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The BIG plunge... Consumer to DSLR. Suggestions?


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#1 diverhead.com

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Posted 11 May 2003 - 05:17 PM

Hey guys! I've been shooting my OLY 4040Z for more than a year now and photography has gone from an accessory to my dives, to the main reason that I dive. I feel that I have a pretty good handle on the basics and now my focus is the art of photography, instead of the physical act. Lighting and composition are the skills I am now trying to improve. I am starting to find my 4040 a bit limiting. Mainly a matter of shutter lag, but also a matter of lens selection and image size (not enough pixels). I like the ability to crop my photos and hate turning a 4.3 megapixel photo and turning it into a 2 megapixel photo. If I was just sharing on the internet, the size issue would be no big deal, but I have a few nice 8x10 prints on my wall now and would like some more!

So, I've sold my self on the idea of throwing down some cash on a new setup. I don't own any lenses, so I'm not tied down by glass. Looking at the entry-level DSLR options (Nikon D100, Canon EOS 10D, Fuji S2) I'm 90% sold on the Fuji S2. I think TTL would be a great tool. It would be nice to compare my settings to what the TTL "thinks" and thus improve my lighting skills. I'm up for suggestions and debate about which body I should go with.

If I go with the Fuji S2 body, which lenses do you guys recommend? Starting off with one good WA lens and one good macro lens seems like a good idea. So, what are you guys shooting? What do you recommend?

I've looked at the Sea & Sea and Ikelite housings. I understand there are much higher quality housings available for an equaly higher price. I havn't yet decided on a housing and I'm up for suggestions.

I'm planning on buying a second YS-90DX strobe for my DSLR setup. I understand there are higher power higher quality strobes out there, but it makes sense since I have invested in one already. I've had nothing but joy with my single YS-90, but they obviously are not the last strobes I will ever buy. :P

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

#2 craig

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Posted 11 May 2003 - 07:08 PM

I don't think you'll be unhappy with two 90DX strobes with the setups you are talking about.

The Aquatica housings are not much different in price that the Sea and Sea and the S2 version will be available shortly. The S2 offers TTL and arguably the highest effective resolution of the three. The D100 offers the best housing selection and broader third party software support. For wide angle lenses, the current choices are the fisheyes, the 14mm and the 17-35 zoom. Shortly Nikon will begin shipping the 12-24 DX zoom that may become a very desirable choice. Until then, I like the fisheyes. They're half the price, size and weight of the 14mm and offer very good performance with the S2/D100. I'm certain the Sigma 15mm fisheye would be good with the 10D as well. For macro the lens to start with is the 60mm micro with a flat port. If and when you grow out the 60mm, you can consider adding the 105mm or you could consider the 70-180 zoom micro. Aquatica, Nexus and Subal offer ports for it now. It is large, heavy and expensive for a lens to start out with and it has become hard to obtain.
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#3 diverhead.com

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Posted 11 May 2003 - 08:15 PM

Awesome. Thanks for the words of wisdom! How about the difference in viewfinder between DSLR and consumer digicams? It seems like a LCD viewfinder would be better for WA shots, but optical viewfinder would be better for macro. Will this be hard to get used to coming from a consumer-level camera? Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

#4 craig

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Posted 11 May 2003 - 08:45 PM

I think the quality of the viewfinder is a matter of the housing as well as the body you choose. The larger LCD may be easier to see at a distance and the viewfinder hard to site through for wide angle, but that more a function of you and the housing than anything. Personally, I'd think a 45 degree finder like Seacam offers would be great for wide angle but they are very expensive. The SLR finders show you exactly what the lens is seeing and I personally prefer them over the LCD monitors. Once you switch to the SLR I don't think you'll mind the differences!
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#5 davephdv

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Posted 11 May 2003 - 09:24 PM

I shoot a D100 and find the viewfinder much better than that of a consumer digicam's LCD. I also shoot the CP 5000. The LCD works well but the DSLR in my case is better. The LCDs on the digicams need to be greatly improved. Maybe the Lecia has a better LCD.
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#6 scorpio_fish

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Posted 12 May 2003 - 01:58 AM

I pretty much agree with Craig.

If you are not in a hurry, I think your options will be greater and cheaper in a couple of months.

1) For some reason, Fuji is resisting the price decreases. The 10d is $1500. The D100 is now $1700. The S2 is hanging tough at $2200, but it seems like it must drop to stay competitive.

2) Aquatica should have their S2 housing ready by mid-summer. Ikelite should have a new S2 back by mid-summer, also. The Aquatica will be a smaller foot print aluminum housing with full controls and better port/lens offerings. It's the same price as the Sea & Sea box and the ports are cheaper.

The S2 offers TTL and arguably the highest effective resolution of the three. The D100 offers the best housing selection and broader third party software support.



TTL is a distinct advantage. I could argue the resolution a little bit, but I won't. Truth is I prefer the S2 "out of camera" color and resolution, even if the pixel count really isn't any different. The D100 has a bunch of other little advantages that don't matter underwater.



For wide angle lenses, the current choices are the fisheyes, the 14mm and the 17-35 zoom. Shortly Nikon will begin shipping the 12-24 DX zoom that may become a very desirable choice. Until then, I like the fisheyes. They're half the price, size and weight of the 14mm and offer very good performance with the S2/D100.


The 12-24mm will be the best choice. It's new and just hitting the shelves. In a couple of months it should be readily available. I've been using the 17-35mm, which I love. I'm now a convert to the WA zoom. Much easier to compose. The 14mm is expensive and wide (=21mm full frame). While "everyone" will tell you that 20mm is the magic wide angle used underwater, I find it too wide, too often. That's why I really like the zoom approach. If you can't wait or afford the 12-24mm, look at 18-35mm. It is much cheaper and any loss in quality is negated by the crop factor of the S2. I still find the fisheye a "special purpose" lens, even with the crop. It would not be my first choice or only choice for wide angle.


For macro the lens to start with is the 60mm micro with a flat port. If and when you grow out the 60mm, you can consider adding the 105mm or you could consider the 70-180 zoom micro. Aquatica, Nexus and Subal offer ports for it now. It is large, heavy and expensive for a lens to start out with and it has become hard to obtain.



Agreed. The 60mm is the most versatile. It's the cheapest. It autofocuses the best. It requires no port extensions. Shoot it until you decide you can't get all the shots you want, then add something else. With strobes on TTL, aperture priority, f/22, you now have a "point and shoot" autofocus camera. This allows you to concentrate on 1) finding the subject 2) best way to approach a subject 3) best angle to shoot the subject 4) overall composition 5) strobe aim. No messing with camera controls.

An SLR viewfinder is infinitely easier to use than an LCD in my opinion.

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#7 Kasey

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Posted 12 May 2003 - 03:22 AM

Interesting point about comparing TTL with what you dialed in for strobe power. Really, the only system that would let you do that would be the Titan D100. It isn't available yet, but it will should you to read exactly what your strobes (if it supports TTL) did and bracket from the handles - much easier than bracketing with the flash comp button from within the housing. This will be a distinct advantage of the LMI, and the housing looks really compact - my only issue is the not-so-durable handles on that system.

Can anyone explain why the CP5000 housings all support dTTL but thus far none support the d100 TTL? Does Nikon have multiple dTTL circuits?

This will be an interesting system and I'm anxious to see it in action.

As far as S2 housings go - check out the Aquatica. Priced near the plastic housings - but made of aluminum. Also lots of ports and accessories out there on ebay and so on. Housing is a lot bigger than it needs to be, though. Doesn't fit like a glove like the SUBAL, but the compromise will be worthwhile if it can be modified to fit up and coming cameras, perhaps with a new back.

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#8 james

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Posted 12 May 2003 - 05:03 AM

Hi Kasey,

The CP5000 doesn't use D-TTL - it uses something else. D-TTL fires something like 18 preflashes to determine exposure based on incident light and distance to subject.

Cheers
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#9 scorpio_fish

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Posted 12 May 2003 - 06:24 AM

Not to get off subject too far, but when is the Titan coming out? I would love to see someone review that puppy. Who's going to be first?
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#10 davephdv

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Posted 12 May 2003 - 08:08 PM

The 5000 use an external sensor for it's automated flash. It's not TTL. The D100 with shoot DTTL with any DTTL capable strobe. The Subal housing and I presume others have this capacity. The problem is no existing underwater strobe has the ability to shoot DTTL. A housed DX80 is your only choice at this time. The DX80 is a fine strobe. I believe I read a post from Ike saying his engineers were working on the problem.
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#11 DaveH

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Posted 22 May 2003 - 09:11 PM

On a related question, I already have an S2 Pro and intend to buy a housing in the next few months. Can anyone offer a compelling reason to choose either a Sea and Sea or Aquatica system over the other? These seem to be my best two options.

I like the durability of Aquatica aluminum and the visual access afforded by the clear Sea and Sea back. I know the aquatica is not out yet, but judging from their other offerings, how will the two housing likely compare in terms of ergonomics, optics, viewfinders, O rings, latches and general workmanship? Any other issues I should consider?

Thanks for you help.