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Member Since 16 Jan 2011
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#385118 Panasonic LUMIX GH5 for underwater video

Posted by r4e on 18 June 2017 - 06:33 AM

Disclaimer: I have no experience of the IBIS in the GH5.


However, my former Sony MC50 video camera had an OIS that was able to lessen, but not completely eliminate, the slight swaying caused by fin action whilst shooting video and swimming at the same time. The Sony had couple of settings for the OIS and I shot test videos with various settings before I selected the setting that best matched my swimming style. I once forgot the recording on after a dive and got wonderful footage of the camera being handed over to the boat and then thrown under a bench. Thereafter the OIS kept compensating the rolling motion of the boat.


PS. you can also lessen the swaying motion by performing much smaller fin strokes, e.g. modified frog or flutter kick.

#381858 Just getting started...how am I doing?

Posted by r4e on 01 March 2017 - 02:19 AM

If you plan shooting near the maximum depth ratings (of domes), using a vacuum valve system  has its benefits and drawbacks.


A vacuum valve will improve O ring sealing on the surface and very shallow waters (less than deco depths). It also will help you to avoid some common user mistakes and might provide some "peace of mind".


However, for maximum depths, the partial vacuum (0.2-0.5 bars) will increase the pressure differential and consequently decrease the nominal maximum depth by as much. In other words, the dome might implode 6-15 feet shallower than it otherwise would. Secondly, the valve is yet another protrusion on your housing and thus slightly increases risk of line entanglement etc. Additionally, the valve itself is an additional leak point. If you do not close the valve fully, it might be airtight at the surface, but still leak at maximum depths. Finally, should your vacuum circuit alarm whilst at bottom, apart from turning the housing to face downwards, there is not much what you can do until returning to surface. With one or multiple hour deco obligations you can only listen to the continuous alarm and watch as the dome fills with water. Sending the camera with a SMB to surface has its own risks, multiple risks.

#381856 Just getting started...how am I doing?

Posted by r4e on 01 March 2017 - 01:48 AM

Your Aquatica housing for the Nikon D7000 camera has a depth rating of 90m/300ft and it can be upgraded to 130m/425 ft. Finding exact reliable depth ratings for each of the dome ports is a bit more difficult. According to Aquatica, they test all their dome ports, macro ports and extensions inhouse to a depth equivalent of 90m/300ft. However, I have seen third party web quotes of using Aquatica housings even upto 700 feet. I personally have been shooting with the 8" acrylic dome at 80m/260ft depths and some of my friends have been shooting with Aquatica housings and domes beyond 100m/330 ft depths. However, you will need the stiffer spring update for deep shots. And I would hesitate taking a 9.25 glass megadome to these depths...
For comparison, the Nauticam optical glass dome ports are rated to either 40m/130ft or 60m/200ft. Other Nauticam acrylic ports are rated from 45m/150ft to 100m/330ft including some special versions. And there has been a test dive to 500ft with the 4.33" dome.
The Sea&Sea YS-D2 has a depth rating of 100m/330ft.
For deep diving I would pay attention to clean setup of the equipment, e.g. no dangling cords etc. Make sure you can fold the arms and clip the camera away. I definitely would take the neoprene dome cover with me. For gas changes you can temporarily donate the camera to your buddy unless you have video light cords running to batteries on your belt. However, if the need arises, you have to be capable of ascending solo and managing gas switches on your own. That's why clipping the camera away would be a good choice.
I also would prepare the camera whilst descending, e.g. perform WB adjustments and prefocusing a bit shallower but in darkness. If you plan to shoot wide angle video shots of wrecks in darkness, you will need a lot of video light. I have been using 2x80W LED video lights on camera arms and/or larger lights off camera. E.g. the video below was shot with only two 300W lights off camera. Getting your light assistants to illuminate the wreck suitably is another story...

#367050 Photographing Silfra

Posted by r4e on 12 November 2015 - 07:09 AM

I do not have experience with either of the lenses you are querying. But with a cropped mode camera, the 10-17mm range seems more suitable than 18-70mm for scenery work.

#357648 Choose your weapon: SLR versus video camera for filmmaking

Posted by r4e on 10 February 2015 - 02:14 AM

I respect Jonathan's views as a professional who needs to rely on the production process - i.e. efficient work and less missed shots.


However, I personally moved from a video camera (Sony MC50E for semipro use) to a DSLR (Canon 5DIII) for the following reasons:

- Overall better image quality

- Less noise

- Better colors (but only after learning how to do it properly)

- Sharper video


Yes, I occasionally make the mistake of shooting out of focus footage due to the clumsiness of focusing. However, I plan to solve this By a) back button focus, b) external monitor and c) perhaps Magic Lantern.


I DO miss the optical image stabilization of my previous video camera. It is more difficult to avoid shake with a DLSR housing even it is almost perfectly balanced.


Even though the 5DIII is quite sensitive, I am still bothered by noise in the darker areas of the image, especially since I prefer to shoot with lights off-camera. Denoisers do help a bit though.


Since Jonathan recommends a video camera for the "advanced" user, I wonder what options are there between the image quality of a DSLR and a RED, and, have an ergonomic housing available - not just a piece of plastic pipe. In this forum there has been some concern about FS100 suitability in deeper/darker waters. There is not much information about FS700. And cropping factors and limited battery life eliminate some other choices.


Conclusion/question: is there any good video camera available for "advanced" u/w use?

#356380 DIY rebuild

Posted by r4e on 07 January 2015 - 04:30 AM

I have some own experience of doing overhauls "semi-professionally". Considering the hours required vs a reasonable price for the overhaul, this is more in order to support my local (european) clientele than actually earning anything.


Whilst pondering whether to do a full overhaul yourself or not, consider:

- how good you are at fine mechanics

- that you should be prepared to use several hours, or more, on the overhaul

- that it is wiser to document the bits and pieces before you tear them down

- that different housing models (even under same brand) vary in internal complexity

- that although most parts are relatively straight forward, some might be surprising difficult to reassemble in close quarters

- that at the middle of the overhaul you might realize you need an additional tool or spare part, thus leaving the project on the bench for a while

- that eventhough all the sealing surfaces and shafts might be clean, there might be corrosion elsewhere, e.g. preventing removing a knob or an external lever

- that despite best efforts the newly reconstructed housing might develop a minor leak that might be difficult to locate

- that after reassembly some of the controls might become stiff/jam at depth depending on a number of factors and that you'll need to analyze and solve the problem(s)


The points above originate from actual cases, i.e. this is not a service sales pitch.


Finally, you wouldn't believe how much peace of mind you get by performing a proper hydrotest to the rated depth.

#355917 Aquatica D7000 Housing issues with new camera

Posted by r4e on 28 December 2014 - 06:27 AM

If you forgot to remove the rubber eyecup from the camera before installing the camera into the housing, you would get similar symptoms...

#348850 Best system setup for cave and wide angle photography

Posted by r4e on 09 June 2014 - 04:39 AM

Hi Jools,

I travel with a Canon 5D Mark III (0.97 kg) with a 16-35mm f2.8L lens (0.83 kg)  and 8" dome (1.36 kg) plus a laptop (1.60 kg) in my carry-on baggage, a Tumi backpack (1.64 kg). With other bits and pieces, the total is 7.6 kg which is doable on most airlines. Additionally I carry a small (laptop size) unconspicuous hand bag that holds four LiIon batteries for my four 80W video lights, this totals 6.5 kg. For most European airlines this is way over the limit, but (knock on wood), I have managed to sneak in with 14 kg of carry-on. But Jools, I guess you could consider British Airways with their luxurious 2x20kg carry-on allowance...


I put the camera housing (3.3 kg) and the extension port (0.49) in the checked-in luggage. For a cave diving trip my checked-in luggage weighs a total of 55-64 kg. This includes everything except tanks and weights.


You can find pictures of my gear here:





and samples of cave and mine video/photo footage here:




and here:




As you can see from the samples, it is possible to illuminate fairly large spaces with 32000-100000 lumens if you have a sensitive camera. More is always better.



#342879 Any ideas on flooding insurance for a non-US resident/non-homeowner??

Posted by r4e on 05 February 2014 - 03:14 AM

I once asked from an insurance company director about how they insure their own fleet of cars. The answer was simple: no insurance.


On the long run, self-insurance is likely to be more economical especially for all none-essential stuff, i.e. your living does not depend on it.


The only exception to this is if you think you are atleast 25-30% more risky than the average insurance customer of that policy. If you can get a "normal" insurance or home insurance to cover your photographic and diving equipment, it might be worth it. But if you select a more specialized insurance, it is more likely to match the increased risk via higher insurance payments.


If you think you cannot afford to self-insure due to high replacement costs, consider that the insurance payments as "down-payments" of your future replacement camera IF the accident actually happens. However, it is far more likely that no accident will happen, and, those "downpayments" are lost forever and you cannot use that money to finance your next new camera.


N.B. self-insurance is not suitable for home insurance or anything where you might be liable to third parties.

#339233 Video - Ordinskaya Caves near Ural mountains

Posted by r4e on 10 November 2013 - 09:04 AM

Beautiful video indeed.



Yesterday I was seeing it on my 46" smart-tv via the vimeo app and I noticed a lot of macro-bloks/pixelation in the low lights. Maybe you should reload with a higher bitrate. In some video vimeo encoding strives to renders low light details.

Thanks Davide for your comments and feedback.


I'll need to pixel peep because I did not notice the pixelation on my monitor. Could you perhaps point out the time codes and areas where you noticed the pixelation? The mp4-files for Vimeo were exported from Edius with H.264/AVC Exporter Plug-in, Profile=High, CBR 15M bps, Quality=Superfine. Perhaps I should have used Profile=Main and/or a still higher bitrate.


During edit the foremost concerns were noise, color balance adjustment and image stability. With the exception of one shot, I did not apply noise reduction (yet) because I have not yet got enough experience with Edius. For most of the shots I did apply mid-range 3-way color adjust from green/cyan towards blue/purple, because the LED lamps did have a greenish color cast. This gave better results than by using the whitebalance tools. On the shots of the second episode I actually used an optical green water filter which also helped somewhat.

#338501 Video - Ordinskaya Caves near Ural mountains

Posted by r4e on 22 October 2013 - 02:53 PM

Nice footage except for the butt effect :)

Which camera/lens/lightning did you use?

Thanks for your comments.


The camera was my old Sony MC50E in an Aquatica/Amphibico housing. For this trip I preferred the video camera instead of my new Canon 5DIII for several reasons:

1) Less travel weight,

2) Takes less attention during dive, which is important in new caves without guides.

3) No limits on footage. I shot 60-80 minutes of video on an average dive.

4) Less drag. We swam a total of 13-15 kilometers in caves and I got blisters on my ankles.


The drawback is avchd and less tolerance for adjustments in edit. I really would want to shoot raw, but anything less than an hour of video record capacity feels crippled.


The video lights were the new Supernova Minis by Northern Light Scuba. We had 4 of them, each giving 8000 lumens. Measured burn times ranged between 78-128 minutes for LiIon batteries of allowable size for air travel.

#338499 Video - Ordinskaya Caves near Ural mountains

Posted by r4e on 22 October 2013 - 01:56 PM

Here is the first episode of cave diving footage in Orda. Since I'll be working on the next episodes sooner or later, any comments and feedback will be appreciated. And yes, I am aware of the butt issue...next episodes will show some other angles as well...


Please feel free to view in full screen mode.




#323175 Sony FS100 white balance at depth

Posted by r4e on 23 December 2012 - 01:13 PM

I agree with the target of achieving WB without needing to use any post-processing.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but, I would have expected more response in the image when stepping through the color temperatures - thanks Thani for sharing that. Could it be that the WB adjustment is diminished to some degree due to some other "stronger" control or compensating autoadjustment that limits the range available to WB adjustment? Disabling that control might allow for a larger WB adjustment range.

Hopefully the WB adjustment is done in the analog compontents (amplication) before the A/D converters in the camera. Otherwise, if the WB is done internally in the digital stages, there is far less latitude for WB adjustment without introducing other artefacts like banding. This is why I am interested to know how well the camera reproduces a graded blue or green water background (without any creative work in CG).

Just my 2 cents.

#321127 Any thoughts about this light?

Posted by r4e on 21 November 2012 - 03:17 PM

The pictures below are unprocessed frame grabs from AVCHD video of a Sony MC50E, WB set to "Outdoors". This WB setting gives near perfect settings for my HMI lamp.

The first picture shows three divers. Diver one, the furthest ahead, is using a Beast at half power. Divers two and three are using the 6000 lumen LED lamps. Unfortunately visibility was poor.

The second picture shows the lead diver holding the Beast downwards. Here you can see how even and wide the light beam is. Plus a soft edge.

The third picture is experimentation of a backlit subject. The small spot to the right of the diver is a HID lamp. The remainder is light from the Beast, partially reflected by an air/water surface at tunnel roof.

Attached Images

  • Pearl1.jpg
  • TheBeastPearl4.jpg
  • TheBeastPearl3-4.jpg

#320606 Any thoughts about this light?

Posted by r4e on 14 November 2012 - 10:33 PM

One of the few cave diving video that not bored me Posted Image
The lights used are these Scubamafia "the beast", a 300W Led lighthead.

These guys have another interesting and affordable model. Two LED light heads at 6000 lumens each, 150° flood, with two battery canister options. The smaller 153 Wh battery gives a burn time of 70 minutes for two light heads. Fitted with E/O cords, you could still bring the light set plus one or two spare batteries as carry-on luggage almost anywhere on the globe. (see previous message).


SInce Scubamafia is located within 2 hours driving distance, I might have to pay a visit to them and compare their stuff to my not-so-travel-friendly 16000 lumen Salvo 200 W HMI.Posted Image