Special thanks to Larry Oberlander, Jason Heller of DivePhotoGuide.com, Terry Schuller of ULCS, and Al Vinjamur for representing Wetpixel at Beneath the Sea this year!
Beneath the Sea 2005 Report, by Larry Oberlander
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Beneath the Sea, the largest consumer dive show in North America. For about 20 of those 25 years I have made the trek from Boston/New Hampshire to the Metro New York area to attend and this year was no different. Millie and I make a weekend away out of it, traveling down on Friday to visit the show on Friday night and Saturday, going into Manhattan on Saturday for a night on the town and driving back on Sunday.
Beneath the Sea has over 300 exhibitors. There are booths with just about anything dive related that you could imagine from diver key-chains to high end live-aboard trips but the emphasis is on dive travel. Dive operators from Newfoundland to South Africa to Indonesia are there to provide info and entice new customers. This year the buzz seemed to be about a new venue in PNG called Tawali. I got to spend some time with the owners, Bob Hollis and Ronda Friend, and it seems that they have the makings for what could become the next hot destination in dive travel. Tawali is located on Milne Bay and is adjacent to many of the best sites only previously available to live-aboards. Keep an eye on this one.
Underwater photographic equipment manufacturers and retailers were also well represented with no less than a dozen booths devoted to our favorite subject. At the show were:
Berger Bros. Photo
Light & Motion
Reef Photo & Video
Sea & Sea
Ultralite Control Systems
Underwater Camera Repair
Underwater Photo Tech
A lot of the talk surrounded the new Nikon D2X. It seems there is a great deal of enthusiasm, at least initially, being generated by this new offering. Underwater Photo Tech and Reef Photo & Video were displaying the Subal D2 which can house either the D2H or D2X. Aquatica reported they will have a D2 housing ready by summer. Ikelite and Light & Motion said they have no plans to do a D2 housing at the present time. Both Aquatica and Ikelite were showing housings for the Canon 20D and Nikon D70 and I have to say I was very impressed with Ikelite’s eTTL 2 for the 20D housing. The ability to switch between manual and TTL compensation would appear to be a very useful feature.
Millie and I prefer to arrive early on Friday. As soon as the show opens we make our way to the exhibits we want to see the most. This gives us plenty of one on one interaction without the large crowds of Saturday although this year the traffic did not seem as heavy as it has in previous years.
Beneath the Sea Report, by Jason Heller
I think it was Confusious who said: “A bad dive show sure beats a good day at the office. But a good dive show is a great way for a New Yorker to spend a rainy Sunday.” Beneath the Sea was a great show all around. I’ve been attending BTS for 4 years now, and there seems to be an increased interest in photography and exoitc destinations. Thanks to the ongoing champions of the off-the-beaten-path dive destinations, more photographers have spread the word (and image) of the beautiful reefs in far off destinations.
The aisles of the show were packed with divers of all levels, many of whom have just recently purchased their first digital cameras and housings. I was amazed at how many divers are just getting into underwater photography. The simplicity and flexibility of today’s point and shoot digital camera systems (see images of Sea&Sea and 7070) have made it easier for divers to create great images at a reasonable price.
The underwater photo booths had their share of the crowds. Norma and Jean from Aquatica were apparently the only lucky campers to have a D2X at the show (see image NormaJean). Seacam and Nexus were noticeably absent from the show floor.
Last but certainly not least - DivePhotoGuide.com, a resource for underwater photographers, launched a beta site this weekend in time for Beneath the Sea (see WylandDPG image of Wendy, Wyland and Jason). www.DivePhotoGuide.com is offering free beta-membership to kick the tires prior to the full launch in June.