John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.
CONSOLES MARES MISSION
COMMITTING ONE EYE TO THE VIEW inside a DSLR camera during a dive can mean that things like keeping the other eye on depth and time become a bit tricky. It's OK if you have all the data there, with a gas-integrated computer on your wrist beside the camera. Otherwise it means rigging a pressure gauge to be seen at a glance, or you have to keep reaching for it. So I'm not a great fan of consoles, but some divers are. It's quite appealing to have all your gauges in one place, even if it does look like the instrument panel of a Wessex helicopter at the end of your high-pressure hose. However, it all depends on the design of the console. Some years ago I was sent a Mares Mission 3 console that was big and brutal enough for a French-Canadian to use as a seal club. It was called the Mission 3 because it had pressure gauge, depth gauge and compass mounted together, but it wasn't pleasant. The normally stylish designers at Mares had another think about this ugly piece of kit and redesigned it. So don't confuse the modern Mission 3 with what went before it.
STILL SPORTING THREE INSTRUMENTS, it is now a slimline, ergonomic, dare I say sexy item. It's almost a pleasure to pick it up and take a compass bearing through its sight glass, or check remaining breathing-gas pressure. The mechanical depth-gauge has a maximum depth needle that can be useful, provided you remember to reset it to zero before the dive. Not only that, but it has three eyelets designed into it for attaching a clip, and also a rather neat swivelling clip. Any one of these allows you to hook it to a D-ring so that it can be seen at a glance. The Mission 3 is also available with the Mares Puck computer instead of a mechanical depth-gauge, and the Mission 2 is simplified in that it doesn't have the conventional compass. There is even a Mission 2C, which employs a compass instead of a depth-gauge. The compass in every case is set at around 45? to the main console instruments. The Mission 1 is simply a pressure gauge, but again it has the built-in clips that allow you to stow it where you can find it easily.