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Wide angle lens selection and accessories for new Sony setup


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#1 Jurykov

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 09:53 AM

I have a Sony A7Riii on pre-order and am trying to nail down everything I'll need for my underwater setup.  I've been shooting an RX100v1 for the last few years.  It's served me very well, but I'm finding myself more and more frustrated with soft corners in wide angle, as well as really slow strobe recycle time.  Watching your subject swim away while you mash the shutter and curse at the lack of strobe power settings in the camera is getting really old.

 

Last year I rented an A7Rii setup with the 90mm macro, and the 28mm prime with fisheye adapter for a one week liveaboard in the Caymans.  I really liked the system.  The flash trigger is AMAZING! Compared to the internal flash on my RX100 getting a few frames/sec out of this was a huge improvement.  It also takes incredible hi res pictures that were very sharp.  Almost too high res, I ended up with nearly 200GB of photos in one week of shooting.  I had to do some serious culling when I got home.  

 

There were a few things holding me back from getting one of my own.  Battery life was my number one issue, especially shooting macro.  After a single dive, I would come back with 50-60% battery depending on what focusing mode I was using.  I could probably get two dives out of a battery, but I ended up swapping it out most dives just in case something great happened on the next dive.  Focusing was also not as fast as I wanted.  It was definitely an improvement over my compact camera, but for the kind of investment I was looking at, it didn't seem like enough.

 

Enter the A7Riii.  Based on the pre-release hype, it looks like Sony has improved on my two biggest complaints.  The new camera looks really great, and I think I'm finally ready to pull the trigger.  I realize that the housings for this haven't even been officially announced yet, but I'm daydreaming about it, and want to be sure I'm ready to get the right gear once it becomes available.  

 

I already picked up the 90mm macro lens, and have some wet diopters that I'll use with it.  I'm happy with the great image quality this lens delivers, and am hoping that the improved focus of the A7Riii will reduce the occasional hunting that I saw with this lens on my rental.

 

I'm not so sure about my wide angle options though.  I've searched the forums, but it seems like most of the posts are from near the A7Rii release, and there are a few more lenses on the market now.  The 28mm prime with fisheye adapter worked fine on my rental and I missed the ability to zoom a lot less than I expected, but it looks like there are better options out there now.  Looking at the Nauticam port charts for the A9, it looks like if I wanted to use the 12-24mm fisheye, I would need to go with the 230mm dome port.  It looks like I can use the 230mm port with both Sony 16-35 lenses as well, but if I rule out the 12-24 fisheye I could get away with a smaller port.  The 28mm lens with WWL-1 wet lens looks like an interesting choice too for a small, travel friendly option.

 

I'm leaning towards just grabbing the 12-24mm fisheye and larger dome and being done with it. I'm looking for maximum corner sharpness, and my understanding is the bigger the dome the better.  I'm also leaning towards the wider lens as with 42mp on the new camera I should be able to crop as needed if things end up too wide.  Does anyone have the weight difference between the two domes?  I'm seeing 2.63kg for the larger one, but not finding consistent answers for the smaller. 

 

Any idea of the real world difference between the 12-24 vs either of the 16-35 lenses underwater?  Any reason to pick the expensive F2.8 16-35 over the F4?  Do I really need the F2.8 if I'm going to be shooting F8 or higher all the time anyways with the dome port?  Will the 16-35 lenses perform well under the larger dome, or with them not being fisheye lenses will they work better with the smaller one? Any thoughts on using adapted Canon lenses?  As I'm new to ILCs I don't have any old glass to try and adapt.  I'm guessing I'd be better off sticking with Sony.  Any reason to consider the WWL-1 option other than cost/weight savings?

 

The WACP from Nauticam also looks pretty impressive.  Looking at preliminary pricing, unsure about availability, and the fact that no one seems to have tried it with Sony cameras yet is keeping it out of the running.  Maybe next year.  Any other must have accessories? I'm already in for the flash trigger and vacuum valve, but maybe there's something else that would improve my experience with Nauticam that I haven't considered? 

 

I realize that neither the camera, or the housing are out yet.  Hopefully someone will have some input based on their A7Rii or A9 experience.  Sorry for the wall of text...  I was actually quite surprised to not see any mention of the new camera here already.  Maybe it's just me that's excited? :D  I used the RX100 for nearly five years, and expect to get a similar amount of time out of this setup so I want to be sure I get it right.  Hopefully with some advice I can start collecting parts.



#2 lambee01

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 10:53 AM

Hi Jurykov

I just bought last April a Sony A7rii, switching from my Sony A850 (24Mp Full Frame) which i was using with my legacy Minolta A-Mount lenses as well as some new lenses.

The main reason for me was to go "light" when travelling, and this is exactly what the Sony ILCE do offer.

HOWEVER... yes However, when i made my choice (and sold all my old Sony/Minolta stuff) the choice of Sony FE lenses was not that wide. Nor it is today.

So, in April, got the Sony 90 f2.8 (my best ever macro lense !!!), the 28mm with the FEC and the Sony 16-35 f/4. I added the Samyang 14 f/28 FE.

Everything in a Nauticam housing (my best ever housing so far in 20 years, better than Subal or Seacam in term of ergonomic)

And i made the mistake (advised by Nauticam) to use the 180mm dome port.

Not the perfect solution (even very bad with the Samyang 14mm). I really missed the crisp and sharp of my old 230mm domeport... Even worse now with a 42 Mp sensor.

I have then aquired the WWL-1 to be used with the 28mm. This wet lens is amazing and reminds me the old time of Nikonos (with the 15mm)

And i have taken the decision to move to the 230mm Dome port. My 180mm is already sold!!!

Since i will get this port, i want to try the 12-24 (so expensive...) which will make my life easier...

 

Eric



#3 Jurykov

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 04:37 PM

Thanks Damselfish.  I appreciate the feedback.  I was doing some size comparisons and that 230mm port is massive...  I'm going to have to make a hard choice to jump up to the bigger port.  It's going to really cut into my travel allowance :(  I agree with you on the Nauticam housings though.  They are pretty amazing.  Very comfortable, and sturdy.  I've only had very minimal problems with mine, and only needed the bare minimum level of maintenance over five years to keep it going.  

 

How do you like the WWL-1?  I wonder how it compares to using the 28mm with fisheye adapter.  I did see some comparisons for that combo in the forums here, but it's hard to know which I'd like better.  I was using the UWL-04 wet lens with my RX-100 and got fairly good results, but you really needed a bright/sunny day in order to have enough light to adjust the aperture enough to make it really crisp.  Shooting video with it was frustrating as you'd need to swap to video mode and set the aperture manually before you started recording if you wanted things to not be fuzzy.  It's too bad that even when you're shooting in manual mode, as soon as you pressed the video button it would go into full auto mode and go wide open.  It made it hard to shoot quick videos when something exciting happened in front of you.  

 

I guess I should just commit to shooting photos, and leave the video shooting to my wife.  Then again, being able to fire my strobes more than once every 4 or 5 seconds would probably make me want to shoot video less.  Or maybe I can strap a gopro on top?  But now with a 230mm dome, strobes, focus/video lights and a gopro strapped on, you are really giving up the advantages of the 'small' mirrorless setup.  

 

I'm really interested in hearing if anyone has tried the 12-24mm F4 Sony lens underwater.  I'm still trying to figure out how it would perform compared to using the 16-35mm F2.8 lens with all else being equal.   It's hard to know whether the fisheye lens behind a curved dome would perform better, or a rectilinear lens that is supposed to be sharper, yet it's behind a curved port.  Price wise, I know which way makes sense, but...

 

I'll keep doing research.  If anyone has tried the 12-24 on an A7 or A9 camera I'd love to see some of your shots!



#4 ChrisRoss

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 01:12 AM

I don't have specific experience with Sony lenses, however my understanding is that true fisheye lenses (which produce massive barrel distortion to get their wide fields) don't benefit so much from a large dome port.   

 

The reason a large dome port gives you a benefit is the fact that the radius of the virtual image is larger with a bigger dome and you don't need as much depth of field to get the edge of the curved virtual image in focus.  A fisheye lens is different, it is designed to take a 180 deg field of view and project it onto a flat sensor, so is not troubled by the fact that the virtual image is curved, which is why you see people using ~100mm dome ports with fisheyes.

 

I had a quick look at the port charts and didn't see any references to a 12-24 fisheye, only to using a Canon 8-15mm fisheye on a metabones adapter.  I believe the 12-24 is a rectilinear wide angle lens and as such it needs a large dome port to give its best..  The Canon fisheye lens uses a small 140mm dome, which will be truly compact for travel.  Believe the 28mm plus fisheye adapter gives a 180 deg fieid of view.  You won't get that with the 12-24 and the Canon 8-15 will be the closest thing to that in a zoom fisheye lens.  12mm in full frame will give you a 122 deg field of view.

 

I suspect you'd have  a chance to be happy with the 16-35mm in a smaller dome.  It may be that the 16mm FL is a little soft in the corners but 18-20mm range becomes acceptable as you are not going out the far edge of the curved image and have a better chance of the edges being inside the DOF,  But get specific experience with someone who has used the lens.



#5 Jurykov

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 08:23 AM

I believe the 12-24 is a rectilinear wide angle lens and as such it needs a large dome port to give its best..  

 

I stand corrected.  Yes the SEL1224G seems to be a rectilinear lens.  It looks like with the curved front element, and misreading some reviews I ended up confused.  Very useful information.  Thanks!

 

I had a quick look at the port charts and didn't see any references to a 12-24 fisheye, only to using a Canon 8-15mm fisheye on a metabones adapter.  

 

The 12-24 lens shows up in the latest N100 A7 and N100 A9 charts that I'm looking at, but not in the N85 E-Mount chart.  Conversely, the 8-15mm Canon with metabones shows up in the E-mount chart, but not in the other Sony charts.  It looks like by using the Metabones adapter and the right port extension, any of the Canon lenses should work though.  I'll have to consider it a little more.  This setup would spend a lot of time as my carry-on, and the thought of packing the 230mm port around gets less appealing the more I think about it.

 

 

 

I suspect you'd have  a chance to be happy with the 16-35mm in a smaller dome.  

 

I suspect the same.  It seems like the 16-35 is a lot more common configuration, and I'm finding plenty of great looking images posted from that combination.  I guess it comes down to what types of subjects I want to shoot the most.  For the really wide stuff, I'll definitely have to give some consideration to the adapted Canon lenses.  

 

Thanks for the reply though.  Some really good information there, and you've definitely given me something to think about.

 

Any other Sony shooters, feel free to chime in!



#6 ChrisRoss

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 10:42 PM

If you look at the end of the A9/A7RII charts there's a reference to using adapted EF lenses at the bottom of the chart which effectively says select the focus gear and extensions from the Canon N120 charts and use the 35.5mm N100-N120 converter 37303.  So effectively installing the 37303 to your housing makes it the same as a Canon housing for port/gear selection purposes.  You can then use that same 37303 N100-N120 adapter plus a 50mm extension to mate to an N120 180mm dome port to use the 16-35mm f4 lens.

 

So you would have one 37303, one 50mm, one 30mm extension N120 and the 180 and 140mm N120 dome ports to use both the 8-15 fisheye and the 16-35.



#7 CptMax

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 04:38 AM

Hi,

This is an interesting thread, as I am also looking at the SONY alpha 7r iii to become my next camera. I was looking at some recommendations for glass and stumbled over the Voigtländer brand and their e-mount options for shooting above water. Exceptional manual lenses apparently. I understand that manual lenses aren't as popular in the water, as AF glass, but could these work? I can't find any reference on the internet. I was looking at the following lenses to get for topside shooting . Could they work in a housing for underwater or are they less than ideal?

 

Voigtländer e-mount 12mm F5.6 ultra wide (weitwinkel) Heliar aspherical III (121° angle of view), also comes in a 10mm and 15mm variant. Could these work behind a dome port? I am definatly loving these for landscapes. The F1.2 40mm also seems like a great prime lens.



#8 mt-m

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 07:51 AM

I have an A7II with 16-35 f/4 and 24-70 f/4 that i use underwater in the Nauticam na-a7ii housing.

 

I started out with Nauticam 230mm glass dome, which was just massive and heavy, so I switched to 180mm (18809). Pretty happy with it for both 16-35 and 24-70, but I mostly shoot photo and video of my kids diving and sharks and turtles that swim by, so corner sharpness isn't critical.

 

I thought I would use 16-35 more than the 24-70, but it ended up being the opposite. For my needs 24mm seems to be wide enough and 70mm is decent for closeups.



#9 Jurykov

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 11:59 AM

For those interested in the thread, I did find some example shots of the 12-24 F4 and 16-35 F2.8 Sony lenses underwater here

 

I'm thinking that the 16-35 should be enough to start with for the types of diving I typically do.  It should be wide enough to do some fish schooling, turtles, etc. as well as having some zoom range in case I can't coax sharks to come close enough.  In the future I may go the fisheye route rather than an ultra wide (weitwinkel) zoom.  Maybe I'll wait and see if someone comes up with a native fisheye, and there's always the Metabones adapter if I end up booking any Manta encounters in the near term.

 

I thought I would use 16-35 more than the 24-70, but it ended up being the opposite. For my needs 24mm seems to be wide enough and 70mm is decent for closeups.

 

Interesting.  I'll have to see what it's like actually on the camera.  With my current compact, I'm either shooting macro with diopter and fully zoomed, or I have the ultrawide (weitwinkel) (162 degree) wet lens, zoomed in just enough to stop the slight vignetting with my setup.  It's incredibly rare that I feel the need to zoom except in those occasional 'sit on the bottom with crazy current while the sharks hang out in the channel' type of dives.  In all other cases, I just try to get closer to my subject. 

 

I did order the new 24-105mm F4 lens to go with my new camera, but was only planning on using it as a walk around/travel photo lens.  I'll have to see what it would take to get it into the housing.  Judging by the video reviews I've seen the lens extends quite far when fully zoomed, and it's already about 20mm longer than the 24-70 already.  It might need a longer extension to keep it from hitting the port.  The minimum focus distance is a little short as well.  I'm not sure how useful it would be to me. 

 

 

Voigtländer e-mount 12mm F5.6 ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) Heliar aspherical III (121° angle of view), also comes in a 10mm and 15mm variant. Could these work behind a dome port? I am definatly loving these for landscapes. The F1.2 40mm also seems like a great prime lens.

I think (I may be wrong, I'm still pretty new at this and trying to play catch-up) that you'd have the same issues as the 12-24mm.  You'd need a very large dome in order to get good sharpness, as well as the right port extension in order to get the lens in the correct place.  It should work, but could end up being very cumbersome (which may not matter with enough time spent balancing things out).

 

I guess I'll have to wait and see when some of this stuff is actually released.  At this point it's mostly just me speculating and getting myself worked up.  I've been waiting on this upgrade for quite a while.  I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve :D



#10 ChrisRoss

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 09:38 PM

 

I think (I may be wrong, I'm still pretty new at this and trying to play catch-up) that you'd have the same issues as the 12-24mm.  You'd need a very large dome in order to get good sharpness, as well as the right port extension in order to get the lens in the correct place.  It should work, but could end up being very cumbersome (which may not matter with enough time spent balancing things out).

I agree you'd need the large dome a 12mm is still a 12mm and you would most likely also have to make your own focus gear and you would also need the right amount of extension, with Sony you would need the N100-N120 adapter plus the right size extension tube.



#11 hellhole

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 04:47 AM

Probably piggy back on this.. anyone seen the port & extension for Sony 16-35f2.8? Nauticam only has the 16-35 f4 ...
Maybe not a big deal as f4 is plenty ....

Am just curious...

I have the N120 180mm dome and other port and extension. Work really well for the 16-35f4... And also was able to fix a 12mm manual lens in it well.

#12 lambee01

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 04:58 AM

Hi Wolf Eel

Using the 16-35 f4, initially with the "previously" recommended 180mm Dome Port. I have changed it to the 230mm Dome port, and corner sharpness has dramatically improved.

Hence i am not sure investing 2000$ in the 2.8 G version is worth it... And i mostly shoot WA between f8 and f14...

That being said, (and i mentioned "previously") Nauticam has updated the dome/lens chart last September. See on their website. They now recommend as best optin the 230 Dome port, yet, the 180 is still on the chart.

 

Re the manual lens : what kind of focus gear do you use? Nauticam does not list any focusing gear for manual lens...

Is there any "universal" gear that one can use?

 

Eric



#13 hellhole

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 01:43 AM

Hi Wolf Eel
Using the 16-35 f4, initially with the "previously" recommended 180mm Dome Port. I have changed it to the 230mm Dome port, and corner sharpness has dramatically improved.
Hence i am not sure investing 2000$ in the 2.8 G version is worth it... And i mostly shoot WA between f8 and f14...
That being said, (and i mentioned "previously") Nauticam has updated the dome/lens chart last September. See on their website. They now recommend as best optin the 230 Dome port, yet, the 180 is still on the chart.
 
Re the manual lens : what kind of focus gear do you use? Nauticam does not list any focusing gear for manual lens...
Is there any "universal" gear that one can use?
 
Eric

230mm dome is for the Canon 16-35? The Sony ones are still 180mm recommend...

Manual lens... I am making my own... Or I will shoot infinity.. heheh.. have yet to try underwater...

Oh!! U are right... Base on the chart...it has changed!! The web 'find a port' is not updated!!!

Edited by hellhole, 21 November 2017 - 01:48 AM.


#14 lambee01

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 01:53 AM

Hi

Nauticam has updated the Port system chart for their housing for A7rii and A9 in September this year.

for the Sony 16-35 f/4, the 180mm dome port (Nauticam #18809) ist still in the chart but now, the 230mm dome port (Nauticam #18812) is now "most optimized dome port...

Have a look here : https://drive.google...WQwZ1ZOVmM/view

 

Most important question : how do you do your own focusing gear?

Eric



#15 hellhole

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 02:45 AM

Hi
Nauticam has updated the Port system chart for their housing for A7rii and A9 in September this year.
for the Sony 16-35 f/4, the 180mm dome port (Nauticam #18809) ist still in the chart but now, the 230mm dome port (Nauticam #18812) is now "most optimized dome port...
Have a look here : https://drive.google...WQwZ1ZOVmM/view
 
Most important question : how do you do your own focusing gear?
Eric

3d printing... I have not 'dive' into making one.. as it's an option not a must since I already have a 16-35

#16 mt-m

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:43 AM

230mm vs 180mm domes - corner sharpness wise I wouldn't expect a significant difference with the 16-35 f/4. The actual curvature of the domes is very close, if I recall correctly it's 110mm vs 120mm radius and the center of the 230mm dome is positioned maybe a centimeter or so forward of that of the 180mm.

 

Wider lenses - there will definitely be a difference, but not the 16-35 IMO.

 

Here are the two domes side by side to illustrate my point:

 

 

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#17 mt-m

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 07:01 AM

Oh, I just noticed that on the updated chart the new 230mm dome uses 60mm extension for 16-35 f/4 vs 50mm extension for 180mm, so the 230mm is positioned farther out, allowing the 16-35 to "utilize" more of the edges of the dome and likely allowing better close focusing.



#18 ChrisRoss

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 09:28 PM

I think some of the performance improvement would be down to the fact that the virtual image is further away for the 230mm dome.  If you make some assumptions: 230mm dome is 120 mm radius and 180 dome is 10mm and 110mm radius shorter and 230mm dome has 60mm extension and the 180mm dome 50mm extension, both have 35.5mm N100-N120 adapter  and assume 20mm from sensor to edge of housing.  The virtual image is approx 3 x dome radius away from the dome at infinity so is 360mm for 230mm and 330mm for 180mm dome.    At infinity the virtual image is 595mm away and the 180mm dome is 545 mm away with respect to sensor plane. 

 

I plugged all that into a DOF calculator and DOF for an virtual image about 120mm from the dome is about 420mm at f11 and 16mm extending from 50 to 425mm from the dome.  This virtual image is for an object 300mm from the dome.  At the far corner of the frame a little bit of geometry says the far corner of the virtual image is 100mm closer to the focal plane than the centre so 100mm of the DOF is taken up covering that leaving about 320mm to provide additional DOF to keep the BG in focus.  Which should be sufficient at least on the 230mm dome and a flat subject.  However because the DOF is distributed 1/3 closer and 2/3 further from the focus point, if you don't focus on the closest object at the centre then the corners could easily fall out of the DOF available.  All that's in an ideal universe with the dome positioned perfectly.  I suspect that being out by 5-10mm on dome position is all too common so stopping down a little will probably help marginal focus in the corners adding on to chromatic aberration due to the port positioning error.   There's a little less DOF in the 180mm but on balance I would guess it is close enough.

 

Looking at the port chart here:  https://drive.google...3JBLXpEQWM/viewshows that 50 and 60 mm ports are combined with the 35.5mm N100-N120 adapter.  or you can use an N100 180mm dome with 80mm extension (30+50) but this will result in 5mm difference in placement of the entrance pupil between the two 180mm dome options.



#19 CptMax

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 02:16 AM

So just an update on the Voigtländer ultra-wide (weitwinkel) lenses 10,12 & 15mm Heliar. I contacted Subal and they say these work well underwater and they have made a couple lens ports to accommodate these lenses. One has to send them the lens and it normally takes 3 working days, if you want the full manual experience. Theoretically these lenses can just be preset to the aperture required and pretty much everything close to infinity is in focus. 

The Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8 also seems to be a great choice for a AF prime lens.



#20 Ricardo V.

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 07:05 AM

CptMax,
In essence, what you are mentioning about the use of Voigtländer lenses would be contingent upon 2 things... One: being able to focus it manually underwater and Two: setting an aperture before housing it just letting it stay fixed through your dive. Right?