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#355531 Questions for NA-GH4 users

Posted by peterbkk on 17 December 2014 - 11:33 AM

Hi all,
I had the chance to rent and use the NA-GH4 housing for a few dives to test it out. I'm on the fence and torn about the decision of buying one mainly because of the size of the housing. My problem is during custom white balance, and this is how I do it:
1.) Hand on right handle, using my index finger to trigger the WB menu
2.) Thumb press on the RIGHT cursor to select Custom WB, then UP to read WB, then SET to confirm WB.
When accessing the cursor area with my thumb, I can barely hold the right handle because my hand is not that big , and causing me to almost drop the housing a couple times
The question is, does anyone have success to operate the button one handed, by moving the handle bar a lot closer, or adding more float etc.?
I tend to use my left hand with a muck stick to stabilize on a sandy bottom or in between coral, and only operate the camera with my right hand, and I found the GH4 is hard to do so because of its size.

How small are your hands?

I don't have large hands but don't have any problems reaching the buttons while holding the NA-GH4 housing...

I use my thumb to activate the WB lever.

I do use the 4 preset WB settings just to make it faster to get to a setting I need (see other GH4 thread) but don't have an issue with the buttons.

I do use a float collar around the neck of the dome port to help keep it better balanced (see other GH4 thread).

I suggest that you practice with the housing, either on your kitchen table, in the bath or in a pool until the controls become familiar.


#355477 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 16 December 2014 - 04:15 AM

The "housing hydrophone" that I described above worked well in Lembeh. It's picked up all the usual underwater sounds (breathing, bubbles, shrimps and crabs, boat engines) and recorded a clear, bright stereo audio track in my GH4. Not bad at all for the price.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

#355177 3-Point Lighting, Spotlights, Snoots for Video Lights

Posted by peterbkk on 08 December 2014 - 02:45 PM

If my idea works, I will post a photo and sample results of the video light filter system that I've cobbled together. It can be used to reduce light levels, diffuse video lights for softer macro lighting and for balancing ambient daylight with video light. Testing it this week in Lembeh. Very cheap to make.

I did make a simple snoot for my last trip to Lembeh. Just a piece of hard 3mm rubber sheet rolled into a cone, held in shape with cable-ties and held onto to the video light with bungee cord. Worked OK. A bit fiddly to put on underwater. But, on my last dive of the trip, I took it off for a shot, placed it on the sand next to me, then swam away. It's probably still rolling around at the bottom of the Straits....

I was going to make another one for this trip but I put my attention into these video light filters - more important because I pan to shoot a lot of Wide-angle Close-up... Tomorrow!


#355176 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 08 December 2014 - 02:17 PM

Thats pretty cool... 
Check your serial number, there was an issue with the early GH4's and using external mics where there was a buzzing sound recorded, when you increased the gain.
A serial number lower than WE4FC will be affected.
Sadly as I jumped on one the first week they were released, my suffers...

I tested both my GH4s when this issue was first described. Neither of them have the problem.

As your camera must be still in the warranty period, why don't you send it to Panasonic to be fixed?


#355146 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 08 December 2014 - 03:03 AM


The thing about these cheap mini-jack lavalier mics that can plug into the camera is that they're unbalanced. A balanced XLR mic running off the Shogun's phantom power would give better quality. Although possibly not that important underwater where everything is noisy and muffled anyway. If you want to do interviews, I bet you soon end up with a balanced mic that plugs into your Shogun.


Anyway I like your idea of mounting a small mic against the inside of the housing.



So, I have setup my experimental, internal-to-housing hydrophone.


After looking at a few, I bought this microphone: 




Cost about $50 USD here in Singapore.  It is marketed as a Lavalier mic for use with iPhones (there's an app for that).  Rode has a good reputation (made in Australia) - I figured that they wouldn't damage their reputation by selling junk.


It works OK with the GH4.  I did some quick comparisons and the sound quality is better than the inbuilt GH4 mic but not as good as my $500 shotgun mic.  Of course, for $50, you can not expect high-fidelity  --- but recording underwater sounds is not about fidelity.


The mic does fit into the housing.  The jack just squeezes into the gap between the housing and the camera.  Tight fit but the cable protector bends a bit.  It doesn't affect the alignment of the camera or the o-ring housing seal - passed a 30 minute vacuum test.


The microphone head, without its clip and wind sponge fits nicely up in the top corner of the housing up above the internal arm of flash pop-up lever.  That lever is helping hold the microphone in place (I never use flash).  The mic head is surrounded by lots of blu-tac, holding the face of the mic firmly up against inside wall of the housing.  It's not going to move.  The blu-tac also stops most airborne sound from inside the housing reaching the mic. The only sound reaching the mic comes through the housing wall.  The cable, looped tight with a couple of cable-ties, is held out of the way in the empty space above the camera's flash.




It works - in that it is picking up sound through the housing. The camera's display is showing that audio is being received from an external mic.  I've set the camera to manual volume control (which switches on the meter display), so I might need to tweak the input volume then lock it into my underwater custom settings.


Will it record decent sound underwater?  I will let you know when I'm back from Lembeh next week.


In any case, if it doesn't work out, I can always use the mic as a garrote.  The cable is kevlar-reinforced and comes with a warning in the box, "strangulation hazard - the cable contains Kevlar - avoid looping the cable around the neck".  My enemies better watch out!




#355076 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 05 December 2014 - 07:57 PM



Interesting. I would have thought the buoyancy of that dome would pull the front up anyway. I now have the equivalent Nauticam dome but not got my rig underwater yet.


Nope, it's a little nose heavy.  Lot of metal and glass out in front of the balance point.  Maybe the Nauticam dome is lighter?


Not a big deal and manageable either way but I find that the styx neck-brace float takes the strain off the wrists.

#354110 GH4 with 14-42mm lens or LX100?

Posted by peterbkk on 07 November 2014 - 01:06 AM

Yes, the OIS in my 14-45 is Mega OIS and Power OIS should be better. I read some testing results in personal-view and most of them said LX100 has better stabilizer than 12-35, so I am not sure who's right and who's wrong.

Sorry I was talking about video image.


IMHO, you shouldn't be using OIS for underwater video - and therefore OIS should not be a major consideration in selecting underwater cameras or lenses.


OIS is designed to compensate for hand-shake - it's programmed for a particular type and range of motion.  Underwater, the housing is dampened by the water around it, removing the kind of hand-shake affect that OIS is designed to resolve.  Movement that is likely to spoil video underwater is caused by water currents, small and/or larger, and a hand-shake OIS algorithm is not going to deal with that effectively.


Even shooting "above water" video on a boat, the OIS is going to get confused by the wave action impacting the boat.


In fact, if you are going to be doing any panning or trucking movements, it's probably better to switch OIS off so that it doesn't cause jitter.  Better to work on developing good UW shooting technique for WA and get a tripod for CU shots.


Maybe one day a housing manufacturing will develop an internal gimbal with gyro-stabilisers to dampen underwater movements.  But, until that day, technique will serve you better than OIS...




#353641 Nudibranchs of PNG

Posted by peterbkk on 23 October 2014 - 02:22 PM

I switched to a pair of the iTorch 7 lights recently. So far I'm very pleased with them.

Are you using a snoot on the light?

I made a snoot from sheet rubber curled into a cone that slipped onto the end of the iTorch. But then I lost it at Lembeh. Must make another one before the next trip there in December.


#353609 Nudibranchs of PNG

Posted by peterbkk on 23 October 2014 - 01:04 AM

I know nudibranchs are not everyone's cup of tea.  

Nudibranch tea? How do you make that? Seep dried nudibranchs in boiling water?

#353009 GH4 with 14-42mm lens or LX100?

Posted by peterbkk on 27 September 2014 - 10:14 AM

With the 4k crop the GH4 will be useless with the 14-42mm bare port unless you only shoot close ups

"Useless" is a rather wild statement and quite incorrect.

At the wide-end behind a flat port, the 14-45mm makes a good MS lens. For example, recently in Komodo, I was able to get some footage of the whole body of a very large octopus by pulling back to about 1.5 meters away and, from 2 to 3 meters distance, I was able to shoot the octopus sitting on a coral head. So with the flip diopter, one lens was able to give me CU of the octopus eye, a wider CU of its head, its entire body and its environment.

Not what I'd call "useless".


#352266 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 03 September 2014 - 05:57 PM

I just got back from 4 days of excellent diving in Lembeh with the GH4.

I haven't had time to do a proper edit but I know that some of you are interested in how the macro lens combinations worked in the real world. So, I quickly pulled together a few examples. They have not been graded, stabilized or adjusted in anyway.

Here is the equipment that I used.

Panasonic GH4 set to C4K 24fps, 1/50 Shutter Priority, PinPoint Focus-AFL/AEL
Nauticam NA-GH4 Housing
Lens: Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm PZ
Nauticam System 35 Port with Flip Holder
Subsee +5 Macro Diopter
Inon UWL100 +10 Macro Diopter
iTorch 7 - 5000 lumen lights x 2 mainly on 1/4 or 1/2 power

The footage was imported into FCPX, some samples quickly selected, then exported as a 4K Mov file. The 4K file was compressed into 1080P before uploading to Vimeo

On a large monitor, the 4K footage looks great. So, I'm happy with the macro set-up. The Subsee +5 is excellent for larger subjects and the Inon +10 works for little stuff.

The Lembeh Sea Dragon at the start of the sample footage is so tiny that it kept "disappearing" and I had to find it again - like a tiny piece of string with a small knot on the end. I shot that with the +10 Inon.

The red Starry Night Octopus was a big fellow - about the size of a football. The wider whole-body shots were done with just the 14-45mm lens (at the 14mm end of the zoom), but the close-up on the eye was shot with the Subsee +5.

The blue-ring was also the +5 with the 14-45mm zoomed to about 35mm.

What would I change? Not much. It works well. It'd be great if I had a double-flip adapter so I did not need to take off the +5 and put on the +10 for the really little stuff but that's mainly a Lembeh issue and i may find that the +5 works for most stuff elsewhere.


PS. Next week I'm off to Komodo to put the 7-14mm / Zen 170mm through its paces.

#351550 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 13 August 2014 - 10:44 PM

Peter - or anyone that has the zoom gear for the 14-42PZ - can the zoom gear be adjusted to operate the focus switch instead of the zoom switch? If that is the case then the zoom can be accomplished via the menu dial (after assigning the zoom control to a function button).



Out-of-the-box, you could not do it with the Nauticam gear as-is because everything is precisely aligned to move the zoom control without moving the focus control.  But you could modify it.  But the gear is metal (aluminium?) so it'd require some careful cutting.  You would have to cut the zoom slot wider and glue some something on to slim down the slot around the focus control.  You can see what I mean from the photo.  The focus switch is on the left and the zoom switch is on the right.




But, even after you had that done, I'm not sure that the focus control wheel on the housing, coupled by internal gears to the lens gear, would be precise enough to make the fine focus changes required for macro.


And, IMHO, I'm not sure what problem it would solve.  I had no problem doing auto-focus-lock on any tiny part of the subject then moving the camera as required. The Pinpoint AF is very precise and easy to see what is in focus.  With a larger monitor, like the Shogun, it'll be even easier.




#351496 GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

Posted by peterbkk on 13 August 2014 - 01:09 AM

So here we go:  Just spent 45 minutes blowing bubbles at the bottom of the pool.


In summary: I am happy!   :)  I can do macro.  Lembeh, here I come...


Lens: Panasonic 14-42mm PZ

Port: Nauticam Macro Port 35

Nauticam Flip Diopter Holder

Inon UCL-100 Diopter (+10)


Here is an iPhone snap of the setup:






To test the setup, I borrowed a couple of "littlest pet shop" toys from my daughter.  I weighted the toys with a fishing weight and stuck them down with blue tack.  Here is the "model" with a ruler to give you an idea of size:




The camera performed very well while taking the shots. I mainly used the "pinpoint AF" method, but I tried others and they all seemed to work. Pinpoint enabled more aiming precision as it magnifies the area around the pinpoint.  I used AFL if I wanted to move the camera to change the focal point away from the centre.  The GH4 found focus every time, as long as I was within the right distance - not too far when using the diopter (approximately <0.15 meters) and not too close when just using the lens without the diopter (approximately >0.3 meters).


I imported the footage into FCPX.  I made no edits or adjustments.


I have looked at the footage every which way and can not see any issues.  I have displayed it in full screen mode.  Looked at the corners.  No problems that I can see.


To show you, I have taken 4 screen-shots of the FCPX viewer screen.


1. The two subjects taken without the diopter with the 14-45 set about 30mm - the subject is about 1 meter from the camera. The image is a bit soft as it was raining and the pool water was quite murky (about 5 to 8 meter viz). 


PZ Lens only.jpg


2. The two subjects taken without the diopter with the 14-45 set quite wide - the subject is about 0.4 meters from the camera.


PZ Lens at closest focus copy.jpg


3. The upper fin of the gold fish showing the whole frame when using the Macro diopter and the 14-45mm set about mid-point.


Macro Close-Up Full 4K frame.jpg


4. The upper fin of the gold fish showing a 100% crop of the 4K frame when using the Macro diopter and the 14-45mm set about mid-point.

Macro Close-Up 100 percent crop.jpg


It seems to have handled every test that I tried.


I reckon that I am good to go.







#351319 Panasonic GH4 Settings for Underwater

Posted by peterbkk on 08 August 2014 - 02:13 AM

Setting up a GH4 for Diving
To a lot of you who’ve been shooting video with DSLRs for some time, the settings on the GH4 might be a bit “ho hum”.  But, for me, shooting camcorders for the last 10 years, it’s been a sea-change.  I spent a lot of time studying the settings and came up with something that works for me.  I thought that I’d share it.
Firstly, I have to say that I prefer a “natural” look; I like my finished video to look as close as possible to what my eyes saw underwater.  So that "natural look" bias is in my settings.  I don't WB to white or add a lot of red.  You can adjust to your own tastes.
Secondly, when I am underwater, I want to focus as much of my attention on the “story” and the “subjects”. But I rarely use an “auto-everything” approach as that does not work well in many situations.  But, I do like to quickly get to as close to the "optimal look" without too much fiddling and adjustments (while the whale shark swims away).
So, I have found it very useful to leverage the custom setting feature in the GH4.  It works really well with this camera.  After a lot of research and testing, once I had an idea of what I needed, here is the process that I used:
  1. Set all the “in menu” settings (my preferred settings are below)
  2. Set the camera controls to your most “usual” setting
  3. Set the WB presets (more on how to do this below)
  4. Save this to C1 (in my case, C1 is full manual)
  5. Without changing the menu settings from C1, change the camera settings to your second most “usual” settings 
  6. Save this to C2  (in my case, C1 is shutter of 1/50 with AFL/AEL for focus and exposure)
  7. Change to your third most “usual” settings.
  8. Save this to C3-1 (in my case I use “shutter 1/50; auto-everything-else”)
  9. (you could do two more settings, C3-2 and C3-3, but I don’t use these because they are not so quick to access)
GH4 "In Menu” Settings
Tool Menu:
Personal choice but set date, time and system frequency first, I use 24.00Hz
Motion Picture (set dial to motion picture):
Cine D (flat - good for grading)
Contrast 0 (neutral)
Sharpness -5 (none)
Noise Reduction -5 (none)
Saturation 0 (neutral)
Hue 0 (neutral)
Rec Format Mov (less compression)
Rec Quality C4K 100M 24P (as many pixels as possible)
AFS/AFF: AFS (half-press focus)
Continuous Auto Focus Off
Highlight/Shadow: Flat diagonal line
i.Dynamic Off  (don’t want it to mess with the CineD profile)
i.Resolution Standard (does some selective sharpening)
Master pedestal 0 (neutral)
Luminance level 0-255 (full range - can limit later in editing)
Synchro Scan Off (used for shooting TVs and monitors)
Ex Tele Conv Off
Digital Zoom Off (just crops the image)
Time Code Off
HDMI Rec Output 10bit 422 (eady for the Shogun)
Info Display Off (Shogun has its own)
4K Down Convert Off  (No thank you)
Sound output Realtime (only relevant for monitoring sound with headphones)
Silent operation On (tries to keep zooming quiet)
Mic Level 0db
Mic Limiter Off (no auto sound gain)
SS / Gain Operation SEC/ISO
Color Bars SMPTE
Custom Settings Menu:
Cust Set Mem - here is where the Custom setting (1, 2, and 3) are saved.
Silent Mode On (no lights or noises inside the housing)
AFL / AEL Lock - Off for Manual custom setting, Both on for other two settings
AFL / AEL Lock Hold - On (locks it until you unlock it with another press)
Shutter AF On
Half Press Release Off (not good inside a housing)
Quick AF Off (wastes battery)
Eye sensor Off (does not function inside a housing)
Pinpoint AF Time - Mid (does not seem to matter)
Direct Focus Area Off
Focus / Release Priority - Release (not relevant to video)
AF+MF On (allows fine manual adjustments of focus)
MF Assist On (the lens barrel) -(expands the manual focus part of the monitor)
MF Guide Off (personal choice)
Peaking Off (personal choice)
Histogram on (and moved to bottom-left corner)
Guideline - Grid On (personal choice)
Center Marker Off (don’t need a grid and a marker)
Highlight Off (Histogram is better)
Zebra 1 Off Zebra 2 Off  (Histogram is better)
Monochrome Live View Off (want to see the colour)
Constant Preview On (not relevant to video)
Expo meter On (for manual exposure guide)
LVF Disp Style - text over image (larger image in VF)
Monitor Disp Style - text over image (larger image in monitor)
Monitor Info Diaplay On - see the settings
Video Priority Display On (gives more data for video shooters)
Fn Button Set - I changed Fn1 to Auto Focus On but don’t use it - still finding a use for Fn1
Q.Menu - no changes
Dial Set - no changes
Video Button On (but I always use the shutter button anyway)
Eye Sensor - High / Mon (don’t use it - always use Monitor)
Touch Settings - all Off - can’t access them in a housing
Touch Scroll L - irrelevant as settings are Off
Menu Guide Off 
Shoot w/o lens On - doesn’t matter either way
My GH4 Underwater WB Presets:
WB1: Light Blue
WB2: Mid Blue
WB3: Light Green
WB4: Mid Green
Kelvin: 6500K
How to do the WB preset?  Print 4 A4 sheets of paper filled with the four colours above.  (I have attached my pdf files). Set the camera to C1 to load up your custom settings.  Place the first A4 sheet (light blue) in a natural light (sunlight - not artificial light as this would introduce a different colour cast).  Open up the WB set function for WB1, point the camera so the colour fills the image and set it.  Do the same for the other 3 papers into WB2, WB3, and WB4. Go to the Custom Settings menu and “save” (overwrite) the C1 settings.  Now the WB presets are locked into the camera.  You can change the WB settings underwater but you can always get back to the presets by simply moving the mode dial.  Do the same for C2 and C3.
Then, when you are diving, use:
AWB: for near the surface and when video lights dominate (cave / night)
Kelvin 6500K for 5 meters down to 12 meters
WB1 for 10 meters to 20 meters  (in tropical blue water)
WB2 for below 15 to 20 meters (in tropical blue water)
WB3 for 10 meters to 20 meters  (in green water)
WB3 for below 15 to 20 meters (in green water)
The depths mentioned above overlap because you need to make a judgement call, depending on the conditions.
My GH4 “Usual” Camera Settings, saved in Custom 1, Custom 2 and Custom 3, respectively.
  1. M; ISO 200; f2.8; 1/50s; AFS, centre-area focus - this setting is for when I really want full control over everything, even using manual focus if necessary; great when you have time to get a shot really right
  2. S; ISO 200; 1/50s; AFS, centre-area focus - this setting is for when the aperture is not so important and I want to quickly do an AFL / AEL lock before shooting than have the camera hold those settings, quicker than Manual but fast enough for most situations
  3. S; ISO Auto; AFC, multi-zone focus; multi-zone exposure; +/- set to minus one notch - this setting is for when something happens fast. e.g. a big creature swims past, and you don’t have time to think - flip the mode dial to C3 and let the camera do its best to figure it out. Shutter is set to 1/50.  Camera will adjust Aperture and ISO to get a good exposure.  +/- reduced to avoid the camera trying to make the image too bright.
Might all look a bit complicated, but, if you set this all up once, you don’t need to do it again unless you want to make some adjustments.
Underwater, it is very simple:
Use C1 if you want manual control
Use C2 if you want to use a focus lock and exposure lock (NA-GH4 has a handy lever for this)
Use C3 if you want the camera to do everything for you
Then depending on your depth and the conditions, flip the WB setting quickly between AWB, Manual, WB1, and WB2.  (or WB3 and WB4, if the water is green)
The other upside of this C1, C2, C3 approach is that, if you have been fiddling with any settings, a quick flip of the mode dial gets you back to a known state.
I hope that this is helpful.

Attached Files

#351300 Upcoming Panasonic GH-4K

Posted by peterbkk on 07 August 2014 - 02:57 PM

Has anybody tried the GH4 in a dark environment like cave or wreck? WA natural light shoots of wrecks in low ambient light? Using it at night? I am curious as to how much noise and/or banding is being produced in the dark/black areas as I've seen some comparison videos and a lot of people don't have great things to say about the low light performance of this camera.
Also, is it really difficult to shoot with this camera? Can I hand the camera over to a no-camera-skills-buddy and expect he or she to achieve a fair result? I'm thinking maybe making a preset or using auto, allowing them to just press the shutter or record button, point the camera the correct way to film and still get decent result? Or will exposure and focus be all over the place? I know I've had great results giving a GoPro to other buddies and getting useful footage back, but even a compact camera can be tricky for a buddy who knows practically nothing about shooting.

I've looked through some clips I shot in a cave and on a night dive last weekend. No noise or banding in the dark areas.

You could set one of the 3 mode-dial custom presets to auto-everything. The shutter release starts the recording. Auto-focus works fine. Or, you could use the AFL / AEL lever to lock in a suitable focus and exposure, then hand the camera to the other person.