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therion11

What's more valuable, Autofocus vs resolving power?

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Hi folks

 

I'm considering a replacement for my TG-5, owing to the low resolution (12mp) which hinders my printing ability for photos, and lack of manual controls to customise my shots. I'm mostly interested in macro but am also keen to do some wide angle depending on what the focal points of a dive involve.

 

With that in mind I'm eyeing up a Sony a6400 or A7Rii, the latter being a bit more expensive. The 6400 has better autofocus but much lower resolution and APS-c vs Full Frame may provide other advantages. My current camera however, has neither powerful autofocus or significant resolving power. So I'm curious what people here have to say about the merits of either for macro work and possibly wide angle too. I'm also open to other suggestions for models I may not have considered.

 

Cheers!

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I don't have experience with the Sony models, but my guess would be full frame for wide angle and APS-C for macro. If I had to choose again I would probably take the a7rIII, it's supposed to have much better autofocus compared to the a7rii.

Also Sony is focusing mostly on full frame nowadays, they are not making any new APS-C lenses anymore. If you compare housing, lens costs etcetera the price difference between the A7rii/A7riii is not that big (unless you buy used gear).

Anyway Sony isn't really known for super fast macro focusing, regardless of model. DSLR is still the best for that. Also lenses are quite big and very expensive (and as far as I know no decent fisheye is available for wide angle).

If you want to do mostly macro you might want to look at other brands like Olympus which are easyer on the wallet, also the new mirrorless camera's from Nikon/Canon/Panasonic are quite exciting. Interesting times :)

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Just my two cents!

 

For macro work I would recommend a micro 4/3 camera system. The smaller size of the lenses and in particular the Olympus 60mm macro lens allow you to get in close to get shots that a lot of the time you won't be able to make with a FF or APS-C system. With regards to focus, generally speaking your macro subjects are mostly slow moving or stationary so fast focusing is not a primary issue, I tend to use auto focus to get me in the ballpark and then use manual focus with "focus peaking" to select where on the subject I wish to concentrate focus. A good quality 16MP sensor as in the Olympus cameras is good enough for most macro work but stepping up to the new 20MP Olympus sensor as seen in the OMD EM-1 mk2 would allow a little more cropping possibilities in post editing. Of course a good housing, focus light, strobes and if you can afford it a 45 degree viewfinder will make all the difference.

 

Micro 4/3 is smaller, lighter (for travelling and use) and less expensive, and it really only loses out a little to FF when it comes to shooting large wide angle shots of large animals, reefs and wrecks. In my opinion stepping up from a TG5 to a micro 4/3 system will keep you more than happy for many years, and if you should ever get to the point where you are better than the camera then there is always the FF system.

 

My recommended setup for macro would be:

 

Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk2

Olympus 60mm macro lens

Nauticam CMC-2 and CMC-1 macro converters

Flip holder for CMC-1/2

Dual Strobes

Nauticam housing with macro port and vacuum system

Nauticam 45 degree viewfinder

A good focus light with both white and red light output

Edited by kstokell
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Just my two cents!

 

For macro work I would recommend a micro 4/3 camera system. The smaller size of the lenses and in particular the Olympus 60mm macro lens allow you to get in close to get shots that a lot of the time you won't be able to make with a FF or APS-C system. With regards to focus, generally speaking your macro subjects are mostly slow moving or stationary so fast focusing is not a primary issue, I tend to use auto focus to get me in the ballpark and then use manual focus with "focus peaking" to select where on the subject I wish to concentrate focus. A good quality 16MP sensor as in the Olympus cameras is good enough for most macro work but stepping up to the new 20MP Olympus sensor as seen in the OMD EM-1 mk2 would allow a little more cropping possibilities in post editing. Of course a good housing, focus light, strobes and if you can afford it a 45 degree viewfinder will make all the difference.

 

Micro 4/3 is smaller, lighter (for travelling and use) and less expensive, and it really only loses out a little to FF when it comes to shooting large wide angle shots of large animals, reefs and wrecks. In my opinion stepping up from a TG5 to a micro 4/3 system will keep you more than happy for many years, and if you should ever get to the point where you are better than the camera then there is always the FF system.

 

My recommended setup for macro would be:

 

Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk2

Olympus 60mm macro lens

Nauticam CMC-2 and CMC-1 macro converters

Flip holder for CMC-1/2

Dual Strobes

Nauticam housing with macro port and vacuum system

Nauticam 45 degree viewfinder

A good focus light with both white and red light output

 

I agree MFT is really the domain for macro not so much Sony APS

 

The CMC-2 is not required for the Olympus 60mm as the lens already focusses closer than the wet lens can do so you don't need that

 

The 60mm can reach an area of 17x9 mm so you need the CMC-1 only to shoot stuff that is between 9 and 17 mm

 

I would wait a second before investing in a viewfinder unless you are used to it

 

Also for super macro you can start with a much cheaper set up you don-t need the EM-1 of the GH5

 

This image is not cropped

 

27031145777_871fb5b84b_k.jpgVoila by Interceptor121, on Flickr

Edited by Interceptor121
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Assuming that flash sync speed is sufficient, fast focus and low shutter lag above all else for macro. Given narrow depth of field and constant movement, the ability to focus and immediately take a picture exactly when you want it is king. All the pixels in the world won't do you any good if the subject is out of focus to begin with.

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Assuming that flash sync speed is sufficient, fast focus and low shutter lag above all else for macro. Given narrow depth of field and constant movement, the ability to focus and immediately take a picture exactly when you want it is king. All the pixels in the world won't do you any good if the subject is out of focus to begin with.

 

Sony have 1/160 sync speed that is an additional limitation for macro

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Micro43 is a good solution, I think it's the sweet spot. If you look at area of sensors, you TG-5 is 29 mm2 and a m43 is 225 mm2 a 7.5 fold increase and the biggest jump between sensor sizes and this is important for noise and dynamic range, your TG-5 should produce nice prints when well exposed and at base ISO, above that noise starts to creep in. APS-C and full frame are better but at base ISO or thereabouts not that much better, the difference is more apparent when you are pushing ISO for low light shooting.

 

MP is not everything a 12 MP camera can produce nice prints.

 

I always suggest looking at it from a total system perspective which includes costs of housings and ports, available UW suitable lenses and their price and portability. Looking at these items:

 

Price: if you are looking at Nauitcam or other quality housings an Oly EM-1 II housing is around $3000 (Australian prices) while an A7II housing is $4550. The change gets you 2/3 of the camera for an EM-1 MkII

 

Lenses: Oly 60mm macro $470 Sony 90mm macro: $1387 Sony does not have a native fisheye lens. You buy the Panasonic 8mm fisheye for about $900.

 

Domes: you can use the Oly 7-14 in a 170-180mm dome, the equivalent on full frame needs a 230mm dome, price and size difference for traveling is significant.

 

Portability: my setup in a Think Tank carry on size backpack, in here is housing, 170mm dome, 100mm fisheye dome, macro port, Oly 12-40 and 60mm macro, Pany 7-14 and 8mm fisheye, two INON Z-240, spare batteries, optic fibre cables etc which will fit in overhead or under the seat in front on just about any plane:

 

http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~chrisx2/images/IMG_2948.jpg

 

I shoot with the EM-1 MkII and I use C-AF plus tracking and find it works really well.

Edited by ChrisRoss
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I don't have experience with the Sony models, but my guess would be full frame for wide angle and APS-C for macro. If I had to choose again I would probably take the a7rIII, it's supposed to have much better autofocus compared to the a7rii.

Also Sony is focusing mostly on full frame nowadays, they are not making any new APS-C lenses anymore. If you compare housing, lens costs etcetera the price difference between the A7rii/A7riii is not that big (unless you buy used gear).

Anyway Sony isn't really known for super fast macro focusing, regardless of model. DSLR is still the best for that. Also lenses are quite big and very expensive (and as far as I know no decent fisheye is available for wide angle).

If you want to do mostly macro you might want to look at other brands like Olympus which are easyer on the wallet, also the new mirrorless camera's from Nikon/Canon/Panasonic are quite exciting. Interesting times :)

Hi there. The A7Riii is currently around $4300 for body only, while the A7Rii is 2.5. i would likely be using the same lens for macro on both, the 90mm. So I am curious where you think the cost evens out?

 

Could you elaborate on what you mean by Sony isn't known for super fast macro focusing? How is a DSLR better?

 

I have also been considering a Nikon D810 as it's in my budget range, but have been put off by autofocus reports (I thoroughly love the image quality produced though). Housing costs will probably be more and i don't have any idea what lenses would be worth using.

 

I'm a little hesitant to go for M43 simply because of the sensor size being quite small. And the Nikon Z range is more than most people here in New Zealand pay for their car.

Edited by therion11

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DSLR with a mirror have pretty much instant autofocus. Go down to your local camera store (do they still exist) and pick up a Nikon D850 or Canon 5DIV with the 100 mm (or 105 for Nikon) and see how fast they focus. Pick up the Sony and the 90 macro and you will see that it focuses quite a bit more sluggishly because of the different technologies that make autofocus work on mirror vs. mirrorless cameras.

Bill

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Where sensor size really matters is available light high ISO shooting, if you go to DXO and compare the EM-1 MkII with the Sony A7 III the High ISO score is 1300 for the Oly and 3200 for the Sony. Which means they have equivalent performance at those ISOs. So if you are doing low light available light shooting there is a real advantage for the full frame. This difference is a lot less at lower ISOs as the improved signal to noise has diminishing returns. ISO160 on the Oly is about equivalent to ISO560 on the Sony - both will look great on screen and in print. The improvement going from a TG-5 to m43 is massive and going from m43 to full frame the improvement is incremental unless you are stepping up into the ISO1600 plus region. Particularly for macro, illumination is 100% flash and there's not really any shortage of light so you will be at base ISO mostly.

 

If you look at the noise curve for the A6500 it's pretty much on par with the olympus: https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7R-III-versus-Olympus-OM-D-E-M1-Mark-II-versus-Sony-A6500___1187_1136_1127

 

I would suggest you compare housing and port sizes in the flesh before deciding that is the way you want to go. If you are doing all local diving it's probably not such a big deal, it's a real boon when carrying it around on your back and trying to carry it on board when travelling to dive.

 

That's what swayed me to go with Olympus, for me it was the sett pot of performance (image quality and portability) vs price Their lenses are very sharp and they have a pretty much complete range of UW suitable lenses. I'm just suggesting being aware of what you are getting into and be aware of the benefits and trade offs.

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I agree MFT is really the domain for macro not so much Sony APS

 

The CMC-2 is not required for the Olympus 60mm as the lens already focusses closer than the wet lens can do so you don't need that

 

The 60mm can reach an area of 17x9 mm so you need the CMC-1 only to shoot stuff that is between 9 and 17 mm

 

I would wait a second before investing in a viewfinder unless you are used to it

 

Also for super macro you can start with a much cheaper set up you don-t need the EM-1 of the GH5

 

This image is not cropped

 

27031145777_871fb5b84b_k.jpgVoila by Interceptor121, on Flickr

Hi there. Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into some M43 cameras again. The 16MP Olympus has been a little off-putting largely due to the fact that it doesn't feel that much better than my 12. While 12 is fine for smaller wall prints, I am looking for something that can also take shots that look great at larger sizes. The ability to crop images freely would also be nice.

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Hi there. The A7Riii is currently around $4300 for body only, while the A7Rii is 2.5. i would likely be using the same lens for macro on both, the 90mm. So I am curious where you think the cost evens out?

 

Could you elaborate on what you mean by Sony isn't known for super fast macro focusing? How is a DSLR better?

 

I have also been considering a Nikon D810 as it's in my budget range, but have been put off by autofocus reports (I thoroughly love the image quality produced though). Housing costs will probably be more and i don't have any idea what lenses would be worth using.

 

I'm a little hesitant to go for M43 simply because of the sensor size being quite small. And the Nikon Z range is more than most people here in New Zealand pay for their car.

Hi, I mean if you add up all costs of a housing, strobes and necessary lenses the difference becomes very small. Not sure about the prices in your country, but here in Europe two strobes, the a7riii body, housing and the 90mm macro including port is a total cost of around €9000. The a7rII is €1000,- cheaper, making it €8000 total, a difference of only around 13%. Which becomes even less if you include domes and wide angle lenses. Once you have a setup you can't easily change body anymore, so I would always choose newer technology so it lasts longer (maybe unless you buy used gear). The a7riii is supposed to be a significant upgrade.

Regarding the autofocus of DSLR, here's a nice comparison of the D850 and a7riii, explaining it very well http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/nikon-d850-vs-sony-a7r-iii-underwater-photography

I do think the a7riii would give significant higher image quality compared to m43. I'm not really sure about focus speed, but the e-m1ii has pretty good focus. It's also significantly smaller, and cheaper (€5500 for E-m1II, similar setup).

You can check my signature for some e-m1ii pics (I'm not really pro though, not diving very often).

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Hi there. Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into some M43 cameras again. The 16MP Olympus has been a little off-putting largely due to the fact that it doesn't feel that much better than my 12. While 12 is fine for smaller wall prints, I am looking for something that can also take shots that look great at larger sizes. The ability to crop images freely would also be nice.

 

The real resolution of an image is not due to the sensor but to the combination with the lens. The TG-5 resolves around 2150 lines according to various tests my old GX7 2300 lines my GH5 around 2700 lines a Nikon D850 4000 lines.

You will not see double the resolution by increasing megapixels. 12 Megapixels however is not enough to crop. 16 feels right, 20 is plenty and more is just worth on a full sensor with a good lens in my view

 

Take also into account due to issues underwater image quality drops further

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How large do you realistically think you might want to print? 16MP will do 39 x 29cm at 300 DPI without resampling and the 20MP EM-1 MkII will do 44 x 33cm and will easily re-sample to a 60 x 45 or about A2 if needed if the image is well exposed and sharp. Not all pixels are created equal and a 12MP TG-5 image is generally not a match for a 12MP image out of a m43 or larger sensor. Certainly for anything on the web 12MP would be more than enough.

 

While in theory you can crop out of a high MP full frame in practice to have it look good every thing must be perfect (optics, focus and exposure) and if you are cropping it means you have extra water between you and your subject which robs detail. You only have to look at the premise for the Nauticam wet wide lens which says that the dome causes image degradation to the extent that a kit lens behind the properly designed water contact optics of the WWL or WACP out performs a top line rectilinear lens like a 16-35 wide angle behind a dome which would readily out perform the kit lens on land. A flat port is just a special case of a dome due to the refraction at the water-glass-air interface. The reviews I've seen indicate this indeed seems to the case. To me this indicates that the benefits of ultra high MP may not be all that you would think compared to what you can do on land.

 

Here's some examples with the EM-1 MkII:

 

Ceratosoma_amonenum14.jpg

SenatorWrasse3.jpg

 

First one a slight crop with Em-1 MkII and 60mm macro and second close to full frame with a Panasonic 30mm macro. The 60mm is too long on dives with creatures like medium fish weedy Sea Dragons. Both f8 ISO200 or 250.

Edited by ChrisRoss

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I'm also in the m4/3 camp, and have pretty much the same setup as Chris above. It is fantastic. I was just about to post the same point about print sizes but he beat me to it, In short, 20 MP is more than enough. And I find the fast autofocus essential when shooting super macro or using a diopter when there is even a slight current.

 

As for price, the savings on price and tax that you would enjoy in, say, Singapore (shoutout to Scubacam!) would more than pay for your air ticket to get there on your way to a dive holiday.

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I have used an Olympus em5 since 2012 with a Nauticam case. Lenses are plenty, sharp, and extremely compact (!).

All that is mentioned about M43 is true. And frankly while I see people buying larger sensors and after almost 7 years I have a hard time seeing any better quality to move from the setup I have. If you print larger than A3 or even A2 maybe full frame makes sense when you crop. High Iso is almost useless unless you do some special fisheye or very wideangle and no strobo. Most newer M43 will do fine at 1600 iso.

 

The new Panasonic GX9 seems a good price performance point in the M43 universe maybe even better than Olympus EM1-MkII.

But the improvement is not worth yet paying approx. 2500€ over what I have (body and case).

 

I would almost rather invest in a TGxx with manual control and 1" sensor to get into small holes and get away with even a lighter package! But unfortunately I do not see much coming in the compact size world for good quality UW photography.

Edited by nudibranco

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Thanks everyone! I'm considering the Olympus em1 Mark 2 system because it does look really good for macro and decent for wide angle.

 

However, the Sony a6500 is considerably cheaper than the Olympus by a few thousand NZD. My concern about the a6500 is now the maximum sync speed of 1/160. It looks like it's capable of doing wide angle shots and sunballs even if it being more difficult than a faster shutter speed. Can anybody comment about the 1/160 shutter speed limitation for macro and whether or not it's an obvious limitation?

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Crazy prices for the olympus in NZ, in OZ the EM-1 MkII is 2233 vs 1527 for the Sony at Digi direct. I think Camera House is the cheapest non-grey price at 2199. Are you comparing apples to apples? (i.e. not: grey to non-grey)

 

I think the biggest limitation for the Sony is the lens choice particularly for the E mount, the 90mm macro is too long (135mm equivalent) which will be a problem for all but the very small stuff particularly in turbid water and no native fisheye. The shorter Sony macro lenses don't review so well. As for the 1/160 sync speed, shouldn't be a problem for macro, sunballs it is reported to be a problem and people were complaining that 1/250 was a step backward from the EM-1 Mk1 which could do 1/320, but I have not done much with sunballs so really don't have experience.

Edited by ChrisRoss
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However, the Sony a6500 is considerably cheaper than the Olympus by a few thousand NZD.

 

That's just wrong. Plan a stopover in SIN or HKG on your next holiday. It will pay for itself.

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Crazy prices for the olympus in NZ, in OZ the EM-1 MkII is 2233 vs 1527 for the Sony at Digi direct. I think Camera House is the cheapest non-grey price at 2199. Are you comparing apples to apples? (i.e. not grey to non-grey)

 

I think the biggest limitation for the Sony is the lens choice particularly for the E mount, the 90mm macro is too long (135mm equivalent) which will be a problem for all but the very small stuff particularly in turbid water and no native fisheye. The shorter Sony lenses don't review so well.

Yeah, grey prices for the Olympus start around 2100. 1600 for thr Sony. Non-grey is around 3000 for the Olympus and 1800 for the Sony. Talking body only here as I am not too interested in getting kit lenses. Housings also aren't cheaper, with the Fantasea 6500 housing being about 2000. The Olympus housing is in a similar price range but looks like a worse housing, and the only other I can find with similar ergonomics and features requires stepping up to the Nauticam housings. They look like great housings, just not sure if I can afford them especially if buying the camera new.

 

Regarding the limitation of the 90mm lens, I am resigning myself to planning what I want before the dives. If it's a known drift dive I will be taking wide angle, if I muck diving sticking with a macro. Ideally I would be able to do fish portraits too so it's possible I can use a diopter with the 50mm macro and still get good results but I don't expect to be able to be that flexible on dives, and know from experience that on dives where the large creatures come out I don't do much macro photography anyway.

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That's just wrong. Plan a stopover in SIN or HKG on your next holiday. It will pay for itself.

 

Possibly. It's not as cheap as it might seem though, because I do get taxed on the items if bringing them home with me. But I will think about this if I want to upgrade around a known holiday period :)

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I shoot a Sony A6300 in a SeaFrogs housing, with 10-18mm and 90mm lenses and ST-100 strobes. I don't feel like 1/160s sync speed is a significant limitation; sunballs are possible even with my crappy TTL-only strobes; this was the first time I tried one:

 

O4lfRck.jpg

 

Macro is good too:

 

4FbnjIg.jpg

 

Medium-sized fish portraits are also possible.

 

nEb6juD.jpg

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Hi Therion,

 

 

here are my two cents...

 

I started 2016 and decided for MFT, like Chris, Interceptor, Nudibranco and Troporobo (now I am with EM1MII, but not much difference to EM5II except AF). There is a lot in favour of MFT and I am very excited about it - but I am not shure yet if this will remain my last system:

 

i.: relatively low weight and size

ii.: plenty of good lens available for UW (including adapted ones with metabones adapter)

iii.: lower price compared to APS-C and (mostly) FF - although I must say the real gap in price and size/weight is between compact and MFT. MFT systems with a lot of options (lenses and dome ports) are nor so far away from FF regarding price and size/weigth.

iv.: I think that image quality is very good - but I must say I have no own experience in comparing MFT to larger sensor formats (although the Internet is jam-packed with "comparisons" and "bench marks" I could not find so far a real comparison that does give me a real impression what I loose when using MFT instead of FF): I can only directly compare IQ to my wife's previous UW photos with compact (Lumix TZ5) and say IQ is substantially better - I guess in comparison to TG-5 it is similar. My subjective impression from viewing UW photos in the internet is that there is a gradual increase in IQ from compact (small sensor) => compact (1" sensor) => MFT => FF, the increments in IQ improvements roughly the identical as these steps are listed (and APS-C inbetween MFT and FF). I myself judge IQ mostly by sharpness, dynamic range (important upon prost-processing) and colour brilliance - but all of these criteria are mostly influenced by photograpgic skills, so no guarantee that more expensive system gives better quality...

 

So anyhow the IQ improvement will be substantial when upgrading from TG-5 to MFT (or even larger sensor)...

 

Here some example images from my last dive trip to Egypt, from (approx.) 1:1 macro to WW plus 2* S&S YS-D2 flashes to WW ambient light to circular FE with EM1II in Nauticam housing with appropriate lenses and ports:

 

post-55769-0-42715600-1551730114_thumb.jpg

post-55769-0-20491500-1551730139_thumb.jpg

post-55769-0-97214800-1551731585_thumb.jpg

post-55769-0-00283300-1551730175_thumb.jpg

post-55769-0-03032300-1551730199_thumb.jpg

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis

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Yes, it's an expensive business, but NZ seems to be still in the we can charge more just because we can mode, the Australian prices for Nauiticam housings and Oly cameras and even strobes are about equal to prices in the US converted to AUD$ plus GST. Olympus lenses however are way cheap in Australia, the Oly 12-40 is $US999 at BHPhoto but $A748 at Digi Direct. Google around to see what you can find, use all the tools, shopbot in Aus, Priceme in NZ. Could even be worth a flight across the ditch to pick it all up?

 

On housings, I have the Nauticam and it's been great, the Olympus housing has limited ports availability. You could go Ikelite, but ..They really are just a waterproof box.. The Fantasea housings are good by all reports,. I would definitely include a vacuum system in your plans!

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Yes, it's an expensive business, but NZ seems to be still in the we can charge more just because we can mode, the Australian prices for Nauiticam housings and Oly cameras and even strobes are about equal to prices in the US converted to AUD$ plus GST. Olympus lenses however are way cheap in Australia, the Oly 12-40 is $US999 at BHPhoto but $A748 at Digi Direct. Google around to see what you can find, use all the tools, shopbot in Aus, Priceme in NZ. Could even be worth a flight across the ditch to pick it all up?

 

On housings, I have the Nauticam and it's been great, the Olympus housing has limited ports availability. You could go Ikelite, but ..They really are just a waterproof box.. The Fantasea housings are good by all reports,. I would definitely include a vacuum system in your plans!

 

The one retailer here specifically selling strobes and other underwater gear would have charged me an extra 550 for the two strobes vs importing from Japan and paying gst and biosecurity levies. Sometimes living here sucks, bur I have also not seen many people diving here with more than just a compact camera and housing. So perhaps it's a very low volume market.

 

I will check Aus for nauticam products. I very much wanting a housing that is comfortable to use underwater above all else. I don't understand why horizontal shutter levers aren't more common on housings! Of I can get the Olympus for cheaper than the Sony I will definitely go that route as it does seem like a very capable camera and 20mp is about where I want it for printing.

 

Thanks!

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