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best compact cams underwater 2011


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#1 derway

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 10:52 AM

Hey folks. Ryan showed me this report while I was in the booth at the Scuba Show last weekend.

It is really a great review of the top 3 contenders:

http://www.reefphoto.com/kb.php?id=28

The lx5 with the tricky nauticam wet mate WA adapter, restores the native in-air FOV, and seems to really clean up the distortion and aberration you get shooting 24mm through a flat port.

(I would have thought that was impossible, with any kind of simple lens!)

Also, in private email, Ryan told me the the LX5 will work with the inon m67 lenses. And you just crop, or zoom, to eliminate vignetting, and you get equivalent FOV as you get with the oly xz1. So there is no reason to hesitate, if you want a compact digicam. Go LX5!
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#2 allen

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 06:29 AM

Also, in private email, Ryan told me the the LX5 will work with the inon m67 lenses. And you just crop, or zoom, to eliminate vignetting, and you get equivalent FOV as you get with the oly xz1. So there is no reason to hesitate, if you want a compact digicam. Go LX5!


Nice little write up. I shot the LX4 and now have the LX5 and just waiting for my housing upgrade from UK-Germany. One thing Ryan did not mention is that for the LX5 you can add a top side wide angle adaptor to it that will give you 18mm. Of course then one needs to have a dome port which the Nauticam housing does not permit. The 10Bar and UK-Germany versions have that option but are dry mount only. Even at 24mm a small dome port will work better than a flat port. However, there is a lot to be said for the compactness and simplicity of the wet lens.

#3 drasockalypse

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:02 AM

Hi, I'm new to the forum and needed to reply somewhere and this seemed as good as any!

I'm looking to get a budget compact +housing for a trip to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. Looking to spend about 300 for both. All the recommendations I've seen are for higher price cameras that I just can't afford. We rented a camera before (think it was a cybershot) but it would cost pretty much the same to rent one for 3 weeks as it would to buy so figure I may as well.

Two that I'm interested in are the FujiFilm F80 EXR with the Fujifilm housing for 270 and the Canon Ixus 115 HS with the IkelIite housing for 370. I've had Fujifilms before (not for underwater photography) and really like it, plus have a load of spare batteries etc and it's considerably cheaper, but Fujifilms don't often seem to recommended as far as I can see. I do like the look of the 10x optical zoom, not for underwater but other times, but I'm wondering if that would likely have camera shake troubles anyway. Canon's seem to be recommended more often for underwater but is it really worth the big difference?

We're likely just going to be snorkelling, and most likely won't use advance features like RAW format or possibly even manual white balance, though I know that's something I need to look at soon.

If anyone could give me any comments about those or any other suggestions I would be very grateful!

#4 Mooseman1007

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 02:00 AM

I have been using a Fuji F100 for the past couple of years, and its only because i have just moved up to an interchangeable lens camera that Im even going to consider putting it on ebay, or if youre interested :-). The Fujis are lovely cameras, easy to use and the housings are solidly built. Our other camera is a Panasonic TZ10 which may be another option for you as it has HD video and a larger zoom.
Most of the guys here will push towards cameras with RAW and bright low zoom lenses, and I can definately understand why, BUT... A travel zoom in a housing would do you just fine. The Fuji F500/550 has RAW and HD and may be just in budget, and is much better than the canon you listed, as would one of the Panasonics.
Either way, have fun in Hawaii
Mooseman

#5 TomR1

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 09:22 AM

My view is that anything shot below 15 feet must be shot in RAW. The best CHEAP solution is the XZ-1 and an Olympus housing. About $800 without an external strobe.

To drop below this level means that you will throw away the camera for underwater use very quickly.

I am an experienced underwater photographer that came up from the Olympus c5050 and now shoot a D-300. I was helped my many fine photographers in my learning curve including Ryan and Richard of Reef Photo. I now try to return the favor to photographers starting out. I meet them on a dive vacation that probably costs $3-5,000 and they have a $200 camera in a $200 case. Boy are they fustrated!

First I loan them an Inon s-2000 so they can get some light on the subject. Second, I show them how to shoot in manual and adjust f/stop and shutter speed. Third, if possible I have them shoot in RAW and then I show them how the shot can be improved in Photoshop. They are universally amazed at what RAW can do.

If, however, their camera won't shoot in RAW they watch as I adjust other pictures in RAW. They are both amazed and bummed. Almost all purpose to replace their camera with one that shoots in RAW.

I echo what the best photorgapher I know, Rand, told me: Shoot in RAW!

Tom

#6 JackConnick

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 10:14 AM

The XZ-1 is probably the best under-rated camera out there. I'm starting to shoot it while I wait for the next Nikon D-400. I really like the controls and ease of use. I find that while the LX-5 has a little wider native lens and more controls, it's also tricky to house because of that and also takes a lite touch uw.

The Nauticam LX5 housing is probably the best solution, although we've sold a ton of 10Bar and also the Ike housings (which is also under-appreciated).

But for the XZ-1 you can use the inexpensive Oly housing, or the Nauticam. 10oBar also has a new hosuing for it (haven't seen it yet). (BTW, you can use the rear control in manual by using the buttons on the back, even though the Oly housing does not have that rear dial.)

I think the XZ-1's sensor, lens and processor (same as in the PEN) is every bit as good as the LX-5 and it's easier to use. The only draw-back is that it does not seem to function with the optical D-TTL from Sea & Sea, and I couldn't get it to work with S-TTL on a Type 3 Inon z240 either.

The little Nauticam w/a conversion lens will work with many housings that use 67mm threaded ports; Oly, Ike, etc. For a wider FOV the "old school" PTWC-01 is a good choice although it is a big bugger and weighs just over 3 lbs! Nauticam also recommends an Inon lens.

But for many, these advanced P&S are a great in-between the in-between solution.

Jack

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#7 Cp

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 10:57 AM

I think the XZ-1's sensor, lens and processor (same as in the PEN) is every bit as good as the LX-5 and it's easier to use. The only draw-back is that it does not seem to function with the optical D-TTL from Sea & Sea, and I couldn't get it to work with S-TTL on a Type 3 Inon z240 either.


I shot XZ-1 (using with both the Nauticam Wet Mate Dome and the Inon UWL-H100) last week using two Inon S-2000's, and TTL was spot on for me. It should work really well with the Olympus strobe too. Never did get it to work on S&S YS-01 or YS-110a. Am planning to write up a blog post about the camera/housing this week.

Cheers,
Cp

Chris Parsons
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#8 JackConnick

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 02:36 PM

I shot XZ-1 (using with both the Nauticam Wet Mate Dome and the Inon UWL-H100) last week using two Inon S-2000's, and TTL was spot on for me. It should work really well with the Olympus strobe too. Never did get it to work on S&S YS-01 or YS-110a. Am planning to write up a blog post about the camera/housing this week.

Cheers,
Cp


I'm thinking that the Inon type 4 may work ok. Type 3 z240 only gave dark shots, and yes the little button was up/down, made no difference.

Jack

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#9 Cp

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 06:32 AM

I'm thinking that the Inon type 4 may work ok. Type 3 z240 only gave dark shots, and yes the little button was up/down, made no difference.

Jack


In the testing I did on dry land with Z-240 type 4's, TTL looked good. Haven't shot the combo underwater. Something for you to try out in the the Tortugas on the Spree next week :)

Cheers,
Cp

Chris Parsons
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#10 TomR1

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:00 AM

So, for those on a limited budget a $500 Olympus XZ-1 and a $300 PT-050 housing will get you taking pictures in RAW with the camera's strobe. Add about $500 or a little more for an INON s-2000 and a single-arm tray and you have a decent setup. for about $1300. Not bad at all!

With a bigger budget choose the Nauticam and dual strobes/tray plus add-on wide-angle and macro wet lenses.

Be careful though. An Olympus e-620 with a 14/54 lens in an Olympus housing/port is only about $2500 and the 14/54 will take fine macro shots and decent semi-wide angle shots in a flat port -- no add-on wet lenses needed.

I keep coming back to this recommendation. Once a shooter starts tricking out a point-and-shoot with wet lenses and dual strobes, the resulting costs approach the e-620 and Olympus housing very quickly.

This is why I question the logic of mirrorless cameras and point-and-shoot rigs that are tricked out. Once you get into a dSLR you get better glass and, as a macro shooter, I will tell you that quick autofocus and a viewfinder is a real requirement. Yes I understand that professionals, semi-professionals and shooters in the business can get shots with point-and-shoot cameras that are as good as a non-pro with a dSLR but I don't think most occasional shooters can. My wife Ginnie is an amatur. To see her e-620 with a 14/54 and flat port in action (dual Inon z-240):
http://www.tomandgin.....he Reefs.html

Tom

PS: I am a Nikon d-300 shooter

#11 Uwater-boy

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 11:46 AM

I am toying with exactly that issue...e series with 14-54 & twin ys-110a vs xz-1 with twin UFL01...

I use today C5050z & twin ys-90s, wet Inon 2x macro, wide angle and wide angle in dome. Wet lenses are heavy but sort of like them, (just use less lead)
I will try to keep the wet lenses if I go to XZ-1 but not sure about e series version.....

Anybody tried the zx-1 with Oly strobes (even though both the Oly housings and Strobes are actually made by S&S anyway....the UFL01 has Oly's own circuit board inside)

#12 Marijana

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 04:43 AM

I was going to purchase the XZ-1 but have changed my mind to get a G12.

Reason being i've read reviews saying the XZ-1 isn't so great without a strobe (and i am not looking into getting a strobe just yet)

Just need a decent camera and housing, so the option has been a XZ-1 with Oly housing or a Canon G12 with Ikelite housing

#13 chris_l

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 05:20 AM

It's kind of hard to beat this deal:

http://www.bhphotovi...ousing_for.html
and the epl1 is selling for $399
all you need is the $40 zoom gear and you're in under $900.


I personally have the epl2, but the price of this setup almost saves you enough to add a strobe over the epl2, depending on the strobe.

#14 derway

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 10:13 AM

The epl1 had horrible auto focus and shutter lag, compared with the epl2, which has bad AF lag compared with the elp3.
Don Erway
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#15 chris_l

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 10:56 AM

The epl1 had horrible auto focus and shutter lag, compared with the epl2, which has bad AF lag compared with the elp3.



I guess it depends on what you compare to and price point. I also own an S95 and a D7000. The epl2 is faster than the S95 and slower than the D7000, big surprises there. I handled an epl1 in a store and it was just a touch faster than my S95. Of course, it might be different underwater.
I went for the epl2 myself primarily because of focus speed and I find the epl2 is more than fast enough for my needs underwater.
The OP asked about compact setups and I'd say the epl1/2 are definitely in between the compact world and DSLR world size wise but closer to compact. I was just pointing out that price wise, the epl1 can be had for the price of an XZ1 system.

But in terms of IQ per dollar, the epl1 is hard to beat.

#16 Cp

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 03:29 PM

I was going to purchase the XZ-1 but have changed my mind to get a G12.

Reason being i've read reviews saying the XZ-1 isn't so great without a strobe (and i am not looking into getting a strobe just yet)

Just need a decent camera and housing, so the option has been a XZ-1 with Oly housing or a Canon G12 with Ikelite housing


The issue is TTL with Sea&Sea strobes - for now at least, it doesn't seem to work.

But don't count out XZ-1 for that reason - it works very well with Inon strobes. I tested it specifically with the Inon S-2000 and felt the TTL was spot on. The Olympus strobe will work well with it also. Here are some u/w pics from the XZ-1:
http://www.nauticamu...ympus-xz-1.html

Cheers,
Cp

Chris Parsons
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innovation at nauticamusa
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954-489-8678

 


#17 mcap67

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 11:42 PM

The issue is TTL with Sea&Sea strobes - for now at least, it doesn't seem to work.

But don't count out XZ-1 for that reason - it works very well with Inon strobes. I tested it specifically with the Inon S-2000 and felt the TTL was spot on. The Olympus strobe will work well with it also. Here are some u/w pics from the XZ-1:
http://www.nauticamu...ympus-xz-1.html

Cheers,
Cp


Why "doesn't it seem to work" ?? Also with Digital Adapters (HeinrichsWeikamp)? It is very strange for logic.
How many pre-flash XZ-1 have? Maybe too much for Sea&Sea electronic circuits...

Who know what is the syncroflash shutter speed?
Thanks in advance,
Marco.

#18 derway

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 11:16 PM

I just went into Samy's ready to buy an lx5, and was really bummed out to find it hunting and struggling to focus, on plenty contrast subject, but dim indoor light.

If you turn off macro mode, it works much faster, but then won't focus closer than a foot and a half, or so.

The gf2 and g3 I tried in same conditions, focused so fast you would not notice.

Did I just get an old tired worn out lx5 to play with?

Ryan, or someone, what AF modes are you using, to make this the greatest compact camera out there, as per the reports?
Don Erway
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sony V3/ikelite/DS-51/Heinrich DA2 slave