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Member Since 30 Mar 2017
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#404307 New to UW photography - looking for something particular

Posted by Barmaglot on 14 March 2019 - 09:37 AM

If you're going to go deep, keep in mind that Meikon's pistol grip is rated only to 20 meters. Pistol grips are generally a feature of surf housings rather than scuba diving ones, as underwater we frequently want to bring the camera down to the bottom and a pistol grip would get in the way there. You also can't mount it simultaneously with a tray, which limits your light attachment points to just the cold shoe. Also, 10-18mm won't work with a 4" dome; that dome is tiny - here's a picture of the housing with macro port, flat port, 4", 6" and 8" domes:




Likewise, 16mm+VCL-ECF won't work in the 6" dome, as that dome's barrel is too long, and the tiny lens won't clear it. Tokina 10-17mm should work in the 6" dome, but you'll have to DIY a gear and there are reports that it doesn't AF very well in poor light. Note that this test was done with an A6300, which has much better AF capabilities with adapted lenses than A6000 and the reviewer still wasn't impressed. Other reviewers have posted different opinions though, so your mileage may vary.


Sony isn't the only game in town when it comes to mirrorless - there's Fujifilm, and more recently Nikon Z6/Z7, Canon EOS R/RP, Panasonic S1/S1R, not to mention the extensive micro four-thirds lineup from Olympus and Panasonic. Not all mirrorless cameras are small either; bodies like Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic GH5 are pretty much DSLR-sized.

#404167 SeaLife DC2000 frustrations

Posted by Barmaglot on 11 March 2019 - 08:45 AM

SeaLife sells Sea Dragon Ball Joint Adapters - you can use those to mount your lights on a standard arm system and use a normal tray rather than the proprietary SeaLife one; the housing mounts using standard 1/4" screws so that shouldn't be an issue.

#404143 SeaLife DC2000 frustrations

Posted by Barmaglot on 10 March 2019 - 01:33 PM


1. Are there any 3rd party accessories to allow having a shutter button on the handle?


I use this one with my SeaFrogs housing for Sony A6300, but the SeaLife tray handles use connectors that don't seem to be compatible. You could get a different tray, but then you'd also need new arms and adapters for the SeaLife light and strobe.



2. Are there any 3rd party accessories for a rotating or titled viewfinder for the Sealife?


Not as far as I know, although an LCD magnifier such as this one may help.



If the above 2 aren't possible with the Sealife then I'll have to consider swapping to another compact camera setup and cut my losses with the Sealife (considering the Canon GX7 mark II or Panasonic Lumix LX10). Would either of those 2 have accessories to address the above issues or are those options only available on DSLR housings?


If you house your Canon G7X II in a Fantasea FG7X II housing, you can add a UMG-02 magnifier hood and get something approximating an angled viewfinder that you'd use with a DSLR. Nauticam offers a similar accessory, but their housings are much more expensive,

#404122 Future of strobes? LED?

Posted by Barmaglot on 09 March 2019 - 11:28 PM


 Of the widely used underwater strobes, only two of the three popular ones are now available, as the promised new Retra strobes have not materialized, leaving us only Inon and Sea&Sea.


It's somewhat inaccurate to claim that Retras 'have not materialized', as the last year's announcement specified May-June 2019 as the scheduled release date. While I have little doubt they'll slip a bit (or more than a bit), I don't think they're vaporware.



The Inon Z330 is hard to come by and excessively priced, leaving the newer Sea&Sea YS-D2J as the available choice.


Backscatter lists Z-330 at $650 and YS-D2 at $690; how is it that Z-330 is 'excessively priced'? Both are marginally less expensive than Retra (€655) or Retra Pro (€820).



I did not mention Ikelite as their excellent strobes use sync chords with no TTL


I don't own an Ikelite strobe, but it is my understanding that TTL is possible with them if you use an appropriate converter.



The duration of an external strobe flash is not controlled by the camera's TTL system so that underwater TTL photography requires an external added-on TTL control device. 


My experience using TTL over fiber optics, triggered off the camera's built-in flash has been largely trouble-free. While an add-on TTL trigger would certainly be helpful, it is by no means required.



The brightness of available LED lights keeps on increasing, they are now blindingly bright, and also hot, while their prices have dropped.


They're still several orders of magnitude less bright than xenon flashes. Yes, powerful LEDs are available - but a Scubalamp V12K costs over two thousand USD, weighs over 3kg, and its battery is big enough to pose trouble with air travel; all of that for an output of 24000 lumen - keep in mind that you'll need over a million lumen to match a xenon strobe's prompt output.



An alternative to the LED strobe is to use the continuous light of one or more high intensity LED underwater lamps, to take advantage of the very high ISO and resolution of the new generation of cameras, so one can shoot with a fast shutter speed to freeze motion. To give one camera example, the Sony a7Riii has 42.4 megapixels with an ISO range of 40 to 102,400 with excellent image quality throughout most of this range.


While high ISO can work in a studio, where you control the ambient light, it is not a solution underwater where we need the strobes to overwhelm the ambient sunlight to produce vivid colors. Raising ISO can help with reducing shutter speeds (up until you run into flash sync speed limits), but the sensor will just ingest more of the blue/green tinged natural light, doing nothing for color reproduction.



Back to LED strobes:  A relevant item of interest to be watched is the continually improving quality of cell phone cameras and their built-in strobes, a Darwinian force driving the evolution of cell-phone LED photo strobes, a force generated by the huge moneys spent by those addicted to their cell phone cameras. 

The quality of the pictures taken with these small cameras keeps on improving and so cell phones are replacing pocket cameras. Will they one day become the standard for underwater photography?


A lot of the improvements in smartphone camera output come from increasingly sophisticated post-processing. Phone manufacturers target audiences of tens and hundreds of millions of consumers, and this allows them to sink immense resources into relevant R&D. By contrast, us underwater photographers are a tiny bunch, and our requirements are highly peculiar - I would not count on Googles and Apples of the world investing much effort on our part.

#401439 How do you reach the shutter button?

Posted by Barmaglot on 06 December 2018 - 01:13 PM

At first I used option 1, then I got this and moved to option 2. The latter is significantly more convenient.

#401102 Wet Wide Angle Lens Help

Posted by Barmaglot on 23 November 2018 - 10:18 PM

Parking the wet wide lens on the bottom of the tray sounds like an excellent way to get it all scratched up when you bring the camera  down to the sand for a macro shot. Acrylic domes pick up scratches really easily; you want to park it where it's least likely to touch anything - like, for instance, facing inward off a strobe arm.

#399290 Seafrogs ST-100 Pro Underwater strobe - need your openion

Posted by Barmaglot on 12 September 2018 - 04:35 AM

Okay, so now that I'm back, and on a decent connection, I can summarize my experience, good and bad, from a dozen dives with a pair of ST-100s.


The good part is that they work, after a fashion, and that they're comparably inexpensive, though at $460 for the pair, still not exactly throwaway money. For my first run at using strobes, rather than natural light or constant LED beams, I got some photos that I'm reasonably happy with, for instance:




The bad parts are, unfortunately, quite numerous.


  1. The initial pair of strobes that I received died after a few test fires on land - one stopped charging (the ready light stayed red), while the other had a green light, and the pilot LED would turn off upon triggering, but the strobe wouldn't fire. After an exchange of messages with the Aliexpress seller (Cameraman's Store), they instructed me to ship the faulty strobes back to Meikon in Hong Kong (cost me about $30) and sent me a replacement pair via EMS, with the shipping taking about a week in each direction.
  2. While on land, both strobes appeared to fire, on the first dive I ended up with a bunch of images lit only from the right - the left strobe either wasn't firing at all, or out of sync with the camera. After fiddling with knobs and buttons, I somehow got both of them to work in TTL mode - facing the camera and pulling the trigger, I could see the double flash of TTL from either strobe (was testing them one at a time), but for whatever reason, the left strobe was still firing a single flash while on land - and sometimes this single flash would sync with the shutter, and sometimes it wouldn't.
  3. I'm not sure that the TTL compensation works - I was getting some overexposed shots, and I tried to dial it down to -1EV, and it may have helped, but I couldn't do a controlled environment test, so it may also have been me changing the composition or the camera metering settings.
  4. The manual mode does not work. Whatever I did, at least with the right strobe, I was getting a double flash of TTL. Pushing in the right-side magnetic switch, releasing which helped to activate TTL on the left strobe, did not deactivate TTL on the right strobe.
  5. The YS-mount attachment bolts have large, easy to use handles to turn them - unfortunately, this causes one side to bump into the tray handle when I tuck the strobes in for a CFWA shot, or when I mounted them together with my video lights on triple clamps for night dives. I only had a leatherman with a bit set with me, so I couldn't get at the hex head screws holding the mount adapter, but I think with a longer allen wrench I can flip it around so that both bolts face outwards.
  6. Both mode knobs, regardless of their utility or lack thereof, have tiny black arrows indicating where they're pointing. My eyesight is perfectly adequate, but at depth, these indicators are almost impossible to see without pulling the strobe right under the mask. I suppose a dab of white paint will help with that.
  7. This may be a case of excessive expectations, but I kind of expected to have more power. Trying to light up a fan coral a couple of meters across, at around 20m depth, there just wasn't enough output to kill the natural sunlight - I had to fix the white balance in post and ended up with purple water, to wit:

    Yes, I know that the water color can be fixed too, and the shot isn't framed right, and I should've shot at closer range using 10mm focal length rather than 13mm (there was some current and I was afraid of getting too close) but that's not the point. To be sure, it may be a limitation of my camera - I saw a post today, by Pavel Kolpakov, claiming that built-in camera flashes tend to have a maximum burn time of about 1ms, while powerful UW flashes pulse for as long as 4ms, so triggering with the built-in flash may be incapable of extracting the full output of the flash in TTL mode. BM davec13o2 tested it with wired sync, and I understand that for him, the manual mode worked, including the variable power, but I don't have a wired sync bulkhead option on my housing, and I'm kind of reluctant to spend $500+ on a TRT Electronics LED trigger, which might not work with ST-100 to begin with.

Bottom line, while I'm not a particularly angry customer, I'm not a satisfied one either. I expected the same value deal from Meikon strobes that I got from my Meikon housings, and I did not get one. I will be having words with the seller again, but I don't expect much to come of it. I imagine I will use these strobes for a few more trips, then relegate them to backup status when I convince myself to part with the cash for a pair of Z-330s or YS-D2Js. In hindsight, I likely would've been better off paying a couple hundred dollars more for a pair of used YS-D1s or Z-240s.

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#397942 packing and transporting my rig

Posted by Barmaglot on 29 July 2018 - 10:35 PM

Worse yet, with a fully sealed housing, sea-level pressure trapped inside while ambient pressure drops may cause your dome to pop out of its seal - it's designed to withstand external pressure squeezing it in, not internal pressure pushing it out - and that may require a factory repair. Therefore, when you're taking your housing on a plane, it's best to ensure that it is not sealed - keep it open, or close it without o-rings, or dismount the port, or remove the vacuum port cap, doesn't matter what as long as it can freely equalize internal and external pressure.

#397842 Surface Material or a little underwater Gear adaptable to a RX100 IV

Posted by Barmaglot on 27 July 2018 - 02:15 AM

Long focal lengths don't help you underwater - even the most clear water absorbs light very quickly, and you're not always lucky enough to have clear water to begin with; far too often you'll have silt and other particulates obscuring your view. Imagine shooting in a dense fog - how much will a telephoto lens help you there? Therefore, the cardinal rule of underwater photography is to get close, and if you think you're close enough - get closer still. Focal lengths in the 90-120mm range (FF-equivalent) are used for macro shots of small critters, not for shooting from afar.

#397730 Removing scratches from a dome port

Posted by Barmaglot on 24 July 2018 - 10:16 AM

I would contact Weefine support - they may be able to sell you a replacement front element for significantly less than the entire lens assembly.

#397257 Various mods for Olympus PT-058 Housing for TG-5

Posted by Barmaglot on 10 July 2018 - 07:51 PM

But if you want to use two handles (because you have two lights and want to have a nice steady grip on the whole rig, getting to the shutter trigger is hard. A trigger on the right handle would be awesome. 


I recently came across this on Aliexpress: https://www.aliexpre...2882123729.html- ordered one for my Sony A6xxx housing; it should arrive in a few weeks and then I'll be able to report on how well it works in practice.

#395598 Meikon vs Meikon SeaFrogs for RX100

Posted by Barmaglot on 20 May 2018 - 09:50 PM

The newer SeaFrogs housing fits the entire RX100 line (I through V), is rated for 60 meters rather than 40 meters, and has the zoom knob of the left side of the housing rather than in front, by the lens port, which is a lot more accessible. It is also made of almost opaque plastic, rather than transparent plastic of the first generation housing, which is better at stopping light leakage if you're using the internal flash to trigger strobes. It is, however, considerably more expensive - $250 or so, while the older housing can be easily found discounted to under $150. Note, however, that all Meikon housings for RX100 line, as well as the official Sony housing do not give you access to the rear dial, so full manual shooting is very awkward - you have to assign either aperture or shutter speed to the lens ring, and go to menus to switch between them. Finally, and here I'm not 100% certain, but the lens location in RX100 I/II and III/IV/V is slightly different, which, in the Sony universal housing, results in models I and II having the lens slightly off-center in the port, which makes it incompatible with add-on wet lenses. The SeaFrogs universal RX100 housing uses additional shims to fit the different camera models, so it might or might not be affected by the same issue.

#394962 Show me your GH5, How you trim your buoyancy?

Posted by Barmaglot on 01 May 2018 - 01:50 PM

More powerful lights do reach further, but the thing is, the intensity of reflected light reaching your lens decreases with the fourth power of distance - i.e. double the distance, and the light intensity decreases sixteenfold. If you get proper illumination from 14k lm at 1 meter, you'll need 224k lm to get the same effect at 2 meters. You can get a lot more range by using a narrow beam, but it doesn't help with video when you need to illuminate the entire field of view.

#393353 The DSLR / Compact Dilema

Posted by Barmaglot on 14 March 2018 - 10:24 PM

Hmmm - I haven't done any research yet into the Sony A6300 but will take a look. Thanks for the heads up on the gear and housing costs - my research had led me straight to that lens but without looking at price tags. Forgive my ignorance, but when you say dedicated Macro Mode, do you have to switch to that before the dive and stay with it for the entire dive, or can you toggle in and out of the macro mode during a dive?


If you use the Nauticam housing ($1450 for E-M5 II, $1900 for E-M1 II) with the dedicated port and gear ($800), you can toggle it on and off during a dive; otherwise it's set for the duration. 12mm (24mm equivalent) at the wide end isn't very wide, but you can augment it with wet lenses, same as you would for a compact. Of course you can also set up for dedicated wide-angle or macro with the appropriate lenses and ports.



I've looked at the mirrorless cameras, but am not super impressed - although the housings are definitely smaller. Ever since the root kit fiasco I refuse to go near Sony, but I am really liking the Fuji mirrorless cameras. If someone makes an inexpensive housing for one of the XT series that would be great.


Someone does - https://meikon.com.h...r-fujifilm/x-t2

#393312 The DSLR / Compact Dilema

Posted by Barmaglot on 14 March 2018 - 09:37 AM

A Sony A6300 is roughly the same size as your Canon G12, but it packs an APS-C sensor. Olympus OM-D series M4/3 cameras are similarly sized, and Olympus 12-50mm lens even has a dedicated macro mode, although utilizing it takes an expensive gear in a very expensive housing.