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In search of a Compact Camera with Standard Strobe Cable


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#1 Jock

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:25 AM

Hi,

I am afraid that sooner or later my trusty old RS will be my "late RS"... So I start looking for a replacement, but are more than confused.

First, absolutely no more SLR - I am just too tired of schlepping around HEAVY equipment any more. No way. Seems a good compact camera is the way to go. Plenty of choice, as I can see.

What puzzles me: Most camera/housing combinations seem to trigger the external strobe(s) via a fiber-optic cable by the internal camera strobe. And the internal strobe drives me crazy with my small "backup" Olympus SP350 digital camera - when I use it, it takes 6 to 8 seconds until the internal strobe has recharged, way too long when you urgently want to take the next shot. (For U/W I have an Olympus housing with the Heinrichs Weikamp adapter, so I can use an external strobe only, but the camera itself has too many limitations - autofocus is toooo slow and unreliable under water, raw mode too slow, etc.pp. - so not a real replacement for my RS.)

What I am looking for is an upper level compact camera with a hot-shoe device and a housing with one (or maybe two) traditional Nikonos strobe connector(s). I would like to use fisheye to supermacro, either with external adapters or with lenses and the according ports for the housing.

I was about to buy the Canon G12; Patima, for example, has a housing with Nikonos connector. But then I found that in movie mode the AF does not work on the G12. Why - because they need to have something for the G13 ??? Even my old SP350 has a working AF in movie mode! Okay, movie is not my primary goal, but is is a "nice to have" feature - here is a link to a manatee video I shot with the SP350 with an external W/A converter: . In a situation like this a movie is much better than a series of photos.

There is such a lot of information here on wetpixel, any hint where I can get an overview with the features I have mentioned above? The search function did not help me too much - or I am just to stupid to use it properly... Or do the latest compact cameras have a strobe recycle time comparable to, say Ikelite or Sea&Sea strobes?

Regards,
Jock

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#2 derway

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 10:13 AM

The canon, nikon, and oly compact camera offerings have a major failing. Slow autofocus, and long shutter total lag.

And no, none of them have a cycle time comparable to an underwater strobe, though if you do partial dump, it is no problem. If you are ok shooting manual strobe control, you can set the internal flash for a minimal pulse, and just use it to trigger an external strobe.

Here is a report on the top 3 underwater compact cameras for 2011:

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

The best setup, that meets your criteria, is a pany LX5 in an ikelite housing. It includes the hotshoe andapter, so you can shoot with any ikelite housing.

But seriously, coming from an RS you have to consider a micro 4/3 setup, or other mirrorless system.

The recently announced oly pen 3 series, promises FINALLY a great autofocus speed and total shutter lag, on an oly digicam. And far better IQ than any compact. Due out in august..

The panasonic micro 4/3 systems are also extremely compact, great autofocus, and lag and IQ. The gh2 has housings, as do the gf1 and gf2.

So far as I can tell, all the micro 4/3 housings use optical strobe triggers. Sigh. But they are probably worth it, IQ wise.
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#3 JackConnick

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 11:07 AM

I would disagree as to the Olympus XZ-1 which does have a hotshoe as well. I'm beginning to shoot one while I wait for the Nikon D400 ;-).

Shooting fiber optic sync and running any of these cameras on manual and turning the flash power down to their lowest setting will cycle them much faster. In some tests I have been doing here, setting the XZ-1 to manual, 1/64th power allows it to cycle in maybe a second or two, writing a RAW file to a class 6 card. Actually, it continues to write and is ready a little faster. The Sea & Sea YS-02 set to full dump cycles in about 3-4 secs, so the camera is easily waiting on the strobe. If you shoot the strobe more normally, at 1/2 power or something, you will have very quick cycling. There is also almost no shutter lag with the XZ-1 and it uses the same processor as the PEN. In short, the Olympus XZ-1 is every bit as fast as the LX-5 and I prefer the front bezel and overall ease of use. I think the LX-5 has better video and more techy controls, but much of those are available in the menus of the Oly XZ-1.

There's a HUGE difference in response, lens quality, sensor size, processor in these new advanced compact cameras. The SP-350 is quite old and can't even be compared to them, and the G-series Canons loose in lens quality and sensor size, IMHO.

As far as electrical sync; 10Bar does offer housings with Nikonos and fiber optic sync. LX-5, a new XZ-1 and housings for all the mirrorless cameras from Oly & Panasonic are pretty much available. But you will only have manual control from the strobe and something like a SB-105 is kind of limited that way.

Most of the new housings use fiber optic, it is cheaper and much less problematic. But shooting it in TTL can be slow.

Jack

Edited by JackConnick, 09 July 2011 - 11:09 AM.

Jack Connick
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#4 derway

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 11:21 AM

Jack, is there any way to shoot the xz-1 using the hotshoe, in TTL? I thought not...
Don Erway
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sony V3/ikelite/DS-51/Heinrich DA2 slave

#5 JackConnick

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 11:45 AM

Jack, is there any way to shoot the xz-1 using the hotshoe, in TTL? I thought not...


With a housed Olympus flash. 10Bar does sell housings for it.

Jack

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#6 DesertEagle

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 12:36 PM

Just set the SP-350's flash setting to slave mode, power level 1 out of 10. I did the same on my SP-350 and the flash recycled very fast. When shooting macro with a TTL flash, I'd just leave the Olympus flash at a regular setting. The TTL feedback kept the bursts very short.
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#7 Jock

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 02:16 AM

Thanks for the infos - setting the internal strobe to absolute minimum and trigger the exernal strobe via a fiber optic cable seems to be an option that gives me a wider choice of cameras. I know that I can only shoot manual strobe mode this way, but that is what I do with my SP350 anyhow - I find the Heinrichs-Weikamp TTL function extremely unreliable.


@DesertEagle: There is no need to use the internal flash when I use the Heinrichs-Weikamp converter. The external strobe is triggered from the hot shoe of the camera. This saves a lot of battery power.

Here is a pic I took in the Netherlands last autumn with SP350 plus WA-converter and YS110a / manual exposure and manual strobe setting. Unfortunately, moving subjects are almost impossible to catch this way since the autofocus is so slow and so poorly working in dim conditions - otherwise this camera would be "good enough" for me:

2010_Grevelingen_24.jpg

Regards,

Jock

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