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Macro Rig Buoyancy

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For videographers who’ve dialed in / measured the buoyancy specifics of their macro setup — curious to hear how many grams negative you’ve found to be the most effective balance for keeping things stable on the tripod while being light enough to not feel cumbersome throughout the dive. 
A kilo? 500g enough to counter some movement in the water? Just aiming to finesse 🙂

Thanks all!




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On my macro video compact rig, I started out super negative (-1.5kg) but are now currently only a little negative.

That said, I use a quadripod, not a tripod, and the rig is really stable, even when close to being neutrally buoyant.


Buoyancy varies with the diopters I use (Inon UCL165, AOI-09, CMC-1 or stacked combinations of these), but I love it like this.


When i started out really negative, the legs would dig deep into the fine vocanic sand we have here in east Bali, and stir up clouds even if I only nugdged the camera alittle to reposition/focus, or when lifting  the quadripod off the substrate, no way around it, even when going very slow and easy...
Not fun...


It was also tiring to carry underwater on the extended shallow dives I do here, and made a big difference in my own buoyancy when I no longer held the camera, not really pleasant having to adjust all the time.

I started adding floats (my wide angle rig is neutral) and found out that it doesn't affect shot stability with my quadripod.


Another positive I can also now do handheld shots, or semi-handheld using only two legs (which opens up tilt camera movements for instance).


I actually tested neutrally buoyant macro dive a couple of days ago, trying a new float setup based on the Wolf -  So two big top mounted floats setup in a triangle.
Camera was even a tiny bit positive without the diopters (I use 3, and have them on me rather than on a flip mount), but was nice and comfy neutral starting with my smallest Inon diopter, to slightly negative with the others.

However the Wolf based setup was cumbersome, and I didn't like having the buoyancy compensation so high up which kind of pulls up the rig, and makes trim/buoyancy adjustements difficult, so i went back to my former setup (main floats compensating 1.1 kg horizontal across the rig, then two float arms vertically in the middle holding on my main macro light, a Backscatter MW4300).

I can adjust buoyancy distribution / trim with the back float horizontal float. It's cable-tied to the main horizontal float which can pivot around it, so I can easily move buoyancy closed to the front of the rig (good for front heavy lens stacks).


A picture might make more sense:






i think using a quadripod really helps for video, allowing us to work really only slightly (100g or so)  negative - of course any strong surge or current would affect the rig more than a heavier one, but I find it also affects smaller macro / super macro subjects so much that it's very difficult to get usuable footage anyway, as they swing in an out of focus too much, so it's not much of an issue.


And making it lighter really helps with camera repositioning, semi-handheld and full-handheld shots.





Edited by bghazzal
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@bghazzal Thanks so much for the detailed share on your experience!
My setup is about -1kg and I've felt like a lighter load might feel nicer throughout the dive and make camera moves off the tripod a bit smoother, but was curious as to how close to neutral retains that stability against smaller movements of the water when setup on the sea floor. So it's great to hear what's worked well for you. 👌

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I recently created these 3d printed custom fit port-attached float collars for Nauticam port 60 & 87. I have done a handful of dives with each and they worked great. The 87 float adds about 400g of buoyancy and helps a lot if you use diopters mounted to the port which tends to make the rig front heavy. 


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@Dave_Hicks genius — love how integrated that feels to the rig in comparison to other float collars I’ve seen. And @Davide DB thanks for pointing out that thread. -500g sounds like a nice balance to me too.


For context, I’m currently using Sony 90mm lens and 3 adjustable XIT404 arms for a tripod. 

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