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Deciding between Sealife DC2000 and Sony a6300?

DC2000Sealife Sony a6300 Ikelite

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#1 sparklehorse

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 09:20 AM

Hello Wetpixel folks,

 

New member here, I'm sure glad I found these forums! 

 

I would have posted this question in the Dedicated U/W Digicams forum, but it looks like that one hasn’t seen much traffic for a while.

 

Anyhoo, I’m heading to the Marietas Islands near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in mid-December for my first diving trip in 25 years. I was a very active diver and underwater photographer back in the 80’s and 90’s, and had a great Nikonos V setup with SB102 strobe and 15mm Wide Angle lens. I want to get a new camera system for this upcoming trip, and I’ve narrowed my options down to either a Sony a6300 in an Ikelite housing, OR the Sealife DC2000. With the DC2000 I can also afford to get the Wide Angle wet lens, macro wet lens, 2 Sea Dragon flashes on flex arms, and their 2300 lumen video light mounted on the cold shoe. For the Sony option, I already have the camera, 16-50 PZ lens, a Sony 10-18mm and Sony 30mm Macro. I could afford the housing and the ports for those lenses, but then only one of the Ikelite DS161 strobes (which I like since it can also serve as a video light).

 

I’m hopelessly torn between these two options, and hope you guys and gals can help me out! I am VERY attracted to the Sealife DC2000 rig due to its relative ease of use, integration of parts, camera body itself being waterproof, and their wet lens options allowing great versatility on one dive. It also seems more compact and portable, easier to deal with on a rocking 20 foot, open Panga boat. It also saves me some money over the Ikelite option. The only thing holding me back is image quality. Try as I might, I have seen very few image examples from the DC2000 that impressed me. They all seem to be quite soft, or not as sharp as I would like to see. But that may be due to image re-sizing for the web, or folks not working from RAW files, or some other factor. See the images in this otherwise excellent review as an example:

 

http://www.divephoto...erwater-camera/

 

I realize the DC2000 with its smaller sensor is not going to have the low light capabilities of the Sony, but I’ll be using strobes, so I don’t see that as an issue.

 

So can anyone fill in the blanks here? How good is the DC2000 image quality? Are there any Smugmug or other galleries online with good examples from this camera where I can view the full size image? That would be extremely helpful. Also, if anyone has experience with the a6300 in an Ikelite housing please share your thoughts on that rig. Or if you can point me to some high-res examples that would be great too. I’m especially curious about how the 16-50 does in the Ikelite housing with the 6 inch Dome Port (5516.15). Can you do some semi-reasonable macro with that setup? I’d love to stick to a one-lens solution for the a6300. Also, can you get 2 dives out of a Sony battery with the 6300? 

 

Thanks very much for the help!

 

Gordon

Portland, Oregon


Edited by sparklehorse, 01 November 2017 - 09:24 AM.


#2 Barmaglot

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 09:55 AM

I recently acquired an A6300 with kit lens, a Meikon/SeaFrogs housing for it and two Archon D36V lights, used it on one trip so far (12 dives with the camera). Can't speak on 16-50's performance with a dome port - I used it with a flat port and a cheap wet dome in front of it, and my dive skills aren't up to shooting macro yet. Regarding battery, mine reliably lasted through three dives, shooting mostly bursts in Hi+ mode without flash (average 500 images per dive) and a little bit of video. Meikon is have announced a new housing for A6xxx series that will have a dry dome accommodating the 10-18mm lens, but it most likely won't be out in time for your trip.



#3 sparklehorse

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 10:40 AM

Thanks for that info Barmaglot.

I've looked at the Meikon housing as well and haven't completely ruled it out yet.

How were your results with their Flat Port and Wet Dome? I was concerned their Wet Dome optics might be sub par, and also that attaching and removing/storing the Wet lens while on a dive might be awkward and time consuming. I'd read somewhere that it can be tricky to get it threaded correctly, but wondered if maybe there is a swing away adapter available for it that would solve that problem. Sealife have what seems like a pretty good "snap on" solution for their wet lenses, and a decent looking storage dock for them too. Another plus for Sealife.



#4 Barmaglot

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 11:02 AM

I use this magnetic adapter with the wet lens, makes attaching/detaching it literally a snap:

 

http://www.divervisi...unt-MG-M67.html

 

Note, however, that Meikon wet dome is buoyant, and will float away if detached. I drilled a hole in one of the hood petals and attached it to the tray by a short lanyard. This way when I took it off in the water (mostly when trying and failing at something approximating a macro shot) it floated above the housing and didn't get in the way.

 

I'm a very new diver, and the extent of my experience with underwater photography before this trip was a two-dive PADI underwater photography course I took half a year previously, with a Panasonic FX35 provided by the dive shop, so my pictures are by no means representative of the camera's capabilities.

 

22652_original.jpg

 

29567_original.jpg

 

38031_original.jpg



#5 sparklehorse

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 02:09 PM

Thanks for the link to the magnetic adapter. That looks like a good solution if I go the Meikon route.

I have to ask about the last photo. Above the fishes' dorsal fin there is a strange, almost circular area where the background reef is blurred. Any idea what caused that?



#6 Barmaglot

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 03:56 PM

Not entirely sure, maybe something got onto the dome surface? I looked through that series of images and this blurred area seems to be tracking the same spot in the frame rather than the reef, but series taken before and after don't seem to have it.

 

Edit: I think I know what it is - being stupid and new, I neglected to buy a cover for the wet lens, and ended up scratching it during shore entry/exit, several times - the dome is made of acrylic and is really really easy to scratch. I did use an acrylic polishing kit to buff the scratches out, but was not wholly successful. I think that blurred spot is the area I polished, and it only shows up in certain pictures because it's visible only at a certain focusing distance, or maybe light angle, or maybe something else. Regardless, I'm waiting for Meikon's new housing to come out to decide whether I get a replacement dome for my wet lens ($75) and a cover ($11), or a proper wet lens (maybe Kraken KRL-02, it's designed for 24mm equivalent), or abandon wet lenses altogether and move to a 10-18mm lens with a dome.


Edited by Barmaglot, 01 November 2017 - 10:30 PM.


#7 sparklehorse

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 08:45 AM

In case someone lands here someday looking for intel on the DC2000's image quality, I finally found a good gallery for it here:

https://pillpusher.s...naire-May-2017/

Turns out, it's actually pretty darn good, at least in the center of the frame. I believe he is using the Sealife Fisheye wet lens, and as you might expect it's a little soft in the corners. That would be bad news if I were shooting street scenes or buildings, but for underwater photography I don't necessarily see that as a deal breaker. Hmmm.

Now if only I could find some good DC2000 macro examples!