Lenses

The two key factors here are zoom range, and a close focusing capability. There are some excellent choices available such as theTokina 10—17 mm. I use a full frame Cannon 5D and whilst this lens is not compatible with full frame cameras I know I would own one if it were. It is effectively a fisheye lens which allows you to zoom in when needed. For the really big creatures this is just the kind of flexibility you need. For smaller subjects, or those a little further away, I use a 16—35 mm zoom. The alternative is to use a fixed focal length lens such as a 20 mm or 35 mm. Although fixed focal length lenses are unable to zoom they have the advantage of leaving you free to concentrate on composition. Fixed focal length lenses are often faster lenses (i.e. have wider apertures), which can be useful if you are shooting in low light or require a fast shutter speed.

FIG. 9.58 Canon 5D, 15 mm fisheye, f6.3, 1/125th sec, ISO 200, twin Inon 240 strobes, Fisheye led focusing light. Shooting dolphins at night off the Bahamas. Technically this kind of shot is pretty demanding on your equipment requiring near zero shutter lag and good low-light focusing capabilities, not to mention a good deal of luck spotting such a fast moving subject in the dark in time the take a shot.

FIG. 9.59 Canon 5D, 16—35 mm zoom at the 35 mm end, f5.0,1/800th sec, ISO 200. Time to get a little further back! The flexibility of wide angle zooms can have all sorts of attractions.

Some pelagic encounters can be incredibly close! I've had tiger sharks and Australian sea lions lay their noses right on the dome port of my camera. If you are likely to be getting shots such as these it's worth looking at the combination of a fisheye lens and a 1.5 x tele-converter. It's a relatively recent innovation which is often referred to as 'wide angle macro'. Whilst this will trim your 15 mm fisheye to about 20 mm, it will be enable focusing on anything that is right on your dome port, providing some very dramatic images.

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