With the first on many trips upon us this year, we set out to acquire a bunch of new gear that would be suitable for the cooler waters we would experience in Socorro. Unfortunately, as with a lot of Dive enthusiasts, what started out as a new 7mm wetsuit, quickly turned into an extensive shopping list from a mask strap all the way through to Nauticam housing for a Canon G7X. Quite a few £££ later and we have a run-down of some of the gear we purchased.
So let’s begin with the G7X…
Bought from John Lewis in January with a 2 year guarantee and £25 cash-back (John Lewis Canon G7X) the price seemed fairly reasonable for a decent compact. Starting out as novice Photographer, this model was recommended to me as a move on from the Canon S120 (the camera I learnt on). The G7X has a lot of functionality that can be accessed in a number of ways so getting used to all the dials and the menu options takes time. I would suggest dedicated a good few hours becoming familiar with the instruction manual! Having said that, once you get more familiar, it is relatively straightforward to use and not dissimilar to the S120. The one thing I wish I had done from the start, is setting your Shutter speed, Aperture and Exposure to the various dials so you know which one does which. 9/10
Next came the infamous Nauticam housing – an expensive choice you may feel but something I was keen to invest in because of the clever vacuum valve feature that warns you when water is entering, immediately alerting you to a possible leak. For someone as clumsy as me this was a must! Bought from Underwater Visions this is the primary Nauticam UK supplier and dealing with Alex Tattersall we were able to get exactly what we needed, with fantastic advice to boot! Having used this kit twice now, I can not recommend enough, easy to set up, very robust, looks great and the vacumn valve could not be simpler to use. It is great reassurance going into the water with the green light showing, safe in the knowledge your camera is dry and you can just focus on taking the shots! 10/10
The Atomic range of products are often seen as one of the best, always made extremely well and a high price tag to echo the quality materials & design. Starting out in underwater photography, I wanted a mask that would provide the widest field of vision and not limit the viewing of the digital screen on my camera. Richard currently uses one of the frame-less Atomic masks which he loves, so naturally when I went about looking for a replacement to mine, this is where I started. One of the latest models in the Frame-less range, the Venom had fantastic reviews so I went on down to Mike’s Dive Store in Chiswick to try it on. The Mask itself is not designed with females in mind as it has quite a large frame that covers most of my face so if you have small, delicate features it may not be for you. However, I loved it! The vast expanse of clear lens means you have a wide field of vision with no interruption. The frame-less feature is very comfortable and overall feels a snug but not too tight fit. Before taking into the water, the mask had the usual toothpaste treatment but I still expected some fogging for the first few dives. Nevertheless, this was not an issue and the mask held up really well. The only challenge I had, because the mask is so large, my hairline came very close to the seal of the silicon so had some water leaks to begin with. Overall a fab mask that was well worth the price tag! Thumbs up for Atomic. 9/10
Bodyglove Ex 7mm Dive Steamer Wetsuit
Now this one is really hard for me to review, mainly because I paid over the odds for mine at the London Dive Show (£240!) then whilst finding an image for this, discovered it on sale for £99 at Wetsuit Outlet. Anyway, despite the out of pocket rage, this is a really great wetsuit. I loved the cool design and feminine shapes of the seams, plus it has a very faint camouflage effect to the black neoprene making it stand out from the rest. Pretty easy to get on, somewhat difficult to get off at the feet, this wetsuit is very comfortable – especially once in the water. In particular, the added reinforcement on the shoulder that helps support the weight of the tank & BCD, which came in handy for the shore diving I did whilst testing this out. I was worried I would still be cold, despite the 7mm neoprene, but this did impress me and I only felt the cold on the night dive as the air temp dropped. The water temp was 22/23 degrees and with just a little rash vest this wetsuit really held up. At the fantastic price of £99 the Bodyglove is a real contender against some of the more known brands like Scubapro, O’Neill, Fourth Element etc. If you’re looking for a 7mm and want a bargain, definitely check this out. 8/10
More to come later…