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Dome Port for 15mm and 21mm Zeiss Lenses

Dome Port Zeiss 15mm Zeiss 21mm Nikon D800E

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#1 Bobu

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:34 AM

I’m looking for a housing and domeport for my Zeiss 2.8/15mm ZF.2 and 2.8/21 ZF.2 lenses. They will be used with a Nikon D800E.

 

Regarding my background: I have 25 years of experience in landscape and macro photography, but absolutely no experience in underwater photography and diving (just some experience in snorkeling). You can find some of my work on my website wild-places.com.

 

Therefore I need some help and recommendations regarding the right equipment for shooting in and under water.

 

My highest priority is optical quality of the dome port (meaning highest possible image quality especially corner sharpness).

 

The system will be used over- and underwater and for half-half shots, mainly with natural light. I will not go deeper than 2-3 m (either standing in the water, shooting from above the water or snorkeling, no diving).

 

Since the dome port is most important for IQ I will buy whatever housing will fit the best dome port (and of course my D800E). From the information I found on the internet the Nauticam and Seacam housings sounds interesting, but I’m open for any other suggestions.

 

The biggest problem with the Zeiss 15mm lens is the large diameter of 103mm. So far I’ve not found a single domeport suitable for this lens.

 

If it’s just not possible to get one, I would at least like to get the best one for the 21mm Zeiss lens.

 

Any ideas, comments, recommendations?

 

Boris



#2 sharky1961

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:28 AM

Hi Boris,

 

I have the Seacam Housing with the Superdome. I also want to take my Zeiss lenses underwater (21mm and 100mm ). Seacam comfirmed me that they have a fokussingring for them.

If I were you I would go for Seacam, especially as there is now a Seacam distributor in Germany were you can test the Seacam equipment in the diving tower in Siegburg.

 

 

hope this will help

 

Rob


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#3 Bobu

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:04 AM

Thanks Rob, I will contact the german Seacam distributor.

 

The question is: does any solution for the Zeiss 15mm exist? The Seacam Superdome (and the Zen Superdome) will very likely not fit.

 

Has anbody compared the optical performance of the Seacam Superdome with the Zen/Nauticam 9" Superdome (distortion, corner sharpness, anti-reflective coating inside and outside, ...)?

 

Boris



#4 vbpress

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 07:02 AM

Hi Boris,

I suggest you to contact directly Mr. Harald Hordosch, Seacam chief manager (but I prefer "developer").

But I advise you that under water high optical quality can became less important than a  precise focusing. I'm saying you that today MF lenses aren't the best choice in UW photography, we can't  never forget the mask on our face!  Water drops inside the mask glasses can prevent a precise focusing. The modern AF digital cameras solve the task brilliantly

 

by


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#5 Ryan

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 08:35 AM

We are manufacturing a port for Zeiss 15mm for testing, and hopefully we can have it in water by the end of April.  I'm actually not overly optimistic, but do want to see how the simpler Zeiss design stacks up to 14mm lenses from Nikon and Canon.


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#6 divegypsy

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:01 AM

Hello Boris,

 

For some basic information, the inside diameter of Seacam ports and extension rings is 97mm, so your Zeiss 15mm won't fit in Seacam.  Nauticam is a little larger but I don't know if it is large enough for your Zeiss 15 to fit if it is 103mm.  If you are seriously interested in shooting over/under shots, the Zeiss 21mm lens will not be able to give you enough depth-of-field to have both the topside and underwater halfs of an over/under shot in focus.  For that you would need something more like your Zeiss 15mm or the Nikon 14mm or 14-24mm.  The dome diameter of the Seacam Superdome is about 9".  If you can find a larger diameter dome, this will be of considerable help for shooting over/under shots.  And make it easier to get corner-to-corner sharpness.  Because very wide lenses are more subject to flare, you may want to add a custom lens shade to your dome port as the shade on most large domes is sized for use with fisheye lenses.  My Seacam superdome has a double shade.  The permanent inner shade suitable for the Nikon 16mm fisheye and the outer, removable one cut to work with Nikon's 14mm lens.

 

I don't know what sorts of subjects you hope to shoot in the shallows.  If they are non-moving subjects and you can remain stationary, a manual focus lens can work very well.  If you or the subject is moving, a lens with auto-focus is more likely to give you a sharper image because the camera's auto-focus system will be able to see more clearly than you will through a dive mask and a housing viewfinder.  And will be able to "lock onto" the subject more accurately and more quickly.

 

Several others have recommended Seacam, which is a well-made housing.  I have used Seacam housings myself for the last dozen years.  BUT when you use a Seacam housing in very shallow water on a sunny day, reflections off the bright silver housing body can cause problems, both reflecting onto a very near subject and reflecting into your eyes as you try to look through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen on the back of your D800.  I covered much of my Seacam D700 housing with black tape to reduce this.  I also switched to using the Nauticam viewfinders because they allow you to make a final diopter adjustment underwater to see the subject through the camera as clearly as possible. And are black. 

 

Fred



#7 Bobu

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:01 PM

Hi Boris,

I suggest you to contact directly Mr. Harald Hordosch, Seacam chief manager (but I prefer "developer").

But I advise you that under water high optical quality can became less important than a  precise focusing. I'm saying you that today MF lenses aren't the best choice in UW photography, we can't  never forget the mask on our face!  Water drops inside the mask glasses can prevent a precise focusing. The modern AF digital cameras solve the task brilliantly

 

by

 

Thanks!

I already got an answer from Harald Hordosch. At the moment they have no port combination for the 15mm Zeiss. But Mr. Gies, the German Seacam distributor, is very helpful and tries to find a solution for me. Regarding MF vs. AF: I will first see how far I can get with the MF Zeiss lenses. I really love their rendering. If I have no success I will try some AF lenses.

 

Boris



#8 Bobu

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:10 PM

We are manufacturing a port for Zeiss 15mm for testing, and hopefully we can have it in water by the end of April.  I'm actually not overly optimistic, but do want to see how the simpler Zeiss design stacks up to 14mm lenses from Nikon and Canon.

 

That's very interesting. On which housings will this port fit (Seacam, Nauticam, Subal, ...), if you go into series prodution? Please keep me updated about your test results (either here in this thread or via contact form on my website).

 

Thanks,

 

Boris



#9 Bobu

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:16 PM

Hello Boris,

 

For some basic information, the inside diameter of Seacam ports and extension rings is 97mm, so your Zeiss 15mm won't fit in Seacam.  Nauticam is a little larger but I don't know if it is large enough for your Zeiss 15 to fit if it is 103mm.  If you are seriously interested in shooting over/under shots, the Zeiss 21mm lens will not be able to give you enough depth-of-field to have both the topside and underwater halfs of an over/under shot in focus.  For that you would need something more like your Zeiss 15mm or the Nikon 14mm or 14-24mm.  The dome diameter of the Seacam Superdome is about 9".  If you can find a larger diameter dome, this will be of considerable help for shooting over/under shots.  And make it easier to get corner-to-corner sharpness.  Because very wide lenses are more subject to flare, you may want to add a custom lens shade to your dome port as the shade on most large domes is sized for use with fisheye lenses.  My Seacam superdome has a double shade.  The permanent inner shade suitable for the Nikon 16mm fisheye and the outer, removable one cut to work with Nikon's 14mm lens.

 

I don't know what sorts of subjects you hope to shoot in the shallows.  If they are non-moving subjects and you can remain stationary, a manual focus lens can work very well.  If you or the subject is moving, a lens with auto-focus is more likely to give you a sharper image because the camera's auto-focus system will be able to see more clearly than you will through a dive mask and a housing viewfinder.  And will be able to "lock onto" the subject more accurately and more quickly.

 

Several others have recommended Seacam, which is a well-made housing.  I have used Seacam housings myself for the last dozen years.  BUT when you use a Seacam housing in very shallow water on a sunny day, reflections off the bright silver housing body can cause problems, both reflecting onto a very near subject and reflecting into your eyes as you try to look through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen on the back of your D800.  I covered much of my Seacam D700 housing with black tape to reduce this.  I also switched to using the Nauticam viewfinders because they allow you to make a final diopter adjustment underwater to see the subject through the camera as clearly as possible. And are black. 

 

Fred

 

Thanks Fred!

Regarding AF, see my answer above.

 

Does anybody know (or could measure)the inner diameter of the Nauticam port?

 

What ports are available in larger sizes than 9" (for Seacam or Nauticam)?

 

I understand the problem with the reflections from the silver Seacam housing, but worst case I will also use some black tape. I would prefer the black color of the Nauticam housing but besides this most people seem to be really satisfied with the Seacam housings.

 

Boris



#10 Ryan

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:41 PM

The Nauticam port opening/extension ring ID is 98mm.  

 

We are building this in a Nauticam mount to test, and that is the only brand currently selling enough volume to justify production if this is ever to become a commercial part.


Edited by Ryan, 18 March 2013 - 01:19 PM.

founder of Reef Photo & Video
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n2theblue at reefphoto.com


#11 vbpress

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:45 PM

Boris,

I suggest you  to contact the Italians Isottta (Isotecnic). They have realized a very large port mount, and probably is enough  to fit the zeiss 15mm. Also they can build a dedicated extension ring for a specifically combo lens + dome. Obviously all these customization need a journey to Verona (Italy), but you're a neighbor  :bye:

 

If you're strongly interested about over /under shots (I love a lot this kind of pictures) don't forget that DX format offer, intrinsically, more deep of field than the FX.

I'm sorry it's in Italian, but I talk about this here:

http://www.fotobesti...a-mdx-d300.html

 

Now Nikon have launched the new D7100: 24 Mp Dx without low pass filter.  It's a interesting tool !

have a nice day

 

by


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#12 Bobu

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:47 AM

The Nauticam port opening/extension ring ID is 98mm.  

 

We are building this in a Nauticam mount to test, and that is the only brand currently selling enough volume to justify production if this is ever to become a commercial part.

 

Thanks for the info. I'm very curious about your test result.

 

Boris



#13 Bobu

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:58 AM

Boris,

I suggest you  to contact the Italians Isottta (Isotecnic). They have realized a very large port mount, and probably is enough  to fit the zeiss 15mm. Also they can build a dedicated extension ring for a specifically combo lens + dome. Obviously all these customization need a journey to Verona (Italy), but you're a neighbor  :bye:

 

If you're strongly interested about over /under shots (I love a lot this kind of pictures) don't forget that DX format offer, intrinsically, more deep of field than the FX.

I'm sorry it's in Italian, but I talk about this here:

http://www.fotobesti...a-mdx-d300.html

 

Now Nikon have launched the new D7100: 24 Mp Dx without low pass filter.  It's a interesting tool !

 


 

Thanks Valerio! I thought about the D7100, but I don't want to carry and use two different systems and for landscape shots over water the combo D800+Zeiss lenses is hard to beat.

I will see how far I can get with this combination. If it doesn't work I will add a fisheye lens.

 

You have some very nice over/under shots on your website. But even there I'm torn between your FF images (shot with the 801+20mm lens) with often better compostions, but unsharp backgrounds due to less DOF and your crop images with more DOF (but less attractive compositions).

 

Forgetting DOF I think 20mm has the perfect field of view for over-under-shots, but of course it's not possible to ignore DOF.

 

Boris



#14 vbpress

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 09:42 AM

I agree with you about the 20mm view, but 20mm need a very, very huge dome port to obtain clear air - water line.

I'm not sure but I think that the biggest dome port on market today is the Subal 10", and I don't know if 10" is enough for the task.

Fish eye is the last resort, .

Alex Mustard, few months ago, have published a double page picture on BBC Wildlife magazine which show a "half water" view of a British's seal with a clear cliff in the background. Is a Fisheye picture but Mustard have used the lens in the best way minimizing the spherical distortion. A great picture! I'm saying that also fisheye can be a serious option but  I prefer rectilinear wide angle lens view.

Unfortunately I haven't any seals to frame in my camera....

 

So, to reach the effect I've tried with DX, super wide rectilinear lens and big dome port.

It's a compromise, but it's still a work around of mine. 

 

by


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#15 Paul Kay

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 01:05 AM

You may be interested to read the following: http://www.underseac...Dome_Ports.html

 

FWIW the problem of ultra-wide (weitwinkel) lenses behind concentric dome ports is a physical, optical one which means that the corners can only be optimised by precise placement of the dome and lens being used but will never be perfect. Essentially, for optimum 'image quality' (an ill-defined and vague term used far too casually on the web) in the corners when using a port, you need to stop down as far as possible BUT shooting beyond f/16 usually hits diffraction limitation so you are limited to around f/16. I am far from convinced that any of the high quality prime ultra-wide (weitwinkel) lenses are going to show significant diferences in image quality at this aperture so I suspect that a Zeiss 15mm is somewhat wasted by being placed behind a large dome and shot at this aperture and Nikon's 14mm would be much easier to house behind a large dome (both Zeiss and Nikon lenses have close focus, floating element/rear focus systems and the Nikon actually focusses claser (to 0.2m as opposed to 0.25m). What is important is to use a large high quality dome and place the lens accurately behind it.

 

For example: for a Nikon 14mm lens Seacam suggest a 25mm port extension tube is used between the Superdome and housing. This will align the lens and dome centre within an acceptable accuracy (within 2~3mm anyway - it is impossible for absolute placement simply because the lens changes the absolute position of its relative to the port as its focus changes). As has been pointed out, you may need to make up modified shades and reduce reflections (some ports like the Superdome are available with an optional coating) if you are shooting statically and need to reduce stray light and reflections. Its also worth noting that if you are shooting half and half shots, then the dome needs to be of high optical quality to minimise image degredation above water (the Superdome is mineral glass) and glass may be a better option here (I've never actually tested this, but it is my impression that this is the case from my shots using ports over the years).

 

[I should also add to this post the caveat that as a Seacam dealer I am thoroughly biased - my Superdome produces superp results but I have little experience of other currently offered large domes because obviously I don't need to try them as I have a Superdome!']


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#16 Bobu

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 11:45 AM

I agree with you about the 20mm view, but 20mm need a very, very huge dome port to obtain clear air - water line.

I'm not sure but I think that the biggest dome port on market today is the Subal 10", and I don't know if 10" is enough for the task.

Fish eye is the last resort, .

Alex Mustard, few months ago, have published a double page picture on BBC Wildlife magazine which show a "half water" view of a British's seal with a clear cliff in the background. Is a Fisheye picture but Mustard have used the lens in the best way minimizing the spherical distortion. A great picture! I'm saying that also fisheye can be a serious option but  I prefer rectilinear wide angle lens view.

Unfortunately I haven't any seals to frame in my camera....

 

So, to reach the effect I've tried with DX, super wide rectilinear lens and big dome port.

It's a compromise, but it's still a work around of mine. 

 

by

 

I really like your DX images, but at the moment I'm just not willing to try another crop camera, but maybe I will get the Sigma 15 mm fisheye for the situations where I really need/want a sharp background. It's not a very expensive lens and if I don't like it I can sell it easily.

 

Boris



#17 Bobu

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 11:57 AM

You may be interested to read the following: http://www.underseac...Dome_Ports.html

 

FWIW the problem of ultra-wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) lenses behind concentric dome ports is a physical, optical one which means that the corners can only be optimised by precise placement of the dome and lens being used but will never be perfect. Essentially, for optimum 'image quality' (an ill-defined and vague term used far too casually on the web) in the corners when using a port, you need to stop down as far as possible BUT shooting beyond f/16 usually hits diffraction limitation so you are limited to around f/16. I am far from convinced that any of the high quality prime ultra-wide (weitwinkel) (weitwinkel) lenses are going to show significant diferences in image quality at this aperture so I suspect that a Zeiss 15mm is somewhat wasted by being placed behind a large dome and shot at this aperture and Nikon's 14mm would be much easier to house behind a large dome (both Zeiss and Nikon lenses have close focus, floating element/rear focus systems and the Nikon actually focusses claser (to 0.2m as opposed to 0.25m). What is important is to use a large high quality dome and place the lens accurately behind it.

 

For example: for a Nikon 14mm lens Seacam suggest a 25mm port extension tube is used between the Superdome and housing. This will align the lens and dome centre within an acceptable accuracy (within 2~3mm anyway - it is impossible for absolute placement simply because the lens changes the absolute position of its relative to the port as its focus changes). As has been pointed out, you may need to make up modified shades and reduce reflections (some ports like the Superdome are available with an optional coating) if you are shooting statically and need to reduce stray light and reflections. Its also worth noting that if you are shooting half and half shots, then the dome needs to be of high optical quality to minimise image degredation above water (the Superdome is mineral glass) and glass may be a better option here (I've never actually tested this, but it is my impression that this is the case from my shots using ports over the years).

 

[I should also add to this post the caveat that as a Seacam dealer I am thoroughly biased - my Superdome produces superp results but I have little experience of other currently offered large domes because obviously I don't need to try them as I have a Superdome!']

 

My idea is to stop down to max f/11. At f/16 you already loose so much sharpness and micro-contrast that I never use f/16 (or f/22). If possible I would prefer to shoot at f/5.6, but with a dome port this will very likely not work, even with perfect adjustment of the distance between lens and port.

 

Do you think I will get perfectly sharp corners when I use the Zeiss 21mm lens at f/11 with the Seacam Superdome at the best possible distance adjustment? 

 

At the moment I tend to get the Seacam housing with the Superdome (with additional coating), at least if there is no commercial solution for the 15mm Zeiss lens available on the market.

 

Boris



#18 Paul Kay

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:26 AM

My idea is to stop down to max f/11. At f/16 you already loose so much sharpness and micro-contrast that I never use f/16 (or f/22). If possible I would prefer to shoot at f/5.6, but with a dome port this will very likely not work, even with perfect adjustment of the distance between lens and port.

 

Do you think I will get perfectly sharp corners when I use the Zeiss 21mm lens at f/11 with the Seacam Superdome at the best possible distance adjustment? 

 

At the moment I tend to get the Seacam housing with the Superdome (with additional coating), at least if there is no commercial solution for the 15mm Zeiss lens available on the market.

 

Boris

Hi Boris

 

Perfectly sharp corners are probably not possible if an absolute, direct comparison is made with an above water image - you are after all using a complex and carefully designed photographic lens and placing it behind a very simple lens - so aberrations are to some extent inevitable. Depth of field data at f/ll with the lens set to the hyperfocal distance will give you your minimum sharp focus point. I've looked to see if this will cover the virtual image based on it being 4r from the centre of the dome/lens alignment. A Superdome is 230mm in diameter so the virtual image of a subject at infinity is 460mm from the centre of the dome so a quick glance at the Zeiss dof chart suggests that this is unlikely at f/11 I'm afraid as with the lens focus set at 2m the depth of field extends from 0.9m to infinity and resetting to 1m still brings a minimum focus point down to 0.66m but you no longer have infinity in focus.

 

I'm not sure that the 15mm lens will improve things either as at f/11 its hyperfocal setting only just allows 0.46m to 3.1m to be in focus and f/22 looks like only just working but produce a softer overall image.


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#19 John Bantin

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:58 AM

Ironically, what made the Tokina 10-17 lens so good for use behind a dome port was what made it really poor when used in air - and that was its curved plane of focus. Lens manufacturers tend to try to make their (expensive) lenses have a flat plane of focus for use above the surface, which works against you when trying to focus on the curved virtual image produced by a dome port.

 

This is probably true of the somewhat cheap Sigma 15 on FX - which I now use nearly all of the time!

 

It's probably the reason why it is reported that the Nikon 16-35 zoom is better underwater than Nikon's top price 14-24 zoom.


Edited by John Bantin, 21 March 2013 - 02:04 AM.

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#20 vbpress

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 05:16 AM

Great John!

Your is a witty and not obvious notice

 

thanks


Valerio

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