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Olympus TG-5 vs. GoPro 7 vs. canon 5dmkiv setup

Canon GoPro Olympus Tg-5 5d Mkiv Strobes

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#1 Gladiator112

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 02:36 PM

Hi everyone Ive been around the forum for a while but never posted before. Im in a bit of a quandary, I have a nice 5DmkIV but no experience or equipment for underwater. To date Ive used go pros and recently purchased the 7 black.

Im by no means a professional, I like to take photos blow them up and hang them on the wall and in a coffee table book I put together but thats it.

Ive read a lot of good stuff on the TG5, and Ive been watching some underwater housings for my canon, but the more I read and learn the more indecisive I get.

I have a dive trip to Bimini to swim with hammerheads in a couple weeks, from what Ive heard thats only 15-25 feet deep and want to take some great photos! Debating if strobes would be necessary and toying with getting strobes for the GoPro? Is that silly?

Then I have a trip to Fiji next month which Id like to bring some equipment, but dont really want to lug a huge pelican case across the planet.

Is there a efficient backpack size setup for my Canon that I can get? Does anyone have experience with a GoPro and strobes? Is the Olympus significantly better than the GoPro? Does anyone have any tips for hammerheads? Ive read a few posts.

Also is anyone selling an old housing or set up that would fit my mkIV.

Thanks for any and all responses, I feel like im out of my depth here.

#2 ChrisRoss

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 09:48 PM

Leaping at the deep end with a 5DMkIV may be a bit much, everything for full frame is more expensive, housings, lenses, domes, travelling with them, the housings really are quite large.  A lot of people are happy with a TG-5, great for macro, maybe not quite so good for wide angle, the small sensor really limits you to ISO100-200. 

 

By way of example, a Nauticam housing for the 5DIV is $US3800 and and EM-1 MKII Olympus Nauticam housing is $1US900.  The EM-1 MkII camera is about $US1699.  So you can buy the housing and camera for the price of the housing alone for the full frame camera and just about buy the macro lens, with that housing system.  Cheaper acrylic housings will be closer together in price of course.

 

There's lots of steps between a TG-5 and and a DSLR rig.  First step up is a 1" sensor compact like the RX100 or G7X MkII.  They produce nice images but are a little limiting requiring add on macro and wide wet lenses.  Next step is a m43 rig, this for me is the sweet spot, inter-changable lenses and a pretty complete range of lenses suitable for underwater.  You can go all the way from fisheye to a 120mm equivalent macro lens, with multiple options at all fields of view. 

 

The thing that matters most for sensors is surface area.  The TG-5 has 28 mm2, 1" has 116 mm2 and the m43 225 mm2 and APS-C 330-360mm2.  You get 4x more light with a 1" sensor and 8x more than a TG--5 with m43.   Your next step APS-C get you an additional 50%.  Fullframe about doubles APS-C but s you make that step you need to stop down more for depth of field and to get corners of rectilinear wide lenses sharp, commonly needing f16, however m43 gets the same DOF at f8 and can use smaller domes to get an equivalent field of view.  There's still an advantage but I don't believe it is as pronounced as it is on land. 

 

I would suggest visiting a retailer and physically handling the various format options to see how big things actually get   It can make quite a difference for travel and even handling the rig getting into and in the water.   I have Canon gear for land use and looking at it from a total system basis I decided that Olypmus was my best option for UW work - just because you like and own a camera on land does not mean it's the best solution to use underwater.  Which is best for you? it depends on your budget, type of shooting you like to do and even where you want to do it.  Temperate and tropical waters have different limitations, what limitations you are prepared to accept, etc


Edited by ChrisRoss, 18 March 2019 - 09:49 PM.


#3 Barmaglot

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 10:37 PM

Strobes won't help you with the GoPro - it lacks a hardware shutter, and electronic shutters are still too slow for strobes. Basically, electronic shutters work by reading the sensor one row of pixels at a time, and while each individual row can be read out quickly, going across the whole sensor still takes a while. Xenon strobes put out a very short pulse of light, somewhere between 1/2000 and 1/320 of a second, depending on model and power setting, and trying to sync an electronic shutter camera to this pulse produces an image that is exposed only on the rows that were being read while the strobe flashed.

 

Building an underwater rig around a 5D IV will cost at least $5,000, and possibly over $10,000. It will also be very large and heavy - a 230mm dome port can occupy half a suitcase by itself. You haven't specified your diving experience level, but be aware that safely handling such a rig underwater requires significant skill.

 

Olympus TG-5 can take excellent macro shots, but if you're experienced in photography, its control set can be limiting - for instance, it has no way of controlling the shutter speed.

 

If you're looking for a reasonably compact setup, consider a 1" sensor compact such as Sony RX100 series, Canon G7 X series, or Panasonic LX10/LX100. Between various generations, used/new options and different housings on the market, you can achieve a good balance between camera capabilities, your skills and your budget.



#4 Interceptor121

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 08:23 AM

Use Go Pro for video and the TG-5 for stills you will need a wide angle lens as the sharks are big and they come close


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#5 Gladiator112

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:27 PM

ChrisRoss Barnaglot and Interceptor thank you for your responses and taking the time to help me! Im going to hold off on building out the full dslr rig and look further into the 1 sensors. I dont know much about the m43 but Ill start my research. Hopefully I can post some pictures after the dive to help others that are in a similar situation to me.

You guys make this a great forum.

#6 dreifish

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 04:10 AM

Basically, there's a few different tiers in terms of underwater setups:

 

Tier 1 (under ~$1000) - GoPro 7 / Olympus TG5

 

GoPro 7 + housing - if shooting only video. Terrible for stills, no option to use strobes. 

 

Olympus TG5  + housing + wet wide angle lens like bakscatter m52 lens. Great for macro on its own, can take decent wide angle images with a wet lens. A good starting point for most people who want to get into underwater photography and not monstrous to travel with. Main limitation for me isn't the sensor size, because image quality is really good enough at ISO 100 for anyone who isn't printing poster.  Rather, it's the lack of a full manual mode, which can be frustrating once you start introducing strobes and doing balanced light wide angle photography. You can kind of work around this limitation by using aperture priority mode, fixing the iso and then using exposure compensation to indirectly control the shutter speed, but it's not a perfect workaround. If the TG6 introduces a full manual mode, I would strongly consider owning one of these cameras even as a professional. The macro mode is great!

 

Tier 2 (around ~$3000) - Sony RX100 or Canon G7X II or Panasonic LX 100 1" sensor compact + wet wide angle lens and wet macro diopeter

 

The main advantage over a TG5 for me here is the full manual control. Image quality is better as well, but honestly, I think the TG5 is good enough for most people as far as image quality is concerned. But the tradeoff is that now you need a wet diopeter lens to do macro, and the macro magnification isn't as good as what you could achieve out of the box with a TG5. You're also looking at 3 times the cost once you factor in an aluminium housing and a good wet wide angle lens like the Nauticam WWL-1.

 

Tier 3 (~$6000) m4/3 Mirrorless Cameras like Olympus EM1 Mark II or Panasonic GH5

 

The big step up here from the 1" sensor compacts is the ability to use interchangeable lenses. m4/3 has a great lens selection, with everything from 180* fisheye lenses, to kit lens + WWL-1 wet lens for wide angle, wide angle lenses behind a dome port (mainly only consider if you do a lot of split shots, otherwise the WWL-1 route is a better option)  to dedicated macro lenses that can get you 2:1 magnification without any diopters. Image quality isn't actually a huge improvement over the 1" sensor compacts, but ergonomics on the housings are better. For video, I consider m4/3 to be the sweet spot atm. For photos, there's an argument to be made that some of the cameras in Tier 4 offer sufficient improments in image quality, autofocus and lens selection to make them worth considering. 

 

Tier 4 ($8000+) - APS-C or Full Frame DSLRs/Mirrorless Cameras

 

Main advantages here over m4/3s are:

* better autofocus systems (mainly in the the Nikon d500/d850/d5 line);

* access to versatile fisheye zooms like the Tokina 10-17; 

* significantly higher resolution and IQ with the 40-50Mpix sensors

* optical viewfinders (which are easier to compose high-contrast wide angle shots with than EVFs, in my view)

 

But there's some real disadvantages as well:

* depth of field for macro is shallower than with m4/3 cameras, and you get less magnification without external lenses

* if you use wide angle rectilinear lenses behind a dome port, you need a 230mm dome port for the best results, and these are huge, heavy and expensive

* the WACP wet wide angle solution is very heavy and very expensive also, when compared to the WWL-1 you can use on m4/3

* heavier and bulkier for transport, even though the whole overall rig might be similar in size in the water

 

It's worth also considering that a lot of the perceived quality improvements underwater come from your lighting (strobes) and getting closer, not so much from the camera sensor size or even the quality of the optics. And once you add two strobes, a tray, arms and a wet wide angle lens, even a TG5 rig gets quite big and bulky. I wouldn't say there's a meaningful difference in size between a compact, m4/3, or even a full-frame camera once you add arms and strobes. At least, not if you stay away from 230mm dome ports and use fisheye lenses with smaller dome ports or wet lenses for wide angle. 



#7 Interceptor121

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 06:57 AM

Am just back from Tiger Beach I would strongly recommend Olympus TG-5 if you want still and a gopro for video if you want to do both take the separately in the dive and try to frame the shots

 

There is plenty of light you can shoot without strobes with custom white balance and it will be super easy to get going. Typically you have at ISO 100 f/16 1/125 as ev so no doubt even shooting in auto the pictures will be sharp

 

Once you get to tier 2 in dreifish post you are in more complex equipment and bulk that only makes sense if you will use it a bit for example in tiger beach you need two strobes and good ones to actually see any effect this is tricky

 

Then add good strobes that will go on with you forever before you feel the need to change the camera


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#8 Gladiator112

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:12 AM

How exciting! I cant wait to see your pictures! I think because my trip to Bimini is so soon Im going to go with GoPro and TG-5 then take my time to really organize and think through building out a rig! Are there any filters I can or should use with the Olympus?

#9 Interceptor121

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:31 PM

How exciting! I cant wait to see your pictures! I think because my trip to Bimini is so soon Im going to go with GoPro and TG-5 then take my time to really organize and think through building out a rig! Are there any filters I can or should use with the Olympus?

 

I have put the picture in the photo video showcase section or look into flickr.com/interceptor121


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#10 ameless88

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Posted 24 May 2019 - 06:59 PM

Basically, there's a few different tiers in terms of underwater setups:

 

Tier 1 (under ~$1000) - GoPro 7 / Olympus TG5

 

GoPro 7 + housing - if shooting only video. Terrible for stills, no option to use strobes. 

 

Olympus TG5  + housing + wet wide angle lens like bakscatter m52 lens. Great for macro on its own, can take decent wide angle images with a wet lens. A good starting point for most people who want to get into underwater photography and not monstrous to travel with. Main limitation for me isn't the sensor size, because image quality is really good enough at ISO 100 for anyone who isn't printing poster.  Rather, it's the lack of a full manual mode, which can be frustrating once you start introducing strobes and doing balanced light wide angle photography. You can kind of work around this limitation by using aperture priority mode, fixing the iso and then using exposure compensation to indirectly control the shutter speed, but it's not a perfect workaround. If the TG6 introduces a full manual mode, I would strongly consider owning one of these cameras even as a professional. The macro mode is great!

 

Tier 2 (around ~$3000) - Sony RX100 or Canon G7X II or Panasonic LX 100 1" sensor compact + wet wide angle lens and wet macro diopeter

 

The main advantage over a TG5 for me here is the full manual control. Image quality is better as well, but honestly, I think the TG5 is good enough for most people as far as image quality is concerned. But the tradeoff is that now you need a wet diopeter lens to do macro, and the macro magnification isn't as good as what you could achieve out of the box with a TG5. You're also looking at 3 times the cost once you factor in an aluminium housing and a good wet wide angle lens like the Nauticam WWL-1.

 

Tier 3 (~$6000) m4/3 Mirrorless Cameras like Olympus EM1 Mark II or Panasonic GH5

 

The big step up here from the 1" sensor compacts is the ability to use interchangeable lenses. m4/3 has a great lens selection, with everything from 180* fisheye lenses, to kit lens + WWL-1 wet lens for wide angle, wide angle lenses behind a dome port (mainly only consider if you do a lot of split shots, otherwise the WWL-1 route is a better option)  to dedicated macro lenses that can get you 2:1 magnification without any diopters. Image quality isn't actually a huge improvement over the 1" sensor compacts, but ergonomics on the housings are better. For video, I consider m4/3 to be the sweet spot atm. For photos, there's an argument to be made that some of the cameras in Tier 4 offer sufficient improments in image quality, autofocus and lens selection to make them worth considering. 

 

Tier 4 ($8000+) - APS-C or Full Frame DSLRs/Mirrorless Cameras

 

Main advantages here over m4/3s are:

* better autofocus systems (mainly in the the Nikon d500/d850/d5 line);

* access to versatile fisheye zooms like the Tokina 10-17; 

* significantly higher resolution and IQ with the 40-50Mpix sensors

* optical viewfinders (which are easier to compose high-contrast wide angle shots with than EVFs, in my view)

 

But there's some real disadvantages as well:

* depth of field for macro is shallower than with m4/3 cameras, and you get less magnification without external lenses

* if you use wide angle rectilinear lenses behind a dome port, you need a 230mm dome port for the best results, and these are huge, heavy and expensive

* the WACP wet wide angle solution is very heavy and very expensive also, when compared to the WWL-1 you can use on m4/3

* heavier and bulkier for transport, even though the whole overall rig might be similar in size in the water

 

It's worth also considering that a lot of the perceived quality improvements underwater come from your lighting (strobes) and getting closer, not so much from the camera sensor size or even the quality of the optics. And once you add two strobes, a tray, arms and a wet wide angle lens, even a TG5 rig gets quite big and bulky. I wouldn't say there's a meaningful difference in size between a compact, m4/3, or even a full-frame camera once you add arms and strobes. At least, not if you stay away from 230mm dome ports and use fisheye lenses with smaller dome ports or wet lenses for wide angle. 

 

 

I think this is a wonderful explanation of the levels of underwater camera setups available! It is about as concise as it can be, uw photo can get very complex very quickly! But that's what makes it so fun, right? :)


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#11 KGDiver

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Posted 05 July 2019 - 03:36 PM

 

I have put the picture in the photo video showcase section or look into flickr.com/interceptor121

 

Awesome shots! What are you using for lighting?

 

I just started dipping my toes into UW photography (photography in general). I went from a GoPro 3+ to the TG-5, Oly housing, and a BigBlue AL2600 lumen video light. My next step is looking into strobe(s). So far I've been mostly shooting macro, some nudies and a ton of blennies for which the video light has done OKish; but now I really want those black backgrounds...so at least one strobe to start. Also, we have a Sea of Cortez trip on the books for 2021 and I would really like to have a WA setup by then...which means two strobes; I've been looking at S-2000s to complement the size of a compact camera, but I'm a bit worried it wont be enough (2xS2000s) for WA.



#12 TimG

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 12:16 AM

 

Awesome shots! What are you using for lighting?
 
I just started dipping my toes into UW photography (photography in general). I went from a GoPro 3+ to the TG-5, Oly housing, and a BigBlue AL2600 lumen video light. My next step is looking into strobe(s). So far I've been mostly shooting macro, some nudies and a ton of blennies for which the video light has done OKish; but now I really want those black backgrounds...so at least one strobe to start. Also, we have a Sea of Cortez trip on the books for 2021 and I would really like to have a WA setup by then...which means two strobes; I've been looking at S-2000s to complement the size of a compact camera, but I'm a bit worried it wont be enough (2xS2000s) for WA.


It depends on how you shoot WA. If you want to light up all thats in front of you, I doubt the S2000 would be the way to go. But, my view anyway, is that its better to light up a close element of the reef with strobes and use ambient light for the majority.

Using Z240 strobes, I tend to use both strobes on the same side with some colourful reef on one side or other of the frame with a diver in the blue balancing the composition. The two Z240s will light the coral nicely and, hopefully, you end up with a pic that tells a story (important I think for WA), looks good and is nicely light.

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#13 KGDiver

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 10:38 AM

 
It depends on how you shoot WA. If you want to light up all that’s in front of you, I doubt the S2000 would be the way to go. But, my view anyway, is that it’s better to light up a close element of the reef with strobes and use ambient light for the majority.

Using Z240 strobes, I tend to use both strobes on the same side with some colourful reef on one side or other of the frame with a diver in the blue balancing the composition. The two Z240s will light the coral nicely and, hopefully, you end up with a pic that tells a story (important I think for WA), looks good and is nicely light.

 

Thanks for the info. I haven't really shot WA with my TG-5 as I do not have the lens. I did shoot a couple of shots of coral formations and some wrecks with just the bare camera and I ran into problems of not being able to fit the subject into the shot while also being close enough do get any decent detail....I guess that's where the WA lens comes into play? Haha. That's why I've been just shooting little critters and found that I really enjoy searching for them.



#14 ChrisRoss

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:03 PM

Strobes really depend on the camera.  The TG-5 is f2 or f2.8 which is at least 3 stops faster than a m43 setup, so the S-2000 will supply plenty of light.  You might use f5.6-8 for WA shots on a m43 system, f11 or so on APS-C and f16+ on a full frame DSLR.  The wider aperture is less demanding on flash output so and S-2000 would be fine for a compact like a TG-5 and also for a 1" compact like a RX-100, as the absolute max you would use in aperture would be about f5.6.

 

The TG-5 allows f8 on the wide end, but this is using a ND filter and has no benefit for depth of field, you would use this if you were struggling to get a black BG with macro.  The TG-5 has no manual mode so it attempts to get a good BG exposure as well flash.  Flash you can take care of by going to manual, the shutter speed you have to trick the camera by dialing in -ve exposure compensation and using manual flash to get the exposure right.


Edited by ChrisRoss, 09 July 2019 - 02:35 AM.


#15 Interceptor121

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 11:39 PM

I think a pair of S2000 would be a good start also thinking about form factor. Or get your hands on used z240 or sea sea YS-01 if you want more power


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#16 tursiops

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 12:31 PM

Some great info above. One thing I think has not been said is that you can do some decent video with the TG-5/6, so for "tier 1" I consider the TG-5/6 as the much more versatile choice. GoPro would be only the choice if you want to do wide-angle video only.





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