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andi_db

Switching from DSLR to more compact camera

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Hi,

I am looking to switch to a smaller/ lighter system but trying to keep image quality. Last camera I had was D7100 with Aquatica housing and it was a very heavy and bulky set up for traveling. Ideally sticking with Nikon would be a a benefit as my husband has D500 and we have bunch of lenses we share.

Do you have any recommendations or personal experience of also switching to smaller system recently?

 

Many thanks!

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Frankly you either change lens system or you are stuck with the bulk.

I switched to the M43 and it is far more compact (especially the lenses) and the quality is excellent unless you print greater than A2.   

I sold my Canon lenses and it was the best decision I made.

I can lug all my equipment in the airplane cabin (with some accurate planning).

I would love to something even more compact but unfortunately unless you stick to UW macro there is nothing more compact that gets close to M43 quality.  Most 1" camera sensor manufacturer never optimize their system for UW use.  Nikon was the only one that did that in the past but never renewed that market.  So I would say that  because of the available lenses and compactness M43 is top choice.

Andrea

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If you're looking to downsize but stay with Nikon interchangeable lenses, perhaps look at Z50 with 16-50mm and WWL-C? This will get you a reasonably compact rig, and you can use F-mount lenses via FTZ adapter.

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I agree with Andrea. I went down the Olympus M -5 and never regretted it. I can do all the things a full size DSLR can do without ANY of the bulk. I also got a 1" Sony compact, and it has a greater range of lenses if that matters.

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1 hour ago, nudibranco said:

Frankly you either change lens system or you are stuck with the bulk.

I switched to the M43 and it is far more compact (especially the lenses) and the quality is excellent unless you print greater than A2.   

I sold my Canon lenses and it was the best decision I made.

I can lug all my equipment in the airplane cabin (with some accurate planning).

I would love to something even more compact but unfortunately unless you stick to UW macro there is nothing more compact that gets close to M43 quality.  Most 1" camera sensor manufacturer never optimize their system for UW use.  Nikon was the only one that did that in the past but never renewed that market.  So I would say that  because of the available lenses and compactness M43 is top choice.

Andrea

Thanks for your input. I used to have Olympus EPL series long time ago and it was great for traveling but as my skill set improved I upgraded. Now I don't dive as often but still want to keep the quality regardless. I'm sure the quality of M43 has improved significantly since last 10 years so worth revisiting that idea. 

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1 hour ago, Barmaglot said:

If you're looking to downsize but stay with Nikon interchangeable lenses, perhaps look at Z50 with 16-50mm and WWL-C? This will get you a reasonably compact rig, and you can use F-mount lenses via FTZ adapter.

Yeah I was thinking about Z50 as an option as well. 

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46 minutes ago, bill1946 said:

I agree with Andrea. I went down the Olympus M -5 and never regretted it. I can do all the things a full size DSLR can do without ANY of the bulk. I also got a 1" Sony compact, and it has a greater range of lenses if that matters.

You have both Olympus and Sony for underwater? Do you have any preference between the two brands?

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1 hour ago, adamhanlon said:

100% agree with Alex Mustard. You can score negligible weight/size, as major problems are outside of housing itself: viewfinder, ports, domes, lights, arms etc. As result you will save 200-300-400 grams with a lot of cost for new system :(
It's sad but true

 

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The thing to realise with UW rigs is that while the camera might be a little smaller with mirrorless if the sensor size is the same then the lenses and more importantly any domes you use will be the same size.  Also housing sizes vary quite a bit for the same model camera between manufacturers and this can impact packability.

The good news is the m43 cameras particularly the 20MP Olympus sensor are very close in quality to the Nikon APS-C sensors.  This DXO link compares the D7100, D500 and EM-1 MkII for sensor perofrmance and you will see the plots are right on top of each other.  https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Nikon-D7100-versus-Nikon-D500-versus-Olympus-OM-D-E-M1-Mark-II___865_1061_1136

This is my EM-1 MkII Nauticam rig packed for travel in a Think tank streetwalker hard drive backpack - a fully carry-on legal bag.  In it you'll find the Nauticam housing with camera inside, Zen 170mm dome, macro port, Zen 100mm fisheye dome, 8mm fisheye, Pany 7-14, Oly 12-40 and 60mm macro with 2x INON Z-240.  You can see the m43 lenses are very small and light.

I also sometimes pack this lot into a carry on size spinner bag along with home made padding/dividers.

  IMG_2948.thumb.jpg.eaccf06ebef02641271d7b638d62a4d8.jpg

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Chris, how much does that rig weigh?

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1 hour ago, PhotoJunkie said:

Chris, how much does that rig weigh?

the entire bag is about 12kg, including a laptop in the slot underneath.

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Posted (edited)

It is true that you could save some weight and volume (at the cost of a little IQ) when switching to a MFT system, but you say your husband has already a Nikon setup. When adding weight and volume of two different systems, the sum together will be more when using two different systems, compared to using identical systems together. When using the same, you could use synergy and share domeports, extensions and lenses...

I am doing so with my wife, together we have two MFT setups (Oly EM1II and EM5II with Nauticam) with only one macroport (constant source of discussion who uses the macro setup, however) but two domeports (Nauticam 140 and zen DP170) that can be used with several fisheye, WA and normal range lenses. Since we share all lenses and ports, the overall weight is less than two separate setups...

I also want to say that it is not required that one puts the housing and the domeports (and all other stuff that is not really fragile) in the carry on lugagge. At least Nauticam offers stuffed bags for the housings and domeports that can be put in the regular check-in lugagge without the danger of beeing damaged. This makes it much easier to pack and carry, we only have lenses, cameras, flashes, dive computers, accus and dive compasses in our carry on lugagge (already a lot) ...

Since you say IQ is important for you, I would go for a Nikon FF camera and build a system together with my partner, where you can share as many ports and lenses as possible, e.g. the APS-C camera for macro and the FF for WA...

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis
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9 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

The thing to realise with UW rigs is that while the camera might be a little smaller with mirrorless if the sensor size is the same then the lenses and more importantly any domes you use will be the same size.  Also housing sizes vary quite a bit for the same model camera between manufacturers and this can impact packability.

The good news is the m43 cameras particularly the 20MP Olympus sensor are very close in quality to the Nikon APS-C sensors.  This DXO link compares the D7100, D500 and EM-1 MkII for sensor perofrmance and you will see the plots are right on top of each other.  https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Nikon-D7100-versus-Nikon-D500-versus-Olympus-OM-D-E-M1-Mark-II___865_1061_1136

This is my EM-1 MkII Nauticam rig packed for travel in a Think tank streetwalker hard drive backpack - a fully carry-on legal bag.  In it you'll find the Nauticam housing with camera inside, Zen 170mm dome, macro port, Zen 100mm fisheye dome, 8mm fisheye, Pany 7-14, Oly 12-40 and 60mm macro with 2x INON Z-240.  You can see the m43 lenses are very small and light.

I also sometimes pack this lot into a carry on size spinner bag along with home made padding/dividers.

  IMG_2948.thumb.jpg.eaccf06ebef02641271d7b638d62a4d8.jpg

Thanks for this! Do you also pack arms and floats in there too or that goes into the big luggage? Also wondering did you recently make a switch from DSLR or upgraded within M43? I just recently read that Olympus sold image company and not sure what does that mean for its users in the future.

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1 hour ago, Architeuthis said:

It is true that you could save some weight and volume (at the cost of a little IQ) when switching to a MFT system, but you say your husband has already a Nikon setup. When adding weight and volume of two different systems, the sum together will be more when using two different systems, compared to using identical systems together. When using the same, you could use synergy and share domeports, extensions and lenses...

I am doing so with my wife, together we have two MFT setups (Oly EM1II and EM5II with Nauticam) with only one macroport (constant source of discussion who uses the macro setup, however) but two domeports (Nauticam 140 and zen DP170) that can be used with several fisheye, WA and normal range lenses. Since we share all lenses and ports, the overall weight is less than two separate setups...

I also want to say that it is not required that one puts the housing and the domeports (and all other stuff that is not really fragile) in the carry on lugagge. At least Nauticam offers stuffed bags for the housings and domeports that can be put in the regular check-in lugagge without the danger of beeing damaged. This makes it much easier to pack and carry, we only have lenses, cameras, flashes, dive computers, accus and dive compasses in our carry on lugagge (already a lot) ...

Since you say IQ is important for you, I would go for a Nikon FF camera and build a system together with my partner, where you can share as many ports and lenses as possible, e.g. the APS-C camera for macro and the FF for WA...

 

Wolfgang

Thanks for your reply. I value your opinion and agree that sharing equipment is easier especially if something brakes etc. 

We did pack or housings and ports into the main luggage but the whole point of keeping items together in carry on was in case of lost luggage. Especially when you take that one expensive trip a year very far away like Raja Ampat and change many flights to get there. It would suck to miss one crucial part of your camera gear because it's not as easy to replace it as it would be any part of scuba gear or your clothes. I try to use a small cabin wheel bag for housing stuff and a backpack for the camera/laptop. It works fine as you are allowed one carry on and "personal bag" on most flights. You also distribute weight so its not one super heavy bag. 

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2 hours ago, andi_db said:

Since you say IQ is important for you, I would go for a Nikon FF camera and build a system together with my partner, where you can share as many ports and lenses as possible, e.g. the APS-C camera for macro and the FF for WA...

At the risk of this really going "off-piste" (if it does, I'll move the posts to a new thread), I was intrigued by your comment, Wolfgang, of using APS-C for macro and FF for WA.

I've been using APS-C (DX) on Nikon now for about 5 years having "downgraded" from the D800 to the D500. One of the advantages to this I found was porting WA. It's so much easier than for FF (FX) with no need for huge domes, correction lenses etc. Travel became easier, the patience and tolerance of my diving, non-photographer partner was restored - and life bobbled along happily.  I slap on either the Tokina 10-17 or the Nikkor 8-15, a 4" or 8" dome and voila! No problem. IQ, to my eyes, is excellent - certainly for all the normal uses of the images (and I sell quite a lot).

But the one area that, maybe, I do think about with DX is macro. Sometimes some serious cropping is necessary and then I feel I miss the extra pixels provided by FF/FX. In reality I'm sure I don't REALLY need them but the thought lingers.

So I would have gone with FF/FX for macro and APS-C/DX for WA.

Your point on sticking with one system for downsizing is a very good one of course - but I was intrigued by your thinking on DX/FX.

As I say, if this conversation continues and others chip-in, I'll move this to another thread.

 

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1 hour ago, TimG said:

One of the advantages to this I found was porting WA. It's so much easier than for FF (FX) with no need for huge domes, correction lenses etc.

While this is the conventional wisdom, I would posit that recent advances in water-contact optics (Nauticam, AOI, Weefine, etc) have brought another dimension to this picture, where systems with lenses compatible with those optics can give you a reasonably compact wide-angle package regardless of sensor size. M43 with 14-42mm, Canon M with 15-45mm, Fuji X with 15-45mm, Nikon Z DX with 16-50mm, Sony E with 16-50mm, Sony FE with 28-60mm, they all work with the same WWL-1/WWL-C. I just looked at Nauticam's WWL-C chart again, and I see that they've added Sony full-frame compatibility, using Sony and Sigma 24mm prime lenses. On the other hand, this leaves Canon EF/EF-S/R and Nikon F and Z (except DX Z50) out in the cold.

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7 hours ago, andi_db said:

 I just recently read that Olympus sold image company and not sure what does that mean for its users in the future.

It remains to be seen what the new owner will do with the OM system. They have promised a new flagship camera this year.  I'm not so sure, but hopefull.  I'm very happy with my EM-1 mk II and fully invested in all the lenses (which are brilliant) so will stick with the system as long as it still works. But if I was starting from scratch, I don't think that I'd buy into OM at this time until the new company is proven.

 

One thing not mentioned yet is the case for "hybrid" photographers, which I suspect many of us are.  I'm doing much more hiking for landscapes and wildlife lately and there is no question that the smaller and lighter systems have huge advantages on land in those terms.  But since Tim has a ready warned about going off piste I'll not pursue that line of thinking further here.

 

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43 minutes ago, troporobo said:

But if I was starting from scratch, I don't think that I'd buy into OM at this time until the new company is proven.

Thanks for your honest opinion, that was something along the lines what I was thinking. 

 

44 minutes ago, troporobo said:

I'm doing much more hiking for landscapes and wildlife lately and there is no question that the smaller and lighter systems have huge advantages on land in those terms

This is a valid point and definitely something to consider. 

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3 hours ago, troporobo said:

But since Tim has a ready warned about going off piste I'll not pursue that line of thinking further here.

:crazy:

This is a good point though, Robert. I've had Nikon for 20 years now and have always planned it so that I had u/w Nikon stuff and topside too. Makes traveling slightly easier. I was delighted when the Z series came along and got a Z6: compact (well compared to a D800 or D500) with relatively small lenses and the FTZ adaptor if I travelled with only limited u/w lenses

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TimG said:

:crazy:

This is a good point though, Robert. I've had Nikon for 20 years now and have always planned it so that I had u/w Nikon stuff and topside too. Makes traveling slightly easier. I was delighted when the Z series came along and got a Z6: compact (well compared to a D800 or D500) with relatively small lenses and the FTZ adaptor if I travelled with only limited u/w lenses

I have done the same thing - used the Z6 with the excellent 24-70 kit lens for most of my topside shooting last trip to Hawaii (b4 the pandemic). Had the FTZ in case I wanted to use one my macro lenses (which I did not get around to on this trip).

Found this on Facebook so here courtesy of Seasport Divers' posting there. Well protected against solar radiation and holding the Z6 off Niihau Island (in the background).

60665883_10156364097100036_4762694229581365248_n.jpg

Edited by Tom_Kline
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13 hours ago, andi_db said:

Thanks for this! Do you also pack arms and floats in there too or that goes into the big luggage? Also wondering did you recently make a switch from DSLR or upgraded within M43? I just recently read that Olympus sold image company and not sure what does that mean for its users in the future.

Float arms etc go in the dive bag.  Yes they've been sold, but realistically what if they do disappear in a few years time?  Your camera won't stop working because they disappear  and there are quite a few Olympus cameras in circulation meaning an incentive for someone to setup for repairs and there'll be plenty of cameras & lenses in circulation probably at bargain prices on the second hand market you can use Panasonic lenses on them as well and use the lenses on Panasonic cameras.  If everyone decides to sit on their hands and not buy it kind of makes it a fait-accompli.   In essence you can choose Olympus now and if they folded, you could switch to Panasonic on your next upgrade and keep using ports and lenses. 

I never had DSLR underwater, I have a full Canon DSLR system for topside usage, but have now purchased a few topside Olympus lenses for travel.  With Aluminium housings I found I could buy the housing and the camera plus a lens or two for the price of a DSLR housing alone.

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11 hours ago, TimG said:

But the one area that, maybe, I do think about with DX is macro. Sometimes some serious cropping is necessary and then I feel I miss the extra pixels provided by FF/FX. In reality I'm sure I don't REALLY need them but the thought lingers.

 

 

The right variable to consider is pixel size.  If you have the same lens on DX and FX and you need to crop then the DX often has smaller pixels than the full frame so is more croppable (in theory - in practice it depends on how good the pixels are and if you are getting into diffraction etc).  Of course with the advent of the 60 add MP full frame cameras this changes things a little and it depends on which full frame and which cropped sensor camera you are considering.

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On 1/6/2022 at 2:31 PM, Barmaglot said:

If you're looking to downsize but stay with Nikon interchangeable lenses, perhaps look at Z50 with 16-50mm and WWL-C? This will get you a reasonably compact rig, and you can use F-mount lenses via FTZ adapter.

The Nikon Z50 is quite nice but you add a Nauticam case which is alone 1kg more and 2x the expense vs. OM10mkIV.  Lenses are either super heavy or very little choice.  No fisheyes.  The smaller DX lens is a quality lens? Adding a wwl-c is heavy and expensive.  Other lenses are super big and heavy.  Frankly the system currently seems good for the surface not for underwater.  Unfortunately if you are trying to drastically make the system more compact there are very few choices out there....The only practical gain to go mirrorless DX or FX UW is very marginal IQ  improvement in FX ambient and using the better heavier lenses.  

I tried to improve on M43 a year ago but could not find an equivalent or better choice for UW use and easier traveling.

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