Below are some general tips and tricks that you may find useful. These are taken from our Facebook page — like us there for more Tips o' the Day!
Buy your Housing First.
Shop for a housing before you buy a camera. We are constantly fielding questions from divers who can't find a housing for the camera they already have. Shop around with major manufacturers like Nauticam, Aquatica, Ikelite, SEA & SEA, and Olympus. Ikelite has a huge selection for hard-to-find camera housings. But nobody makes housings for most extended zoom cameras, for instance, as they won't work behind a port. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic are usually well-represented. Shop for a camera, but shop for a housing for it before you buy it.
Rinse your Rig!
Take along an old milk jug of warm water to warm yourself up after your dive, and to rinse off the salt off your rig. If you aren't near fresh water, just keep the rig in salt water or wrap with a wet towel. The main thing is to not let the salt dry; that forms sharp crystals that will cut O-rings. More maintenance tips can be found in our Maintenance Guide or Handbook.
Are your housing buttons sticking? Try a good soak in warm water with some vinegar. Try to work the buttons and get the salt out. If you can get at the back of the shafts, you can see if you can work some silicone grease or spray in with a toothpick. If they are really sticking, it may be time for a trip to the repair center.
Slippery Buttons and Knobs?
Having problems turning the mode dial or thumb wheels on your camera with it in your housing? Try wiping the camera and housing controls with rubbing alcohol. Your fingers have oil on them and they get slippery with use. The alcohol will replace the "sticktion." Remember that all controls work better at depth, when more pressure is applied.
Brush Twice Daily.
Keep a used toothbrush in your camera bag of tools. They're great for brushing off the inside of O-ring grooves and seats on housings, cleaning up bad connectors and more!
Don’t Get “Welded”.
Disassemble your metal tray, handles and clamps between trips, or after several dives. Rinse in warm water with some vinegar to cut the salt. Reassemble with some "anti-seize" graphite compound between dissimilar metals (like the bolts and handles, etc), and spray well with silicone spray to keep everything moving ok. Remember that we offer free ultrasonic cleaning for metal parts, just drop by the store with them.
Don’t Pop Your Ports:
Don’t fly with your housing sealed. Take the o-ring out to release the pressure, or leave the door open. Ports & housings are designed to hold pressure out, not in. This has been know to cause damage to ports as the air pushes it's way out. Let your housing breath while it's flying!
Flooded your Strobe?
Q: "Looks like I flooded my strobe. I pulled the batteries and flushed the battery compartment. Is there a preferred way to clean the rest of the battery compartment so I can keep using it on my trip?"
A: Yes, rinse it with fresh water and get the gook out completely asp, as it is acid. Rinse again with rubbing alcohol (buy the stronger 91% variety) and then use some paper towels to clean off the rest of the residue. Shine up the contacts with a pencil eraser.
It probably will be fine. We do sell the battery caps separately. Sometimes the lower contacts break after a while, but I've used a flooded strobe that I've cleaned for many uses in the past.
Sea & Sea YS-D1 Strobe Users: Feeling a Little "Blue"?
If the blue ready light comes on you've put the strobe into "slave TTL", instead of the normal D-TTL mode. This is more of a "compatibility mode" to use if you can't otherwise get TTL to work. Just hold the target light button in for 3 secs while the strobe is on to switch back. This should work for more accurate exposures and also give you the "green" light that all is good with your shots!
Strobe Diffusers - How Much and When?
We recommend using a diffuser nearly all the time, usually a thin one. They soften and spread the light beam resulting in less harsh shadows and a wider amount of light. The only time not to use them would be at times where you are trying to get the last little bit of power out of the strobe for more distance.
The Sea & Sea YS-D1 has a "100 deg" diffuser that works well and doesn't cut the light down too much. The Sea & Sea YS-01 is about the same value. We have found the "120 deg" YS-D1 diffuser to be too wide, it cuts the power quite a bit, and can actually create backscatter along the edges of the frame when used with ultra wide fisheye lenses.
Camera Acting Weird?
Can't figure out what menu items you need to change to get it to work right? - Try just setting the entire camera back to it's default settings, and then work from those known menu settings, methodically working with the camera manual until the camera is set the way you want it. Many cameras have memory settings so that you can set up the camera for wide angle or macro, and have presets for each. Trying to chase several settings at once can get very confusing, and after a while you can't remember what you set where, or what it does. Keep it simple, change one setting at a time and figure out what it does, then look at another.
In all things. Especially with marine life (and your UW photo equipment store). All things _will_ happen in good time. Being patient will allow you to witness amazing marine life interactions and hopefully take a great shot while you’re at it. If not, wait and observe for the next chance - you’ll be ready then!