Digital Photography - D200 Camera & Housing Continued - Page 22
Tamron Macro Lens

I have been using my D200 camera for a little over a year now and I had a full season in New Jersey with the Subal housing with the large grand viewfinder. I did try another macro lens over the summer, the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 macro (close focusing) lens. I found that I love the lens on land but it didn't perform that well underwater. I compared photos taken with the Tamron against photos taken with my Sigma 28-80 cheapie lens and I coudn't really see that much difference. Where I really saw the differenence was when focusing, especially with jellyfish. I love to photograph jellyfish. I will spend a great deal of time at 10' and shoot jellies. It was much easier with a Nikonos camera with extension tubes. It is more difficult with a housed digital SLR but I don't have to return to the boat after 36 exposures and change film. I found that the Sigma lens would focus much faster on the jellyfish than the Tamron. In many cases, I couldn't get focus with the Tamron at all. So after using it a few times, I went back to the Sigma. Another problem that I had with the Tamron was getting an aperture gear for it. Thank goodness for Ryan at Reef Photo & Video. I sent him the lens and he made an aperture gear work for the lens. He was a savior. Now, onto my impressions of the D200 and the Subal housing. First, I love the D200. It is a great camera and takes photos a lot better than I do. I look at my digital photos now and compare them to scanned images of my 35mm slides and I will use the digital files every time. The camera has performed flawlessly. It focuses much faster than my D100 and the larger viewfinder and larger LCD are a pleasure for my tired old eyes. I haven't had a chance to use it in clear, tropical waters yet but my wife, Veronica, and a number of my diving friends will be on the Nekton Pilot at the end of June 2007 for a trip through the northern Bahamas. It is one of my favorite trips. I can't wait to use the camera and housing on this trip. I also want to try the magic filters that I purchased. I will keep you in suspence about them for now but I will provide the link so that you can read about them. Click here to go there. They have announced a green water magic filter and I can't wait to try it in New Jersey during the summer of 2007.

I guess by now you can tell that I love the camera. I love it so much that I bought a second body to use on land when my other body is in the Subal housing. It is also a back up in case anything happens to the first body.

Let's take a look at pictures taken with the D200 and the two different macro lens. First, the scup (porgy) taken with the Tamron 28-75 f2.8. Porgies are not always easy subjects but this day on the Coffee Wreck, I managed to get quite a few good ones. The photo looks good. The sharpness is good and so is the color rendition.

scup, porgy

Now, let's take a look at a photo taken with the Sigma 28-80 cheapie lens.

scup, porgy
Below you will see 100% crops of both photos with the photo with the Tamron lens on the left and the photo with the Sigma lens on the right.
scup, porgy

scup, porgy

The two lenses produced very similar results. I thought that I would get blown away by the Tamron lens but that didn't happen. The deciding factor came for me at the end of the dives that I used the Tamron lens. As I was ascending the anchor line, I was moving into jellyfish territory. That is my favorite area to work. I often spend hours between the surface and fifteen feet shooting jellyfish. At the end of each dive, I tried the Tamron lens on jellyfish and much to my dismay, I had great difficult focusing on the jellyfish with the Tamron lens. When I changed back to my old cheapie Sigma, it focused like I wished that the Tamron did.

My First Season in New Jersey with the New Rig

Overall, I was very pleased with the Nikon D200 and the Subal housing. I loved the grand viewfinder and it was relief to my old eyes. I found that shooting jellyfish with a housed camera is a real challenge. I hang out on the anchor line and when I see a suitable candidate, I look through the viewfinder and try to focus. With larger jellyfish like the Lion's mane jellyfish, it isn't as hard but the comb jellies and the naked sea butterfly is another story completely. I can tell you that I am awfully tired when I am done. Is it all worth it? Absolutely! Look at this page of twenty of my favorite shots from New Jersey in 2006. I made 33 dives and shot a little more than 3000 photos during the 2006 dive season. Not so bad for an old guy. Click here to see my picks from the 2006 dive season in New Jersey.

What's Next? I am not sure but it will be something good!