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Best EVIL camera for underwater use?

EVIL compact hybrid best NEX OM-D

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#1 Nicool

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:28 AM

Hello Wetpixel,
I'm hearing more and more DSLR shooters that are getting an EVIL camera for underwater use, and I'm myself considering it now.
I currently own a fully equipped Hugyfor gear for my Nikon D7000, and I'm very happy with the quality and ergonomy.
Still, I like to dive as light as possible in any occasion, but I'm also getting several occasions to go abroad for short business trips, in places with good diving potential. I'd love to dive in those places and bring back some pictures, but I really can't affort to carry my 1620 Pelican case with all the DSLR gear...

Like most DSLR shooters (I presume), I'm concerned about the loss in image quality (although I believe some Sony NEX cameras are at par with my D7000), and by slower autofocus, but I've never tried any of these EVIL cameras underwater.

I say Alex Mustard's article which raised my interest on the Olympus OM-D, but what about the NEX family, the tiny Pentax, etc?
So for those of you who investigated the matter in more detail, which EVIL camera do you think is best for underwater photography, and why?

#2 bvanant

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:34 PM

Any of the NEX or micro 4/3 cameras can be great underwater but if you shoot strobes and a focus light they are not all that much smaller than a DSLR rig by the time you have the arms and batteries and chargers etc.
Bill

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#3 folivier1

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:36 PM

Interesting topic and one which I've been considering. Getting tired of lugging around my 5d2 and Subal and don't get to dive as much. I really would like to move smaller for UW and topside but for topside I definately need a viewfinder. Hate using a camera without one.

#4 Steve Williams

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 03:22 PM

Our friends at Backscatter have some interesting new information up on their website. http://www.backscatt...rrorlessindepth

The whole article is well worth reading.

Cheers,
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#5 troporobo

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:19 PM

I've gone with the OM-D with the 12-50 lens, Nauticam housing, and a pair of Inon S2000 strobes. I don't (yet) have a true wide angle so no additional port to carry. The whole setup fits very neatly in a normal size backpack so is relatively light and compact for travel.

#6 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 04:57 PM

OM-D without question. These are the hottest threads on this forum for a good reason. And yes, it is much smaller that a dslr housing. If you want a single all-around rig, get the Nauty housing with the 12-50 port and gear. A perfect rig for a short travel trip where you want to travel light.

Image quality is equal to APS-C DSLRs (except maybe the 24mp ones for resolution) and high ISO performance is outstanding.

#7 Nicool

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:13 AM

Any of the NEX or micro 4/3 cameras can be great underwater but if you shoot strobes and a focus light they are not all that much smaller than a DSLR rig by the time you have the arms and batteries and chargers etc.
Bill

Good point, but it's at least easier to pack, lighter to carry, and I could also consider trading my Inon Z240s for smaller strobes.

Our friends at Backscatter have some interesting new information up on their website. http://www.backscatt...rrorlessindepth

The whole article is well worth reading.

Cheers,
Steve

Thanks Steve! Indeed that was very informative, I had missed this article.

I've gone with the OM-D with the 12-50 lens, Nauticam housing, and a pair of Inon S2000 strobes. I don't (yet) have a true wide angle so no additional port to carry. The whole setup fits very neatly in a normal size backpack so is relatively light and compact for travel.

OM-D without question. These are the hottest threads on this forum for a good reason. And yes, it is much smaller that a dslr housing. If you want a single all-around rig, get the Nauty housing with the 12-50 port and gear. A perfect rig for a short travel trip where you want to travel light.

Image quality is equal to APS-C DSLRs (except maybe the 24mp ones for resolution) and high ISO performance is outstanding.

That's the kind of benefits I'm interested in!

So looks like the Olympus OM-D is very popular, and from Backscatter's review I can understand some of the reasons.
However I see there are some nez Olympus PEN cameras being released, with same sensor as the OM-D, and probably cheaper+lighter. So what would be the drawback of those PEN against the OM-D? Lower number of controls, ie lower ergonomics? One possible advantage I see is the absence of the OM-D's hump, which might mean smaller housings? So smaller housing vs lower controls, what's more important?

I see good comments on IQ for the OM-D (very good, stunning...), but is it very good compared to point&shoot, or really at par with APS-C DSLRs? I must say it was a pain when I've downgraded from my Nikon D3 to my D7000, I'm hoping there is no really visible downgrade from D7000 to mirorless.
Also, I imagine no one has reviewed yet the newer NEX cameras (NEX-6) for instance, which still come with a bigger sensor than 4/3 systems, but a reasonable 16 Mpix (I'm afraid 24 Mpix is a bit too much on APS-C), and apparently some major progress on AF performance.

Also, Backscatter's article doesn't mention the Panasonic mirorless cameras, so I assume they focused on the best cameras in both Olympus+Panasonic lineups, since they share same lenses?

Last, but certainly not least, of my questions: are there some mirorless housings with which you can use a 3rd party vaccum testing system? Now that I'm used with my hugycheck, I couldn't live without it...

#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 01:57 AM

http://wetpixel.com/...mpus-om-d-e-m5/

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#9 bvanant

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:19 PM

If you believe the Dx0 sensor ratings (and you may not) the D3 has an 81 rating, the D7000 has an 80 and the OM-D has a 71, so a much bigger IQ change from D7000 to OM-D than from D3 to D7000. That being said, it all depends on the output. For big prints (16x20) I think the OM-D is a stretch while the Nex-6/Nex-7 can do it more easily. That being said, I think my 7D gives me "better" images than the OM-D even though its sensor ratings are lower. I shot the Nex-5 quite a bit but sold it for the OM-D mostly for macro lens availability and I believe that the images were mostly comparable.
Bill

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#10 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 07:57 PM

DXO is not the best measure for print quality. Even now, resolution is still the best indicator for large enlargement quality. DXO measures things of high value like dynamic range or high ISO, but if large prints are your primary goai, get a D800. If professional quality, good dynamic range, excellent high ISO, light weight, ease of travel and use, versatllity (nothing matches the 12-50 Nauty rig for that), a full and useful variety of lenses, housings and ports, and image quality that will allow 20x30 prints with careful and judicious post, then the OM-D is the way to go. As I indicated, the NEX-7 has the best EVIL resolution, but is not the best underwater camera IMO due mainly to the lack of lenses.

#11 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:21 AM

If you believe the Dx0 sensor ratings (and you may not) the D3 has an 81 rating, the D7000 has an 80 and the OM-D has a 71, so a much bigger IQ change from D7000 to OM-D than from D3 to D7000. That being said, it all depends on the output. For big prints (16x20) I think the OM-D is a stretch while the Nex-6/Nex-7 can do it more easily. That being said, I think my 7D gives me "better" images than the OM-D even though its sensor ratings are lower. I shot the Nex-5 quite a bit but sold it for the OM-D mostly for macro lens availability and I believe that the images were mostly comparable.
Bill


Can't believe I am getting into a DxO ratings discussion! They are what they are, a useful guide, not the be-all and end-all. They are measure all areas of the sensor performance, some of which might be completely irrelevant to the photography you intend to do.

My testing with the OM-D back in May, I felt it exceeded the IQ than a Nikon D300 could achieve, had better ISO performance than a 7D and was getting pretty close to the D7000. However, I was not able to do side by side tests.

For low light, available light, wide angle photography I would take the OM-D over the D7000 and 7D every time. But for other types of underwater photography I'd still say the SLRs are ahead in terms of an overall package. Unless the size of that package is particularly important to you.

Alex

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#12 Phil Rudin

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:47 AM

I would agree with Alex, the three lenses I used most (about 95% of the time) with my Olympus DSLR systems were the 50 macro, 7-14 zoom and 8mm fisheye. Since I now have the Panasonic 8mm and 7-14 zoom along with the 45 macro and the Olympus 60 macro my system has not changes much other than a lack of tele converters. I firmly feel that large full-frame optical viewfinders provide the best viewing quality, while at the same time I am quite impressed at how much better the OMD EVF is over past OVF's on the 43 sensors.

I am sitting in my room at Atlantis Dumaguete Philippines, dive resort less than 100 meters from the sea with a rather large typhoon bearing down on our door step and I am finding these small details like a DxO review to be of little concern. Hope that makes sense to some here at WetPixel.

As for the choice between Sony NEX-7 and Olympus M-E5 I have owned both with the respective Nauticam housings and I can say without reservation that for me the OMD is the better system at this time because of the lack of quality lenses for the Sony NEX systems. You can talk all you want about what is coming but I fail to see any useful lenses other than the Zeiss 24mm and the new as yet untested 10-somthing mm zoom and from what I have read that may not change before 2015. We will see an expensive Zeiss macro that will reach 1:2 and that is about all I see in the near future.

Phil Rudin

Edited by Phil Rudin, 04 December 2012 - 01:50 AM.


#13 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:47 AM

Stay safe in the storm, Phil.

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#14 Deep6

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:00 AM

As I indicated, the NEX-7 has the best EVIL resolution, but is not the best underwater camera IMO due mainly to the lack of lenses.


Yeah, you gotta have the glass. The APS-C size sensors (e.g. NEX-n) will have APS-C size lens; the corresponding M4/3 are smaller and lighter. As noted, M4/3 has a large selection of lenses - NEX does not AND only has one lens that can resolve 24 MPs. The "Sweet 16" MPs will do all that I need.


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#15 Deep6

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:03 AM

Hey Phil, keep your head down! I have my fingers crosssed for you.
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#16 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 09:16 AM

Hey Phil, I did not realize you were there! Please stay safe.

Guy

#17 Phil Rudin

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:29 PM

The storm has passed in our area and we are all well with minimal damage to the resort. Don't know how the boats made out at this time but will hope for the best. With all the rain we could be in for some poor vis in the next few days. Thanks to all for your concern.

Phil Rudin

#18 Nicool

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:32 PM

http://wetpixel.com/...mpus-om-d-e-m5/


Hi Alex,

Thanks for the link! As usual your reviews are a pleasure to read, and the fact that you took the standpoint of the SLR photographier considering mirorless was very relevant to me, and it got me 90% of the answers I was looking for.

Based on your review and on other photographers comments (here and in other threads I've browsed), I'm convinced the OM-D is currently the best EVIL/mirorless camera for underwater.
Still I'm afraid OM-D setups (Nauticam or Olympus housings) miss 2 features that I would have loved:
-Unability to use any system like hugycheck/housing sentry to ensure the housing is waterproof before the dive.
-No "peak focusing" highlight. At least one NEX camera offers it, would be great if Olympus offered it as a firmware upgrade.
Hopefully someone an prove me wrong...

Also, I have one question: is there a significant image quality/autofocus trade-off when using wet lenses (wide angle complement or macro wet diopter), as compared to dedicated m4/3 lenses and ports?
Although I have not yet fully explored the lens/port charts of Nauticam/Olympus, I've seen some ports with 67mm/77mm threads, so I would assume the capability exists. If it were possible to use, say the 14-42 or 16-50 lenses behind the same port, and then be flexible to change between ultra wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) angle and macro during a dive, with limited quality trade-off, it would be awesome... (that's something I envy to compact cameras shooters)

The storm has passed in our area and we are all well with minimal damage to the resort. Don't know how the boats made out at this time but will hope for the best. With all the rain we could be in for some poor vis in the next few days. Thanks to all for your concern.

Phil Rudin

Hi Phil,
Good to know you're safe!
No worries about the poor viz: with your top-notch OM-D stabilization you can just shoot at low shutter speed with video light, I believe that would make particles less disturbing in photos ;-)
Just kidding, but I wouldn't mind trading my 20/30m viz in the Med against 2-3m in Philippines :-D

#19 Phil Rudin

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:42 PM

Hi Nicool,

I was just in Antibes last month after attending the World Festival of Underwater Pictures now in Marseille. My wife and I had a great time but did not take time to dive as we worked our way along the coast from Nice back to Marseille for the flight home. I have done some great diving in the Med over the last 40+ years, in Malta and Spain but have not had a dive in France yet. I would like to dive one of the subs there. Sorry for getting off topic.

Phil

#20 Nicool

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 01:21 AM

Hi Nicool,

I was just in Antibes last month after attending the World Festival of Underwater Pictures now in Marseille. My wife and I had a great time but did not take time to dive as we worked our way along the coast from Nice back to Marseille for the flight home. I have done some great diving in the Med over the last 40+ years, in Malta and Spain but have not had a dive in France yet. I would like to dive one of the subs there. Sorry for getting off topic.

Phil

Good to hear you've enjoyed our cost :-)
Still off topic, my wife and I have dived one of the submarines once (it was the "Rubis", close to Cavalaire), but I must say it was a very nice dive, very particular ambiance.
I cannot help pasting 3 pictures from that dive (I'm the model here).

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