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bjf123

Sea & Sea DX-8000G

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I just got back from a week of diving in St. Lucia. We stayed at Anse Chastanet and dove with Scuba St. Lucia. After almost 20 years of diving with my trusty Nikonos V and Ikelite Substrobe 150, I had my first trip with a digital setup, the Sea & Sea DX-8000G, and the Sea & Sea YS-25 Auto strobe. I'm still downloading the photos (over 500), but wanted to post my thoughts on the system while it's fresh in my mind. The first thing that I noticed is obviously the smaller size. The Ikelite strobe alone was almost as big as the entire Sea & Sea set up! My preferred lens with the Nikonos was the 20mm. With the S&S, I found I used the standard zoom feature most of the time. I do have the 0.6x wide angle converter for the S&S, too. I only used this for people shots or scenics (coral formations, sponges, etc.).

 

The first few days, I shot everything with the camera set on Auto. I figured it made sense to see how the system handled things without my help. While the images looked OK on the screen, when downloaded to a friend's PC, I found the colors to be lacking and the exposures to be rather washed out. Everything was in focus, and the colors were there most of the time. They just looked blah. I then went to fully manual for the rest of the week. I found setting the apeture to 4.7 at the wide end, which corresponded to 8.0 when zoomed in all the way, and the shutter at 1/100 seemed to work best. When we downloaded some of these images, the colors looked much better. This was what I was used to seeing with my Nikonos! With this setup, there were a few new things I had to remember, but with the system being digital, I knew as soon as I took the picture that I forgot something. I needed to remember to adjust the strobe to match the apeture on the camera. If I had the camera at wide, but left the strobe at f8, the image would be way over exposed. At the same time, if I was shooting zoomed in, but still had the strobe at f4.7, the image would be mostly black. The other thing I forgot to set sometimes was the macro setting. I would quickly realize it when the camera wouldn't focus on the subject.

 

Night dives were certainly a challenge. With my Nikonos setup, the Ikelite strobe had a built in modeling light. That was my dive light on night dives. Clearly that wasn't an option now, so I had to keep the camera in one hand and a dive light in the other. If I was close enough to my wife and her UK1200 light, I'd turn mine off and use the huge light output from the UK. However, I quickly discovered that I had to have a light pointed on the subject to see it in order to aim and focus the camera. With the old Ikelite strobe, it simply overpowered any lights that might be on the subject when I took the picture. The YS-25 strobe was not strong enough to overcome the light output from my wife's UK1200, so on a few shots, there's a hot spot where her light was shining. We finally worked out that if she was lighting the subject, she'd do so until I had the shot composed, at which time I'd nod and she'd move the light off the subject. If I was by myself, I'd aim my smaller light on the subject to compose the shot and then move the light away before hitting the shutter release. This introduced a new issue. Even though I was trying to keep the camera pointed at the same spot, once the light is moved off, I'd sometimes change my aim just enough to get the subject not quite where I wanted. Oh well.

 

One last thing on the YS-25 strobe. On some of the shots using the wide angle converter, the strobe didn't have enough coverage to fully light some of the larger coral / sponge formations. Of course, the strobe is so small, I might just get a second and shoot with two.

 

I've got 515 images to go through. When I get some of the better ones posted to one of my web sites, I'll post a link so you can see the results. I'll post the images unedited, so you'll see them as they came off the card. The water had a lot of particulate matter in it due to some heavy rains, so I'm going to have to learn how to edit those things out of some of the images.

 

If I think of anything I forgot to mention, I'll add to this thread. If you have any questions, fire away!

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I went to Roatan in March just after purchasing this camera. the first day took pictures that I thought looked pretty good. I decided to take a lesson from the photo teacher at the resort since I was new to digital underwater. So glad I did, first of all with digital 90% of the pictures I take I don't use the flash at all, which elimates all that back scatter. At night I agree, I would set up my pictures, turn my light away and usually I found I had moved the camera a bit.

The best thing I like on this camera is the manual white balance!!!!! I took a white slate with me and would show the camera what color white was at the depth I was at, got beautiful pictures with true color and no flash. I find this amazing little camera. I did shoot with a Nikonos III with two strobes before and got great macro with that set up. The macro on the Sea and Sea DX8000G wasn't as close, but found I could live with that. I think anyone who wants good pictues with a small set up would be very pleased with this camera. Before I bought this camera I had not read any reviews on how is takes pictues on land. Well it is great and the macro setting is perfect, you can get within one inch. I found the macro setting underwater not great, just a small movement on your part and the picture didn't come out. What is great about digital, is that you can edit right than, deleting the bad ones and adjusting your camera to make a better picture.

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The best thing I like on this camera is the manual white balance!!!!! I took a white slate with me and would show the camera what color white was at the depth I was at, got beautiful pictures with true color and no flash.

I never thought of that. I'll have to remember it for my next dive trip.

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Thanks for the reports bjf123 and Nancy. Look forward to seeing your pics when you get them processed/sorted.

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Here's a link to a gallery I've posted showing some of the shots from the DX-8000G system. These are all unedited, straight from the camera. The reason is the dive shop where my wife works is having a sale / show this weekend, and I wanted to create a gallery they could use to show people the capabilities of the system before post processing. The last image is me.

Edited by bjf123

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thanks for the review - good to hear (& see) someone's getting favourable results, although the detail on needing lots of manual work is a bit disappointing (& confirms my fears).

 

i got an 8000G about 3 months ago after using a little sony dsc-p3 for a couple of years. the sony is slow (shutter speed), low-capacity and has no optical zoom (want macro? go closer :blush: ). but for all that it gave me some fairly nice results, and 'snapping" pics of things would often work quite well - the auto focus was pretty good.

 

i mainly got the 8000G for the high shutter speed, but also the fact that consumables for the sony are getting rare - it only takes the old memory stick (memory stick pro wont work) and they are expensive and limited to 128MB.

 

so - the 8000G give me good capacity (2GB+), optical zoom, and super-fast shutter speed. but, unfortunately the results haven't been anywhere near what i was expecting.

 

the biggest trouble i'm having is focus - the sony seemed pretty good at picking up the right focal depth and making the subject sharp so long as i was fairly stable. the sea&sea is coming up with way more blurry shots.

 

to get decent pics out of the sea & sea, i have to take it waaaay out of the default mode (like bjf123 described): into aperture priority, spot metering, enhanced colour, manual strobe settings (it flashes too often in auto, blasting the scene), and even manual focus!

 

some other things:

- no RAW format mode (but giant, slow TIFF)

- built-in strobe in really bad spot

- no pre-flash illumination

- movies in AVI format (big, not recognised by iPhoto)

- additional software needed for file transfer on mac (and that sofwtare is slow)

 

 

the (lack of) pre-flash illumination is proving a real drag - as bjf123 described in low light situations you need to do a lot of work with torches etc to get your subject.

 

now bear in mind that one reason i got this model was the fast shutter speed - so i could get mores pics of the front of fish than their tails or the space where they used to be. but if i have to spend a long time setting up & focussing it seems that benefit is kind of lost.

 

 

i'm really keen to make this camera work for me as effortlessly as the old sony did, so i'd love to hear any hints or suggestions people may have for this unit.

 

at present i don't have the arm/strobe setup - just the basica camera with built-in strobe. am i going to need to invest more to make it fully usable?

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I've had similar frustrations with the 8000G. My biggest frustration was waiting for the flash to charge and losing tons of shots; found I had to change batteries after almost every dive. (Regular Duracells) I made the change to DSLR and now only use the Sea&Sea for family pics or to carry on a dive when I am not specifically diving to take photographs. Also friends borrow it a lot when they go diving.

 

I think you will definitely have to add a strobe for getting any really well lit shots.

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thanks for the review - good to hear (& see) someone's getting favourable results, although the detail on needing lots of manual work is a bit disappointing (& confirms my fears).
I'm assuming you're referring to my taking pictures with the camera in a manual mode. Since I was used to doing this with my Nikonos, I don't see this as a big negative.

 

the biggest trouble i'm having is focus - the sony seemed pretty good at picking up the right focal depth and making the subject sharp so long as i was fairly stable. the sea&sea is coming up with way more blurry shots.
Even in full auto, I didn't really have much trouble with shots being in focus. The exposure was more the issue. I never really had to use manual focus for anything.

 

some other things:

- built-in strobe in really bad spot

- movies in AVI format (big, not recognised by iPhoto)

- additional software needed for file transfer on mac (and that sofwtare is slow)

Any built in strobe or pop up flash is not a good idea for UW photography. You really need a separate strobe on an extension arm. Which version of iPhoto are you using? The movies show up in my iPhoto (Version 6.0.4). When I double click on them, QuickTime starts to actually play them. I don't use any special software to transfer the images to my Mac. I just put the memory card in a card reader I have and iPhoto starts right up. I've never tried transferring directly from the camera. I use the same card reader to transfer images from my Nikon D70, too.

 

 

My biggest frustration was waiting for the flash to charge and losing tons of shots; found I had to change batteries after almost every dive. (Regular Duracells)

I never really noticed having to wait for the strobe. Now, I never tried taking multiple shots in Continuous Mode. I was able to take 2 or 3 in a row fairly quickly without needing to wait. I used standard Duracells in the strobe, and replaced them every two dives.

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I thought the pictures came out really nice.. Can you pass on the settings you had at set on the camera? also, what settings did you use for the land based pictures? those were beautiful, I just purchased this camera and am looking for some good advice/settings before I go diving.

 

I have a Cannon Powershot S2IS that I love, but the only housing I could get was from Ikelite at 700.00.. so for 200.00 more I got a very nice camera and housing..

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated..

 

Peace.

Joepb22@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Here's a link to a gallery I've posted showing some of the shots from the DX-8000G system. These are all unedited, straight from the camera. The reason is the dive shop where my wife works is having a sale / show this weekend, and I wanted to create a gallery they could use to show people the capabilities of the system before post processing. The last image is me.

 

 

 

Can you explain the manual white balance and the white slate??

 

I never thought of that. I'll have to remember it for my next dive trip.

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Most of the UW shots were taken with the shutter set at 1/80. That was the closest to the 1/90 setting I was used to with my Nikonos. The strobe was set to full power. The f-stop varied depending on the focal length / zoom. The land shots were taken using the built in landscape mode. I did nothing with the white balance.

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I was hours away from pulling the plug and dropping $1900 on this DX-8000G islander package setup, now I'm not so sure.

After seeing BJF123's photos I'm a little disappointed. Dont get me wrong, they are very nice photos BJF, but I think I was expecing more from this camera for the big price tag.

 

I've been using a Canon SD500 with Canon houseing, no strobe, and I think the picture quality is as as good. The SD500 is a 7.1 mp with good electronics and rather fast. Although not as fast as the DX-8000G I'm sure. With a fresh battery and flash I can take a picture every 3 seconds with its highest resolution setting. But I do have to change litheum batteries between dives for the flash not to slow down.

 

Its my understaning from reading, and from talking with a friend who has this camera, buying the upgraded litheum battery makes the DX-8000G camera very fast and one charged battery will last him 2 days of diving.

Now that is impressive. I just dropped by a dive shop and although they did not have the 8000G in stock, they did have the 750G with the YS-25 auto strobe and arm and I could not believe how light it was. The whole setup felt as light as my canon without a strobe and arm. Now that is impressive!

 

I wish Nancy would drop back by this forum and post some pictures with her DX-8000G. I would like to point out, she said that 90% of her pictures are without flash and she adjusts the white balance. Now I agree with that in shallow water of 10 to 15ft and bright sun, but once you start going deeper you loose to much color and most pictures have to much blue or green color to them.

I did a lot of snorkeling in Brazil, Florida and Hawaii this past 5 months, and my Canon was great for snorkeling without flash. Then I recently got scuba certified and I discovered how important flash is once you get deeper then 15ft feet. Although I did not play around with the white balance adjustment. Now I wish I had of after reading her comment.

 

Here is a great example I took at only 35-40 ft. on a sunny day. These pictures are the same coral, fish, and scuba divers in the background. One without built in flash, one with flash (no strobe) on a point and shoot Canon SD500. All settings left on auto.

 

 

post-7082-1160714965_thumb.jpg

Edited by vortexted

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post-7082-1160715057_thumb.jpg

 

As you can see this coral and fish are far more vibrant then the camera was showing without the flash.

 

This is partially what has prompted me to looking into buying a new camera setup with strobe now that I'm into scuba and not just snorkeling.

 

I'm really curious, those of you that have purcahsed the DX-8000G are you happy with the cameras picture quality and strobe? I personally prefer the smaller point and shoot cameras so an SLR does really not interest me.

The other option I'm thinking about is just adding a strobe to my Canon, and spending all that extra money on a JVC HD video cam and houseing. Oh decisions, decisions.

Thanks

-Ted

Edited by vortexted

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As a DX-8000 owner, I would not buy one again. It's OK, can get good pics etc, but I think that you can get better value using a Fuji, Nikon, Olympus POS and dedicated housing. I think there are better point and shoots out there for the money. The Sea&Sea 8000 is apparently a Ricoh.

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The Canon SD series cameras are nice, but they are "point and shoot" only. You cannot set the aperture or shutterspeed yourself. With the DX8000g you can shoot it in manual or aperture priority, which I like.

 

Like loftus says, it's a total beginner setup, or good for someone who wants a "pret a porte" system - as opposed to piecing everything together from scratch.

 

Cheers

James

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I've just finishe a couple of dives with my DX8000G and have too say that I am quite pleased with it.. Have some very nice shots and also took some very cool video of an Octopus and a couple of lionfish.. granted it's not gonna win any contests but it definetly meets my needs, and if they are this good to start with I'm sure the pics will get even better..

 

I have a Cannon S2IS which I love but the only underwater housing is from Ikelite and is 750.00 so for 150.00 more I got a very very nice 8.1 megapixel camera and a nice compact underwater housing...

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I decided to give the DX-8000G a try since I found the camera,housing, and YS-25 Auto strobe entire package for around $1290 from www.bhphoto.com . Still a hefty price tag for a point and shoot but hopefully it will be worth the price. I have a quick dive trip to Mexico planned next week then a trip to Maui in November. I will post some pictures after I've had a chance to use it.

 

After taking a close look at it, this setup is larger then my Canon housing, but still considerably smaller and lighter then Ikelite housing and strobe.

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I'm looking at buying a DX-8000G. Any recommendations on a strobe for it?

 

 

i find i keep recommending the Inon strobes for compact systems, they are very small yet pack a big punch with lots of power settings etc...

 

can't go wrong with one in my opinion

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I had an 8000G for one dive trip and was very frustrated with the recycle time and the dificulty of chaning settings easily in manul mode. I also didn't like the housing layout very well, and it leaked light from the housing like crazy so I had to put a bunch of electrical tape on it to limit the light leakage when using an external strobe.

 

Ultimately even the picture quality was the worse I had seen on a modern high-end POS digital camera when it comes to noise in the picture. Anything above ISO 100 was not really acceptable to me and ISO 100 was even pretty bad.

 

I ended up going DSLR with a Nikon D200 in Subal housing, however, I have since purchased for my Wife the Olympus SP-350 and it is night and day better than the 8000G and a much cheaper price. You still get the 8MP resolution in a camera that is now going for $199 at Costco. The housing is $189 from BH (PT-030) and is a very nice sturdy housing with metal buttons. What's better is you can go with a TTL wired sync cable for your external strobe instead of having to use a fiber optic cable.

 

So, for $400 you have the camera and housing. An additional $200 gives you the TTL capabilies, $100 for a sync cord. Then you just need to get a strobe and tray/arms. You are only into it for $700 which is cheaper than just the 8000G without strobe and arms/tray AND you have a better camera with TTL capabilies.

 

The pictures that come off the olympus are VERY good and clean. The camera has full manual with programmable modes that you can set up your defaults for up to 4 different shooting profiles. You can also program the buttons to do what you want to some extent.

 

Something to consider anyhow if you are looking at something like an 8000G.. :)

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Prob. just another spammer bumping his post count before hitting on us all......

 

Paul C

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I have used 8000G since it first came out and have been extremely pleased with it. Have been able to blow up some amazing photos and like the fact that I can either shoot full automatic or have the ability to have manual control over many of the features as well. I can go a full day of diving before needing to change batteries which is a huge step up from my first canon s45 and my newest canon sd880 (which I use above the water only). I have never had problems with the housing leaking or the lens fogging up.

I am now getting ready to add a strobe now since I want to get some practice with it before I head to Lembeh in December.

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