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Upgrading to SLR from compact - what camera/housing to choose?


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#1 janm

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 12:04 PM

Hi,

I have just encountered a problem in obtaining required spare parts for my compact camera housing so have decided that it's sensible to upgrade to an SLR-system rather than going for a new compact-camera setup. I have not had time to research all the options regarding camera specs and camera/housing combinations yet, however I would be very grateful if some of you would share your experiences and give me your views on the following:

What would be your recommendation regarding choice of camera (camera will be both for UW-use and for land-use; doing a fair bit of nature photography on land)? Good and bad points?

Recommendation for UW housing, incl advantages and disadvantages with the recommended housing?

Lens recommendations for someone new to SLR both UW (good macro set-up esential, but wide angle also of interrest) and on land (especially wrt nature photography).

I appreciate that it may be very difficult to answer with so little info from me, however I'm interrested in hearing what your choices would be.

Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge!

Edited by janm, 23 August 2010 - 12:28 PM.


#2 Kilili

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 02:08 PM

Easy, I'd get a Nikon N3 and put in in a Subal housing, then get ports for 105VR lens, a wide-angle, and a medium zoom. That's the approach I used last time I upgraded.

Can only speak for myself, but I'm sure other opinions will be offered.
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#3 TheRealDrew

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 03:10 PM

Hi,

I have just encountered a problem in obtaining required spare parts for my compact camera housing so have decided that it's sensible to upgrade to an SLR-system rather than going for a new compact-camera setup. I have not had time to research all the options regarding camera specs and camera/housing combinations yet, however I would be very grateful if some of you would share your experiences and give me your views on the following:

What would be your recommendation regarding choice of camera (camera will be both for UW-use and for land-use; doing a fair bit of nature photography on land)? Good and bad points?

Recommendation for UW housing, incl advantages and disadvantages with the recommended housing?

Lens recommendations for someone new to SLR both UW (good macro set-up esential, but wide angle also of interrest) and on land (especially wrt nature photography).

I appreciate that it may be very difficult to answer with so little info from me, however I'm interrested in hearing what your choices would be.

Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge!


First off is the question is what is your budget? That will be a big factor.

Second, if you are doing a fair bit of photography on land, what type of photography? Close up nature of bugs, landscapes, etc. For instance - whether AF and FPS is something you need. I love my 5D Mark II for many things, full frame, good low light images, but it does not focus as quickly as some of my other cameras or do the same FPS. When I am shooting trees, not a big deal, if I was shooting birds in flight, bigger deal :D

The size, weight and ergonomics of the cameras are important. I prefer cameras with dial wheels that I can change Speed and Aperture with my index finger and thumb and as oppossed to others cameras where you need to press a button. The extra dials are generally on the more expensive cameras.

Have you shot an SLR or dSLR before (do you own lenses?) If you have glass that can influence things. Have you shot a friends dSLR?

The big players are Canon and Nikon and cameras range from $500-$600 to OH MY GOD prices.

This is a good list of brands, pricing and features, though there are others on the web of course

http://imaging-resource.com/MFR1.HTM


There are many brands of housings to choose from. In general, there are the plastic/polycarb housings (which tend to be less expensive) and aluminum/metal housings (which tend to be more expensive, but may function a bit better, be more streamlined and lighter.) In general order of cost, sort of, - Ikelite, Aquatica, Nauticam, Sea & Sea, Hugyfot, Seacam, Subal.

There are some general lens selections that many generally agree on. Usually people will have a Macro, a Telephoto, a prime or two, a walkaround lens. LOL. Glass can add up. If on a budget, even some of the kit lenses are okay (better than they were) and can get you started. Yes, not the same as buying other lenses, but can get you off the ground. Usually the incremental cost of adding the kit lens is worth it, maybe $100 more or so. I shot an 18-55mm on my Canon until I started glass collecting. Was fine to start with.

Easy, I'd get a Nikon N3 ...



What is a N3? Did you mean a D3?

#4 JackConnick

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 07:50 PM

Take a good look at the canon 550D. It has exceptional specs for it's price and is still quite small. Great video, etc. Most of the reviews consider it a small 7D. Several good housings out Nauticam, Sea & Sea, Ikelite, etc.

Jack
(NOT a Canon dealer...)

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#5 janm

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 09:46 PM

Thank you very much for fast replies :D It is very much appreciated!

Budget, well difficult to answer as it to a certain extent will depend on what would give me best functionality. I suppose that really mean that I'm not on a very strict budget. I would be willing to spend a fair bit on camera/housing and the most important lenses and then extend the lens-collection as I go along. No lenses in my possession yet so I have no restrictions regarding compatibility.


Wrt land photography, the "terrible" thing is that I really enjoy photogtraphing both landscapes as well as wildlife ranging from birds, lizards and other small creatures to elephants (when travelling that is!). It's the same under water - I love photographing nudies but also schooling fish/pelagics and a wreck or two. If possible I would love to have one camera for all of this type of photography and rather have a good collection of lenses to work with (if that is possible). A bit of a hopeless case I know!

I'll have a good look at your suggestions. Any opinions to back up those already given, or other suggestions, still appreciated :P

#6 janm

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 10:46 PM

After writing my last reply I have been told by two different sources to go for the 7D. Any views on this based on what I have written in previous posts regarding use both on land and under water?

#7 Cp

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 06:35 AM

After writing my last reply I have been told by two different sources to go for the 7D. Any views on this based on what I have written in previous posts regarding use both on land and under water?


Hi janm,

I'm shooting the Canon 7D and think it's the bees knees. I've also had a chance to shoot with Canon 550D, Nikon D90, D300s and more. While they all have their own advantages, all of the above are excellent tools. None of them will hold you back, IMO, and they'll all make wonderful images. They are light years ahead of cameras from just a few years ago, like the Nikon D100 which was the first DSLR I took underwater.

If video is important to you, one of the Canons's - 7D, 5DMkII or T2i/550D - is the way to go. The Nikon's are excellent for stills; people love their Nikons and rightly so, but they are behind in the DSLR video department. Canon and Nikon regularly play hopscotch, though, and my guess is that the next Nikons will close this gap or perhaps jump ahead.

While it may be a tough choice, the good news is that you can hardly go wrong with any of these cameras. Pick one, get some good glass to go with it, and don't look back.

Cheers,
Chris

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#8 bvanant

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 07:28 AM

After writing my last reply I have been told by two different sources to go for the 7D. Any views on this based on what I have written in previous posts regarding use both on land and under water?

I think the 7D is a wonderful camera, and can do anything that you need including video. But so can cameras from Nikon and Sony and ...

Go down to your local camera stroe and play with an entry level DSLR from Canon and Nikon and whomever else your dealer has. Then play with the higher level cameras like the 7D/D300 and the full frame ones. See which ones fit your hands and feel good.
Once you pick the cameras then you will need lenses and most folks here would start with the Tokina 10-17 for wide angle and either a 60 or 100 mm macro lens. Then a housing and ports and strobes and a second job to pay for all that.

Enjoy

Bill

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#9 Viz'art

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 07:43 AM

Take a good look at the canon 550D. It has exceptional specs for it's price and is still quite small. Great video, etc. Most of the reviews consider it a small 7D. Several good housings out Nauticam, Sea & Sea, Ikelite, etc.

Jack
(NOT a Canon dealer...)


... and Jack you forgot UK Germany, Hugyphot and Aquatica, which I realize you are not a dealer of, but nonetheless do manufacture housing for the T2i / 550D :P

Janm, In light of your projected top side activities I would consider the 7D as the best choice nowadays, it has a sturdier construction than the T2i / 550D and to me that is important when using longer much heavier telephoto, I still think APS sensor to be excellent for telephoto work, after all a 300mm give a field of view equivalent on a APS to a 480mm lens on a full frame, the 200mm behaves like a 320mm, last time I check is was far more affordable to get a 300mm than a 500mm of equivalent aperture, I have a 500mm f/4.5 that I now mostly use for air shows only. all my birds and wildlife is done with a 300mm f/4 (or on some occasion the 300mm f/2.8), the 300mm f/4 packs much easier than a 500mm behemoth, trust me :D underwater it is one of the most complete camera available now, with top end video and common senses features and for wide angle, the consensus is pretty much the Tokina 10-17mm, I can tell by the number of housings shipping out with this lens zoom gear that this is the most popular choice by a long shot. this optical formula is for the time being not available in full frame format.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#10 jcclink

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 07:44 AM

2 identical camera bodies will give you a true backup. 2nd body is always available for topside shooting & fits in same housing if needed. Don't forget about a spares kit. New camera may also result in PC/laptop upgrades to handle larger files than you now have. Upgrades tend to snowball, so be prepared.

Edited by jcclink, 24 August 2010 - 07:46 AM.

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#11 janm

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 10:39 AM

Thanks again to all of you who have replied so far

I'm very pleased to hear that I'm not way out when considering the 7D for both UW and topside photography :P I have been to the shop and had a look at one and, yes, I really like it in "real life" too.

The more I have thought about it the more certain I am on the decicion to go for a 7D. Does anyone have any views regarding the advantages/disavantages of the Aquatica and Nauticam housings for this camera (they are available locally that's why I ask about these in particular)?

I have also thought that a good starting point would be a Tokina 10-17mm (and I'm so pleased that several of you mentioned that) and a macro lens. Then I'll have to save (or get a second job) to extend the collection later :D .

I think the idea of having a second camera-body is superb. The good thing is that with the 7D that should be affordable (well, at least after a few months of saving after having gone and bought the setup).

Again, thanks very much for being so helpful!

Edited by janm, 24 August 2010 - 10:44 AM.


#12 Viz'art

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 11:00 AM

The more I have thought about it the more certain I am on the decicion to go for a 7D. Does anyone have any views regarding the advantages/disavantages of the Aquatica and Nauticam housings for this camera (they are available locally that's why I ask about these in particular)?


Time for guy's like us to step back and let the users take the stage. :D
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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www.aquatica.ca

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#13 janm

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 11:20 AM

Viz'art: I have had a look at the webiste in your signature already :D

Looking forward to reading the users' opinions :P

#14 aussie

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 10:48 PM

Gudge did a comparison of the two housings a few months ago, I think he titled it A Tale Of Two Housings. If you search through the forum you should be able to find it. I do think that he was a little biased though, as we all are when we're comparing something we've just spent a lot of money on to something we didn't go for (but that's just my opinion).

Edit: Here's the review.

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#15 janm

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 11:18 PM

Gudge did a comparison of the two housings a few months ago, I think he titled it A Tale Of Two Housings. If you search through the forum you should be able to find it. I do think that he was a little biased though, as we all are when we're comparing something we've just spent a lot of money on to something we didn't go for (but that's just my opinion).

Edit: Here's the review.

Ryan.



Thanks a lot for that link Ryan, it was very useful reading. (I totally agree that we are all likely to be biased towards the choices we have made).

#16 SUCBA-Steve

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 05:24 PM

Folks,

Any thoughts on viewfinder selection for guys going from all-in-one's (G11/Fisheye) to gettting a housing for my D300s? I am worried that I will loose my shooting skills if I don't pop for a 1.2x viewfinder, as the live-view feature has no auto-focus, I guess I will have to try to see through the viewfinder. Or spend $1000+ to get an optional viewfinder so I can see what I am shoothing. (thinking of Sea&SeaMDX300s housing, mostly beacuse they are local to SoCa and have good reputation)?

Thanks,

#17 Viz'art

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 05:38 AM

Folks,

Any thoughts on viewfinder selection for guys going from all-in-one's (G11/Fisheye) to gettting a housing for my D300s? I am worried that I will loose my shooting skills if I don't pop for a 1.2x viewfinder, as the live-view feature has no auto-focus, I guess I will have to try to see through the viewfinder. Or spend $1000+ to get an optional viewfinder so I can see what I am shoothing. (thinking of Sea&SeaMDX300s housing, mostly beacuse they are local to SoCa and have good reputation)?

Thanks,


Remember that you can always add the viewfinder at a later date, remember also that the enhanced viewfinder have just started showing up in the last few years and that we where still doing some pretty good stuff before, so yeah it a desirable accessory, I would say, the important thing is to know that your choice of housing allows you to put it on eventually.

I have a D300s and yes Live View sucks on this camera unless you are doing still life :good:
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

www.vizart.ca

www.aquatica.ca

Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#18 gina

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 03:29 PM

Does anyone have any views regarding the advantages/disavantages of the Aquatica and Nauticam housings for this camera (they are available locally that's why I ask about these in particular)?


I bought an Aquatica housing earlier this year. I upgraded from an Ikelite, and while Ikelite makes a good product I found I needed more from a housing. I got that with the Aquatica, namely secure lens ports and good, ergonomic control design.

The decision to go with Aquatica was made after working with a salesperson at Backscatter. He recommended it for my shooting style, and honestly the price (~$1000 less than other housings) helped. As a bonus, I really like the black color.

I've now taken the Aquatica on four or so trips and probably made 80-100 dives with it, and I love it. I can't think of anything I'd like to change about it now that I've got it dialed in correctly. But please note, it did take some work to get it dialed in and working correctly. I removed the lens release lever as it is not needed and it prevents you from putting the camera in the housing with a lens attached. Also, the on/off switch had to be realigned as it would not allow the camera (5D MkII) to go into the full on position, which is necessary for shooting manual. With this in mind, make sure to do some test dives to try out your new housing (no matter what type you end up with) to insure it is working correctly before you bring it on that "once-in-a-lifetime" trip.

Have fun with your new purchase! You won't regret moving to a housed DSLR.

-Gina

#19 derway

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 09:11 PM

Seriously today it is hard to resist the nikon d7000. For $1500 it is the first dslr to have usable live view, with still quite decent autofocus performance.

If you are moving from the G11 and composing on the screen, this would be a real nice way to transition.

Not to mention it is just a killer camera in SO many ways, from a very good viewfinder, to great AF and metering, low noise as ISO increases, and the best video from nikon to date.

I almost can't resist myself. But then I remember traveling with scuba and SLR uw-photo gear... Where are my sherpas??

:good:
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#20 gobiodon

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 12:47 AM

it is the first dslr to have usable live view, with still quite decent autofocus performance.

I would say the first nikon dslr with usable live view. Olympus and sony have good live view system for long time (and yes with housing options).
The OP may consider the mirrorrless options, since upgrading from G11.
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