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Are They Pro quality image wise???

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Hey Jon - long time No talk!!! :D

 

I was talking with Rodger Klein on Saturday and he highly recommended the INON strobes due to their compact size with a housed camera. Seems that 4 of them weighs as much as a single Ike 200!!!

 

If you're going to choose between the Eos and D70 - go Nikon - it's a better built camera. The EOS feels like a disposable camera.

 

On a side note I'm not going with either.. LOL

 

I've decided to go with 2 Olympus E-300's, 2 lenses, vertical battery grips and strobe, along with the dedicated housing - the grips for shooting above water.

 

I will then eventually get a second port and upgrade to the 7-14 (equiv to 14-28mm in 35mm), 11-22 lens (Equiv to 22-44 in 35mm) or even the 8mm Fisheye and dome port.

 

Sure it goes against the grain with the majority here, but I've concluded based upon my research, Olympus has the right idea by developing the whole system from scratch. Partnering with Koday, Sigma, Sanyo and Fuji on the 4/3 format. Their explination of standard lenses -vs- digital specific ones was an eye opener. Sure you can use your eos and nikkor lenses on any digital body, but you aren't going to get near the sharpness except with the digital specific lenses - especially at the edges.

 

I like the compactness of the Evolt E-300 and the cost of acquiring that setup, along with 8MP resolution and the housing will just be over budget by no more than $400.

 

Sure the other cameras and housing are nice, but we're talking practical here and I need to squeeze every dime out of my budget I can.

 

Regarding your 5050 - Have you looked at the dome port for the INON??? It is said to allow over/under shots without any problems. Might be a cost effective solution...

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I have the dome port- per your reccomednation last time. :D It works great underwater and for selfportaits- when you can't find a buddy. The problem is when trying to take a split shot you need to angle the housing just right or the water starts to leak back out of the space inbetween the housing and the lens attachment. A DSLR housing wouldn't have that gap inbetween where the add-on lens attaches so it would be easier to use.

 

How big is the e300? How big is the housing to go with it? I am still looking for small and am not interested in dragging strobes along. I looked at the d50 and the d70 and have read differing opinions on which is better- some people have the idea the 50 is better, but since the 70 costs more I would think that it has more features that would be nice to have.

 

With the vis we have around here most of the time I would just be looking for one lens- a 10.5 in the case of the nikon and whatever is the equivilent in any other camera. I stated looking at the eos 350 after reading Fred's raves about the D-20. Who makes the housing for the e300?

 

Jon

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Olympus makes their own housing for it.. You can take a look at it here...

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Can I ask how much you paid for the E300 housing and dome port? I was considering that earlier but just couldn't justify the cost for as little diving as I do.

 

PS..not to enter the fray but if I were to sit through the Boston Symphany's worst performance of the year, I would never know it. :D However, I have worked with those people who take their hobby seriously and can distinguish the slightest deviation from perfection. These types make great musicians and I'm sure that holds true for photography as well. So while the professionals might argue quality of the photo, I'll lend my common vote to the artistic impression left on the reader who is left in awe by its magnificence.

 

Gary

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OK Cliff,

 

I've had a chance to look at some reviews of the E300. I have a couple of questions.

 

First, why not the newer E500? Is it because Olympus doens't have a housing yet, just Ikelite, or is there something else wrong with the camera?

 

Second, some of the reviews say that it has a slower write time to CF if your shooting in RAW mode- and write time does matter when your diving on a single breath of air. :D

 

Third, I also read that it isn't as sharp at higher ISO ratings- above 400.

 

Having said all of that I LOVE the camera! It is much more within my budget and is also smaller and lighter- both very important for freediving photography! I also like the looks of the Olympus case- and the fact that it's good to 60 meters!

 

Jon

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OK Cliff,

 

I've had a chance to look at some reviews of the E300. I have a couple of questions.

First, why not the newer E500? Is it because Olympus doens't have a housing yet, just Ikelite, or is there something else wrong with the camera?

Nothing wrong with the camera - just that there wasn't a housing other than Ike's... But I did feel that the E-300 did have some time out in the world and so had been a little more proven, same as the E-1

Second, some of the reviews say that it has a slower write time to CF if your shooting in RAW mode- and write time does matter when your diving on a single breath of air. :D

I think that when one is shooting images, one preplans as much as possible and then hopes for the best. But according to specs - it can shoot RAW/TIFF 4 frames at a pop. It's no Canon DII or Nikon D2X, but I am a firm believer in editing in the camera - just because you aren't shooting film doesn't give one license to shoot just for the sake of shooting. Edit in the camera. Make it difficult for you or your photo editor to pick the best images.

Third, I also read that it isn't as sharp at higher ISO ratings- above 400.
Only the high end pro cameras are going to give good image quality at the higher ISO ratings - Besides, I don't plan on shooting much below 10-15 meters while freediving - most of the light is going to fall off below that anyways. And I do plan on shooting with at least one strobe anyways, so...
Having said all of that I LOVE the camera! It is much more within my budget and is also smaller and lighter- both very important for freediving photography! I also like the looks of the Olympus case- and the fact that it's good to 60 meters! 

That was my feeling about the camera. I think Olympus is still getting a feel for the underwater realm for shooters, but from what I can see they are making a serious effort to meet a need that Nikon abandoned when they dropped the Nik V and RS.

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One other very cool thing aobut the E300 is the self cleaning ccd.

 

Have you found a price on the housing yet- as long with the dome port and fisheye lens?

 

It looks to be around the same size as my 5050. I shoot fish stuff in 10 meters of water, but like to wreck dive with it in 20-30 meters of water. Hitting the deeper stuff means a smaller camera, and ability to take more shots while I'm down there, more important that if I was tank diving.

 

Jon

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Spoke with National Geographic photographer, David Doubelet on the phone this morning and he had some great insights on shooting underwater.

 

He is still shooting film most of the time while on assignment although slowly making the transition to digital. Of course due to his heavy investment in Nikon, he is going to their bodies. The thing that shocked me was his personal recommendation NOT to shoot Canon.

 

When it came to film, he said the Nik V with 15mm lens was the U/W Leica rangefinder equivilent - said no other setup (film or digital) could come close to the resolution that lens has. He also said he has noticable softening and chromatic abberation at the edges when shooting non-digital designed lenses and as such, has to shoot with only the center in mind when using his digital bodies.

 

His setup is a mix of film and digital bodies, 10 in all with housings, lenses, strobes, etc... Really nice guy - was very fortunate to get his insights.

 

Needless to say, it only solidified in my mind the choice of going with Olympus due to their design from the ground up philosophy.

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I don't know whether you ever view www.robgalbraith.com, if not you might find some very interesting comments amongst the vast amount of info available within the forums regarding lenses and digital.

 

Whilst I don't want to get involved in any sort of wrangling over better/worse equipment can I just state the following:

 

Canon and Nikon now produce substantially differing systems - FF and the smaller sensors do produce different results (they are akin to film 645 cameras and 35mm cameras). In my experience the FF Canons like to be used at wider apertures and when used appropriately can produce a stunning bokeh with some lenses. The new Nikons have a 'better' depth of field due to their smaller format as will, I assume, the Olympus.

 

The Canon FF cameras show up every flaw in lenses - especially wides. Since the Nikonos 15mm can only be used with film (unless someone is very good on DIY) it cannot be directly compared to digital and it is now, a relatively old design.

 

All this said, these are differences which by the look of the posts here are not as significant as other factors, but are points which I feel should be put on the record.

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This is a great thread! Definitely homepage material, I'll be adding it soon. What I'm seeing is a general consensus that when it comes to DSLR and Compact Digicams neither one is "better" it just depends on what you need it for.

 

Thom Hogan often talks about how Galen Rowell used a 35mm camera for his nature photography, instead of a MF setup. Everyone else was using a MF setup because of it's better image quality (due to a bigger "sensor" lol). Galen was able to get much better shots with the 35mm setup because he could get his camera where no photographer would be able to lug a MF setup - like hanging off the side of El Cap. in Yosemite valley or out the window of a helicopter or light plane flying over a herd of wildebeast, etc.

 

The compact vs dslr setup is much of a muchness.

 

Sometimes, the DSLR setup is just too big. Let's keep in mind that this thread was started by a freediver - so for him, a compact setup is everything. After that, all he needs is acceptable image quality and shutter lag and he will get the goods.

 

This is not the case for the majority of recreational divers though. Oftentimes, the shot is there and then it's gone, so shutter lag is important. We won't get a chance to try again when the next freediver comes down. We also shoot in a much less ideal situation - most freediving events are in pretty clear water (except for poor Lambis!) where you can use a low ISO and the water will still look smooth. Diving in California, Australia, or the PNW, blue or green water backgrounds can look very "dirty" as noise is accentuated by the dark waters and the floating particulates.

 

In any case, it all comes down to the old mantra 'the right tool for the right job.' I agree with what Alex said. To paraphrase: If you capture a photo of mating whalesharks, it won't matter what camera you used - the photo will sell. But if there are two identical shots, one taken with a DSLR and one with a compact - the editor will choose the DSLR shot every time. They won't even have to know which shot was taken with which camera, they'll just pick and it will be the taken by the photographer w/ the boatanchor.

 

Cheers

James

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I should state though that even though I am a freediver, Image quality is important enough that I am considering lugging a housed camera due to the added capabilities. Once the ideas were bounced around here in this thread, as well as chatting privately with other pro's, I realized that the point and shoot option would be great for snapshots, but not for serious work. Fortunately, I train enough at the gym to maintain my cardio fitness for freediving. I am scheduled to head off in January to train with a world reknowned freedive coach to get some added depth/time while shooting and freediving.

 

I also do tank dive - my poseidon regs and BC along with my Northern Diver Drysuit will get used with this setup as well, hence the decision to actually go DSLR.

 

Yes, I have been to Rob's sight, it was a major resource for me regarding Nikon DSLR's. But never being one to Trust experts outright, I decided to do my own research and discovered that there are some very real advantages to the Olympus system that could not be ignored.

 

It wil be interesting to be the "Odd Man Out" so to speak as compared to the shooters using Nikon and Canon, but hey, I've been a non-conformist my whole life - why change now.. :D

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James makes an interesting point. I'd not really considered the way that the 'shallower' depth of field from my FF Canon interacted with the 'green' water and suspended particulates, but of course it does and in a way which I personally like. Given that I usually operate in less than perfect conditions this is an advantage to me.

 

For freediving photography (which I have as yet not attepted) I would be interested to hear how the compacter cameras cope. Having seen some excellent results from such a camera recently, I can see that there are potential advantages. My concerns have always been to do with the absolute focus accuracy of such cameras (and for my sort of photographer still is), so I will be interested to read this thread as it (hopefully) continues and feedback is posted.

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As a Freeiviing Photographer I can only say one thing about the compactes myth off compact cameras.

I have beginn with a Oly 5050 with a olympus housing Now i have a Nikon D70s with nexus housing.

 

My new setups is not bigger that the old one.. I fell it smaller underwater.. Its easear to use the buttons are on the correct place and everything is going smooth

 

Try to do Manual white balance with the Olympus 5050 just with one hand... imposible...

 

The DSLR Setup have not just the advantage off using better sensors or lenses. the biggest advandage is the AF system & ergonomy. The ergonomy that help you using the camera underwater without to thing 2 times how and where this funktion is..

 

With my Olympus i have fight all the time with my camera.. losing photos becauce of shutter lag or because its take time to chainge some settings.. with my nikon everything is going fast and easy. from the first day.. The problems that I have is low contrast and wrong port :-( but this have nothing to do with the choice or a DSLR system

 

Cliff look at the autofocus system on your Olympus. i think they have 3 red sensors. AF is very importand for freediving photography.. you just have not the time and peace to play around with camera settings.

 

lambis

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It's about time you chimed in here Lambis! :D

 

It's nice ot hear that the housed D70 isn't that much bigger than the olympus you used to use- and I still do. Considering how small the 5050 is I was a bit taken aback when I saw how big my housing was! If there isn't that much of a difference is size, but a big difference in write speed and a reduction in high ISO noise I would consider it worth trading up- just have to convince the wife. :D

 

Since I don't use strobes the higher ISO settings look pretty attractive to me. Not having to carry around a strobe to offset a camera with poor low light capabilites would more than offset a slightly larger housing.

 

Cliff, I have now spent all of my freetime in the past day looking up info on your E300. Checking out prices on the Olympus housing and lenses, especially once you add in dome ports, seems to come out to be much more than putting a D70 in an Ikelite housing. I am still waiting to check on my shops current status as a Sea+sea dealer to check about getting into one of those instead. I can understand your excitement about a lens designed for a digital camera, but the other factors, which I stated above, have me leaning towards a D70.

 

Now, after reading through a lot of other threads on here, and seeing some Nikonos RS systems being blown-out on ebay for $1,500 ( that's gotta hurt! :rolleyes: ) I am thinking that there should be some used D70 systems comming onto the market by spring (Lambis? :) ) that we should be able to pick up once the D200's hit the market and people start 'Jonesen' for the next new toy.

 

Here's a shot that could have benifited from a higher ISO rating- and a faster write speed since I took it while freediving.

 

Jon

post-1084-1134509707_thumb.jpg

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Split level shots are possible with my inon dome lens, but you really have to angle the camera just right so the water doesn't drain out. I also don't have the different diopeters on my lens like you can do with a dome port housing. This would make a big difference in this kind of shot where the surface is VERY bright, since the ground is covered with snow and the sun is shining, and the water is VERY dark, because of the snow cover blocking out sunlight to the lake below.

 

Jon

post-1084-1134510378_thumb.jpg

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On the subject of image quality, one of the things that I really like about the larger Raw file that I get from my FF is the ability to post process - the quality extractable from 10MPixel+ files astonishes me. This image started off as a bit of fun but prints amazingly well:

post-1587-1134511037_thumb.jpg

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I have found this thread extremely helpful and informative. As a (very) novice photgrapher with a wife who is a pro, I am learning more and more about shooting. I recently upgraded from a Sealife setup (I know, the typical cheap entry for those who know nothing) this was a GREAT learning system for me and I was able to upgrade from the original film version and continue to move up as they increased to digital and then add a second strobe. I did not get their new 5mp camera as I felt the strobes left a lot to be desired and the ability to manipulate exposure and such as poor at best.

 

I just (yesterday) received my Ikelite housing for my Nikon coolpix 5400. For me, this is a perfect step up as I did not have to purchase a new camera, just the housing and DS-125 strobe. I find this setup to be an excellent learning system with the ability to push files to my wife if I find I may want to print one or two.

 

A couple of questions for those old pros out here:

 

1. The write-lag on the RAW format for the 5400 is extreme - I am wondering what sort of quality loss I will have if I take largest size .jpgs instead. (Yes, my wife told me I am crazy as she never works from compressed files when printing) She cannot answer this question as she hasn't tried it. So, it would be an experiment to try.

 

2. Once I become comfortable with this type of setup, I have a feeling that I will want to begin working with an SLR. The Mrs has a D100 and is salivating for the D200 so I would not even have to buy a new one. Any thoughts on the (other than obvious as already posted here) major advantages of going that route, versus a high-quality p/s with faster recovery in the RAW format?

 

Thanks in advance if my questions seem rediculous - I am learning - always learning.....

 

Jim

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Always RAW!!!! If the write-lag on the RAW format is slow just wait untill you get a good composition

 

abou the second quastion . try a search in Wetpixel. this question is aswered by the pros 100 of times..

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As I thought - I will definitely have to ensure I get a larger card(s) and take those 14MB pics ;)

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Personally, I would never sacrifice camera responsiveness for the marginal increase in image quality raw will give you. Shooting high end dSLRs, this sacrifice is not necessary, so I tend to shoot raw+JPEG. For example however, I just returned from a month shooting in Australia, and in total I reverted to the RAW file on all of 3 images. How many shots would you miss in a month of shooting if you camera was slowed by raw? And how many hours at the computer will you spend refining the image rather than in the water?

 

Raw is a great tool, but I believe it is only worth it if there is are no other compromises - ie fast camera AND computer!

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More on topic - I captured an amazing turtle image 3 years ago, a shot of a lifetime. As it became very popular it was used on a local dive brochure and some other items. Somtimes recognition and credibility can grow around a single images, but this one screeched to a halt at the small print level because of the blue - water noise that the camera produced. The water was properly exposed, yet there is disturbing noise in the image that is tough to remove.

 

In fact, the image won an HM in the Nature's best awards endangered species, but if you check out the magazine you'll noticed that they printed it smalller than the other images - all shot either on film or dSLRs.

 

I have been approached to use this image for DEMA billboards by a high paying client who viewed it on the web - just coulden't make it look good at large sizes.

 

 

Hence, my point is - when you've captured that special image (and you never know when that will be) you'll wish you caught it on the most effective medium possible. But better to catch it on sub-optimal media (JPEG) than not at all (slow RAW).

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The B&W I posted illustrates the RAW point precisely - its a composite produced from 2 x RAW Images (via 3 layers) shot several thousand miles apart. Obviously there was a lot of adjustment which had to be made in order to 'match' the images. Although this could have been carried out with jpegs I doubt that the finished file would match quite so well as there would probably be differences in the tonality, (I can print this to 30x20in with no problems). The point about RAW is that it imposes far less limits on post processing than does jpeg, but does require post processing by its very nature. If you want to shoot 'straight', rely on your abilities to fine tune all parameters in-camera, and want to minimise computer time stick with jpeg. Otherwise......

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Well, I have a different background.

 

I switched over to an affordable Fuji F810 early this year. (BTW, the new E900 is a good improvement and fixes the battery issues and has a bigger screen.) The saturation and macro/CU images are very sharp. Here in the PNW, we don't have a lot of opportunities to shoot WA due to viz conditions.

 

But I just got back from a liveaboard trip to Mexico's Revellagegos Islands.

 

My experience is in terms of lens/sensor issues is that at ISO 100 I was forced to use a med/large aperture to shoot CF/WA and have some background. This made chroma issues much worse. If I added the Inon WA it got terrible, with blue lines around the critters. Even shooting RAW it was pretty bad. I fiddled with some settings, and at the end of the week I got better results, but still I had a lot of problems with it.

 

Macro and fish portraits work fine. Using the Inon macro lens works great, maybe even less chroma (?). But reefscapes can be an issue.

 

 

Jack

 

 

Sorry...feel like an idiot...but by "chroma issues" do you mean the overwhelming blue cast? How does a DSLR help these. I shoot with an Oly E-1 on land, but use a 5050 underwater, and had almost no "blue" probs in the PNW (Queen Charlotte and Johnson Strait, off Vancouver Island), but they really killed my Dominica and most of my Galapagos shots.

 

 

erichK

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Pretty sure Jack is referring to issues of Chromatic Aberration.

 

The issues of blue cast you mention are probably due to being to far from the subject, not enough strobe power, too low an aperture setting, or a combination of the three.

 

The most common reason not to have these problems in the PNW is that the visibility is much less, and the water is green.

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Pretty sure Jack is referring to issues of Chromatic Aberration.

 

Yes, a lens/sensor issue, usually a "purple fringe" around high contrast detail. Bigger sensors and better lenses tend to reduce it quite a bit. Varies from camera to camera.

 

Jack

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