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Help - what to buy


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#1 sarah0707

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 07:02 AM

Dear all,

 

I'm hoping you can help me. I've been reading online for days and days and still don't seem to be making any progress with making a decision for a new setup.

 

A bit of background: I have been using a Canon S95 on full manual in a FIX housing plus 2 strobes (YS-01s), uwl-04 wide angle and epoque dml-2 macro lens. I do around 150 dives a year, all in blue, clear water. I mainly take stills, but I do like to take a bit of video now and then and video quality is important to me. I have a separate GoPro Hero4 with lights and it would be great if I could find a stills camera which means I can do away with the GoPro.

 

I tried out a friend's Canon G9X Mk ii with Fantasea housing in March, and I enjoyed using it - it felt quite familiar compared to my S95. But I'll be honest, it didn't really excite me - I would consider it an updated replacement of my S95 rather than an upgrade. It's still a perfectly sensible option but I'm wondering whether it's worth putting some extra money in to have something better...

 

I could go into the nitty gritty of all the pros and cons I've found (of which there is a lot, hence I haven't been able to make a decision), but how about I just throw out my current choices and see what you all would choose: G7x ii, G9x ii, Sony RX100 iv, Sony RX100 v, or go off-piste with Olympus EM5 ii.

 

Also, a separate question - how do you know if a lens would vignette? For example, if I chose a housing with 55m thread (e.g. sony rx100 iv in fantasea iv housing) and used it with a fix uwl-04 (52mm thread) and step ring, would that vignette? 

 

Thanks all for your input,

 

Sarah



#2 EvilOtter

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:45 AM

Hi Sarah. I understand your confusion. The range of options can be absolutely dizzying. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with any of the cameras you are looking at so I will just offer a few questions/comments to help you refine your choice.

 

1. What are your objectives? Are you primarily focused on photo or video? Do you mainly shoot wide angle or macro? What are the weaknesses of your current setup that you wish to overcome? Understanding this will help you to narrow down your selection based on the relative strengths of various cameras. Furthermore, while you may be able to build a jack-of-all-trades system, you will most likely not be able be to configure for all situations on a given dive.

 

2. What is your budget? This will most likely be the key determinant of whether you should stick with a compact or could upgrade to mirrorless. The former may allow you to save money by repurposing your wet lenses, whereas the latter will require a significant investment in lenses and ports, over and above the cost of the camera and the housing.

 

3. Do you wish to shoot 4K video? If so, this will significantly reduce the number of options at your disposal. Bear in mind that you will also need to have a sufficiently capable computer, editing software, monitor and ample storage to manage a 4K workflow. Make sure to factor these costs into your budget.

 

I hope that this helps.


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#3 RanMozaik

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 06:18 AM

Hi Sarah!

 

I understand your pain :) There are quite a bit of options in the market, and they all seem pretty good, so it's quite hard to pick one.

Before I get into further details, let me just say that all the options you listed are excellent. Compacts these days are extremely capable. With every new model that comes out, I am amazed by the capabilities engineers have managed to fit into that tiny camera.

 

After trying out all the models you listed, my personal favorite is the RX100. Both IV and V are quite similar, but you might as well go for the newer one, as the difference in price isn't significant.

There was a major flaw in the RX100 series for UW photographers - the lack of UW WB mode, and a weird issue where you couldn't turn off the flash while it was popped up. Luckily, Sony mended both of these issues with the new firmware update.

 

The Canon G7X II is close behind. I usually recommend it to divers looking for something a bit easier to use. Canon's interface is a bit more intuitive and as someone who already shoots Canon, it will be much easier to move on to a new Canon. It also has the advantage of longer zoom, which means more magnification when shooting macro with a close-up lens. It lacks 4K, and image quality is a bit better on the Sony, but it's still an amazing camera.

 

The G9XII is a great camera, but a bit more basic. If you're looking for a major upgrade in image quality, go for the two aforementioned models. 

 

The E-M5 II is wonderful. However, it may be updated soon, since it's already over 2 years old. It's still very relevant though. Moving up to a mirrorless means messing around with ports, lenses, etc. It's also physically larger. It's a step up indeed, great for some divers, pain for others.

 

As for the vignetting issue, it's not always easy to know, as there are plenty of combinations. However, a good reference is the widest focal range of the lens. Since all models you mentioned have a 24mm lens, the UWL-04 will vignette in all of them. It's designed for a 28mm and indeed better with a 52mm thread such as the TG-4 housing.

The UWL-09 is the preferred lens for the newer models. It's basically a bigger UWL-04, designed to accommodate 24mm lenses.

 

I recommend reading my reviews on the models you mentioned:

Sony RX100 V Review

Sony RX100 IV Samples

Canon G7X II Review

Canon G9X Review (similar to the G9XII)

Olympus E-M5 II Review

 

Bottom line, all of these cameras are capable of amazing results. Pick one, learn how to control it, and travel to extraordinary places around the world to use it :) That how you get beautiful photos!  


Dive safe and mind your fins  :)
Ran Mor
UW Photo Expert @ Mozaik UW Cameras
www.housingcamera.com


#4 sarah0707

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:52 AM

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it. I'll attempt to reply point by point :)

 

 

1. What are your objectives? Are you primarily focused on photo or video? Do you mainly shoot wide angle or macro? What are the weaknesses of your current setup that you wish to overcome? 

 

I'd say primarily photo with a few video clips per dive. I have always mainly shot wide angle but would like to do much more macro in future. The main weakness of my ex-setup was just the end quality of the pictures. 

 

 

 

What is your budget?

 

All the above fit within budget, and with the mirrorless I could afford the kit lens and a 60mm lens to start with during the first few months (the port with the housing would accommodate both of these). I guess one of my first questions would be whether these two lenses will give me enough to get started?

 

 

Do you wish to shoot 4k video?

 

Ideally yes, but not at the compromise of my stills pictures. I have a GoPro Hero 4 which shoots 4k - ideally I'd like to have it all in one camera. However, there is the option of mounting the GoPro on the top of one of the other housings if necessary. I guess the problem is that once something is available to the average consumer we want to have it :) I think the RX100 would be the clear winner if it weren't for all these issues with overheating when shooting video.

 

Cheers,

Sarah



#5 sarah0707

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 10:59 AM

Hi Sarah!

 

I understand your pain :) There are quite a bit of options in the market, and they all seem pretty good, so it's quite hard to pick one.

Before I get into further details, let me just say that all the options you listed are excellent. Compacts these days are extremely capable. With every new model that comes out, I am amazed by the capabilities engineers have managed to fit into that tiny camera.

 

After trying out all the models you listed, my personal favorite is the RX100. Both IV and V are quite similar, but you might as well go for the newer one, as the difference in price isn't significant.

There was a major flaw in the RX100 series for UW photographers - the lack of UW WB mode, and a weird issue where you couldn't turn off the flash while it was popped up. Luckily, Sony mended both of these issues with the new firmware update.

 

The Canon G7X II is close behind. I usually recommend it to divers looking for something a bit easier to use. Canon's interface is a bit more intuitive and as someone who already shoots Canon, it will be much easier to move on to a new Canon. It also has the advantage of longer zoom, which means more magnification when shooting macro with a close-up lens. It lacks 4K, and image quality is a bit better on the Sony, but it's still an amazing camera.

 

The G9XII is a great camera, but a bit more basic. If you're looking for a major upgrade in image quality, go for the two aforementioned models. 

 

The E-M5 II is wonderful. However, it may be updated soon, since it's already over 2 years old. It's still very relevant though. Moving up to a mirrorless means messing around with ports, lenses, etc. It's also physically larger. It's a step up indeed, great for some divers, pain for others.

 

As for the vignetting issue, it's not always easy to know, as there are plenty of combinations. However, a good reference is the widest focal range of the lens. Since all models you mentioned have a 24mm lens, the UWL-04 will vignette in all of them. It's designed for a 28mm and indeed better with a 52mm thread such as the TG-4 housing.

The UWL-09 is the preferred lens for the newer models. It's basically a bigger UWL-04, designed to accommodate 24mm lenses.

 

I recommend reading my reviews on the models you mentioned:

Sony RX100 V Review

Sony RX100 IV Samples

Canon G7X II Review

Canon G9X Review (similar to the G9XII)

Olympus E-M5 II Review

 

Bottom line, all of these cameras are capable of amazing results. Pick one, learn how to control it, and travel to extraordinary places around the world to use it :) That how you get beautiful photos!  

Hi Ran,

 

Thanks so much for your comprehensive reply - I appreciate your experience with all these different cameras!

I guess my main questions are:

1. I thought the G7Xii was out of the running as I heard it doesn't play nicely with wide angle lenses - is that your experience too? If there's a wide angle lens which will work nicely then I would definitely choose it over the G9xii.

2. With the sony rx100 v - If I'm on a dive, take 20 stills shots, take a break, then switch to video for a 4k clip for 2 minutes, and carry on like this, will the battery make it through a one hour dive? If I go down to 1080p is the situation any better?

3. In terms of end photo quality from the camera - will it be significantly better with the mirrorless, or is the advantage the flexibility of lenses etc rather than end quality?

 

I think the only reason the EM5ii is in budget is because it's likely to be replaced soon - certainly if it were at the list price right now it wouldn't be within my reach.

 

My instinct says to go with the Sony, and not rely on it for 4k for shooting video for a whole dive, I just need to be sure that these overheating and battery issues are not going to hinder what I would consider a 'normal' dive.

 

Thankfully I have daily access to beautiful dive sites and the ability to go back to sites again and again, and take my time, choose whether I want to do wide angle or macro, so I guess that's why I want to make sure I make the right choice as the camera will be used an awful lot.

 

I really appreciate all your input and feedback guys, really. It's a total minefield!

 

Sarah


Edited by sarah0707, 07 August 2017 - 11:00 AM.


#6 EvilOtter

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 11:37 AM

Thanks for the point-by-point response!

 

Of all the cameras you have listed, only the RX100 is capable of 4K video. Again, I have no direct experience with this camera but another forum user, Interceptor121, has worked with it extensively. I understand that it is a very capable stills camera but that video is held back a 5-minute limit on 4K clips as well as poor white balance performance. Interceptor121 shoots exclusively with a red filter. You may wish to check out his blog here: http://interceptor121.com

 

Another consideration for 4K video is the Olympus TG-5. I have only read the reviews on it but my wife uses the TG-4 in the Olympus housing for stills and really loves the microscope mode (macro without the need for diopters). As Ran indicated above, this combination would allow you to repurpose your UWL-04. In my view, this is a great option from a price/value perspective.

 

My last suggestion for 4K video is the Panasonic LX100 (or the newer LX10). I just started using the LX100 and find it to be very capable for video with excellent manual white balance. It is basically a point-and-shoot version of the GH4. You may wish to check this out as well. Good luck!


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Please visit my YouTube channel: Fish Nerd Films


#7 sarah0707

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 12:01 PM

Thanks EvilOtter! Will definitely check out the TG5 and LX100, and Interceptor121's blog!



#8 SwiftFF5

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 03:30 AM

FWIW, one of the best UW photographers that I know personally loves his TG-4, and the TG-5 should be even better, at least going on the reviews.  He does not do any video work, though.


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#9 sarah0707

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 07:01 AM

FWIW, one of the best UW photographers that I know personally loves his TG-4, and the TG-5 should be even better, at least going on the reviews.  He does not do any video work, though.

 

Thanks SwiftFF5. I love the look of the TG-5 - was checking it out last night. The pictures in the microscope mode are stunning! But the lack of full manual control rules it out for me :( 



#10 RanMozaik

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 09:01 AM

Hi Ran,

 

Thanks so much for your comprehensive reply - I appreciate your experience with all these different cameras!

I guess my main questions are:

1. I thought the G7Xii was out of the running as I heard it doesn't play nicely with wide angle lenses - is that your experience too? If there's a wide angle lens which will work nicely then I would definitely choose it over the G9xii.

2. With the sony rx100 v - If I'm on a dive, take 20 stills shots, take a break, then switch to video for a 4k clip for 2 minutes, and carry on like this, will the battery make it through a one hour dive? If I go down to 1080p is the situation any better?

3. In terms of end photo quality from the camera - will it be significantly better with the mirrorless, or is the advantage the flexibility of lenses etc rather than end quality?

 

I think the only reason the EM5ii is in budget is because it's likely to be replaced soon - certainly if it were at the list price right now it wouldn't be within my reach.

 

My instinct says to go with the Sony, and not rely on it for 4k for shooting video for a whole dive, I just need to be sure that these overheating and battery issues are not going to hinder what I would consider a 'normal' dive.

 

Thankfully I have daily access to beautiful dive sites and the ability to go back to sites again and again, and take my time, choose whether I want to do wide angle or macro, so I guess that's why I want to make sure I make the right choice as the camera will be used an awful lot.

 

I really appreciate all your input and feedback guys, really. It's a total minefield!

 

Sarah

 

Glad to help :)

I see a couple of people here recommended the TG-4 / TG-5. As you said - lack of manual mode rules it out. It's great for those who don't mind, but for me it's a dealbreaker.

 

1. G7XII plays great with wide angles. Check it out in the review I sent. I used the UWL-09, and I've also tried the Nauticam WWL-1, both on the Fantasea housings. Both performed great. Sure, you need to use a narrow aperture to sharpen the corners, but that's always the case with wet wide angle lenses.

 

2. Battery should last at least one dive. Get a couple of spares. For me it lasted 1.5 dives on average. With normal shooting, not as much video though, I usually shoot stills. Yes, battery life and overheating is somewhat of a limitation. In my opinion, the camera is so great, it's worth working around it.

 

3. I used the A6300 and RX100 V simultaneously on a liveaboard and found myself shooting mostly with the RX100V. Yes the A6300 was better, but I found it limiting for shooting sharks in shallow water due to the maximum flash sync speed, a limitation which does not exist in compacts. Optics are better with a mirrorless, and even better with a DSLR. That's a limitation no compact can overcome. Good optics requires big lenses.

 

It's all one big compromise :) But any of these can produce mindblowing results. Just make sure you're comfortable with it.


Dive safe and mind your fins  :)
Ran Mor
UW Photo Expert @ Mozaik UW Cameras
www.housingcamera.com


#11 sarah0707

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 06:19 AM

Hi all,

 

Thanks so much for all your help and advice. As this was an insurance replacement the decision in the end was taken out of my hands and they found the G9x ii a suitable replacement, so I will go with that and see how I get on. It wouldn't have been my choice but it seemed like all my options were going to be a compromise in one way or another.

 

Thanks so much again for all your time and advice, I'll keep you posted with how it goes!

 

Sarah


Edited by sarah0707, 11 August 2017 - 06:19 AM.