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Housing for Canon 1DX Nauticam or SeaCam? Other options?

Canon 1DX Nauticam SeaCam

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#21 Grant Gunderson

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 07:16 AM

Fair enough.  Didnt realize that E-ttl controlled high speed synch, as I've always done high speed synch manually with a pocket wizard and my large Elinchrom strobe on land where they simply dont make any e-ttl gear thats powerful enough for me (p;us the t.5 flash durations on almost everything but Elinchrom and Broncolor is way to slower for what I normally shoot), even if they did, I'd still shoot on manual as I like having full control.  Not having the joystick on the SeaCam housing would be a deal killer for me, as I am constantly using it to set the AF point.
 
Sweet just learned something new!
 

Grant
The 1Dx high speed  continuous shooting is 12fps if shutter is 1/1000 and ISO is set under 25600.  JPEG lockdown mode is 14fps.  I know I'm being pedantic but now you have an extra 2fps you don't need! :)
 
As for high fps, as Alex says, it's very useful when you need it, but useless when you don't :).  I shoot different things than Alex, who is a master of fish behavior.  I shoot predation behavior of big animals like sharks, whales etc in very fast action.  One could say a good photographer would know when to pull the trigger, but for my modest talent (or lack there of), that's in the realm of "use the force, Luke" and I'd rather use the inelegant approach of attrition. 
 
This brings up high speed flash, which allows me to lfill light animal subjects with ambient backgrounds, especially with cameras with excellent ISO performance.  In baitball and other predation behavior, one could be trying to light up a 2m shark in a baitball, something the little INON would not be able to do but my big 250W Hartenberger chomps for breakfast.  This ties into the higher shutter speeds which leads to the eTTL protocol.  The Canon eTTL controls high speed sync, and so eTTL is essential for high speed sync.
 
And eTTL also ties into program modes which can also get you the shot when the action moves unpredictably.  Most people will say TTL for wide angle underwater is not a good thing, and manual is preferred. Normally I agree but for certain situations, it works well to control your fill flash.  It can also get a shot you aren't ready for.
 
That leads to strobes that can do eTTL, which only a few manufacturers can, including Seacam's SeaFlash.  I did a review of them a couple of years back so you can find it in the archives.  Lastly, only the SeaFlash can do rear curtain, which is also part of eTTL, so if you need that function, you'll have narrowed your choice.
 
Like I said before, list down the things you want to do with the housing, then choose the housing that fits your needs.  Personally, I'd wait for the Seacam to show the 1Dx housing before putting money down.  With the 5D3 housing, Seacam tossed out full joystick control which made the Q menu functionality limited. I personally use the Quick Menu constantly for stills.  So I didn't choose the Seacam because of that.  I have no idea what the Subal will look like either, since they aren't delivering yet.
 
Good luck! :)



#22 nathanm

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 06:27 AM

I have the 1DX and use it a lot topside.  Yes, it is heavier than the 5D3 (which I also use) but the speed is nice.  The noise at high iso is also slightly better for 1DX (because it has bigger pixels).


 


I use high fps in several diving contexts, but obviously it isn't useful for most underwater shots.   In addition, since I have the camera (two bodies, actually) and use it a lot, so I want to take it underwater. If I didn't use the camera topside I probably would not buy it only for underwater use.


 


I have a Seacam 1DX housing on order, and I recently used a borrowed Nauticam 1DX housing in Raja Ampat.


 


The Nauticam housing is very nice and I considered keeping it rather than the Seacam.   The "piano" buttons are very nice. It has full use of the arrow keys which is also nice.


 


I have been a long term Seacam user so I have a lot of ports, viewfinders and other accessories and that is one factor.  I am also more used to the control layout than on Nauticam, but I am sure I could switch.


 


Another big factor for me is that I use Seacam strobes - which lets you do full ETTL.  They are ridiculously expensive but they work very well.   They are pretty much the full equivalent of ETTL on Canon speedlights.


 


Yes, you can get good results with manual flashes.  Topside I do a lot of studio photography and that is always manual.  However, underwater manual flashes usually take a bunch of fiddling around.   There are shots where ETTL works very well indeed, and since it is automatic it works for the first shot.  That is really important some fraction of the time - quick action, a sudden shot, rapidly changing lighting or rapidly changing distances....


 


So my strobe rig is dual Seacam 150 flashes.  Which can be used with Nauticam housing, but if you're buying from scratch might as well get the whole Secam outfit.


 


Get the Superdome, fisheye macro port, and P120 port (works with 100 macro, 50 sigma macro).  I use the 180 viewfinder, but the s10 viewfinder is nice too - I use that on 5D3 housing.


 


There is no schedule at the moment for 1DX housing from Secam - I am told that it will be "soon", and that has been going on for many months.   However, I have a lot of confidence that when it is done it will be very high quality.


Edited by nathanm, 31 May 2013 - 08:27 AM.


#23 nathanm

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 08:46 AM

Some further thoughts - I use the Canon 8-15mm and the 16-35 II, but I also use the 15mm and 20mm quite a bit.  The 100 macro is a good macro choice, but I also have the Sigma 50mm which has the advantage over Canon 50 macro in that it will go all the way to 1:1.    

 

Seacam has some advantages in really exotic stuff.  I have the polecam outfit with the remote video viewfinder for example.  I have used that with the 1D3 to shoot high fps shots at the surface of billfish, for example.   1DX would be good for that too.

 

For the 1DX housing the remote trigger cable is going to have Ethernet capability.  I don't have a use for that yet, but it is pretty cool.

 

Service for Seacam is always very good - Stephen Frink and Liz seem to be on call pretty much 7x24.  They have fielded email or phone calls from me over the years.   However, in general very little has gone wrong with the housing.   Once I had to repack the O-rings on one of the pushbuttons, which was a bit tough on a dive boat without all the right tools but I got it done.

 

Reef Photo has also given me good service for Nauticam.   I also have a Nauticam 7D housing that one of my sons uses.   It has not been as reliable as Seacam.  Twice we have had problems with a plastic gear that controls the shutter button.  The plastic gear teeth bend and then strip.    It has also had problems with the rubber wheel that engages the control dial.    I have had to do improvised surgery with gaffers tape and had to disassemble parts of the Nauticam to rotate the stripped gear to a spot where it still had teeth.   I didn't have these problems with the Nauticam 1DX housing, but I only used it for one trip.

 

You mentioned the joystick.  Nauticam 1DX housing has "arrow keys" that let you use it.   I don't know if Seacam will do this or not, because I don't have the housing yet.   I am pretty use to changing the focus point using the dials (i.e. on 1Ds3 or 1D3) but joystick is faster/better.

 

The Seacam 5D3 housing does not have joystick controls, but I don't know the status on the 1DX housing.   On the 5D3 I miss the joystick a bit, not critically.



#24 Drew

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:47 AM

I'll just add to Nathan's post on the SF150. It has every function of eTTL except high speed sync.  No underwater strobe has it for Canon (or Nikon AFAIK).  To get above 1/250 to fire, you'll need to make sure the proper strobe connectors are blocked.


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