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Phil Rudin

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Everything posted by Phil Rudin

  1. As Chris said above you can read my review for the Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 in issue #119 at UWPMAG.com, this is a free PDF download. I also have reviewed for the WWL-1 and WWL-1B using M43 14-42, Sony 28mm F/2 and the Sony FE 28-60mm. The 28-60 is by far the best choice for Sony. The problem with this lens and the Tamron 17-28 is manufacture support. At this time Nauticam and Ikelite are the only manufactures that list the Tamron on the port charts and have dedicated Zoom gear. With the 28-60 Nauticam and Seafrogs are the only manufactures that support the 28-60 with a zoom gear and port with 67mm threads for the WWL-1/1B. The problem with Seafrogs is they only sell the port and gear with the Sony A7c housing at this time. The port and gear are not yet offered for all Sony housings. Regarding the Tamron 17-28 F/2.8 it is cheaper and has much better image quality overall than Sony FE 16-35mm F/4 or 12-24 F/4 which I have also used extensively along with 12-24mm F/2.8. I have also used the Sony FE 20mm F/1.8 and it is a great above water lens and equal to the Nikonos 15mm underwater. It would not be my first choice for wrecks. The Sony A7 IV is going to be a huge success for Sony and I am sure it will be supported by all of the major housing manufactures. The question remains will they add support for the lenses. I am sure that someone will point out that gears can be 3D printed for both lenses but proper ports are another issue.
  2. I again have no doubt that the Retra strobes are excellent but all that counts is how well they work in the field and how durable they are and in this regard Inon has had a stellar reputation for decades. Taking photos of flat walls with an assortment of colored boxes is helpful to some I am sure but it would be way down on my list of concerns. For me I would point-out that the Retra strobe can do high speed sync with the proper flash trigger. Back in the day all U/W strobes were rated in Ws rather than GN. Ikelite lists both for the DS-161 which is 160Ws and has a GN of 24 at ISO-100 at a meter. The latest YS d3 mkII strobe form Sea & Sea (I have not tested) shows a GN of 33 and a 110 beam angle with a defuser. If you read the fine print you will find that at a GN of 33 beam angle is around 70 degrees and that adding the defuser to get to 110 degrees reduces the output to around a GN around 24. Also often overlooked is that the included defusers with most strobes change the color temp. in the case of S&S YS D3 from 5800K to 5500K. The bottom line is that all manufactures bend the specs to make their products look good and this has not changed for decades.
  3. This opinion is from someone who has actually used the equipment with and without the fiber optics cords. In several of my reviews for UWPMAG.com I have used both the 161 and 50 strobes with wired cords and fiber optic cords on housings from TG-6, to Olympus M43 and the larger full frame camera housings. I used wired strobes and flash bulb units from the late 1960's and my overwhelming preference in 2021 is for fiber optics over wired strobes. In the case of the DS-161 I prefer the wiring the flash over the fiber optic unit. The biggest issue I have with the Ikelite optical converter is that Ike strobes don't come in a right and left design. If you are using a ball mount the mounting port for the optical converter is left of the ball when mounted on the arm with the strobe hanging down. This means the strobe on the left side of the housing has the optical converter sticking out to the left and the strobe on the right side of the housing has the optical converter on the inside between the housing and strobe. In my tests particularly when shooting macro I found the converter got in the way of proper strobe placement causing me to need to tilt the strobe more inward or outward depending on the situation. This is more of a problem with larger housings like the DSLR and full frame mirrorless housings than it is with the small housings like TG-6. Second regardless of how you trigger the strobes they will not TTL even using the cameras on-board flash. Further if you intend to use the on-board flash to trigger the fiber optic converter your recycle times will be greatly reduced V. the wired TTL trigger. I would stick with the old style wired cords and step-up your cleaning and maintenance routine.
  4. To answer the last question first the SC-150 would be the Seacam 150 which comes in two types I believe. Regarding the Inon Z330 type II you can read my full review in the current issue of UWPMAG.com which is a free PDF download. I have also used the Ikelite strobes extensively and if you go to the back issues at the top of the home page and enter Phil Rudin into the search engine you will find my DS-161 review along with other Ikelite equipment I used with the strobes. I owned the first two Inon Z-220's imported into the US and have owned or tested about every Inon strobe since. Since I do a good bit of travel (before covid) I can attest to the fact that they are about as easy to travel with as just about any strobe on the market and take up about half the space of the DS-161's. I tend to use two strobes for both Wide and macro shooting and find the Inon's more than enough coverage all the way out to 8mm circular fisheye and full frame fisheye. The down side to most strobes are hot spots that blowout light areas in the frame. This is noticeable when shooting things like the light face of the loggerhead turtle closeup. The new "fly-eye" coating on the dome of the Inon type II strobes helps greatly in this regard. I also own the inexpensive (around $11.00 US) dome filters that allow you to change the color temp of the light to 4600K and 4900K. I have not yet tested the Retra Pro-X strobes but I hear good things about quality of light and more. High quality light is a small addition if you are not using high quality lenses and ports. Most photographers when they are shopping for strobes or other equipment usually have a price point in mind and many not consider comparing a $650.00 US Inon Z-330 type II to a strobe like the over $1300.00 US Retra or even the $950.00 US Ikelite DS-161. Other considerations may include proprietary batteries that won't easily be found in many travel destinations. Ikelite has great TTL performance when used with wired cords and an Ikelite housing. They don't integrate as easily over to other housings if TTL is required. Converting Ikelite to fiber optic cords also adds cost to the strobes not found in the Inon, Retra and others. Images of the Z-330 and Z-330 type II attached along with the turtle taken with the type II. You can see that the Z-330 has the "fly-eye" but only on a small stand over the flash tube.
  5. The Sony A1 has a dual dial on the left top side of the camera which controls the frame rate (single, 10 frames, etc) with the top dial and the AF setting (AF-S, AF-C, etc) on the bottom dial. The top dial has a push button that needs to be depressed while the bottom dial has the push from the side lock like the new A7 IV. In the Nauticam NA-A1 housing the spring loaded lever that lifts above the camera when it is installed in the housing and then drops into place over both camera dials. This control lever simply keeps both push buttons depressed and controls the focus mode while a second dial on the top back half of the housing controls the drive mode. I would expect a simpler single control like the focus lever control for the A7 IV to switch between shooting modes. Photos of the control lever below. When the Sony A7 III was introduced almost four years ago it became the best selling full frame camera ever made (both DSLR and mirrorless) and propelled Sony to the top of the mirrorless camera market. It was also became very popular as an underwater system and remained one of the top U/W systems. The A7 IV will be one of the best choices in the underwater market for a verity of reasons including overall camera speed, image quality V. rivals and much more. It is sad that at least in the US the A7 IV is only being sold as a kit with the old Sony FE 28-70mm lens and not the excellent 28-60mm sold as a kit with the Sony A7C. The 28-70 only works with the Nauticam WACP while the 28-60 will work with both WACP and WWL-1B both at considerably different price points. This is a camera that many will be eager to review, myself included.
  6. It appears that the Isotta port choice for WWL-1B is limited to one port with the 14-42EZ which can also support the Oly 60mm macro with a port extension or the 12-50 kit lens that works with WWL-C and only goes to 110 degrees rather than 130 degrees. These are the only lenses that are supported by a zoom gear. Sea & Sea does not make any Olympus housings so no port or gear that can be moved over. The best value in Olympus cameras now is the E-PL-10 and AOI housing which ships with the 14-42EZ port, zoom gear, optical flash trigger and more. This package with new camera, lens and housing sells for $1334.00, trays and strobes can be added to the package. The reason I bring this up is that I just reviewed this package in the current issue of uwpmag.com and bottom line is that while many features of the camera don't compare to EM 1 III, EM5 III and M1X the 16MP image quality is within a hair of the 20MP sensors in the much more expensive cameras and in some cases it is better. Olympus appears to be going backwards with the EM-1 II getting better ratings than EM1 III according to DPReview. I encourage you to go to the review section at DPReview and compare the RAW image quality results. I also suggest that you compare the results from the Sony A7C and A7 III cameras. The Sony cameras with the Sony 28-60mm zoom which works with the WWL-1B are $200.00 more than the EM-1 III and the 14-42EZ lens with dramatically superior image quality. Housings with support for the 28-60mm zoom range from Seafrogs.hk to just about every other dealer and are common in the used market.
  7. Hi Ant, Started using Olympus cameras in 2003 with the release of the E-1 DSLR 4/3 5MP camera. Housed both the Olympus E300 and E330 DSLR 4/3 cameras in Olympus housings and did my first review of now more than 100 for uwpmag.com testing the Olympus E-PL-1 in an Olympus housing. Over the years I have reviewed many of the Olympus cameras, Lenses and housings for the magazine. First now of the lenses you would select for underwater work would be useful for birding so my recommendations will be limited to U/W work. First the 24-40mm is a lovely lens but for best results you need at least an 8 inch acrylic (200mm) or 170/180mm glass dome port, with the recommended extension and the zoom gear. The 12-40 retail is $1000.00 for a lens with an AOV of 84-30 degrees, with the 7-14mm $1400.00 zoom AOV is 114 to 75 degrees. While the 7-14 or panama's 8-18 you would be best served using a 200 to 230mm pert not the recommended 180mm port. Total cost for these configurations will run from around $2000.00 acyrlic too as high as around $3500.00. I have used these Olympus lenses extensively and I can tell you without any reservation that the WWL-1/1B with a kit lens will provide better results hands down. All in with the 14-42EZ, zoom gear, flat port, bayonet port adapter and WWL-1B all Nauticam is around $2600.00 for a higher image quality package with a 130 to 50 degree AOV. Regarding cameras the EM-1 MK II is the bast choice over EM-1 III and EM-5 III for U/W work. Regarding housings the AOI housing for EM-5 III is an upgraded (better) version of the Olympus PT housings which were made by AOI. The pickup finder for the Olympus housing that allows a better view into the EVF is a bit useless to me because the EVF is very small to begin with. If I were choosing a housing and wanted to use the EVF most of the time I would be going with the Isotta or more expensive Nauticam housing. If you will be happy using the LCD as you have in the past with the TG-6 then the AOI housing for EM-5 III would be your best value. With system all-in for WWL-1B would be around $2400.00US. For the 24-40 zoom all-in would be around $1789.00 acrylic and $2460.00 glass both 200mm or 8 inch domes. The problem with the configuration is that a +2 closeup lens is recommended for both ports. This makes up for the lens inability to focus because the lens is too close to the port and a port extension is not offered. This is a down side for image quality and corner sharpness. I just reviewed the Olympus EPL-10 and AOI housing in the current issue of uwpmag.com and to me this system is the best buy of any entry level interchangeable lens camera for U/W photography in the current market. The AOI housings are very well made at the price point and well worth considering. The Isotta housing will offer more accessories to add-on going forward, like the excellent Inon accessory viewfinders, more port offerings and more. uwpmag.com is a free PDF download and if you go to the back issue section at the top of the page and put my name, Phil Rudin into the search engine you will find reviews for many of the best Olympus lenses including the 8mm fisheye, 12-40mm, 7-14mm, WWL-1 and WWL-1B plus more.
  8. The Nauticam NA-A7C housing uses a Nauticam MIL size viewfinder not the one made for larger housings like NA-A1 and NA A7R III/IV. It appears that Inon viewfinders do support some of the large Nauticam housings but not the smaller MIL housings.
  9. I contacted SeaFrogs last winter and requested a loan of equipment for review and the reply was that they were not interested. I would be happy to review the latest Sony A7C housing because I own the camera and some of the supported lenses including the 26-60 for the new SF flat port.
  10. Regarding the choice of strobes I bought the first two Inon Z-220 strobes inported into the US and have been using Inon ever since. Lately I have added two Backscatter MF-1 strobes for a lot of my macro work because of the small size and high output although with a narrower beam angle good for macro, they also have matching snoots for creative macro work. I have not yet tested the latest Sea & Sea YS-D3 MK II strobes so have no input in that regard.
  11. Hi John, I have used the 14mm F/1.8, 12-24mm F/2.8 and 12-24mm F/4 all behind the Zen 230mm Optical glass dome port. The reason for buying the Zen over the Nauticam has nothing to do with overall quality but with laziness. Because I use the port with the Canon 8-15mm fisheye the port shade/blades need to be removed for the 8mm circular fisheye or it will vignette. It is easier too remove the Zen blades than the Nauticam shade. Regarding 12-24 F/2.8 and 14mm F1.8 I use both a lot and do a lot of split images with both. The issue for you is how big a difference you will see on your 12MP S III v. my A1 (50MP) and A7R IV (61MP). I think with 12MP's the gap with 12-24 F/4 and Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 (also reviewed) would be closer than with 50MP and up. If I had to pick one of your two choices it would be the 14mm F/1.8 because of size, weight, filter system size for landscapes and of course cost V. 12-24 F/2.8. Regarding cost the Nauticam 230mm fisheye II port after recent price increases is $2439.00, 55mm port extension for 12-24 2.8 is $441.00, zoom gear 244.00 and lens is $3000.00, total about $6124.00. Buy comparison The 28-60 is $500.000 (without A7C kit discount) WACP is $5159.00, zoom gear is $253.00 and no port extension with the N100 to N120 35.5 port adapter II, total around $5912.00. With the WWL-1B, N-100 flat port 45, zoom gear $253.00, lens $500.00 and bayonet mount $103.00 price drops too around $2733.00.
  12. If you download the user manual you will see the release extension which should have been included with a new lens. This attaches to the blue release making it easer to release.
  13. Both questions ask and answered but I would add that the reason such wide lenses are used underwater is so that you can get as close to your subject as posable reducing the amount of water you are shooting through. The 16-35 allows you to do that better than 28-75 a lens which I have owned. I have personally tested (not reviewed) the 16-35mmm F/2.8 and I have opted for Tamron 17-28 F/2.8 with the Sea & Sea correction lens and Zen 230mm dome port. This lens works very well with both A1 and A7R IV and is part of my budget holy trinity of F/2.8 lenses for above water work including the 28-75 F/2.8 and 70-180 F/2.8. All of these lenses plus the Tamron 20, 24 and 35mm F/2.8's 1:2 lenses use the same 67mm thread mount so one filter fits all making packing much easer. Seafrogs has a zoom gear for the 17-28 and at some point I suspect they may offer a 28-75 gear. All that having been said for best wide angle image quality at the lowest price I still favor the Sony FE 28-60 with Nauticam WWL-1B. I would suggest the 8 inch (203mm) dome over the Six inch (153mm) dome for any wide lens if a proper extension is offered. Seafrogs has just introduced a six inch (153mm) optical glass dome port with an instructional video. The video states that compared to the acrylic six inch dome it all but eliminates corner distortion. I respectfully disagree with Seafrogs on this issue. This is simple physics small ports, glass or acrylic just don't work well wide wide rectilinear lenses. I have tested six inch, 170mm, 180mm, 200mm, eight inch, and 230mm dome ports from a number of manufactures both acrylic and glass, with and without S&S correction lenses. Large ports like the Nauticam & Zen 230mm and nine inch ports like the Aquatica port are the only solution for best corner sharpness on full frame cameras. Because the S&S correction lens is made for ports in the 230mm range it actually adds to the problem on some smaller ports. Regarding Sea & Sea products the company has just changed hands and is now owned by the well respected Fisheye company. Which products will be carried over in the product line is still unknown and prior to the acquisition the correction lenses had been discontinued so at this time would need to be found in the used market. Seafrogs has also just released a Sony A7C housing for the FF 24MP compact which offers a port for the 28-60 kit zoom. Most of this equipment except for Seafrogs housings I have tested for uwpmag.com starting with the Sony A7 II and most Sony cameras moving forward. All of these articles can be accessed as a free PDF downloads in the back issues at the top of the magazine home page. Just open the back issue page and type Phil Rudin into the search engine for a full list of reviews.
  14. I will admit that I have not had the time to read this entire thread but my understanding was that a move was being made from A7 III to A1a camera that is head and shoulders above A7 III. If this is not the case then a wired cord is needed, a throwback to the 60's in my view.
  15. Hi ashic, You may want to read my review for the Inon Z330 type II strobes in the current issue of uwpmag.com, this is a free PDF download. It includes some explanation of what is needed to accomplish S-TTL (what Inon calls it). Being very old school I am not a huge fan of TTL. The Seafrogs flash trigger that ships with the housings can trigger most strobes but in manual mode only using the fiber optic system.
  16. First I have never done a review of the WACP-1 but have owned the lens for my personal work. Alex Mustard and Kevin Palmer, both respected U/W photographers did a very fine job of covering WACP-1 for uwpmag.com. Second WWL-1 and WACP 1 & 2 are not apples to apples, I would say that with Sony 28-60 and WWL-1/1B combo it is very good while Tokina 10-17 behind a small dome is bad in comparison but again not apples to apples. Third is the premise that WWL-1 can only be used with expensive Sony cameras. I often use the WWL-1 with Sony A7C (24MP) and 28-60. This is a full frame system that is cheaper than say a D-500 and has better image quality. My first choice for this camera would be WWL-1 while my first choice for A1 and A7R IV would be WACP-1 for most uses, that does not by definition make the WWL-1 bad it is just less excellent. I would describe the difference between WWL-1 and WACP-1 as significantly better and worth the weight because of the way I am able to put it in carry-on shoulder bag. So NO to small improvements in IQ and I see no image quality. Also the differences between WWL-1 and WWL-1B are not in IQ they are equal to me. The big upside for the 1B version is the integrated flotation collar and the bayonet mount on the optic. All fits in the included 1B travel bag which is not much larger than the WWL-1 bag without the foam collar which in my opinion is a pain to travel with. Last none of use that do reviews have control over the size of the images that are published with any given article, on line or in print. We also have different ideas about image quality, which is why so many photos contests have been won using less than high quality lenses like Tokina 10-17. Excellent subject, composition, lighting and more will always trump max IQ, corner sharpness, bit rate, color fidelity and more.
  17. Just as a sidebar I have not tested the Sony FE 24mm F/2.8 and WWL-C combo so I have no idea of image quality with that configuration.
  18. I keep being quoted as saying the WWL-1/1B is not as good as WACP-1 as if that is a bad thing. The WACP-1&2 have no port glass between the lens and wet optic so it is a no brainer that it will be better. The WACP-2 is designed larger so that it can be used with stellar Pro lenses like the Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 (add your brand of Pro lens here) which makes it a better choice image quality than WACP-1. By this logic all full frame users should be using WACP-2, which can also be used for splits by the way. I use the WWL-1B all the time with Sony A7R IV and Sony A1 with outstanding results. Because of weight and size it is easier to travel with and a bit easer to handle on location. I would love to be using WACP-2 for model shoots, splits and more but it is not cost effective for me. So again while WACP-1 & 2 have better image quality over WWL-1B all things in photography are a tradeoff and WWL-1 still out performs all of the wide angle lenses both rectilinear and fisheye (including those listed above) I have used behind a dome port. WWL-1B tradeoff v. a port is no splits.
  19. One of the many upsides of mirrorless cameras is that you can find an adapter for almost any lens. Because Nikon chose to use a very large lens mount size on the Z-mirrorless line the TechArt Pro auto focus adapter fits inside the Z lens mount sitting flush with the mount. List allows Sony FE lenses to also fit flush on the adapter because of their smaller diameter. This means that you can not only use the FE 28-60 lens but also lenses like the 12-24 and others with proper port size and extension. Because the WACP-1 fits directly onto the 120 nauticam port mount this lens will work perfectly. The WWL-1 with Sony FE 28-60 on Nikon Z is not the same case because this configuration needs a matching port. With Sony housings this is not a problem because Nauticam has a 45 port with focus wheel in the 100 mount size to match the WWL-1/1B. The 120 Nikon Z system has no such port at this time.
  20. Regarding optical viewfinders I use the Nauticam 45 degree finder for macro all the time. Nauticam is also now introducing a line of 180 degree and 45 degree viewfinders for full frame that are 32 degree 1:1 or 40 degree 0.8:1 for your full frame viewing pleasure.
  21. Just to be clear the WACP-1 and WACP-2 mount directly to the housing (so no port) this means that any brand of zoom lens that can not fully extend has no where to go but to bump the rear of the wet optic if it is extended to far. With optics like WWL-1/1B, WWL-C, SMC/CMC a port is between the lens and optic so a zoom that is too long would be hitting the inside of the port glass. Also in the port chart regarding the Sony FE 24-70mm F/2.8 and WACP-2 the Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 will also hit the rear of the WACP-1 optic. The point here is regardless of the camera/lens brand the port charts need to be reviewed very closely if you want to have a lens that can be zoomed through completely without touching rear optic with WACP 1&2.
  22. Seafrogs.hk has now posted a video for the A7C housing operation which gives a better look at the housing. Among other things in the last few seconds you can see that the lens at 28mm seems to come pretty close in the inside of the port glass for use with WWL-1/1B. It looks about the same as the lens at 28mm inside the Nauticam port.
  23. I can answer the half of your question about the Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 lens I have used on the Sony A7R IV, A1 and A7C. This lens has outstanding image quality above water and is also very good underwater behind a proper 230mm dome port. It would be a complete waist of a Pro quality lens to use it with a 160mm port. You will be pushing image quality to use a 24mm lens behind the 160mm port. This is a simple issue of physics and does not change across manufactures ports. You could buy the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm and the image quality would be just as good behind any dome smaller the 230mm. I have reviewed the 14mm F/1.8 lens in the current issue of uwpmag.com (a free PDF download) and images taken with the lens are also in my Inon Z300 type II review in the same issue. Having said all that the less expensive FE 28-60mm kit lens with the WWL-1/1B has better image equality across the board V. the 14mm F/1.8 behind the 230mm dome. This is a combo I have also used with A7R IV, A1 and A7C as well as Olympus EM1 II and 14-42 zoom. The reviews for both the WWL-1 and WWL-1B are in the back issues on the home page of uwpmag.com, just type Phil Rudin into the search engine and look for those articles.
  24. I have used but never reviewed a Seafrogs housing for Sony A7R IV with both flat and dome ports. Like the Olympus housings of past they are rated to recreational diving limits of 40 meters which works for many. The new smaller A7C design looks quite robust at the price point and I like the double lock system over the rotary cam system. Also like the trigger pull over the up/down trigger press. Does not appear this housing works with the pistol grip for surf photography. I also would recommend the vacuum system. The housing includes a optical flash trigger which works like a small strobe rather than setting off two LED lights like many glass triggers. I am sure this will reduce battery life. If I were buying I would order the $670.00US version for Sony 28-60 and then add the 90mm macro port. Both have the 67mm threads so wet optics can be used. Ikelite does not appear to offer a 28-60 port at this time. On the Seafrofa.hk web site in the blog they have a visual comparison with the SF housing for A7R III against the A7C housing for those who want to see the size difference. This is an extremely competitively priced full frame system V. sub-FF offerings.
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