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First DSLR / Mirrorless


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#1 Basiiil

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 06:41 AM

Hi

 

I've got a Canon t6i / 750D that i bought last year, and the plan was to look at buying underwater setup this year. I'm currently using a compact camera.

 

Before I buy all the equipment I want some advice - I'm tempted to change to a more lightweight Mirrorless system instead (looking at Olympus EM-10) as it's more lightweight for above and below water. DSLR is more expensive to buy housing / lens etc but it seems easier to keep all of it for long term if i upgrade the camera.

 

ANy advice appreciated

 



#2 Chris Kippax

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 01:03 AM

Best advice I can give is buy a system that is future proof i:e

Buy a system you and your photography can grow with

Buy a system that you can use parts of it with your next system

Pick a brand and stick with it, whether its housing or camera brand

Build your system around a housing not a camera

Buy good lenses/glass as they can last for years

Start with the end in mind

and last of all

Buy it nice or buy it twice 

 

AND RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH


Edited by Chris Kippax, 09 February 2018 - 01:06 AM.


#3 Undertow

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 11:17 PM

I'd recommend to any non-professional to go mirrorless for UW. SLR housings are a real commitment, you become beholden to some really bulky and heavy crap. The quality gap between mirrorless and slr has shrunk significantly but the physical difference in UW rigs is huge. A high end mirrorless camera and lens will outperform a low end slr and lens. Lenses are more important than cameras. 

 

Portability can make a huge difference in many shooting scenarios too, think about the gopro revolution for action footage. 

 

I'm definitely of the belief, given today's camera market, that if you don't know you want an slr, go mirrorless. 



#4 Barmaglot

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 06:01 AM

Another vote for mirrorless - and Meikon has just released a pretty much full-featured housing system for Sony A6xxx series that costs a fraction of the price of a typical DSLR housing system.



#5 Chris Kippax

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 02:04 PM

Buy a housing that can take a vacuum valve/sensor. It is seriously one of the best investments I have ever made.



#6 glina

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 05:09 AM

Owning a 750D kit does not sound like a solid enough reason to invest into a DSLR UW setup. Having invested in a housing, you will soon find out that you need strobes, domes, better lenses a heavy duty carrying case and a pocket full of spare change for overweight baggage.

 

I shoot full frame SLR above water since 2008, but when building my underwater system I went for a compact camera setup. For the price of an entry level DSLR housing alone, I was able to get an Olympus camera with dedicated housing, basic tray and flex arm setup, 2 Inon S2000 strobes, macro diopter, wide angle converter and a focus light. It took me more than 100 dives to feel I've mastered this setup and my photos could profit from an upgrade. 

 

A compact setup has many advantages. First of all many compacts can shoot at wide apertures (like F1.4-F2.8) and sync external flashes up to 1/2000 seconds or even faster. This in turn means you don't have to have powerful strobes, as 1/2000s will cut out all the ambient light you could want, while bright aperture lens will let all the strobe power there is. Strobe battery life lasts you 10-20 dives, you have full control, life is simple. Large depth of field of small sensor means easy macro with no frustration.

 

As a beginner, you'll probably want to photograph-it-all. Compact camera? No problem. You can have very wide or very high magnification macro on a single dive, just swap wet lenses. You might be very frustrated if you go set up for macro with a DSLR and end up missing your first ever whale shark shot. It's time to go SLR only if you feel that missing a photo opportunity or two will not hurt as your portfolio is big.

 

Mirrorless is a good way to go as you can have it both ways - flat port + wet converters, or dedicated lenses/ports/domes for your chosen scenario. 

 

I went with Olympus m4/3 as it's very easy to buy second hand and easy to upgrade. With a deeper pocket, I would go with m4/3 in a Nauticam housing as they have the largest port system and customer base so buying/selling is easy. 

 

So ... do you feel you've mastered your compact?


Edited by glina, 14 February 2018 - 05:10 AM.


#7 TimG

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 05:48 AM

Hi

 

I've got a Canon t6i / 750D that i bought last year, and the plan was to look at buying underwater setup this year. I'm currently using a compact camera.

 

Before I buy all the equipment I want some advice - I'm tempted to change to a more lightweight Mirrorless system instead (looking at Olympus EM-10) as it's more lightweight for above and below water. DSLR is more expensive to buy housing / lens etc but it seems easier to keep all of it for long term if i upgrade the camera.

 

ANy advice appreciated

 

 

You're right, Basiiil, DSLR systems do cost more with all the bits and pieces. I'm not sure though that they are necessarily "easier" to keep long-term.

 

Yes, once you have picked your housing manufacturer you would probably stick with them because of the investment in ports, EXRs etc - although a number of manufacturers have port adaptors. But it remains the case that if you change the camera body - which, let's face it seems to be getting a faster and faster process - you still have to buy a new housing. And it's the housing that is the pricey bit.

 

Glina sets out a very good case for the compact system. One thing always strikes me though about this route: if you are serious about wanting to take top quality u/w pics, and you are used to an SLR topside, you will, I suspect, be hankering after an underwater SLR system before long. I'd argue that the compacts and most (most? nearly all?) mirrorless systems are still not quite as good as SLRs and have other issues (eg battery life) which, for someone used to an SLR can be irritating.

 

Added to this is whether you go the compact or mirrorless route the investment in the system is still significant. The camera is cheap (well, relatively); the system is not. And they date even faster, I'd suggest, than SLR systems. 

 

So you could put a fair bit of money into a system which doesn't, perhaps, perform as you'd ideally like - and then soon be after that SLR system.

 

So Chris Kippax talks about thinking it through to future-proof what you buy. I'd suggest Chris is right and that is an important factor. Are you really going to be happy with compact/mirrorless or will the siren call of your SLR whisper in your ear? Yep, it'll cost more, it'll take longer to learn - but when you get up that curve you should have that rosy glow of satisfaction - and not be thinking that you might be limited by what you might consider a lesser system even if, perhaps, it isn't and you aren't really!

 

Bottom line, you have to be really pleased with what you have bought and not, sigh, wish you'd gone for the other "better" system.....


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

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


#8 glina

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:06 AM

Tim, from what I can see you are both an excellent photographer and a very experienced diver. I know for a fact that gear alone does not make a good photographer and this is especially true underwater.

 

I know my way around SLR and mirrorless cameras. Underwater photography helped me become a better diver, not a better photographer. Both skills combined helped me get better shots though.

 

Starting with a compact system is easier for reasons I mentioned in my previous post and is at the same time cheaper and more travel friendly. Even though I'm fully invested in Sony A7 system with all Zeiss glass for my dry photography needs, I still decided to go with m4/3 for diving. I'm very aware of the compromises I made and I'm happy with that.



#9 TimG

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:39 AM

Hi glina

 

Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

 

I have no argument at all with anything you wrote - and I hope you didn't think I had. I just know the experience I had with a Coolpix 5000 in a Subal housing when I was used to an SLR topside. The Coolpix was pretty good but it wasn't an SLR and I soon hankered after that. You're right though, it was a great learning experience and you are spot on about more travel friendly! 

 

I thought it worthwhile though just flagging up that if you ARE used to an SLR not having that capability underwater can be frustrating - and it's not as though setting up a compact or mirrorless is "cheap". They are still big financial commitments and, like any underwater camera equipment, very hard to get much of that "investment" back if you then decide you want something else.

 

It goes back to an extent to the bottom line that I suggested. If you are truly happy with what you have, that's the perfect conclusion.  :good:


Tim
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Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

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


#10 Chris Kippax

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 12:52 PM

Tim perfectly described my experience. After investing several thousand dollars into a high end compact system I was happy using it for a short time, the more I used the more frustrated I became with it. I had been a topside slr user for about the same time as an underwater photographer. As my ability grew with my slr the more frustrating using my compact became and the siren call became too strong 😉

#11 TimG

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:11 PM

Damn those sirens   :man_in_love:


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

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


#12 glina

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:17 PM

I feel I need to dig deeper with you guys :-).

 

Why was it so frustrating to shoot with a compact?

 

My hit rate was easily 80-90%  with an Olympus XZ-1 and I doubt I'll get much above that with any setup. I must add that I shot strictly manual exposure and manual in-cam flash power set at a fixed 1/64. This in turn meant zero shutter lag, zero flash metering lag or flash recharge delay between shots. As point and shoot as it gets really.

AF was also not an issue, with or without a focus light. The only caveat with the Olympus XZ-1 was the fact that it has the 12 lowest rated sensor on DXO Mark ever tested and if I didn't get the exposure right while shooting, there was little left to retrieve from RAW files. This, and the ability to get wider wide and closer macro is my only reason to upgrade. Most modern cameras today are capable of excellent results, be it compact, m4/3, aps-c or full frame. It's the user who is usually the weakest link.



#13 Chris Kippax

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 03:49 AM

My biggest frustration was controlling the focal point with macro photography whilst using a wet diopter/s. Trying to consistently get the rhinophores on nudibranchs sharp was a battle.
So a must have in my opinion is back button focusing, the ability to chose a focal point with ease, an enlarged viewfinder (like the Nauticam 45/180) and a vacuum valve/circuitry.
Only you can decide whats right for you. If you can find a compact or mirrorless system that covers all your bases go for it! As you said the user is the most important part but it is beyond frustrating visualising an image and the limitations of your system stop you from achieving it.

#14 TimG

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 06:40 AM

Hey glina

 

Rather than saying what's frustrating about a compact, I'd rather set out what I want from a system. If the compact - or whatever - meets the requirement then I could be happy - but, hey, remember what I wrote about being happy.... and not hankering.

 

- Good battery life. I want a camera to be good for 3-4 dives in a day without changing the battery. Figure, say, 1000 images.

- No write delay on the cache/memory card.

- Effectively no shutter lag. Not a hint of lag. None.

- Precise, instantaneous framing in a bright, clear, big viewfinder - preferably one that can be fitted with a 45-degree magnifier.

- Precise and rapid framing by the zoom (if I'm using a zoom)

- Fast, reliable AF with manual override for macro

- Ability to stop lens down sufficiently to achieve black backgrounds

- A good range of optics: at minimum: FE, 16-35 (for big fish), 60 and 105 macros - or equivalents

- Camera reliability and good servicing.

- Suitable and well-designed housing that will allow all controls to operate and cater to TTL and vacuum valve.

 

Those would be for starters.

 

As Chris says, if a system covers all the bases for you, go for it. But, again, don't then hanker, wish, sigh......


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

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