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AggressorBLUE

Time for a new rig; MIL?

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So, as a quick background, I’ve been diving with a 7 year old Rebel XT, kit lens (18-55mm) Ike light housing, and dual Ikelight strobes (DS160s) for several years now, and it’s time to upgrade. The setup is a family camera, but It generally gets handed to me on Dive trips. As such, I’ve not invested in any extra glass for it, and I’m not married to Canons eco-system. I’m not fiercely brand loyal either, so I’m generally open minded.

 

That said, here’s what I’m looking for in my next rig:

-Compact WITH housing: That is to say, I can fit at least the housing and camera in carry-on baggage (bonus points for strobes!). I do carry on the current canon setup, bit it’s 90% of the bag when I do, and whoever carry-ons the camera generally spreads their other stuff out across other family members baggage. In short, it’s an operation to get the camera on a plane. I’d like to cull that with my next rig. I also have no wish to ever ‘upgrade’ to the mega sized SLRs (eg. EOS D), as I’d rather spend more on a compact setup I can actually bring half way around the world, versus gather dust at home.

 

-Streamlined: I’d like to be able to setup the next rig so that I can clip it to a BC D-Ring (my Knight hawk has rings that sit along the bottom under the weight pockets) , and ‘drop’ the camera in high current/line operations if needed. For example, I Had to pull out of a dive in the FL Keys (the Duane, one of my favorites L ) a few weeks ago because the current was too strong and I couldn’t pull myself and the giant plexi box with strobes along. Maybe I’m over-reaching here, but it would be nice to pull a bit less drag when working in current.

 

-Powerful shooting capabilities: I’d like my next rig to be faster focusing in low light, with better ISO response than the rebel XT. Higher MP ratings are the norm these days, so I figure that won’t be an issue. Manual controls would also be nice. I need to get back in shape with my manual shooting skills, and fast, intuitive access would be nice here.

 

-Live View: Not much to say here, other than It would be nice to not have to get right behind the viewport to frame a shot.

 

-Video: Video isn't my priority with this rig, but the on-land capability would be nice down the road.

 

-Lens selection: As mentioned above, I’m not married to a lenses family yet, but I’d like to “settle down” and raise a nice family of lenses. J This would also give me room to grow

 

-Cost: I’d like to keep the camera itself under $1K with a kit lens, and the housing around $1.5K without strobes. I can be convinced to rethink the finances here and go higher if the right camera comes along. I am also willing to go with a refurb and/or used to keep costs down.

 

Bonuses (not “need to haves”, but “warrants a bit of extra cost to haves”):

-Weather-proofing: Nice for out-of-housing shots when on the boat, or when shooting outside in foul weather. I’d also like to think that a weather-proofed camera has a fighting chance if the housing starts to flood and I get back to the surface before it turns into a fish tank. Also nice to know that if something’s spilled on it, it’s more survivable.

 

-Cargo-pocketable: I know there’s nothing out there that will slip into a jean pocket, but cargo-pockets would be nice for toting it around during "extended surface intervals" :)

 

-WiFi: Would be nice to be able to view pictures on the iPad without taking the camera out of the housing.

 

So, with all that said, my search thus far has lead me to either:

 

A) The canon Rebel SL1 (not a MIL, but fits many of the above criteria hence why I post this here), as it’s very affordable and tiny for an SLR, and ticks many of the above boxes. But it’s still awkwardly shaped (compared to the sleeker MILs out there), and from what I hear, focuses more slowly in live-view mode. Another downside is that I don't see much purpose in building out a lens family, as all the other cameras in the series are much larger. The only other model to look to would be a refresh to the SL1. Ikelight does make a very small housing though, and I can get a Dive Master discount on IL stuff from my local dive shop (only ever bought IL from them, so not sure if they can also work with me on Nauticam stuff).

 

B) The Olympus OM-D Family:

-The EM-1 ticks all the above boxes, save for cost (brand new, it’s $400 over my budget, without lens!),and is pretty large for a MIL, which I suspect will impact housing size. On the other hand, this camera certainly has a reputation the precedes it, and seems like it packs a lot of future proofing within it’s frame.

 

-The EM-5 also ticks many of the boxes, but is now 2 years old, and I suspect due for a refresh in the next year or so (any thoughts on this?). It’s not hard to imagine an “EM-5 2.0” with wifi, upgraded AF and image sensing abilities around the corner.

 

-The EM-10 seems like the “just right” option…except apparently an Olympus housing (the most affordable housings for the family so far) isn’t in the cards, and the lack of weatherproofing gives me pause. I could spring for the Nauticam offering, but that’s already $1300 without a dome port.

 

Overall, I also like the direction the OMD family is headed; I imagine they'll continue to get smaller and/or more powerful over time, which keep my lens family relevant. Also, I can expand my camera family back to the PEN series, if I want to equip my Fiance with a less intimating point and shoot type model that works with MFT lenses. I am a bit concerned though, as I haven't been able to actually try out an OM-D camera anywhere local. Best Buy for example has the SL1 and A6000 on display, but nothing from the OM-D line.

 

C) The Sony A6000 also seems like a decent alternative, but apparently lacks the MFT glass options.

 

D) Mystery door number 4: Open to other suggestions (eg. Panasonic, Fuji, Nikon, etc)

 

So, sorry for the brain dump, but this is after a month or so of researching. I'm certainly open to a 'sanity check' if any of my above requirements are simply unreasonable.

 

Thoughts, comments, concerns? Any feedback welcome.

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Hi,

You've clearly given your options some thought but I'm afraid I'm having trouble coming up with an option that meets all of your wish list. . I'd recommend you checkout the Backscatter article on "Best Compacts for 2014" and see if anything resonates.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Having gone thru all your wishes, I think A6000 is the camera of choice. Needless to say EM1 is the one, if cost is not a concern but Sony A6000 answers many questions older Nex shooter like me.

As the lens side, the current 50 macro 2.8 Zeiss does a decent job and the wide angle options include the 10-18 zoom and Zeiss 12/2.8.

I suggest to shoot both EM5 and A6000 to decide which system to go. Olympus undboutedly has the most complete lens system with an excellent camera. Sony plays a catchup game with this A6000....I personally tested in Sony's shop and found it focuses more or less the same as A99. More tests are needed. Two of my buddies bout A6000 and the fantastic Nauticam housings.

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Having gone thru all your wishes, I think A6000 is the camera of choice. Needless to say EM1 is the one, if cost is not a concern but Sony A6000 answers many questions older Nex shooter like me.

As the lens side, the current 50 macro 2.8 Zeiss does a decent job and the wide angle options include the 10-18 zoom and Zeiss 12/2.8.

I suggest to shoot both EM5 and A6000 to decide which system to go. Olympus undboutedly has the most complete lens system with an excellent camera. Sony plays a catchup game with this A6000....I personally tested in Sony's shop and found it focuses more or less the same as A99. More tests are needed. Two of my buddies bout A6000 and the fantastic Nauticam housings.

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I can't speak for some of the technical stuff, however I recently plumped for the EM-10 as an upgrade from my old S-95. Its only done 2 trips with me currently, but impressed so far. Out of your wish list, it includes the Wifi option - I can dump photos straight from my camera to phone and then to facebook if I so wish, plus with the 14-42EZ lens it is fairly pocketable ( with a suitably sized pocket of course).

 

It does offer live view and the option to switch between the screen/viewfinder - a built in flash also is a nice touch compared to the clip-on flashes of some models. I agree that the lack of weatherproofing is a point, however I went for the Nauticam housing with the vacuum system which certainly helps with improving survivability!. If you just use the housing without tray/strobes its fairly compact compared to the EM-5/EM-1 systems also. Hope this helps.

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Having gone thru all your wishes, I think A6000 is the camera of choice. Needless to say EM1 is the one, if cost is not a concern but Sony A6000 answers many questions older Nex shooter like me. As the lens side, the current 50 macro 2.8 Zeiss does a decent job and the wide angle options include the 10-18 zoom and Zeiss 12/2.8. I suggest to shoot both EM5 and A6000 to decide which system to go. Olympus undboutedly has the most complete lens system with an excellent camera. Sony plays a catchup game with this A6000....I personally tested in Sony's shop and found it focuses more or less the same as A99. More tests are needed. Two of my buddies bout A6000 and the fantastic Nauticam housings.

 

 

Hmm. I was "afraid" the A6000 would start to become a dark horse, thus making this choice even harder! It's larger sensor and resulting 24MP shooting rez are certainly praise worthy though. Also, I'm on-board with it's 'cons' being a lack of touch screen and average viewfinder spec, as neither of those are of consequence underwater. It is a bit odd that it lacks an in-body mic though, which I'd like to have for shooting on-land video from time to time. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for the "sweep panorama" feature too, and use the pano mode on my iPhone all the time. I know it's not really underwater friendly, but I'm sure shooting panos at 24MP could lead to some amazing shots on land.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the viewfinder placement though, having tried one out at a local store. For on-land photography, it felt a bit awkward to shoot.I'll search around to see if anyone is making extended grips for the camera, perhaps to balance this better.

 

I can't speak for some of the technical stuff, however I recently plumped for the EM-10 as an upgrade from my old S-95. Its only done 2 trips with me currently, but impressed so far. Out of your wish list, it includes the Wifi option - I can dump photos straight from my camera to phone and then to facebook if I so wish, plus with the 14-42EZ lens it is fairly pocketable ( with a suitably sized pocket of course).

 

It does offer live view and the option to switch between the screen/viewfinder - a built in flash also is a nice touch compared to the clip-on flashes of some models. I agree that the lack of weatherproofing is a point, however I went for the Nauticam housing with the vacuum system which certainly helps with improving survivability!. If you just use the housing without tray/strobes its fairly compact compared to the EM-5/EM-1 systems also. Hope this helps.

 

I certainly agree that the EM-10 is the best mix of features at the price. But I went to a local camera shop this weekend, where I got to handle all three models in the OM-D line, and then a problem arose: I actually picked up an EM-1.

 

"Wow" about sums up my reaction. It just felt right. It felt like my first film SLR from years ago; it had just the right heft and feel, solid handling, dials and buttons that were right where I'd want them. By comparison, the EM-10/EM-5, and A6000 felt like toys that needed to be handled with care, where as the EM-1 felt like a mechanical instrument. I walked out of there knowing that would be my next camera. It's a great shop too (Allens Camera in Levittown PA), and they'll be giving me a shout the next time a used model hits the floor, which should keep the cost just under $1k for the body. Great selection of used glass too!

 

 

So at this point, it's looking like a show down between the A6000 and the EM-1. If I were just shooting underwater, the A6000 would probably take it, owing to it's smaller housing foot print, and macro friendly full frame (I'm sure more Fish eye type lenses are on the way). Plus, it's lack of touch screen wouldn't be painful underwater. But for surface shooting, the EM-1 just feel better and more balanced.

 

 

Choices, choices...

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I don't think any of those choices will be pocketable (unless you're using a pancake lens) seeing as they are all interchangeable lens cameras.

 

I don't know if I can lend much info, but I've just purchased the RDX-100D for the SL1 from Sea&Sea (which can be had for around 1k new from Japan). Quite a bit smaller than the ikelite offering, and only slightly larger than the Olympus housings as compared in person at Bluewaterphotostore showroom. For me, this was a no brainer since I already had an SL1, however I was considering moving from the G10 to the Olympus line due to the small size as well.

 

In the end, the availability of the tokina 10-17 for the SL1 and the non-pocketable (in my opinion) nature of the Olympus pushed me to where I am.

 

FYI, I don't find focusing in live view to be noticeably slower.

 

In any event, good luck on your choice, either way, new toy at the end of the day!

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I don't think any of those choices will be pocketable (unless you're using a pancake lens) seeing as they are all interchangeable lens cameras.

 

I don't know if I can lend much info, but I've just purchased the RDX-100D for the SL1 from Sea&Sea (which can be had for around 1k new from Japan). Quite a bit smaller than the ikelite offering, and only slightly larger than the Olympus housings as compared in person at Bluewaterphotostore showroom. For me, this was a no brainer since I already had an SL1, however I was considering moving from the G10 to the Olympus line due to the small size as well.

 

In the end, the availability of the tokina 10-17 for the SL1 and the non-pocketable (in my opinion) nature of the Olympus pushed me to where I am.

 

FYI, I don't find focusing in live view to be noticeably slower.

 

In any event, good luck on your choice, either way, new toy at the end of the day!

This is incredibly helpful actually!

 

At this point, I'd defer to the IL housing if I went with an SL1, as I could probably walk out of the shop with one under 1K (it pays to be a volunteer dive master :) ), but if I could get a deal on a Sea and Sea I'd also cross shop it (it is a fantastic looking housing).

 

Do you regularly shoot in live view? My initial assumption was that this wouldn't be ideal, but now it appears this isn't the case.

 

The lack of "the" fish-eye lens for underwater use, the Tokina, is indeed a painful barb in MILs side, but it looks like Panasonic makes a half way decent substitute.

 

As far as "pocket-able" I was hoping for at least cargo or jacket pockets to work, but at this point I agree that's simply not realistic. Smaller and lighter still make for a less obtrusive 'wart' hanging off my side though.

 

One hesitation point I still have with the SL1 though, is where my upgrade path would lie. Upgrading to a higher end rebel means a larger camera and housing, thus making it less likely to be taken on a trip. While I'm sure whatever eventually replaces the SL1 in the line up will be a step forward, I can't help but feel Canon will always sand-bag the camera just a bit, as it's the Rebel lines "little brother".

 

Conversely, the EM-1 is the top dog in it's line up (upgrade path thus being irrelevant), and would only see replacement after a generation or two of new models come down the pipe.

 

The A6000 also leaves me the option of taking my glass to the A7 (or whatever iteration replaces it) down the road..or just buying the A7 to start (used models are going for the same price as used EM-1s), which again sees me shooting with the 'top dog' in the line up.

 

 

This isn't gonna be easy....

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At this point, I'd defer to the IL housing if I went with an SL1, as I could probably walk out of the shop with one under 1K (it pays to be a volunteer dive master :) ), but if I could get a deal on a Sea and Sea I'd also cross shop it (it is a fantastic looking housing).

 

Try Yuzo over at uwdigitalcamera.com or you can also try divervision.com

 

 

Do you regularly shoot in live view? My initial assumption was that this wouldn't be ideal, but now it appears this isn't the case.

 

...

 

One hesitation point I still have with the SL1 though, is where my upgrade path would lie. Upgrading to a higher end rebel means a larger camera and housing, thus making it less likely to be taken on a trip. While I'm sure whatever eventually replaces the SL1 in the line up will be a step forward, I can't help but feel Canon will always sand-bag the camera just a bit, as it's the Rebel lines "little brother".

 

I'll shoot live view when I'm going after fast moving animals (fish for the most part), use the viewfinder if doing reefscapes or macro or slow moving animals (crabs and nudis...etc.). I wouldn't shoot in live view exclusively as that would drain the battery too fast. Note however this this is a new system for me and I'm also still learning it.

 

As far as upgrade path...well, IMO, it's a consumer electronic item. That means, something will always be better. If the camera and lens combinations that you can get now produce images that please you now, why should they not do the same in 2, 3, 4, 5 or longer years? I've given up on trying to have the best available electronic equipment, it's a money hole. I buy when I like at the time and is within my budget, and then don't look at any of the new models until my current model breaks or I find it limiting in some way. My old G10 lasted me 5-6 years, and I've had the SL1 for 1-2 years, and don't see myself upgrading anytime soon. When the time comes, there are already rumors of 150d/SL2 sometime soon.

 

Heck, I still have an old galaxy S2 phone going on 4 years I think, and it's going to die before I get a new one, it does all the things I need it to, no reason to spend more on an upgrade.

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I stressed the same as you and bought an E-M1.

Just how it feels in the hand... wow.

 

The only thing that would come to it for me would be the A7s but really, the E-M1 is a tool in every sense of the word.

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I spent a long time with similar thoughts to you...... I ended up going for the E-M1 and I can honestly say I am glad I did, I am still getting used to the cameras operation but the results I am getting I could not be more happy with. If you can afford it I would say go for the EM1.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone!

 

As follow-up, I went with the E-M5 after all. Oly had a Columbus day sale where refurbs were on heavy discount. I nabbed a refurb M5 with the 12-40 RII lens for about $600. As my grandmother would say, "it would cost me money to leave it there" :D

 

A 2 year extended warranty from Oly is only $100, so I'm still out ahead of a new M5 price-wise.

 

As far as handling, my fiance got me the HLD-6 grip, which really brings it pretty close to the in-hand feeling of the E-M1 (M1 still wins here, but it's not $400 better IMO), but can be removed to make the M5 more portable. Even fully loaded, the M5 is cheaper than the M1, and that lets me put the cash into expanding my glass and underwater kit. This way, I'll have a turn-key operation going should I adopt an M1 down the road, or more likely I'll 'leap frog' the M1, and go with what Oly offers as it's replacement in (presumably) a year or two. And this way I also have the M5 as a back-up rig down the line.

 

So far I'm having a blast with my '5! It's a very fast, 'smart' shooter, and I've only scratched the surface of what it can do.

 

Next question of course, is how to get it underwater. I'm now comparing the Oly PT-EP08 ($1.4k with port) vs Nauti NA-EM5 ($1.9K with port). Any imput one brand vs. the other?

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I have the Nauticam and I think that is the way to go. Much more of a system (ports, trays etc.) but a bit more $.

Bill

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I too have the Nauticam for the EM-5, having upgraded a couple of years ago from an earlier Olympus PEN in their plastic housing. There is no comparison between these housing lines. Even though the Nauticam is a lot more expensive, it is so worth it every time I get in the water that I have never regretted that decision. There was a lot of discussion on this exac comparison in the massive OM-D thread some time ago, you shoudl be able to find it with a search.

 

Regarding the lens, consider getting the 12-50 for UW use. They can be found all over the place quite cheaply and will give you true macro capability along with a really useful zoom range. Also lots of debate on lens choices in the consolidated thread.

Edited by troporobo

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Yeah, the Nauticam is looking like the way to go, I appreciate the feedback!

 

Regarding the 12-50, I'm really hesitant there. The lens itself looks great, but $550 is a LOT of money for a zoom gear (that's the rate on Backscatter at least), and it looks cheaper all in to just go with the more expensive Oly Macro 60 and zoom gear (which appear to be compatible with the 72 flat port). Of course, the 12-50 lets the camera swing-role between macro and wide angle.

 

Choices, choices...

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As soon as you start having changable lenses then ports become an issue (cost, availibility, packability)

I have gone the Olympus route (E-PL3 in an Olympus housing) and can use the 60mm macro and the 9-18 behind the Zen port. or the 14-42 behind the standard port with a wet lens for macro.

I only have live view and that does not seem to cause any focusing issues.

I would like the 8mm fisheye but thats another port and the hand luggage is getting very full already.

On the surface I find the pen series Ok but not as nice as my D300.

I don't shoot video so cannot comment on that.

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As soon as you start having changable lenses then ports become an issue (cost, availibility, packability)

I have gone the Olympus route (E-PL3 in an Olympus housing) and can use the 60mm macro and the 9-18 behind the Zen port. or the 14-42 behind the standard port with a wet lens for macro.

I only have live view and that does not seem to cause any focusing issues.

I would like the 8mm fisheye but thats another port and the hand luggage is getting very full already.

On the surface I find the pen series Ok but not as nice as my D300.

I don't shoot video so cannot comment on that.

The 8mm panasonic (Lumix) fisheye is very small and light and so too the Nauticam 3.5" port for it.No weight or bulk problems for travel.

 

When I first made the step from a compact to the EM-5 I regretted not having the ability to shoot everything on the one dive, macro and wide using assorted wet lenses.I then reminded myself that the reason for the change was to get better image quality with good glass and more camera options. So I got the 60mm macro and the 8mm fisheye. I don't have a good wide zoom yet so the 12-50 in the macro port is a, not particularly satisfactory, substitute.

 

If having to make a decision on what type of subject you are going for prior to the dive is a major problem then I suggest sticking with a compact rig.

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