam enhanced viewfinder on Canon 7D

I’ve since heard a comparison that if a standard viewfinder was a normal tube TV, the Nauticam viewfinder would be an Imax movie screen, and I’d have to say I agree with this.  No longer do I find that the images coming out of the camera are better looking than what I’d seen in my head through the viewfinder, things look so good through the viewfinder that I’m now having to try harder to take a photo that looks better than what I was hoping for, which I’ve found has improved my photography.  I’m also cropping my photos far less, as I’m finding it much easier to frame a picture correctly in camera.  Even ‘shooting from the hip’ has become easier, with the camera held out at arm’s length in front of me I still get an idea of what the camera’s shooting at.

The Nauticam enhanced viewfinder also has an external knob for eyesight compensation.  Perfect for those who are either long or short sighted.  Being able to change the Diopetric adjustment while on the go would also be a huge benefit for those who may need it, meaning you can adjust it without having to open the unit up.  While I didn’t think this would ever interest me as I do have fairly decent eyesight,  there’s been a couple of times where I’ve jumped into the water without realising I’d bumped the diopetric adjustment on the camera’s body itself and the image looked blurry.  Not a problem, as I was able to correct it using the Nauticam viewfinder’s adjustment know.

Glass shrimp living in an Anemone taken with Nauticam enhanced viewfinder on Canon 7D

After a few days diving with the Nauticam enhanced viewfinder, I did have to take it off to give it back to its owner.  I didn’t realise how much I would miss it when I started using the standard viewfinder again, so the very next day I ordered my own one.  I’ve now done a few months diving with the Nauticam viewfinder on my Aquatica housing, and have to say it was a very wise investment that I would highly recommend to anyone shooting with a dSLR.


Demo Gear at Byron Bay Shoot-out

Scubapix will be appearing at the 2010 Byron Bay Underwater Photo Competition and running a number of SLR demo units for you to jump in the water and trial.

With systems from Nauticam and Aquatica available to use during the week, this will give participants the opportunity to get their hands on the latest SLR housings and see what they’re capable of. We’ll have both macro and wide angle setups from Canon and Nikon, allowing you to use your own camera and preferred lens, or if you don’t own an SLR to give a try, take one of ours.

Scubapix will also be giving every participant in the competition a $300 voucher redeemable against Aquatica and Nauticam housing and port packages, or Light & Motion video housings or video lighting systems. However, even if you’re not looking to compete you’re still welcome to take one of our demo systems for a dive, or drop into Sundive Byron Bay during the week of the comp for this chance to get your hands on some of the newest gear in the underwater photography world.

We’ll also be running a ‘Best Photo Taken With A Demo Unit’ as part of the competition, with the winner receiving a $100 voucher for ULCS arm systems.

Numbers are limited, so to book your system or for more information, email us at

The 2010 Byron Bay Underwater Photo Competition is being run by Sundive Byron Bay on May 22 – 29, 2010.

Scubapix blog launched

Welcome to the new Scubapix blog!

Here you will find regular Product updates, Underwater Photo Comp info and updates from our Professional Underwater Photographers and Videographers who are out in the field shooting and diving everyday of the year.

Coming up first is the Byron Bay Underwater Photo shoot-out from 22 to 30 May 2010, for which Scubapix is a major sponsor. Ryan will be adding updates and sample images from the shoot-out, as well as competition winners, so check back here soon.