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D7000 Advice: General, All-purpose lens for underwater?


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#1 AnnettePapa

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:51 AM

Hi Everyone!

So, heres the deal. I just ordered my Nikon D7000, body only. I'm pretty new to photography in general. The plan is to take this baby diving in a Sea & Sea housing. Im looking for a good 'walk around' lens thats good to learn with, topside, but that I can still play with underwater. I've been looking at many many options and I'm making myself nuts looking at review after review from people who have no clue about underwater photography.

I've got access to a bunch of great lenses to take underwater, but am finding it hare to use them topside: 10.5 mm fisheye, 16mm fisheye, 60mm macro, and 12-24 wide angle zoom. Im lucky that I'll get to use these, but i find 12-24 to be unwieldy on the surface.

I know that the best way to learn is practice, but i find the above lenses to be a bit discouraging for a beginner. The lenses that I've been looking at are Nikon AF-S DX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G VR and the Nikon AF-S DX 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED or the 18-105mm d7000 kit lens. I'm def limited by price, so I'm trying to keep it below $300.00 and I don't know how to find out what works best in Sea & Sea housings.

SO..

Does anyone out there have experience with D7000 underwater, that can offer me some insights on a pretty versatile starter lens?

Any/all advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

#2 owfotograaf

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:06 AM

Does anyone out there have experience with D7000 underwater, that can offer me some insights on a pretty versatile starter lens?


Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro HSM!

#3 johnspierce

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:30 AM

Okay, I've said this before, and it's totally just my opinion and many people will disagree.

Looking over all the photos I've taken underwater over the years, *none* of my favorites were shot with the Sigma 17-70mm. It's a do-all lens that does-nothing-well underwater in my opinion. However, I do use this lens above water and have gotten some nice shots with it. I think the "catch all" lens for underwater use a canard and you will just end up replacing the Sigma with other options in a year or so. The best catch all setup is really the Tokina 10-17 and the Nikon 60mm. Other lenses give more options, but this setup is the cheapest with the most bang for the buck.

If it were me, I would start out with the 60mm macro. Get the older one because then it will work with the excellent Kenko 1.4 teleconverter giving you a fish / portrait lens, a macro lens and a super-macro lens the only requirement being you buy the port extension and the teleconverter. This also will allow you to start out with one strobe and keep costs down. Macro and fish portraits are easier than wide angle underwater and you will get more immediate gratification from this setup. Plus, the 60mm is an awesome, sharp lens which I use for portraits quite often since it's a 90mm FX equivalent.

The lenses you have mentioned in your post are good options "above water" (Nikon AF-S DX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G VR, Nikon AF-S DX 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G), they are mediocre at best underwater. The 18-105 would not be good to use underwater at all -- too much zoom there.

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Edited by johnspierce, 24 February 2012 - 09:42 AM.

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#4 cor

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

Im going to give you some advice you didnt ask for. Dont try to find a lens that is a good walk around lens AND is very useful underwater. You have some good underwater lenses, so just get a good topside lens. A general purpose walk around lens that I own and that seems to get some decent reviews is the AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G.
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#5 ATJ

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:45 AM

While I find the Nikon AF-S DX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G VR as an OK all-purpose lens underwater with the D7000, especially for video (the VR helps), all my best shots have been taken with the 60mm f/2.8D.

That said, I'm diving today with the Nikon AF-S DX 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G VR on the D7000 because I'm going to a site where there will be a mix of small and large subjects. I have a +5 diopter on the 18-55mm and while I can't get the same magnification I can out of the 60mm, I can still get around 1:2.5 in a 6" dome port.

I should add that the 18-55mm is a really cheap lens so if you already have a suitable dome port for it, it is worth a try. I bought mine new for $139 and I already had the dome port.

Edited by ATJ, 24 February 2012 - 11:46 AM.


#6 diver dave1

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 12:48 PM

Agree with COR for a topside lens. The 18-200 covers 95% of all I need above water. But its way over your $300 budget. If the budget is the driver, then the 18-105 would be the next choice topside. As stated by others, not useful underwater.
Seems you already have access to enough u/w with fisheye and 60mm macro.
Also agree with the others statement, no lens really does a good job of both above and underwater.
We would all like a lens that does it all... and at a good price. But, we all want to be better looking and better paid as well. Each is about as likely as the other :lol:

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#7 AnnettePapa

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 02:21 PM

Thanks everyone for your help!! Im still so new to all of this. All the diopter and teleconverter talk has me a bit lost, but ill get there soon I'm sure.

Overall, I like the idea of getting a good topside lens. The 18-200 was a bit rich in the price. Do you all have any input on the Tamron 18-200 to offer?

Im going to give you some advice you didnt ask for. Dont try to find a lens that is a good walk around lens AND is very useful underwater. You have some good underwater lenses, so just get a good topside lens. A general purpose walk around lens that I own and that seems to get some decent reviews is the AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G.


Cor, I like your advice. It makes sense. It's just hard to rationalize having a topside set and an underwater set. The Sigma 18-70 sure looks nice, but again, its a bit expensive. How do i know if it would work in a Sea & Sea housing? Is it brand/lens specific?


Essentially this this is going to be my first season w/ a Dslr, so I'm focused on just getting out there shooting. I don't have a housing yet. I might get one soon, but even so, I'll be learning the absolute basics of underwater photography. This entire season is about learning for me, so having the sharpest, most optically perfect shots are not the absolute priority for me. (is that wrong??).

I think i need to just get what i can afford to start with, and if it CAN go underwater, than cool. If not, then I'd still be out practicing topside.

Again, I'm a total beginner. :lol:

#8 okuma

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:46 PM

For starting out U/W, I fully support the 60mm macro.

The problem with a general purpose lens under water is you will end up with 'general purpose snap shots' and no good keepers.

Learn to 'pre-visual '; in other words imagine how you would like to see a subject 's image printed and then set up and shoot to get that image.

Learn to bracket - take 15 - 20 shots of the same subject, varying the exposure and camera angle. And then analyze the good and bad. What are your most common mistakes? Keep notes and list you're 5 most common errors.
I some times still take a list down with me. At first, I was too far away - I did not fill the frame. Then, after several years, I got too close and did not leave enough space for a good crop. Maybe in the next ten years, I'll get it right!

Lastly remember that very few lens for underwater will use the same port/dome/spacer ring combination.
Changing lens U/W can get very expensive.

Edited by okuma, 24 February 2012 - 08:47 PM.

Underwater Photography:
If it is so easy every one would be doing it!

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#9 elbuzo

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:53 AM

Second owfotograaf

I think the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro HSM is the closest all-purpose-lens that you can find , but maybe will not be wide enough for some panoramas' kind of photos of for big animals like whales .

I have it and i found it works great . But i use the Tokina 10-17mm or the Nikon 60mm most of the time.

#10 sgietler

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:42 AM

Like John and Okuma said, I'd go with the 60mm macro lens. Easy to use and you'll get some incredible, sharp shots right away! The Sea & Sea housing is great, you'll love it. - Scott

#11 davichin

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:57 AM

Another one for sigma 17-70 (I have the older version non HSM that may be cheaper if you find it).
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#12 AnnettePapa

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:53 PM

I've already got a 60mm that I use a bit topside now. I like it but I don't love it. I think for underwater, it will be a great starting point. Thats what I will do.

For topside, I'm liking the Sigma 17-70 idea. I don't know the difference from HSM to non HMS and OS.. i just don't follow. I've been looking at the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G Any ideas on this one?

AND, If anyones selling their beloved Sigma 17-70, shoot me a message.

#13 expatdiver

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:34 PM

I think everyone pretty much already covered it, in that you already have access to some of the best lenses for underwater on the Nikon side.

I'm not sure why you find the 12-24 unwieldy on the surface. As I love this lens for panoramas, and the 18-200 VR is my topside walk-around lens. I know you said it's a bit much, but if you can hold off on a topside lens for a while it would probably be well worth it.
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#14 davichin

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:34 AM

I've already got a 60mm that I use a bit topside now. I like it but I don't love it. I think for underwater, it will be a great starting point. Thats what I will do.

For topside, I'm liking the Sigma 17-70 idea. I don't know the difference from HSM to non HMS and OS.. i just don't follow. I've been looking at the Nikkor AF-S DX 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G Any ideas on this one?

AND, If anyones selling their beloved Sigma 17-70, shoot me a message.


All sigmas 17-70 are optically the same. The HSM means it has its own motor which means faster focusing (the lens body is also wider and some housings have trouble housing it), and the OS is Sigma“s VR version...
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#15 davichin

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:36 AM

The 18-70 has a longer minimum focus distance than the sigma, which is not a good thing for dome configuration and edge distorsion. Some people have used it mainly because it used to be a kit lens.
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#16 AnnettePapa

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 07:28 AM

I think everyone pretty much already covered it, in that you already have access to some of the best lenses for underwater on the Nikon side.

I'm not sure why you find the 12-24 unwieldy on the surface. As I love this lens for panoramas, and the 18-200 VR is my topside walk-around lens. I know you said it's a bit much, but if you can hold off on a topside lens for a while it would probably be well worth it.


I'm just starting out, so that wide angle is just hard for me. If I'm shooting people, or things, I need to get right on top of it to get the shot. Which, of course, is why its useful at depth. I get that closer is better, but topside i feel like everything i want to photograph is really tiny in the viewfinder.


All sigmas 17-70 are optically the same. The HSM means it has its own motor which means faster focusing (the lens body is also wider and some housings have trouble housing it), and the OS is Sigma“s VR version...

Davichin, thanks a ton for clearing that up! I like 17-70. I'm also pretty sure i don't mind the Nikkor 18-70, as its inexpensive, and could be housed.


You have all been really helpful. Thanks a TON

:lol:

#17 ATJ

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:04 PM

I'm also pretty sure i don't mind the Nikkor 18-70, as its inexpensive, and could be housed.

If you're considering the Nikkor 18-70mm, then you should definitely consider the Nikkor 18-55mm as it can do better magnification.

#18 Craigster

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:29 PM

I've got to add the Nikon AF-S 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 G ED VR lens to the pool for your consideration. Since you'll likely be using strobes, the aperture range isn't a bad thing. I've had some very nice wide angle and close-up pictures come out shooting on the reefs around Roatan with an Ike housing and 8" dome port & my D90. Nice thing about the 16-85 is that it's also a great walk about lens. Hard to find one for around $300 though.

Edited by Craigster, 26 February 2012 - 06:34 PM.