Monday, 30 March 2009

MDX-D300 housing viewfinder options

MDX-D300 housing assembly, feel and finish
The Sea & Sea MDX-D300 has a very solid feel in the hand and its in water weight seems lighter than the Sea & Sea DX-D200 housing. Unlike the previous cast model, the MDX-D300 is milled from a solid block of aluminum and thus has a more rugged finish. It survived 2 weeks of very poor maintenance (fresh water rinses out of a gas can) and cleaned up easily with no signs of corrosion or fatigue. The quick lock camera tray makes camera installation easy, but when using a zoom lens, it's best to wiggle the zoom knob prior to locking down the tray to ensure a precise install.

MDX-D300 housing viewfinder options
Personally I find all stock viewfinders on underwater housings to be difficult if not impossible to use for accurate composition and focus verification. The stock viewfinder on the Sea & Sea MDX-D300 is no exception. I received the housing hours before departure and was unable to install the new Inon Straight (180) viewfinder and chose to use the Inon 45 viewfinder instead. The Inon 45 offers a bright crisp image with the largest angle of acceptance, but I found the 45 degree angle (head down) view to be difficult for the fast action of sailfish and dolphin. I brought the stock viewfinder along, but determined I'd rather have the large view of the Inon 45. I was able to adapt my technique over the period of a few days and would now like to travel with both the 45 and 180 viewfinders and swap based on my subjects.

MDX-D300 housing control ergonomics
The Sea & Sea DX-D300 housing features oversized knobs and buttons that are easily controlled with even gloved hands. Essential controls (shutter release, aperture, shutterspeed, and focus lock) are easily reached with a large hand, but small handed users will likely find essential controls more difficult with only one hand supporting the housing. The round and non-indexed knobs for MSC and AF-area Mode require practice to accurately adjust on the fly, but unlike myself, most users don't regularly access these controls. The unique barrel style control for the Sub Command Dial (aperture) is very convenient, but is half occluded by the Fisheye Dome Port when not using an extension ring. While I’m quite fond of the smoother controls and ergonomics of the Subal line of underwater housings, I was able to operate all controls on the MDX-D300 quickly within 15 minutes of the first dive. The last Sea & Sea housing I personally shot was their Nikon F5 underwater housing and it was a personal favorite. This new line of MDX housings is a great step back to their previous attention to detail. Hat’s off to the new design team at Sea & Sea!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Australia Dive Master Rescue

Cairns is one of the most popular places in the world where people learn to dive during their holiday. Dive schools in Cairns usually have regular open water classes with many students.

For those who want to become dive professionals, it is the ideal place to learn how to teach diving as there are so many students learning each day. Safety comes first. But also quality and efficiency are to be learned here. To assist an instructor in a large open water class prepares you well for "the real life" out there.

Taking a divemaster course in Cairns is a great way to gain experience. Also, it is a good base if you wish to continue to an instructor course. Most courses offered in Cairns are PADI courses. The course is at least 18 days long, but plan for 21 days, to be on the safe side. Part of the course is to assist an instructor in teaching 2 Open Water courses. When available you may also assist in Advanced and Rescue courses.

You get 2 live aboard dive trips (each 3 days/2 nights long) to the Great Barrier Reef. During these trips you will get up to 20 dives. Some are training dives and some just recreational dives.

During the course you get familiar with the diver training process and you will gain an awareness of typical student problems. Also you will learn how to supervise and control divers in general. You will learn to perform diving skills to demonstration level and, of course, you learn a lot of theory and take written exams. You need to be pretty fit too, as there are a few swimming tests.

Minimum requirements are:

  • You should be at least 18 years old
  • Have a PADI Rescue Diver certification
  • A valid diving medical to Australian standard
    more details on dive medicals
  • No less than 20 logged Scuba Dives when starting the Divemaster course, but to complete the PADI Divemaster certification you will need to have completed 60 logged Scuba Dives.
  • Price for the 18-day Divemaster Course costs up to AU$ 1995 (until 31 March 2009). Please e-mail us if you are interested in this course.

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