Seacam Wet Diopters
Text and Photography by Stephen Frink *
*North American and Caribbean distributor for Seacam
At this year’s DEMA show Seacam introduced a pair of wet diopters custom designed for their macro ports.
Now there are two strengths of Wet Diopter Available!
There is an O-ring that sits around the circumference of the port, which in turn makes it a simple press fit inside the ports integrated sunshade. The diopter is vented so that the water squirts out, making it a simple matter to install underwater. A protrusion of the same O-ring makes it easy to pull the diopter off when not in use. There are two diopters in the set, #2 and #4, and they are delivered in a Seacam neoprene and Velcro pouch.
I took a pair of the Seacam diopters with me on a shoot in St. Vincent. Actually, the vis was pretty bad because of an unseasonable amount of rain, so I spent most of the week shooting 100mm macro subjects, and truly enjoying it. St. Vincent has the best small critters in the Caribbean, and Bill Tewes and the staff at Dive St. Vincent take pride in sharing their photo-ops. In addition to the Seacam wet diopters, I carried my MacroMate by Backscatter.
Some quick impressions:
The MacroMate and the Seacam diopter are really different tools, and owning one does not preclude having the other in your arsenal. The MacroMate will go to 2:1, whereas I would estimate the Seacam #4 probably goes to about 1.3:1 magnification. I found the Seacam #2 to be very modest in terms of magnification, so I tended to use either the #4 or MacroMate, depending on the subject.
Note – Based on these tests, Seacam will develop two more diopters in strengths greater than the original #4 diopter, and the #2 will not be released. For the moment, only the #4 is available, packaged in a neoprene case and priced at $295.
Here’s a comparison of the same subject, taken with the lens racked out to 1:1, and then with the #4 and the MacroMate:
1:1 with Canon 100mm macro
Adding Seacam #4
Seacam wet diopter mounted on macro port
With the #4 installed I found I could easily pick out my subject, even from a distance. Auto-focus worked fine and there was considerable depth of field. The MacroMate is harder to use. The depth of field is minimal, but that’s to be expected since it offers greater magnification.
I found I often kept my Seacam #4 in place while swimming along the reef scouting subjects, whereas the MacroMate would be attached only for very specific subjects. For example, I found this seahorse swimming along the reef and as it was a very fleeting opportunity, I shot it with the Seacam #4 in place.
Likewise, when I saw these two eels pop out of their hole, I didn’t stop to pull the #4 off the port, but instead grabbed the shot.
However, it worked well for its intended use … expanding the magnification beyond 1:1, as in this goby below.
I’ll leave it for others to do more direct comparisons of the MacroMate versus the Seacam wet diopters, for I came to the conclusion that they are each unique tools and I enjoy working with them both. I’ll probably carry the Seacam #4 with me each time I take the 100mm macro underwater from now on. It is so small and unobtrusive (just slip into BC pocket when not in use) that there is no real reason to leave it on the boat. If I can pick up another 20% magnification or so when I need it, and it is so easy to use, why not?
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