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Member Since 02 Dec 2012
Offline Last Active Nov 19 2015 08:48 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Is the sony a7r2 (w/Nauticam) worth the money? Any experiences w/this equipment?

19 November 2015 - 06:19 AM

There is no right answer -- there is just what works for you.  Both the GH4 or the A7R II are very capable (full disclosure, I have a Sony and a Panasonic, but neither of those models).  Other things being equal (which they rarely are), a larger sensor will give better low light performance, dynamic range, and resolution.  Whether there is a meaningful difference between full frame (Sony A7 series), APS-C (Samsung NX-1), or Micro Four Thirds (Panasonic GH4 or GX8), and whether that difference is due to the sensor size, is a hotly debated point in the photo/video world.  Some say that it does matter:




Others say no, it really doesn't:  



Both of these are worthwhile videos -- you can actually agree with both.  I think the rate of technological change is altering some underlying assumptions on this -- think of it this way -- the Panasonic GH4 has 12.8 stops of dynamic range, which outscores the Canon 5D Mark III, even though the latter has a full frame sensor.  But the Canon is about 3 years older -- that is how the technology has advanced, across the board. In the end, "scores" on the internet are not important -- it's whether you have an image you love.

That said, I will affirm (since I have a Panasonic LX100, which is a compact camera) that doing 4k video is FANTASTIC.  Even just downscaling the 4k video clips to HD, when you edit them, gives you really beautiful HD.  Although DSLRs have advantages over mirrorless (particularly on autofocus, though that is starting to change), there really are no 4K options for DSLRs, unless you go for the Canon 1D C, which is older, hugely more expensive, and is lacking a lot of really nice video features (like focus peaking) that are standard in mirrorless or compact cameras.  For doing 4K video, and having interchangeable lenses, and access to a housing, your options are the Panasonic GH4 or the GX8, the Sony A7R II or A7S II, or the Samsung NX1 (Ikelite just came out with a housing for it, but Samsung is rumored to be shutting down its camera manufacturing -- which is a shame because the NX1 is supposed to be a very capable camera).  Fuji and Olympus both have 4K capable cameras coming, sometime next year.

Back to the point -- larger sensor perform better, but lenses are at least important to the quality of your image.  You have to balance off total system cost (camera, lenses, housing, ports, lights, accessories), performance, and size.  Choose wisely, since this is a several thousand dollar expenditure!

Consider this option -- rent a GH4 and some good lenses (say, the Panasonic 12-35mm pro zoom, and the 25mm F1.4 prime), and take it out and play with it for a few days. Shoot video, shoot stills, do it in a variety of situations (bright, dark, indoor, outdoor, on a tripod, handheld, etc...).  Then rent the A7R II, with say the 24-70 F4 zoom, and the 55mm F1.8 prime, and do the same thing.  Take a look at the pictures and the video clips -- which ones do you like better?  Show some to non-photographer friends -- just see what an untrained eye thinks.  Show some to photographers and videographers and get their opinions.   Evaluate the user interface on each camera -- how fluid is your shooting experience -- can you easily access key settings, and will you be able to do so if that camera is underwater in a housing?  Which camera is more fun?  (That is actually the most important question!)

If desired, you can repeat with other models (the Panasonic GX8 -- newer model -- more biased towards stills, newer sensor, 4K video but not all the high end video options of the GH4) and the A7S II (fewer but bigger pixels -- greater low light sensitivity and more advanced video specs), etc....  Your options in cameras and lenses are going to grow over time.

There is no right answer, it's just what is right for you.  

In Topic: Super wide angle lens for LX100

11 November 2015 - 09:32 PM


I wrote the review for Bluewater, but Scott at Bluewater edited it a bit, mostly by adding pieces, principally the list of accessories and things like that. It makes sense, obviously he wants to sell accessories to go with the LX 100 and the housing. Anyways, they are decent at Bluewater, I've always had good dealings with them.

I have the Nauticam CMC, but I've barely used it, because I found that you usually have to manually focus. I intend to try again on my next dive trip, and hope to spend more time on some macro photography and macro videography.

As for the wide-angle wet lenses, I haven't used any. The video which I shot was just using the LX 100's zoom lens. At the wide end of the zoom, in the dome port, it gives an 85° field of view, which I find to be reasonable. I would be interested to try out the new Nauticam WWL-1, or maybe the Inon UWL-H100, at some point in the future

In Topic: 4K: Current Pro- and Semi-Pro Underwater Filming Options

05 November 2015 - 06:58 AM

Good news -- Ikelite made a liar out of me (I had emailed them directly several months ago).  They decided to release a housing for the Samsung NX1.  So there is another 4K option for you!

In Topic: Panasonic LX100

15 October 2015 - 08:52 PM

I saw your review, and I just have to wholeheartedly concur.  Camera choices are personal, there is no right camera, only what is right for you.  But I really love my LX100, it's just a sweet little camera underwater, and a nice travel camera.  The stills and the video are wonderful!

In Topic: My review of the Nauticam LX100 Housing and Port System

15 October 2015 - 08:45 PM

The LX100's video is really nice, although it does not have all the advanced profiles of the GH4.  The custom white balance, which is critical for video, is spot on!

I found the autofocus was fast and accurate -- I used a "custom multi" AF where I selected a large group in the center of the 49 point grid that the LX100 has (similar to other Panasonic cameras).  I set the AF/AE button on the back to AF lock and used it as a back button AF -- which is a really nice feature to have.  I did not try to use AF-C in video, because I don't really know if any camera can pull that off very well, and I was usually drifting along in the water myself -- too many variables to try and control.  That said, I want to try out the pinpoint AF on the next dive trip -- it opens a magnification window and you can fine focus using the focus ring and focus peaking.  I think that would be great for macro, but I am wondering if it will work with a macro wet lens, like the Nauticam CMC.

However, I also found that you can't lock focus using the mini-dome port, if the lens is zoomed out much past 24mm (equivalent in Full Frame).  I think it is because the mini-dome is small, and so the virtual image that it creates is really close to the front of the lens, and once you zoom out -- the lens' minimum focus distance falls past where the actual virtual image lies.  That said, it wasn't really that much of a problem, because I used the mini-dome at the wide end generally, but it was a bit disappointing not being able to zoom in at all.  This was a non-issue with the standard (flat) port -- the lens focuses on the object, not the virtual image as it does with a dome port.  With that port, you get the full zoom range, and the option of adding in a macro wet lens (I'll try that out next time).  But the compromise is a smaller field of view.

I was surprised, but I actually like the stills on the LX100 as much as I like the video.  My strobe worked great on TTL (once I learned how to do that properly), with the white balance set to auto, I got great results.  Sometimes the pictures were a touch overexposed, but I shoot raw and it is easy to fix that in post (1 click in Lightroom).  

Compared with other 4/3 cameras, I think the LX100 does really well.  Of course it is subjective -- there is no "right camera" or correct answer, it is always a matter of personal preference, and technology has reached a place where you can get amazing results with comparatively modest cameras. I looked at the LX100, and thought seriously about going for the GH4 instead.  But, FOR ME (and only me), I think I made the right choice.  The LX100 has the same sensor as the GX7 (and similar to most Micro 4/3 sensors), albeit cropped slightly to be a multi-aspect sensor, so you get 13 megapixels (when shooting on 4:3 ratio), vs 16 megapixels.  However, the LX100's lens is phenomenal -- it is a Leica designed 10.9-34mm F1.7-2.8 zoom, which compares favorably to Panasonic's pro-zoom that is 12-35mm F2.8.  The LX100's lens covers the same zoom range, but it is a faster lens which performs better in low light, and at the wide end, it has a minimum focusing distance of 1.5".  It's great for close focus, wide-angle shots, which are my favorite kinds of shots to take.  The colors captured by the lens are really pleasing -- again a subjective assessment, but I think it might be a touch of the Leica design.  

It is a versatile lens, however you can't change lenses, and put on a true macro lens, or a fisheye....Everything is compromise. 

My only complaint is that you have to keep the ISO down -- actually fairly easy given the fast lens -- otherwise you get a lot of noise.  I think if I want better noise performance, I would have to go to an APS-C, or more likely a Full-Frame camera.  But I really like the LX100 for travel, and for underwater use -- it's a small, versatile package, that gives great results.  I would have to spend a lot more to do significantly better.


Here are some pictures I posted on another thread.  I am still an advanced beginner, but I am looking forward to the next dive trip and trying out more pictures and video.