Jump to content
adamhanlon

The Perfect Underwater Camera

Recommended Posts

The 10.5mm is an AFS lens but uses screw-drive for the AF. There is no nomenclature specific to screw drive AF in spite of the Alphabet Soup nomenclature of Nikkor lenses!

I suspect that Nikon has replacements for the D500 and D850 on the drawing board but these may never get introduced due to production capacity limitations. One thing that could go into these hypothetical cameras is live view AF comparable to what is in the Z9 (and of course the sensors to do this). I believe the "killer app" feature of mirrorless is subject recognition with size (mainly the back focus distance; but mount diameter as well in the case of Nikon) secondary. Folks have gone bonkers with eye AF that Sony introduced a while back. This has morphed into a greater range of subjects and may be the subject for future development, maybe even the possibility of training ones camera to recognize a specific subject. This requires greater computational ability - keep in mind that CPUs continue to grow in capability....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eye focus is an interesting development. 

I must confess that with D500/D850, I have no problem getting them to focus where I want them to, be that on an eye or elsewhere...

Is it a gimmick?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, adamhanlon said:

Eye focus is an interesting development. 

I must confess that with D500/D850, I have no problem getting them to focus where I want them to, be that on an eye or elsewhere...

Is it a gimmick?

I don’t think it is a gimmick and I’m about to find out. I just received an email from NPS my Z 9 has shipped and I only ordered it on February 3rd.

If using strobes and small apertures with deep depth of field and slow moving subjects it might not be important but it wouldn’t hurt. If shooting birds in flight or fast-moving animals with long glass, fast shutter speeds and very shallow depth of field it could be useful. I was reading a discussion about equestrian photographers wondering if they should use Animal or People subject detection and which subjects’ eye would be more important to focus on.

As a sports shooter I’ve wondered how it would work for American Football and Hockey due to the helmet’s players wear, sometimes with visors. Football (Soccer), baseball and basketball might be useful. I haven’t had an issue grabbing focus without it and am curious to find out if it is useful for my style of shooting. Hopefully the Nikon Deep Learning algorithm marketing message is backed up with performance. Lots of owners are happy with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps I should qualify again...

Underwater we deal with (relatively) slow moving subjects. I have never needed eye focus topside, but don't really shoot enough on land to comment in any meaningful (or knowledgable) way. 

With conventional dome ports, aperture and depth of field are limited by the dome: lens combination, rather than exposure per se. I would agree that with water contact optics, this is much less of an issue, but the available lens options for mirrorless limit options with these too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, adamhanlon said:

Perhaps I should qualify again...

Underwater we deal with (relatively) slow moving subjects. I have never needed eye focus topside, but don't really shoot enough on land to comment in any meaningful (or knowledgable) way. 

With conventional dome ports, aperture and depth of field are limited by the dome: lens combination, rather than exposure per se. I would agree that with water contact optics, this is much less of an issue, but the available lens options for mirrorless limit options with these too!

I have relied on AF for most of my salmon UWP. They move fast when doing interesting behavior such as spawning and fighting. Most of my rejected oof images are do to the subject moving out of the AF rectangle - to the left or right of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Adam,

Regarding water contact optics for mirrorless cameras you may want to look at the Nauticam port charts for Sony FF cameras. The Sony FE 24mm F/2.8 G works with WWL-C 130 degrees, WACP-1 works with the 28-60 and 28-70 with full zoom through from 130 degrees also with Sigma 24-70 and Tamron 28-75 without full zoom through. WACP-2 works with Sony 24-70 F/4 and F/2.8, Sigma 24-70 F/2.8 without full zoom through, also with Sony FE 14mm F/1.8 at 140 degrees, Sony 16-35 F/2.8 and F/4 have full zoom through, Sony 24mm F/1.4 at 130 degrees, Sigma 14-24 zoom 115-98 degrees, Tamron 17-28 F/2.8 123-89 degrees and WWL-1/B works with 28-60  full zoom, 28 F/2 at 130 degrees and Sony 35 F/2.8 at 109 degrees. 

Bottom line is that Sony has has more options for water contact optics than Canon or Nikon DSLR's and for sure more than R and Z mirrorless cameras

Edited by Phil Rudin
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Phil Rudin

I'm aware of those options for Sony, hence my point about "the available lens options for mirrorless limit options" rather than stating there are no options!

But, in terms of the options presented, I have yet to see an image produced with WWL with any full frame camera that I am happy with the corner sharpness. Note that "I" am happy with, others many well disagree about this. I do not consider the WWLs as viable options for use with full frame cameras.

WACP-1 is a good option and I am not really that bothered about zoom through. I plan to use this as a wide angle lens! The results with the Sony 24mm are really nice. 

The size, weight and expense of WACP-2 make this very specialized, and indeed it works beautifully with the Nikon Z 14-30 too.

My point here is that I can currently see no advantage in using mirrorless for underwater use. Returning to my original post, I am seeking the wish list for the "perfect underwater camera," and I stated that it would be a cropped sensor SLR, albeit with more MP than is likely to ever be available!

One of the reasons for doing so, is that this avoids the optical compromises of full frame SLR/mirrorless. It would also retain the separate phase detect sensor that in my experience remains the best way to achieve accurate fast AF underwater.

 

@Tom_Kline

If only they would sit still :) I find AF is more accurate than my eyes and I don't even have manual focus gears on my lenses. The only time I limit autofocus is in extreme darkness, and this is do by pre-focusing and then not touching the AF-ON button while shooting.

I actually use 3D Continuous AF a lot. This leverages the speed and accuracy of the phase detect and the tracking algorithmic functions of the on-chip AF. In my experience, it is almost magical. The first time I took the D500 underwater, I did a month in Indo, and was hoping to cull out my usual 20-25% of images that were out of focus in my first pass cull. It was a nightmare, as they were (nearly) all in focus. 

Ultimately, we are all going to end up using mirrorless, because the camera manufacturers want us to. It is in their interests to sell us a whole new set of lenses etc. However, until there is a sufficient choice of lenses available for underwater use, I can see no advantage (and lots of disadvantages) in switching over. 

The good news is that SLR bodies and lenses are now cheap and are still readily available!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have done the pre-focusing thing as well in the dark but then a subject of different size will show up...

I have not used the 3D AF. With Canon I have used what is nicknamed the ring of fire, which is auto point selection of all the AF points but only in S mode in spite of Canon's suggestion this is for static subjects. Their auto point in AFC is more like 3D in that one has to start with an AF point on the subject which is not possible for me (remote control shooting without looking through the VF). I use release priority so one has to get a feel for how fast this works to start the AF earlier enough via remote control. Nikon has something like this since the D4 which is what I have been using with both the D4S and D800. I have tried this in both AFS and AFC but use AFC for the most part. I used the D2X for quite a few years and for that I chose the row of AF points run horizontally. Nikon dropped this but something similar is back with the D6.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand your reluctance to move to mirrorless Adam, I felt the same way about moving from my Nikonos RS that I used for fifteen years to digital. In fact my first digital camera was used only for crime scene photography in my past life. 

On the subject of the Nikonos RS my dream underwater camera would be a Nikonos RS style mirrorless body with noting but water contact optics like the 13mm fisheye. I would opt for a very large EVF that could be articulated from 180 to 45 degrees by flipping a lever underwater. I would hope for a FF stacked or global sensor in the 45-60MP range that would allow sync speeds in the 1/500th or higher range without needing an HSS enabled flash. 

As long as I am creating a fantasy camera I would like the sensor to be 4/3 say 36 X 27mm rather than 36 X 24mm. To me the 4/3 format has always offered more flexibility than 3/2 both for film and digital.

In addition to the fisheye I would be happy with a WACP-1 sized lens with a max AOV in the 140 range and a lens with a large dome for splits. Macros in the 50-60mm range and 90-100 range that got to 2:1 would also be nice. 

The Sony A1, Nikon Z9 and Canon R3 with the respective Nauticam housings sell between $11040.00 (A1) and $13233.00 (R3) US so a price point in the $10,000.00 to $13,000.00 range would seem about where this dream camera would be priced. Fiber optic TTL and/or manual flash trigger built-in, at least 10 FPS, quality video specs, high speed AF to Adam's standards, lenses with corner sharpness at f/8 to Adam's standards, dual CF Express card slots, powerful battery life and I am sure much more tech not yet thought of.

Anyone interested in re-defining this classic camera. 

P.S. It has been my experience that no such thing as a perfect camera has ever existed, everything in photography is a trade-off.

  

 

761eb6387477b0ea2ddde748181ccd8b.jpg

Edited by Phil Rudin
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phil such a camera would be more than way cool though I would not mind if the VF articulated all the way to 90 degrees (or 0 degrees depending on your reference) so that one could look straight down through it as well as at 45 and horizontally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did not understand when, in the above discussion, a mirrorless suddendly became less capable of a DSRL. My limit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Davide DB said:

I did not understand when, in the above discussion, a mirrorless suddendly became less capable of a DSRL. My limit.

Old-time DSLR shooters are positing that at least underwater, mirrorless autofocus is still lagging behind that of Nikon D500 and D850.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Davide DB

You mentioned you were playing with an Aquatica housing...

I moved from Aquaticas to Nauticams several years ago. What are you seeing in Aquatica that is making you start questioning Nauticam (which have been rock solid for me, with better port choices, etc.).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Barmaglot said:

Old-time DSLR shooters are positing that at least underwater, mirrorless autofocus is still lagging behind that of Nikon D500 and D850.

I have both a D500 and a D850 that I shoot with u/w. My daughter recently upgraded from a Sony A7III to the A7R4, and was able to try the A7IV underwater recently... still a significant delta in AF performance (it's getting better, but it is still not "close" enough to be considered comparable - for example, shooting an anemone fish in a host). 

Some of this may be the due to the macro lens options, but still not good enough for me to consider a change. 

Also (edge case) - the D850 with a 60mm lens is still the best blackwater combo you can hope for... (most of the bw operators will tell you the same - based on what they are seeing people use and get results with).

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sort of like the fact that I am "old time." We used to say the same about those that were reluctant to accept digital :)

However, my reluctance about mirrorless is based on 2 specific areas:
1. Lens availability
2. AF performance.

Once these two issues are "cured," I will be leading the march to the camera shop. Until they are, I am suggesting that SLR is still a better choice for still shooters underwater. To stress, I am not against mirrorless, but think that it is still immature for what we want them to do in our specific use case. 

@Phil Rudin's point about m4/3 sensor sizes and proportions is also very interesting but I think the key thing for a revamped RS would be to find a way to keep the water out of them :)

@Tom_Kline - you should let the Nikon 3D AF system work its magic! I'm not sure whether it will work in your use case, but it is definitely worth trying. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, adamhanlon said:

I sort of like the fact that I am "old time." We used to say the same about those that were reluctant to accept digital :)

However, my reluctance about mirrorless is based on 2 specific areas:
1. Lens availability
2. AF performance.

Once these two issues are "cured," I will be leading the march to the camera shop. Until they are, I am suggesting that SLR is still a better choice for still shooters underwater. To stress, I am not against mirrorless, but think that it is still immature for what we want them to do in our specific use case. 

Nice thread! It has become a kind of:"everything you ever wanted to say about underwater photography but never dared...". :P

@adamhanlonYou don't say anything scandalous to me. I repeat what I wrote pages ago:

Usually the big innovations introduced by each new camera iteration are almost all in the field of video.
For photography, products like the D850 are the pinnacle of current photographic technology and it's hard to top them. Hence also the difficulty of all big manufacturers in communicating to customers the need to change cameras. Several professional photographer friends largely agreed that for 99% of the users it was also unnecessary to switch from the D810 to the D850 (Yes yes, I know, we are in a very specific application here).

But this iteration is particular because for companies like Nikon and Canon, the transition from DSRL to Mirrorless is momentous. Think of it as the introduction of the SLR, the introduction of the exposure meter or the transition to digital.
The only major company that has jumped headlong into this technology right from the start (FF) is Sony and although they produce some of the most advanced mirrorless cameras, they are still behind in some photographic aspects.
The opposite is true for Nikon and Canon: apart from the advertising slogans, they still haven't managed to transfer all their photographic know-how to the mirrorless format. Probably another iteration will be needed.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, oneyellowtang said:

@Davide DB

You mentioned you were playing with an Aquatica housing...

I moved from Aquaticas to Nauticams several years ago. What are you seeing in Aquatica that is making you start questioning Nauticam (which have been rock solid for me, with better port choices, etc.).

I realize I didn't explain myself well.
I write my personal opinions here and since I don't have any sponsor or advertising issues I can write freely.
Underwater video is a simple passion of mine and I am on my fifth Nauticam housing. :angel:

IMHO Nauticam has managed to monopolize the underwater housing market in a few years for 3 reasons:

  1. The speed of realization of the housings. Before it took a year from the release of a new camera to see an underwater housing. Now, in many cases, they come out on the market almost at the same time.
     
  2. The incredible ability to bring housings to market even for obscure or niche camera models.
     
  3. A huge investment in research and development that has led them to revolutionize even the wet optics market.

The three points above can be summarized in one sentence:

Nauticam has introduced an industrial approach where competitors were (and are) all craftsmen.

As a long-time Panasonic user and also a technical diver, the choice of Nauticam was pretty much a no-brainer for me from the start. I'll never stop thanking them for making the 100 meter guaranteed housings for the GH2, GH3 when other manufacturers didn't even know what they were.
From the GH4 on it's all different and you have different choices but, like everyone else, I am a victim of lock-in. I have all Nauticam portholes and have now switched to CMC and WWL-1.

When I said it's not all sunshine and rainbows I meant that from my recent experience I've experienced the downside of the industrial logic applied by Nauticam.

All of their housings are guaranteed 100 meters but it's more of a design specification than anything that can actually be tested for them. Then if the customer actually goes 100 meters they will find out for themselves if it works. Maybe I've been unlucky but both of my last two housings had major problems below 60 meters. Two other dive buddies of mine had the same experience with 2 other GH5 housings.
I already know what you are thinking: who would go to 100 meters? Take a tour on Youtube and Vimeo and then we'll talk. No, mine is not an extreme scenario.

Even with the huge assistance of the local representative it was a long and tedious task to solve the problems because for them everything must be solved magically by sending the case for complete service to the parent company. In the meantime, they don't even listen to what the problem is because the service will surely takes care of it. This is the other side of the coin of a purely industrial logic.
Of course, I don't know if things would have been different with an artisan manufacturer.

Another aspect that leaves me baffled is the external treatment of the housing.I use it intensively in the Mediterranean Sea, which has a fairly high salinity and the fresh water here in Italy generally has a high content of limestone. After less than a year the black treatment starts to stain and discolor conspicuously. I see Aquatica cases after 3 years of intense use like mine look aesthetically like new.
To be fair, the cases that come back from the HK inspection are practically new. The first time I even checked the serial number because I thought they had replaced it with a new one.
Of course, Hong Kong is not around the corner.

Now, if only the new GH6 would fit inside may GH5 housing I would be an happy Panauticam user! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Davide DB said:

Another aspect that leaves me baffled is the external treatment of the housing.I use it intensively in the Mediterranean Sea, which has a fairly high salinity and the fresh water here in Italy generally has a high content of limestone. After less than a year the black treatment starts to stain and discolor conspicuously.

I don't think Mediterranean has much, if anything to do with it, it's just the intensive use. I've seen a Nauticam D500 housing used by a liveaboard owner/operator, i.e. diving 3-4 times a day almost constantly in Thailand/Myanmar, and it's got serious discoloration as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Phil Rudin also raises a good point that I hadn't added to my list of desirable features.

Flash sync speed is a great idea. I think 1/250 is the minimum and I guess there is no maximum. There are now numerous work arounds using strobes and circuitry that enable HSS, but a native high flash sync speed would be good too.

I also would vote for a low native ISO of 50 or 64....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Barmaglot said:

I don't think Mediterranean has much, if anything to do with it, it's just the intensive use. I've seen a Nauticam D500 housing used by a liveaboard owner/operator, i.e. diving 3-4 times a day almost constantly in Thailand/Myanmar, and it's got serious discoloration as well.

Some people like the discolouration. As it allows them to tell everyone that they dive a lot! It is like leaving your drysuit inflator hose on your regulator when you travel - so you can tell/bore everyone on the dive boat that you dive in cold water too! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Alex_Mustard said:

Some people like the discolouration. As it allows them to tell everyone that they dive a lot! It is like leaving your drysuit inflator hose on your regulator when you travel - so you can tell/bore everyone on the dive boat that you dive in cold water too! 

I wish I could agree with you but really I'm just trying to save my investment.
Just think when I sold my 6" Nauticam dome here on WP a user asked me to get macro photos of the metal petals to see if they were scratched. Just saying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Alex_Mustard said:

Some people like the discolouration. As it allows them to tell everyone that they dive a lot!

Divers' version of noble patina :lol2:

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe it should be part of the perfect camera spec - pre-aged coating so you look like you know what you are doing!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sort of relates to being referred to as an "old timer!"

I have a pre-aged coating to prove my bona fides!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Alex_Mustard said:

Maybe it should be part of the perfect camera spec - pre-aged coating so you look like you know what you are doing!

After all, people like pre-aged jeans.

1ddf03a75aa54543bf95cbd045f87bd5.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...