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SimonPierce

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SimonPierce last won the day on December 3 2019

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About SimonPierce

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    https://naturetripper.com

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    New Zealand
  • Camera Model & Brand
    Sony A7rIII
  • Camera Housing
    Nauticam NA-A7RIII
  • Strobe/Lighting Model & Brand
    S&S YS-D2s

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  1. That's excellent! Definitely keen to hear how you get on with the WWL-1 – it sounds like a great option.
  2. Hi Ajay, No worries! And yes, I definitely empathise on the travel front. I'm sure either would work well, and hopefully other people that have experience with both can offer their thoughts. I think it'll depend a lot on what you prefer to / intend to shoot, but I guess I'd say you can crop in with a fisheye, but you can't crop out One of the reasons I originally went for the A7rIII over the A7III was because I was thinking I'd effectively have (1) a 42 MP fisheye, and (2) a ~18 MP "rectilinear" wide-angle (about 14 mm equivalent I think) with the same setup, by using APS-C mode. In practice, I've ended up just cropping in post when needed, rather than using the in-camera "digital zoom". I had an Olympus E-M1 camera previously, and used both the Panasonic 8 mm fisheye and Panasonic 7-14 wide-angle a lot. I found that the fisheye was a better fit for me personally. However, it's important to note here that I'm a whale shark / manta ray researcher, so that work has a large influence on my lens selection (and dive destination choices). One thing to consider is that the 16-35 mm will perform best behind a large dome port, which can be (even more) painful to travel with, whereas a fisheye will work well behind a 140 mm dome. It's also easy to "defish" the look of a photo by using the manual "lens correction" tool in Lightroom or Camera Raw in Photoshop. Of course, it'd be a lot simpler if Sony had a native fisheye option! The fact that the 8-15 mm is an expensive lens, and then requires an adapter too, makes it a tougher sell for sure. Sorry I can't give a more definitive answer... Best, Simon.
  3. Hi Wolfgang, Thanks, and that's correct – I haven't used the 8 mm end of the zoom. From what I could ascertain online the Canon 8-15 mm seemed like the best IQ fisheye option for Sony when I bought the setup (in 2018), and I thought maybe I'd find the circular shots of use occasionally. I've certainly seen nice photos from other people here on the forums. I haven't used a teleconverter on the lens, but the resolution on the A7rIII is rather helpful for cropping sometimes! A teleconverter with a built-in adapter would be fantastic, if it existed. I've got a Nikonos 15 mm on the Sony adapter to use as a regular wide-angle option (manual focus of course), but I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Simon.
  4. Hi all, I've written up a detailed article with my current settings and general tips for using the Sony A7rIII (in a Nauticam housing) for wide-angle with the Canon 8-15 mm fisheye. This was my first full-frame camera, and I've had quite the learning curve with it, so I'm hoping that the article might (a) save people some time, and (b) help to gather some additional tips I can use when we're allowed outside again... The full article, and photos, are here: https://naturetripper.com/underwater-wide-angle-photography/ I've copied over the main (relevant) text below: Shooting in natural light These settings are still tuned for the 100 mm Zen fisheye dome port that I was using until the end of 2019. When I’m shooting large, slow marine animals, such as whale sharks, in good ambient light near the surface, my standard settings are 1/250 sec and f/8, in manual mode, with Auto ISO (base 100, maximum 3,200) and -1.0 exposure compensation to help protect my highlights. I use a High frame rate (8 shots per second) and continuous autofocus (AF-C). I’ve set “Priority Set in AF-C: Release” to minimize the lag time when I mash the shutter lever; the autofocus is normally fast, and I use “Lock-on: Wide” most of the time. Ideally, I’d probably use f/9 or f/10 for improved corners with the small 100 mm dome port. However, the A7rIII is limited to f/8 or wider aperture values to maintain phase-detect autofocus in continuous shooting mode. At f/9, for instance, it will stay focused at the same distance that focus was initially achieved. Not useful when an animal is approaching you. It’s fine if you’re just taking photos one at a time (as I do when shooting with strobes, below), rather than shooting in bursts. I use compressed raw files if I’m expecting any kind of fast action. I don’t notice any loss of quality in real-world shooting. What I do notice is that uncompressed raw files are ~82 MB in size, so the camera can’t keep up 8 fps for long – about 28 photos – when it’s moving that much data, and the buffer takes approximately 14 seconds to clear. This feels like an eternity sometimes! The reduced file size from compressed raw increases the buffer depth (to around 76 photos) so I can keep shooting instead of swearing vigorously through my snorkel. You’ll need a UHS-II SD card to help with that, too. I use a 256 GB ProGrade card. I don’t often change these settings. If I’m on a scientific expedition then I’m often taking photos of other researchers at work, so I’d rather be able to focus on composition – and trying to keep up! On that topic, I also want to have a secure hold on the camera, and adding a hand strap to the handle helps a lot with that. I’ll increase the shutter speed for fast-swimming animals, like dolphins and sea lions, where I can get away with it. Obviously I’ll also decrease the shutter speed (or aperture) in low light if I absolutely have to. Auto ISO is super helpful, particularly with Sony’s great sensor. I have no problem using ISO 3,200 underwater; I’ll just add minor noise reduction in Lightroom afterward if necessary. As an aside, I’ve been (metaphorically) diving into the confusing subject of ISO invariance and my understanding is that, above dual gain kicking in at ISO 640, the A7rIII is effectively just increasing brightness. There’s an argument, then, for setting Auto ISO to 100–640 when using manual settings (as above). and adjusting the exposure in Lightroom later. That should then optimize data capture while protecting highlights. Good in theory. However, I tried this with whale sharks in Tanzania and found that – in dark conditions (rain, or early mornings) – the autofocus struggled a lot more than usual. I’ll stick to Auto ISO with 100-3,200 in the future. I used ambient light for wide-angle photography a lot in Galapagos last season, as we were also filming, and I didn’t want my strobe flashes to ruin the shot. It’s often dark over there, either because of overcast skies or deeper dives (often both), so I’d commonly drop down my shutter speed to 1/160 sec to reduce ISO levels a bit. Shooting with strobes I’ve got a fairly simple process when I’m shooting wide-angle. 1. I “fix” my aperture at a setting that should get me reasonably sharp corners, often f/11. 2. I choose a shutter speed that will freeze the motion of whatever subject I’m planning to photograph, often starting at 1/125 sec. 3. I’ll check what ISO I need to get a nice background exposure (using “Shot. Result Preview”, as described below). 4. Then, I adjust my strobe(s) power to add some nice light to the foreground, depending on what I want to shoot and (especially) the distance from the subject. I usually test things out when I first get to the bottom, by photographing a rock or coral, then I can start looking for interesting critters. It’s easiest to do all that in manual mode so that I can easily work out what I need to change. Background too light or dark? Change ISO or shutter speed. I find it easiest to change shutter speed for quick background exposure corrections, as that doesn’t affect the strobe lighting on the foreground. Increasing ISO, or dropping aperture, will increase perceived strobe output – or vice versa. My “jump” settings are normally 1/125 sec, f/11 and ISO 200 (in Manual mode). I’ve set the AEL button to ISO so it’s easily accessible on the housing. I’ll often adjust exposure using ISO until that hits around 640 (see my note on ISO invariance above). At that point, I’ll start reducing shutter speed or aperture (if it gets really dark, or if I decide corner sharpness isn’t a big deal). I shoot in uncompressed raw when I’m shooting with strobes, as I’m only taking one shot at a time, and set Auto Review to 2 seconds so I can check exposure. I quite like the cool motion blur you get from rear sync flash and slow shutter speeds, particularly at either end of the day when the light is poor, so I’ve got flash mode programmed to my C3 button on the left side of the housing so I can change it easily. I normally use Fill Flash, with the strobes set to 22, as my initial setting. I use dual Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes (now superseded by the YS-D2J) with Eneloop Pro batteries, a Sony flash trigger, and Nauticam optical sync cables. Note that YS-D2s previously weren’t compatible with the flash trigger, and some shops still list this on their sites, but they are compatible with the most recent Nauticam optical sync cables. I often use Glow Dive diffusers on the YS-D2s, which work well but definitely reduce the light output, or the 120º diffusers that come with the strobes. The strobes (and camera) are normally fine for about three dives before I have to charge the batteries. One of the great things about shooting mirrorless is the “what you see is what you get” when using the EVF or LCD. However, it’s helpful to switch this off (“Live View Display: Setting Effect OFF“) when shooting with strobes. Otherwise, the screen can be too dark to compose a shot easily. Of course, you do want to see how your exposure settings are affecting your background, and there’s a neat way to accomplish this: program your AF-ON button (accessed via the thumb lever on the Nauticam housing to “AF-ON Button: Shot. Result Preview“. That means you can quickly check your ambient light exposure by just pressing your thumb, rather than taking a photo and checking it. (Of course, that only works if you’re using shutter-linked autofocus.) I’ve been playing around with automating my exposure settings more. When we’re working with whale sharks in the Galapagos, in particular, we’re changing depth and, with it, ambient lighting level at a speed that I find difficult to keep up with (while kicking madly to keep up with a bus-sized fish). I’ve trialed using Auto ISO and negative exposure compensation – conveniently accessed via a dial on the housing – and that works quite well, as long as I keep an eye on the background exposure (using the thumb lever with Shot. Result Preview, as above). I still have to make adjustments, but it does get it approximately right in a hurry. I normally start with -1.0 exposure compensation and adjust it from there. Camera settings for all occasions I’m often shooting one-handed, as noted above, so I use shutter-linked autofocus. I’ve got the “Pwr Save Start Time” – i.e., camera sleep time – set to one minute. I don’t turn the camera off while I’m in the water, so this conserves battery during lulls. I set my white balance to “Cloudy”. That adds a slight warming effect to underwater images to help counter the blue-green ocean (though I’ll usually adjust white balance slightly in Lightroom anyway). I use “Multi” metering so the camera is considering the whole frame (though I’m often shooting in manual anyway). The default setting is for exposure to be locked while the shutter is depressed. I’ve switched that off (“AEL w/shutter: Off“) so the camera is continuously evaluating the scene even when I’m shooting a burst of images. The “Creative Style” on the camera, applied to the embedded jpegs in the raw files, is set to Standard. I always post-process my photos in Lightroom so I don’t want the camera to be adding its own edits. I find it all too easy to bump settings in the boat or water, so I disable any buttons that I’m unlikely to be using. A few more miscellaneous notes: – I set Auto Review to 2 Sec, so I can check things by eye when required. – I set Drive Mode to Single Shooting with strobes. Otherwise, the strobes seem to get out of sync due to minor variations in recycle times. – It’s easy to accidentally hit the movie lever. I normally switch that off and use a GoPro for video. I’ve set my defaults to the MR 1 dial position, which saves most things, except shutter-linked autofocus and other button customizations. Hope the above is useful – I’m still working things out as I go, but I do love the functionality and customization opportunities with the Sony A7rIII, and how the Nauticam housing lets me access key options quickly and easily. Any questions or suggestions? I'd love to hear from you! Simon.
  5. @stuartv – With regards to the focusing on the A7rIII with 90 mm macro, it really does hunt a lot (even with updated firmware). A focus light might well improve performance, but I've tended to use manual focus with peaking. It works okay. I've written up some detailed information here: https://naturetripper.com/underwater-macro-photography My understanding (based on reviews, not personal experience) is that autofocus performance with the A7rIV and 90 mm has improved.
  6. @Interceptor121 Have you tried the A7rIII? I'd welcome any tips. Rather than hijacking this thread, I'll just add a link to a blog post I wrote on this specific topic https://naturetripper.com/underwater-macro-photography/ Anyway, I've read in reviews that the A7rIV is an improvement. That'd be good. (Sorry, Adam, for going off-topic here.)
  7. @adamhanlon Just to answer your earlier questions: >Just to be sure I am understanding your reasoning... > >You are willing to forgo effective AF for macro and a native fisheye option in order to use an LCD? How do you check for critical focus >with the LCD? Peaking? >Adam It's more a case of "did not realise that AF for macro was pretty much impossible ;)". But the A7rIV is supposed to be far better with the Sony 90 mm in that respect, so I'm putting that issue in the "solved" basket with the newer camera. Hence why that model would be my selection for the most desirable full-frame camera right now, rather than my current A7rIII. It'd be nice to have a native fisheye option, but the Canon 8-15 mm works fine, so I don't view it as a major issue with the Sony system. Adding an adapter does make it a bit more expensive though. I use DMF focus + peaking for macro using my LCD with my A7rIII. It's... alright. I'm a whale shark scientist, so I'm mostly shooting wide angle with the fisheye near the surface. The LCD is extremely helpful for that scenario, as it allows me to shoot one-handed, swimming frantically, with my arm extended while still composing accurately with effective AF. I realise that it's a niche case though! So yeah, A7rIV is the dream camera for me. I can think of a few ways I'd improve it for UW use though (faster sync speed would be good).
  8. I wear a 5 mm + sharkskin (hooded vest) in Galapagos (I'm a whale shark researcher working seasonally at Darwin). Serves me well most of the time! It does get cold in the southwest (Isabela, Fernandina), but otherwise it's normally >20C elsewhere, and often 24–26C at Wolf & Darwin. I've got more information on diving at Darwin here: https://naturetripper.com/whale-sharks-galapagos/. Jon has summed it up well!
  9. I was definitely looking at the D850 too... but ultimately went with the Sony A7rIII. A significant factor for me was the cheaper housing cost, and smaller size / weight, although both factors were then cancelled out by having to buy adapters for the port and fisheye lens! Still, I'm actually happy with the choice – I was moving up from m4/3 and had only shot by composing through the LCD. I find an OVF very difficult to use underwater, as I'm just not used to it, and on land the inability to access good AF via "live view" would also be a pain for me (I shoot a lot of wildlife too, often at low angles where the flip-out LCD is brilliant). I do really like the A7rIII, but I'd certainly go with the A7rIV if I was buying new today. The autofocus on the Sony 90 mm macro is hopeless on the A7rIII, and it sounds like that has been substantially improved. For wide-angle, the ability of the A7rIV to use phase-detect autofocus in continuous shooting at >f/8 is a clear win too. It's a pain having no native fisheye, but the Canon 8-15 mm works pretty well. The Nauticam housing for the A7rIII is excellent, but the A7rIV housing has a higher gear ratio for manual focus – manually focusing the 90 mm is rather laborious, so that's a win for the new camera too.
  10. Thanks again – definitely going with these options. Nice to be optimised for the task at hand.
  11. Thanks Andrei! That's definitely sounding like the best plan.
  12. Thanks very much! Geez I love this forum Best, Simon.
  13. Thanks very much! Really appreciate the response and clarification. Just to follow-up – I was diving into port charts a bit more and see that the Zen 170 mm is also an option for the Canon 8-15 mm, although there doesn't seem to be much information on it here in the forum. Does anyone have any experience with this port? I'm just trying to get my head around the options – I love the 100 mm Zen for travel friendliness, as well as being easy to snorkel with (I'm a whale shark researcher, so I spend a lot of time chasing them around), but it sounds like the 140 mm Nauticam or (potentially) the 170 mm Zen might be preferable quality-wise. Other than improved corners, do the larger ports have other benefits too? A couple of considerations: – I'd quite like the option of doing split-levels occasionally too, although perhaps I should just get a larger dome for those shots. Sounds like the 140 mm is still a little small for that, but 170 mm might be workable. – I like to stay at f/8 when I'm shooting action whenever possible, as the A7rIII loses phase-detect AF in burst mode above that (it locks focus on the first frame). I haven't been unhappy with the Zen 100 mm, even with that restriction. Best, Simon.
  14. Thanks all for the great thread! I'm trying to do some research myself today and there have been some very useful posts here. I'm currently using the Zen 100 mm port (removable shade) on the 35.5 mm N100-N120 adapter for a Canon 8-15 mm lens (Metabones V, Sony A7rIII, NA-A7RIII housing). I think I'll need to replace the port – the glass is becoming quite opaque (I'm not great at cleaning it, my bad). Anyway, I see on Nauticam's port charts that they're not recommending my current setup, but rather pointing to the 140 mm port as optimal. Two things: 1) Is it okay to use the 140 mm port with the non-removable shade? I've never used the full-circular effect, and find the removable shade on the Zen to be a pain (in fact I've completely taped it in place). 2) With the 35.5 mm adapter I'm already using, do I still need an additional 30 mm extension ring? I'm presuming from Phil's post above that I do, but I live in hope I understand that larger domes (i.e. new 140 mm > current 100 mm) have better corner sharpness at the same settings; is there any difference otherwise? Thanks! Simon.
  15. Oh thanks very much! I'm preparing a substantial update to that post – it was spiralling out of control a bit, so I'm doing separate macro settings / wide angle settings posts, then will update the actual review itself. Feel free to shoot me any questions directly in the interim (simonjpierce@gmail.com). With regards to to the Stx floats, I'm using 8 in total at the moment. It's still slightly negative overall, but I don't notice it. I want a couple of longer 12 inch arms for big fish schools etc, so I'm picking up a pair of Ultralight float arms next week while I'm on a quick trip to the UK too. One caveat with the optical cords – I did have one very friendly mola on Nusa Penida that swam right up to me while I was firing madly. Reviewing the shots later, I realised the strobes had fallen out of sync after a few shots, which was quite frustrating! Same batteries + power settings on the strobes etc. Not an issue I've run into again, but I'm keeping an eye on it. Might be that I use the electrical sync cords when I'm expecting fast action if that happens in the future. Best, Simon.
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