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11-23-2011, 06:57 AM   #16
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Packing Cave Photo Gear

QuoteOriginally posted by BoredomFestival Quote
Yeah -- I have a slave flash (Sunpak 383) that I've used with my P&S (controlled by a Firefly 3), which is invaluable in larger rooms; I'm just hoping to maximize the quality of what I can do without having to resort to the slave. (Can you really get all that stuff in a Pelican 1300?)

Anyway... thanks to everyone for the advice; at this point I think I'm going to just start with the kit lens, since it's (1) cheap (2) WR (3) reasonably flexible, and see what focal lengths I end up using; it sounds like there are are other zooms with similar ranges but better optics (eg the DA17-70, DA*16-50) that I'll probably want to consider once I get more comfy.

Maybe if I can figure out how to post a few photos, I can show you how I pack my cave photo gear.

Gear (K-20 w/DA21 Ltd and DA35 Ltd beside camera:
IMGPC14289 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Gear packed:
IMGPC14277 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Firefly is one of the best optical slaves. I have two of the orginal Fireflys and they work really good. I just like the Wein XLHS optical slaves better. I really need to try radio control slaves, but just don't want to spend the extra money when I have something that works really good.

I would love to take my DA*16-50 on my K-5 but when I try to pack it in the Pelican box I can not squeeze in the DFA100 Macro. The DA17-70 is that much smaller and since one usually wants as much DOF not having something faster than f4.0 is not a problem.

Dave


Last edited by DaveBlack; 11-23-2011 at 07:03 AM.
11-23-2011, 08:23 AM   #17
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You also might want to try some stitching to complement the kit lens. I know with the lighting, its not going to be perfect, but some of the new stitching utilities do a pretty good job of blending the lighting (try the free trial downloads). A tripod may help - at least a small one, along with an L bracket so that you can switch from landscape to portrait orientation easily. You might also want to try with a ballhead that can pan horizontally as well as flop over to a gimbal position in order to take vertical segments as well. With things close in you may get parallax (however at large f stops, your field of view will be limited), so if this is a concern then a short rail would help with that.

Just some thoughts from the peanut gallery....

11-23-2011, 10:53 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveBlack Quote
Cool, I may well go Pelican. Dave Bunnell recommended just using watertight barrels (Inner Mountain Outfitters lined with foam rubber, which I may try as well as they would fit inside a cave pack more easily.

QuoteQuote:
Firefly is one of the best optical slaves. I have two of the orginal Fireflys and they work really good. I just like the Wein XLHS optical slaves better. I really need to try radio control slaves, but just don't want to spend the extra money when I have something that works really good.
Agreed, it works well, though I have only one; if I want to add multiple slaves I might switch to wireless, but we'll see.

QuoteQuote:
I would love to take my DA*16-50 on my K-5 but when I try to pack it in the Pelican box I can not squeeze in the DFA100 Macro. The DA17-70 is that much smaller and since one usually wants as much DOF not having something faster than f4.0 is not a problem.
Good thought. With a P&S I usually just have to spend the effort to get any sort of reasonably useful shot; maximizing DOF is a luxury I haven't been concerned with till now :-)

Have you used the 18-135WR lens? It's getting very mixed reviews, but might be another candidate for a flexible lens of not-unreasonable size and weight.
11-23-2011, 12:07 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by BoredomFestival Quote
Cool, I may well go Pelican. Dave Bunnell recommended just using watertight barrels (Inner Mountain Outfitters lined with foam rubber, which I may try as well as they would fit inside a cave pack more easily.



Agreed, it works well, though I have only one; if I want to add multiple slaves I might switch to wireless, but we'll see.



Good thought. With a P&S I usually just have to spend the effort to get any sort of reasonably useful shot; maximizing DOF is a luxury I haven't been concerned with till now :-)

Have you used the 18-135WR lens? It's getting very mixed reviews, but might be another candidate for a flexible lens of not-unreasonable size and weight.

Dave Bunnell is getting good use out of his radio slaves. I don't remember which brand he got. I still just go with optical slaves because I am cheap, they work really good (if you get good optical slaves) and radio slaves take up more room and it appears like you would have to spend time each time you get stuff out of the carry box to put the radio slaves on the camera and flash.

I just don't see any reason to own the DA18-135. I do own both the DA*16-50 and the DA17-70. The DA18-135 appears to be a bigger lens than the DA17-70 and I have enough problems getting everything into the Pelican box.

A jug would work ok, but I can see that it will be more difficult reaching into a jug than into a box.

One more time trying to link a photo.

Two Sunpak 383 flashes one cabled and the other optically slaved.
http://flickr.com/gp/24685925@N08/15t379

Dave

11-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveBlack Quote
The DA18-135 appears to be a bigger lens than the DA17-70 and I have enough problems getting everything into the Pelican box.
From the lens reviews here, they appear to be comparable in size/weight, but I haven't seen either one in person.

QuoteQuote:
A jug would work ok, but I can see that it will be more difficult reaching into a jug than into a box.
Well, I already have the jugs, may as well try 'em and see how they work :-)
11-24-2011, 08:11 AM   #21
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Hello fellow Caver and Pentaxian! As caver and a photographer for a long while, started in the 60's, I have a different perspective of cave photography than most I think.Living in Georgia most of my caving is in the TAG region and involve a lot of vertical, wet and muddy crawling caves rewarded with big rooms with formations and pretties.Although I have several DSLR's and fast lenses at my command I have chosen a different route for my cave photography and I will explain my logic which may differ with Dave's, a well known cave photog here...

As you know and have noted the only light you have in a cave is what you bring into that totally dark environment. Camera,lenses,flashes,slaves,cases and tripod all have to be to and thru and back in any cave trip.More gear equals more weight and size to carry and for me equals also for what am I willing to lose as the caving environment can be disastrous on photo gear.My cave photography is for me and my friends with the occasional prints and maybe a entry into a photo salon.As a K5,K20,K10 and Limited glass owner I would not subject my DSLR equipment to hours of extreme caving for just a few shots of my friends and some formations. I have found that a lot of precious gear slows me down and takes away from my caving experience, but that is me.

Please don't get me wrong here as cave photography can be extremely rewarding! My approach has been an advanced fixed lens bridge type camera with hotshoe. In my case I chose a Kodak P880(about 7 years ago for this cam) as it had good low ISO performance,color,hotshoe and a reasonable fast fixed lens plus the fact if I lose it or break it underground the tears would not be so big as compared to my DSLR's ... also with the smaller sensor gave this camera a larger COC (circle of confusion) which makes for larger DOF for equivalent lighting without having to stop down and adding more light to compensate to get the needed DOF. Shooting a DSLR at 100 ISO at 5.6 or higher may take a lot of light for a good size room to get decent DOF with good results and I am interested in Dave's opinion on this also.

Here is a couple of examples....exif should be intact...

stream passage Bluff River Cave


Cedar Ridge Crystal Cave


So for me smaller and lighter is better.My kit is a small/medium Pelican box(a must) with P880,2 Vivitar 285HV,2 FireflyII slaves,batteries,cards,ect.....and small cheap tripod.I know my caving friends would not put up with a lot of photo gear on some of the trips we do here in TAG unless it was a planned photo trip. Google Blue Springs Cave in TN. It is a 32+ mile cave and tho I have not done but a few miles of it the thoughts of the 2300 foot crawl one way(I have done this crawl several times) with a lot of photo gear does not appeal to me!

Here is a link to some videos of the type of caving we do.....enjoy if ya can! Do you want to bring your K5 here?

offrope's Channel - YouTube

and


BTW these are actually some of my caving buddies, we just bottomed a 350 foot deep wet multidrop a couple of weeks ago, I just love TAG caving!

Last edited by Motorman; 11-24-2011 at 08:15 AM. Reason: add a link
11-24-2011, 08:34 AM   #22
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Also I want to mention my friends Jeff and Nina at Inner Mountain Outfitters,IMO, (you had mentioned them)as they are great people to know and buy from for you caving gear! If ya tell them Larry Brown(me) recommended them they may give you 50% off or add 50% ,LOL! Really they are personal friends and knowing them so well should help you any way possible! Their whole life now is caving and rope work , call'em,get to know them, you won't regret it!
11-24-2011, 10:31 AM   #23
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Yeah, I actually agree that smaller is better for caving gear -- I expect I'll continue to use my S90 for general trips -- but for trips where photography is the focus (no pun intended) I'm finding that its small sensor is finally a limiting point for good photos, and I'm willing to try schlepping the extra size/weight around... I'm planning a trip to Bohemia & Bulmer caves in New Zealand next year and want better gear to maximize the images I can get from places like this:

)

And if it turns out to be too much to deal with, well, I still have a great camera for non-caving activities :-)

(I live in California and didn't really discover caving till I moved here, which is sad since I grew up in Birmingham... it's kinda like saying "I grew up in Germany but didn't discover beer till I moved to Utah")

11-24-2011, 12:16 PM   #24
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Caving/photography trip to New Zealand, WOW! Definitely need to get photo cam/slave/flash gear and technique worked out for sure. The K5 and lens set up for the quality shots does make sense as the low noise/higher iso performance would make up for stopping down to get some DOF, not to mention it's size and ruggedness.You may want to take a look at the DA15 Limited for wide angle,not a fisheye, and being wide you won't have to stop down as much to get some DOF,IMO.Also I like your close up of the pretties you have posted and if you want to do some close-up work take a look at the DA35Limited Macro,a GREAT lens and would be on my list,there is a caving worthy one(looks a tad worn and priced accordingly)in the marketplace now that may interest you for your kit, I am sure it works just fine.Probably those two small lenses may do everything needed for cave photography lens wise.Big heavy zooms would be off my list.If you need something wider take a pano,vertical or horizontal or both at the same time,stitch them later, it is tricky but works.
Depending how much time you will have underground, how much time to caving and how much photo time could be important..... oh and maybe some camera insurance too!
11-24-2011, 12:44 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Motorman Quote
You may want to take a look at the DA15 Limited for wide angle,not a fisheye, and being wide you won't have to stop down as much to get some DOF,IMO.Also I like your close up of the pretties you have posted and if you want to do some close-up work take a look at the DA35Limited Macro,a GREAT lens and would be on my list,there is a caving worthy one(looks a tad worn and priced accordingly)in the marketplace now that may interest you for your kit, I am sure it works just fine.Probably those two small lenses may do everything needed for cave photography lens wise.Big heavy zooms would be off my list.If you need something wider take a pano,vertical or horizontal or both at the same time,stitch them later, it is tricky but works.
Depending how much time you will have underground, how much time to caving and how much photo time could be important..... oh and maybe some camera insurance too!
I'll have at least 2-3 hours each in several sections of pretties, and I'm gonna bring at least one slave (Sunpak 383 + Firefly3); I might acquire additional slaves, not sure yet. (Probably not going to bring a tripod, not sure yet.) The good part is that the caving isn't too extreme (it's a fair distance but nothing too technical). I've heard from another Pentax caver that the DA21mm is his favorite for cave shots; I'm guessing that either that or the DA15mm would be a good wide-angle. The DA35 macro gets high praise, if I can find one at a reasonable price I may pick one up, but the obvious gotcha is I don't want to spend $$$ on lenses I know I'm gonna abuse. I probably should just rent several for a weekend and try 'em out in local low-stress caves to see how they do... (I'm buying a used 18-55WR from a friend, which I may or may not take, but given that it's reasonably small/light/flexible *and* WR it may be worth bringing as an emergency backup lens...)
12-06-2011, 11:35 AM   #26
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Motorman, Wonderful cave photos. I always enjoyed Cedar Ridge Crystal Cave. Especially the walk to the cave. :-)

Yes, smaller is better for cave gear. My normal kit consists of the Leica DuLux 4 along with three Sunpak 383 flashes. Two with Wein HSLX optical splaves and the third with a syc cord. All firts in a Pelican 1200 box.

Dave

Last edited by DaveBlack; 12-06-2011 at 12:37 PM.
12-06-2011, 12:00 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by BoredomFestival Quote
I'll have at least 2-3 hours each in several sections of pretties, and I'm gonna bring at least one slave (Sunpak 383 + Firefly3); I might acquire additional slaves, not sure yet. (Probably not going to bring a tripod, not sure yet.) The good part is that the caving isn't too extreme (it's a fair distance but nothing too technical). I've heard from another Pentax caver that the DA21mm is his favorite for cave shots; I'm guessing that either that or the DA15mm would be a good wide-angle. The DA35 macro gets high praise, if I can find one at a reasonable price I may pick one up, but the obvious gotcha is I don't want to spend $$$ on lenses I know I'm gonna abuse. I probably should just rent several for a weekend and try 'em out in local low-stress caves to see how they do... (I'm buying a used 18-55WR from a friend, which I may or may not take, but given that it's reasonably small/light/flexible *and* WR it may be worth bringing as an emergency backup lens...)

Dave Bunell should be able to gice you a few hints on New Zealand caves. He was there a few years ago.

The DA35 Macro Limited is a great lens and when I use prime lenses and the K-5 my kit will DA15 Ltd, DA21 Ltd, DA35 Macro Ltd and DFA100 Macro. Of these prime lenses the 21 and 100 gets used the most.

Now see if I can post a photo of the DA21 on a K20D.

IMGPC14211 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I still haven't figure out how to post a photo from my Flickr gallery here on Pentax Forum.


Dave
12-06-2011, 12:20 PM   #28
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Dave Bunnell is going on the same trip -- but alas, a different week from when I'll be there.
12-06-2011, 12:32 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by BoredomFestival Quote
Dave Bunnell is going on the same trip -- but alas, a different week from when I'll be there.

Say hi to Dave for me. We caved together way back in our college days.

I think I finally figure out how to post a photo here from my Flickr gallery. Here is a cave photo taken with the K-5 and the DA15 Ltd.




The larger sensor of the K-5 over P&S cameras really helps when you need to have as much DR as possible.
12-06-2011, 12:40 PM   #30
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Here is a photo taken with the DA35 Macro Ltd on a K20D.




The DA35 is a very good general use lens for cave photography. Still I like the slightly wider DA21 Ltd more, but it can't do macros.

Dave
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