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Jheard89

Help choosing DSLR for publication quality fish ID photos

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I upgraded from a RX100 II to a DSLR in 2015.  I bought dual strobes for the RX100, and that helped immensely, but the focus speed (and resolution) just wasn't good enough.  At least I was able to transfer the strobes to the DSLR.   I had a Nauticam housing for the RX100 and loved it, so got a Nauticam housing for the D810.  And then a Nauticam housing for the D850.  Must get item=vacuum leak detector, whichever housing you get.

If the choice is between a D500 and a D800, I'd lean toward the D500 - mostly for the autofocus.   I shot a D810 underwater for 4 years, and when I went to a D850 the difference was quite noticeable.  Plus, shooting a 105vr for macro, I'm usually cropping to DX or further anyway.

Personally, with my D810/D850, I often wished for a 180mm macro lens because it seemed it was just the right distance from subject for comfortable diving approaches.  The 105 forces me to get closer than I'd like.  I confirmed that one day by adding a 1.4tc to the 105vr, but I didn't like the loss of sharpness or focus speed.

DX cameras have a lot more lens options than FX cameras, and smaller/lighter/cheaper ports.

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@Architeuthis

Re: Olympus AF experience...

Both my kids started shooting with Oly's -  our daughter started with an E-M5, then eventually moved to a E-M1 (our son inherited the older system as part of the upgrade). the E-M1 was a huge step up (esp. for macro) but was still not in same class as my D500 (which my son now has).

Re: The Sony A7III was a negligible  upgrade for macro (from the Oly), however the A7R4 definitely is an improvement (although the Sony 90mm F/2.8 is still not "amazing" in low light or with fast moving subjects). The A7R4 still trails the D500 both in low light and AF capabilities (an illustrative test: black water dives... the D500 outperforms almost every other camera except the D850, also with a 60mm lens).

Where the A7R4 shines is wide angle, it's both more versatile than a D850 with a WACP and delivers better results that a D500 with a Tokina 10-17 (and dome). My daughter proved this on a daily basis during our recent trip to the Maldives this summer.

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6 hours ago, oneyellowtang said:

Where the A7R4 shines is wide angle, it's both more versatile than a D850 with a WACP and delivers better results that a D500 with a Tokina 10-17 (and dome)

Interesting thought, oneyellowtang. But that can't have been the camera body. eh? Would it not have been a combination of the lens used, the port combination etc? I would have thought it made not much difference what camera body to use to record the image - more to do with lens etc.

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@TimG

Sure... however you are quickly stepping into the realm of the hypothetical. 

I would argue near the top end the various housing/port combinations make the delta between the same camera/lens combinations (being housed) almost irrelevant. Nauticam vs. Subal vs. ? for the same camera/lens combination is mostly differentiated by taste, personal choice, and regional resource access (like service, etc.). I've shot the D500 in a Nauticam (preferred), Subal, and Aquatica housing... (and the D850 only in a Nauticam). 

So I would argue the housing/port have little to do with my above statement...

So let's focus on the camera/lens combination for a moment:
The A7R4 (shooting either with a native Sony W/A lens, or a Canon 8-15) is a pleasure to shoot with. It's fast and the rig is a bit smaller than either of the Nikon DSLR housed systems, making it easier to handle as well (which is an apple to oranges comparison, but...)

The D500 and the Tokina 10-17 (with a small dome) is a great system, and until I shot a D850 with the WACP (either with the 28mm or the 28-70mm) I assumed you just had to finesse the soft corners issue. Although these lens/port combinations do provide different image perspectives, I've used them both to shoot sharks, mantas, etc (and the WACP is not the most easily manageable port out of the water, during travel, etc.)

When given the chance today, I will shoot W/A with the D850, and macro with the D500, and other scenarios with whatever body/housing I have with me on a given trip (because I've been shooting w/Nikon for years, and I'm comfortable with these cameras).

Having said this - shooting whale sharks with the Sony A7R4 was significantly easier than with either Nikon system, however the A7R4 was mostly hopeless shooting on a black water dive (tradeoffs).

BTW - what you left out is the photographer skill level in all of this. Having spent years shooting with Nikon DSLR's, picking up my daughter's A7R4 (in a Nauticam housing) was relatively easy (once you get the menu options down). I found myself grabbing her camera rig on several dives where she wasn't going to dive, just so I could shoot with it (vs. the D850) - by choice.
 





 

 

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8 hours ago, oneyellowtang said:

I would argue near the top end the various housing/port combinations make the delta between the same camera/lens combinations (being housed) almost irrelevant. Nauticam vs. Subal vs. ? for the same camera/lens combination is mostly differentiated by taste, personal choice, and regional resource access (like service, etc.). I've shot the D500 in a Nauticam (preferred), Subal, and Aquatica housing... (and the D850 only in a Nauticam). 

Yep, totally agree

8 hours ago, oneyellowtang said:

BTW - what you left out is the photographer skill level in all of this. Having spent years shooting with Nikon DSLR's, picking up my daughter's A7R4 (in a Nauticam housing) was relatively easy (once you get the menu options down). I found myself grabbing her camera rig on several dives where she wasn't going to dive, just so I could shoot with it (vs. the D850) - by choice.

Interesting! What was it that made it easier to a system you were well used to?

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