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Member Since 20 Feb 2007
Offline Last Active Apr 27 2017 10:00 AM

#383286 Upgrading from compact.

Posted by Draq on 18 April 2017 - 07:51 AM



I looked at your photos.  You are doing well!  I am not sure which aspects you want to improve with a new camera.  It seems to me that some of your shots are a bit underexposed, although that could be the look you intended; what are you using for strobe(s)?  Also I think some of the shots could be improved by being a bit closer.  Might help with exposure as well. 


I have usually transported all the gear (except camera body and lenses)  in a Thinktank Airport International.  That required the 170 to be packed vertically in the bag which is fine if the bag stays with me.  If I anticipated that the bag might get checked, I moved everything into a Pelican 1510, and would put the housing or a port or two in a smaller carry-on bag.  When I upgraded to the new housing for the E-M1 Mk ii, I found it just enough taller that the Airport International bag is not working for me.  For now, everything but the housing goes in the Pelican and I put the housing in my "personal item" that the airlines allow and that also carries the camera and lenses.  Alternatively, I could get everything in the Pelican except the 170 dome and carry that with me.


When I choose to leave a lens or two and a port behind, everything fits better, but I often take three lenses and three ports along with the strobes and all the bits and pieces.


I try very hard to avoid ever having my dive photo stuff get checked as luggage except when I have to take one of those small inter-island type planes.

#383155 Nauticam dealers now list part 17713 for NA-GH5

Posted by Draq on 14 April 2017 - 10:11 AM

Not for me to say, and I suppose I don't really care, but I wonder if a lot of the discussion about video techniques and video performance of the GH5 would better fit in the video forums than the mirrorless forum?  Obviously the camera fits under both headings, but video people might have more interest and valuable input on video-specific features and performance.  Or maybe not.

#381178 Which Olympus model to upgrade to...

Posted by Draq on 02 February 2017 - 01:38 PM

For me the choice would be pretty straightforward.  If money is not a big issue, I would suggest you get the newest EM1 ii and whichever housing you prefer.  But you are looking at around $4000 for the body and hosuing alone.  If you want a "deal" and want to get the 12-40 lens anyway, I would get the EM1 and the 12-40 lens from B&H Photo for $1299 and then buy whatever housing you want, but probably a lightly used Nauticam.  If you don't want/need that lens and would be okay with the Olympus housing, then I would get the EM1 and the Oly housing bundle that is being offered by a number of dive photo places for about $1700.


For underwater use, I am not sure how much of an upgrade the new EM1 will be and either camera is a big step up in features from what you have now. 

#380495 For Sale: two (2) Nauticam carbon fiber float arms

Posted by Draq on 11 January 2017 - 03:39 AM

I have two Nauticam 90x200 float arms that I don't need. One is unused, still in the package and the other is slightly used, almost new.


Only for sale in USA and will ship free to the lower 48 states.  $190 for the pair.


#378552 Are people leaving micro four thirds?

Posted by Draq on 07 November 2016 - 06:34 PM

As one moves towards the top end of any system I think there can be issues of diminishing returns.  That is even more true with the "newest & bestest" camera in a line.  From the standpoint of picture quality, I am not able to fully utilize the capabilities of the current cameras...my camera is not the weakest link in my photographic efforts.  I doubt that a small increase in sensor pixels will have a dramatic effect on my pictures and have no interest in dealing with the weight and size and cost issues in going to full frame.  But, at times there are certain concrete improvements or changes, like fixing "shutter shock" or improving C-AF speed or tracking abilities or more autofocus points or better flash sync speeds, improved battery life or ergonomics or other features that can make a product upgrade compelling beyond the simple question of whether it has a better or bigger sensor.  That is my interest in the new Oly camera; it has some features that I think I would enjoy using and may make it easier for me to get the shots I want.  That it has an improved sensor is also nice.


I have no illusions that a new camera will make me a better photographer, but it might increase the fun for me.  Given what I have to spend to go on each dive trip, it is hard to get too worked up about the price of a particular camera or lens that should last me at least a few years. 

#373305 Are people leaving micro four thirds?

Posted by Draq on 04 May 2016 - 03:46 PM

Generally I have found focus speed acceptable, as long as we aren't talking about continuous focus or tracking.  On the other hand one thing I learned was that if you fail to turn face detection off, it does slow down focus.  On several occasions on general photo forums and such, I have seen people complain about focus speed on an EM1 and when asked about face detection said it was on or they had no idea.  If you have an EM1 or 5 or 10 (I guess?) you might want to check that.


Supposedly, and that is all it is, Oly has made claims that they intend to make the next gen EM1 more competitive to the "pro" market by improving dynamic range, focus tracking and some other issues.  I doubt the sensor size will change much, but these other things could make a big difference.  I am hoping to be suitably impressed when that camera comes out or I may consider moving to an APS camera if I can convince myself the size issues won't be too bad.  I also like TTL flash through fiber optics in at least some situations, and that is not available for the A7, so that bothers me a little with that camera when I think about full frame.


Luckily, the thing that most needs improvement in my underwater photography is and always has been me, and not the equipment, so that makes it easier to control the lust for new gear.

#370468 Decided on a new micro 4/3 setup now need help deciding on which camera?

Posted by Draq on 14 February 2016 - 10:58 PM

Might want a focus light and may or may not need the focus gear for the 60 and if you are going to get the 9-18 and the 4" port, you should search through some older posts for the discussions about adding a diopter to improve image quality.  I assume you have something in which to transport all of this stuff, if travel is anticipated?

#370429 Decided on a new micro 4/3 setup now need help deciding on which camera?

Posted by Draq on 14 February 2016 - 10:33 AM

I was unaware that Sea & Sea even made a housing for the E-M5II.  I don't  think I have ever seen anyone discussing it.  I would be a little concerned about buying into their system, since it appears they do not offer housings for the E-M5 or E-M1, and have very limited port offerings.


If it were me, I would go with a Nauticam housing and ports and Inon strobes.  

#362521 Olympus OMD-E-M1 & OMD-E-M5 II firmware update Adds "Underwater Mode...

Posted by Draq on 22 June 2015 - 05:21 AM

Be aware, though, that this update resets all settings other than "AF focus adjustments", so be prepared to go through all the settings and adjust them back to your preferences.

#351826 Best soft gear bag for traveling

Posted by Draq on 20 August 2014 - 05:25 AM

I can perhaps ad a photo later, but I have started using the Thinktank Airport International (roller) and I put the camera body and lenses in a small shoulder bag that fits within the "personal item" limits.  I put a padded photo bag insert into the shoulder bag.  I have started doing this because increasingly I see even "legal" bags being forced into checked baggage or gate checked because the overhead bins get full or some gate agent is overly aggressive.  


I am less concerned about the potential resulting rough treatment for the housing and ports than the camera and lenses.  I also figure housing and ports are less appealing to steal than a camera and lenses.  So far I have not had any problems with the roller, but I am sure my turn will come.


I am able to get an E-M1 housing with tray and arms, two z-240 strobes, 170 dome, 100 dome, 12-50 and 4" ports in the bag along with a focus light and miscellaneous small things (spare parts, fiber optic cables, bulb blower, microfiber cloth, some batteries, .  I don't usually take all of the ports and sometimes take different ports and I then move clamps or something else into the bag.

#350257 GX7 vs OMD series under water

Posted by Draq on 14 July 2014 - 08:53 AM

I have very, very little experience with underwater video, but from that experience and from what I have read, it is very difficult to do a good job "mixing" video and stills.  They require a different mindset, different subjects, different lighting issues and so on.  So, I have never worried much about video on my stills camera.  I have a gopro and have played with that a bit and on occasion will take that on a dive instead of a stills camera.  If video was more important to me and especially if I felt I needed high quality video and photo in one camera I would get the GH4.  But for now I will, from time to time, take a short video with my stills camera on a dive, but it is just a minor thing. 


I am sure there are those who can readily switch from taking nice stills to taking nice video and back again, and I am sure there are even more who would insist they can do that, but for me that just isn't what I am looking for.


FWIW, although I cannot judge this for myself, I think the video ability of the E-M1 is not so bad:




It wasn't long ago folks were raving about the video from the GH3.  I suspect the E-M1 is capable of producing can take much better video than I can shoot.


I think if I wanted a camera to "take along" on dives rather than really having a goal of doing dive photography, I think I would get a Canon S120 or Sony RX100 and Nauticam or Recsea housing.  I'd use a ULCS tray and single handle with an Inon S2000 strobe and then either have a red filter I could attach for video or maybe use dual handles and put the strobe on one and a video light on the other.  That choice might change with a bunch of new camera models coming out between now and Photokina in September.


Something like this could be really interesting as a "take-along":  http://camyx.com/rum...8-specs-leaked/  

#350229 GX7 vs OMD series under water

Posted by Draq on 13 July 2014 - 10:52 AM

If instead you get the 12-50mm to be honest performance is quite average and the images soft in my opinion

So if you want to invest in the EM1/10 make sure you have budget for the best lenses and port, if you try a 12-50mm in the hope of having one size fit all you get results worse than a compact like the Sony RX100...


While I am not the greatest fan of the 12-50, I don't think I would go that far.  The lens seems to do best in the wider focal lengths and from wide open to about f5.6.  Everything I have read confirms the lens it at its worst around 50mm.  At around 12-20mm or so and at wider apertures the lens is actually fairly good.  It's macro is not bad.  This also might be one argument for using the fancy Nauticam gear, as opposed to the "Austrian gear" solution.  Placing the lens at 50mm and using a diopter certainly puts the lens in its weakest performance opportunity.


The lens' claim-to-fame of course is its versatility and for many users that makes up for less than stellar performance.  While the best lenses cost a premium price, If one does not need the macro option there are a number of relatively low-cost lenses that are quite nice, such as the Panasonic 14mm and the Oly 9-18.  Another lens that gets no attention for underwater use but has gotten very good reviews is the Panasonic 12-32.  It is small and relatively inexpensive and if it worked in a  4 or 4.3" port it could be interesting.


The big thing, though is that if one used a Panasonic or Oly and is disappointed in the results, or simply wants to take full advantage of the options, it is a simple matter to swap ports and lenses.   Even if one is only going to use the one lens, the upgrade path is clearer and easier with an interchangeable lens camera than a compact.  The RX100 is a very nice compact, but considering how much I enjoy using the 8mm and 7-14 lenses I think I would be unhappy with the single zoom lens on the compact.


At the moment, I am really looking forward to getting the 12-40 with Zen dome in the water.

#349713 GX7 vs OMD series under water

Posted by Draq on 01 July 2014 - 02:10 PM

With that additional information I tend to agree.  You are familiar with the Oly menus and quirks and if you are willing to buy an M10 body then that would be a good way to go.  Ports can be used on another housing if you later up-size and from what I can tell, the M10 offers quite good IQ in a small package and the housing for it should work great with a single strobe on one side and a strap on the other.  You can still run two strobes without adding a second handle or add another handle as well if you later want to.  It seems that you would not likely take advantage of a lot of the "bells and whistles" of the E-M1 and its housing underwater, and the M10 body and housing will only cost about $200 more than the M1 housing alone.


If you need another Oly lens, look for one of the Oly bundles where they discount the lens with the body and that might make up the $200.  If you are looking for a one-lens solution, consider the 12-50, either in the 4" semi-dome port or if macro is important, in the special Nauticam port that allows use of the macro function of the lens, although that is expensive.  

#349710 GX7 vs OMD series under water

Posted by Draq on 01 July 2014 - 12:58 PM



There is a lot more flexibility in custom settings in the E-M1 and the Nauticam housing, including separating out the focus and shutter release functions.  Just take a look at the number of buttons and dials on the housing and then consider that many of these can be assigned functions by the user and you will get an idea.  Keep in mind that I know that to be the case but have not used the camera and housing, so the details of doing these things would be better explained by Phil Rudin and others and you can also find sources on the internet about the various setting options.


As far as the handles go, if you would normally use dual handles on a housing, the E-M1 housing and handles are no more bulky and possibly less so than other options and can be removed if desired.  If you prefer to use a single handle on one side and then grip the housing on the other, I think the GX-7, E-M5 or E-M10 housing would be better although you could just use the E-M1 housing with a single arm or even no arm.  Generally the benefit of two handles is that they provide the best placement and support for dual strobes, especially if they are the larger and heavier strobes.   Some people also simply prefer the use of handles to hold the camera while others prefer to grip the housing.  Some of this depends on the type of photography planned as well.


Your comment "I plan to use on flash, and maybe sometimes even without flash. I don't want to be dominated by photo equipment during diving, but I want to take good images of special moments/subjects during my dives" makes me think the E-M1 is overkill for what you want, and suggests to me that a smaller and simpler housing is probably what you want at this point. If you are diving with a an E-M1 and housing with dual arms and strobes, it will be a major factor in your dive.  You might prefer a compact camera and housing over an interchangeable lens camera and housing with multiple ports.  


Perhaps keep an eye on the classifieds and look for an older M43 camera and housing or something like a Panasonic Lx7, Sony RX100, Canon G or S series, and so on, and then if you decide you want something more you can move up...



#347944 Nauticam buoyancy help needed

Posted by Draq on 20 May 2014 - 12:44 PM

Oh yes, it will be negative.


Based on my experiences with a similar setup, I think you should consider getting getting the Stix Jumbo floats.  http://stores.4gdphoto.com/


I use heavier strobes, a different tray and usually use a different port, so it is hard to be precise, but I would guess you would want to put 2 jumbo floats on each 8" arm and one jumbo float on each 5" arm.  Possibly just four jumbo floats will be enough.  You can increase or decrease the number of floats or swap some jumbo floats for large floats as you need.  Of course some people want their rig to be neutral and others want it to be slightly negative.


If you are so inclined you can calculate the in-water weight of all your stuff and the flotation of each float and come up with a pretty precise mathematical computation of the flotation you need.  I tend to just experiment and try to get what I want.


The floats are available from the manufacturer and from most of the usual online underwater photo stores.