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Nicool

which tool for my modest video needs?

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hi all,

Just to set the scenes, I am a newbie in videography (topside & underwater) but my wife and I have 13 years experience shooting underwater photos. Our UW cameras have had video capabilities for the past 10 years (Nikon D7000, Oly OM-D EM5, Nikon D500, D810), but we have never pressed the record button, except by mistake!

We are just getting started into videography, watching through tutorials and the good work of some of you. I will start recording videos myself soon, though I don't have high ambitions, I'd need advice on the gear to start with. 

My needs are recapped hereafter:

-my wife and I are both photographers, and this will remain our main underwater imagery focus (we're going down with a Nikon D500 and Nikon D810)

-from time to time, one of us will be taking videos, essentially these will be filming the other one while he/she takes photographs or just dives around. 

-most of our diving is shallower than 25 meters

-occasionally, if a rare encounter/behaviour shows up and our DSLR lens aren't a good fit, we might capture a video

-occasionally, record a family video when our kids try snorkelling

-occasionally (maybe), some vlogging videos

-at some point I might get video lights, probably not at the start

 

The options I see:

1/ Using my son's Olympus TG-6. He's not using that camera too often yet so we can borrow. However we have zero accessories so far, so thinking I would need to get a housing, plus maybe a WA conversion lens.

2/ Getting a recent GoPro, such as the Hero7 Black or more recent I will need to get a housing too. I take that GoPro have a single fisheye lens, so field of view will be wide enough for underwater scenes by default. 

3/ Using the built-in video functions of our Nikon D500/D810. I doubt this would be the right course of action as A/ I may not have the right lenses mounted (still diving for photography as a priority) and B/ even if I have the right lens mounted (e.g. a Tokina 10-17mm), adding video lights at some point would make our DSLR rigs really too bulky.

 

I am really hesitating between the TG-6 and GoPro. Not sure which has the best image quality, and any other considerations I should look into?

cheers

Nicolas

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I'd recommend a GoPro 7 and up, as a solid, cheap option.
They are small can easily be mounted on the hot/cold shoe of a camera housing to act as a video backup, and they're hassle-free. The standard super-suit housing is tiny and cheap.
You can set the field of view to less wide to limit distortion (linear) or shoot (very) wide , and other options with pro-tune if you plan on working on the footage in post.
It's a good and simple way to easily shoot stabilized 4K, 1080 and not use up your primary cam's battery.
i use a 7 with a UR Pro CY filter down to 20m in ambient light the tropics with good results, but you can probably get away without one to 15m with the newer models, especially if you white balance in post.

I don't about the TG6, but on the TG5, the battery life isn't great when shooting video, and it's more bulky.. Their Tg6's main strength is close-up video, but then you need lights - for the kind of use you describe a recent GoPro sounds much better.
I think the GoPro 9 has more topside accessory options for mikes etc, so probably better for topside vlogging as well.

Another small cam you can look into is the Paralenz, especially the newer Vaquita model for instance - it's flashlight shaped and can also be mounted on your main cam's housing cold shoe (no extra housing necessary), same specs and equally hassle-free.

https://www.paralenz.com/shop/product/vaquita

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Edited by bghazzal

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Why take an additional, separate, camera for video? The GoPro or TG will not substitute for a missing video light. I doubt that the videos will, technically, be better than videos from from D500 or D810.

I make similar, occasional, videos with Oly EM1II and EM5II (mostly when motion is important, e.g. schooling fish; "moving" slides inbetween the stills when I present). As videolamp I use a single, stronger, focuslight, that serves also as very good mainlamp for nightdives. It has approx. 3400 lumen at its maximum (Weefine 3400). Of course, two lamps with 2x - 3x the power would be better and also not a big investment (e.g.: two X-LIGHT M6000-WRBT II, 6000 lumen each).

And of course when two people go UW at the same time, it is always possible to equip one rig with a lens that fits for the projected video...

 

Wolfgang

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14 hours ago, Architeuthis said:

Why take an additional, separate, camera for video? The GoPro or TG will not substitute for a missing video light. I doubt that the videos will, technically, be better than videos from from D500 or D810.

I believe most people shoot these as video solutions without lights.  If they do use lights they are often smaller low powered lights , much less powerful than what you would need to do a decent lighting on a DSLR rig. 

The simplest option when dipping your toe in the water might be to try using what you have with whatever lens you have available.  See how complicated it is to get a custom white balance, some cameras allow a one-touch white balance and others make it more complicated.  Then shoot some clips in ambient lighting.  Do you have any custom modes on the D500/D810 where you could switch to video settings on your current rigs with a button press or turning a dial to select a custom mode?  

Take some clips and then work out what you would like to improve upon in the clips and see is that is possible with current hardware of different hardware is called for.

Regarding the TG-6 and Go-Pro, there's plenty of bad clips from both options and might be a bit apples and oranges - the Go-Pro is purely a wide option (unless adding a macro lens) and won't focus close, while the TG-6 can zoom and focus in very close for small scale video.  The Go-Pro is going to be easier to carry as it is much smaller, the TG-6 in the housing is a significant size - I wouldn't dive one without a housing.

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43 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

I believe most people shoot these as video solutions without lights.  If they do use lights they are often smaller low powered lights , much less powerful than what you would need to do a decent lighting on a DSLR rig. 

The simplest option when dipping your toe in the water might be to try using what you have with whatever lens you have available.  See how complicated it is to get a custom white balance, some cameras allow a one-touch white balance and others make it more complicated.  Then shoot some clips in ambient lighting.  Do you have any custom modes on the D500/D810 where you could switch to video settings on your current rigs with a button press or turning a dial to select a custom mode?  

Take some clips and then work out what you would like to improve upon in the clips and see is that is possible with current hardware of different hardware is called for.

Regarding the TG-6 and Go-Pro, there's plenty of bad clips from both options and might be a bit apples and oranges - the Go-Pro is purely a wide option (unless adding a macro lens) and won't focus close, while the TG-6 can zoom and focus in very close for small scale video.  The Go-Pro is going to be easier to carry as it is much smaller, the TG-6 in the housing is a significant size - I wouldn't dive one without a housing.

 

In the case the videos are taken just with available light (e.g. snorkeling with dolphins), I believe the cameras with the larger sensor will be the better choice. D500 or D810 just in housing without any lamps or flashes will be easy to handle and motility will not be restricted more than with GoPro or TG...

 

Wolfgang

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Actually, I would argue that action cameras actually need much more light than SLRs! An SLR correctly manually white balanced (which you have the option of) will produce markedly better results than an action cam. The general rule is that the bigger the sensor, the better it will cope with low light levels...

I think many people (myself included) were attracted to the idea of a housing mounted GoPro that runs continuously while shooting stills. The goal being to get both still and video footage. What I rapidly discovered is that I did not have time to edit (or even review) the hours of resulting footage and whenever anything good was going on, my camera strobes ruined the video!

Adam

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14 hours ago, adamhanlon said:

Actually, I would argue that action cameras actually need much more light than SLRs! An SLR correctly manually white balanced (which you have the option of) will produce markedly better results than an action cam. The general rule is that the bigger the sensor, the better it will cope with low light levels...

The sole advantage of action cams for low light is they usually shoot at quite wide apertures, you can shoot at f2 at the wide setting with the TG-6, go Pros shoot at f2.8 so they let a lot more light in - you can't really shoot at such wide apertures with a DSLR.  This means at close range a 2-4,000 lumen light provides enough light for them.  Shooting at f8 and above on a DSLR requires a more powerful light or pushing the ISO.

No doubt you DSLR will give better quality images of course and if you are not using lights for your video will likely be a better option if the camera you have uses the full sensor and has reasonable codecs/resolution available.  Some of the earlier DSLRs crop when shooting video for example.

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You can shoot video wide open with an SLR...you have to be aware of the optical issues, but at video resolution, it is less of a problem. You also have the option of bumping up ISO significantly, which you do not on a small sensor like that of an action cam. Big photosites are always better in low light :)

Light is needed to restore color of course, and the ability to manually white balance (on any camera system) improves color performance. I think action cameras work best with filters for just this reason. 


My experience is that GoPros certainly need a lot more light than a comparable system with a bigger sensor. Natively, they also tend to be quite wide, which adds to the lighting problem. Getting powerful, wide lighting is typically expensive.

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Posted (edited)

This has been posted before, but here's an interesting article on using the gopro for simple underwater video production:
http://www.divephotoguide.com/underwater-photography-special-features/article/shooting-underwater-film-gopro-indonesia/

As mentioned, even with a housing mounted cam, you really don't want to be filming the whole dive though, sounds like a logistical nightmare to get something useful out of the footage, especially if not shooting with intent and snapping strobe-lit pictures during the dive...
Going for roughly 10 to 30 second clips (+handles), and up to one minute max if you want to capture a specific behaviour in more detail, all shot in between your still shots, sounds more reasonable.
Having a point and shoot cam at the ready on your housing means that wouldn't need to change anything on your primary camera setup for stills, wouldn't be using up its the battery (video really shortens battery life), framing should be relatively easy, and the footage is nicely stabilised.

Image quality will surely be better on a DSLR,  but it also depends on what you're going after in the end.

Here's some basic tips on action cams for UW use that might also be of interest (I personally don't subscribe to everything said there, and really not a fan of the word "cinematic", but it's a good introduction to a less "action-focused" use of such cams, for those of us who don't really "want to be heroes")
https://youtu.be/bujdeD-DKEs
https://youtu.be/9gh2ll8kPvI

The original post described wanting to:

- shoot occasionally, if a rare encounter/behaviour shows up and DSLR lens aren't a good fit, then maybe capture a video at less than 25m depth

- occasionall, record a family video when kids snorkel

- occasional (maybe) shoot some vlogging videos

In this case, why not play around with a cheap housing-mounted action cam (GoPro, Paralenz, Sony...)  for maximum hassle-free flexibility, shooting in ambient light in between still shots, to get a feel of what you would be doing with the clips, and the post work involved for editing and colour correction.
Then maybe going for lights which you can keep as you upgrade - and eventually, if you want to dig deeper, going for good video-capable compact or a direclty something like a GH5 or Sony MFT and sharing the still/video workload?

Regarding wide angle GoPro-style cams and ambient light, it also depends on conditions, what you're filming and the kind of result you're going after.
In many locations, unless you have dedicated video lights powerful enough for wide angle even in the shallows, you can get acceptable results by shooting in a flat profile (limiting the adjustments the camera will try to do in terms of white balance and colour profile on a gopro this is done by turning on ProTune). You can white balance in post, but not UW.
Your footage won't pop without lights, but you can definitely avoid colour casts, and if the focus is on the behaviour or the experience, it can work.

Beyond the flat colour + WB profile setting on the action cam, on the GoPros you can also manually set the ISO (or leave on auto with a set minimum and maximum ISO) and also shutter speed, but aperture is indeed fixed.
Main issue with the GoPro 5 up to 9 is the increased distortion in their not-as-wide  "linear mode" fov, compared to the GoPro4's medium fov which was fine. The distortion is probably used to the stabilisation processed introduced - it's quite ugly on the sides at the slightest pan and the change also killed the possibility of using close-up lenses efficiently.

On the TG5/6 you lose the shutter setting in video, but can set aperture to some degree and can also manually white balance underwater - sensor size is identical on TG and GoPro, but as previously mentioned, unless going for closeup (macro) video with lights, I wouldn't really bother with the TG for video for its bulk, hunting autofocus, weaker colour science, stabilisation and poor battery life when shooting video...

Shooting in identical conditions, I prefer the results I got native wb on a GoPro white-balanced in post gives better results than Olympus' UW manual white balance.


This here is shot on recent GoPros, mostly in ambient light, in the shallows
https://youtu.be/Ftsv6a_RS3k
https://youtu.be/wrUyigQwXjM
These are shot in ambient light in tropical locations, 0 to 20m range, UR filter, flat settings
https://youtu.be/cBl5Wc0Fscw
https://youtu.be/0hwZXf4v0aE
https://youtu.be/1DmbOUKrOMo

If shooting mainly in Australia's more temperate and darker waters, ambient light might not be so much of an option though...

There's some really sound suggestions in this thread.
I'd just add that it really depends on what you're going for with the video footage.
If it's too complicated to simply use your DSLR setup as-is for such purposes, a (pair of?) housing mounted action cam - that you can get real cheap second-hand since these things are really tough - if set-up and used efficiently, sounds like a good way to get some footage to work on, and then building on from there, according to your needs as they develop.

Edited by bghazzal
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This has been posted before, but here's an interesting article on using the gopro for simple underwater video production:
http://www.divephotoguide.com/underwater-photography-special-features/article/shooting-underwater-film-gopro-indonesia/

As mentioned, even with a housing mounted cam, you really don't want to be filming the whole dive though, sounds like a logistical nightmare to get something useful out of the footage, especially if not shooting with intent and snapping strobe-lit pictures during the dive...
Going for roughly 10 to 30 second clips (+handles), and up to one minute max if you want to capture a specific behaviour in more detail, all shot in between your still shots, sounds more reasonable.
Having a point and shoot cam at the ready on your housing means that wouldn't need to change anything on your primary camera setup for stills, wouldn't be using up its the battery (video really shortens battery life), framing should be relatively easy, and the footage is nicely stabilised.
Image quality will surely be better on a DSLR,  but it also depends on what you're going after in the end.

Here's some basic tips on action cams for UW use that might also be of interest (I personally don't subscribe to everything said there, and really not a fan of the word "cinematic", but it's a good introduction to a less "action-focused" use of such cams, for those of us who don't really "want to be heroes")



The original post described wanting to:
- shoot occasionally, if a rare encounter/behaviour shows up and DSLR lens aren't a good fit, then maybe capture a video at less than 25m depth
- occasionall, record a family video when kids snorkel
- occasional (maybe) shoot some vlogging videos

In this case, why not play around with a cheap housing-mounted action cam (GoPro, Paralenz, Sony...)  for maximum hassle-free flexibility, shooting in ambient light in between still shots, to get a feel of what you would be doing with the clips, and the post work involved for editing and colour correction.
Then maybe going for lights which you can keep as you upgrade - and eventually, if you want to dig deeper, going for good video-capable compact or a direclty something like a GH5 or Sony MFT and sharing the still/video workload?
Regarding wide angle GoPro-style cams and ambient light, it also depends on conditions, what you're filming and the kind of result you're going after.
In many locations, unless you have dedicated video lights powerful enough for wide angle even in the shallows, you can get acceptable results by shooting in a flat profile (limiting the adjustments the camera will try to do in terms of white balance and colour profile on a gopro this is done by turning on ProTune). You can white balance in post, but not UW.
Your footage won't pop without lights, but you can definitely avoid colour casts, and if the focus is on the behaviour or the experience, it can work.

Beyond the flat colour + WB profile setting on the action cam, on the GoPros you can also manually set the ISO (or leave on auto with a set minimum and maximum ISO) and also shutter speed, but aperture is indeed fixed.
Main issue with the GoPro 5 up to 9 is the increased distortion in their not-as-wide  "linear mode" fov, compared to the GoPro4's medium fov which was fine. The distortion is probably used to the stabilisation processed introduced - it's quite ugly on the sides at the slightest pan and the change also killed the possibility of using close-up lenses efficiently.

On the TG5/6 you lose the shutter setting in video, but can set aperture to some degree and can also manually white balance underwater - sensor size is identical on TG and GoPro, but as previously mentioned, unless going for closeup (macro) video with lights, I wouldn't really bother with the TG for video for its bulk, hunting autofocus, weaker colour science, stabilisation and poor battery life when shooting video...

Shooting in identical conditions, I prefer the results I got native wb on a GoPro white-balanced in post gives better results than Olympus' UW manual white balance.


This here is shot on recent GoPros, mostly in ambient light, in the shallows


These are shot in ambient light in tropical locations, 0 to 20m range, UR filter, flat settings




If shooting mainly in Australia's more temperate and darker waters, ambient light might not be so much of an option though...
There's some really sound suggestions in this thread.
I'd just add that it really depends on what you're going for with the video footage.
If it's too complicated to simply use your DSLR setup as-is for such purposes, a (pair of?) housing mounted action cam - that you can get real cheap second-hand since these things are really tough - if set-up and used efficiently, sounds like a good way to get some footage to work on, and then building on from there, according to your needs as they develop.

I would like to thank everyone for their replies here and perspectives shared, quite helpful.
Massive special thanks to bghazzal for his reply that is not only comprehensive, but really answering my exact question, taking into account my specifics.

Indeed, since my main pursuit is and will remain still photography, it will take precedence and i won’t want to restrict my photo artistic options by having setup a lens that will allow video.
If i see spinner dolphins... guess what i will choose between photo and video ;)

I did try the TG6 videos this WE during shallow snorkelling, Great Barrier Reef, and footage seemed of decent quality, but these really were easy/ideal conditions.
I straight away noted the battery life issue, and too narrow field of view (no housing, no extra lens).

I will review the video examples shared with attention, but see myself most likely go with the GoPro7 option.

I do shoot mostly in darker waters though (temperate Australia) so noted the IQ will suffer on a small sensor like the GoPro’s when light is missing. With my modest needs, i think this will be ok.

One point bghazzal raised and that interests me is the autofocus performance. I suspect it gets more critical on a DSLR’s shallow DOF, and more forgiving/no brainer on a small sensor, especially if using a wide lens like the GoPro’s.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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20 hours ago, Nicool said:

One point bghazzal raised and that interests me is the autofocus performance. I suspect it gets more critical on a DSLR’s shallow DOF, and more forgiving/no brainer on a small sensor, especially if using a wide lens like the GoPro’s.

Basically Action camera have fixed focus. The sensor is so tiny and the lens so wide that they work in hyperfocal. Everything is always in focus from 25 cm (5") to infinite.

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