By Drew Wong
The Asian Dive Exhibition (ADEX), Singapore continues to be the biggest dive show in Asia, with over 60,000 visitors visiting the show this year. The theme was climate change, with luminaries like Sylvia Earle presenting talks on the topic and its impacts. It was a grand expo with a great deal of important emphasis on climate change, which is especially relevant given the current political climate in the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world.
While Wetpixel is a staunch supporter of fighting climate change, we haven’t forgotten what we are about… underwater imagery. As ADEX grows, so does the underwater camera section.
This year saw most of the housing manufacturers show up in ADEX. Subal returned to the show after an absence of a couple of years. Aquatica/Amphibico and EasyDive also opened up booths for the first time. Long time perennial ADEX exhibitor Seacam had its usual big booth and Nauticam set up a larger stand than last year.
Brands aside, the hottest item at ADEX was housings for smart phones, most notably the iPhone. There were wide ports, electronic controls via apps, physical controls and even Bluetooth lights with Lume Cubes! With the sensors in the smart phones reaching 1/2.3” sizes and capable of recording 4k/UHD video in acceptable quality in good light, it’s not really that surprising that they be considered an alternative to small cameras like the GoPro or Sony Action Cam.
With all those goodies, it was a busy show for the imaging market. Here, in alphabetical order, are the imaging trinkets that I discovered that had been released after DEMA last November:
At Aquatica’s first ADEX showing, the Canadian company was displaying all their current products including the new A6500 housing for the Sony A6500. Built to the durable standards that Aquatic is known for, it is designed as a modular housing, whereby you can buy the housing with a strap, or choose to add an under tray which allows arms and other accessories to be attached.
Aquatica was also showing a brand new 8” glass dome port, which complements their popular acrylic 8” dome. According to Blake Stoughton, Aquatica’s president, customers were asking for the 8” in glass, and Aquatica finally got enough orders to produce it in good quantity. It will be significantly more expensive than the acrylic dome, and will ship by June.
When I first heard about EasyDive, I thought that the housing market was about to be flipped on its head. A universal housing that can accomodate SLRs from all major camera brands, including Nikon and Canon, using USB to control camera functions, It allows for new camera models, with the simple purchase of a firmware upgrade. When it was first brought to market there were some teething problems with limited port choices and only 4 extensions, which meant wide angle lenses suffered from corner issues with full frame sensors. However, EasyDive soon began offering bigger ports like the 240mm diameter PX ports and their housings can be ordered with portholes that fit Subal and Seacam ports and extensions, which has opened the system up to new possibilities.
The Leo 3 Wi line is made for smaller mirrorless systems and is compatible with the very latest in these types of camera including the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Sony A6500. It works the same way as the Leo 3, with USB controls that can be upgraded via firmware.
The latest housing from EasyDive is the Leo 3 Smart, for smart phones. Unlike other housings, the Leo 3 Smart uses an app that is available for Android and iOS and works with the latest smartphone models. Integrated within the housing is a reserve battery that also charges the phone while in use. The red mounting tray is made for each brand and model of smartphone and is available as an upgrade accessory should you want to abandon an OS for your next phone.
The Revolution lights look like eggs with a diffused dome. They are a completely sealed unit and charging is done through an external E/O plug. Any repairs would mean an exchange, which brings up the issue of EasyDive currently having no distribution network or dealers outside of Italy. So any repairs or warranty issues means sending all products back to Italy.
Fun-In Taiwan (F.I.T)
The F.I.T. air sealed clear optical acrylic dome diffuser accessory for the most popular compact strobes (Inon Z240 and Sea & Sea YS-D2) allows their light beam to be wider and softer, with the loss of -1EV of light. These domes have to be screwed in for a proper secure fit.
Takuya san of Inon was on hand to show us the latest goodies from Inon. Their latest housing accessory is the SD UWH-1 mount base for the Sony Action Cam housing, which allows the use of Inon’s SD line of lenses like the UFL-G140 semi-fisheye wide angle adapter and the UCL-G165 close up wide angle adapter, and can also be used to mount lights and close-up lenses.
The new UCL-67 Close-up lens is designed for full frame SLR cameras using 60-100mm focal length macro lenses, and offers a +15 magnification. It is also compatible with the compact and mirrorless ranges of cameras. Takuya san brought a few new prototypes of new toys not yet released onto the market.
The 2 new lights are the LF1100-EWf and the LF3100-EW. Both have multiple power settings and an extra wide beam. The nice thing about the LF3100-EW is that it may also be available as an upgrade for existing INON LF lights.
With all these accessories for macro, there’s a need to have a steady base to shoot video with and so Inon were showing a prototype carbon tripod. There is no pricing or release date yet but Takuya san assures me it will be soon.
Elisa Isotta of Isotta was on hand at the DiveSea booth to show off the latest in Isotta housings. The red housing brand features SLR, compact and mirrorless housings including models for the Nikon D500, Olympus E-M5 Mark II, Sony RX100 Mark V and the GoPro Hero 5.
Nauticam was there to show off their latest wares, including the soon to be released NA-GH5 housing for the Panasonic GH5 camera. This housing has a new base, which allows accessory arms to be attached without need of a tripod which increases the video functionality for the GH5. The camera is currently one of the most popular camera choices for video.
Nauticam also released a follow up to the EOS M1 housing, which surprised me since I didn’t think it did that well. They are hoping the new improvements in the EOS M5 camera will open up the market.
Besides camera housings, Nauticam also had a few new accessories, including the soon to be released SMC-2 +4.3 close up lens. This new lens follows on from the SMC-1 with even more magnification.
A visit to the Nauticam booth isn’t complete without talking to Edward Lai, who ushered me to his latest prototype. This is a new version of the WWL-1 lens, designed for use with for full frame cameras. This lens adapter fits on the EF-28mm lens and is designed to give the equivalent FOV of a 10mm lens underwater.
Saga’s new 3 in 1 diopter was also on display at the DiveSea booth. This nifty attachment allows the user to choose between 0, +5, +10 and +15 via a combination of levers and can be detached entirely if needed.
Our Wetpixel party co-sponsor, David Cheung of Scubacam, is a dealer of many of the products we’ve mentioned, including Aquatica, Gates, Subal, Seacam and Nauticam. David is also a commercial shooter and decided to show off his own custom housing for the RED series cameras including the latest model, Weapon.
One of ADEX perennial booths is that of Seacam. Owner Harald Hordosch was again in Singapore, without too many new products other than announcing Silver housings for the Panasonic GH5 and Canon EOS-5D Mark IV.
I did ask about what kind of batteries could be used in the SeaFlash, since NiZn batteries, which allow rapid recycling of strobes, were not usable in any other strobes. Harald claims that his engineers have solved the overheating pressure issue and all batteries can be used.
360 VR is now all the rage on Facebook and other social media with our own publisher, Eric Cheng, working in Facebook’s VR division. So it’s not surprising that there are 360VR solutions becoming available for underwater. The SeaTool SVH-KSP360 housing fits the Kodak PixPro SP360 camera and is a tech housing, rated down to 300m. SeaTool’s AJ Saito says the housing will be shipping by May.
Subal’s return to ADEX came strong after a few years of absence. CEO Harald Karl and GM Vladimir Mladenovic showed me their latest housings for cameras like the FujiFilm X-T2 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II, both of which will be shipping soon.
With the new Olympus housing, a redesigned locking mechanism is being introduced. Instead of writing about it, I’ll let the CEO demonstrate it:
Since Subal began customizing paintjobs for housings a few years back, they’ve expanded into custom housings for different applications including military use. These military spec housings have matt finishes with low reflection parts for stealth. And yes, normal customers can specify this spec when ordering from Subal. In fact, Harald and I have a running bet on the production of a one-off housing, which should lead to many new opportunities for Subal! There’s a bottle Ruinart Blanc en Blanc on it!
When I heard Anthony Lenzo (5 time Emmy winner, of Air Sea Land etc) was at ADEX, I thought he’d be showing off some new Red Weapon or Arricam housing. To my surprise, when I went to the Valstech booth, I just saw a 46” TV running video and no big housings but different colored small housings for the iPhone?!?
It seems Anthony has made a new housing called the Lenz0, designed specifically for the iPhone 6-7 series. Pretty much everyone has a smart phone and one of the best sellers is the iPhone. In developing the Lenz0, he made an inexpensive housing for the iPhone, capable of shooting 4k and taking pictures, and even connecting via Bluetooth to the Lume Dome lights. With the new powerful sensors on the phones now replacing compact cameras, it’s a brave but smart idea to get into this market with a $300 housing. I’ll let Anthony explain his product:
And so that’s it! ADEX 2017 ushered in the move of underwater imaging to smart phones and social media VR360, while still continuing to cater to traditional shooters. Can’t wait to see what else comes during this year but rest assured that Wetpixel will cover it all!