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Digital Gets The Finger
BobHalstead - 4/29/2013 7:19 AM
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Category: Photography
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By Bob Halstead

Most of the divers I meet these days are shooting digital cameras. Sometimes they laugh at me, and mock my film cameras, and say things like “I only shot 200 images on that last dive, how many did you shoot Bob?”

Then they sit down in the saloon with their computers and call people over to see their best shots. “There is a bit of back scatter in this one but I’ll just remove it with photoshop, how long will it be before you see your shots Bob? Ha! Ha!”.

I could take this for a while, but now I am fighting back. “Guys, I aim to shoot ONE PERFECT SHOT, and I do not need photoshop because I do not shoot backscatter. Quality always beats quantity, and I can wait until my films are developed. Instant gratification is associated with low IQ, you know”.

One thing I have noticed with digital photographers is that they spend an awful lot of time underwater pushing buttons and staring into their camera deleting images to make space for another 50 shots usually while the perfect subject swims past – and they miss it. They can spend the whole dive fiddling with their camera and images, until the battery goes flat, and not shoot any new images at all. Or they start shooting too early and carry on way too late instead of choosing the one perfect moment.

My 15Kg camera rig consists of a Nikon F3 in a huge Aquatica housing, and two Ikelite 150 strobes, that I have had for nearly 20 years. And I have got spares, for the camera and housing anyway, enough to last me another 20 years. To cut the weight I bought an Ikelite 100A strobe a few years back to replace one of the 150’s. I use manual (two wire) EO cords and the rig always works. ALWAYS. After thousands of dives, it has never flooded, nor failed, and every film I have shot with it has turned out just fine.

But the insults continue. “Bought that from Noah did you Bob?” Ha! Ha! “Was that salvaged from a Spanish Galleon Bob?” Ha! Ha! “Have to make your own film soon Bob!” Ha! Ha!

Very funny indeed, and, sorry to say, they may have a point. I just tried to buy another Ikelite 100A strobe and was told they have stopped making them. Ikelite only makes digital strobes now. They claim that they work with the “Old” film cameras – but that is true only if you shoot using a “Through The Lens” metering cord – TTL, remember, the system that automatically gives you the wrong exposure – but I shoot MANUAL and with my EO cords the new strobes will not fire. The way I take photos is to set focus, shutter speed, f-stop, get my twin strobes pointing the right way, and shoot, and I rarely get it wrong. If I am not sure, I bracket the exposure. Then I know I have it. I once asked my mate Kevin Deacon what exposure he used to take one of his beautiful prize winning pre-digital shots. “All of them” was the reply ….

So, seriously, has anyone out there got a new/near new, never flooded, Ikelite 100A for sale?? Please contact me if you have, and I do not need cords, batteries or arms, just the strobe. I’m at

Now, to really annoy my digital friends, some of whom could have bought a good CAR for the price they just paid for their new digital rig, I got my very OLD camera out and took it on the FeBrina this May/June leading four dive cruises out of wonderful Walindi. It is a Nikonos 2 with a 28mm lens I bought for $200 in 1969. Later, the legendary, original model, 15mm lens was produced, and I brought that along as well. In those days we used bulb flash and I admit I did abandon bulbs years ago and switched to the same Ikelite strobes I use with the F3 – I can even swap strobes between cameras underwater when the need arises.

“How long have you had your camera?” I innocently inquire, adding quickly “I’ve had mine 38 years, still works like new, perfect optics you know”. Ha! Ha!

And it is true. My beautiful manual Nikonos works perfectly and produces wonderful images. I expect it will last another 38 years. Seems most of the digital cameras last about 6 months before they become redundant then you need to replace them with the latest model, which of course does not fit in your housing so you need a new housing as well. This all seems very wasteful to me. The Global Warming police may well complain about my Carbon Footprint when developing film, but I must gain a million points just from using the same cameras for so long – it must take a lot of energy to produce a new camera and housing (and computer).

To make my point crystal clear I’ve just dusted off my very first, hence OLDEST, underwater camera. It is nearly 40 years old. I gave it to my mother when I bought my Nikonos and she safely stored it all these years, as mothers do, then recently gave it back to me, as mothers do, along with some embarrassing infant school diaries I wrote. It is a spring wound Ricoh automatic half frame (72 shots) camera in a round, screw together, housing. It works just fine, I’m thinking of taking it along on dive trips and offering it for hire to those digital divers whose cameras have shorted out because one drop of water fell on the electronics. Ha! Ha!

August 2007