If you’re a regular on Digital-Reefs, you’ll know that we’ve been photographing reef tanks and their inhabitants from just about every angle for years now. When it comes to ‘top-down’ shots though we have to admit that our library is a bit short of quality shots of that kind. Let’s face it, through the surface shots are really difficult with surface turbulence and reflections all conspiring to distort or obscure the fine details of corals growing tantalisingly beneath the water line. We’ve even gone so far as to wrap clingfilm or plastic bags around our camera lens to try to improve our shots in the past… and let’s just say that didn’t end well! Luckily there’s a new tool now available that makes things a whole lot safer and easier.
The DSLR Lens Dipper from Little Ocean is one of those rare items that isn’t just super cool, it’s also very inexpensive compared to most other photographic equipment. And for the price this specialist device promises to open up a whole new realm of reef imaging for you. Frankly we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it, and when it arrived we weren’t disappointed. Firstly, the Dipper certainly avoids the ‘makeshift’ look of our previous attempts with Little Oceans attractive branding. As we’ve said this isn’t an expensive item yet it certainly feels good quality with lovely scratch-free clear acrylic construction. The bottom plate even comes with a protective film attached so you can be sure the superb clarity of the acrylic won’t be compromised. Holding pretty much any DSLR body/macro lens combination we can think of, plus many other lenses too, there are 3 small plastic screws that clamp the lens in place. It took a few minutes to adjust these so our lens was aligned properly but once done, these screws held the dipper onto the lens safely so there no way it could slip off. Slightly larger heads on these screws might make things a little speedier but this isn’t a major issue (EDIT: following this feedback Little Ocean have designed oversized grippers for these screws which make manipulating them very easy). The screws didn’t interfere with autofocussing with our lens and the length of the Dipper allowed for the full range ofour lenses mechanical operation. The length also meant we could shoot at an angle without worrying about water ingress. We even felt confident enough to try our 24-105 L and again this worked well. Just to note here though that focal ranges of around 70mm or more are needed to avoid capturing the inside of the tube itself in the field of view.
Now to the fun part and it’s time to ‘take the plunge’ and immerse our macro lens (a Tamron SP DI 90mm f2.8). Even safely retained inside the Dipper our pulse rate quickens a little but we needn’t worry… the Dipper protects the lens perfectly. The retaining screws mean that we can hold the camera with both hands which helps keep our images nice and sharp. With a cut-out section that neatly matches the hot-shoe bulge on our 5D, it’s possible to get the Dipper’s opening nice and close to the front face of the camera body so basically we can use our fingers to feel if water is nearing the rim. With the Dipper immersed, turbulence and reflections are instantly removed and we are left with a crystal clear alternative view of our coral colonies. Actually, the clarity is even better than viewing through high clarity glass. The Dipper proves to be very easy to work with, even in limited space and before we know it we’ve clicked-off dozens of shots. Another major advantage of the Dipper over the use of clingfilm etc is that its surface is free of creases too. This means that when you remove the tube from the water, it doesn’t pull any water out with it – so no spills on the floor, down the tank glass or risk of ingress into the camera.
In conclusion, as you can probably tell, we really love the Dipper and we are sure we’ll be using it time and time again – and not just for photography but also for just viewing our livestock top-down. This device should be really useful for budding reef photographers and we can also see it being useful to livestock retailers wanting a quick and easy solution for imaging livestock (no need to turn off circulation pumps with this device!). Retailing for just over £20 we’d highly recommend it. Oh and take note that there’s also a smartphone ‘coral viewer available’ too!
Visit Little Oceans website for more details!