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tantram

Ready for an Upgrade : Seeking mirrorless opinions and advice

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I currently have an RX100 IV with a Nauticam housing and Sea & Sea Strobes.

I went this direction to see if I liked UW photography, and I do but I have some issues with my current setup. Mainly the autofocus is ridiculously slow and low light photography is near impossible. I dive mostly in cold kelp forests of California waters where light can be an issue.

I have been looking at mirrorless options and am torn between the A6400 and the A7RIII. I was steered towards the A6400 by people who raved about the AF. I am considering the A7RIII because I don't want to regret my decision yet again and have to go through the whole housing/port/camera/lens upgrade.

Additionally, I'm considering an Ikelite housing and was wondering what people's thoughts are. People around here rant and rave about the Nauticam housing ergonomics but I honestly didn't find it amazing or anything (at least on mine).

Am I looking in the right direction? Anything else I should be considering? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear some opinions from people with more experience.

(Also looked at the Nikon Zs since they have a good trade-in value right now .. but those housings are soooo expensive)

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My daughter shoots with the A7III (not RIII) and loves it. She has the Nauticam housing (which is pricy, but very easy to use). Very good for macro, and really shines for wide angle.

Ikelite stuff is great value for the $. Why you don't see many really experienced u/w photographers shoot with Ike stuff is because they end upgrading to Seacam/Nauticam/Aquatica/etc. eventually.

There a few reasons for this:
- Nauticam/etc. tend to be a little more ergonomic (button placement, etc.)
- Ike housings tend to be a bit larger than the corresponding machined housings for the same housing (because Ike housings aren't machined metal).
- Some will argue that Ike housing a more likely to eventually see a flood (this is more user dependent than anything else). Having the option of a leak detector and vacuum pump makes the housings like Nauticam a little more idiot-proof.
- The machined housings tend to be more robust (much less likely to be damaged during travel, etc.)

And for me, the biggest reason - Nauticam is 100x better in being able to shoot with fiber optic connections to the strobes (I will never go back to electronic strobe cables...)

Again - much of this comes down to preference - Ike is great value for the $. 

 

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Does the Nauticam housing for RX100IV fit the RX100V? If your primary issue is AF speed, the V model brought OSPDAF and VA model refreshed the processor, which is basically the same tech as in Sony's mirrorless cameras - as opposed to CDAF in RX100IV and below. RX100VA is expensive for a compact, but much less expensive than an APS-C or FF body, lenses, housing and ports.

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MIrrorless is a no brainer. Question is 4/3 or full frame. 4/3 for me would be Sony, Panasonic or Olympus. Olympus is a good one for cost - Housings are excellent and cheap. Nikon and Cannon appear overpriced and housing likewise.

Low light? That is more about a fast lens, not the camera. Any 1.8 - 2.0 lens will give you good ambient light. However, Strobes are where it is at. Sea&Sea D2's are highest with a "32" rating WITHOUT going bankrupt.

Build your kit completely and then price it out. I don't like used, so I look for "closeouts" i.e. last years model. If you bought it  last year, you would not sell/buy just because your kit is one year old.

Good luck!

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I put together my first kit in early 2016.  At the time, I believe the Sony A7II was the only full frame mirrorless choice out there.  I went back and forth doing hours upon hours of research.  It finally came down to a choice between the A7RII and the Olympus EM-1.  I wound up choosing the EM-1.  Price was a considerable factor.  Not only was the Sony body more expensive, but the glass was much more expensive as well.  And heavier.  From a travel perspective, the M4/3 body and lenses are a heck of a lot smaller and lighter to lug around.  At the time, there was not a whole lot of great native Sony glass to pair up with the A7... I would imagine that has changed, but I can't say that I am super familiar with Sony lens offerings currently.  Certainly M4/3 have TONS of great lens choices that are tried and true for underwater applications.

I have been SUPER happy with my EM-1.  Obviously nowadays, you can get the mark II, which has a slightly higher MP sensor (20 vs 16). However, aside from a faster AF, I'm not sure how many of the other modest improvements are going to make any difference to you underwater.  And, if you can stomach not HAVING to have the newest model, you'll surely find EM1 bodies and housings in the classifieds for a fraction of what you'll pay for a new body and housing.  For me, the 16 MP sensor has worked well enough.  I have made prints that I've hung at my office up to 24x36 inches at 300 DPI.  Obviously you can't crop as much as you'd be able to crop with the A7RIII, but unless you are planning on making HUGE prints, all a 42 MP sensor is going to do is fill up your SD card faster.  Also, do not forget that the EM-1 allows strobe syncing up to 1/320th of a second, which outperforms most other higher end offerings on the market.  My final plug for the EM-1 is that the ability to change shooting parameters (aperture, shutter speed) on the fly is BRILLIANTLY easy.

Regarding Nauticam vs Ikelite, I've only used Nauticam, so cannot compare the two.  But my wife and I both shoot an EM1 in Nauticam and everything has been bullet proof.  Vacuum pump and leak sensor are a no brainer.

I agree with bill1946, SS YSD2 are a great bang for the buck and have worked very well for me.  I have over 200 dives in with my older non-J D2s and haven't had any issues.  Obviously numerous posts around these forums will cast some doubt in your mind about D2 reliability.  If I had to do it over again, it would be between YSD2 and some RETRAs.

Hope this helps!

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8 hours ago, bill1946 said:

MIrrorless is a no brainer. Question is 4/3 or full frame. 4/3 for me would be Sony, Panasonic or Olympus. Olympus is a good one for cost - Housings are excellent and cheap. Nikon and Cannon appear overpriced and housing likewise.

Low light? That is more about a fast lens, not the camera. Any 1.8 - 2.0 lens will give you good ambient light. However, Strobes are where it is at. Sea&Sea D2's are highest with a "32" rating WITHOUT going bankrupt.

Build your kit completely and then price it out. I don't like used, so I look for "closeouts" i.e. last years model. If you bought it  last year, you would not sell/buy just because your kit is one year old.

Good luck!

Low light underwater has nothing to do with fast lens as dome port optics mean you need to shoot small apertures. Only a small range of lenses are used open wide typically for macro bokeh

Having said that except you take ambient light shots in dark water high iso performance is not as important

One key considerations are lenses and ports and when you go for Sony underwater the choice on cropped is limited and on full frame you are looking at spending quite a bit of money on big domes

That is why nikon and canon are the most popular brands as they offer much wider lens choice

Micro four thirds systems are a good step up from the rx100 but cant compete with full frame cameras in terms of image quality still you can pull very good shots if you know what to do

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Hi,
the difference of low light is not the lens, that you get in a fast aperture from every brand,
but the sensor...
A m43 with a f 2 lens is simply not as good as a Dx or Fx with a f 2....
Thats physics. Not beliving

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Full frame is in a class all its own. That does not rule out 4/3. Many professionals are moving to 4/3. It is an personal choice. This is not putting down one over the other. I've been shooting for over 20 years. I see about everything on the camera table and each owner has their own personal story about "why". So, Tantrum, read the advice and thoughts here and make your choice. I hope you are happy. Dive often and dive safe. 

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On 9/23/2019 at 1:43 PM, dmshore said:

 For me, the 16 MP sensor has worked well enough.  I have made prints that I've hung at my office up to 24x36 inches at 300 DPI.  

Hope this helps!

Minor correction here, but that wouldn't be anywhere near 300DPI. It would be around half that. The 16MP sensor will do prints that size, but it will start to break down on the quality a bit. I've got the same sized sensor in my E-M5mkII and have printed large, but it definitely doesn't have the same detail as an 11x14 would. 

 

Honestly, at this point I would just bite the bullet and get something full frame instead of M4/3. I would like to switch at this point, but definitely can't spend that kind of money.

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Thank you everyone for all of the feedback, I've learned a lot from this post.

I'll follow up when I get all of my new gear and let you know where I landed.

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"Minor correction here, but that wouldn't be anywhere near 300DPI. It would be around half that. The 16MP sensor will do prints that size, but it will start to break down on the quality a bit. I've got the same sized sensor in my E-M5mkII and have printed large, but it definitely doesn't have the same detail as an 11x14 would. " There are a slew of good up-rezzing programs (Topaz for example) that can take your 16MP file and make it into 20x24 x 360 DPI with good results (a lot depends on the photo of course).

Bill

 

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8 hours ago, JMartel said:

Minor correction here, but that wouldn't be anywhere near 300DPI. It would be around half that. The 16MP sensor will do prints that size, but it will start to break down on the quality a bit. I've got the same sized sensor in my E-M5mkII and have printed large, but it definitely doesn't have the same detail as an 11x14 would. 

 

Honestly, at this point I would just bite the bullet and get something full frame instead of M4/3. I would like to switch at this point, but definitely can't spend that kind of money.

Interesting.  I print my stuff at Costco... mostly on acrylic, but also some on aluminum.  I always save my pdf from Lightroom at 300 dpi, and I've been able to print (minimally cropped images) up to 24x36 on both of those media without issue.  I can't tell you it looks grainy or pixelated.  So I guess those images aren't being printed at a full 300 dpi?  I've been happy with the print quality, so I guess whether it is 300 or 250 or 200 or whatever dpi, it's enough that (to my eyeball) it just looks like a picture, not a digital mess...

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dpi is a measurement that you can easily calculate. So for 300dpi and an image of 24x36" you would need a file with 7200x10800 pixels. The largest image size for 20mp mu43 files is 17x11 inch. I personally have printed at 40x60cm (roughly 15x23") and those images came out fine. The reason for that is that with size viewing distance goes up as well. Only photographers go up to a picture and look at the print quality. Everyone else looks at the whole scene. Obviously, if you hang it in your own house a photographer (you!) will be looking at it fairly regularly. 

In the end this is a question where it depends a bit on your willingness to compromise (or budget constraints). If you can afford FF and can accept the bulk and weight that comes with it, image quality is undeniably better. But I would say that for the vast majority mu43 already far exceeds their photographic ability and more pixels will just allow them to blow up mediocre shots larger (at this point in time, I count my self among those).

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dpi is a measurement that you can easily calculate. So for 300dpi and an image of 24x36" you would need a file with 7200x10800 pixels. The largest image size for 20mp mu43 files is 17x11 inch. I personally have printed at 40x60cm (roughly 15x23") and those images came out fine. The reason for that is that with size viewing distance goes up as well. Only photographers go up to a picture and look at the print quality. Everyone else looks at the whole scene. Obviously, if you hang it in your own house a photographer (you!) will be looking at it fairly regularly. 
In the end this is a question where it depends a bit on your willingness to compromise (or budget constraints). If you can afford FF and can accept the bulk and weight that comes with it, image quality is undeniably better. But I would say that for the vast majority mu43 already far exceeds their photographic ability and more pixels will just allow them to blow up mediocre shots larger (at this point in time, I count my self among those).
Interesting 4/3 is 4÷3 aspect ratio so what you are saying is that with a 20 mp you can print A3 that's 42×30 approx

Sent from my SM-A505FN using Tapatalk

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A3 should be no problem. Remember that dpi is just short for dots (pixels) per inch. The higher the number the better quality. There are websites where you can enter your resolution and preferred dpi and it will give you the maximum size. 

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56 minutes ago, hyp said:

A3 should be no problem. Remember that dpi is just short for dots (pixels) per inch. The higher the number the better quality. There are websites where you can enter your resolution and preferred dpi and it will give you the maximum size. 

Yes I realised. I have an A4 printer and it looks pretty good but never thought of going A3 so far

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There is of course more to image quality than just resolution, which is why 1080p downscaled from 4k often looks better than straight up 1080p. But apart from that you won't gain much with most printing services as they often won't be able to print higher resolutions than 300dpi. I use saal-digital and most of their products are printed at 300dpi (and probably upscaled if you don't have the necessary resolution). Most likely images will still look very good at 200dpi, too. 

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On 9/25/2019 at 8:09 PM, dmshore said:

Interesting.  I print my stuff at Costco... mostly on acrylic, but also some on aluminum.  I always save my pdf from Lightroom at 300 dpi, and I've been able to print (minimally cropped images) up to 24x36 on both of those media without issue.  I can't tell you it looks grainy or pixelated.  So I guess those images aren't being printed at a full 300 dpi?  I've been happy with the print quality, so I guess whether it is 300 or 250 or 200 or whatever dpi, it's enough that (to my eyeball) it just looks like a picture, not a digital mess...

Right, most of the time it's not an issue. I found that 24x36 it starts to have issues though. All my prints below that have been fine. Really only an issue if you are trying to be printing huge regularly. For one off stuff you can do some tricks to make the big prints look better.

 

46586911021_61924d120a_b.jpg

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Posted (edited)

If you want to do larger than native resolution at 300 dpi (roughly 42 x 33 from a 20 MP m43 sensor) up-ressing if done right does work quite well if you start from the right file - well exposed not too noisy, sharply focused etc.  I used to stress about being able to print big, but realistically it never happens at least for me, so I'm quite happy shooting m43.   An A3 print is simple and quality great, A2 is certainly possible on most files.

Full frame is great, mirrorless makes the bodies quite small but the lenses and domes are just as big as you would have with CaNikon DSLRs.  The expense is also significantly greater I am using Nauticam housings and I could buy the housing and camera with change for the price of just the housing for a Canon DSLR - housing price seems to scale with body price.   The noise performance of my Oly EM-1 MkII is a very close match for a Canon APS-C sensor and not far behind the SONY - but because the sensor is smaller you don't need to stop down so much and don't have to push into higher ISO except in some specific low light no-strobe scenarios.

I have posted below my rig packed for travel in a carry-on size think tank streetwalker hard drive backpack.  In there i have 60mm macro, 8mm fisheye, Oly 12-40 and 7-14 plus a 170mm dome, macro port and 100mm fisheye dome and two INOn Z-240s, there is space for spare batteries and accesories and laptop in a sleeve under the gear.  The camera is in the housing.   I've hauled around land based DSLR/super telephoto setups before and don't want to do that anymore, the weight and stress over carry-on allowances is not worth it.

IMG_2948.jpg

Edited by ChrisRoss

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