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New lens - what would you choose?


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#1 JeremyGelber

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 12:44 PM

Hi all,
 
I’m in the market for a new (above water) portrait lens and have been looking at both the Nikon and Sigma options. I currently use my Sigma 50mm f1.4 prime mostly - which is what I use underwater with my Ikelite enclosure - but I want something with a bit of reach and some wide angle whilst retaining great bokeh and sharpness. Thus, things like the Nikkor 24-120 f/4, the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8, and the Sigma 24-105 f/4 are all obvious contenders.
 
Price wise, these vary massively. In USD (I tend to buy my lenses from B&H in NYC) they go from $819 for the 24-70 Sigma up to $1,697 for the Nikon 24-70. The Nikon 24-120mm isn’t “too bad” at $1,097.
 
Now comes the tricky bit: what is and isn’t compatible with the Ikelite system? I’ve had a look through the FL Port chart that’s on their website (http://www.ikelite.c...port-charts.pdf) and can’t necessarily find all of the lenses, plus at least some of them need dioptres. In addition, the preference always seems to be for the 8-inch dome plus dioptres as required, but the flat port which I used recently on my Maldives trip produced superb results and is a lot less bulky.
 
Can I ask for your advice on choosing the most appropriate lens not only for above-water portraiture but as a great all-rounder that is totally compatible with my Ikelite system? I will need to buy a lens extension I suspect, and possibly a new flat port if the existing one I have isn’t big enough. And also your thoughts on using the dioptre in terms of whether it changes the picture quality or ability to focus at different zoom lengths etc.
 
Thanks in advance,
 
Jeremy


#2 Cerianthus

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 12:11 AM

Does the 50mm 1.4 focus really close? Most seem to favour a macro lens in the 50mm or 100mm range. 24 mm is not that wide although I liked it when I used film. Do you use a full frame or aps sensor? As for the port, if you want any wide angle benefit you'll want a dome port. Ikelites 4 locks port system is limited for 'fat' lenses, the new port system is larger. That is probably why some lenses are not listed.


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#3 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 03:03 AM

Hi, thanks for the response and the questions.

 

I'm using a Nikon D610 DSLR which is a full-frame sensor. The 50mm 1.4 managed to get reasonably close with the flat port, probably 50-60cm. This is why I want a bit more reach - I know I need to get as close as possible when underwater, but most animals swim away if I get any closer than 30cm I've found. My understanding of the diopter is that it allows for closer focussing, is that correct?

 

Remember that I don't specifically want to buy a macro lens: the lens will get most of its use as an above-water portrait lens. What I found with the 50mm f1.4 was that it was really very good for "medium" shots underwater but not good at proper close-ups and obviously not good with wide-angle.

 

I have the 8 inch dome port, I just didn't use it. So if I fitted that with the 50mm f1.4 I'd get some degree of wider shot obviously. But I really want the sort of 30mm wide-ish angle that the portrait zoom allows for. I figure that when zoomed to 70mm using the dome port, it will be equivalent to using the 50mm with the flat port. Is that correct or am I confused again?

 

I'm not going to get another housing, so I'm stuck with the FL 4-lock system. Given all the above information, what would you suggest?

 

Here's a couple of pictures I took with the 50mm f1.4:

 

DSC_0697_zpswwwxxlqp.jpg

 

DSC_1505_zpsxz6sh9k3.jpg

 

DSC_1068_zpskmxlcr5m.jpg

 

DSC_0794_zpsgnxnxasz.jpg



#4 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 03:41 AM

Hi Jeremy

 

Apologies, I'm not familiar with Ikelite ports, but what about the Nikkor 105mm? It's perfect for full-frame u/w macro and good too for topside - if maybe a bit too sharp for some portraits!

 

It'll use a flat port and shouldn't need diopters.

 

OK, no wide-angle, I admit. 


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#5 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:10 AM

Hi Jeremy
 
Apologies, I'm not familiar with Ikelite ports, but what about the Nikkor 105mm? It's perfect for full-frame u/w macro and good too for topside - if maybe a bit too sharp for some portraits!
 
It'll use a flat port and shouldn't need diopters.
 
OK, no wide-angle, I admit. 


Yes that's the issue, I need both ends of the zoom range. The 105mm is a specialised portrait lens and if I was getting another prime it would be something like an 85mm anyway. So the issue is specifically which ZOOM I should get that is compatible with the existing housing.


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#6 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:21 AM

Yes that's the issue, I need both ends of the zoom range. The 105mm is a specialised portrait lens and if I was getting another prime it would be something like an 85mm anyway. So the issue is specifically which ZOOM I should get that is compatible with the existing housing.


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Tough one for sure. I agree with Gerard that I never thought 24mm was really wide enough for u/w; and unless the tele end is really close focussing that would not be much use either for macro. I've got the Nikkor 24-70 and whilst it's a cracking lens topside, I wouldn't want to try and house it.

 

I can't help but think, Jeremy, there are too many compromises and high costs if you go down the 24-xxx range.


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#7 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:22 AM

 
Tough one for sure. I agree with Gerard that I never thought 24mm was really wide enough for u/w; and unless the tele end is really close focussing that would not be much use either for macro I've got the Nikkor 24-70 and whilst it's a cracking lens topside, I wouldn't want to try and house it.
 
I can't help but think, Jeremy, there are too many compromises and high costs if you go down the 24-xxx range.


Yup I'm beginning to think the same. Which means I need to choose my next portrait lens based on above water performance only. And if I can't get it to work underwater then so be it.


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#8 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:30 AM

Yup I'm beginning to think the same. Which means I need to choose my next portrait lens based on above water performance only. And if I can't get it to work underwater then so be it.


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Yeah, good call, I think. I reckon you should be able to get most topside portrait lens to work u/w - unless you go with something really long. 85mm should be fine - but then you get back to the point of how close does it focus for macro.


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#9 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:35 AM

What do you guys consider your "dream lens" for U/W work? I realise that depends almost entirely on whether you're shooting shoals or nudibranches, but I'm curious as to what the U/W community feels is "the best" for the various scenarios.



#10 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:45 AM

For me on an FX body:

 

Sigma 15mm. Use it for divers, wrecks, coral reef outcrops, walls.

 

Nikkor 16-35mm for bigger fish stuff: dolphins, sharks etc.

 

Nikkor 105mm for all macro.

 

If shooting on DX then I'd swap the Sigma 15mm for the Tokina 10-17mm and would add the Nikkor 60mm for macro although still use the 105mm a lot.

 

The last 2-3 dive trips I've done I've found I generally only use either the Sigma 15mm or the Nikkor 105mm. I've been to the (southern) Red Sea 3-4 times in the last few years and now reckon I'd only take the 15mm and 16-35mm.


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#11 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:46 AM

Interesting thank you. Could you show me 3/4 of your favourite pics with those lens?


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#12 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 05:08 AM

Not sure about "favourite", Jeremy, but the attached are examples.

 

The grouper on the tubes; the divers in the tunnel are with the Sigma 15mm

 

The banded coral shrimp and the anthia with the 105mm

 

and the dolphins with a 16-35.

Attached Images

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Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#13 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 05:13 AM

Here's a couple more Sigma 15mm shots. I find this lens just superb u/w.

 

 

Attached Images

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  • TG40494.jpg

Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#14 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 05:15 AM

Beautiful pictures. Really wonderful. Thank you.

It seems to me you need to decide before you dive what subjects you are looking for. Either do a macro dive looking for small things or a wide dive looking for larger fish and "landscape" images. The compromise I'm looking for with a wide angle to 70 or 100 zoom doesn't seem to be the right way in terms of getting the great shots.


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Do you use substrobes with the very wide angle (<20mm) lens or is there no point because they can't illuminate the whole scene so far away?


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#15 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 05:20 AM

Thanks Jeremy 

 

I think you are spot on. I just don't think it works going out ready to photo "whale sharks and pygmy sea horses". There is just too much compromise. If you look at the pic of the banded coral shrimp you can see the resolving power of the 105mm macro - check out the tiny hairs on the legs; and this is a 100dpi JPG. 

 

I agree, decide what you want to photograph and go out ready to do that. If you are ready for pygmy sea horses and you meet a whale shark, hey, enjoy the experience. And then go and photo the pygmies and come back with great shots.

 

Honestly, given what it would cost and the compromises, I wouldn't go with the wide/macro/tele option. You have a really good FX camera. Make the best possible use of it.


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#16 adamhanlon

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 09:22 AM

Your other issue with the "one lens to rule them all" idea is that to get true wide angle, you will need to use a dome, whilst that same dome will prevent you getting close for shooting macro. 

 

When shooting wide angle, most people will use strobes to illuminate the foreground subject and then balance this with ambient light for the background. Tim's latter two lovely images are both examples of this.

 

Your images with the 50mm are interesting as it is not a lens choice that may people favour underwater. Would it be possible to see the images uncrossed? How is the CA behind the flat port? It is hard to tell on web resolution images.

 

Without wanting to sound patronising, as an experienced topside shooter, I would get hold of Alex Mustard's "Underwater Photography Masterclass". I think this will really help you understand how optics and lighting work "beneath the surface".

 

All the best

 

Adam


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#17 JeremyGelber

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 10:19 AM

The only reason I went with the 50mm was that was what was on my camera when I ordered the Ikelite kit!

 

I have the following lens:

 

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 prime

Nikkor 28mm-300mm f/3.5-f5.6

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro

Tamron 180mm f/3.5 macro

Sigma 150mm-600mm f5-6.3

 

I have a very large marine aquarium at home and the macro lens are incredible at taking super-close up shots of coral and fish. It hadn't even occurred to me that I might use them underwater!

 

Thank you for the Masterclass, I think it's an excellent idea and I'm in no way patronised by your suggestion. I'm on the forum to gain knowledge and if that helps me then I'm happy.


Edited by JeremyGelber, 30 December 2016 - 10:23 AM.


#18 TimG

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 01:14 PM

The only reason I went with the 50mm was that was what was on my camera when I ordered the Ikelite kit!

 

I have the following lens:

 

 

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro

 

I have a very large marine aquarium at home and the macro lens are incredible at taking super-close up shots of coral and fish. It hadn't even occurred to me that I might use them underwater!

 

Thank you for the Masterclass, I think it's an excellent idea and I'm in no way patronised by your suggestion. I'm on the forum to gain knowledge and if that helps me then I'm happy.

 

I think you've found your solution, Jeremy!

 

I agree with Adam on Alex's book. It's fascinating.


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D800, Nikkors 105mm and 16-35mm, Sigma 15mmFE - Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#19 eyu

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 07:49 AM

A good medium zoom that works well underwater is the Nikkor 24-85 mm f 2.8-4D IF.

It works with a flat port set at it's macro setting as a 35-85 mm lens that does 1:2 reproduction ratio

 

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#20 JeremyGelber

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 12:19 PM

I've been reading reviews of that lens, ignoring the underwater side. It seems for a medium zoom portrait lens it actually gets very good reviews and given the price it seems like a better choice than all the other lens mentioned on this thread.

That makes me want to get it anyway.

Are we also saying it's compatible with the FL port system?


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