Browsing articles in "Scuba Gear Reviews"

Oceanic Shadow Mask Review

It is a very personal thing to find a mask that you are comfortable with and with dive shops having a limited stock of a few ranges can be a journey in itself trying out all the manufacturers, for me it is the Oceanic Shadow Mask in black. I had tried a few of the Cressi masks and just didn’t get on with the hard silicon skirt, this has put me off trying other makes to be honest. My instructor had a Hollis M1 mask and when he let me try it on I was really surprised at how comfortable it was and as I couldn’t afford it went for the next best thing and am so glad I did.

Oceanic Shadow Mask and Box

The mask comes with a plastic protective box like most others and a built in neoprene strap which makes the fit even more comfortable, and I never get the funny marks around my face that some divers seem to suffer from as they have their mask too tight or have not adjusted it from not wearing a hood when on holiday to having to wear a hood here in the UK. The frame-less skirt means it weighs very little and there are no distracting parts to looking ahead unlike many other masks that have a coloured piece clipped in to hold the glass in place and to look pretty that distracts my focus for a moment when looking closely at things, well it did for me when I was wearing them and while only milli-seconds it was more obvious when I was looking ahead and then glancing at my dive computer and my focal distance changing.

The black skirt makes the view ahead more defined as well, no light leakage at any depth, or on the surface to flare over my ability to see. The positive pressure I feel as the mask is squeezed gently against my face is great, obviously it increases with depth, but only slightly and since I adjusted it the first time I wore it with a 7mm hood, I have never had to adjust the thing again. Showing in my opinion that the choice of strap fabric and design of plastic clips is just right to keep it set up exactly as you want it.

I have purposefully flooded the mask, the only times it has filled with water, to keep my skills up with what we were taught back in the day of being a newbie diver. When I tilted my head back and pressed gently against the top it has cleared extremely easily and very quickly. A few times I have not shaved for a couple of days or more truthfully for a month or so and have a full face beard, I call it my winter coat which makes all my friends chuckle, and it still has not leaked once.

You may say I am bias and rightly so, this is the second best piece of kit I have ever bought (will go into the first best when I have a little time in its own review) and the quality in the build and reasonable price I paid for it of £37.50 made it a great investment, the RRP is £45 and in my opinion if you need to buy a new mask the Oceanic Shadow Mask is worth every penny.

 

“I have purposefully flooded the mask, the only times it has filled with water”

Pros:-

Soft silicone skirt makes for a comfortable and well held fit.

Very light and nothing to distract focus due to frame-less skirt.

Strap is built in with Neoprene band making the fit extremely comfortable and re-assuring it is going to stay in place, even hood-less.

Well defined forward view with no light leakage from the sides.

Great price at £45 in a very competitive market.

 

Cons:-

Other than it never leaks because of the great fit, making practicing skills difficult as I have to purposefully flood it for any water ingress I haven’t experienced any.

Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector

Universal Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector.

One of the things missing from my Olympus PT-EP06L housing and the Olympus extras was a leak detector so I started looking on the internet like you do, at first I was taken to the more popular sites such as Cameras Underwater, Bristol Cameras and the like and was shocked to see the price of an underwater camera housing leak detector to be up in the £70-£100 range. Knowing these things wouldn’t be that difficult to make I thought I would look to see if any kits were available from Maplins and found something that would do the job was less than £5 for the water alarm kit and would need a 9v battery that I didn’t have room for inside the housing, as well as some modification, yet I would also have to buy a soldering iron, solder and the like.

Then I stumbled across a site called uwleakdetector.com based in Australia, where a young man called Jeff had made a universal detector with a flashing led and had taken the time to sort out how it would fit into almost any housing, I ordered one from him with an easy PayPal payment that worked out at less than £25 (US$36) including postage and waited for it to be delivered.

It arrived 2 days ago, had to sign for it and was shocked as I opened it and realised what it was as I wasn’t expecting it for another couple of weeks but it arrived in 14 days, RESULT!. I took the kit out and had a look at the bundle of goodies, Jeff had been in communication to let me know he had posted it 14 days earlier and gave me the link to the instructions on how to fit it in my housing and his response to an email I sent him was waiting for me the next morning here in the UK, talk about great customer service for something so small, could teach a few companies I won’t name a thing or two.

What’s in the Kit.

Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector

Fitting the Universal Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector.

It really is simple enough using the included parts, from the 3 pieces of blue tack to the velcro on the back of the unit itself. Below are the 3 photos from the installation as I followed Jeff’s instructions, which I won’t give away but can be found on his site anyway.

Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector_2

Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector_3

Underwater Camera Housing Leak Detector_4

The obvious thing is to make sure the blue tack and the led do not press against the door as he explains in the instructions, the last thing you would want is for the leak detector to cause a leak and with very careful positioning and a bit of molding over the wire it fitted perfectly. I then put my cut to size women’s pad back in place over the detector as you can see in the last photo, and then cleaned the gutters out from the mess it creates when I pull it out but it is worth it. Showing what you will see if you get a flood is the animation below with it in an Ikelite housing, I did test it by licking my finger and placing it across the sensor and it lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids.

Ikelite-DSLR-Animation

This is a product I am more than happy with, it was easy to fit, reasonably priced if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making one yourself when you have to buy all the kit to do it, and Jeff is one of the nicest blokes you could wish to deal with competing globally against the larger companies; making a product that is clearly more adaptable as he makes it to fit in Ikelite, standard Canon, Patima, Nexus and other housings, if he hasn’t tried one yet I am sure he would give it a go.

All round this is something that is worth every penny to help protect your camera in its underwater housing so drop Jeff a line and be warned instead of losing your camera to a housing flood.

uwleak-header

Oceanic Blast Snorkel Review

Oceanic released this snorkel a while ago and it is very simplistic in its design, the attachment clip to the mask is robust and easy to clip on and off the mask. The great thing about it is that as a spare snorkel it folds up easily and can be squeezed into a pocket. They have recently replaced it with the Enzo snorkel but it is the same thing with a black end piece and new name.

Oceanic Blast Snorkel

Now to be fair it isn’t anything special, just a tube with mouth piece connected and shaped as can be seen to fit round the side of your head; yet that is the beauty of a snorkel as sometimes trying to be something it isn’t makes things over complicated. The Oceanic Blast Snorkel does exactly what it is meant to, be a breathing tube when you are on the surface and unlike many others if you do purchase one of these at less than £7 (approx US$10-15) it will be perfect as either your main snorkel or a back up.

There is no guard to stop water getting in the top (most of these never work properly anyway) and no clearing valve at the base, it is an ideal and cheap first snorkel and is made out of such a tough material that it should last you till you decide to give up diving.

“The great thing about it is that as a spare snorkel it folds up easily and can be squeezed into a pocket”

Pros:-

Basic and simplistic design

Robustly made

Great air flow

Folds nicely to be stored in a pocket

Cheap price

Cons:-

No clearing valve at base

No water guard on end

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