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RVbldr

Recommended Upgrade from RX100?

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I've been diving an RX100 MKI, with Ike housing and 2x YS-D1 strobes since 2013 and I'm finally looking to upgrade. I've been waiting to see if Sony was going to announce the follow-on for the A6600, but there doesn't seem to be anything forthcoming, so I'm looking for some suggestions. I do travel a bit, so I wanted to avoid the bulk of a full DSLR and housing, while still getting a nice bump in quality. Wet lens have been nice, but I'm not adverse to going with more traditional ports and lenses. 

 

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If you're using an original RX100 then an RX100M5A or M7, depending on your lens preferences, will be a substantial upgrade in capabilities without adding much, if any, bulk.

A6600 is a perfectly adequate camera as well - it's got a capable sensor, IBIS, class-leading battery life, and you can choose whether to go versatile on a dive with 16-50mm, flat port and wet lenses, or dedicated wide-angle/fisheye/macro. I'm using an A6300, so for me it's not a big enough jump in capabilities for the money I'd be spending on a new body + housing + ports, but coming from an RX100M1, it'd be quite another story.

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I agree with Barmaglot, the Son RX100Va would be a great step up, If you want an interchangeable lens camera that is a step up I would recommend the Olympus EPL-9 or -10.  You can use the 14-45mm kit lens with wet lenses and then when you decide to step into a dedicated macro or wide angle lens you can get the specific lens and port.  Take a look at the backscatter website for the Olympus EPL10.

 

I've upgraded from the Sony RX100Va (available for sale with housing) to the Olympus EPL10.  Feel free to PM me any questions you have about either the RX100Va or the EPL10. 

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What do you shoot mostly?  Macro? wide angle?  what do you think you would want for wide angle a fisheye for reef scenes and/or CFWA or rectilinear lens for wrecks or perhaps sharks where you want a little more reach? 

I would suggest looking at what you want to shoot and sitting down and working out what equipment you would need for a few different options. 

This might be a 1"sensor upgrade and perhaps some wet lenses, this would get you improved AF and other usability factors, but the image quality wouldn't shift by a whole lot.

Or a m43 or APS-C system with fisheye or rectilinear in a dome plus a macro lens.  .  The APS-C and m43 sensors ( particularly the 20MP Olympus sensors) are quite close in performance, but you can generally use smaller domes with m43 and they have a noticable stepup over the 1"sensor cameras. 

Also consider the type of housing if you are looking at a WWL as a solution - you need to have a port for the quite small kit lens that fits well and not all manufacturers will be able to supply that.  By fits well I man the lens is very close to the port glass.  Some of the ikelite systems have a one size fits all port which leaves quite a gap between the lens and and the port glass on some lenses, it doesn't impact their operation as the bare lens but it means you have to zoom in to deal with vignetting if you want to use any of the wet wide lenses.

In summary don't try to zero in on a particular camera, rather look at the overall system and what lenses you would want to use and how to house them as this adds up to a lot of the expense and work backwards towards a camera body.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks! Interests are all over the place. In Seattle, macro/close-ups is the norm with our green water, but with nice viz, wider angle is really nice. Then a lot of wide angle in blue water. Flexibility is key. @ChrisRoss Agree on the system, I'm not locked to Sony, but looking for the next logical step up that would also give some image quality improvement over my RX100 M1. 

 

Edited by RVbldr

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28 minutes ago, RVbldr said:

Thanks! Interests are all over the place. In Seattle, macro/close-ups is the norm with our green water, but with nice viz, wider angle is really nice. Then a lot of wide angle in blue water. Flexibility is key.

Thanks, so for wide angle do you think you would want a fisheye lens or a rectilinear wide?

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@RVbldr,

My daughter moved from an Oly system to a A7III (with a Nauticam housing) and has been very happy with the results.

This (mirrorless) system is significantly smaller and lighter than either the D850 I shoot with or the D500 her brother shoots with. She started only shooting macro, but we recently added the WWL-1B so she could shoot wide, and the results (both in Belize and the Maldives) have been really positive.


The zoom through capability of this wet lens has made a huge difference in subject opportunity.

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If you are leaning towards fisheye, there's no native fisheye for Sony and you would be adapting either an 8-15 Canon lens or a 10-17 Tokina lens.  Apparently the 8-15 works well on Sony with adapters, though only the 10-15 range is useful as the 8-10mm range vignettes as being a circular fisheye on full frame it doesn't completely cover the sensor in this region.  The Canon 8-15 is a relatively expensive option.  You would probably want a 140mm dome in Nauticam

The 8-15 is very good and a lot of people like the 10-17 though optically it is not quite a good.   The alternative is a m43 8mm fisheye which is a very compact package and works well in a 100mm dome.   You can also adapt a Canon 8-15 to m43 and that gives zoom from a full frame 180°diagonal fisheye to about equivalent to a 14mm rectilinear (28mm full frame equivalent) in coverage, which is a very useful range covering reef scenics out through to slightly skittish large animals.

The remaining question is portability - depending on the domes chosen the Sony APS-C cameras can be quite portable an dthe m43 cameras easily portable.  This is my rig packed into a standard small carry-on size spinner bag: 

It also fits in my Think tank streetwalker hard drive backpack quite easily.  The dome above is a Zen 170mm dome, you could easily fit a 4"dome and macro port in that space.

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After a lot of reading, I’m starting to think about the A7C, which seems like a great step up to full frame, yet still maintain a smaller size and leverage existing strobes, etc. With the newer camera, looks like Nauticam is the only available housing at this time, but I’m familiar with “get what you pay for” concept.

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14 hours ago, RVbldr said:

After a lot of reading, I’m starting to think about the A7C, which seems like a great step up to full frame, yet still maintain a smaller size and leverage existing strobes, etc. With the newer camera, looks like Nauticam is the only available housing at this time, but I’m familiar with “get what you pay for” concept.

The A7C is indeed compact - being full frame you still need big domes for rectilinears to get the best out of them.  Several people ahve started using that setup with the WWL and the 28-60 kit lens which maintains the compact dimensions.  You would be looking at using an LED trigger to run your strobes.

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A point of note about A7C is that no budget housings are available for it yet - Nauticam is the only game in town when it comes to this camera, and small as it is, you're still looking at almost $4k for the housing + 28-60 port + zoom gear + LED trigger + vacuum system, then another $2k for body+lens, and a couple thousand more in wet lenses.

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Indeed on both previous two points. I already have a CMC-1, strobes, and arms/floats, so that cuts down on some $$$. Started adding up housing, port, WWL-1, and flash trigger, then add camera and lens. Not the entry level kit for sure! 

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I have a A7iii and a few lenses that I am trying to get rid of. I can make a deal on it if you take the whole kit :-).  Shoot me a PM to talk about more info.

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On 7/12/2021 at 10:23 AM, RVbldr said:

Indeed on both previous two points. I already have a CMC-1, strobes, and arms/floats, so that cuts down on some $$$. Started adding up housing, port, WWL-1, and flash trigger, then add camera and lens. Not the entry level kit for sure! 

The CMC will be useless on most interchangeable lens cameras, since their front element is too big. You maybe can get away with it on M4/3 like Olympus.

If you step up to newer RX100  (up to V), they're 24mm at wide end, so you'll need new wet lens to avoid vignetting. And you'll lose some magnification at the zoom end since it's 70mm equivalent.  All newer RX100 have a  24-200mm equivalent range and the lens barrel shifts so much that you can forget about using wide or macro on same dive. You'll now have to deal with interchangeable ports.  I never went past RX100 II as the image quality doesn't get any better. You maybe gain better video capabilities.

I looked into this extensively and I don't think there's any intermediate jump.  Even with M43 cameras, you have to invest in relatively bulky housing, new lenses, ports, etc..  Only think you can salvage from current setup is arms and lighting, and possibly the tray.

The weight/size and cost of even M43 is not that far off from most full-frame or APSC, so may as well go all the way, or settle for a 2-3rd generation camera to save on body + housing costs. An APSC Nikon or Canon can work very well with cheap second hand or refurbished lenses and housing.

 

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5 hours ago, pygmy_whaleshark said:

The weight/size and cost of even M43 is not that far off from most full-frame or APSC, so may as well go all the way, or settle for a 2-3rd generation camera to save on body + housing costs. An APSC Nikon or Canon can work very well with cheap second hand or refurbished lenses and housing. 

 

This really depends on which housing system you buy and also what type of lenses.  For rectilinear wides the dome size scales with the sensor size. When purchasing new, aluminium housing prices will scale with sensor size.  The image quality improvement from m43 - particularly the 20MP sensors is fairly small compared to APS-C and often can be counteracted somewhat by shooting at wider apertures or lower ISO due to the greater depth of field with m43.   I would also mention using the WWL is not supported on Canon/Nikon APS-C and you are looking at the very pricey WACP instaed. 

The important thing is to look at the overall system to see that it is capable of what you want and what the total outlay will be.  There are lots of gothchas that are not immediately obvious as well, for example finding an appropriate port to use with small kit lenses and the WWL.  Nauticam has the most complete port list while many other vendors have a one size fits all flat port which places the small kit lens too far from the port glass and you lose field of view on the WWL. 

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6 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

When purchasing new, aluminium housing prices will scale with sensor size. 

I'd say it's more of a function of camera body size rather than sensor size. The Nauticam housings for micro four thirds Olympus E-M1X and Panasonic GH5 are considerably more expensive than their housing for the full-frame Sony A7C.

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1 hour ago, Barmaglot said:

I'd say it's more of a function of camera body size rather than sensor size. The Nauticam housings for micro four thirds Olympus E-M1X and Panasonic GH5 are considerably more expensive than their housing for the full-frame Sony A7C.

To be fair those cameras are outliers, the EM-1X is a bit of an oddball and the GH5 is a full featured video housing.  To look at more regular housings, the EM-5 III is$1700, the EM-1 III $2100 and the A7C at $2500.  The GH5 is the cheapest of the separate back style housings at $3100, then most of the DSLR APS-C models, the Sony A series latest models and Z6/Z7 etc are $3500-3900 and full frame DSLRS are mostly $3900 +.  (USA prices in $US)

The A7C is the first significant attempt from Nauticam to downsize a mirrorless housing as small as they could and the first of the bigger sensor models to use a clamshell style housing.  The decision to go with clamshell style is a a factor in making the housing smaller and reducing the costs. 

Other vendors have made different decisions and made more of their housings smaller for the new smaller mirrorless models. For example speaking to an UW photographer locally recently they told me they were saving 3 kg downsizing to a Z6 from a D850 but they wouldn't get that savings with the larger Nauticam models.

 

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