Review by Todd Winner
There are really only a few things I want out of my underwater arm and clamp system. I need them to be easily adjustable underwater. I want them to hold my heavy strobes in place when I hand my rig up to the boat and I need them durable enough to withstand heavy constant use. I am currently using Ikelite 160 strobes, not something you could classify as “small.” The Beneath the Surface arms and clamps hold them rock solid when clamped down on the surface yet can be effortlessly adjusted in the water with the clamps slightly loosened up. I have been using BTS arms and clamps on my own system for the past year and they have performed flawlessly. Even on a hike to Jellyfish Lake in Palau I didn’t need to clip my strobe arms together to keep them from flopping around. Underwater, the clamps perform equally well. With only a slight amount of pressure, they have enough clamping power to keep my strobes in place but are loose enough that I can easily reposition my strobes without adjusting the tension on the clamps.
The first thing you will probably noticed on the Beneath The Surface Clamps are the anodized blue handles. They just look cool! The second thing is the build quality. These clamps are manufactured extremely well and feature a beveled edge to allow more sideways movement. All Beneath the Surface products are backed by a limited lifetime warranty and are made in the USA.
Today many manufacturers are building increasingly bigger buoyancy arms, but Beneath the Surface has gone in the complete opposite direction. What they lack in floatation, they make up for in a small, sleek design. The arms are made from 304 stainless steel tubing and the balls are machined from 6061 aluminum. They are then hard anodized and topped with an EPDM o-ring. The minimalist approach is also a blessing when it comes to packing your rig, taking up almost no room in your camera case. I hadn’t been using much floatation on my system so I hardly noticed the difference when using these arms. I also like the small size and the option to fold up the arms as close as possible. For those that must use floatation, Beneath the Surface is currently designing buoyancy floats for their arms that should be available in the very near future.
Beneath the Surface produces a number of other products including flex arms, pivot trays and GoPro accessories. To see more of their innovative products, check out the Beneath the Surface products at Samy’s Camera.
Todd Winner is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for Samy’s Underwater Photo & Video and has over 20 years of experience in underwater still and broadcast video. To see more of Todd’s work please go to www.toddwinner.com.