Underwater Photography, Large Camera Systems and Arm Strain

Posted by on Jun 17, 2011

Underwater with my camera in Macro mode. Good thing I don’t model often.
Photo by Randy Herz.
One thing I had problems with on our dive/underwater photography trip to Komodo was right-sided wrist, arm and shoulder strain. I’m shooting a Nikon D300 underwater in a Sea&Sea housing, both macro (60 mm lens) and wide-angle (16 mm fisheye). After a few dives in Monterey prior to our trip I realized that this system was considerably more negative than my old D70 system and bought some floats for my arms. But still, after a few days of diving three to four dives a day I found that my right wrist was really sore. One day it was so bad that I ended up icing it and I didn’t take the camera on the next couple of dives.  But that isn’t so much fun and I didn’t want to miss anything, so I started wrapping the wrist for support when I wasn’t in the water and our dive master on the Indo Siren was nice enough to haul the system to the bottom several times when there was current to swim through. Although this meant that he had the camera, and I missed the shot on one dive when we reached the bottom and there were maybe six huge bumphead parrotfish hanging about.  😛
We were doing a lot of dives, with current, and I was shooting mostly wide-angle which meant I used my dome port a lot which tries to float up and I have to really hang onto it to keep it pointed in the right direction and steady. Plus, I’m not getting any younger and I type for a living and already have carpal tunnel issues. I also strained my right elbow and shoulder; I’m sure from repetitive stress of hanging onto the housing underwater. Hauling that heavy camera backpack around when we were travelling probably didn’t help either. And later in the trip I threw my lower back out while at SCUBA Seraya just hanging out at the pool…I’m a wreck!
The point is that at some point I will have to decide if I really want to deal with a big, heavy DSLR and housing when I travel; or, get a lighter point and shoot for travel. And since I really can’t afford to buy an entire second underwater camera system just for travel I would probably have to sell the D300 and housing to get a smaller system. But I LOVE my D300!


Randy’s and my underwater camera systems on the Indo Siren.


Luckily, when I’m diving at home I don’t often dive multiple days in a row, three to four dives a day; and since I don’t have any more trips planned the decision doesn’t have to be made now. But it is something to think about…and maybe I should start looking to see what smaller systems are available. I’m not getting any younger or stronger.