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A.Y.

Sony WX5 Ikelite setup!

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Well, I recently picked up a Sony WX5 - currently the ONLY compact P&S with 24mm WA, 1080 HD, and an underwater housing option for water sports. I put together a web page to provide some useful information on this little camera perfect for recording family fun in the water: http://www.alyudesign.com/sony_wx5.html

 

So far I've only tested this new toy inside the Shark-&-Ray pool to learn about the camera features, custom white balance capabilities, and ISO limitations before heading to the ocean. The results have been encouraging :)

 

wx5-sharks.jpg

 

wx5-underwater.jpg

Edited by A.Y.

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The Sun is finally out today so I took some sample videos, comparing between the WX5 and our 2008 SR11 camcorder to learn when to rely on which piece of equipment. Surprisingly WX5 produces slightly sharper videos in daylight, but clearly uses more aggressive noise filtering under extreme low-light condition hence the slightly softer IQ under a candle light. The small differences in video quality is really not noticeable, viewing the 4 clips on 1080p HDTV.

 

Too bad I couldn't take these video samples underwater for this forum ;)

 

wx5-video.jpg

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A 24mm through a flat port shows the typical edge distortions and reduced FOV due to refraction. Nice camera but it would be better for wide angle with a mounted accessory lens like the Fisheye UWL-04.

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A 24mm through a flat port shows the typical edge distortions and reduced FOV due to refraction. Nice camera but it would be better for wide angle with a mounted accessory lens like the Fisheye UWL-04.

 

Too bad Ikelite doesn't make a small optional dome port for its P&S housing. The Fisheye UWL-04 is quite beautiful and large.

 

--------------------------------------

 

While waiting for my daughter, interviewing a leading kelp scientist for her university newspaper, I shot some jelly-fish videos under very dim lighting to explore the camera settings. I'm pretty happy with the results and added the video to my WX5 blog. The image quality obviously suffered since the clips was recorded through thick aquarium glass.

 

My daughter will "force" the family to "research" the kelp forest with her off the Catalina Island in two weeks so I'll have some REAL diving photos and videos to share in the near future.

Edited by A.Y.

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Finally have some REAL scuba photos to show. :)

The first one was taken right below the surface so Auto White Balance was more than good enough:

 

01.jpg

 

In deeper water, as expected, Auto WB produced overtly-greenish-blue kelps, forever losing pretty much ALL of the kelp's natural yellowish-brown colors so visible to the divers.

 

The second one was taken about 40 feet (12 meters) down, using Custom White Balance, aimed at a gray tank. I ended up with kelp colors a little too close to the originals; therefore, lost the sense of being underwater - too little blue-green water hue left so everything still looked a little different from what my eyes saw. Since all of the important colors were captured in the JPEG file, restoring the water hue in Photoshop to match the colors I saw was relatively easy to do:

 

11.jpg

 

This process also worked very well with the 1080 HD video, producing clips within iMovie's rather limited video adjustment capabilities for matching colors. Overall I'm very pleased with the outcome so the WX5 has officially replaced my SD800 as the main scuba camera.

 

I have more photos from this trip here. Suggestions are welcome!

 

I'm still pretty new to the underwater photography / videography and would like to learn more about underwater imaging, using available light as much as possible so that I end up with images and videos that match what I see underwater. Does anyone know of a good UW photographer who uses only available light for his or her "wet" work?

Edited by A.Y.

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Here are some samples, showing the difference Custom White Balance can make under 40 feet (12 meters) of water. The first two samples are straight out of the camera, and the one in the middle has very accurate colors of the diver with the nearby kelp being just a tiny bit on the red side! Some water hue was added to the third image to match the kelp colors I saw a little farther away. :)

 

wx5-wb.jpg

Edited by A.Y.

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Nice work AY!

 

Are you in Southern Cal?

 

I've shot quite alot with the old sony v3 in an ikelite housing. It had raw, but too slow to use in real life.

 

The thing I've found works great for color balance is to use an ikelite filter or a 'magic filter'. You can get them for different water colors, (i.e. green vs blue water).

 

If you use such a filter, and remove it in the top 5-10 feet of depth, and put it on for deeper, then you can leave the WB on auto, and just shoot, and it will be close enough to adjust, as you say.

 

I've used this for the old sony v3, and a newer w170, and it works well for video too.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Don

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The thing I've found works great for color balance is to use an ikelite filter or a 'magic filter'. You can get them for different water colors, (i.e. green vs blue water).

 

If you use such a filter, and remove it in the top 5-10 feet of depth, and put it on for deeper, then you can leave the WB on auto, and just shoot, and it will be close enough to adjust, as you say.

 

I've used this for the old sony v3, and a newer w170, and it works well for video too.

 

Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely give filters a try. On average how much light is reduced by the filter?

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The bluewater magick filter cuts blue and green by a factor of two (1 stop of light) while leaving red at full strength. I did a wavelength scan a couple of years ago and posted it here so if you want the gory details you can try to search for it.

 

Bart

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Hi A.Y.,

 

Seems like you are not using an external strobe. Do you feel the need for one?

 

A lot of your write-up addresses video...do you have more to say about stills?

 

Finally, do you find 24mm behind a flat port to be "wide enough" for California diving?

 

I have an old Coolpix 5000 setup with a WA Nikon conversion lens (effectively 19mm) behind an Ikelite dome port.

 

This camera is a dinosaur but I am having a hard time giving up on the great WA lens and port setup.

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Seems like you are not using an external strobe. Do you feel the need for one?

 

I'll get a strobe when I upgrade to NEX-5 or 7 in the near future mainly for deeper dives. Custom White Balance works very well for shallow dives - 40' (12m), producing images very close to what my eyes see with a little post processing.

 

A lot of your write-up addresses video...do you have more to say about stills?

 

WX5 produces underwater stills very similar to my Canon SD700 and SD800 (both with Sony sensors BTW), so I didn't mention photo capability much in my blog except that WX5 has much better high-ISO performance vital to capturing fast-moving sealions or fish my older P&S can't. Autofocus speed and lag time are similar to my Canon and the latest compact P&S I've tried in the stores - no miracle here.

 

The main reason I got the WX5 is because of its 1080 AVCHD video, which is FAR better than ANY 720 HD - there's simply no caparison in resolution, details, and the ability to capture smooth motion. However, video Custom White Balance and exposure must be set properly since adjusting them is not as easy in post.

 

Finally, do you find 24mm behind a flat port to be "wide enough" for California diving?

 

24mm is definitely MUCH better than 28mm, but I'd like to have something much wider to include more sealions or kelp forest in one shot.

Edited by A.Y.

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