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+5, +10, +15 powers, all at a flip of a lever!

By Billy Ball

I love shooting underwater macro – specifically super macro. One of the challenges of this discipline is deciding on which diopter to bring along on a dive. Inevitably I choose one strength lens and wish I had brought along something different. Enter the Saga Dive Trio. This innovative lens from Spanish optics manufacturer Saga Dive, combines a +5, +10 and +15 diopter in one unit, giving you the ability to shoot anything from a fish portrait to a pygmy seahorse on the same dive.

On a recent trip to Anilao, Philippines  I was afforded the opportunity to put the Trio to the test. My rig was comprised of a Nikon D7100 housed in a Sea and Sea MDX-D7100 housing with a Nikon 105mm VR lens. I added the Trio via the 67mm thread mount on the front of my port. I was a bit concerned that the Trio might be a bit cumbersome or awkward underwater, however this was not the case at all. I did not notice much difference in buoyancy from my +15 diopter on a flip adapter. The system rotates to aid in camera/light positioning. I did add a very short arm to my focus light to assist with getting light directly in front of the lens. Magnification from +0 to +15 is managed by very simple pair of levers on the front of the lens.

Being in the critter capital of the Philippines provided an abundance of subjects. On my first dive with the Trio, my guide excitedly gets my attention. He has found a hairy shrimp. To the naked eye it looks like a tiny red spot of lint. Dropping down both levers to put the Trio at +15. I line up my shot. Click. Flash. I check my review screen and am thrilled with the result. After a couple more shots I switch places with my dive buddy who has found a beautiful, and bigger, nudibranch. By lifting up the right lever I am ready to shoot at +5. I could get used to this. During the course of the dive I used all the settings of the system. I found that to be case on every dive.

During the rinse down at the end of the day I was surprised at how much debris had accumulated between the lens and my port glass. Anilao is a mucky environment and there was quite a bit of sediment in the water column. For the rest of the trip I made it a point to take off the Trio between dives to give it a rinse. Problem solved.

Upon reviewing my images at the end of the trip I was very happy with the results I got from the Trio. I found the images to be quite sharp through the +10 setting. At +15 the edges tended to lose a small amount of clarity, a trade off I am willing to make in exchange for versatility. Having the ability to change magnifications so easily was very useful. It is hard to imagine going back to using a single lens for an entire dive. I would recommend the Saga Trio to anyone interested in macro photography. — Billy Ball