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Hi,

I'm fairly a beginner in underwater photography and till now have used the Sony A7iii with a Seafrogs housing with a 6" dome and the 16-35 f/2.8 GM lens. I've been quite happy with the setup. For my overwater images, I've upgraded to the Sony A1, and am looking again at the Seafrogs housing for that. Now I have two options that would suite my 16-35 GM (and they would also fit my on-land favourite - the 135 f/1.8 GM - at least physically). Here are my questions:

1. I have the option of a 6" dome that fits both lenses, or a long flat port that also fits both. Both ports have been tested with the 16-35GM to have no vignetting. The dome is acrylic, while the flat is double coated optical glass. Which would be better for me?

2. Is 135 a good focal length for underwater? It's not a macro lens, and the minimal focal distance is 70 cm. However, the 135 GM is amazing in low light, and often when shooting underwater, I do wish I could go narrower and capture some portraits. 

3. How important is a strobe? I'm mostly a holiday diver, and have dived in the Caribbean, Bali, Philippines, etc. I don't see myself diving at night or in colder regions anytime soon. The seafrogs housings have a cold shoe on top to put a GoPro on. If I'm recording video while shooting stills, should I opt for a video light instead? Would the strobe ruin the video? Any recommendations on a strobe / video light to get started?

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6 minutes ago, ashic said:

1. I have the option of a 6" dome that fits both lenses, or a long flat port that also fits both. Both ports have been tested with the 16-35GM to have no vignetting. The dome is acrylic, while the flat is double coated optical glass. Which would be better for me?

The six-inch dome is a fairly poor option for a 16-35mm on full-frame, the image will be quite mushy anywhere away from center. The flat port, however, is downright terrible at 16mm - the distortion when you put it underwater will be very significant.

9 minutes ago, ashic said:

2. Is 135 a good focal length for underwater? It's not a macro lens, and the minimal focal distance is 70 cm. However, the 135 GM is amazing in low light, and often when shooting underwater, I do wish I could go narrower and capture some portraits. 

No. I use a 90mm with my A6300, which ends up being the same focal length, and it's tight enough that any decent sized subject is way too far away for a decent shot. It's a great macro lens, but 135mm isn't. For fish portrait shots, 50-70mm is what I would call a good focal length.

Your best option, in terms of wide-angle IQ, with a Sony full-frame and a SeaFrogs housing, is a 28-60mm lens with a flat port (sold with A7C housing, not currently listed separately, but I'd be surprised if they wouldn't sell one to you if asked) and a Nauticam WWL-1B.

12 minutes ago, ashic said:

3. How important is a strobe?

A good strobe or two will provide the single biggest improvement to your underwater photo image quality of any device that you can buy, bar none, by a large margin.  In all but the best lighting conditions, a $200 pocket camera with strobes will outperform a top-end DSLR with expensive glass that's shooting in natural light.

14 minutes ago, ashic said:

If I'm recording video while shooting stills, should I opt for a video light instead?

In general, this doesn't work particularly well. Diving for stills and diving for video requires a different mindset, not just different gear. That said...

15 minutes ago, ashic said:

Would the strobe ruin the video?

Yes, it would. You don't want red flashes showing up in your clips, and that includes strobe bursts from other divers.

16 minutes ago, ashic said:

Any recommendations on a strobe / video light to get started? 

The usual suspects - Inon Z-330, Retra Prime/Pro, Sea & Sea YS-D3, Ikelite DS-160/161. Avoid the small, entry level strobes like Inon S-2000 or Sea & Sea YS-01, as they don't put out enough light to work with a full-frame camera.

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Thanks, @Barmaglot . That's really helpful. 

In terms of lenses, my current kit consists of 16-35 GM, 85 GM, 135 GM, and a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. The Tamron won't be able to resolve the 51MP of the A1. I'll probably get a better standard zoom or something like a 50 prime in the future. The 85 GM shows its age - while image IQ is fantastic and it's fast at f/1.4, I doubt it'll perform well underwater as the AF system isn't the greatest. Hence, why I mentioned the 16-35 and the 135. So, based on that, I guess the only real option I have is the 16-35 f/2.8 - which I guess I can use at 35mm? 

 

You mentioned the Nauticam WWL-1B. Does that work with a Seafrogs housing, or would that require a nauticam housing? 

 

Seafrogs also have an 8" dome. Would that be a better option? Or (with my current lenses), would the long flat port with the 16-35 running at 35mm as a f/2.8 prime work better? Or if I'm only using it at 35mm, would the 6" dome be sufficient?

 

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And a follow up question:

With the A1 upgrade, I have an A7iii and an A7 riv as well. The A1 imaging works amazingly well on land - far superior to the A7iii. Would you say getting a strobe and keeping the A7iii+Seafrogs would provide better images than getting a housing for the A1 without a strobe? Next two dives will be in Antigua and Maldives - so light conditions should be quite good. If I do get the A1 housing, I'll sell off the A7iii body and housing, as underwater is the only reason I'm holding on to the A7iii. I do intend on getting a strobe... it's a matter of when. 

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23 minutes ago, ashic said:

In terms of lenses, my current kit consists of 16-35 GM, 85 GM, 135 GM, and a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. The Tamron won't be able to resolve the 51MP of the A1. I'll probably get a better standard zoom or something like a 50 prime in the future.

Forget the conventional wisdom about lenses and IQ, it really does not apply underwater. Most traditional highly regarded lenses plain don't work for underwater photography, and some that are considered rubbish in air start to shine once you splash down - Tokina 10-17mm fisheye is a prime example of that. Terrible lens in general, one of the most popular underwater.

Recent developments in water contact optics have shifted the paradigm yet again, with cheap kit lenses handily outperforming top-end glass in huge domes.

26 minutes ago, ashic said:

So, based on that, I guess the only real option I have is the 16-35 f/2.8 - which I guess I can use at 35mm?  

The bright aperture is mostly useless when shooting through a dome, as you'll be stopping down to f/11 or smaller for depth of field. Using it at 35mm... eeehhhh... in most cases, whatever it is that you'll recover at the dome edges, you'll lose right back to water clarity due to extra distance involved. Most of the time, you really need that wide end.

29 minutes ago, ashic said:

You mentioned the Nauticam WWL-1B. Does that work with a Seafrogs housing, or would that require a nauticam housing? 

It will work on any housing with a 67mm threaded flat port, but it's imperative that the lens inside the housing has its front element as close as possible to the port, and that the front element is small, otherwise you get vignetting. Sony 16-50mm PZ on APS-C, and the new 28-60mm on full-frame are notable for working very well with wet lenses. @Phil Rudin has tested 28-60mm with WWL-1 and according to him, it outperforms any wide-angle lens in any dome - the only thing that is better is the ridiculously expensive Nauticam WACP-1/WACP-2.

32 minutes ago, ashic said:

Seafrogs also have an 8" dome. Would that be a better option?

I use the 8-inch dome with A6300 and Sony 10-18mm. I'd say it's marginal with that setup; wouldn't use it with full-frame - you really need a 230mm dome with that, and SeaFrogs doesn't make one.

33 minutes ago, ashic said:

Or (with my current lenses), would the long flat port with the 16-35 running at 35mm as a f/2.8 prime work better?

No.

Or, let me rephrase that... definitely no.

33 minutes ago, ashic said:

Or if I'm only using it at 35mm, would the 6" dome be sufficient?

35mm is a really 'neither fish nor fowl' focal distance underwater. Not nearly wide enough for reefscapes, not really tight enough for fish portraits, and a definite no-go for macro.

26 minutes ago, ashic said:

Would you say getting a strobe and keeping the A7iii+Seafrogs would provide better images than getting a housing for the A1 without a strobe?

Absolutely. Not even a question.

27 minutes ago, ashic said:

Next two dives will be in Antigua and Maldives - so light conditions should be quite good.

There are no good lighting conditions past about 5-10 meters of depth, not compared to what a strobe gives you.

29 minutes ago, ashic said:

If I do get the A1 housing, I'll sell off the A7iii body and housing, as underwater is the only reason I'm holding on to the A7iii.

Many people maintain a separate camera for diving from their land camera. The way I had it explained to me is, don't ever splash down with anything that you're not prepared to lose, and losing an A1 body is a major blow for all but the most well-funded of us.

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Thanks, @Barmaglot . Incredibly helpful information. I guess till now, I've just dived and taken pictures without thinking about details like I do on land photography. And yes, the only reason I consider going down with the A1 is because it's covered by insurance (which includes diving)!

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10 minutes ago, ashic said:

Thanks, @Barmaglot . Incredibly helpful information. I guess till now, I've just dived and taken pictures without thinking about details like I do on land photography. And yes, the only reason I consider going down with the A1 is because it's covered by insurance (which includes diving)!

I hope you've read the fine print!:lol:  Seriously - insurance companies are known for avoiding payouts, some are better than others of course.  I would strongly suggest using the vacuum system, I assume your housing has it?

I second all Barmagalot has said, the extra MP really don't make as much difference underwater.  A standard zoom and a 50mm are not so useful UW, the 24-70 has some use for larger subjects and fish portraits etc, but not really for reefscapes -  but you need to check it focuses close enough, the Sony 24-70 needs a diopter to focus in a dome port for example. 

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34 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

I hope you've read the fine print!:lol:  Seriously - insurance companies are known for avoiding payouts, some are better than others of course.  I would strongly suggest using the vacuum system, I assume your housing has it?

I second all Barmagalot has said, the extra MP really don't make as much difference underwater.  A standard zoom and a 50mm are not so useful UW, the 24-70 has some use for larger subjects and fish portraits etc, but not really for reefscapes -  but you need to check it focuses close enough, the Sony 24-70 needs a diopter to focus in a dome port for example. 

Thanks, Chris. Yup... insurance covers it... double checked! And yes, I never go down with the camera unless the vacuum system gives me the green. If it's fidgety and doesn't create a seal for the test, I'll try a few times by licking the vacuum thing, and if I still can't get the test to work, I just take the go pro down. 

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Hi.
I'm not an expert, but a lot of content in the forum shows that housing is not an accessory to underwater photography. The camera is an accessory to the housing.

If you want to use Sony A1's current highest quality expensive camera as an accessory for underwater photography, I think a good quality housing and proper setting will produce good photography results.

Before I knew this forum, I used a 14-24 lens and an 8-inch dome port for the first full-frame camera Nikon d800 dslr, but the quality was not good. Compared to the existing small compact camera underwater photographs, it was difficult to find good points in the photographic results and I was disappointed.

Later, I read and studied the forum, used Sigma 15 fish eyes, and improved the quality of the picture. If I had known Wet Pixel Forum before purchasing equipment, I wouldn't have made a double investment.

Currently, it is used underwater as a full-frame Nikon mirrorless.

If you use an expensive high-end beast-like camera like Sony a1, I think the camera will perform only when you use a dome port suitable for housing and setting for good image quality.

Edited by Edy park
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3 hours ago, Edy park said:

If you use an expensive high-end beast-like camera like Sony a1, I think the camera will perform only when you use a dome port suitable for housing and setting for good image quality.

Totally agree, Edy

 

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5 hours ago, TimG said:

Totally agree, Edy

 

Yes, none of the SeaFrogs dome options are really optimised and even the 8"dome is too small, though it will be better than the 6"dome.  They let you take the camera UW, but all that great image quality is undone with many of the wide dome port options.  Yes they'll keep you camera dry and take photos, but you might as well use an RX100. 

There are of course ways around this, for example the macro option - a flat port is a plat port and of course the WWL if the ports fit the Kit lenses you use with it properly. 

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5 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

Yes, none of the SeaFrogs dome options are really optimised and even the 8"dome is too small, though it will be better than the 6"dome.  They let you take the camera UW, but all that great image quality is undone with many of the wide dome port options.  Yes they'll keep you camera dry and take photos, but you might as well use an RX100. 

There are of course ways around this, for example the macro option - a flat port is a plat port and of course the WWL if the ports fit the Kit lenses you use with it properly. 

Makes sense. One of the reasons I was considering taking the A1 down is to aggressively crop to the centre. Even in 1.5x crop mode, the A1 produces 21MP stills with the benefit of low light performance, dynamic range, and incredibly good autofocus. The A7iii produces 24MP images. So even after cropping to the centre, I'd still have crop room left over. As such, if only the centre of the images were good, they'd be quite usable. 35 in crop mode would be similar to 52.5 in terms of fov, so if I shot full frame and then took the centre bits, the results might be good. That was my thinking. 

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You can get some shots that way, sure... but you'll get lots more, lots better shots by adding a strobe or two to the setup that you already have. Compare and contrast, same camera, same SeaFrogs housing, no strobes, cheap SeaFrogs strobes, Retra strobes:

OzK3bLt.jpg

fCa6kIl.jpg

U0u7Lbi.jpg

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Oh wow, @Barmaglot .... The first image is very similar to what I get lol. I do make it a bit better with editing, but I thought the "murkiness" was due to poor visibility. Definitely leaning towards getting a strobe now. 

The cheap seafrogs strobes seem to do an amazing job. What's the main difference between a cheap strobe and a premium one? Refresh rate? Also, for underwater with strobes, do you use single shot? Or do bursts work? I'd think the flash would only fire for the first shot - is this incorrect?

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16 minutes ago, ashic said:

The cheap seafrogs strobes seem to do an amazing job. What's the main difference between a cheap strobe and a premium one? Refresh rate? Also, for underwater with strobes, do you use single shot? Or do bursts work? I'd think the flash would only fire for the first shot - is this incorrect?

  • Quality of light
  • Power of light
  • Consistency of light itensityregardless of battery power
  • Cycle speed (how fast you can trigger them)
  • High Speed Sync for the newer models
  • Sales support
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Posted (edited)

The ones that I had (ST-100 Pro; I have since then sold them onwards) were TTL-only when triggered by fiber optics, no ability to adjust. If you look closely at the second image, you'll see blown highlights on the upper part of the batfish, that's despite me pulling them all the way down in post. I believe that the ones that they're selling now, the SF-01 model, are the opposite - manual only, but I haven't tried them myself, so I only have second hand info. Between TTL-only and manual-only, my preference is definitely for manual, having tried both (TTL with SeaFrogs and manual with Retras).

As far as quality of light goes... I can't really evaluate it, but the power and reach were limited. For example, a large (~2 meters across) sea fan with SeaFrogs strobes:

qKSsxbH.jpg

Pulling the white balance towards red to compensate for insufficient lighting causes the water to go purple. You can even see the gradient here:

DYsRQyw.jpg

Try to cast a wider shot, and they're not reaching anything at all:

H2ysTU3.jpg

Retra Pro strobes, on the other hand - no problem at all.

lB87CQy.jpg

rIo6kU4.jpg

As far as bursts go, Retra Pro with superchargers can do 3fps (continuous low setting on my A6300) at 50% power continuously.

Edited by Barmaglot
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Also, while I'm at it, dome vs. flat. This is a 10mm lens (15mm-equivalent) shot in a pool through a flat port:

avB2uGX.jpg

Same camera, same lens, same housing, roughly the same spot, six-inch acrylic dome, f/4 aperture:

Xb2S4g2.jpg

Same setup, f/11 aperture:

rDjWO1h.jpg

Same, but eight-inch acrylic dome, f/4 aperture:

WJAZNCI.jpg

And the same, but f/11 aperture:

S0OBqLQ.jpg

You can observe the extreme distortion and reduced FoV introduced by the flat port, as well as soft corners in domes at wide-open apertures that improve - but don't go away completely - as the lens gets stopped down.

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6 hours ago, ashic said:

Makes sense. One of the reasons I was considering taking the A1 down is to aggressively crop to the centre. Even in 1.5x crop mode, the A1 produces 21MP stills with the benefit of low light performance, dynamic range, and incredibly good autofocus. The A7iii produces 24MP images. So even after cropping to the centre, I'd still have crop room left over. As such, if only the centre of the images were good, they'd be quite usable. 35 in crop mode would be similar to 52.5 in terms of fov, so if I shot full frame and then took the centre bits, the results might be good. That was my thinking. 

If you are going to crop to the centre you might as well save some $$$ and house something like an RX-100.  If you crop you lose the low light performance - low light performance comes about from gathering more light across the sensor and using the full frame for your shot. Because the sensor is bigger it collects more photons.  If you are cropping to the centre you are also losing field of view, the whole point of taking a wide lens UW is to get very close to your subject - less water between you and your subject is the best thing you can do to improve your images as the water degrades the images and loses colours.  In any case the point of strobes is to bring enough light so you are shooting at relatively low ISO.  Low light performance only comes into play for specific shooting scenarios such as fast action natural light shooting early or late in the day.

Dynamic range is also mostly not an important thing UW, the range of tones tends to be suppressed with some specific exceptions like sunballs.  It certainly doesn't hurt and there are shots that benefit from it, but I'm rarely wishing for more than I have.

AF performance is also a nice to have but for wide angle work, AF is generally good enough on any camera.  It will help with macro shooting though.  Megapixels are somewhat the same - your crop-ability UW is less as the images in general lose resolution due to the air-water interface with the dome and also water will lose resolution as light is scattered as it travels to your lens.

UW shooting places different demands on your cameras than land shooting.

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, ChrisRoss said:

If you are going to crop to the centre you might as well save some $$$ and house something like an RX-100.  If you crop you lose the low light performance - low light performance comes about from gathering more light across the sensor and using the full frame for your shot. Because the sensor is bigger it collects more photons.  If you are cropping to the centre you are also losing field of view, the whole point of taking a wide lens UW is to get very close to your subject - less water between you and your subject is the best thing you can do to improve your images as the water degrades the images and loses colours.  In any case the point of strobes is to bring enough light so you are shooting at relatively low ISO.  Low light performance only comes into play for specific shooting scenarios such as fast action natural light shooting early or late in the day.

Dynamic range is also mostly not an important thing UW, the range of tones tends to be suppressed with some specific exceptions like sunballs.  It certainly doesn't hurt and there are shots that benefit from it, but I'm rarely wishing for more than I have.

AF performance is also a nice to have but for wide angle work, AF is generally good enough on any camera.  It will help with macro shooting though.  Megapixels are somewhat the same - your crop-ability UW is less as the images in general lose resolution due to the air-water interface with the dome and also water will lose resolution as light is scattered as it travels to your lens.

UW shooting places different demands on your cameras than land shooting.

Agree with all of the above except for the bit about cropping. If the Sony full frames are put into crop (APS-C) mode, they don't actually use all of the pixels of the sensor to build a better APS-C image.... it's merely taking the information from the full frame verbatim and storing the centre part. e.g. for the A1, it'll take the information from the full 51MP, and store only the centre 21mp discarding the rest. It's not different to cropping in post (other than the file sizes are reduced) - which for me is pointless, so I shoot everything full frame and crop in post. 

The A1 pixel size is 4.14 microns, whereas the Rx-100 pixel size is 2.41 microns. So the A1 results will be superior to the RX-100 for the same number of pixels all else being equal. Of course, the domes, etc. for the Rx-100 will be far cheaper and easier to handle given the small size. There is a catch though - I already own the A1, and don't own an Rx100 :)

The Rx100 (vii) does have the 24-200mm equivalent zoom on it. But with that range, would a flat or a dome work better? From @Barmaglot's excellent examples, I'm sort of getting an idea when it comes to wide lenses - wide + flat = no! For an Rx-100, would that mean keeping it at the wide end? @Barmaglot also mentioned a Nauticam WWL-1B. Form a bit of searching, that appears to be a "wet" lens. Do wet lenses perform much better than flat ports and domes? That particular Nauticum is over £1K - so I would expect it to blow any domes out of the water. 

 

Edited by ashic

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26 minutes ago, ashic said:

The Rx100 (vii) does have the 24-200mm equivalent zoom on it. But with that range, would a flat or a dome work better?

RX100 VII works best with flat ports and wet lenses, but its long lens introduces an additional challenge. Wet lenses need to be very close to the actual lens front element in order to work properly, but the RX100 VII lens extends and retracts a lot as it zooms, and nobody has figured out how to make a telescoping water-tight port so far. Therefore, the housings for RX100 VI and VII usually feature interchangeable ports - you have a short flat port that limits your zoom range but allows the use of wet wide lenses, and you have a long flat port that lets the lens extend to its full extent, but vignettes at wider FoVs - this port is meant to be used with close-up lenses for shooting macro. You can also have a long port with a wide opening that will let you use the entire zoom range without vignetting, but that front opening is too large for the typical 67mm threading. In case of Nauticam, they have a special flip holder that attaches to the port, so that you can shoot the lens at full range without wet lenses, and flip down a close-up lens when you want to shoot macro. The SeaFrogs port does not have that.

36 minutes ago, ashic said:

I'm sort of getting an idea when it comes to wide lenses - wide + flat = no!

It all has to do with refraction. Light travels at different speeds in water, glass and air, and when light rays strike a boundary between different propagation mediums, they get bent (refracted). The sharper the angle, the more they get refracted. Therefore, when you have a wide-angle lens that's 'looking' at something like 55 degrees off-nominal (110 degree FoV) the refraction encountered is quite significant. This is what domes solve - when you place the entrance pupil of your lens at the exact geometric center of the dome's curvature, then anywhere that the lens is 'looking', the light passes through the dome glass at exactly right angle, so no refraction occurs. Of course, in the real world, such precise placement is impossible, not least because the entrance pupil is not a discrete point, but we try to get close enough. This is why proper extension lengths on dome ports are so important.

43 minutes ago, ashic said:

Form a bit of searching, that appears to be a "wet" lens. Do wet lenses perform much better than flat ports and domes?

A wet wide lens has multiple lens elements inside that correct for various aberrations introduced by shooting through a simple dome. A dome, in effect, is also a lens element, as the water/glass/air boundary refracts light just like any other lens (this is, in fact, how all lenses work). Both domes and wet lenses project a sort of 'virtual image' into the lens, but whereas domes are a single element that fails to correct for things like field curvature (the virtual image is curved, and has trouble fitting into the camera lenses depth of field, this is what causes soft corners), the WWLs (and their cousins, the Nauticam WACPs and EMWL system) are designed to present a camera lens with the best image that it can relay to the sensor.

Because the window where the image is relayed between the wet lens and the actual lens is limited in size (usually 67mm, or 52mm for the smaller compact housings), as are the actual lens elements in the wet lens (they are, in fact, already huge, rivaling the elements in long telephotos), the wet lens designers have to operate with certain assumptions about the lens that's going to be behind their device. Most wet lenses are designed for 28mm focal length lenses, some (Nauticam WWL-C, Weefine/Kraken WFL-01/KRL-01) target the more modern 24mm. A special case is Nauticam MWL-1, and Weefine/Kraken WFL-09S/KRL-09S - these project a ~150 degree field of view into a 50-60mm macro lens. At any rate, what's important with all these wet lenses is that the entrance pupil of the camera lens be as close as possible to the wet lens rear element. This is typically signified by small front elements - if you see a large front element on a lens, this is usually indicative of the entrance pupil sitting deep inside, thus requiring this large element to avoid vignetting. Another important criteria is internal zooming - if the lens extends and retracts a lot, then it will either withdraw into the port and vignette, or bump into the port glass, or both. Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ for APS-C and 28-60mm f/4-5.6 for full frame are notable examples of lenses that work very well with WWLs, as they tick both of the above criteria.

1 hour ago, ashic said:

That particular Nauticum is over £1K - so I would expect it to blow any domes out of the water.  

Read @Phil Rudin's articles in UWPMag; he has tested just about everything under the sun. In short, for overall image quality shooting wide-angle underwater, the best solution appears to be Nauticam WACP-2 ($8442), followed by WACP-1 ($5159), followed by WWL-1/WWL-C, with traditional 230mm domes (which aren't cheap either - the Nauticam #18812 dome recommended for for Sony 12-24mm and 16-35mm lenses retails for $2439) trailing far behind.

Remember, however, that your system overall performs only as well as its weakest link. Put together the best housing, best port, best glass, best everything, but omit strobes, and your results will be disappointing. Use a port that doesn't fit your lens well, and the images will be ruined no matter how good your glass and lighting are. Use a housing that doesn't let you access important camera functions, and you will simply miss short opportunities as you struggle to set up.

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Just as a sidebar I have not tested the Sony FE 24mm F/2.8 and WWL-C combo so I have no idea of image quality with that configuration.

 

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7 hours ago, ashic said:

Agree with all of the above except for the bit about cropping. If the Sony full frames are put into crop (APS-C) mode, they don't actually use all of the pixels of the sensor to build a better APS-C image.... it's merely taking the information from the full frame verbatim and storing the centre part. e.g. for the A1, it'll take the information from the full 51MP, and store only the centre 21mp discarding the rest. It's not different to cropping in post (other than the file sizes are reduced) - which for me is pointless, so I shoot everything full frame and crop in post. 
 

Maybe the Rx-100 was a bad example, I know what cropping does - the point on low light performance still stands, you get the noise performance of a sensor of whatever size you crop to.

The point of all of this is that the A1 may be a better camera, but sticking in a seafrogs housing will get you no improvement apart from being able to sell your A7.  If you want better images, that money is better spent on strobes or a bigger dome, though the improvement with the sea frogs 8" dome is probably small and the dome placement is unlikely to be optimised.  Even if you get a WWL the difference between the A7 and A1 image quality is unlikely to be all that much.

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1 hour ago, ChrisRoss said:

Even if you get a WWL the difference between the A7 and A1 image quality is unlikely to be all that much.

By this you mean the a7 will produce as good of an image as the A1 with wwl, am I right? 

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2 hours ago, newdiver said:

By this you mean the a7 will produce as good of an image as the A1 with wwl, am I right? 

Yes that's right, on close examination you might see some improvements but at typical ISOs the noise will be quite close in quality, you might have a few more pixels on the subject, but for typical uses the photos will be very close - it's probably only when you are printing really big or shooting in ambient light at the end of day it will be ahead and even then the benefits look to me to be in the pixel peeing range.

If you like to look at test data the DXO comparison of these cameras shows they are very close indeed:  https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7R-III-versus-Sony-A7R-IV-versus-Sony-A1___1187_1326_1365

I think the big benefits for the A1 are frame rate higher flash sync etc.  On a typical strobe exposed UW image they would be hard to separate.  But typically you don't shoot high frame rates and the strobes can't keep up.  The Higher sync speed would help with sunballs, but it's manageable with the other cameras.

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Another point in favor of the A1 should be the better autofocus, but it's only really relevant for macro and possibly blackwater - wide-angle, anything from A7II onward is fine.

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