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nefelimhg

What kind of equipement for a newbie

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Hi everybody,

 

Next month i will be moving to Thailand and i will be doing a lot more diving then i am doing now.

It would be nice to send my family an dvd of my underwater adventures from time to time.

So currently i am looking for nice setup that gives me a lot of bang for the buck.

On camcorderinfo there is a review of the Canon HV20 which scored quite nice, altough i don't know how this cam will do underwater.

 

Things i like to see in "my" setup.

 

Posibility for an wideangle look.

Posibility to grow along with my (i hope) developing skills.

Colors like it could be from IMAX / National Geographic.

 

So what setup would hit the economic sweetspot ?

 

Thanks for your time !

If there are any questions please let me know.

 

Thank you,

Michael

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Michael, so we can spend your money wisely... tell us... how much are you worth?!? :)

 

The HV20 is a great little camera in 24P. BUT you will run into the limitations of auto WB with filter, especially when the light levels fall off.

Colors like it could be from IMAX? Learn to use a good color correction software suite.

The film saturated look of the HV20 is nice. Even better is the color from the HVX200, which I think is great right out of the box vs other HD sources like HDV. One is $900, the other $5000, and the rule of diminishing returns factor in the difference.

Housings are the same. Materials vary from Polyurethane to aluminium and the price goes up as accordingly.

Basically setups from $2000 to $16000 are available. First tell us your budget then we can help you. Umm actually the others will help you as I'm disappearing today.

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Thanks for your reply Drew.

I have about $5000,- to spend for an complete setup.

However this budget has some stretch if this buys me some nice extra's.

 

I tought i needed to have decent lightning to get "IMAX" colors, that is why i mentioned it.

My maximum depth will be about 30m (90ft) in tropical waters.

 

So maybe i can buy a HV20, Ikelite housing and some nice lights for my budget.

Or i buy an triple CCD cam without lights (or less powerfull lights) (nice colors?).

I leave this up to you experts (you all).

 

Thanks !

Michael

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There are always two factors to consider when looking at lights. The first is that you will never be able to light up the whole reef with them in daylight as the sun is just too powerful and the lights are just not powerful enough. The second is that they are great for close up macro shots as they can really make the true colours jump out at you. So your decision is do you go for a complete system including lights or do you perhaps go for a slightly better system and get the lights later if you decide you need them at a later time?

 

Many people here don't use lights for day to day shooting as in the tropics especially you really don't 'need' them as long as you have the ability to manual white balance (mwb). Others would completely disagree with that statement though - we all have our own thoughts on it! :) Make sense or have I now completely confused you? :(

 

For nice bright colours at reasonably shallow depths you need to be able to get access to the mwb functions on your camcorder. I don't think the Ikelite housing for the HV20 gives this control, so personally I'd stay away from that. Another option would be a Sony HC7 with an Ikelite housing. I've used this combination and have been reasonably pleased with it for the cost. You could probably get that package for $2500, so you'd still have some money to spend on lights (although personally I'd stay away from the Ikelite lights). You could also look at a Gates or Light and Motion housing for the HC7 as these are more durable than the Ikelite's and have better access to controls underwater. They are of course more expensive though.

 

Other options would be something like a Sony FX1 or FX7 with a housing from Gates, Amphibico, Light and Motion or Sealux. That would probably set you back somewhere around $6000+ though, but would be a very nice system. There are lots of videos on wetpixel from people using the HC7, FX1 or FX7, so if you do a search you should be able to find some footage as examples.

 

For good WA on the FX1 or FX7 housings you'd need an expensive WA lens, which could easily cost another $2000 - $3000. I wouldn't recommend a wet WA lens for the Ikelite housings though as they are not really good enough quality for HDV.

 

There are many many other combinations for camcorders and housings but I've no experience of using them. Hopefully someone else will jump in if they have experience of using them, if I've missed something or they disagree with me! ;)

 

Cheers, Simon

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Thanks for your detailed explanation SimonSpear !, this really is a big help.

 

I will take a look at the three suggested setups you gave me.

The FX1 and FX7 sounds really good except for the WA lens :)

So maybe i just have to go for the HC7 setup (2 lux according to the Sony specs).

I think i have to watch some footage of the various cams and then decide.

 

Thanks for your help !

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Simon, have you checked out the HV20? I was actually quite impressed with the AWB with filter for anything above 15m. Anytime you lose light (like point at a school of fish in the blue etc), it was pretty blue but once you point it at color full reef with nice light, it was pretty good for AWB. I even experimented with AWB on the V1 just for kicks and with a URPro filter and the right subject it performed pretty decently. good enough that in post it's minimal correction.

If you are considering the FX7 then I would strongly recommend the XHA1. Just a little more expensive, wider lens, better resolution and cleaner HDV processing. I think the FX7 is not as good as the XHA1 in features and definitely on in the image at 60i.

Having seen the HV20 housing from Ikelite, it's a basic housing but then again,it comes in under $1900. I consider the Canons to be the sleeper HDV cameras that most people miss out on due to the Sony dominance of the underwater video market. The 24P from the HV20 will definitely look better than the HC7, giving you that IMAX filmic motion as well. :) It has its limitations obviously but the same apply to the HC7, save MWB. It performs better in lowlight thanks to 24P and the picture is more detailed. Sure it doesn't have to manual controls of the HC7, but if Canon does it right, why mess with it?

For point and shoot video, the HV20 is a nice little package, especially with its magnifying/peaking focus features to help with macro focus. I didn't test out the Ikelite housing fully but I liked what came out of the HV20, especially for $900.

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Drew, I've not tried out the HV20. I've heard that it's a really nice cam, but without access to MWB I figured that it would be severly limited for UW use. Like I was saying to Michael it's always good to get feedback from people who have actually used a particular cam underwater. :) AWB on the Sony cams that I've used underwater has always been a total mess (especially the HC7) and they nearly always seem to lean heavily towards green rather than blue. It's interesting to hear that the V1 performed better than that and if Canon have managed to come up with something useable on the HV20 then that's great news for anyone who's interested in getting one.

 

On a purely personal note I've had a very brief look at the XHA1 and from what I saw I liked it alot, but the Gates housing is that little bit bigger/heavier than those currently available for the FX7/V1 and the Gates one in particular is about 50% more expensive (which unfortunately I have to take into consideration). I'm going to be trying out the Gates housing for the V1 in December and may buy it, or I may wait for something else to come along once I've had a play around with it. On that note in particular I've been looking forward to your review! ;) .........

 

Michael the 2 lux rating for the HC7 is just plain wrong. That's rated at a really slow shutter speed, something like 1/24 if I remember and it's just not useable at those speeds in my opinion. HDV cams in general struggle with low light performance. To me it's not that they are 'that' much worse than miniDV, it's just that when you compare the beautiful images they can create in good light, the low light footage then becomes unacceptable. All current HDV cams have this problem although some are better than others, but with practise you can work around it or know in advance what you can do to minimise it. The biggest flaw on the HC7 is the lack of manual gain control, if it had that then I'd probably be sticking with it for a little longer rather than considering something else.

 

Cheers, Simon

Edited by SimonSpear

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I don't know for sure but i think the Ikelite housing has MWB : Ikelite housing for HV20

 

So the HV20 gives a lot of bang for the buck according to you Drew?

What happens with the HV20 when you go below 15m (45ft) without lights?

Is it better to use the FX1/7 (or XHA1) for this kind of shooting?

Or is the FX1/7, XHA1 a "futureproof" option for a beginner.

To bad there isn't a lot of HV20 (underwater) footage available.

 

Difficult, difficult... HV20 package for about $ 2500,- or the (FX1/7, XHA1) for an $ 6000,-

Given the fact i never shot video (only still's) underwater the HV20 package is an good option.

But what if get hooked to underwater shooting that the FX1/7, XHA1 would be an better option

(this goes the other way arround too !)

 

btw what system to use for editing ? Mac or Windows

 

Thanks all for your detailed answers !

Now i can spend my money wisely :)

Edited by nefelimhg

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Michael if you get hooked on underwater shooting then you'll become bankrupt like the rest of us! Oh yeah and nothing is futureproof, although some will last longer than others :)

 

Good luck with your purchase and out of all the ones we've discussed I doubt that you could make a bad decision - they are all good systems within their individual price ranges.

 

Cheers, Simon

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Michael, I believe the camera can change presets but not do a custom white balance. I'd be willing to put money down that many a hobbyist would be happy with the stuff coming from the HV20.

Do a search in the forum, I think someone was posting prices for deals on the HV20. Also check with our sponsors, they may give you the same deal with a bit more understanding of the product than a warehouse seller. Also if you are looking to buy in Thailand, I think Pro Dive is an Ike dealer..or was that Gates? Drop by and have a look.

And really, DO NOT start a Mac vs Windoze thread here. I may have to ban you for inciting a riot. ;)

 

Simon, the review will have to wait. All WP admin are disappearing for thanksgiving, including me today. Hey you don't like marketing department's fudging of the numbers? What about 0.4 lux from Canon for the XH... at 1/4 speed or something :)

 

PS: HVR-FX7 has apparently been discontinued from Sony US. Buy while you still can!

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I found some footage of an FX7 underwater and this is what i like to achieve B)

To bad i don't know at what depth this was shot and if it was with or without lights.

Now i will try to find some HV20 (underwater) footage so i can compare.

 

I didn't mean to start riot over the Windows vs. Apple thing !

This won't happen again i promise ! :)

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I saw something on the Ikelite website that I thought indicated that the HV20 could be used with a wide angle inside the housing. I was also under the impression that manual white balance was possible, but I know that Drew does his homework, so maybe it is just the presets. If you find out definitively please let us know. Costwise it seems like the HV20 + Ikelite housing fits your budget with room to spare. Staying within budget is hard to do when it comes to shooting underwater footage! I suppose the other part of the equation is topside footage - what and how much will you be filming? For me the small size and weight of the HV20 and Ike housing are a big plus because I'm generally flying to where I'll be filming and weight is restricted.

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Good point Hawkfish ! The FX series are quite bulky...

Altough i won't travel really much this is a good point for me when it comes to topside shooting.

 

For now my favorite is the FX7 with as a close second the HV20 (because of the price and size)

To bad i can't find any underwater HV20 footage, this could make it a lot easier.

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Drew also can be talking out of his butt when he has a brain fart. HV20 does a custom WB. I was thinking of something else. Opps. Errors corrected.

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I guess I should pipe in as I shoot with the HV20 in an Ikelite housing and the Sony Z1U Gates housing. Drew is correct on the manual WB on the HV20 it is good to about 45/50 ft in tropical waters! In my opion the colors you get out of the HV20 are better than what I can get out of the Z1U. I have tweaked the settings on the HV20 (Vivid color etc.) to my liking and shooting in 24p delivers nice blacks and good blues. Sony tends to have a greener blue then I like and comparing footage of the Z1 and HV20 the 3 chips win out in detail but the HV20 wins hands down in color and contrast in my opinion. My biggest complaint of the HV20 is the Image Stabilizer is more prone to shakes then the Sony and the WA Inon lens for the Ikelite HV20 is CRAP the image is VERY soft along the outer edges. I believe it is because the WA lenses were designed not for this camera in particular it’s a general lens! I am thinking about a way to move the WA lens closer to the flat port to minimize the blur effect but this will take a little trial and error. Lastly I shoot The HV20 at night for work with Two Patima 35W HID. You cant control the Gain like the Z1 but what you can do is adjust the Exposure shift and if you set your exp while on a white slate it gives you a gain of about 12 db then you can Exposure shift from -11 to +11 to get the look your after. It’s very confusing at first but once you get the hang of it you find the sweet spot! I will try to post a screen grab from the HV20. I hope this helps...

Scott

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thats interesting that you reckon the colours are better on the Canon than the Z1. I'm really interested to see some Hv footage.

 

Jon

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Thanks for your reply Aqua Luminous !

The HV20 sounds really good, is it possible to post some footage ?

Then i can decide if the extra $ 3500,- are worth it (for me).

 

So for depths to 45/50ft the HV20 can be used.

Can you go deeper with an FX1/7 or XHA1 and get good results?

 

What about Equinox housings for the HV20.

It looks possible to use an inhouse wide angle lens.

Equinox housings don't have the WB control for the HV20.

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Yes...

 

some exemples of HV20 footage would be greatly appreciatted.

 

does anyone know where we can find some underwater video footage, not just from the HV20 but also from some other cameras?

 

Best regards,

 

Tiago

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Hi all,

 

After absorbing a lot of information from this great forum i changed my mind.

The setup i have in mind now :

 

Sony HC7 ($ 1500,-)

Gates HC7 Housing ($ 2930,-) + flatport ($ 150,-)

Macbook Pro 2.2GHz - 4GB - eSATA 7200 disk(s) ($ 3000,-)

Final Cut Studio 2 ($ 1700,-)

Total : $ 9.200,-

 

Sony HC7 ($ 1500,-)

Gates HC7 Housing ($ 2930,-) + GP25a ($ 700,-)

Macbook Pro 2.2GHz - 4GB - eSATA 7200 disk(s) ($ 3000,-)

Final Cut Studio 2 ($ 1700,-)

Total : $ 9.800,-

 

Sony HC7 ($ 1500,-)

Gates HC7 Housing ($ 2930,-) + WP25 Fathom ($ 1200,-)

Macbook Pro 2.2GHz - 4GB - eSATA 7200 disk(s) ($ 3000,-)

Final Cut Studio 2 ($ 1700,-)

Total : $ 10.300,-

 

If you don't count the Macbook Pro and FCS2 then the setup cost about $ 5.000,- (i stayed in my budget :))

What do you think of the prices (Holland) are the prices better in Thailand (or Singapore) ?

And most importantly what do you think of this setup ?

 

Thanks guys !

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If you are going with the Gates HC7 housing, you might want to kick in a few extra dollars (well maybe more than a few) for the SWP25. It is a fantastic lens.

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I think the SWP25 has full zoom through so yes it's the only port you'd need. Double check with the Gates site though just in case I'm wrong.

 

Looks like a nice set up you are going to have there! Make sure you post some videos once you've had a play around with it :)

 

Cheers, Simon

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I think the SWP25 has full zoom through so yes it's the only port you'd need. Double check with the Gates site though just in case I'm wrong.

 

 

Simon,

 

It is, I have one, full zoom through capability to capture subjects as small as ~1.5in / 38mm in full frame.

 

Michael,

 

It is the only port I have, and I am very happy with it.

Edited by Mini Dive

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Thanks guys ! The SWP25 sounds really great but i have to think it over... (convince my wife :))

 

Michael if you get hooked on underwater shooting then you'll become bankrupt like the rest of us!

 

...

 

Cheers, Simon

 

Now i know what you mean Simon ;)

Edited by nefelimhg

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While he SWP25 is indeed a sweet port, consider the WP25 which is more reasonable on your wallet as well as less bulky...

 

Although the Gates product page doesn't say the WP25 has full zoom thru capability, I can confirm that you can indeed get full zoom thru with the HC7 Gates and WP25 (telemacro setting). The only problem with this is that the min focus distance of the HC7 at full zoom telemacro is pretty pathetic (long) to make it useful for very small critters.

 

Good for say, getting a nice face close up of a sleeping reef shark or some other skittish med-big fish.

Edited by pakman

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