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Everything posted by Barmaglot

  1. Meikon, in my experience, ships direct from Hong Kong, no US middleman taking their cut, and even a used Z-240 (of which this looks like a clone) is several times more expensive - you can buy five of these, brand new, for the cost of two used Z-240s and still come out ahead money-wise. If one breaks or floods - just break out the spare I'm pretty sure that Meikon, SeaFrogs, Mcoplus, Camdive, Kitdive and who knows who else are various fronts/brands for the same Chinese outfit. $450 is just normal price spread for Aliexpress - I don't know what the seller is hoping to achieve by advertising such a markup, but here you can get the same SeaFrogs branding (if that's what you're after) for $278, with a $12 discount at checkout. Meikon sells this strobe direct from their site for $299, and they also stock an electrical sync cord for compatible housings.
  2. Dunno, I found it trivial to use, and I'm the furthest thing from a graphics/media professional. Import your RAWs, use the spot white balance tool to adjust WB, play with highlight/shadows/exposure/brightness/contrast/saturation sliders until you like the way the picture looks, straighten if needed, pick your crop area, export to JPEG, done. Lens correction is applied automatically, so no need to worry about that.
  3. With a Sony camera, you have access to Capture One Express for Sony, which I found to be the easiest to use of all the free solutions that I've tried: https://www.phaseone.com/en/Download-Sony.aspx
  4. Not entirely sure, maybe something got onto the dome surface? I looked through that series of images and this blurred area seems to be tracking the same spot in the frame rather than the reef, but series taken before and after don't seem to have it. Edit: I think I know what it is - being stupid and new, I neglected to buy a cover for the wet lens, and ended up scratching it during shore entry/exit, several times - the dome is made of acrylic and is really really easy to scratch. I did use an acrylic polishing kit to buff the scratches out, but was not wholly successful. I think that blurred spot is the area I polished, and it only shows up in certain pictures because it's visible only at a certain focusing distance, or maybe light angle, or maybe something else. Regardless, I'm waiting for Meikon's new housing to come out to decide whether I get a replacement dome for my wet lens ($75) and a cover ($11), or a proper wet lens (maybe Kraken KRL-02, it's designed for 24mm equivalent), or abandon wet lenses altogether and move to a 10-18mm lens with a dome.
  5. I use this magnetic adapter with the wet lens, makes attaching/detaching it literally a snap: http://www.divervision.com/howshot-m67-magnetic-lens-mount-MG-M67.html Note, however, that Meikon wet dome is buoyant, and will float away if detached. I drilled a hole in one of the hood petals and attached it to the tray by a short lanyard. This way when I took it off in the water (mostly when trying and failing at something approximating a macro shot) it floated above the housing and didn't get in the way. I'm a very new diver, and the extent of my experience with underwater photography before this trip was a two-dive PADI underwater photography course I took half a year previously, with a Panasonic FX35 provided by the dive shop, so my pictures are by no means representative of the camera's capabilities.
  6. I recently acquired an A6300 with kit lens, a Meikon/SeaFrogs housing for it and two Archon D36V lights, used it on one trip so far (12 dives with the camera). Can't speak on 16-50's performance with a dome port - I used it with a flat port and a cheap wet dome in front of it, and my dive skills aren't up to shooting macro yet. Regarding battery, mine reliably lasted through three dives, shooting mostly bursts in Hi+ mode without flash (average 500 images per dive) and a little bit of video. Meikon is have announced a new housing for A6xxx series that will have a dry dome accommodating the 10-18mm lens, but it most likely won't be out in time for your trip.
  7. Gosh darn, this zoom gear costs almost as much as my entire housing If you're using A6500 with just the kit lens, are you sure you want to invest into an $1800 housing? I have the SeaFrogs housing for A6xxx series, using it with A6300 and the kit lens, and it's perfectly serviceable. Unless you're planning to dive deeper than 60M, or intend to invest several thousand dollars more into lenses and ports, NA-A6500 sounds like a massive overkill. Edit: I actually lowballed it - looking at Bluewater Photo, NA-A6500 with vacuum valve, 16-50mm port and zoom gear comes out to $2650. At this price, one could just get a spare camera (or two), as an insurance against flooding and still come out ahead.
  8. I don't have any experience with the ergonomics of Nauticam or Ikelite housings, although the 'rectangular box with buttons' shape of the latter does look quite awkward, but I do have the current-gen Meikon/SeaFrogs housing for A6xxx series, and the only thing I could fault it for, ergonomics-wise, is that the four-way controller doesn't work quite right in air (it functions perfectly underwater). It is lacking in features - fixed port with limited lens compatibility, no provisions for the EVF - but the forthcoming housing is supposed to address those, while keeping the low price point. Yes, Ikelite is cheaper than Nauticam, but between the housing, dome port, extension tube and zoom gear, it's still over $1500 - more than Meikon housing and SEL1018 lens together, for probably worse results (assuming Meikon housing does come to market and doesn't turn out to be a dog for whatever reason).
  9. This may be of interest to you - Meikon is, apparently, working on a new housing for Sony A6xxx series, this time with interchangeable ports: https://www.instagram.com/p/BaqfvabHTUB/ At their stated target price of $277, with probably $199 more for a dome port, you could get a housing, a port, and the Sony 10-18mm lens for less than a Nauticam housing alone.
  10. This may be of use to you (Google translate from Russian; I can translate bits if something is utterly incomprehensible): https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fforum.tetis.ru%2Fviewtopic.php%3Ff%3D10%26t%3D88687&edit-text= UWL-H100 28M67 is said to work with SEL1650 without vignetting.
  11. If you buy used and focus on macro, a used Sony A7 II body can be found for ~$900 or a bit less, a 90mm F/2.8 macro lens is another $700 or so, a Meikon housing is $140 on Aliexpress, and the KitDive port for this lens is $99 direct from Meikon - total $1840 for camera, lens and housing, give or take a hundred or two depending on what deals you find. Any lights, strobe or LED, will take you over the budget limit though.
  12. If you're set on full frame mirrorless, Sony is the only company producing this right now, with the A7 and A9 series. You can kinda sorta squeeze a used A7 II and a Meikon housing into $2k, but you'll be limited to 40m depth and only three port options (two flat and one dome). I ended up spending a bit over $2k on a Sony A6300, SeaFrogs (Meikon) housing, tray, arms, and two Archon LED lights.
  13. SeaFrogs (Meikon) housing for RX100 series (compatible with all five models) ticks all your boxes - small, light, rated to 60m, all controls accessible, has fiber optic connectors, 67mm threading for wet lenses.
  14. There is no such thing as 'IDE2' or 'IDE3'. The term 'IDE' stands for 'Integrated Drive Electronics' - it goes back to 1980s, when PC hard drives had a dedicated controller card which plugged into an ISA bus slot (I'm simplifying here for the sake of brevity) - Western Digital's IDE standard, released in 1986, moved this controller into the drive enclosure, and ran a derivative of the ISA bus protocol over a flexible ribbon cable. Years later, it was standardized as AT Attachment, or ATA. The standard was iterated with higher transfer speeds, growing from 16MB/s to 33MB/s, to 66MB/s, to 100MB/s and finally 133MB/s, until it was superseded by Serial ATA (SATA), which used the same command set, but communicated over a high-speed serial link rather than ATA's 80-wire parallel link. The first iteration of SATA was capable of transfer speeds up to 1.5Gbit/s (up to 150MB/s in practice due to protocol overhead), then SATA2 (2004) increased that to 3Gbit/s, and finally SATA3 (2009) went to 6Gbit/s. Note that even on its best day, a spinning drive is hard pressed to hit 200MB/s in linear transfer rate, and in actual usage, it's generally a tiny fraction of that, so the interface is very rarely a bottleneck for performance. For SSDs, of course, the story is different - modern SSDs can and do bump into the 600MB/s limitation of SATA3, which prompted the development of NVMe.
  15. The system you linked doesn't do RAID by itself - it's a JBOD, which stands for 'Just a Bunch Of Disks'. When connected, you'll see four separate 1.86TB drives plugged into your system. You can use MacOS Disk Utility to configure it as RAID0 (all space usable, no redundancy - one drive goes and all your data is gone) or RAID10 (half the space is reserved for redundancy). Depending on how that enclosure is built and on MacOS RAID stack, you might or might not see some performance gain over a single drive. Without extra software, you won't be able to do RAID5. However, for $800, you can get a single 2TB external SSD such as a Samsung T5 which is guaranteed to have much better performance than a box full of 7200rpm spinning rust.
  16. I ended up spending way more than I initially planned Looking at my shopping list, I got: Sony A6300 with kit lens (used, ebay) - $837.15 Extra battery, SD card, charger, bag (new, B&H) - $146.81 SeaFrogs (Meikon) housing - $253 Meikon wet dome - $99 Tray with two 8" arms and four clamps - $137.25 HowShot M67 magnetic adapter - $52.85 Two lanyards with clips (one for the camera, the other for the dome) - $10.76 Two Archon D36V lights - $469.28 Two 8"/60mm carbon fiber float arms - $72 Two extra clamps - $14.64 Eight Panasonic 18650B cells - $56.57 Nitecore i8 charger - $39.51 Total $2188.82, plus I got a Sony 18-200mm LE lens for general-purpose above-water usage for $318 (also used off ebay). Lights, batteries and float arms are still in the mail, so can't comment on them. I haven't yet had a chance to take the housing on a proper dive, but I did take it to the beach a couple times for a little snorkeling, just to make sure it works, which it mostly does On the positive side, even though I overspent, it still cost me less than a 'proper' setup from Nauticam et al, it takes pictures, didn't fog up and didn't leak. With a wet dome and tray (no arms or lights) buoyancy in salt water is almost perfectly neutral - left alone, it floats on the surface with just the balls on top of handles showing. I estimate that with lights and arms, it will be slightly negative, but I got this to keep it securely attached to the BCD at all times. The magnetic adapter makes taking the dome off and putting it back on in the water a literal snap, but holds on quite securely when attached. On the negative side, it's quite difficult to use in bright sunlight - the camera's screen washes out completely, while the EVF is only partially visible with a diving mask on and has to be turned on manually through menus - which are basically invisible on the screen. Also, the two dials on top of the camera (mode and aperture) contact the housing's knobs edge-to-edge, which means that the dials rotate in the direction opposite to the housing's knobs - not critical, but annoying, as it makes the markings on the mode knob thoroughly useless. I thought, initially, that the wet dome caused vignetting in corners, possibly due to the magnetic adapter placing the dome a few millimeters further from the port than it's meant to be, but then I realized that I wasn't applying lens correction when processing RAW files with RawTherapee - after I downloaded Adobe LCP, used it to retrieve the lens correction profile for the 16-50mm lens and applied it in RawTherapee, this issue went away, although I'm still learning how to build a proper workflow in that program. With the holidays coming on (Rosh ha-Shana/Sukkot), I think I'll take a few days to go down to Eilat for some proper diving - after that, I hope to post a full review.
  17. As a server/infrastructure admin in my day job, I have to stress a point: RAID is not a backup! RAID provides business continuance in the case of a certain class of failures, though it is by no means a guarantee by itself. Furthermore, RAID5 is the least reliable type of RAID besides RAID0 (which, by strict definition, is not RAID at all), especially as your arrays get bigger. To illustrate, imagine an 8-drive RAID5 array where a drive fails - you're immediately in degraded mode, where reads have to be reconstituted from parity data, and any additional drive failure kills your array dead. Then, once you replace the failed drive, or your hot-spare (if you have one) kicks in, the array, while still degraded, is put into maximum stress mode - the rebuild process reads all the data from all the drives to build the blocks on the new drive, and that's where one of three things can happen: (1) everything is fine, the array is rebuilt and you go back into normal mode, (2) another drive fails under stress (and drives from a single batch sometimes fail close together) and your array dies, or (3) as your data is rebuilt, a bad block is discovered on one of the remaining drives, and with redundancy gone, it cannot be rebuilt, resulting in a condition known as 'punctured stripe' - your array is still online, but some data is bad, and normally you will need to destroy the array, rebuild it with good drives and restore the data from backup. RAID6 avoids these two latter scenarios by computing two sets of parity data, which enables it to survive double disk failures - at the cost of higher overhead (lower performance) and lower raw space to usable space ratio. RAID10 (stripe of mirrors) has the highest performance, but also the worst raw to usable space ratio of the common RAID levels (only half of your raw space can be used), and it can survive most, but not all double-disk failures. To illustrate, in the same 8-drive array configured as RAID1, you have drives 1+2, 3+4, 5+6 and 7+8 configured as mirrors of each other, and then your data is striped across these four sets of mirrors. If drive 1 dies, the array can survive the failure of any drive other than drive 2 - better than RAID5 (which can survive no additional failures) but worse than RAID6 (which can survive any one additional failure). An important feature of any RAID system is proper maintenance and monitoring - drives have to be periodically scanned, and an administrator has to be alerted of any errors, in order to take immediate corrective action. In a home user scenario, unless your datasets are very very very large (tens of terabytes and up), there is little use for RAID. Almost inevitably, it will provide a false sense of security, while left unmaintained and will eventually die - taking your data with it. I have seen this scenario play out more than once. If your goal is data integrity, then instead of RAID, invest in a proper backup system, with versioning and off-site storage. Backblaze, for example, will let you back up unlimited data for just $50/machine/year. Unlike RAID, this will also protect you against data corruption, user errors, ransomware infections, hardware theft, site disasters, etc.
  18. I think the Meikon housing for A7II series, bought new, will run you a small fraction of a Nauticam and the likes, even used. You won't have the pressurization test system, and your port selection is limited to a single flat port and a single dome, but you get what you pay for.
  19. If you look under the 'feedback' tab here, someone has measured it to draw approximately 2.2A, which results in an output of some 600-800LM.
  20. Most reviews of Meikon housings indicate adequate construction quality - it seems like several years ago, they had some issues, but over time they've improved dramatically. Getting banged is not that worrisome - I tend to take fairly good care of my stuff - and if anything, a 10x difference in price would make me worry less about physical damage, as it would make broken gear that much easier to replace. My main worry about their housing for E-M1 is vignetting at wide angles - the port is designed to allow the 12-40mm lens to extend fully, thus it is long and fairly narrow, and reviews indicate that even with that lens, it starts to vignette around 17mm - if I go with a 12-50mm lens, which has internal zoom, it won't get closer to the front glass as it zooms in, making the effect even worse. It's no big deal for macro, but I suspect that wide angle capability would be even more limited than a compact. If only Olympus PT-EP11 wasn't so damn expensive...
  21. What are the advantages of G9X(II) over Sony RX100 IV or V, besides the cost? Reviews seem to be complaining about image quality, general performance, auto-focus performance, etc, plus it's touchscreen-driven, which becomes unavailable underwater. Between Paint.NET and Raw Therapee, I think I can make do with free alternatives for my basic needs.
  22. Last month, after taking my AOWD on Koh Tao in Thailand, I took PADI underwater photography specialty with a rented camera (Panasonic DMC-FX35) and instantly fell in love, so now I'm looking to put together my own setup for when I return to Koh Tao (and likely Ao Nang) sometime next year, or go down to Eilat this autumn. My target budget is $1000 - I can stretch it a bit, but not too much. Seeing as how even the old, small FX35 in the hands of a complete beginner took some decent photos, with the singular exception of being excruciatingly slow to focus, my criteria for building my own rig are: Fast autofocus, first and foremost - basically, I want to shoot fish heads rather than tails Ease of handling - I have a total of 22 dives in my logbook, so I'm not up to wrestling with a huge DSLR. Good performance in natural light - neither my budget nor my diving skills are sufficient to handle those multi-armed monsters the pros are carrying. Flexibility - as an amateur, I don't really know what I'm going to encounter on any given dive, so the ability to switch between wide-angle for a school of fish or a whale shark, to macro for some small critter would be quite nice. An upgrade path - a year or five down the road, I might decide that my skills have grown into my equipment and that I want more; if that happens, I would rather add to my equipment than replace and throw away. Usability as a general purpose vacation camera - this is fairly low on my list, as overall, my phone (Lumia 950) takes good enough pics; the only thing it really lacks is proper zoom, but a weather-sealed zoom camera to take on hikes for wildlife photos would be a nice bonus capability. I have no problem with buying used gear - the local market (Israel) is fairly small, but I get somewhat regular work trips to USA which I use to buy electronics at bargain prices (and smuggle them past customs). Obviously, on my budget, the big-name housings like Nauticam are right out and I'm pretty much restricted to Meikon. After reading, and reading and reading some more, I have narrowed down my list to the following options: Sony RX100 Mark V - as I understand it, the addition of phase-detection to contrast-detection autofocus makes it considerably faster to lock onto a subject than the previous RX100 models, which plays into my #1 selection criteria. It's also tiny, making for a relatively small housing that is easy to swim with, and it's said to take great video. However, it costs at least $750-800 used, and after adding a housing ($150 or so), there is almost nothing left of my budget for lights or other accessories. The small size would make it easy to pocket topside, but the limited zoom reach is not quite optimal for wildlife, and with the camera not being weather-sealed, I wouldn't want to get caught in a rain with it. Being a fixed-lens compact, the upgrade path is limited, but I think it would be sufficient for an amateur - I would be able to eventually add proper lights, plus a wide-angle wet dome and/or a macro diopter, and with the camera being so small, I'm guessing it'll still be easier to handle than a DSLR even with a lighting rig attached. Olympus OM-D E-M1 - a few years old by now, but reviews indicate excellent low-light autofocus performance and good control layout. Looking on eBay, it seems possible to find a used body for not much over $400, and with the Meikon housing being also around $150, this leaves me some $400-450 for lens(es) and accessories. The fixed port on the housing is large enough to accommodate the rather bulky 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, so most other lens choices (excepting the big telephoto ones and fish-eye of course) should also fit. The full weather-sealing, on both the camera and the lens, should give me some extra peace of mind both on dives (in case the housing has a small leak that isn't a full-on flood - and Meikon housings have a leak detector, so it may be possible to abort the dive and save the camera in such a scenario) and on hikes (in case of sudden rain). The sensor has somewhat fewer pixels than RX100, but with the overall sensor area being significantly larger, it should result in lower noise during low light conditions, plus of course there's the choice of more powerful lenses. Regarding lens choice - 12-40mm looks like a very good general-purpose lens, and it can be found under $500 used which would fit my budget, but exhaust it completely, leaving no room for even a focus light, although on the upside, it might be fast enough to make do without one. Oddly, I've seen mentions that it is not considered a popular choice for underwater use - is it because that in this price range, underwater photographers move into dedicated lenses (macro/fish-eye) over general-purpose ones, or is it something else? The 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens is a great deal cheaper - I can see eBay listings where it sold for under a hundred - leaving room in my budget for a proper light, or maybe a wet dome. I could even get a 40-150mm zoom lens for topside use, as those seem to be available for relative peanuts ($50 or less) used. The 12-50mm lens appears to have a dedicated macro mode, but reading the reviews and forum discussions, it appears to be impossible to engage underwater, as it requires manipulating the focus ring on the lens itself; however, the full zoom range seems to be available from the camera's controls, and since it does not extend forward when zooming, there is no danger of it bumping into the port - am I understanding this correctly? Obviously it won't produce the same photos as the more expensive 12-40mm under the same lighting conditions, but being that much cheaper, I should be able to pair it with something like a single YS-01 strobe, and maybe a cheap video light on the cold shoe to aid focusing - how would it compare to 12-40mm given those advantages? There is also the option of 60mm macro lens, which, going by dimensions, should also fit the port, but it's expensive and limiting to a certain kind of photos, so I think that one belongs on the upgrade path rather than initial purchase. The port on the Meikon housing for E-M1 appears to not have a native capability to accept 67mm attachments, but I came across this post showing it being used with a wet dome using a clamp/flip adapter. However, Meikon website lists this adapter as compatible only with Canon DSLR housings, so I'm somewhat confused - is that just a listing oversight, or do their Canon DSLR and Olympus E-M1 ports differ in outside diameter? To add to the confusion, Aliexpress lists this adapter ($34) as compatible with 600D/650D/700D, while this one ($85) is listed as compatible with all those and other models, including the E-M1 - are they not the same thing? Given a choice between a moderately powerful light to aid focusing and maybe some video (like this one) and a wet dome lens, which one is the more useful accessory, overall? I understand it's an apples-and-oranges comparison, and ideally (likely eventually) I will get both, but which one is a better initial investment? I have also considered Sony A5100/A6000/A6300, but have taken them off my list of prospective choices as their auto-focus capability, while excellent in bright light, is said to drop off dramatically in dimmer underwater conditions, nor are their lenses weather-sealed.
  23. Hello, Boris from Israel here. Got bitten by UW photography bug using a rented camera on a trip to Thailand last month. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get my own setup without breaking the bank. Found this site while scouring Google for useful info.
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