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I am currently using a Nikon D800 with a Nauticam housing. If anyone has a similar setup and would like to share any tips and/or tricks, I would appreciate it.

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Have you used your rig yet?   What sort of shooting do you do, and what sort of dive conditions?   Do you have strobes?  What lenses?  (Typical is 105vr and 16-35).

As for D800 tips, I can't think of any that are particularly camera-specific.   A good starting point is a minimum shutter speed of 1/160th though.   For wide angle with a big dome port, maybe start at F8 and use ambient with auto-ISO.  But set a reasonable upper limit to the ISO range (perhaps 2000?  Perhaps 3600?  It really depends).  Note that when shooting auto-ISO and flash, the camera will meter for ambient, which will often put you at the maximum ISO, at which point you'll maybe overwhelm the scene with too much flash.

Back button focus is a must.  (AF-On method, coupled with AF-C).   Set to S, Cl or Ch as needed, but unless you are shooting ambient Single shot is usually fine.

If shooting with flash or bright sun near the surface, turn off auto-ISO and set camera to base ISO, which I think is 100 on the D800.  (64 on the D810/D850).   You want maximum dynamic range in your shots, and you'll find it gives tremendous leverage in post-processing.

Don't be afraid to crop a lot, especially if shooting for the web.

Lenses:  The 60mm micro is too short for FX.   The 105vr is the bomb, but sometimes too short.  I've used it with the 1.4TC-14Eii and 30mm extension, but I felt the loss of acuity.

The 16-35 is the go-to rectilinear wide angle, and it's good, but... a) it needs a big dome port, like a 230mm one, b) it needs a 90mm extension (not a 70mm), and c) if you really want decent edges, you simply must add the Sea and Sea Internal Correction Lens (filter).  A 230mm dome port will have you pulling your hair out the first time you try to pack it.  It's rather large.

Use Single Point autofocus so you can pinpoint where the focus goes.  Use 9-point area for small, darty fish.  (Group is good too, but it's not there in a D800.)

Phoenix Arizona Craig

 

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Thank you for so much information. I really appreciate the feedback.

I have not dove my new setup as of yet. You may have noticed I have my other Ikelite setup for sale. My new system is the same Nikon D800 with a Nauticam hosing and Inon Z330 strobes.

I primarily use the 10-24 wide angle, now with, a Zen DP-230 dome. I sometimes use my Tokina 10-17 fisheye.

Almost all dive condition I shoot in are tropical, Grand Cayman, Bonaire, Cozumel, etc... I shoot landscapes, sea life. and very little macro with my 105mm F2.8G ED VR lens.

What do you think about the difference between the 10-24 and the 16-35 wide angle?

 

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Difference between 10-24 and 16-35?   Isn't it a DX lens?   I assume it's pretty equivalent on a DX camera to the 16-35 on FX.  Both have a lot of distortion at the widest setting, but better performance away from that.

I use the 16-35 in a 230mm Nauticam dome, with 90mm extension.  I tried a +2 diopter on it, but I saw no difference in edge performance, which was blurry.  Stopping down a lot didn't help much either.   Then I bought a $400 Sea and Sea Internal Correction lens (which is a screw-on filter for the 16-35), and it's shockingly good.   HUGE improvement in sharpness.  I can easily shoot at F8 and get good corners now.

Myself, I shoot 4 times as much with the 105vr as the 16-35, but that is for some particular reasons.  Mostly I've been diving in Roatan for the last three years (cheap, familiar, has everything I need) in September, and the water has been a little murky then.   For wide angle, I want really clear water and bright sun for ambient shooting.   I have so many issues with color balance trying to mix ambient and strobes that I am usually unhappy with those shots.   But if I let the ISO slide up (from 64), I'm unhappy with the post-processing options I have with reduced dynamic range.

Here's a shot I'm happy with http://www.cjcphoto.net/roatan2019-1/images/page110.html

You can see other shots taken with the 16-35 and Sea and Sea in the pages around that link.

Craig

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Craig,

Those are incredibly sharp pictures. Are these taken with ambient light or strobes? I have almost always use strobes. As I said before, I was using Ikelite DS 160's, now I'm going to use the Inon Z330's.

Below is one I shot at Grand Cayman with my Ikelite setup, 10-24, with strobes.

The 10-24 is a DX lens and I have tried the +2 diopter as well. Is it really worth changing to 16-35 VR FX at this point for me and why the 90mm extension on the 230 instead of the recommended 50mm? Also, can you give me more detail on the internal correction lens, like is a particular size, number, or model, etc?

 

I really appreciate the help and guidance to getting more enjoyment and better results in my underwater photography.

 

John

 

DSC_4788.jpg

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Quick question about the Sea and Sea Internal Correction lens. What size or model number did you use?

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To keep information going in this thread (we've been exchanging personal messages, and there is more than one thread going on as well):

I don't know about the 10-24 versus the 16-35, except that the 10-24 is a DX lens, and perhaps it requires a smaller dome.  For sure you can get a lot more pixels into a scene with full frame rather than a DX crop.    With the 77mm S&S Internal Correction Lens I have sharp images corner to corner with the 16-35 even at F8, but I still have to use a big 230mm dome.   Why the 90mm instead of the recommended (which seems usually to be 70mm) I don't know.  Bluewater Photo recommended it.

For wide angle I shoot with and without strobes.  With strobes, when I have mostly a single, close subject.  Or I am at depth with no light.  Ambient is preferred, but only when I am in very clear water, bright sun and shallow depth.  The problem I have is severe white balance issues in mixed strobe and ambient lighting.  I can never get it to 'look right'.    I also do not like shooting ambient at higher ISOs because I lose so much dynamic range that I often end up with slightly blown (or worse) highlights or blocked up shadows and less color than I would like.

Craig

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Even when shooting reefscapes it’s important to pick a subject, preferably against the blue. Meter the Blue about 1.3 stops underexposed. Then adjust your subject with strobe power. You will have less white balance issues when the drop-off from your strobe  lights only hits the subject. You can increase that effect by pushing the teal hue slider in Lightroom further towards blue. 

Edited by hyp

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