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C_R_111

Sony a7sIII worth it? - Housings Question

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Hello!

I am looking for a camera that does 4k in 120fps at 10bit, or a camera that can do 1080 at 120fps 10bit with good in-camera stabilisation. I found the Sony a7sIII, however I am worried about the price of the camera plus the price of the gear.

Going off what I have used so far (my colleagues Sony a7sII in a Seafrog housing without tray or handles, which got a bit wobbly during filming), I have found the following (housing, dome, tray, 2 arms, 2 clamps):

Isotta: 3.355€

Ikelite: 2.054€

Seafrog: $1.500

My questions are:

- Can I trust a company like Seafrog without worries considering the low pricepoint?

- What companies do you recommend that are below Isotta's pricepoint?

- What lights do you recommend for the purposes mentioned below?

- Is there a camera you would recommend instead of the Sony a7sIII?

I would use this setup for commercial, short film, and documentary purposes. This means I'd be in a pool a lot of times, where I don't have to worry about a lack of lighting too much, but when I shoot in mountain lakes or the sea (Mediterranean, north and baltic sea), I would like to be able to light people and medium subjects, especially slow-motion. So far I have heavily relied on natural light if there wasn't the opportunity to light from outside the water, hence why the low-light quality of the a7sIII seems so attractive. This video showcases what I have done recently, that needs to be upgraded and improved upon: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CHQc6Ofhwy7/

I'd love to hear your opinions, any advice is greatly appreciated :)

Edited by C_R_111

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I think others can answer your video specific questions, on the Sea Frogs housing you get what you pay for, it will seal, keep your camera dry etc but the port selection is quite limited and unlikely to be properly optimised for specific lenses. 

I'm assuming you are looking at wide angle lenses for that type of work and this is where getting the right dome is important.  You spend all that money on the camera and then compromise by putting the wide angle lens behind a tiny dome port.  6 and 8" domes are really too small for such a wide lens on full frame and Sea Frogs don't offer extension rings to properly place the dome - the domes are one size fits all.   Ikelite is a better built option but still sometimes limited on dome options for some lenses.

Part of the advantage of full frame is lost with UW work, you need to stop down to f11-16  (at least for stills), but smaller sensors can operate at f8 with equivalent performance - specifically depth of field required for good corners.  You can probably relax that somewhat for video as you are not closely inspecting the corners - but it applies to both formats.

I assume you are aware the range for video lights is very limited, you have to be in very close.

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18 hours ago, C_R_111 said:

Hello!

I am looking for a camera that does 4k in 120fps at 10bit, or a camera that can do 1080 at 120fps 10bit with good in-camera stabilisation. I found the Sony a7sIII, however I am worried about the price of the camera plus the price of the gear.

Going off what I have used so far (my colleagues Sony a7sII in a Seafrog housing without tray or handles, which got a bit wobbly during filming), I have found the following (housing, dome, tray, 2 arms, 2 clamps):

Isotta: 3.355€

Ikelite: 2.054€

Seafrog: $1.500

My questions are:

- Can I trust a company like Seafrog without worries considering the low pricepoint?

- What companies do you recommend that are below Isotta's pricepoint?

- What lights do you recommend for the purposes mentioned below?

- Is there a camera you would recommend instead of the Sony a7sIII?

I would use this setup for commercial, short film, and documentary purposes. This means I'd be in a pool a lot of times, where I don't have to worry about a lack of lighting too much, but when I shoot in mountain lakes or the sea (Mediterranean, north and baltic sea), I would like to be able to light people and medium subjects, especially slow-motion. So far I have heavily relied on natural light if there wasn't the opportunity to light from outside the water, hence why the low-light quality of the a7sIII seems so attractive. This video showcases what I have done recently, that needs to be upgraded and improved upon: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CHQc6Ofhwy7/

I'd love to hear your opinions, any advice is greatly appreciated :)

Underwater imaging in general means your housing costs same or more of your camera. You then need a budget for ports and lights. So if I look at my gear the ratio is 1 to 3 the camera being 25% of the total cost.

Your approach should be how much have you got and can I afford a complete solution end to end with those funds. It is pointless to spend £3999 on a camera and leave scraps for the underwater part it works exactly the opposite as volumes are low and items are almost handcrafted and they need to be pressure resistant and rugged.

You can get a more than decent system with those funds look at Zcam or Panasonic GH5 and then you have money for lights. Once you beam up 36000 lumens low light is not a concern

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22 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

Underwater imaging in general means your housing costs same or more of your camera. You then need a budget for ports and lights. So if I look at my gear the ratio is 1 to 3 the camera being 25% of the total cost.

Your approach should be how much have you got and can I afford a complete solution end to end with those funds. It is pointless to spend £3999 on a camera and leave scraps for the underwater part it works exactly the opposite as volumes are low and items are almost handcrafted and they need to be pressure resistant and rugged.

You can get a more than decent system with those funds look at Zcam or Panasonic GH5 and then you have money for lights. Once you beam up 36000 lumens low light is not a concern

Interceptor121 makes a really important point which I would agree with 100%: the cost of the camera body is a relatively small element of the total system cost.

The housing, ports, lights/strobes, arms, bits and bobs make up a huge element and, as he suggests, you need to look at the total package - which can be eye-watering. There is indeed no point in having a $3000+ camera body if you can't house/port/light it properly. You would end up being really disappointed with the results.

As you'll see in lots of other posts, there are certain elements of a system that are worth investing in as they will "grow" with you as you change cameras: essentially, strobes/lights and arms. They are not the sexy end but they are the ones that, if you buy right first time, you will keep for years and years. So I'd suggest don't be tempted to dismiss these items and "make do". 

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To Illustrate this point I went to Backscatter and put a couple of systems in the cart.  For Sony A7111 Body, 16-35 f4 lens,  Nauticam housing, 230mm dome, 70 mm ext and  N100-120 adapter and the total was $US9759

The Panasonic GH5 with 8-18 lens, Nauticam housing, 180mm glass dome , 20mm N120 extension and 55mm n85-N120 extension comes to $US7216.  You could go with the 7" acrylic dome instead of the 180mm glass dome and extensions and the total is $5519.

Other manufacturers will have options for both systems so I would suggest looking at your total costs for various systems in each type of housing and particularly for some of the cheaper systems read the fine print about lens compatibility in the domes offered, often there will be an option with a very small dome which is often an optical compromise.  Also watch out for housings, some have an intergral tray, others you need to buy a tray and handles.  The availability of different housings and system prices will of course vary depending on where you are located.

 

 

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Might be pulling the trigger myself on the a7s iii soon. 4k 120fps and the 12mp makes for easier editing and great low light performance. Did you end up getting it?

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Posted (edited)

I have been shooting on an A7RII for years in a Nauticam housing. Just got the A7SIII a few weeks ago and it is such a huge improvement in all aspects (form factor, menus, battery life, video specs). Ordering the A7SIII housing likely this week so will report back once I've gotten it wet!

On 11/8/2020 at 4:48 PM, C_R_111 said:

- Can I trust a company like Seafrog without worries considering the low pricepoint?

- What companies do you recommend that are below Isotta's pricepoint?

Ergonimics is the biggest factor for me when it comes to housings. The cheaper housings (I've only had personal experience with Ikelite) don't place the camera controls in a place that ergonomically is easy to use underwater. I use Nauticam housings and that is a big reason for the premium price.

On 11/8/2020 at 4:48 PM, C_R_111 said:

- What lights do you recommend for the purposes mentioned below?

I use Sola Pro 15K. You'll see a lot of Keldan posts, but bang for buck just isn't there imo.

On 11/8/2020 at 4:48 PM, C_R_111 said:

- Is there a camera you would recommend instead of the Sony a7sIII?

For video, I would say no, but Panasonic makes some good video cameras as well, if you wanted to maybe try and get a full kit used for less money. Not a lot A7SIII used housings on the forums just yet with it being so new.

 

10 hours ago, John Doe II said:

But how is the white balance on Sony these days ? 

Much better. I use a Xrite grey card to white balance and my color looks great.

Edited by rgilkes

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I got my a7s3 and Nauticam gear just before a big dive trip in the Caribbean in late November. Shot three Sony Profiles settings, sLog3/SGamut3.Cine, HGL3 and No profile. File format:XAVC S 4K at 60fps10 bit 4:2:2 for all profiles. Customize the C4 function for white balance (So I could execute WB in right hand UW and hold Grey slate and later chip chart with left hand).  I used official Sony LUTs and Leeming LUTs in post for evaluation of clips. Will edit in FCP and finish color in Resolve. 

It was a well balanced neutrally buoyant rig with Keldan 4x Lights, red and blue filters were consistently used. I was hoping because of the lowlight capability of this sensor to shoot with no lights so as to not scare off fish. In field evaluation I sensed that just a bit of light made a huge difference in color accuracy and saturation. So after a 3 dive and no lights I shot the remaining 20+ dive with light.

My takeaways:

1- Love the setup, would choose sLog3 if time in post permits CC, If not post time then I would go with no profile. You lose 1 maybe 1.5 stops of latitude but generally clips were nicely saturated and accurate. I understand some people think the sony color science is to be avoided but I saw no issues. In also I preferred Sonys LUTs over Leeming LUTs for 90% of the shots. Whats my experience in Video color science? 40Plus years surface shooting and a successful life doing so. UW shooting is just my hobby, 

2- I used SDHD cards for the XAVC s 4K file format and they bogged down a Late 2013 Mac Pro with 32GB Ram and top end graphics cards. Had to use proxy's to not go crazy in post. I did buy and have tested the new Sony CFExpress Tough card and "I think" it performs well enough to be able to avoid proxies in post. This is because the CPU has to do less calculations than with a codec that has more compression.  I did a surface shoot yesterday (Birds in Flight) using  sLog3 S&Q settings for 120fps with XAVC S I 4K and I filled a 160GB card in well, not very long. Luckily I had a laptop to download to continue shooting. Take Away 2.1 if you want 120FPS you better mean it! Or have lotsa  expensive cards. Moving them into post and seeing performance will take place in a couple days (I hope).

Apologies on long post, but a couple further observations. Cost, yea I'd say camera "May" be a1/3 of the get in the water costs. so, lights and floats, buy the best you can. Housings often are sacrificed if you go for a new camera, but odd note here, I have an a7R4 and it goes in the a7s3 housing. Most of the buttons on the top work but the only button on the back at seemed to work was the Disp button. 

I am exceptionally happy with this my 3rd rig. Should be able to last the rest of my life. Knock on wood!

 

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I just checked the movie specifications of this camera 

HS I guess this is high speed?

(4:2:2, 10bit, NTSC) (Approx.): 120p (280Mbps), 60p (200Mbps / 100Mbps), 24p (100Mbps / 50Mbps); 3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10bit, PAL) (Approx.): 100p (280Mbps), 50p (200Mbps / 100Mbps),

Standard

 (4:2:2, 10bit, NTSC) (Approx.): 120p (280Mbps), 60p (200Mbps), 30p (140Mbps), 24p (100Mbps); 3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10bit, PAL) (Approx.): 100p (280Mbps), 50p (200Mbps), 25p (140Mbps)

Sony did not want or could not integrate functionality to provide an all intra high bitrate codec something canon and Panasonic do

I would like to understand why they made this choice which limits this camera significantly especially underwater where water is not well managed by your typical IBP h264. 

I can see the 100 and 200 mbps modes are an interesting tool for some specific shots but frankly I see very limited use for them and the bread and butter still runs at 140 mbps????

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3 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

Sony did not want or could not integrate functionality to provide an all intra high bitrate codec something canon and Panasonic do

I would like to understand why they made this choice which limits this camera significantly especially underwater where water is not well managed by your typical IBP h264. 

We get it man. You don’t like Sony, despite never having used one.

A quick Google search or visit to the Sony product page would have told you there are All-Intra profiles up to 600mbps, in addition, to the XAVC and HEVC profiles.

MOVIE RECORDING SYSTEM (XAVC S-I 4K)
3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10 bit, NTSC) (Approx.): 60p (600 Mbps), 30p (300 Mbps), 24p (240 Mbps); 3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10 bit, PAL) (Approx.): 50p (500 Mbps), 25p (250 Mbps)
MOVIE RECORDING SYSTEM (XAVC S-I HD)
1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10 bit, NTSC) (Approx.): 60p (222 Mbps), 30p (111 Mbps), 24p (89 Mbps); 1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10 bit, PAL) (Approx.): 50p (185 Mbps), 25p (93 Mbps)

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, rgilkes said:

We get it man. You don’t like Sony, despite never having used one.

A quick Google search or visit to the Sony product page would have told you there are All-Intra profiles up to 600mbps, in addition, to the XAVC and HEVC profiles.

MOVIE RECORDING SYSTEM (XAVC S-I 4K)
3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10 bit, NTSC) (Approx.): 60p (600 Mbps), 30p (300 Mbps), 24p (240 Mbps); 3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10 bit, PAL) (Approx.): 50p (500 Mbps), 25p (250 Mbps)
MOVIE RECORDING SYSTEM (XAVC S-I HD)
1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10 bit, NTSC) (Approx.): 60p (222 Mbps), 30p (111 Mbps), 24p (89 Mbps); 1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10 bit, PAL) (Approx.): 50p (185 Mbps), 25p (93 Mbps)

I have used Sony for over 10 years starting with camcorders, had not seen that section

So 600/60=10/8=1.25 Mb per all I frame vs 2 of Panasonic and 2.35 of Canon

For $3,499 

The housing though is cost effective with the 28-60mm WWL-1 combo

I wonder  if the custom white balance still fails?

https://www.cined.com/sony-a7s-iii-lab-test-does-it-live-up-to-the-hype/

quote

Unfortunately, a similar situation like we encountered with the Sony FX9 in the lab test is happening: it seems that the internal codec XAVC S-I (4:2:2 10bit) with an average bit rate of 250Mbit/s for 25 frames per second is not capable to retain shadow detail without showing nasty chroma noise artefacts. Those large patches of blocky chroma noise cannot be removed effectively by noise reduction.

 

Edited by Interceptor121

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Posted (edited)

I'm not a spec sheet analyzer (or in the sports world an armchair quarterback), I'm a shooter and only speak on things which I've actually put my hands on. The a7SIII is one of, if not the best, video focused cameras available for underwater or topside right now. Custom white balance works perfectly (coming from earlier a7 models that had a lot of issues white balancing underwater), dynamic range and shadow detail is amazing, low light capabilities with the dual iso are amazing and the noise reduction you like to speak of is negligible.

Not sure why you keep trying to put it against Panasonic cameras. If you prefer Panasonic, stick with it. They make great cameras as well. OP asked about the a7SIII and he would not go wrong in any way if he decided to start shooting underwater with it.

Edited by rgilkes

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1 minute ago, rgilkes said:

I'm not a spec sheet analyzer (or in the sports world an armchair quarterback), I'm a shooter and only speak on things which I've actually put my hands on. The a7SIII is one of, if not the best, video focused cameras available for underwater or topside right now. Custom white balance works perfectly (coming from earlier a7 models that had a lot of issues white balancing underwater), dynamic range and shadow detail is amazing, low light capabilities with the dual iso are amazing and the noise reduction you like to speak of is negligible.

Not sure why you keep trying to put it against Panasonic cameras. If you prefer Panasonic, stick with it. They make great cameras as well. OP asked about the a7SIII and he would not go wrong in any way if he decided to start shooting underwater with it.

Do you have any clips so I can see your results?

I put it against Panasonic because they are the best. I am trying to find alternatives and once I factor my requirements I always find none

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8 minutes ago, rgilkes said:

Some of your images look better than those review clip that are unimpressive to say the least

same was for the S1H from backscatter it was not great

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Posted (edited)
I have been using seafrog housing and have never had a problem.
Edited by drywh

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I have the Sony a7s3/Nauticam housing plus Keldan 4x lights. I really love it. Finished my first UW field shoot edit recently. Took a while to edit because I shot in 3 codecs (Slog 3, HGL3 and no profile) And that was a challenge in post for cc. I also did not have the CF express card which can encode in camera a XAVC S I 4K codec which does playback nicely without proxies in post. So work flow is faster and simpler on my old 2013 MacPro. My next dive in 2 weeks will use the CF express card and I'll shot in SLog 3, Cine gamma3, Also a new lens configuration.

I can say that shooting Natural light, looks OK if you white balance and it is easy. I configured the C4 button, on the lower right back, so I could hold a grey card in my left hand and WB with my right AND hold the housing. But I prefer a least a bit of light on the subjects for some color pop.

So here is a link to my first a7s3 edit. 

Youtube AdventureArtists - Lucayan Archipelago  https://youtu.be/RyJvsaV2MeU

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I am also using the Sony A7SIII and A7RIV (currently in a Seafrogs housing) for shooting and filming underwater.  I am very happy with the SLOG3 at ISO 12,800 from this camera as well as the slow motion of course.

I have some footage on my YouTube channel linked below showing bonfire diving slo mo with this setup as well as some reef shooting in Puerto Galera and grading examples of this camera.

I am looking at a Nauticam housing currently and thinking to get the WWL-1B to use with the Sony 28mm, would love to see or hear from anyone using the WWL-1 with Sony 28mm as I want to be sure this is the best quality wide setup I can get.  I will probably use the 16-35 with a larger dome also for split shots, just want a more compact setup for day to day diving here in the Philippines.  Thanks for any advice.

Heres link to my YouTube channel

www.youtube.com/garytyson

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A bit of news, I just picked up a Sony a1 and all the buttons work in the controls work a7s3 Nauticam Housing. Except for the controls on the left top for Still frame rate and focus, Continuous, Single and DMF and Manual.I got the a1 for surface work not UW but just tried it for fun and was soo surprised. The same experiment with the a7r4 was not as successful in the Nauticam housing.     

I was on the way to test the a7s3 with 16-35mm in a 180 dome (Nauticam) for balance and buoyancy in this configuration. Bad weather prevented a real field test. But this configuration balances better than the WWL-1 with a flat port and 35mm prime in fresh water IMHO.

I'm back in salt water in 2 weeks, was hoping to narrow down my flying travel field kit but maybe I'll take everything! UGH!

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Any intention to shoot some a1 video footage in the a7s3 housing? Would be interesting to see some footage off the a1 shot from the a7s3 housing for sure.

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As an FYI, the new A1 housing works perfectly with both the A7S III and the AI (you just need a different tray for the A7S III). So if I was buying a housing for the A7S III I would splurge and get the A1 housing and adapter tray; it's slightly more $$$ but should have a better resale value and allow you to "upgrade" camera's without the need for a new housing (especially as this is a camera size I expect sony to stick to for the next few iterations)

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That makes sense to me about the Nauticam a1 housing being capable of handling the a7s3 camera. I might have gone that route but the a1 was not available when I made my initial purchases. Still getting a feel for both cameras topside but I'm leaning to the a7s3 underwater because of the large sensor and low light gathering capabilities. I'll still use external light mostly for color.

It will be tempting to take the a1 down but there is so much to get comfortable with for many dives that I honestly hope to resist for at least awhile. Thank goodness both these bodies us the same menuing systems so thats becoming pretty automatic when I want to make a setting change.

I have settled on Slog3 gamma3 as the color profile. Still not sure about the ETTR philosophy to avoid noise in the dark areas, which has merit UW. Topside using the Same LUTs in both cameras and sequentially white balancing them the color space looks to be nicely matched.

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Back from diving a week around Roatan. Have not imported or analyzed footage yet. but the a1 seemed to consistently display the overheat icon in the a7s3 housing while shooting clips underwater. The a1 never did shut down.

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