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bghazzal

Any viable options (compacts?) for a basic video-only setup on a 2000 USD max budget??

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Hello all,

I’ve been looking into upgrading my kit for a while, to have a better image quality and control over what I’ve been using so far for video, ie Go Pros 4 to 7 and a TG5  ( https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGm5QuR4KQftzMoaAM1ExSW0UFKNatJRR )

I had a Canon G12 in the past as well as a Lumix compact, and miss the image quality, and also having a more practical camera to work with.

I’m trying to gather opinions on the best upgrade options - if any on my budget - for underwater video excusively. 
A lot of the reviews and tests are very photocentric and commercial, so it’s hard to get a clear picture on actual video results. I’ve been reading up on some very useful threads here but I thought I would avoid hijacks and ask directly, hope this is ok.

To give a bit more detail, I work in diving, currently in between jobs - and as much as I like video I do not intend to go do this more professionally, as I do want the extra pressure of having to produce - however I would really like to have more control / get better image quality and also move forward.

I will be doing video only, mostly shallow wide-angle in ambient light in the tropics.
Main concerns would be good white balance and good low light response. I'd love to have some macro options in the future, but for the time being, wide angle is fine. Camera will be in the water a lot, sometimes in roughish conditions, so a good housing is in order.

As much as I'd love to go for bigger / mirrorless cameras like the GH5 , the price tag of the camera + lens + housing combos is beyond my current budget - that would have to wait for a couple of years and/or a steadier position.

I'm quite limited at the moment, 2000 USD tops, ideally in the 1500 USD range. I've been looking into compacts, narrowing it down to the Lumix LX10, Lumix LX100 ii, Sony RX100 series, but maybe there are other, better options, for a reasonably sized and priced video rig.

A cruise director friend is getting good results on the RX100, but I must say I’m quite partial to Panasonic - my first UW camera was a Lumix compact, and I was very impressed by the video white balance i was getting with a UR Pro  filter.

I’m currently mostly in developping Asian countries, so quite limited as to what I have access to second-hand / or online, unfortunately.

Any tips would be very welcome - I'm torn between the desire to finally upgrade and a nagging feeling that I should better wait until I have a better opportunity to invest in more advanced gear.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Cheers,

Ben

Edited by ben gazzal

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Ben,

I get your story! I tried going the route you are speaking of, but was never happy. Too many trade offs. Have you thought about "building" your ultimate inexpensive rig over time? Start with a good flexible camera and housing. This is critical. Interchangeable lens camera will serve you for a long time.  I'm ambivalent on housings. As long as they can allow me to use all the camera options and do not leak, I'm fine. Wide angle may bring about lens and port issues, just as a reminder. White balance; in camera or with a filter. This is a factor if you add a video light down the road. In-camera white balance or external filter would then be required. Sony has outperformed the competition in sensors and processors and make them for both Cannon and Nikon. I use a professional version with the same sensor as on this camera. The 24-70 gives you decent wide angle as well as macro.

https://www.bluewaterphotostore.com/fantasea-rx100-mark-v-bundle

My current Geara: Sony FDR AX 100, Gates AX100 housing (with internal blue ocean flip filter), Wide Angle Port and 10,000 Lumen video light. After 20 years, getting some stunning 4K!

 

Good luck!!

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Hi Bill, and thanks for your answer. Glad to hear I'm not the only one in this predicament...
Yes, the plan was to focus on camera+housing at first, then building up the rig over time.

Beyond budget, my main issue at the the moment is that we're still quite mobile - the wife and I will probably be settling down for a longer term position (if we can find one in the post-corona world), which would allow me to invest a little more, but things a little uncertain. I want to make sure I can actually use the camera regularly enough.

Given this other aspect, maybe the way to go would be to get a compact + housing like the one you linked, work with that for 2/3 years, then gradually invest in something bigger, either a dedicated video camera or a mirrorless and lenses...

I'll try reading up on this a bit more, but if I'm going down the compact road, I guess this would be narrow the choice between


RX100 mark V

Lumix LX100

Lumix LX10

Canon G7X

If i was to go down the rabbit-hole and skip the compact stage, is there any camera+housing combination you would recommend as a good building block?

The Sony FDR AX 100 + Gates AX100 sounds fantastic, but this would mean waiting 2/3 years budgetwise.

Cheers,

Ben
 

Edited by ben gazzal

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Starting to wonder if the Sony A6500 might be another solid option for underwater video...

b

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Hi Ben, 

Just my ¢5 as I have been (still am, sort of) in the same situation. Few years ago I went from a gopro, which I was very underwhelmed by, to a Sony a6000 (around $450 with the kit lens) combined with a meikon housing ($120) and dome ($90). My willingness to pay for housing was always quite limited. With the risk of ruffling some feathers around here I never understood paying thousands of dollars for what is basically a plastic box to store a camera which will become tired if not obsolete in a few years time. Also I don't live in a place where diving is any good (Sweden at the time, Ivory Coast at the moment) so the cost per immersion becomes quite high. Never had any issues with the Meikon housing. New players entering the market has been glorious, which also goes for lights. I bought 2 x Hi-Max V11 2400 lumen ($300 total) excellent quality which have hold up very well. Of course there are much cheaper and brighter options available today. All this fit on a second hand rig with flex arms ($50 I think). I later upgraded with the Sigma 19 and 30 F2.8 (around $150 each) which fit the housing without vignetting and are remarkably sharp for the money, and the Opteka 67 mm 10x macro converter ($20). Note that the latter is not intended for uw use but actually works without any leakage so far. Very sharp. 

You can check out some videos for reference here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrTXKkItV4a3DR3TCw-9M4g

While the visibility were terrible the nightly close ups of fish in the video from Sudan (3:30), and the daily ones from Egypt (10:10) are probably a good example of what the Sigma 30 and 19 can do. 

Of course the Sonys have a major flaw come uw wb which is noticeable in many of my videos and something that may refrain me from buying Sony again. I also shoot stills above the surface so this was another consideration and one reason I might co for ff when I upgrade (probably in the near future). 

Anyway hope this is to some help. 

Cheers, 

Mattis 

 

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If you are looking at shallow wide angle remember that the dome size you need increases as the sensor size goes, yes you can still use the smaller domes but the quality is not as good.  with m43 a smaller dome works fine and you have a big range of lenses to choose from and the lenses are significantly cheaper as well.   The Sony APS-C series while they have their fans are limited in lens selection with no native fisheye and the lenses tend to be expensive.   If you go into interchangable lens systems you will see the expense ratchet up quite quickly with ports etc - unless you happen upon a good deal second hand.

On compacts the fundamental limitation which restricts what you can is the flat port limiting your wide angle and the need for a wet lens to get the angle of view back.  The newer models have long zooms which means a long port which in turn means at the wide setting the lens is a long way from the port glass so you get issues with vignetting  and the need to zoom in to deal with it reduces you r angle of view quite a bit.  The housing makers have responded by producing housings with port systems - but this means more expense and loss of flexibility of the compact.  The LX-10 is probably best in the regard of the common cameras with minimal change in length - the downside is the range of housings is  limited to Nauticam, Isotta and ikelite currently .

For a cheaper housing the Fantasea housings are quite good by all accounts  - they are restricted to the RX-100 series and Canon G7X series cameras.

 

 

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