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Any experience with Inon lens system?


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#1 Willy

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 12:33 PM

I have a Nikon D200, but unfortunately can't dive often enough to justify the cost of a nice UW case with ports. As a more affordable alternative I've been researching P&S cameras, especially with the Inon system. Wondered if anyone has any exerience with this.

I can get a Canon A570 for about $200, plus the UW case for $180
- manual controls for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (uncommon in an inexpensive P&S)
- custom white balance
- optical image stabilization (useful for the slow shutter speeds needed in balanced lighting)
- 2.5" LCD
- 7 megapixels

Inon 105 degree wide angle lens is $280

Inon macro lens is $125

Inon bayonet lens mounting bracket is $60

Inon D2000 flash plus arm is around $600
- clever TTL flash control with P&S cameras
- looks very compact

This looks like a nice system on paper:
- total system price of $1500, which is less than just a case for a d-SLR
- ability to interchange wide angle and macro lenses underwater
- available fish eye lens for $350, also interchangeable underwater

Anyone's thoughts or actual use?

Edited by Willy, 03 June 2007 - 03:30 PM.


#2 Patterns

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 09:35 PM

I don't dive much these days, but I have been thinking about buying the A570 and housing to replace my S70 (because of poor focus) and C5050 (because it uses M67 mount - see below) kits. I already have both AD-mount and M67 (threaded) wet lenses. My overvations:

(1) If you want to use wet lenses, the bayonet mount is far easier to use. That's a big tick in favour of your proposed system.

Problems with threaded mount (as opposed to the bayonet):
- it's hard to align and screw in the lenses underwater, especially the wide-angle. You'll may be in a hurry but you still need to do this carefully to avoid dropping or damaging anything.
- it takes much longer to complete this process with the threaded mount.
- when you unscrew the lens you have the problem of not knowing exactly when the lens will come free, which increases the chance of dropping something.
- eventually you will cross-thread the lens and housing. On my Oly C5050 systems it's the housings which eventually lose the thread. The wet lenses start to jam on the housing after a while, adn a number of times I have put a lens on gently (I thought) and have needed the tool kit to get it off again. And I think I'm not unusually weak. For this reason I have decided in principle that I will never buy a threaded mount again for underwater use. (This actually eliminates a couple of cameras which might otherwise be interesting, but low-hassle operation is important to me underwater.)

I love the way with the bayonet mount that it guides itself into place, and then a quarter-turn produces a very obvious click into position.

(2) I don't have the latest Inon flashes but I have 3 older ones in the same series and have found them completely reliable. (As opposed to my frustrating experiences with two other brands.) On irritation with one of them (I don't have it with me at the moment, but I think it's an older D2000) is that the power selection for manual power can rotate 360 degrees This makes it extremely difficult to work by touch at night. For night use, it's good to be able to find the end of the adjustment range by turning to one end of the range, and then count clicks back again. On the other hand, in daytime that's not needed.

(3) Inon also sell a AD-mount lens caddy which attaches to your flash arm (or elsewhere with a bit of ingenuity) and allows you to safely and very quickly attach the lens to the kit when it's not in use. Well worth considering. A two-sided version lets me park both the wide-angle and the macro converter at once.

(4) I'm not sure that IS will work as well underwater. As I understand it (I'm certainly not an expert on this) the IS calculates how much the image will move (in terms of angle) when the camera wobbles, and compensate for that. But I suspect that underwater, a 1-degree movement of the camera will have a different effect on the apparent postion of the subject, compared to the same movement of the camera in air (because of refraction at the air/water interface). Hence the IS may compensate incorrectly for the camera movement. Using wet-lenses will also have an effect. I don't know whether you can tell the IS system that you are using adapter lenses, and choose a setting which will work appropriately underwater with whatever external lenses you may or may not be using.

Maybe someone who knows the math can work out that being underwater is equivalent to using say a 0.75x wide-angle converter on land, or something like that. (I don't know - I just made up the number as an example.) In any case I suspect that the centre of the image and the edges react differently to a given level of camera movement.

Having said all of that, I am pretty sure that IS will still improve the results when underwater, but I suspect maybe not by as much as usual.

(5) No raw capture on the A570 until someone manages to hack the DIGIC III firmware ...

(6) I think (haven't checked back on the A570) your proposed kit would all use AA-batteries. Using a single battery type is a significant advantage for me, but some others don't seem so fussed about this.

Hope that's useful (sorry I don't have time to check references, shouldn't even be writing here now but I was thinking about similar kit too and am organising my thoughts...)

-David

#3 seagrant

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 03:12 AM

My feedback (what hasn't already been covered):

I shot the Fuji F810 and Inon 105AD and 165AD - one or two stacked for the 165AD, for thousands of frames underwater and even got some published. Last October I bought and housed a Nikon d200 and the image quality is sooooooo awesome compared to the Fuji!! But as you know the cost of housing the d200 is more too, still the image quality of the d200 outweighs the cost of housing it ten fold - the image quality of the d200 IS that much better.

Still get practice with your Inon ADs/Canon compact, here is what I have to add:

1) Most important - you will notice lots and lots and lots of ca (chromatic aberration and blue fringing and various color fringing) issues with the Inon 105ad and more so with the 165ads. Even if you shoot in RAW the converter won't be able to deal with it all. I searched for "CA Fixes" on the web and came up with data from a bird photography site that listed manual steps you take in Photoshop that use a Gaussian Blur filter to target it and handles it very well - even at high magnification. FYI the Nikon d200 has .05% of the fringing issues that my Fuji F810 and Inon ADs has, even if I use an inexpensive diopter (like the Nexus wet one) - it still has less than 10% of the fringing issues of the Fuji F810/Inon ADs. Reason enough for the $$$ upgrade for me. I got just sick of manually removing color fringing/ca :lol:

2) Stack the 165 ADs. You will get some great closeups but you will have to be right on top of your subject (downside). Make sure your mask is correct for your vision or you won't be able to focus with the low resolution LCD. You will still have problems with the LCD but if your mask is corrected (if needed) to view the LCD your success rate will be better. You will zoom in and out a lot to focus with the 165ADs as you will lose sharp auto focus with the closeup lenses.

3) Use the mounting caddy mentioned by David - it is convenient and essential as the benefit of the compact/Inon systems is that you can quickly change from 105AD to 165AD (wide to closeup). But you can't do this without somewhere secure to quickly attach your unused ADs.

I think with what David said we have just about covered it.

And when you learn this system you will most certainly want to house your d200. Thing is you will have a head start on many skills necessary for the d200 also.

Best, Carol

Edited by seagrant, 04 June 2007 - 03:22 AM.

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#4 DesertEagle

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 09:35 AM

Carol,

How sharp is the 105? I've heard great things about the UFL-165 fisheye lens, but haven't talked to anyone using the 105.
Canon 30D. Olympus SP-310, PT-030 housing with Sea & Sea 16mm lens. Sea&Sea YS-50 and YS-60 stobes. Heinrichs-Weikamp DA2 adapter. ULCS base & arms. A little Magic (original & auto).

#5 Willy

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 06:44 PM

Thanks David and Carol for your detailed replies. Good point about the ease of bayonet mounts, especially for a less experienced diver. Yes, the A570 takes AA batteries, just like the strobe, which is a convenience when traveling and you can standardize on one kind of rechargable. And yes, I can believe the D200 would produce great shots! Some day...

One of the reasons I am favoring the A570 is it's manual exposure controls. Do you feel this is more important than having a wider zoom (28mm, for example) or a larger, higher resolution LCD for focusing or lower noise at higher ISO's? BTW, what ISO do you guys use, say for reefs at 40-60 ft and then for wrecks up to 130ft? Is it so important with an adequate strobe?

Carol, do you have a photo showing how bad the CA can be?

#6 Patterns

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 09:28 AM

Personally (and it would be different perhaps for other people) if I'm thinking about underwater cameras my priorities (that come to mind now) are:

Must have:
- Manual exposure
- custom white balance
- Available Inon adapter for AD or AD28 mount
- reasonable low-light focus capability

Really nice to have:
- wide zoom lens
- raw
- option to set the flash manually to very low power (since I use manual control for my flashes)
- ability to store a couple of settings (for wide-angle, macro, whatever)
- all controls by pushbuttons rather than dials
- low noise sensor
- long battery life (enough for 3 dives)
- smaller housing, but with a bit of spare space for a silica gel pack
- easy to feel the shutter half-press position with the housing

Others
- longer zoom
- better screen
- screen visible from a high angle while in the housing

I'm sure I have left out lots ...

-David

#7 alo100

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 11:39 AM

Carol,

How sharp is the 105? I've heard great things about the UFL-165 fisheye lens, but haven't talked to anyone using the 105.


DesertEagle and Carol,

I am using Inon 105. About how sharp... maybe it's better if you can see it.
I think you can search around for other users pic's or
if anybody want to see some samples, send me your email address.
I took same pic's with a group of Salmon.


alo100