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5D Housings, Lens, Domes and Strobes (help!)

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5D Housings, Lens, Domes and Strobes

 

I would really appreciate some advice on making this choice.

 

I have a 5D and I am now looking for an UW rig. I notice that a few posters have a 5D so would be interested to hear how you like your combos. Also any problems with your setup.

 

(BTW: is there anywhere on the wetpixel site (or elsewhere) where I can simply select 5D and see all the available housings and their costs?)

 

I had initially thought that I would prefer Ikelite, but I notice the Ikelite strobes are more expensive than the other strobes but perhaps there is a good reason for this?

 

Lens

I was hoping to use the 16-35 f2.8 L (which would also be useful topside). But I read (here) that there are problems using this lens wide open in an Ikelite housing (i.e. soft edges wide open, no matter what extensions or dome is used.).

 

pgk said:

I contend that no wide-angle lens with a field of view exceeding 90 degrees will give really sharp frame corners unless substantially stopped down, and even then they may not be up to the frame centre.

 

I also read (here) that some people use the Ikelite/zoom combo but restrict themselves to

20mm and stop down to f8 to minimize softness towards the edges. There also appears

 

I don’t like the idea having to stop down, or artificially restricting the zoom range, so I would be interested to hear from anyone who has worked out how to use the full zoom range. Alternatively if anyone has concluded that a zoom is no good in any housing, then let me know what 2 (say) primes you recommend.

 

I noticed on the Aquatica home page they have a picture of the 5D with a 17-40 lens and a flat piece of glass in front of lens. Does this combination work ok?

 

Strobes

How useful is TTL underwater? If it is useful (as I think it would be) I would like to have the option of using TTL with the flashes, but also be able to turn it off. I noticed that with an Ikelite housing and strobes you can have TTL, but only with Ikelite strobes. The ikelite strobes seem more expensive than other strobes, but maybe this is justified if they can recycle faster?

 

Another poster Famorim mentioned a 'Henrich TTL converter', which I think gives you TTL with different strobes? But Famorim said the problem was that his strobes (Nikonos SB105 Strobes | S&S YS120 Strobes) would not fire after the pre-flash.

 

Rattus said that the Sea&Sea TTL (6 pin) converter can be switched on and off (but it is not compatible with Aquatica housing).

 

 

Housings

Do I really need a dome?

 

As I understand the choices are: Ikelite, Seacam, Aquatica.

Ikelite + Dome +Ikelite strobes($1400 + $800 + $1000)

Aquatica US$2000

Seacam £2999.00 + viewfinders (£200 or £1000 or £1100)

 

Noticed some peoples rigs below. Any feedback on these setups woud be great.

 

Famorim’s rig: Canon 5D | Aquatica housing | Nikonos SB105 Strobes | S&S YS120 Strobes | Ultralight Arms, Henrich TTL converter

 

Rattus’ rig: Canon 5D | S&S DX-5D housing with Sea&Sea TTL adapter| S&S YS-110s on ULCS

Big Dome for 15mm Sigma | Flat Port for 50mm & 105mm | Sigma macro

No zooms, no focus gears, all AF on *

 

Acroporas’ rig: Canon 5D | Ikelite Housing and strobes | 15FE | 24/2.8 | 35/1.4 | 50/1.4 | 150/2.8 macro

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by mattsea

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I am in an interesting position to have tried 5D housings for the Aquatica, Ikelite, Sea and Sea, Subal, Sea and Sea and Seacam this year, despite not owning a 5D. And most of which I have shot UW.

 

The main difference I saw bewteen the housings was the viewfinder optics. Many of them make it hard to see the whole of the frame (when wearing a mask) and those that offer magnified viewfinders (Seacam and Subal that I tried) are much better in this respect.

 

The other difference is in the placement of the controls for the aperture and shutter speed, which are most easily reached on the Seacam.

 

Alex

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Alex's summary is very accurate. The Sea&Sea housing has an adequate viewfinder, but doesn't let you see all four corners at once. I currently have feelers out to try and improve this situation, either by replacing the pickup optic with a lower magnification item (I lean towards wide angle, so critical focus is less important to me than framing), or by replacing or augmenting the finder with a sportsfinder from a different manufacturer.

 

A benefit for me is the Sea&Sea TTL system which I really like. Like the Ikelite system you can easily override it during the dive and run full manual if you come across a difficult subject. I don't believe the Heinrichs unit gives you this option underwater.

 

Although many shooters have gone through the process of unlearning TTL for UW digital use, and prefer full manual, I do enough topside TTL work that I prefer that mode of operation. It's a personal preference at the end of the day.

 

On the control layout subject, the Sea&Sea puts the '*' button on a flappy paddle under your right thumb and I map that to single shot AF with a custom function. Some other housings leave it as a button just out of reach. Worth trying yourself and looking for as an ergonomic thing.

 

The Seacam is truly a thing of beauty, and would probably be my endpoint given a surplus of cash. ;)

 

Martyn

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I echo to Martyn's comment of S&S system. I recently purchased a S&S 5D housing + TTL converter

+ 2x Inon Z-240 from Yuzo & had a chance to play with it for few days before I deliver to a friend.

 

 

Quote:

A benefit for me is the Sea&Sea TTL system which I really like. Like the Ikelite system you can easily override it during the dive and run full manual if you come across a difficult subject. I don't believe the Heinrichs unit gives you this option underwater.

:Unquote

 

I was told S&S TTL system was designed by Heinrichs & S&S improved it. You can use not just YS-110

but, other S&S strobes and Inon Z-220 or 240 too.

 

Another point is TTL converter comes with short 6p cable to connect camera to converter than, from converter to strobe, you can use regular S&S 5p cables.

 

Quote:

On the control layout subject, the Sea&Sea puts the '*' button on a flappy paddle under your right thumb and I map that to single shot AF with a custom function. Some other housings leave it as a button just out of reach. Worth trying yourself and looking for as an ergonomic thing.

:Unquote

 

I think it is very good feature which Nikon does not have.

 

Sam

Edited by shchae

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We own two UK-Germany housings.

Mine is for WA (with a 200mm dome & 14mm lens) and I shoot with twin Ike Sub-Strobe 200's. Non TTL

My wife shoots macro and we are anxiously awaiting the ring flash from Uwe for her to try out.

 

I'm pretty happy overall. No complaints about the housings at all.

I can get to all the controls and even my wife (who has small hands) has no complaints.

 

Uwe was the first non-plexi housing out of the gate for the 5D and if I had it to do all over again I'd still buy the UK-Germany housings. Since the 5D and Canon's 100mm focus so well, I'd would skip the manual focus capability on the Macro port. Language issues definitely exist dealing w/ the company since they are in Germany and there is no U.S. distributor but the housing is really nice.

 

Also, I don't think anyone else would have been able to fit a port to my Canon f1.2 85mm.

 

I am getting tired of pushing the dual strobes thru the water tho and am considering stepping back to one.

Two strobes is nice when the water is calm, but swimming up-current is more work than I care to put up with.

 

So, off to 400+ ISO and we will see what that allows me to do. i hope to use the flash simply as fill at that point :)

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I think the Aquatica 5D combined with the new viewfinder expander is simply the best package that is available now.

 

Those who have a chance drop by the booth at DEMA today or tomorrow, and have a touchy feely experience.

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Ok thanks for your responses so far, I have summarized them at the end of this post to help me decide which one to choose.

 

Lens Choice

No one talked about the suitability/unsuitability of zooms? Do you all use only primes, or do some people get good results through the entire range of a zoom?

 

When do people use diopters on the front of their lens?

 

Housings

Alex recommends Secam and Subal for better view finder optics.

Seacam - US$3299 Euro2960

Subal CD5 - US$4400 Euro3270

 

Ratus mentions that the Sea&Sea is good but the viewfinder could be improved. Also that the * button is easily accessed via a paddle switch and that the Sea&Sea TTL system is good. (shchae also endorses the Sea&Sea)

Sea&Sea US$2650

 

Hoovermd has two UK-Germany housings and recommends them. One is set up for WA with a dome, the other for macro so presumably a flat piece of glass in front of the lens? I hadn’t heard of this brand before. There is some question as to whether this housing provides access to all camera functions.

UK-Germany US$3300 / Euro2200

 

Pmooney recommends the Aquatica with the new viewfinder expander. But does Aquatica have a TTL capability or can it be modified so that it does?

Acquatica US$2200

 

 

William Heaton wrote a detailed review of the Ikelite. Wondered whether anyone has the new version incorporating his suggestions) and if so what do you like/ or not like about it.

Ikelite $1400

 

 

Conclusions so Far

To my way of thinking the Seacam, Subal and UK-Germany are a bit expensive. That leaves the Aquatica, Sea&Sea and the Ikleite.

Viewfinder on the Sea&Sea is adequate but not greatb but has built in TTL.

Aquatica has a viewfinder extension but don't think it has TTL.

 

I think Ikelite also has a view finder extension, but some problems with bolts that hold the handles on coming loose and causing a flood. Also access to functions may not be as good. Also problems mentioned with soft edges using a dome (but this may be due to incorrect position of dome). Did folks with this setup manage to resolve their problems?

 

If the Ikelite housing problems have been sorted out I might go for that. If not probably Aquatica with a viewfinder extension (depending on the price of the extension) and TTL addon. Alternatively Sea&Sea

and wait for a possible viewfinder addon. The cost of Sea&Sea and Aquatica will probably end up almost the same.

 

Are the add-ons (domes, spacers etc) more expensive for some brands than others?

Edited by mattsea

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Good summary Mattsea,

 

If you can get some of the housed systems in your hands before you commit it will really help you find your own preferences, especially in the ergonomic areas.

 

Sounds like I can add the Aquatica viewfinder to my list of possible upgrade options. I wonder what bore it needs in the back of the housing. 32mm or so my maximum. Clip on solutions like the Inon/Hugy are probably prefereable.

 

Martyn

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If you can get some of the housed systems in your hands before you commit it will really help you find your own preferences, especially in the ergonomic areas.

Yes that will be the next step.

 

 

But I also hope someone can answer my question re the use of zooms (e.g. 16-35 f2.8 L) vs primes.

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Ok thanks for your responses so far, I have summarized them at the end of this post to help me decide which one to choose.

 

Hoovermd has two UK-Germany housings and recommends them. One is set up for WA with a dome, the other for macro so presumably a flat piece of glass in front of the lens? I hadn’t heard of this brand before. There is some question as to whether this housing provides access to all camera functions.

UK-Germany US$3300 / Euro2200

 

Yes, all camera functions are available.

Yes, the flat port is class. The dome is Plexi

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Well, my 16-35mm zoom ring has finally been dispatched so I should have it next week. I'll then hopefully be able to test it in the Sea&Sea 8" dome. I'm not expecting the corners to be anything like as lovely as those my Sigma 15mm FE give me. It's just the nature of the beast.

 

As for using a 17-40mm behind a flat port, that's going to be terrible.

 

I think the "acceptable sharpness" thread covers most of the useful info about rectilinear wide-angle lenses and sharpness.

 

Have fun,

 

Martyn

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Well, my 16-35mm zoom ring has finally been dispatched so I should have it next week. I'll then hopefully be able to test it in the Sea&Sea 8" dome. I'm not expecting the corners to be anything like as lovely as those my Sigma 15mm FE give me. It's just the nature of the beast.

 

I guess actually using it will be the best test possible. I look forward to seeing how it goes.

 

I think the "acceptable sharpness" thread covers most of the useful info about rectilinear wide-angle lenses and sharpness.

 

Actually the “acceptable sharpness†thread is what prompted my initial concern with edge sharpness.

 

I gather from that thread that surprisingly edge softness is an issue that has not been fully resolved yet.

 

A few questions that come to mind are:

 

What would people classify as “super wide†angle? Someone said that using (I think) the 16-35 that it was ok at 20mm but any wider the edge softness was unacceptable. Maybe 20mm would be ok.

 

From the thread I gather that the larger domes are better for wider angle, and that the position of the dome in relation to the lens is very critical. Although I would of thought that a smaller dome properly positioned would also be just as good. Aren’t larger domes just designed to accommodate bigger lenses?

(There is an article on 'dome theory' on this site?)

 

Also noted (in the thread) that a crop camera will have better DOF than the FF 5D.

Why is this so?

 

Does anyone using the extra DOF an advantage or disadvantage?

 

Anyone out there using a 16-35mm on a 5D or crop camera and getting the edges in focus?

 

Or

 

Anyone had problems with the 16-25 or 17-40 and managed to fix it?

 

Seems that folks experiment with diopters using more powerful diopters for wider angle lenses. Is this roughly correct?

Edited by mattsea

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Mattsea don't panic!

 

The acceptable sharpness thread was aimed at considering the acceptability of image sharpness given todays high MPixel cameras - its an issue which has never been resolved fully on film but is in my opinion becoming more noticable on today's digital SLRs.

 

However, don't be too alarmed. Many images will be perfectly acceptable even with some softness in their corners. And you are right in that it becomes more noticable at focal lengths wider (less than) 20mm on FF. It is however to do with the field of view of the lens and happens on smaller format cameras too - except that their design (with a smaller format) gives them effectively an increased depth of field. The increased depth of field may or may not be to your taste - the upside of using a Nikon (at the moment) is that there are two fisheye lenses available and increaed depth of field helps reduce corners softness, the upside of using a FF Canon is more and faster wide-angles, better control of focus differential and probably smoother tonality (I have not had enough chance to compare this as yet) - which I personally prefer.

 

Personally, I expect corner softness to become a substantial issue with FF as the MPixels increase (as they will no doubt do). The smaller formats will (again in my personal opinion based on conversations with, amongst others, lens designers) probably not increase their MPixels substantially now and even if they do, lenses will struggle to produce viably better results due to diffraction and QC requirements) - I'll probably stir up a hornet's nest by saying this but still.

 

You will need to search through the older posts on wetpixel to read up on dome theory (there is an excellent article too) but basically the centre of the dome should be at the first principle point of the lens being used, and a diopter is need to correct infinity focus to the furthest position of the centre of the virtual image produced by using a simple concentric dome. This will optimise the set-up but only for one specific focal length in the case of a zoom lens.

 

Ultra-wides have other issues on FF too, but as a friend did an advertising shoot (underwater) using a 17~40 and the client was perfectly satisfied, they aren't too bad. Like many things in life, you learn to live with flaws and work around them.

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Hi,

 

Re problem with Ikelite you mentioned, I was the one reported to Ikelite & they fixed

problem right away & put it on web site & send me replacement kit. All new housings

has new bolts+knobs.

 

Sam

 

Quote:

I think Ikelite also has a view finder extension, but some problems with bolts that hold the handles on coming loose and causing a flood. Also access to functions may not be as good. Also problems mentioned with soft edges using a dome (but this may be due to incorrect position of dome). Did folks with this setup manage to resolve their problems?

:Unquote

Edited by shchae

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To follow up Paul's point about Nikon DX depth of field, going from 16mm on Canon FF to 12mm on Nikon DX gives you about a 20% increase in depth of field. This sounds like a lot, but in terms of corner coverage its not huge as a bit more DoF can't cover much more of a curved image.

 

The big win actually comes from the 12mm Nikon bieng a significant crop compared to the 16mm Canon. For a Nikon DX body to render the same angle of view as the Canon 16mm it would need a 10.5mm rectilinear lens (not to confused with the 10.5mm Nikon fisheye). As it is the 12mm end of the 12-24mm gives a FoV equivalent to an 18.2mm lens on a 5D.

 

The upshot of all those numbers is that shooting a 16-35mm or 17-40mm lens on a 5D will give you a wider view than a Nikon shooter with the 12-24mm. This is a good thing in terms of flexibility of composition. The Nikon setup makes it easier to get sharp corners, partly because the FoV is smaller and partly because the smaller format makes the dome "seem" a bit bigger in comparison - a strange way of looking at the optics, but a reasonable shorthand.

 

Martyn

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You can see my pics with the Ikelite + 5D here:

 

http://gallery.thelaitys.com/main.php?g2_itemId=10

 

The top 6 galleries are with this system. As you'll see in my other thread, I had some problems with getting sharp wide angle performance, but it seems that much of this was user error (use super-high f-stops to get sharp corners). Macro performance has been amazing. I thought that macro would suffer going from a cropped to full sensor camera, but the detail and color resolution more than make up for it.

 

I had an Aquatica housing for my 300D and an Ikelite for the 5D. So far I like the Ikelite better in every respect except for one. To attach the zoom gear, you need to assemble the camera in the housing with the lens off. Then you attach the zoom gear, push the lens through, and attach the dome port on top of that. This means that when I switch lenses on the boat, I need to take the lens off while the camera is still in the housing and risk a drop of seawater getting inside the camera. Your lens might not be as wide on the front, so you might be able to slip the zoom ring over the lens without taking it off. However, the zoom ring never slips off in this design, which I can't say for the Aquatica except for their zoom rings with built-in screw down clamps.

 

I like being able to see into the housing through the ABS plastic. If you've ever flooded a housing, this will be a concern whenever you put your expensive rig in the water. I like the feel of all the controls, although I wish the data control was closer to the shutter. I would buy it again if I had to start over.

 

I hope some of this is helpful. -jl

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Hi Matt,

 

Very soon Hugyfot will release their 5D housing. I suppose it'll look more or less like all their other housings and they have a 45 degree rotable viewfinder available. I have a Hugyfot housing that i like a lot, but it's for the D200. Neverteless, i think that many of my experiences will also apply for the Hugyfot 5D housing. On digideep you can find an extensive review i wrote about my D200 housing in case you're also interested in a Hugyfot housing. I think prices will be comparable to Sea & Sea and Aquatica.

 

cheers, Udo

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Indeed, I've certainly seen a speculative price for the Hugyfot 5D of about the same level as my S&S DX-5D.

 

Martyn

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I think the Aquatica 5D combined with the new viewfinder expander is simply the best package that is available now.

 

I thought I saw something on the viewfinder extension costing US$1200!!

 

Seems a bit expensive.

 

 

That is close to price of the complete Ikelite housing!?

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I'm using a Subal housing for the 5D. I like it a great deal.

 

I have a 16-35 that I use behind the big Subal dome. I've been using a +2 diopter.

 

For the record, I'm not sure how great a copy of the 16-35 I have. I've never compared it to another copy. But here's what I've found with mine.

 

At 16mm there are signifcant areas in each corner that are soft...at all aperatures.

 

At 20mm there is still, what I would call, terribly soft corners. How bad is it? Personally, I think it's quite distracting. Even my non-photographer friends who aren't very critical of photos quickly notice.

 

Here's a shot at 20mm - 125th @ f/5.6. Slight USM.

 

Even at 24mm @ f/8 on my lens there's clear softness in the corners.

 

As a result I've gotten the extension port to use a 24-70. I love the 24-70 on the 5D above water.

 

The problem with using the 24-70 underwater, and maybe this is only a Subal issue to some degree more than with another housing, but the problem is that it's a telescoping zoom and it's massive. Whereas the 16-35 zooms internally and you're really just moving elements inside the lens, the fact that the 24-70 telescopes means you have to mechanically move a big bulking lens up and down the zoom range. And on top of that the lens is so fat that the housing zoom gear is turning on the rubber of the lens and not a zoom gear on the lens means it's less efficient.

 

The next option I see would be to use primes. I have the Canon 35L and that's a great lens. I guess it comes down to this:

 

1) would I rather accept the corner softness of the 16-35 to get that easy to zoom, very wide shots?

 

2) would I rather take all the effort to physically get the 24-70 into the housing and then struggle to zoom in and out, to get great edge to edge sharpness?

 

3) would I rather use primes for great IQ, but at a fixed focal length the whole dive?

 

That's been my experience. Hope it helps.

post-1442-1164226795_thumb.jpg

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I have the 5D in an Aquatica housing with 2 Ikelite DS-125 strobes. The strobes I already had otherwise I would go with something with a smaller profile. I love the housing and the position of the controls is no problem for me they are all within easy reach. I think I will shell out for the viewfinder because that is my only complaint.

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