Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

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Owen
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Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Owen » September 15th, 2012, 11:36 am

Do you ever try taking photos of critters in a shallow running creek? Do the water ripples and flash reflections annoy you? Sure, I could drag around a 5 gallon aquarium, stick my camera in it and maneuver it around the rocks. I wanted something that fits in my pack, so I decided to build myself a lens port for my camera.

Here’s an example of a shot with those ripples and surface reflections:

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Here’s the final lens port:

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I picked up the CCTV dome on ebay cheap. My lens has a 72mm filter diameter, so I bought a 72mm to 62mm step down ring and a 62mm to 72mm step up ring. The rings are to secure a mounting point to the dome. I used some cheap aluminum flashing because it’s thin enough to sandwich between the two mounting rings. I cut about a 65mm hole in the aluminum for the rings. After removing the rings, the aluminum is then mounted between two 1/8” plywood rings. I used silicone glue to bond the sandwich and bolted and clamped it together. After it was dry, I hit it with 4 coats of black “Plastic Dip” spray paint.

Assembly of the pieces included a Marumi +3 Achromat close up lens on the inside of the dome on the step up ring. I had 4 mounting holes and a rubber (or other elastomer) gasket on the dome frame, so it’s just bolted to the mounting sandwich I created.

As it stands, my focus range is about 13” to 4” from the lens front or about 10.5” to 1.5” from the port front. That’s good for shooting subjects at depth of 12” to 3” which covers 90% of what I encounter.

Here’s a larva at about 2” to 2.5” depth. I could not get more than just the front of the port in the water:

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Since I’m using a 16-50mm zoom, there is some blacking out of the corners at the wide end. At about 28-30mm, I have a full field. Here’s the view at 16mm:

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Here’s a couple shots with the unit:

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Lighting is still a challenge. The dome picks up reflections from the flash, so I need to keep them behind the outer edge of the ring. In hindsight, making the ring an inch wider would have shielded the dome a little better, but as is, it’s a nice portable unit.

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justinm
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by justinm » September 15th, 2012, 12:01 pm

Can you give a little more instruction on how you did this as in showing some pics maybe? I think this is fantastic, and I really want to try to redo this. Thanks for getting me excited about a project, this is pretty epic.

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Neil M
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Neil M » September 15th, 2012, 5:28 pm

absolutely incredible idea. the product looks like it could be sold in stores!!

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Neil M
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Neil M » September 15th, 2012, 5:30 pm

absolutely incredible idea. the product looks like it could be sold in stores!!

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chrish
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by chrish » September 15th, 2012, 7:20 pm

That is a brilliant idea.

My only concern about marketing it would be that some dufus would put it on their camera and submerge their whole lens. :shock:

What if you put a 1-2 inch PVC collar below the flange of and seal it really well (it would effective slip over your lens before screwing into the lens ring).
With a short collar you could safely (????) submerge the lens an inch or two into the water which might get rid of the flash picking up the edge of the dome.

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Owen
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Owen » September 16th, 2012, 10:16 am

Justin, here's a couple more pix. I'm not going to take is apart, but hopefully, you get the idea.

The unit from the mounting side. The alluminum flashing is thin, so I needed to make sure to do sandwich it between the 2 plywood pieces to avoid flexing. I also minimized the hole size cut outs in the plywood for the same reason. Plexiglass or Lexan would also work instead of plywood, but it tends to melt when being cut with a scroll saw blade, so I avoided it. I suppose I could cut it with a slower coping saw, but it's not something I'm using alot.

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Here's the other side. I have the close up lens on the inside since I was using in with a non macro lens. There are some fine scratches on the inside since when I removed the dome from the front of my lens, the step-down ring stayed on the lens and the step up with close up lens was loose inside. I didn't bring my hex wrench, so I couldn't open the assembly. In hindsight, I would have shoved a doggie poop bag in the opening (I hike with the dog) to protect the surface. I think there are some products to polish the inside again.

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Chris,

I thought about shrouding the back with a piece of 6" diameter ABS drain pipe for about 2-3", but since I'm using a zoom, it was better for me to leave it off to access the zoom ring and keep weight down (lens creep you know). If I were using a short macro, I would do that. Actually, that relatively cheap ($199) Sony 35mm macro would work quite well, but not worth it for something that I wouldn't use much. The only 'dufus' thing that I would do to dunk my camera is to balance myself on slippery rocks over the creek and slip, but the A77/16-50mm is slightly weather resistant :lol: Ideally, a slightly larger port with the lens recessed further in would be optimal, but this fits nicely in my pack.

At some point, I may try a modification, but so far, so good.

AsydaBass
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by AsydaBass » September 16th, 2012, 11:07 am

Pretty cool, Owen. Thanks for taking the time to knock out a post about your project. I look forward to seeing more images that result from the port.

-Don
www.rainforestdon.com

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Owen
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Owen » October 12th, 2012, 7:09 pm

The original port had a 4" diameter dome. It caused a little more distortion at the edges than I would have liked so enter dome project II:

This using a 6" dome. It also gives me an extra inch in length, so I'm able to function without the close up achromat using my normal 'kit' zoom.

Here's parts:


1/2" plywood disc, 72mm 'cheapo' metal wide angle hood, dome flange.
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Dome with gasket
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Assembly of hood to plywood
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As with the previous version, this one is coated with the plastic spray. I did a coat of marine varnish on the plywood prior. I sealed the back with silicone.
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The top of the bolted up assembly
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Now for some pictures with the assembly:

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matt ignoffo
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by matt ignoffo » October 14th, 2012, 6:57 pm

Frickin' amazing, man. I will surely try this.

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Antonsrkn » October 16th, 2012, 9:18 am

Very cool! Add me to the list of people that want to try this now, I don't know when or how successful I'l be... but I'm bookmarking this post for future reference! Awesome idea, kudos for creativity and awesome execution.

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Biker Dave
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Biker Dave » October 21st, 2012, 3:21 pm

If you haven't already, I would suggest getting a patent on this before someone else does.....

http://www.legalzoom.com

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Owen
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Owen » October 21st, 2012, 10:09 pm

Dave, it's such a limited use type product that creating a generic patent to cover possible sizes and configurations wouldn't warrant the costs involved. I'm just too cheap to buy a housing for my SLR and I would feel stupid carrying around a small aquarium to contain my camera while dunking it in the creek. The dome just lets me break the surface of the water so that I can 'peek through the ripples'.

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Biker Dave
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Biker Dave » October 21st, 2012, 10:29 pm

Just trying to help a brother protect his intellectual property! :beer:

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Tonia Graves
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Tonia Graves » October 22nd, 2012, 8:05 pm

Really awesome idea! Thanks for sharing this!

mikemike
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by mikemike » January 10th, 2013, 4:45 pm

Looks like I have a new project to get done before spring! This is awesome, Owen! Great shots with it!

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Nshepard
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Re: Going underwater in a creek. Made me a lens port.

Post by Nshepard » January 11th, 2013, 10:50 am

Very cool!

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