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RX100, Nauticam, Inon H100/Dome WA Lens, etc... Review with Pics


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#1 NWDiver

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 05:20 PM

The Sony RX100 camera is a thoroughly reviewed camera due to its category leading 1” sensor; roughly 4 times larger than anything else in the Point & Shoot class. Not being a “techy” this will be another “real world, average guy” review of the complete system shot over 10 days while aboard the Nai’a in Fiji.

Equipment Used
Sony RX100
Nauticam RX100 Housing
Nauticam 67mm Flip Diopter Holder
2x Sea & Sea YS-D1 Strobes
10Bar SSHL-SSHL 90 Degree Optical Sync Cords
10Bar 67mm Lens Holder
2x Light & Motion Sola 4000
Inon UWL-H100 28M67 Wide Conversion Lens (Type2)
Inon Dome Lens Unit II For UWL-H100 (Dry Dome used with H100 Lens)
Subsea +10 Diopter
I-DAS Strobe Arms & Clamps
Dual Modular Tray*

The Sony RX100
I found the build quality of the camera solid and the button layout practical. I did find when shooting on land my thumb hitting the video Rec button on occasion. It is a little bigger and heavier than the Canon S100 but still comfortable as a pocket cam. The menu system is user friendly and straightforward to navigate. You have to charge the battery in camera so looking forward to some company producing an external battery charger. The one minor shortcoming is the Sony RX100 does not have a strong Macro feature.

Nauticam RX100 Housing
The housing meets Nauticam high quality build standards. Just drop the camera in and start shooting. The locking system is about as simple and secure as possible. A key feature is the housing gives you access to all the cameras controls. This is crucial for those who shoot in Manual, as I do. The rear and front dials move smoothly making adjusting Shutter Speed and Aperture easy to change. I assigned the Fn button on the back of the housing to ISO, so you can customize as you like. This is a camera and housing you can “grow” into if you are shooting in Auto and TTL.

As a long time DSLR shooter I enjoyed being able use wide-angle and macro wet lenses underwater. I had hoped to use the Nauticam Flip Diopter holder with both the Subsea +10 diopter and Inon H100 W/A lenses but that was not ideal. When you attach the Inon H100 WA lens to the Nauticam Flip Diopter holder and are zoomed to the widest angle you get some minor vignette. You can use it but you will have to zoom in a stop.

When concentrating on wide angle the Inon H100 was threaded directly onto the Nauticam port, with the Subsea in the lens holder on the I-Das arm. When changing lenses there would be a point when I was holding both lenses and that is a bit awkward. In the future I will add a second 67mm Lens Holder to a strobe arm. Thus you can shoot without a wet lens while having both available. If concentrating on Macro the Nauticam Flip Diopter holder works great.

I used 4 Stix large floats on the strobe arms. It would take 6 to make the system very close to neutral. Regardless, compared to a DSLR system even without the Stix floats the set-up was easy to hold and dive with just one hand.

Inon H100 lens and dome
For Fiji’s colorful walls I was very happy to have the Inon H100 wet lens and its companion dome. This is a two-part system. The H100 is a standard wet-lens that gives you 100 degrees of coverage. The dome attaches to the H100 and is a “dry” dome, extending coverage to 144 degrees. The dome has 2 o-rings and sealing system employing a collar/back-plate and 6 bolts. So the dome cannot be removed from the H100 lens underwater. The dome did occasionally fog going from the outside camera table-to sun while on the 5min skiff ride-then into the cooler water. I would try to keep the housing and dome out of the sun as much as possible or throw a wet towel over it.

General System Performance Underwater

Pros
  • Native lens is good for “don’t know what you will see” diving.
  • Quick autofocus in mid-wide angle shooting, even in low light.
  • Full manual control.
  • Good JPEG Fine output but has option for RAW or RAW+JPEG.
  • Excellent system for WA photography when used with the Inon H1OO lens and dome.
  • Very good results when shooting Auto and S&S YS-D1 strobes in TTL.
  • Compact size of system when compared to a DSLR or even 4/3 systems. Carry-on with strobes, batteries, wet-lenses, everything I needed to shoot was >15lbs.
  • FLEXIBILITY! Ability to shoot Leaf Fish and Landscapes on one dive.
  • With no mirror you can shoot at +300 shutter speeds for pleasing sun-ball/sunray shots.
Cons
  • If this camera has a “weakness” it is it only has “fair” macro capability. When used with the Subsea +10 diopter you can shoot dime sized subjects but you will be just inches away. On the upside with 20 megapixels you can crop to compensate.
  • Have to wait for on board flash to recycle. If you are accustomed to electrical syncs you will find you have to time your shots more.
  • Focus when shooting macro can be inconsistent.
  • No viewfinder.
  • When used with H100/Dome pictures can be a little soft under f/5.
  • Nauticam housing can fog, would suggest silica packet/s.
  • H100 Lens and Dome combo also can fog if going from tropical sun to cool water. Just try to keep in shade or under wet towel.
Conclusions
This is a great system! One that will be in my bag from here on out. For fish portrait-wide angle work, with the right wet-lenses, I think results can be achieved that will make some think twice about buying systems 3-5 times the cost, weight and size. Again you can do macro with diopters but the results will not be on par with a DSLR or 4/3 systems and a good 60mm lens. So I am not saying this camera is on par with a DSLR or 4/3 systems...but when the DSLR folks are shooting nudibranchs and the whale shark swims by they are out of luck and the Sony RX100 can get a fantastic shot!

*Tray was modified to accept the Nauticam RX100 Housing

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50% Crop
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Edited by NWDiver, 04 December 2012 - 06:24 AM.


#2 DesertEagle

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 11:02 AM

I love the third photo, a classic wide angle view.

2 X Sola 4000 lights AND strobes? You must be going to war. With lights that powerful, did you try them in place of strobes?
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#3 NWDiver

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:49 PM

Gave it a try. A big issue is you are not going to sneak up on any living creature, lol. Now that you can shoot at ISOs over 400 and get nice results it is becoming possible. But I am not ready to give up my strobes. Here are two I tried and settings.


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ISO 400, Shutter Speed 60, f/2.5



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ISO400, Shutter Speed 60, f/3.2

Edited by NWDiver, 04 December 2012 - 05:52 PM.


#4 Interceptor121

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:46 AM

Even 4000 lumens are not strong enough to freeze motion. With a video light all you can shoot is 1/60 of a second that can be acceptable for blue water backgrounds but not for reef dark background as we can see here

One thing that I wonder about your set up is the position of the video lights and how that affects video performance considering you have a very wide lens. I look forward to some footage where you used the Sola!!!

Also I am curious as you are a fix reseller why did you go for the Inon lens instead of the Fix UWL28? From what I can see the optics quality of the Inon is superbe it is however expensive and very heavy in water.

Edited by Interceptor121, 06 December 2012 - 12:48 AM.

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#5 NWDiver

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:05 AM

I have had the chance to shoot the Fix UWL-28 on other systems and liked it. Another option maybe the Ikelite W-30. Hope to test both in the coming weeks.

I wanted to experiment with the H100 and its companion dome. Coming from the world of DSLRs I like the idea of having the option of shooting the H100 lens by itself at 100 degrees then being able to add the dome for even wider shots.

I like the results. I found just shooting the H100 excellent for shooting on a smaller scale. Also think it makes a good shark/ray lens. The lens/dome combo was great for shooting reef scenes. I did not find the weight to be an issue when on the port. Yes when not in use and stored on the strobe arm it does want to tilt that way but add a couple of Stix floats, problem solved/minimized.

Not a great shot but taken w/just the H100
Posted Image

Edited by NWDiver, 06 December 2012 - 10:19 AM.


#6 CamelToad

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:51 AM

Very interesting thread, thanks.

I am trying to decide what WA wet lens to get for my RX100/Nauticam rig. I have two Inon wet macro lenses already. Will be using two z240 strobes.

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#7 davephdv

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 10:08 PM

I shot the RX100 for two weeks in the Solomon's, one week in the Galapogas, and a number of dives in S Cal.

I have never had an issue with fogging.
Dave Burroughs, Nikon D300, D2X, Subal housing, DS160 strobes

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#8 NWDiver

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 09:54 AM

Still feel this is one of the best compact cameras out there.  Enjoying how flexible it is. Yes, it is not as strong as a exchangeable lens system regarding macro.  BUT maybe our hopes/expectations of its macro is jaded a little due to how great it is at everything else.  

 

 The following are just to show the range once again.  The Blue Ring Octo and the Flamboyant Cuttle Fish were taken with the Subsee +10.  Getting the focus right, with my aging eyes and this set up can be a challenge.  The glass fish shot taken with with Inon H100, the school and over/under were taken with the H100+Dome.

 

Following shots not offered for their artistic content but to show range.  No cropping and only minor sharpening.

 

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">http://8557995120_156d3b6122_b.jpg

">http://8557995032_64fa4a5ea1_b.jpg

">http://8558003774_0eee0f7184_b.jpg


Edited by NWDiver, 14 March 2013 - 11:32 AM.


#9 Interceptor121

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 12:41 AM

Is the shots of the flamboyant at telephoto end? amazing pictures!


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#10 NWDiver

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 07:31 AM

Settings for that shot: 1/80, f/11.0 ISO400, Lens at 23.6