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Time of a new DSLR / Housing - how to decide which one


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#1 dvleemin

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:54 PM

I currently have an Oly e330 with Ikelite housing and a single DS160 strobe. Currently only have 3 lenses.

I'm looking at upgrading and I am really struggling to even begin to decide. There are so many options now, and so many price ranges.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on how to approach this.

Thanks,

Darryl

#2 rtrski

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:28 PM

Darryl:

That's a tough one, especially coming from Oly. (FWIW, the e330 was my first DSLR, and I still miss it a little bit. I went from it to E-30 and then jumped ship for Sony (a55).)

I guess I'd ask myself first whether I want to bias the decision toward diving specificially (features for underwater, housing availability and options) or just pick the DSLR system I wanted to move to, for my photography in general. Then start thinking thru the features that are most important to you and prioritize from there.

If you're after the most availability of housings of high and low end, and used equipment of all stripes (including lenses) then either Canon or Nikon win hands down. They're certainly the market giants.

If you're after lightweight and/or compact, and don't shoot a lot of highspeed stuff in general (sports, NASCAR) then many of the mirrorless options might be attractive (Oly, Panasonic, Sony NEX, etc.) [And yes, I know mirroless CDAF is getting faster and faster these days and nearly matches 'fair' PDAF now, this is just a generalized example.]

What's your budget? Are you still in love with your existing lenses and don't want to change systems, or are you willing to start over? Ditto on your strobe and ports? Do you plan on shooting all types underwater (macro, ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel), fish portraits) or did you find you gravitated to only one type of shot? Where are you located and what sort of service and retail options are available to you from the different offerings?

etc. etc. Just start listing things you like most about your current camera, things you like least and wish you had 'better', and see where that takes you. In the end there's probably not many "wrong" decisions - most of us (well, me, I shouldn't group anyone else in this statement) aren't so much limited by our equipment as by our personal skills and opportunities to dive. The vast majority of tiny incremental improvements of this camera from that brand vs. that other guy's are 'in the noise', so to speak.

Once you've narrowed it down a bit, then ask for comments / advice. There may be minor pitfalls. For example my a55 has an electronic viewfinder "blackout" feature that makes it a bit of a pain for u/w shooting, that if I'd known about how much influence it has ahead of time, I might have waited on (or at least swapped some of my accompanying gear choices). Others can provide similar advice for other systems.

Good luck, and HAVE FUN. Picking out new toys should be FUN, not stressful!

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...


#3 dvleemin

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:41 PM

Darryl:

That's a tough one, especially coming from Oly. (FWIW, the e330 was my first DSLR, and I still miss it a little bit. I went from it to E-30 and then jumped ship for Sony (a55).)

I guess I'd ask myself first whether I want to bias the decision toward diving specificially (features for underwater, housing availability and options) or just pick the DSLR system I wanted to move to, for my photography in general. Then start thinking thru the features that are most important to you and prioritize from there.

If you're after the most availability of housings of high and low end, and used equipment of all stripes (including lenses) then either Canon or Nikon win hands down. They're certainly the market giants.

If you're after lightweight and/or compact, and don't shoot a lot of highspeed stuff in general (sports, NASCAR) then many of the mirrorless options might be attractive (Oly, Panasonic, Sony NEX, etc.) [And yes, I know mirroless CDAF is getting faster and faster these days and nearly matches 'fair' PDAF now, this is just a generalized example.]

What's your budget? Are you still in love with your existing lenses and don't want to change systems, or are you willing to start over? Ditto on your strobe and ports? Do you plan on shooting all types underwater (macro, ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel), fish portraits) or did you find you gravitated to only one type of shot? Where are you located and what sort of service and retail options are available to you from the different offerings?

etc. etc. Just start listing things you like most about your current camera, things you like least and wish you had 'better', and see where that takes you. In the end there's probably not many "wrong" decisions - most of us (well, me, I shouldn't group anyone else in this statement) aren't so much limited by our equipment as by our personal skills and opportunities to dive. The vast majority of tiny incremental improvements of this camera from that brand vs. that other guy's are 'in the noise', so to speak.

Once you've narrowed it down a bit, then ask for comments / advice. There may be minor pitfalls. For example my a55 has an electronic viewfinder "blackout" feature that makes it a bit of a pain for u/w shooting, that if I'd known about how much influence it has ahead of time, I might have waited on (or at least swapped some of my accompanying gear choices). Others can provide similar advice for other systems.

Good luck, and HAVE FUN. Picking out new toys should be FUN, not stressful!



Thanks for the reply - helps already.

The vast majority of my photography is underwater, so that is the driver. Any DSLR I pick will be good enough for my needs above water.
Not in love with any of my existing lenses.
I've been very happy with my Ikelite housing and strobe, and I find they are a good economical solution. They can access all functions on my e330 so I'm not sure what the benefits of a more expensive housing are (if one is available for the camera you have).

I do shoot all types under water.

I'm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Service to me is a minor concern as I can always ship off the camera. And I will likely buy online (have from Henry's for example in the past).

Budget. Hmm . . .. haven't made up my mind . . .

Some things I would like over my e330:
- higher MP
- better ability to shoot lower light
- video potentially

Darryl

#4 rtrski

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 02:36 PM

Some things I would like over my e330:
- higher MP
- better ability to shoot lower light
- video potentially


Well, not to knock the e330, like I said I had one and liked it, for its time, but just about ANY current DSLR will get you all the above.

If you really want to push the low-light, then you might step up to at least an APS crop vs. the 4:3rds (or even m4:3rds) option. Nikon is typically considered the 'low light winner' if you get all the way to extremes (ludicrous speed!). But that's for silly high ISO that doesn't make a lot of sense underwater unless you're shooting without strobes and plan on going B&W...if you want to get color underwater that means strobes and you've already got a 160, max shutter is set by X-sync speed, so 'high ISO' really just means you want to be able to safely bump it up to 400->1600 type ranges without introducing too much noise.

You probably can't hardly go wrong, overall. If you stick to something that stays in Ikelite you keep strobe and ports (and strobe cable) and only have to replace the housing. I think the big 'advantages' of other housing brands are overall size/weight (more compact housings since they're generally custom-milled for each camera - other side of that is they can be pretty negatively buoyant underwater), control ergonomics, and perhaps (arguable) overall reliability in the face of abuse. I think Ike housings flood 'more often' than other housings only because there's so much more of a statistical sample, and the lower price of entry might also mean on average there are more beginners using them who get into issues.

You might even cruise the used forums here - a lot of gear freaks (ahem, I am NOT looking in the mirror, nosiree bob!) upgrade way faster than they should. With a couple of new Nikon's just out and one about to be announced, you might score a used system for much less than buying new, that would still be a huge upgrade from where you are now.

Best of luck to your search!

Edited by rtrski, 12 September 2012 - 02:39 PM.

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...


#5 jlyle

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 03:10 PM

I made the jump from my E-330 to the mirrorless Olympus OM-D EM-5 in a Nauticam housing. My new rig weighs ten pounds less than the old one (Ike housing with dual DS-125s) and is half the size. Autofocus is lightening fast, even in low light. Sync speed is 1/250 sec.

You can check out images here: http://diver.net/bbs...003/86335.shtml
Olmpus OM-D EM-5 in a Nauticam housing with dual Sea and Sea YS D1 strobes
8mm, 12-50mm, 45mm lenses
My web page.

#6 dvleemin

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:47 AM

I made the jump from my E-330 to the mirrorless Olympus OM-D EM-5 in a Nauticam housing. My new rig weighs ten pounds less than the old one (Ike housing with dual DS-125s) and is half the size. Autofocus is lightening fast, even in low light. Sync speed is 1/250 sec.

You can check out images here: http://diver.net/bbs...003/86335.shtml


Thanks.

So the size is smaller so I understand that benefit. When I look at something like the Nikon d7000 though for a similar price, it seems like a better fit.

Why did you go with the Oly?

Pictures are very nice BTW.

#7 dvleemin

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:49 AM

Well, not to knock the e330, like I said I had one and liked it, for its time, but just about ANY current DSLR will get you all the above.

If you really want to push the low-light, then you might step up to at least an APS crop vs. the 4:3rds (or even m4:3rds) option. Nikon is typically considered the 'low light winner' if you get all the way to extremes (ludicrous speed!). But that's for silly high ISO that doesn't make a lot of sense underwater unless you're shooting without strobes and plan on going B&W...if you want to get color underwater that means strobes and you've already got a 160, max shutter is set by X-sync speed, so 'high ISO' really just means you want to be able to safely bump it up to 400->1600 type ranges without introducing too much noise.

You probably can't hardly go wrong, overall. If you stick to something that stays in Ikelite you keep strobe and ports (and strobe cable) and only have to replace the housing. I think the big 'advantages' of other housing brands are overall size/weight (more compact housings since they're generally custom-milled for each camera - other side of that is they can be pretty negatively buoyant underwater), control ergonomics, and perhaps (arguable) overall reliability in the face of abuse. I think Ike housings flood 'more often' than other housings only because there's so much more of a statistical sample, and the lower price of entry might also mean on average there are more beginners using them who get into issues.

You might even cruise the used forums here - a lot of gear freaks (ahem, I am NOT looking in the mirror, nosiree bob!) upgrade way faster than they should. With a couple of new Nikon's just out and one about to be announced, you might score a used system for much less than buying new, that would still be a huge upgrade from where you are now.

Best of luck to your search!


Thanks.

One of the reasons I was thinking of moving away from an Oly is that they seem to be less and less popular for UW shooting. Definately no-where near the Nikon's. And if I start buying more lenses then I'd like to put myself in a posiiton in the future where I could upgrade the body and housing but keep the lenses.

#8 jlyle

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 10:44 AM

I understand about lenses, but camera manufacturers are forcing us to upgrade lenses almost as frequently as we do camera bodies. I've been an Olympus fan for many years. The micro 4/3 lenses are small, light, and have great optics.

In any case, u/w photography is a hole into which I periodically throw money.
Olmpus OM-D EM-5 in a Nauticam housing with dual Sea and Sea YS D1 strobes
8mm, 12-50mm, 45mm lenses
My web page.

#9 rtrski

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 12:45 PM

Thanks.

One of the reasons I was thinking of moving away from an Oly is that they seem to be less and less popular for UW shooting. Definately no-where near the Nikon's. And if I start buying more lenses then I'd like to put myself in a posiiton in the future where I could upgrade the body and housing but keep the lenses.


That may be true of Oly 4:3rds DSLRs - I don't think it's true of their m4:3rds. They (and Panasonic) are still actively developing lenses and releasing bodies, and I believe (as Jim's posts show) they're maintaining the interest of the u/w equipment community as well. My comments weren't really intended to push you away from Olympus per se, but just to say if "high ISO" was a really high priority, bigger sensors are automatically going to have an advantage. That said, Jim and others with m4:3rds take awesome pics, and remember what I said about "high ISO" not usually meaning the same thing underwater vs. above.

In terms of 'popularity' no one comes near to Canon and Nikon. I'm shooting Sony so I'm even further off in left field (left one underdog for another...hah)

Edited by rtrski, 13 September 2012 - 12:46 PM.

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...


#10 dvleemin

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:21 AM

That may be true of Oly 4:3rds DSLRs - I don't think it's true of their m4:3rds. They (and Panasonic) are still actively developing lenses and releasing bodies, and I believe (as Jim's posts show) they're maintaining the interest of the u/w equipment community as well. My comments weren't really intended to push you away from Olympus per se, but just to say if "high ISO" was a really high priority, bigger sensors are automatically going to have an advantage. That said, Jim and others with m4:3rds take awesome pics, and remember what I said about "high ISO" not usually meaning the same thing underwater vs. above.

In terms of 'popularity' no one comes near to Canon and Nikon. I'm shooting Sony so I'm even further off in left field (left one underdog for another...hah)


Thanks.

I do think there is some advantage to sticking with a more popular brand. Seems to be more lenses (and corresponding ports) available for them.

#11 rtrski

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 05:52 AM

If small/compact appeals to you then Sony NEX also seems to be getting a lot of attention as a mirrorless format. At least I've noticed more than just Ikelite housing them (e.g. Nauticam houses them along with Oly and Panasonic, but in DSLRs they only house Canon and Nikon). I'm not a fan of the format myself (don't like the form factor at all for above-water shooting ergonomics - I like a big camera since I like doing some big telephoto stuff sometimes - and I'm also still a PDAF snob for above water focus purposes and not yet sold on CDAF as a replacement despite all I've read that says its just fine) but it is another option.

If your primary interest is u/w then you care more about ergonomics 'as housed' than on its own. And really, there's not that many different lens options needed underwater: something in a middle range for typical fish and diver and scenic shots (say 20 - 60mm focal length (full frame equivalent), something in a macro at 100 - 150mm, and something in a wide angle which can be either rectilinear or fisheye (say 10-20mm range). Of course a few people do 'supermacro' and a few use the WA for 'close focus wide angle' applications, but really - those three ranges typically cover most shooting. As long as your selected system has a lens and port option (or two) for each....the total 'stable' of lenses isn't really the issue, is it? Again, that's assuming u/w is your primary priority.

But I do agree with you about sticking with the mainstream having advantages. More help from other divers, more used gear, better likelihood of support of same system if you upgrade bodies in a couple years, etc.

In your shoes, with your stated priorities, NEX has a bigger sensor than Oly and Panasonic m4:3rds, reasonable lens range, good ergo housing available (Nauticam) or cheaper option (Ike)...but all 3 are good, so I'd probably start building a 'wish list' of required lenses, ports, housing, and body on all 3 then start playing compare and contrast with some of the reviews. Rate each for features like response time between shutter and actual shot, AF speed and accuracy in reviews, whether housings let internal flash up for optical sync of strobes or whether you need to go electronic sync, max sync speed, whether JPG noise reduction can be tuned to your preference (or if RAW is available if that's your preference)....you know the drill.

If you really do want to stick to DSLR, then I'd be looking at either Nikon or Canon's smaller crop bodies and do the same thing. Notice I'm not suggesting Sony even though that was my choice - not to knock them at all (still love my camera and seriously looking at a body upgrade and sticking with the system) but I do think way too many people will recommend what they have as a subtle way to reinforce their own decision, and I know I'm in the minority so I'm trying not to be that guy and instead offering what I think is the 'wise' choice. Besides, despite all the posts here I've had a sum total of maybe 70 dives with cameras in my 'career' so far, so I know darn well I don't know nuthin.... Maybe you shouldn't read my posts at all. ;)

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...


#12 Phil Rudin

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:46 AM

rtrski,

Just to be clear IKELITE does NOT make a housing for any mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Not the NEX system or the Olympus M43 or Panasonic M43 systems.

Nauticam makes eleven at this time and the NA-EM5 housing for the Olympus OMD E-M5 is perhaps the hottest on the market at this time. Olympus also makes a housing for this camera but it has not been released in the US at this time.

NEX has NO housing from Ikelite and the Olympus E-M5 housing from Nauticam is a great value V. the NEX housing. Olympus/Panasonic have by far the better lens range over the Nex system at this time.

Regarding image quality and sensor size between M43 and APS-C with the release of the Olympus E-M5 there is little if any difference between the systems with the E-M5 beating out many of the current and just released APS-C cameras.

Phil Rudin

#13 rtrski

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 11:17 AM

Oops - thanks for the correction. I just 'assumed' on IKE and mirroless without checking.

Current rig: Sony SLT-alpha55 in Ikelite housing, Sigma 105mm f2.8 DC Macro w/ Ike 5505.58 flat port or Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM behind UWCamStuff custom 5" mini-dome. Dual INON z240 Type IVs triggered with DS51 for TTL mimicry, or DS51 alone with home-made ringflash assy for macro.

 

Topside, unhoused: Sony SLT-alpha99, Sigma 150-500mm + 1.4TC (Saving for Sony 70-400 G2), Sigma 15mm diagonal fish, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 CZ, Tamron 180mm f2.8 Macro...all the gear and nary a clue...