The Liberty Triside mask is a game changer of a mask for me as a filmmaker. This thing is money because it has little windows on the left and right that increase peripheral vision quite a bit. As a camera operator, it is all about seeing the shot before it happens, and this gives me an extra edge as it is all about anticipation. I also like the Z1 mask because the eyes sit very close to the glass for me, more so than most which is a great feature for cavern/cave diving, something you’ll learn the importance about in side mount training or trimix. The F-Dual mask is a very comfortable and a great all-around mask for the diver who does a little bit of everything. But for me, the cinema dude, the Liberty Triside is now my go to! I would love to see Cressi add a GoPro mount to a lot of their masks or at least have an optional way to add it on, like clip on securely or something.
I always loved my Ara scuba fins because they were very rigid, great for propulsion. Again, as someone pushing a huge camera, I need that extra edge and the Thor EBS fins deliver and have a cool sleek design as well. They come standard with the EBS Elastic Bungee System quick on and off. With them, you’re on your way in no time with no more pulling the straps to secure them on and releasing to get them off.
Also, I did tell Cressi that because I sometimes bring a tripod down, and we need to weight each of the legs with a 5-lb weight, that I needed extra pockets on the back or something like that with my BackJac. So what they gave me were 4 tank strap weight pockets which are super handy and easier to work with now actually. My camera assistant / dive buddy will simply go behind me once we get to depth, grab the weights much more easily, and attach them to the tripod legs. When we’re done, we just put them back and head up and there is no need to go into my weight pockets or the back of the BCD and try to get them out, it’s kind of clunky and more time consuming that way and with diving, every minute counts.
All that cold water diving that we do here in San Diego though, we need to be one thing, warm! The ISLA 7mm boots I just love. They have a firm sole so that when walking on rocks, etc. to get into the water, the feet are nicely protected. Couple that with a sock from Cressi and I can be in 60-degree water and at the end of the dive, the water in my boots is probably 85-degrees because you have anywhere from 10-12mm on your feet. Cold toes suck, but there is one even worse for a camera operator, cold fingers!
Gloves is a tricky one for a camera person. Dexterity is everything and you need to easy access all the buttons, controls, etc. and the 5mm High Stretch Gloves allow that. But fingers, that’s one thing any cold-water diver knows that, dry suit aside, if you’re diving wet in neoprene, the max you can go on gloves and still operate the camera is 5mm, 7mm is just too thick. But overall, the gloves are great. And that brings us to the most important pieces, the wetsuit and hood! The Fast 7mm wetsuit is great. I can comfortably take it down to about 60-degrees Fahrenheit, others may say 65 but I’m firm in committing to 60 for me. The exception would be if you’re doing cage diving at say Guadalupe Island, where the water is 68-72 and you’re 25-ft down, in a cage, and barely moving at all for 45-mins. The key is to keep moving to keep warm in neoprene and cold water. The Solo Flex 7/5mm hood is a great one, super easy to get on and off. One complaint I have about some hoods is they are not snug enough on the forehead, so bubbles get in and create an air pocket for cold water to eventually get into and give you that “ate the ice cream much too quickly” brain freeze. This does not allow that.
Last but certainly not least, if you hear the name Cressi, you think diving, of course. Scuba? Yes, But free? Absolutely! Cressi is synonymous with freediving and vice versa. Whenever I hear freediving and Cressi, it makes me think of Jacques Mayol and Enzo Mayorca, the legendary early freediving pioneers and the incredible 2001 documentary Ocean Men: Extreme Dive featuring them both briefly along with Umberto Pelizzari and Pipin Ferreras. What is a key to freediving? Mask, fins, sleek wetsuit, etc, all of course. But also, a snorkel! I have always loved those ultra-dry snorkels that have the buoy inside that covers the top hole once submerged so you almost never have to clear your snorkel. But I have always had one problem with them, the clip to the mask! Up to now I had yet to find one that stayed clipped on reliably. I cannot even tell you how many times I went freediving with one and upon resurfacing went to put it back in my mouth and it was nowhere to be found; it was always floating 20-50 ft away and I’d have to swim to go get it. No longer, Cressi made a reliable clip and I am thrilled about that! So great job Cressi and yes, I just rambled on and on about a snorkel! ☺
Feel free to follow my adventures and cinema work on Instagram at @thebeaconscollective