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Learn to shoot with the Nikonos V
Using Surface Macro TubesNikonos V

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So, you've spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your Nikonos V underwater system. That's great, you say, but too bad you can't use it on the surface. Too bad you can't get the same macro results from above the surface as you do below. Well, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can. And not only is it easy, its inexpensive as well! If this sounds interesting, read on.

When most people purchase their Nikonos V system, they buy it with the standard Nikonos 35mm lens. This lens is very versatile and is an excellent choose for new and as well as experienced Nikonos users. One of the nice features of the 35mm lens, which will become important later, is that it can operate equally well above and below the water.

EXTENSION TUBESOne of the most satisfying forms of photography, and one of the easiest to master is that of macro photography. Extreme close up photography often produces stunning portraits of small marine life as well as artistic renderings of scenes not possible with standard or wide angle lens’. With the Nikonos system, macro photography is accomplished through the use of EXTENSION TUBES. By inserting a dark, aluminum cylindrical tube between the camera and the lens, the photographer effectively extends the focal length of the lens.

This drastically reduces the focusing distance in front of the lens and enables the photographer to get very close to the subject, producing images of small subjects otherwise not possible . With extension tubes, the camera's focusing distance can be as close as two inches.

Extension tubes come in a variety of sizes. The longer the tube, the longer the focal length and, consequently the closer the focusing distance, the greater the reproduction ratio is produced. Most common extension tube kits come with tubes that produce image to subject ratios of (1:3), (1:2) and (1:1). The (1:1) ratio for instance, refers to an image that is “life size” on the negative. Most extension tube kits usually include a set of wire framers. These framers attach to the end of the extension tube with a small knurled nut and are used by the photographer to help frame the subject properly in the photograph. Underwater photographers use the 35mm or 28mm lens in conjunction with the extension tubes to produce excellent macro results.

When your done with diving is macro photography finished as well?

The answer is NO! Since the 35mm lens is amphibious, it makes sense to assume that macro photography can be accomplished on land as well as underwater utilizing the same lens and extension tubes. In fact, all that is needed is a new set of land calibrated framers. Since the optics above the water are different than below, the framer must be of a different size and length to adjust for a different focusing distance. The land framers are usually "blue" in color where as the underwater framers are "black".

Since most underwater photographers use their extension tubes for underwater photography, they usually do not keep their blue land framers in with their other underwater photo equipment. Because of this, some people (including myself) have in the past grabbed the wrong set of framers when faced with a great photo opportunity and used the "black" underwater framers instead of the "blue" land framers.

Macro photography is popular with many photographers, including novices, since it is relatively simple to set up. In fact, the controls on the camera and the strobe are preset to ensure proper exposure and focus.


The Camera Settings are Listed Below:

  • Ensure that the film speed dial is set to match the speed of film you are using. ISO 50 or 64 film is good film to start your macro work with. These films offer very high resolution with little grain. ISO 25 film offers even sharper images, but often requires the use of more powerful strobes. ISO 100 film is also acceptable for macro work.
  • Set the cameras shutter speed dial to A for TTL automatic flash or 60 for 1/60th second for manual flash mode.
  • Set the lens aperture to the smallest aperture (f/22 for the 35mm lens). This is done to gain maximum possible depth of field since the use of extension tubes dramatically reduces the depth of field range. For instance, with an aperture of f/22, the total depth of field is about 3/4” with a 1:3 tube, 3/8” with a 1:2 tube and 3/16” with a (1:1) tube.
  • The camera lens should be set to its minimum focusing distance (2.75 feet for the 35mm lens).
  • Set the strobe on TTL (to match the A setting on the camera) or FULL (to match the 60 setting on the camera).
  • Position the strobe directly over the camera view finder.
  • Adjust the strobe distance for the subject according to the manufacturer recommendation for the tube you are using.

You are now ready to begin shooting macro! Plant

Surface macro photography can include a variety of subjects. Insects, small amphibians and flowers are some of the more popular. Jewelry, coins and other small valuables can also be effectively photographed.  Of course, the set of subjects is limited only by your imagination.

Insects, in particular, are fascinating subjects for land macro photography. Often as elusive as gobies on a coral head and as colorful as the most beautiful shrimp, these creatures make for challenging subjects. As with marine creatures, sometimes the wire framer frightens the subject away and  some improvisation is required. Some framers come with removable ends so that the photographer can better control the shadows as well as the subject he is pursuing. Occasionally, a photographer will remove the framer completely, or modify the framer to be non threatening to the subject. Of course, part of the fun of photography is overcoming these challenges.

ButterflySome insects are too large, even for the (1:3) extension tube and its framer. Large moths and butterflies, for instance, may require the use of the Nikonos Close-up lens, which can allow for (1:4), (1:5) and (1:6) reproduction ratios. This lens also works in conjunction with the 35mm and, thus, is capable of surface photography as well as underwater work. 

The world of insects and other small land animals can be just as fascinating as the miniature world of the coral reef. Consider buying a set of “land use” extension tubes. And when the diving is done, load up some film and journey out into the wilderness of your own backyard. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you find there...


Available Books, Videos & Cameras

SeaLife Digital Underwater CameraSealife 12 Megapixel 5X Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD screen Underwater/Land Camera

GREAT Underwater Beginner Camera!

Product Description: SeaLife's DC1200 makes underwater photography it easier than ever before. Mystical sea creatures, vibrant colorful reefs, or haunting wrecks from a bygone era, the DC1200 is the camera to catch them all. SeaLife's new 12-megapixel camera combines diver-friendly design and four underwater color modes, for sharp, colorful pictures underwater or on land.

SeaLife eliminated the typical button cluster on the back of the camera, in favor of five thumb operated "piano key" controls. The large shutter button extends forward with a fingertip-control lever that allows scrolling through menus or zooming in and out without releasing your grip from the camera. This "Central Command Lever" and the "Piano Keys" are making great underwater pictures and videos easier than ever before.

Expand the DC1200 with SeaLife's popular line of underwater accessories, including the Digital Pro Flashes and wide angle . Automatic focus from 4" to infinity. Record 2+ hours of sharp, colorful video with sound when using a 4GB SD memory card. Depth tested to 200ft. Fully rubber armored for shock protection. Full 1-year warranty covers the underwater housing and camera.

SeaLifes Sea Modes which have built in color correction and External Flash Modes for vibrant color and manual control of the cameras shutter and aperture, round out the DC1200.

Other SeaLife DC1200 Camera Systems:

  • SeaLife DC1200 Elite 12MP Underwater / Land Digital Camera & Strobe System
    Where to Buy
  • Sealife DC1000 Elite 10MP Underwater / Land Digital Camera & Strobe System (2 Digital Pro Flashs)
    Where to Buy


Other Available Cameras and Accessories

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Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS  Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2


Travel Storage & Viewer Systems

Epson P-5000 and P-3000

Epson P-5000 & P-3000 (Storage & Viewer Systems)

Product Description: This is an essential tool for the digital photographer who shoots a lot of images. The Epson P-3000/5000 provides an excellent way to download, store and display thousands of photos, videos and more on the spot - without a computer. With the ultra fast processor, it’s easy to backup images right from your memory card (CF/SD) or camera. Transfer thousands of photos in no time at all. Then, continue shooting.

With the large, four-inch LCD, you’ll be able to instantly review images immediately after the shoot. In fact, you can easily view slide shows and videos, or listen to audio files. Best of all, you’ll be able to present professional quality images anywhere you go.

Because this system uses Epson's Photo Fine Ultra LCD technology, you’ll see every color and detail. This unit also has Adobe RGB color space support which means, each viewer displays over 16.7 million colors.

You can even zoom in and verify RAW files.  And, with a long battery life, these systems are ideal for extended, on-location shoots. Save and view all your best shots at the scene.

Or, transfer files from your camera or any USB device. You can even connect and download your files directly to your Windows or Mac computer. The Epson Epson P-3000/5000 makes it easy to save and share images virtually anywhere, with amazing clarity and color.

Features & Benefits

  • 40GB (P-3000) or 80BG (P-5000), high-capacity hard drive to backup thousands of photos
  • Large, 4-inch LCD for easy viewing
  • On-the-spot download device to save, view and share photos, videos and music anywhere
  • Epson® Photo Fine Ultra LCD technology for more accurate colors
  • Adobe® RGB color space support
  • Ultra fast processor for fast downloads
  • DivX® video file support, plus audio/video out to instantly view slide shows and videos
  • Rechargeable battery so it’s always ready to travel
  • Long battery life that’s ideal for extended, on-location shoots
  • Built-in card slots that support Compact Flash® I/II (CF) and Secure Digital™ (SD) memory cards
  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0 for fast file transfers
  • RAW file support — zoom capabilities to check the focus and fine detail

Additional Information


Other Travel Storage Systems

Perfect for storing and transporting documents and digital images!!
Other storage systems

Sandisk Cruzer SanDisk Cruzer Micro 16 GB USB 2.0 (Flash Drive)
SanDisk Cruzer Micro 8 GB USB 2.0  (Flash Drive)
SanDisk Cruzer Micro 4 GB USB 2.0 (Flash Drive)
SanDisk Cruzer Micro 2 GB USB 2.0 with U3 (Flash Drive)

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Last Modified: December 05, 2010

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