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11 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

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.

Yeah... I'm probably putting the A1 housing on hold for lighting, based on your recommendations. Selling the A7iii would net me 1-1.3k, and the cost of the housing would eat a chunk of that. 

My budget won't stretch to upgrading to a nauticam or similar high end system at the moment. Or rather, if it did, I'd probably invest in over water glass as I mostly shoot underwater on holidays. If I am using the A7iii + seafrogs 6", I know I'm limiting myself in terms of IQ. In that case, would a strobe like the YS-D3 be as useful as say, a solar flare pro 12000? The latter is a video light but has a strobe mode for stills. The YS-D3 is obviously far superior for stills, but given the low end housing and dome, would the solar flare suffice? A continuous light would probably be helpful for me in terms of WYSIWYG, as I've never used a strobe underwater before. Cost wise, both are fairly close, and I imagine the solar flare would come in handy for shooting video, go pro footage, etc. 

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Hey ashic

As the guys have said, getting the lighting right is more important than what kind of housing you have or what you put in it. "Photography" is about capturing light. If there isn't much (ie the underwater world) you are really going to struggle to capture the image and its colours in light that you want. Photographing a fish is simply capturing the light that reflects off it. No light, no fish - or not much anyway.

Chris Ross talks frequently, convincingly and, in my view, wisely about the total package: what are you trying to achieve and how best to choose the gear to do that. 

One thing I think all the old hands on this website would agree on is that certain elements of the equipment can grow with you if you chose right (strobes being one of them); and certain elements won't, eg camera bodies and housings.

So, my suggestion would be get a decent strobe and if you are shooting for stills, get one for stills - not one for video which is significantly less powerful and won't do you any favours for stills.

As to which, if you search around WP for views and recommendations, you will read frequently about the Inon Z240 (now discontinued) or its successor the Z330. You'll also read about all sorts of issues appearing with the YS strobes. 

Having a "low end housing and dome" won't detract from the quality of the light a decent strobe will deliver. Nor will it detract from the longevity of the strobe. So, my suggestion, get yourself a decent strobe which will last you through various equipment iterations. If money is tight (and fair enough!), check out a second hand Z240 or Z330. They do appear reasonably often in the WP Classifieds and can be had for a good price. 

Stinting on a strobe, or getting one which might suffice for video and be just about ok for stills is, in my view, a sure fire way to "buy cheap, buy twice". A strobe is a long-term investment - one of the few in u/w equipment. Buy well!

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, ashic said:

In that case, would a strobe like the YS-D3 be as useful as say, a solar flare pro 12000? The latter is a video light but has a strobe mode for stills.

A xenon tube strobe is more powerful than even the strongest video light by several orders of magnitude. Put it this way: a strobe pulse, at max power, is about 3-4 milliseconds. Most strobes will give you a few hundred full power dumps off a single charge - multiply one by the other and you get approximately 1 second of burn time. Video lights, running at max power, usually last 30 to 90 minutes.

You can find a head to head comparison between a Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobe and a 14k lumen video light here:

You can kinda-sorta use continuous lights to shoot macro stills, where the beam is close enough to the subject that it doesn't get a chance to dissipate much, but for wide-angle? Forget it.

Using strobes underwater is not particularly complicated, especially if you've got TTL capability. Even in full manual, it's not that hard. Yes, continuous lights give you an exposure preview, but they also often scare away anything that's got eyes and a means of locomotion - imagine how you would react if someone pointed a floodlight in your eyes. Speaking of, if you're diving with powerful wide-angle lights, you've got to be quite careful at where you point them, as to not blind the divers around you.

When I was starting out, I thought I could get away with a pair of video lights (Archon D36V in my case) which were considerably less expensive than strobes. I was quite wrong, but I only realized how wrong when I got the pair of SeaFrogs ST-100 Pro strobes. The batfish photo that I posted earlier, I took it on one of my first dives with these strobes.

Note, however, that YS-D3 is known for being difficult to trigger with LEDs. Sea & Sea's own LED trigger is using very powerful LEDs that take a pair of AAA batteries to drive them, and exhaust them quite quickly, compared to the tiny button cells on UWT converters that last for months. Since you already own a UWT converter, I would recommend Inon Z-330 or Retra Prime/Pro over YS-D3; you can also look at used Inon Z-240s (type 4; they have more sensitive optical triggers for use with LEDs) if you want to save money.

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Thanks for the great advice. I completely understand the notion of growing with gear and buying once rather than multiple times. It's why I got premium glass when beginning, and have been happy doing so as I didn't outgrow lenses within 1-2 years. I would be looking to get a strobe / light for the long term, rather than buying and replacing in 1-2 years. I'm happy to pay more for something that'll last me many years as opposed to saving £100-250 now to pay more later. I can't jump from a £500 housing to a £3500 one - I can't really justify that seeing how rarely I get to dive, but paying a bit more for a strobe that'll last me years is something I can definitely accept. 

In terms of lights vs strobe, as a photographer - I completely get how much more powerful strobes are. Videos like 

and 

are making me think twice. In the first video, the guy's using one 10K lumen and one 5K lumen light, and doing commercial work with that setup. The Sony A7iii is very good in low light and higher ISOs (I happily push ISO to 6400, and can get very good results with post processing and noise reduction tools). The Solar Flare mini 12000 can strobe at 12000 lumens. Hence, I was thinking if the light would be "good enough". I have absolutely no doubt that a strobe would be better quality. I guess my question is if a (good) strobe is 100%, and no light is 0%, would the Solar Flare mini 12000 be 20% or would it be 80%, or somewhere in between. 

In terms of strobes, I appreciate your views on the YS-D3 - online reviews place it as the bee's knees! I do see Sea & sea have a mark 2 out already and have discontinued the mark 1. I wasn't aware that the issues were present - when paying that much, you'd expect the thing to work! So, really appreciate the warning. 

I can't see availability of the Retras in the UK. The nauticam UK site does have the Pro for £982 (and the Prime for roughly £826 on the EU website), but the main vendors don't seem to carry them. I do see vendors carrying the YS-D3 MK II (£739), and the Z-330 Type 2 (£679). The Solar Flare Mini 12000 isn't that much less expensive - £595. Apart from the Retra Pro, the others are pretty close together in pricing. 

So, given the context, would you still recommend the strobe, and if so, which one? I'm guessing the answer is the Z-330, but would like to confirm. 

 

@Barmaglot you mentioned " Since you already own a UWT converter".... erm... is that the cable that's inside the Seafrogs case? This the cable that's set up inside the case: https://seafrogs.com.hk/collections/spare-parts/products/spare-sync-port-bulkhead - is that what you mean? Or is it something else I'd need to get? Lastly, would I need to get a cable that goes from the "round thing" in the link above to the strobe, or would that cable come as part of the package? And if not, would that cable need to be a seafrogs cable, or would it be from the manufacturer of the strobe? (Is there a name for that cable?) Is TTL dependant on the housing? Obviously a high end strobe would have TTL, as does the Sony A7iii (and of course, A1), but would I need something specific to make TTL work? 

 

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Hey ashic

If you’re considering the Retra end of the market, I can recommend them without hesitation. I’ve got both the Pro and the Prime. You can order them directly from Retra. (Retra.com) I must admit it, post-Brexit, heaven knows what the customs/VAT issues are. Presumably though VAT free from Retra and then tax payment on arrival. 

After the Retra I’d say the Inon Z.330. Ive not used one but had Z240s for years and thought them excellent. By all accounts the Z330 is a worthy successor. 

If you’re thinking the YSs do search Wetpixel posts about issues that have arisen. 

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4 minutes ago, ashic said:

@Barmaglot you mentioned " Since you already own a UWT converter".... erm... is that the cable that's inside the Seafrogs case?

Sorry, I must've confused you with another recent poster that's using an A7 III in a SeaFrogs housing and was looking to upgrade (A7C in his case).

No, in your case you need strobes that take wired sync, and it will be manual operation only, no TTL. Either Inon Z-330 or Sea & Sea YS-D3 will work, you just need the proper cables.

6 minutes ago, ashic said:

Obviously a high end strobe would have TTL, as does the Sony A7iii (and of course, A1), but would I need something specific to make TTL work

This is not actually that straightforward. On land strobes, the TTL circuitry is typically built into the strobe, but in underwater strobes, this is almost never the case. The only ones that I know of to do this are SeaCam SeaFlash strobes, and they only support Canon and Nikon (older models were Canon or Nikon, as in you had to buy a specific model to work with your camera, but the latest ones support both). With anything else, you need to buy a TTL converter board to bridge the gap between the hot shoe of your camera and the cable that goes to the strobes. https://uwtechnics.com/ is a popular manufacturer of these boards; if you browse their website, you'll see a large number of models targeting various types of housings and camera models.

If you're using fiber optics, then your options for TTL operation are somewhat different. Most underwater strobes on the market today offer TTL-slave function, where they will light up and quench following an optical signal from the camera. This signal can be generated by a TTL converter (UWT boards typically support both wired triggering and a LED board to drive fiber optics in this fashion) or a pop-up/clip-on flash where that is available. Unfortunately, with the Sony A1/A7/A9 series cameras, there is no onboard flash, so out of the box, you can only use direct wired connection which does not offer TTL. If you buy a UWT converter for your housing, it comes with a replacement bulkhead that houses an LED inside, and that can be used to drive strobes over fiber optics, in either manual or TTL mode. Caveat: YS-D3 is not guaranteed to work in this scenario; wired triggering is better with that model.

16 minutes ago, ashic said:

I can't see availability of the Retras in the UK.

I'm in Israel and I got my Retras direct from the manufacturer, https://www.retra-uwt.com/

Note that Retra strobes only take optical triggering, and your housing, without a UWT board, only has wired output, so unless you're ready to make an additional investment, they are not a good fit for you. I would recommend Z-330s. They are highly regarded, and don't have the optical triggering issues that YS-D3s suffer from. Sea & Sea has also acquired somewhat of a reputation for unreliability in recent years - YS-D2 was really bad, YS-D2J was somewhat better, and I've seen multiple reports of YS-D3s dying as well.

17 minutes ago, ashic said:

The Sony A7iii is very good in low light and higher ISOs (I happily push ISO to 6400, and can get very good results with post processing and noise reduction tools).

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. The strobes produce rich, vivid colors in underwater photographs by overwhelming natural light, which carries a strong blue/green tint due to water filtering out longer wavelengths. Look at the second sea fan photo that I posted earlier - that color gradient is produced as the strobe light loses intensity and loses its fight against natural light. With a pair of 5K lumen lights that I had at the beginning, they would reach out to maybe 30-40cm to produce this effect - enough for macro shots, not nearly enough for wide-angle. Piling on the ISO will only admit more natural light; it will not restore color.

 

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Hi ashic, 

You may want to read my review for the Inon Z330 type II strobes in the current issue of uwpmag.com, this is a free PDF download. It includes some explanation of what is needed to accomplish S-TTL (what Inon calls it). Being very old school I am not a huge fan of TTL.

The Seafrogs flash trigger that ships with the housings can trigger most strobes but in manual mode only using the fiber optic system. 

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Just now, Phil Rudin said:

The Seafrogs flash trigger that ships with the housings can trigger most strobes but in manual mode only using the fiber optic system. 

Unfortunately @ashic has a SeaFrogs housing that predates that trigger and doesn't have an optical bulkhead. The SeaFrogs optical trigger only works with their housings for A7S III, A1, A7C and A6600. For the rest of SeaFrogs housing, the UWT board with replacement bulkhead (or LED board in case of A6xxx) is the only option that I know of.

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I will admit that I have not had the time to read this entire thread but my understanding was that a move was being made from A7 III to A1a camera that is head and shoulders above A7 III. If this is not the case then a wired cord is needed, a throwback to the 60's in my view.

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11 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. The strobes produce rich, vivid colors in underwater photographs by overwhelming natural light, which carries a strong blue/green tint due to water filtering out longer wavelengths. Look at the second sea fan photo that I posted earlier - that color gradient is produced as the strobe light loses intensity and loses its fight against natural light. With a pair of 5K lumen lights that I had at the beginning, they would reach out to maybe 30-40cm to produce this effect - enough for macro shots, not nearly enough for wide-angle. Piling on the ISO will only admit more natural light; it will not restore color. 

 

Agree, the light source needs to overpower the ambient, as you raise ISO, the ambient is boosted along with the video light.  Result is you get mixed light with ambient dominating that can cause the water column to take on an odd hue.  If you look at the comparison link on the video lights 1/250 @ f2.8 ISO200 becomes 1/250 @ f16 ISO6400 - no problem you say.  But a typical ambient exposure for the water column might 1/125 @ f8 ISO200 which becomes 1/250 @ f16 ISO800 - so the water column would 3 stops over exposed and pale looking and swamp you video lights.  

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Thanks for the awesome input :) 

Going to go with a strobe, and very likely the Z-330. 

@Barmaglot you mentioned the housing had issues with triggering. I have https://seafrogs.com.hk/collections/sony/products/sony-a7-iii-fe12-24mm-f4g-40m-130ft-uw-camera-housing-kit-with-6-dome-port-including-long-port-for-fe90mm-macro-lens-white . There's a cable that looks like it goes to the hot shoe of the camera, and that connects to the rough thing on the top. Would I need any specific cable to fire the strobe? The description says that to fire it, I'll need this: https://seafrogs.com.hk/collections/underwater-strobe/products/sea-frogs-5-pin-sync-cord-to-nikonos-type-bulkhead-for-underwater-housings-100m-330ft 

Is that specific one required, or would I be able to use a cable from the strobe manufacturer? 

@Phil Rudin read your review. It's very helpful. (Also the one on the 14 GM!). I was thinking of upgrading to an A1 housing as I now have an A1, but the others have convinced me that for now, getting a strobe would be better. 

In addition to the Sony 16-35GM, I also have the lowly but mighty Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 in my arsenal. While it can't deal with the A1's pixel requirements, it resolves brilliantly for the A7iii. It's minimum focus distance is 19cm. Is that a better option than the 16-35 for underwater? And if so, would that work better with the 6" dome or a flat port? I'm guessing the answer is going to be dome, and the the 16-35 would be better, but want to confirm. 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, ashic said:

@Barmaglot you mentioned the housing had issues with triggering. I have https://seafrogs.com.hk/collections/sony/products/sony-a7-iii-fe12-24mm-f4g-40m-130ft-uw-camera-housing-kit-with-6-dome-port-including-long-port-for-fe90mm-macro-lens-white . There's a cable that looks like it goes to the hot shoe of the camera, and that connects to the rough thing on the top. Would I need any specific cable to fire the strobe? The description says that to fire it, I'll need this: https://seafrogs.com.hk/collections/underwater-strobe/products/sea-frogs-5-pin-sync-cord-to-nikonos-type-bulkhead-for-underwater-housings-100m-330ft 

Is that specific one required, or would I be able to use a cable from the strobe manufacturer? 

Yes, that is correct. You will need that cable, or the dual version if you get two strobes. Be mindful that each of the plugs is sealed with an o-ring, and these o-rings are potential water entry points. Alternatively, you can get this kit and use fiber optics plus get the option of TTL, but it's expensive. If you go with the sync cord, it should work with Inon (Z-240, Z-330) and Sea & Sea strobes (YS-D1, YS-D2, YS-D3), but not optical-only strobes like the Retras, Sea & Sea YS-01, or Inon S-2000. I'm not sure about Ikelite DS-160/161, they use wired sync, but I recall seeing compatibility warnings with them and Meikon / SeaFrogs housngs.

55 minutes ago, ashic said:

In addition to the Sony 16-35GM, I also have the lowly but mighty Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 in my arsenal. While it can't deal with the A1's pixel requirements, it resolves brilliantly for the A7iii. It's minimum focus distance is 19cm. Is that a better option than the 16-35 for underwater? And if so, would that work better with the 6" dome or a flat port? I'm guessing the answer is going to be dome, and the the 16-35 would be better, but want to confirm. 

28-75 is a midrange zoom, whereas 16-35 is an ultra-wide (weitwinkel). Neither is 'better' than the other; they just do different things. 16-35 is better for large pelagics and reefscapes, 28-75 is handier for fish portraits. In very clear water, with good strobes, you can step back and try to do some reefscapes at its wide end, but it's not a sure thing. For example, this was shot with a 16-50mm (APS-C, so 24-75mm equivalent) from a couple meters away:

kb8TUFY.jpg

Where a mid-range zoom does shine is flexibility - this photo was taken just a few minutes earlier, on the same dive:

jhxSgGb.jpg

And a few minutes after that, I was playing with the nemos:

Qp0RrzO.jpg

Unfortunately, SeaFrogs doesn't have a zoom gear for Tamron 28-75mm, so you'll have to either design and 3D print one, or adapt a zoom gear from some other lens. They also have a note on their port chart that it has soft corners at 75mm when used in a six-inch dome, and is limited to 28-60mm when used with the default flat port.

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Both questions ask and answered but I would add that the reason such wide lenses are used underwater is so that you can get as close to your subject as posable reducing the amount of water you are shooting through. The 16-35 allows you to do that better than 28-75 a lens which I have owned. I have personally tested (not reviewed) the 16-35mmm F/2.8 and I have opted for Tamron 17-28 F/2.8 with the Sea & Sea correction lens and Zen 230mm dome port. This lens works very well with both A1 and A7R IV and is part of my budget holy trinity of F/2.8 lenses for above water work including the 28-75 F/2.8 and 70-180 F/2.8. All of these lenses plus the Tamron 20, 24 and 35mm F/2.8's 1:2 lenses use the same 67mm thread mount so one filter fits all making packing much easer. Seafrogs has a zoom gear for the 17-28 and at some point I suspect they may offer a 28-75 gear. All that having been said for best wide angle image quality at the lowest price I still favor the Sony FE 28-60 with Nauticam WWL-1B. I would suggest the 8 inch (203mm) dome over the Six inch (153mm) dome for any wide lens if a proper extension is offered. Seafrogs has just introduced a six inch (153mm) optical glass dome port with an instructional video. The video states that compared to the acrylic six inch dome it all but eliminates corner distortion. I respectfully disagree with Seafrogs on this issue. This is simple physics small ports, glass or acrylic just don't work well wide wide rectilinear lenses. I have tested six inch, 170mm, 180mm, 200mm, eight inch, and 230mm dome ports from a number of manufactures both acrylic and glass, with and without S&S correction lenses. Large ports like the Nauticam & Zen 230mm and nine inch ports like the Aquatica port are the only solution for best corner sharpness on full frame cameras. Because the S&S correction lens is made for ports in the 230mm range it actually adds to the problem on some smaller ports.

Regarding Sea & Sea products the company has just changed hands and is now owned by the well respected Fisheye company. Which products will be carried over in the product line is still unknown and prior to the acquisition the correction lenses had been discontinued so at this time would need to be found in the used market.   

Seafrogs has also just released a Sony A7C housing for the FF 24MP compact which offers a port for the 28-60 kit zoom. 

Most of this equipment except for Seafrogs housings I have tested for uwpmag.com starting with the Sony A7 II and most Sony cameras moving forward. All of these articles can be accessed as a free PDF downloads in the back issues at the top of the magazine home page. Just open the back issue page and type Phil Rudin into the search engine for a full list of reviews.

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14 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

but not optical-only strobes like the Retras,

There is a convertor for the Retras to enable electrical connections. You can see it in the Retra website.

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3 minutes ago, TimG said:

There is a convertor for the Retras to enable electrical connections. You can see it in the Retra website.

Yes, but didn't someone post here recently about problems getting it to work with a SeaFrogs housing?

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Just now, Barmaglot said:

Yes, but didn't someone post here recently about problems getting it to work with a SeaFrogs housing?

Oh right - I don't remember seeing that. Thanks. Oskar from Retra often looks in so can always comment.

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This is the thread:

It's possible that the problem was between the Retra converter and @Jleonf314's YS-01 strobe, but he never did indicate whether or not he's seeing light flashes from the converter.

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Oh right thanks. Yeah, I remember this now.  Yeah, he wasn't using a Retra strobe. 

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Thanks for all the bits of information. 

Right... decision time.... For now, I'll stay with the Seafrogs A7iii housing with the 6" dome and the 16-35 GM. I'll get a sync cord, and consider TTL for the next housing when I do upgrade. So with the seafrogs + sync cord option, which strobe should I get:

z-330 or the YS-D3 mark 2? 

The latter comes with a diffuser and stuff, so price wise they're the same. I think the z-330 is a bit smaller, so fits better in the suitcase (though not by much). The YS-D3 does have some very impressive refresh numbers - at quarter output, it's got no recharge time, and 0.6 seconds at half output. I expect I can't go wrong with either given that I've been shooting with no lights till now. 

Masters of underwater photography - what's the final verdict?

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14 hours ago, Phil Rudin said:

Both questions ask and answered but I would add that the reason such wide lenses are used underwater is so that you can get as close to your subject as posable reducing the amount of water you are shooting through. The 16-35 allows you to do that better than 28-75 a lens which I have owned. I have personally tested (not reviewed) the 16-35mmm F/2.8 and I have opted for Tamron 17-28 F/2.8 with the Sea & Sea correction lens and Zen 230mm dome port. This lens works very well with both A1 and A7R IV and is part of my budget holy trinity of F/2.8 lenses for above water work including the 28-75 F/2.8 and 70-180 F/2.8. All of these lenses plus the Tamron 20, 24 and 35mm F/2.8's 1:2 lenses use the same 67mm thread mount so one filter fits all making packing much easer. Seafrogs has a zoom gear for the 17-28 and at some point I suspect they may offer a 28-75 gear. All that having been said for best wide angle image quality at the lowest price I still favor the Sony FE 28-60 with Nauticam WWL-1B. I would suggest the 8 inch (203mm) dome over the Six inch (153mm) dome for any wide lens if a proper extension is offered. Seafrogs has just introduced a six inch (153mm) optical glass dome port with an instructional video. The video states that compared to the acrylic six inch dome it all but eliminates corner distortion. I respectfully disagree with Seafrogs on this issue. This is simple physics small ports, glass or acrylic just don't work well wide wide rectilinear lenses. I have tested six inch, 170mm, 180mm, 200mm, eight inch, and 230mm dome ports from a number of manufactures both acrylic and glass, with and without S&S correction lenses. Large ports like the Nauticam & Zen 230mm and nine inch ports like the Aquatica port are the only solution for best corner sharpness on full frame cameras. Because the S&S correction lens is made for ports in the 230mm range it actually adds to the problem on some smaller ports.

Regarding Sea & Sea products the company has just changed hands and is now owned by the well respected Fisheye company. Which products will be carried over in the product line is still unknown and prior to the acquisition the correction lenses had been discontinued so at this time would need to be found in the used market.   

Seafrogs has also just released a Sony A7C housing for the FF 24MP compact which offers a port for the 28-60 kit zoom. 

Most of this equipment except for Seafrogs housings I have tested for uwpmag.com starting with the Sony A7 II and most Sony cameras moving forward. All of these articles can be accessed as a free PDF downloads in the back issues at the top of the magazine home page. Just open the back issue page and type Phil Rudin into the search engine for a full list of reviews.

Hi Phil,

I'm kitting up my Sony A7SIII hoping that I can resume my diving trips early next year after a very long break due to COVID-19, and narrowed down to two options:

1) The Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM or Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 GM with the Nauticam 230mm optical glass dome port. I'm planning to get either of these lenses for astrophotography anyway.

2) The Sony FE28-60mm F/4-5.6 with the WWL-1 and CMC-1, both of which I already own when I was shooting on the M43 system. This setup will of course be the most versatile especially diving in places like Raja Ampat or Komodo where there are wide-angle and macro subjects to shoot on almost every dive.

Besides the cost difference between the two options, which is really the cost of the 230mm dome port and not an issue for me, the main differences are the ability to do split shots with option 1, which is useful as I'm hoping to do more snorkeling to swim with orcas, humpback whales, etc. But I'll have to deal with the bulk when traveling (I travel for all my dives since there's no place to dive in Singapore) and I understand that the 230mm dome port is huge. I read somewhere in the forum that you travel with the Sony 12-24mm (can't remember if it's the F/2.8 GM or the F/4 G) and a 230mm dome port. So I'm wondering what is/are the main/overriding reason/s that you settled on this setup instead of using the WWL-1/B?

For solely macro shoot, I already have the Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 Macro G so I can just decide whether to dive with a wide-angle or macro setup depending on the dive spot, a compromise that many underwater photographers or videographers always need to make.

I have read your reviews "Sony's FE 12-14mm F/4 G lens" (UwP105), "Nauticam WWL-1 & Sony Full Frame" (UwP114), "Nauticam WWL-1B Review" (UwP120) which you discusses the use with the Sony FE28-60mm F/4-5.6 and "Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 GM lens" (UwP122). I don't recall you ever reviewing the Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM. All these reviews are very informative and helpful.

Thanks in advance,

John

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1 hour ago, ashic said:

Thanks for all the bits of information. 

Right... decision time.... For now, I'll stay with the Seafrogs A7iii housing with the 6" dome and the 16-35 GM. I'll get a sync cord, and consider TTL for the next housing when I do upgrade. So with the seafrogs + sync cord option, which strobe should I get:

z-330 or the YS-D3 mark 2? 

The latter comes with a diffuser and stuff, so price wise they're the same. I think the z-330 is a bit smaller, so fits better in the suitcase (though not by much). The YS-D3 does have some very impressive refresh numbers - at quarter output, it's got no recharge time, and 0.6 seconds at half output. I expect I can't go wrong with either given that I've been shooting with no lights till now. 

Masters of underwater photography - what's the final verdict?

Hey ashic

The Inons have a great reputation over the life of the Z240, the Z330s predecessor. I had Inons for more than 15 years and thought them great (that was the Z220 then the Z240). As you say, compact, reasonably powerful, use AA batteries and work very well with Eneloop rechargables. All I've read of the Z330 so far has been extremely positive. (Let me just re-state I have now switched to Retras)

Personally I'd be slightly wary of the YSs given the number of issues I've read about on WP with the D2 version. Maybe that's not such an issue with the D3.  

It's always possibly of course you can get a rogue model of any gadget. But, from all I've seen, read and experienced, I'd give the Inons a Big Thumbs Up.

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6 hours ago, John Lye said:

Hi Phil,

I'm kitting up my Sony A7SIII hoping that I can resume my diving trips early next year after a very long break due to COVID-19, and narrowed down to two options:

1) The Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM or Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 GM with the Nauticam 230mm optical glass dome port. I'm planning to get either of these lenses for astrophotography anyway.

Hi John,

I have used the 14mm F/1.8, 12-24mm F/2.8 and 12-24mm F/4 all behind the Zen 230mm Optical glass dome port. The reason for buying the Zen over the Nauticam has nothing to do with overall quality but with laziness. Because I use the port with the Canon 8-15mm fisheye the port shade/blades need to be removed for the 8mm circular fisheye or it will vignette. It is easier too remove the Zen blades than the Nauticam shade. 

Regarding 12-24 F/2.8 and 14mm F1.8 I use both a lot and do a lot of split images with both. The issue for you is how big a difference you will see on your 12MP S III v. my A1 (50MP) and A7R IV (61MP). I think with 12MP's the gap with 12-24 F/4 and Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 (also reviewed) would be closer than with 50MP and up. If I had to pick one of your two choices it would be the 14mm F/1.8 because of size, weight, filter system size for landscapes and of course cost V. 12-24 F/2.8.

Regarding cost the Nauticam 230mm fisheye II port after recent price increases is $2439.00, 55mm port extension for 12-24 2.8 is $441.00, zoom gear 244.00 and lens is $3000.00, total about $6124.00. Buy comparison The 28-60 is $500.000 (without A7C kit discount) WACP is $5159.00, zoom gear is $253.00 and no port extension with the N100 to N120 35.5 port adapter II, total around $5912.00. With the WWL-1B, N-100 flat port 45, zoom gear $253.00, lens $500.00 and bayonet mount $103.00 price drops too around $2733.00. 

6 hours ago, John Lye said:

2) The Sony FE28-60mm F/4-5.6 with the WWL-1 and CMC-1, both of which I already own when I was shooting on the M43 system. This setup will of course be the most versatile especially diving in places like Raja Ampat or Komodo where there are wide-angle and macro subjects to shoot on almost every dive.

If not shooting splits the WWL-1B will out preform both lenses at lower F/numbers and the WACP is even better with the kit lens. 

Besides the cost difference between the two options, which is really the cost of the 230mm dome port and not an issue for me, the main differences are the ability to do split shots with option 1, which is useful as I'm hoping to do more snorkeling to swim with orcas, humpback whales, etc. But I'll have to deal with the bulk when traveling (I travel for all my dives since there's no place to dive in Singapore) and I understand that the 230mm dome port is huge. I read somewhere in the forum that you travel with the Sony 12-24mm (can't remember if it's the F/2.8 GM or the F/4 G) and a 230mm dome port. So I'm wondering what is/are the main/overriding reason/s that you settled on this setup instead of using the WWL-1/B?

I have not settled on either system for travel, I chose the one I think will work best for me during my travels or in some cases take both. I have attached a photo of my carry-on shoulder bag with the 230mm port standing on its side with room to spare for the WWL-1B. I find that the shoulder bag is least likely to be weighted when checking in for international travel so a good place to put heavy items like lenses and ports.

For solely macro shoot, I already have the Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 Macro G so I can just decide whether to dive with a wide-angle or macro setup depending on the dive spot, a compromise that many underwater photographers or videographers always need to make.

I have read your reviews "Sony's FE 12-14mm F/4 G lens" (UwP105), "Nauticam WWL-1 & Sony Full Frame" (UwP114), "Nauticam WWL-1B Review" (UwP120) which you discusses the use with the Sony FE28-60mm F/4-5.6 and "Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 GM lens" (UwP122). I don't recall you ever reviewing the Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM. All these reviews are very informative and helpful.

Our readers, in the survey by UWP magazine most frequently request reviews for less expensive equipment like WWL-1B and Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 rather than WACP-1/2 and 12-24mm F/2.8. I try to pick equipment that is most mainstream but see the value in the higher end equipment as well. My bottom line for 12-24mm F/2.8 would be well above the F/4 version both above and below water. 

Thanks in advance,

John

 

untitled-2347.jpg

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9 hours ago, ashic said:

Thanks for all the bits of information. 

Right... decision time.... For now, I'll stay with the Seafrogs A7iii housing with the 6" dome and the 16-35 GM. I'll get a sync cord, and consider TTL for the next housing when I do upgrade. So with the seafrogs + sync cord option, which strobe should I get:

z-330 or the YS-D3 mark 2? 

The latter comes with a diffuser and stuff, so price wise they're the same. I think the z-330 is a bit smaller, so fits better in the suitcase (though not by much). The YS-D3 does have some very impressive refresh numbers - at quarter output, it's got no recharge time, and 0.6 seconds at half output. I expect I can't go wrong with either given that I've been shooting with no lights till now. 

Masters of underwater photography - what's the final verdict?

Regarding the choice of strobes I bought the first two Inon Z-220 strobes inported into the US and have been using Inon ever since. Lately I have added two Backscatter MF-1 strobes for a lot of my macro work because of the small size and high output although with a narrower beam angle good for macro, they also have matching snoots for creative macro work. 

I have not yet tested the latest Sea & Sea YS-D3 MK II strobes so have no input in that regard. 

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Posted (edited)
On 10/3/2021 at 10:35 PM, Phil Rudin said:

Most of this equipment except for Seafrogs housings I have tested for uwpmag.com starting with the Sony A7 II and most Sony cameras moving forward.

By the way, if you don't mind me asking, do you have any plans to review the newer SeaFrogs housings?

Edited by Barmaglot

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11 hours ago, Phil Rudin said:

Hi John,

I have used the 14mm F/1.8, 12-24mm F/2.8 and 12-24mm F/4 all behind the Zen 230mm Optical glass dome port. The reason for buying the Zen over the Nauticam has nothing to do with overall quality but with laziness. Because I use the port with the Canon 8-15mm fisheye the port shade/blades need to be removed for the 8mm circular fisheye or it will vignette. It is easier too remove the Zen blades than the Nauticam shade. 

Regarding 12-24 F/2.8 and 14mm F1.8 I use both a lot and do a lot of split images with both. The issue for you is how big a difference you will see on your 12MP S III v. my A1 (50MP) and A7R IV (61MP). I think with 12MP's the gap with 12-24 F/4 and Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 (also reviewed) would be closer than with 50MP and up. If I had to pick one of your two choices it would be the 14mm F/1.8 because of size, weight, filter system size for landscapes and of course cost V. 12-24 F/2.8.

Regarding cost the Nauticam 230mm fisheye II port after recent price increases is $2439.00, 55mm port extension for 12-24 2.8 is $441.00, zoom gear 244.00 and lens is $3000.00, total about $6124.00. Buy comparison The 28-60 is $500.000 (without A7C kit discount) WACP is $5159.00, zoom gear is $253.00 and no port extension with the N100 to N120 35.5 port adapter II, total around $5912.00. With the WWL-1B, N-100 flat port 45, zoom gear $253.00, lens $500.00 and bayonet mount $103.00 price drops too around $2733.00. 

 

I l iuntitled-2347.jpg

Thanks for the detailed reply. I’ll probably get the two setups (Sony FE 12-24mm F/2.8 GM with the 230mm port and the Sony FE 28-60mm F/4-5.6 to work with my WWL-1 and CMC-1), and use an old shoulder bag for the 230mm port like you do; never imagine I’d repurpose the bag this way!

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