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divervince

Setup for ambient light shooting of deep wrecks

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I'm looking for recommendations on what kind of setup would be recommended for ambient light shooting of the exterior of ship wrecks, like in Truk Lagoon. I'm brand new to photography (both land and underwater). My concerns are the size of the setup, being able to take wide angle shots of the whole exterior of the wreck in ambient light, and white balance for video clips.

 

I think I prefer smaller setups (compact or mirrorless) and have never use one of the big DSLR rigs. The compact 1" sensor cameras appeal to me in that aspect. Would a one inch sensor camera like the Canon G7X or Sony RX100 series be good enough with a wide angle or fisheye wet lens?

 

I own a Sony a6000 (as well as the 16mm f2.8 lens + fisheye converter VCL-ECF2) but not a housing or the appropriate port. I got this to learn basic photography; it's an option to use but I'm open to others too. Would the a6000 do well for ambient light shooting photos and video in depths from 100 to 200 feet?

 

My main concern with sony (And all non-canon cameras) is that the white balance seems poor, so for video that could be a problem. However, at depths past 80 feet is white balance pointless?

 

Thanks for any feedback.

Edited by divervince

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I shoot wrecks in the Great Lakes primarily, and the type of photo you are describing probably has more to do with the conditions on any given day, rather than the type of camera. Truk is more likely to have great visibility than the Great Lakes, but even at that, how bright the day is will have a bearing. These "panoramic" shots are not easy to take with successful results.

 

As for any particular camera, as you noted, a very wide angle is necessary. I find I like the results better when I shoot with a slower shutter speed (and a steady hand) in darker conditions, that I do with cranking up the ISO. Some of my personal favorites (and that were good enough to run in a dive magazine) were shot at 1/40th of a second.

 

I don't much worry about white balance... I set it at auto and if necessary, I tweak it a little in post...

 

There's some examples of this type of shot here: https://wetspot.smugmug.com/Shipwrecks/

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Truk for me is a bit of an oddity for visibility and colour of the water.

 

Its not 30m+ viz and due to some of the size of the wrecks can cast dark shadows making it appear a lot darker than it actually is, also add that due to the location, its very likely to be cloudy topside so again making it all a bit darker.

 

You're right in that the Sony's haven't had the best rap for MWB, but on a recent thread about the A7SII the use of the Underwater mode gave some nice results - does the A6000 have that?

 

Try the 'shade' WB, as that is pushing the Kelvin up towards 9-10k and you might be happy with the results.

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simonK, wow, those are very nice! I was surprise when I looked up your camera to see it was a compact with a 1/1.6 sized sensor. I do have a similar compact camera, a canon s95, though the lens on the canon is not as fast as your olympus. Perhaps the old s95 paired with a gopro is enough.

 

thetrickster, I'll have to double check the a6000 WB settings later but I thought to get a proper white balance underwater 55000 K is needed. 9-10k is enough? By 'shade' white balance do you mean setting the temperature manually?

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The problem with compact cameras (and full size dslr) is that the cost of the camera is a minor part, once you have added housings, extra glass and strobes the costs rapidly spiral! If you already have an S95 eBay or ads on here may be a good option pull together a decent system.

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Are fisheye lenses recommended for wrecks? If so, how much curvature is there in the water?

Also, if not fisheye, then is a wide angle with..... 120 degrees what's recommended? That's a 15mm lens?

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Hey Vince

 

I used to use a Tokina 10-17 FE on a DX camera and now use 15mm on an FX.

 

The FE curvature obviously impacts on straight lines. It bends them. So the more straight lines there are in your image, the more the effect. If you can avoid truly straight lines away from the centre of the image, where the distortion is greatest, so much the better.

 

The advantage is though, that you can get so much in the image from not far way so reducing the amount of water between you and the subject. So you can get lots of a wreck in - maybe with a diver to give scale - without being too far away.

 

A lot is personal preference but I rarely find an FE lens is just too much on a wreck. Quite the opposite: it's usually just the job!

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I shot wrecks with a Nikkor 16mm rectangular FE for years. The FE lenses are good for "outside shooting in" pics, but you going to be shooting manual to get the right exposure. Forced perspective (aka distortion) is a given with FE lenses, but is controlled with precise composition. Got to keep your planes lined up.

 

The two strobe rigs are definittely too large to go inside. (That was film and digital in an Ike hsg with Ike Substrobes)

 

So I switched to Olympus P&S and was able to shoot inside. The I went to a Cannon S90 in a Fisheye Fix hsg plsu INON D2000 strobe, and that allowed me to have small rig with one strobe plus the Inon 100 WAL which worked nicely. You really don't need to go wider than 24mm EFL inside a compartment but maybe in a main space like cargo hold? Silting up and backscatter are big problems in side.

 

IF you are penetrating make sure you can collapse your rig to get thru tight spots.

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Definitely planning to do some penetration in wrecks so a big rig is out. Right now I'm considering just using my old s95 in ikelite housing and maybe one video light for inside. I'm also considering the Recsea a6000 housing with the Sony fisheye converter lens because the housing seems to be barely bigger than a point and shoot housing. I don't see a lot of information on the Recsea housing or their port compatibility though.

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I know a coule of people who shoot quite happily with video lights, but that's mainly on deep UK weeks without a lot of ambient light. You do loose a lot of flexibility when trying to balance natural and artificial light.

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