Lighten Up with Ultralight Buoyancy Arms


When you first look at the new larger “Buoyancy Arms” from Ultralight, with their two-inch diameter and rock-solid appearance, it’s extremely easy to make the misguided assumption that they are heavy and unwieldy. My first impression was that they were almost club-like and I couldn’t imagine switching from the thin and streamlined arms I had used successfully for years. Then I reached out and picked one up….just like that, in an instant, my paradigm shifted. The size and shape of the new Buoyancy arms is deceptive – while they LOOK solid, they are in fact completely hollow and almost shockingly lightweight. Even after months of use, each time I lift one of them I still marvel at how feather-light they truly are compared to their outward physical appearance. What this translates into underwater is a set of arms that gives your entire camera system an incredible amount of lift and buoyancy, increasing your positioning versatility and allowing the photographer to, literally, float your system into position.

The Ultralight Buoyancy arms have robust O-Rings inserted into the balls. This is an innovation that allows the photographer to adjust the arms underwater in smooth, fluid motions. The ease with which adjustments can be made in arm positioning is a colossal advantage.

Made of lightweight aluminum, the large Buoyancy Arms are available in various sizes, ranging in 2-inch increments from the smallest at 8 inches in length to the largest at 16 inches. Each size has its own level of buoyancy – for example, the 8 inch arms have 4.5 ounces of buoyancy per arm section while the 12 inch arms possess 11 ounces of buoyancy per section, (based on fresh-water testing). This allows a photographer to build an arm system that is best suited for the weight of the camera/housing/strobe combination that will be used.

While on a recent trip in the Queen Charlotte Strait in British Columbia I used a combination of two 12 inch arms and two 8 inch arms along with my heavy Aquatica housing and a pair of Ikelite DS-125 strobes. As always, I was impressed by the ability of these arms in terms of lightening the load of my system underwater, but I decided to see just how buoyant they really were! With my camera clipped off to a D-Ring, I completely released my system and watched to see how quickly it would sink. I was stunned to see that not only did it NOT sink, it simply floated in front of me in the water, allowing me to nudge it in any direction I chose with a fingertip!

Like other Ultralight arm systems, the larger Buoyancy arms have robust O-Rings inserted into the balls. This is an innovation that allows the photographer to adjust the arms underwater in smooth, fluid motions, unlike some other systems that require far more effort and move stiffly. The ease with which subtle, (and not so subtle!), adjustments can be made in arm positioning is a colossal advantage. As a cold-water photographer, another huge advantage for me, and others of my “ilk”, is the large diameter of the Buoyancy Arms themselves – it is a far easier matter for a diver wearing thick and clumsy dry gloves to seize and adjust these arms than any other system I have tried.

The Ultralight Buoyancy Arms in action with the author in Nootka Sound, British Columbia. Photo by Calvin Tang.

I am extremely pleased with this latest product in the Ultralight line. These new large Buoyancy Arms have proven to be a real boon to me in my photography, and I highly recommend them, most especially to anyone dealing with heavy digital camera systems.

Ultralight has a large variety of accessories and adapters suitable for every underwater use. For additional information or to design your own arm system, please see their web site at http://www.ulcs.com/index.html

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