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Hi all,

I have both RX100 VI and A7 III with several lenses, such as 16-35mm F4 and a few others. I have used my RX100 VI with Fantasea housing in a tray, AOI-UCL-900 macro lens and Bigblue TL2600P video light. This setup had negative buoyancy and it was a struggle to take it with me every dive.

Due to no strobes most photos were taken at high ISO and obviously for 1" sensor, high ISO is a struggle and the resulting images are soft and I am not happy with.

I have decided to invest in two strobes if possible however not sure which strobes yet. I also want to get the al-cheapo video lights from Aliexpress to experiment with I guess.

The Fantasea housing limits the zoom to 66mm and it was a pain if I accidentally crossed that mark, because the camera would give an error and I had to power off and on the camera several times to get it back operational.

 

I have been thinking of getting a UW wet lens, however it will be limited because of the flat port of my housing. I was thinking of getting Saltedline housing for my RX100 VI and I have confirmed with them that I need to zoom into 36mm to not get any vignette with UW wet lens, and this will negate the advantage of the UW wet lens if I zoom to 36mm. That means back to square 1. 

Is there any other alternative other than the expensive Nauticam housing that I am not keen on?

I have been reluctant to even think about using my A7 III underwater because of the size of the housing, however thinking about all the investment for a new housing and UW wet lens, I thought of maybe getting the Saltedline housing for my A7 III and using that with 16-35mm F4 that I already have, this plus a dry dome will be wide enough and obviously much better image quality from the A7 III. However macro becomes an issue since I won't be able to use my AOI macro lens and I need to decide before the dive if I want to shoot macro or not.

I am really not that keen with A7 III due to the size of the housing and it mostly mean check-in luggage if I get strobes as well, where as with RX100 VI it will be manageable. 

Given the above what would be the recommended approach?

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The A7-III is a totally different beast to the RX-100, you talk about using the 16-35mm lens with the Saltedline housing - while this is possible it is certainly a compromise, a lens as wide as the 16mm really needs a big dome to perform properly - the recommended dome size to get good corners is a 230mm dome - a big difference to the 6" dome offered with the Salted line.  The salted line also uses the same extension for the 12-24 and 16-35 and again while it will work after a fashion the two lenses require different placement behind the dome for optimal image quality and it can't be right for both.  In the Nauticam system the 16-35mm requires 20mm more extension than the 12-24.  So a lot of the image quality improvement goes away with non optimal ports - mostly in the corners.  Again I emphasize that the camera will work in the housing - it's just not properly optimised.

Now for your RX-100 VI - the problem with that system is the lens extends a fair bit so it can either have the right spacing for the use of a wide wet lens or for a macro lens.  Wet lenses need the lens to be right up against the dome or they vignette and require zooming in (wide wet lens) or you don't get the expected magnification (macro lens).  That is why the Nauticam housing offers different ports to allow the wet lenses to work as designed.  The problem is not really solvable without the proper ports particularly the issue of the camera needing resetting if you use it in too short a port.  An unfortunate side effect of the updates which improve the camera for land use - all of the compacts currently offered have this issue except perhaps the Panasonic LX-10 because its lens does not change length as much as some others.

The Nauticam with the short port does allow you swap between a wet wide lens and a lens like the CMC-1 for macro but will still have the problem of upsetting the camera if you zoom too far.

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3 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

all of the compacts currently offered have this issue except perhaps the Panasonic LX-10 because its lens does not change length as much as some others.

And Sony RX100 VA?¿

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12 minutes ago, turandot said:

And Sony RX100 VA?¿

Yes, the older SONY RX-100's are also a possibility - there seems to be some availability of older models, to purchase new - some at at quite reasonable prices.

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1 minute ago, ChrisRoss said:

Yes, the older SONY RX-100's are also a possibility - there seems to be some availability of older models, to purchase new - some at at quite reasonable prices.

Is the 24-70mm of the Sony RX100 VA a big limitation for macro photography?

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You get less magnification from a shorter focal length lens on the camera, but if you have a housing where you can't zoom all the way you are stuck there anyways and you can always use a stronger lens.    Short range zooms work better for a compact if you want both macro and wide capability.   It's all trade-offs.

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My daughter (18 yrs old) shoots with a Sony A7III in a Nauticam housing. She also uses 1 strobe (an older Z240, triggered by an optical connection). She's very happy shooting macro with the 90mm, and then last summer added a wet lens so she could shoot w/a (when using the 28mm).

It's a big step up from a compact system, and although heavier (out of water), and takes up more room when packing, the results (for her) have been worth the trade-off. 

For reference, she started out with an Olympus system, but she grew out of it.

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1 hour ago, turandot said:

Is the 24-70mm of the Sony RX100 VA a big limitation for macro photography?

I shoot RX100 III and it is quite limiting for macro. Macro wet lens is mandatory to reduce the working distance, but then you may run into autofocus issues. At least for my III that's quite a problem, maybe that is improved with VA. But still, with enough patience and cooperative subjects you may produce some nice results. Here are a couple of images that I did with Nauticam CMC-2:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAqdppVFgSe/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAqeFzPlS9Q/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDHlvUCHjKv/

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1 hour ago, Andrej Oblak said:

I shoot RX100 III and it is quite limiting for macro. Macro wet lens is mandatory to reduce the working distance, but then you may run into autofocus issues. At least for my III that's quite a problem, maybe that is improved with VA. But still, with enough patience and cooperative subjects you may produce some nice results. Here are a couple of images that I did with Nauticam CMC-2:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAqdppVFgSe/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAqeFzPlS9Q/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDHlvUCHjKv/

The AF system was apparently improved on the RX100VA and it still has the 24-70 lens that gets away from the need to use a housing with changeable ports to do both wide and macro wet lenses.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

recommended dome size to get good corners is a 230mm dome

 

Thanks Chris, I think that is another big issue. That means a whole suitcase just for the camera setup and I don't see that as an option for a casual diver at this stage. Also I haven't been too convinced on the Saltedline housing for a7 III and other options are too expensive.

Edited by newdiver

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Posted (edited)

Thanks everyone for the great info. 

I don't want to buy another camera since I already have the RX100 VI, I will try to work within its limits if I can't find a better solution. I already have a macro lens so that is not an issue. UW is where the issue is and the Saltedline housing don't offer any improvement, in fact it is worse than Fantasea with UW lens. Fantasea housing says vignetting disappears at 29mm and Saltedline at 36mm.

Now, what would be a good strobe to get for a compact camera? I am also thinking of the Backscatter mini flash for light direction for macro photography. Or is there other alternatives that can be used with a strobe?

Edited by newdiver

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42 minutes ago, newdiver said:

Now, what would be a good strobe to get for a compact camera? I am also thinking of the Backscatter mini flash for light direction for macro photography. Or is there other alternatives that can be used with a strobe?

If you're planning on shooting wide angle scenes, then go with the strongest one that you can afford. If money is an issue, go with only 1 strong strobe for now and buy the second one when you can afford. Better than buying 2 weak strobes. My recommendation is Inon Z-330. Good price / performance, easy to use underwater (big dials) and reliable.

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If you are going to focus primarily on macro I can highly recommend the Backscatter mini flash (which I use for snooting macro shots). Easy to use, bright, narrow beam, and compact.

As others have suggested, it will be underpowered for most w/a situations, even with 2 mini flashes (except for some CFWA shots).

If you want a strobe that can do both, a single Z330 is great start - not going to outgrow this strobe.

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Flash really depends on your future plans - the RX-100 you only need to stop down to f5.6 in most circumstances full frame you are workings at f11-16 to get enough Depth of field for your dome port optics.  That means that the flash you would use at full power on full frame for a wide angle shot you would be at 1/4 power with the RX-100.  Maybe you would use 1/2 power and lower ISO.  The smaller flashes like the INON S-2000 are going to balance better with the small RX-100 housing as well and you can get two S-2000 for the price of one Z-330 at least in the US.

For a wide angle solution you could consider this INON lens designed to work at 80mm:  http://www.inon.jp/products/lens/uwls100zm80/top.html

you would need to check if you can mount it on your housing and not vignette as you re not quite at 80mm and you would need a good mounting system for it - you would probably want to try it in a shop to see if it provides a good solution both mounting and not vignetting.  If it works then you could consider setting the lens at maximum zoom and leaving it there and swapping between your macro lens and wide lens and not zooming during the dive.  It would work I think with the Nauticam housing as you get full zoom in that housing with the standard port.

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Thanks, interesting that the two different types of strobes are recommended. I think two smaller strobes might be better suited for the RX100, however I will do further research to confirm.

Regarding UW lens, the inon 100zm80 won't work as the lens can't zoom further then 66mm max.

I have been comparing the inon UW-H100 against Fantasea UW-09F, I am not sure if the Fantasea will have water in the lens, if it does then it won't be that easy to take split shots above and underwater. Where as this will be possible with the Inon UW-H1002 as it won't have any water in the dome. Also the Inon is slightly wider 144mm vs Fantasea 133mm.

 

Anyone with experience with these two UW?

Thanks

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@newdiver I don't think people are necessarily recommending different strobes, I think you are getting recommendations based on what kind of shooting you may do, and what gear you can use today, and what may allow to grow with in the future.

It actually ends up being pretty simple: if you think there is any chance you end up moving to a larger system or want to shoot true wide angle scenics, then (as @Andrej Oblak suggests) get the strongest strobe you can afford right now, because you will be able to continue to use it as you grow. Two smaller strobes (now) might be more manageable, but you will potentially outgrow them. 





 

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4 hours ago, newdiver said:

Thanks, interesting that the two different types of strobes are recommended. I think two smaller strobes might be better suited for the RX100, however I will do further research to confirm.

Regarding UW lens, the inon 100zm80 won't work as the lens can't zoom further then 66mm max.

I have been comparing the inon UW-H100 against Fantasea UW-09F, I am not sure if the Fantasea will have water in the lens, if it does then it won't be that easy to take split shots above and underwater. Where as this will be possible with the Inon UW-H1002 as it won't have any water in the dome. Also the Inon is slightly wider 144mm vs Fantasea 133mm.

 

Anyone with experience with these two UW?

Thanks

I do use AOI UWL-09 (Fanstasea UWL-09F is basically just rebranded AOI lens) and it's pretty good bang for the buck. Didn't have the chance to test Inon, so I can't compare them. It has just a very slight vignette in one corner on 24mm, which can be easily resolved with slight crop (5-10px max) or even with content aware fill in Photoshop, so you basically don't need to zoom to get rid of it. Maybe even a slight tweak of the shade position would remedy this, I have to try it once. It's a zoom through lens, meaning that it will focus on all zoom settings.

You get water between port and the lens, but not inside the lens. Actually when you submerge, you have to unscrew the lens to release the trapped air, otherwise you get all sorts of black blobs on your image due to air bubbles trapped inside. This is the same for all wet lenses, not just this one.

11 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

That means that the flash you would use at full power on full frame for a wide angle shot you would be at 1/4 power with the RX-100.  Maybe you would use 1/2 power and lower ISO.  The smaller flashes like the INON S-2000 are going to balance better with the small RX-100 housing as well and you can get two S-2000 for the price of one Z-330 at least in the US.

I shoot on f8 and often push my Z-330s on full power or -0.5 or -1.0, especially when shooting in suboptimal visibility. I pull the strobes back as far as possible and push the power up. That way I get enough light and minimize the backscatter hotspots. So it's wrong to think that with RX100 you won't need to go over 1/4 power. I know that this isn't what you meant @ChrisRoss, but I just wanted to clarify

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, oneyellowtang said:

I don't think people are necessarily recommending different strobes

I understand and appreciate that, however they are different strobes if you know what I mean. I understand their recommendation is based on different situation.

I am in two minds now whether to get two Inon S2000 or one Z330, I am thinking that two S2000 might be better than a single Z330?

15 hours ago, Andrej Oblak said:

I do use AOI UWL-09 (Fanstasea UWL-09F is basically just rebranded AOI lens) and it's pretty good bang for the buck.

I shoot on f8 and often push my Z-330s on full power or -0.5 or -1.0, 

Great info, do you use any red filters with it? I will use mine for video too so a red filter is necessary. I am not sure which one offers the better solution to remove the red filter when shooting stills and swap back to shooting video.

Do you shoot f8 on RX100 line?

Edited by newdiver

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Two strobes is a lot better for wide angle work, you can get away with a single strobe for macro a lot easier. 

I would think using a red filter with a domed wet lens is going to be difficult, you could attach it behind the lens as an M67 filter but that would also require burping and also reduce field of view from vignetting.  At least with a flat wet wide lens  you can use a flip down filter that is not too big.

On the UWL-09F I found the compatibility table for those lenses here: http://www.fantasea.com/downloads/WetLensesCompatibilityTable.pdf

You need to zoom into 29mm for it to not vignette.  I estimate this means the field of view reduces from 130° to 109°.  In theory you could also use for example the INON lenses like this - the 28mm ones should only vignette a little bit as they require 28mm FL and the vignetting is a mechanical issue due to the diameter of the rear element on the lens.  You might need to zoom in a little further than that and would have to try it out to be sure.  It will also depend on how close you can get the rear element to the flat port glass - the closer the better.

The plus side for the INON is you can use it with and without the dome (but not swap in water)  It would be easier to add a red filter in front of the non domed one.  So without the dome it would be a 97° diagonal field of view (19mm full frame equiv) and about a 140° field with the dome.  The downside is it is not a zoom through lens.

Regarding split shots both the INON and Fantasea use a dry air filled dome - the concern is going to be the water between the flat port and wet lens itself draining out.  They came up with a solution to that using an o-ring to stop that water draining from the Nauticam WWL so should be possoble to do something similar on these lenses.

As far as f8 goes you can shoot at f8 but with a straight forward lens like a domed wide angle you don't need to on a 1" sensor.  The UWL may need stopping down to improve the image quality - I don't know - but you should have enough depth of field to get good corners. 

If you have issues stopping at 66mm on zoom, you might try assigning zoom to the control ring to see if that makes it easier to keep the lens zoom limited.

 

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On 8/15/2020 at 3:43 AM, newdiver said:

I understand and appreciate that, however they are different strobes if you know what I mean. I understand their recommendation is based on different situation.

I am in two minds now whether to get two Inon S2000 or one Z330, I am thinking that two S2000 might be better than a single Z330?

Great info, do you use any red filters with it? I will use mine for video too so a red filter is necessary. I am not sure which one offers the better solution to remove the red filter when shooting stills and swap back to shooting video.

Do you shoot f8 on RX100 line?

No, I don't use any filters with it so unfortunately I can't help you here.

Yes, I shoot f8 on RX100. I do it to improve corner sharpness, but even on this aperture it still isn't perfect, but it's satisfactory for my needs.

If money is an issue, I would do it in this sequence (talking about WA photography only):
single Z-330 -> wet wide angle lens -> second Z-330

Single Z-330 is wide enough to cover the entire view angle of RX100 *without* a wet wide angle lens and/or dome port attached. You will light up the entire scene, but colors will be a bit washed out, because you'll have to shoot from a distance to get your subject in the frame entirely. To improve colors, sharpness and contrast, you'll need to add a wet wide angle lens, which will allow you to get closer to the subject. Since angle of view of a WWA lens is bigger than what Z-330 covers (~130° vs 110°), you'll run into problems, where you won't be able to light everything from edge to edge. And you'll probably need to relearn strobe positioning with your new lens, because you'll start noticing hotspots on the edges of your photos. When you master this, you can add a second strobe, and wide angle lighting becomes so much easier to handle. And in the long run you'll be happier that you went with stronger strobes, which will grow with you and you won't have to replace them if at some point you decide to upgrade to an interchangeable lens camera.

Keep in mind that just adding 2 strobes to your rig won't instantaneously make your photos better. You have a lot to learn to be able to use them effectively.

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On 8/15/2020 at 4:21 PM, ChrisRoss said:

Two strobes is a lot better for wide angle work, you can get away with a single strobe for macro a lot easier. 

On the UWL-09F I found the compatibility table for those lenses here: http://www.fantasea.com/downloads/WetLensesCompatibilityTable.pdf

You need to zoom into 29mm for it to not vignette. 

I have a few more months to make a decision so I am still researching and trying to figure things out that would be best bang for buck.

I have also been checking Nauticam WWL-C, it is a bit more expensive than the UWL-09F but being Nauticam and newer it might provide sharper image. I haven't found any info if it is compatible with Fantasea housing and not sure who to ask to confirm. Nauticam only provides compatability with their own housing. 

It is one expensive hobby though :)

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On 8/17/2020 at 6:52 PM, Andrej Oblak said:

No, I don't use any filters with it so unfortunately I can't help you here.

Yes, I shoot f8 on RX100. I do it to improve corner sharpness, but even on this aperture it still isn't perfect, but it's satisfactory for my needs.

I see, I thought f5.6 would be the max on 1" sensor, but that is interesting that you are shooting at f8 to achieve overall sharpness.

Any experience or info with Nauticam WWL-C? Looks very interesting and hopefully better than UWL-09F.

I am still deciding on strobes so will try to go into a dive shop and get the feel for them once the restrictions are lifted.

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If you look at the port charts for WWL-C you'll see that it is designed for 24mm lenses and to get the maximum angle of view it needs a short port, you also see other cameras like the Pany LX-10 needs to zoom into 32mm to stop vignetting.  Your housing will be a similar situation, needing to zoom in until it doesn't vignette.  If the spacings are the same as the Fantasea  lens discussed earlier and you need to zoom into 29mm then your field of view max would be 122° on the diagonal the Panasonic field of view at 32mm zoom would be 116°, so I expect you would be somewhere in this range which is approximately a 12-13 mm equivalent lens field of view - so quite wide but still not 130° you would get with optimal spacings.  Note this is the diagonal field of view the horizontal/vertical field of view does not scale the same due to the barrel distortion so if comparing to rectilinear lenses the field of view will be less.

The Fanstasea housing will provide a m67 mount for lenses - so to mount the WWL-C you would need the M67 - Bayonet adapter listed in the port chart.

The exact field of view is going to depend on how close the bayonet adapter gets the lens to port glass.  You can test the FL at which vignette starts on land. 

This is the port chart https://www.nauticam.com/pages/wwl-c-port-chart

This thread has some comments on the WWL-C with one guy reporting back his experience on an LX-10 - unfortunately he didn't clarify all the parameters around his settings. 

 

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On 8/19/2020 at 12:38 PM, ChrisRoss said:

If you look at the port charts for WWL-C you'll see that it is designed for 24mm lenses and to get the maximum angle of view it needs a short port, you also see other cameras like the Pany LX-10 needs to zoom into 32mm to stop vignetting.  Your housing will be a similar situation, needing to zoom in until it doesn't vignette. 

 

Thanks, finally got a response from Nauticam, they don't know anything about using this with Fantasea housing which is expected. Like you mentioned there will be some vignetting but at what focal length, I will have to find out for myself I guess unless someone else gets to use it and report it.

Also I am guessing any bayonet adapter should be fine as long as it is 67mm, is this right? I know Nauticam has mentioned their own specific one but I am not sure if it has to be theirs. I am thinking of getting a dual ring flip one to have both macro and the UWL mounted at the same time.

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The potential difference in flip adapters will be how close they place the rear element of the lens to the port glass.  The closer the better without touching.  If it is too far away then you get more vignetting than you otherwise would. Apart from that - the quality and strength of the adapter - the WWL-C is a big heavy chunk of glass and the hinge will need to be stiff to prevent it moving under the weight of the lens.  The ones for ordinary macro lenses are likely to be not strong enough.  See this to see the size which is not apparent from the photos of just the WWL:

 

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