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Danny Dives

Deciding Fisheye/WA Option for Sony A7RII

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Hi guys,

I feel I'm bringing up a question / subject that has been asked many, many times before....but the answer is context-dependent and has evolved over the years. I'm hoping the Wetpixel hivemind can help me sieve through my best options, given my particular circumstances.

I have a Sony A7RII in a Nauticam housing. Over 6 years old now, it's been my workhorse camera for underwater photo and video. For much of that time, I've been using it with a Sony 16-35mm F4 with a very-far-from-perfect dome port combination, as a consequence of the need for compact gear and versatility as a hybrid shooter. 

Pre-COVID I reached a stage with my underwater photography where corner sharpness and IQ became increasingly important to me. I now own a separate cinema camera for underwater video work, and with the corner sharpness of my images grossly offending me more and more, I feel I can now justify shifting my Sony to a dedicated, photo-focused rig, and therefore refine the lens and ports I use with it. 

I'm looking for a fisheye / very WA solution for my Sony A7RII. I've poured over the metric tonne of info on this forum and UWPMag, especially from folks like @Phil Rudin and others, so I'm aware of some of the options and trade-offs....but I must admit, I'm starting to lose my head in it all and would really appreciate some direct thoughts.

So, some context and priorities from me;

  • I shoot predominantly megafauna and WA - mantas, whale sharks, sharks and turtles. Often it's out in the blue, but reefs and habitats are very often subjects too, or at least in a frame with a big animal.
  • I like fisheye, and I love split-shots...though a bit of versatility in focal lengths is appreciated.
  • I need to balance cost and IQ as the top priorities (ideally using already-owned kit where possible), and travel-friendliness as a second-tier priority. With that in mind, I own a Nauticam 8.5" for my video rig, that could be great to re-purpose.

 

As far as I can tell, I figured my best option would be the Canon 8-15mm with a Metabones IV EF-E mount adaptor. This gets me my fisheye, allows for split shots, can utilise my existing 8.5" dome (port according to the Nauticam charts, though not the best option for IQ). Overall, it seems like it may be the best price option given I own the 8.5"....but whilst IQ is consistently described as great, I don't know how badly this differs when you consider the lens used behind an 8.5" dome rather than a 230mm. 

WACP1 and 2 are not options for me. Too large, too expensive, too heavy.

I've not found enough info about the Sigma (or Sony?) 14mm options and the IQ quality they produce with the A7RII.

The option that's really thrown me is the WWL-1B + Sony 28-60mm. Whilst I wouldn't get the fisheye look and would struggle with split shots....hearing that it would be equivalent to 10-22mm behind the WWL-1, and having seen the IQ and corner sharpness of photos with the 28mm + WWL-1 (as a sort of proxy) I think I'd be content losing the fisheye look and potentially missing split shots in exchange for the extra flexibility in focal lengths. 

Anyway, very long story short....given my priorities / circumstances, I'd appreciate any thoughts, images, and personal accounts that anyone can share, to help me decide between my options - particularly between the Canon 8-15mm, and the WWL-1B + 28-60mm options. I think it's coming down to the cost of the WWL-1 option vs. the IQ of the Canon 8-15mm behind an 8.5" dome....that's the information I'm lacking.

Thanks for your time.

Danny

 

 

 

Edited by Danny Dives

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Hi Danny,

Could you just get the two options?

The Sigma 15mm fisheye works very well with an adaptor (SIGMA or Metabones) and you could get that second hand at a very good price (I found the combo at around $250 on ebay) in addition to WWL-1 + 28-60 (which as well you could get second hand).

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A few thoughts;  The Canon 8-15 is basically a circular fisheye or a full frame fisheye lens not really a zoom, so unless you particularly want the circular look, the Sigma might be a good cheaper option.  On the fisheyes on the Nauticam port chart the port wit the "*" for most optimized is the 140 mm dome.  Fisheye lenses are less dependent on dome size as they don't need deal with pulling the corners into focus like a rectilinear lens.  I doubt there would be much difference between your 8.5" and a 230mm dome.  What those options are not quite so good at are CFWA as you can't get as close as the smaller dome.

The 14mm options are rectilnear so corners will be worse than your 16-35 at 16mm in the same dome.  Neither will take the S&S correction lens and they really need a 230mm dome.  The general consensus seems to be that the WWL will beat out ultrawide (weitwinkel) rectilinears even behind a big dome at the cost of a little barrel distortion - the WWL is not rectilinear so not a full substitute if you really need straight lines to stay straight, however it will be perfectly fine for big animals, reef scenes, CFWA etc.  There is some overlap between the WWL and fisheye lens but it is not really regarded as a fisheye substitute - but for big animals it of course has the advantage of allowing you to zoom if your subject won't come close enough, unless you are talking really big subjects like whales, a fisheye is often a little short on reach for pelagics.

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Also remember that to use the 8mm circular fisheye end of the Canon lens the dome shade needs to be removed or if will vignette in the image. I don't remember if you can do this with the 8.5 port.

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Hi Danny, 

 

I shoot with Sony A6400, Canon 10-18mm and Metabones EF to E mk V. Obviously lots of differences between the setups but I thought it worth mentioning that there will be some issues with autofocus and burst shooting with the adapter. I mainly shoot kelp forest scenes so continuous/tracking autofocus isn't crucial but if the setup is mostly for moving animals then you might struggle. The main irritation for me is that when you press the shutter button, the focus locks until you release the button, so not true continuous autofocus that can result in animals lurching out of focus in a longer burst. Autofocus will also be slowed a bit. These issues may not really be noticeable with a fisheye and its increased depth of field, I've not tried with one. Also, if you do ever want to shoot video with it, you will get poor autofocus in the 'advanced' mode, and none in 'green' mode (those might not be quite the right names). It would be worth checking exactly what the adapter does with your camera as I think it differs over the various generations of Sony bodies. I'm still quite happy with my setup but there are definite limitations! 

 

cheers, 

Ruben

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Hi Danny, I am also stumbling a bit with a fisheye for Sony right now.... I had the setup of Sony A1 with Sigma-MC-11, Nauticam 35.5 adapter 100 to 120 and Sigma 15mm with 140mm glass dome just in Indonesia use and was absolutely dissatisfied with the autofocus at close range. Clownfish were already problematic. The lens just didn't focus at close range at all. I also had the impression that it could not handle the full resolution of the Sony A1. Whether I will now go for the significantly more expensive 8-15mm from Canon incl. required extension ring, I don't know.... With your described preferences Ican probably recommend the Sigma 15mm as long as your autofocus keeps up, which I suspect especially with the fisheye. Does anyone else have similar experiences with the focus in the close range under water as I do with the 15mm from Sigma. On land it focuses perfectly at close range. Attached a photo of a normal sized moray eel where the focus just came along but that was already the limit. I could not get any closer.

 

DSC06201..schwebe.angefangen..test.jpg

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20 hours ago, LastAdventures said:

Hi Danny, I am also stumbling a bit with a fisheye for Sony right now.... I had the setup of Sony A1 with Sigma-MC-11, Nauticam 35.5 adapter 100 to 120 and Sigma 15mm with 140mm glass dome just in Indonesia use and was absolutely dissatisfied with the autofocus at close range. Clownfish were already problematic. The lens just didn't focus at close range at all. I also had the impression that it could not handle the full resolution of the Sony A1. Whether I will now go for the significantly more expensive 8-15mm from Canon incl. required extension ring, I don't know.... With your described preferences Ican probably recommend the Sigma 15mm as long as your autofocus keeps up, which I suspect especially with the fisheye. Does anyone else have similar experiences with the focus in the close range under water as I do with the 15mm from Sigma. On land it focuses perfectly at close range. Attached a photo of a normal sized moray eel where the focus just came along but that was already the limit. I could not get any closer.

Hmm, that's weird, perhaps due to the pixel count of A1 (high). Is your mc-11 adapter up to date with the latest firmware? 

 

I don't have access to my catalog presently so this is the only picture I have with me that shows a similar composition and I guess similar distance (less than 20cm). 

My setup is same as yours except for a7iii instead of A1. 

 

https://adobe.ly/3foWxvm

Click download for full file, I can't upload it here 

Thanks 

 

Edited by waterpixel
Edit for file link

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6 hours ago, waterpixel said:

Hmm, that's weird, perhaps due to the pixel count of A1 (high). Is your mc-11 adapter up to date with the latest firmware? 

 

I don't have access to my catalog presently so this is the only picture I have with me that shows a similar composition and I guess similar distance (less than 20cm). 

My setup is same as yours except for a7iii instead of A1. 

 

https://adobe.ly/3foWxvm

Click download for full file, I can't upload it here 

Thanks 

 

I think there are two separate issues - does the AF work well on the adapted Sigma lens?  Separately is the resolution of the fisheye good enough to take advantage of the high MP of the Sony A1?  Note I say "take advantage of"  If the resolution of lens is adequate with for example a 30 MP but it can't resolve small enough details to match a 50MP camera you can still use it on the 50MP and get results every bit as good as you did on the 30MP model, you just don't get the advantage of the higher MP count.  

Actually truly taking advantage of high MP cameras underwater is also potentially problematic, you are usually stopped down to the f11-16 range and in diffraction territory and add to that the degradation caused by shooting through water and dome port optics.  There are certainly gains to be made but potentially not as big a gain as there might be on land.

On the AF front I agree that making sure firmware is up to date is particularly important for third party and adapted lenses.  If an older A7III auto focuses just fine with the same combination that struggles on a newer Sony A1, that certainly suggests it might be a firmware problem.  I'm not entirely clear if the AF was behaving at minimum CFWA distances on the SONY A7III.  Both the Sigma and the Canon should be able to focus on the dome. 

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17 hours ago, ChrisRoss said:

I think there are two separate issues - does the AF work well on the adapted Sigma lens?  Separately is the resolution of the fisheye good enough to take advantage of the high MP of the Sony A1?  Note I say "take advantage of"  If the resolution of lens is adequate with for example a 30 MP but it can't resolve small enough details to match a 50MP camera you can still use it on the 50MP and get results every bit as good as you did on the 30MP model, you just don't get the advantage of the higher MP count.  

Actually truly taking advantage of high MP cameras underwater is also potentially problematic, you are usually stopped down to the f11-16 range and in diffraction territory and add to that the degradation caused by shooting through water and dome port optics.  There are certainly gains to be made but potentially not as big a gain as there might be on land.

On the AF front I agree that making sure firmware is up to date is particularly important for third party and adapted lenses.  If an older A7III auto focuses just fine with the same combination that struggles on a newer Sony A1, that certainly suggests it might be a firmware problem.  I'm not entirely clear if the AF was behaving at minimum CFWA distances on the SONY A7III.  Both the Sigma and the Canon should be able to focus on the dome. 

 

On 9/27/2022 at 7:34 PM, waterpixel said:

Hmm, that's weird, perhaps due to the pixel count of A1 (high). Is your mc-11 adapter up to date with the latest firmware? 

 

I don't have access to my catalog presently so this is the only picture I have with me that shows a similar composition and I guess similar distance (less than 20cm). 

My setup is same as yours except for a7iii instead of A1. 

 

https://adobe.ly/3foWxvm

Click download for full file, I can't upload it here 

Thanks 

 

@ChrisRoss and @waterpixel Thanks for the replies and the picture!!! It's true that there are actually two issues here: 1. I wouldn't say that autofocus always works well but definitely acceptable and sometimes good. In the CFWA (close range) but unfortunately always not at all.... The firmeware of the adapter is up to date - I had tried extra before the trip and was then under water very perplexed about the occurring problem. What I will also do on my next dive, of course, would be the Metabones adapter instead of the Sigma MC-11 adapter to use. This I also still have from my former combi of Tokina 10-17 in use but not used for a long time. 2. you can certainly live with the blur, if you sharpen in the later image processing. Is there again an article or a diagram etc. on wetpixel that gives around the diffraction blur enlightenment? I have honestly, beyond test images in the close range, not yet tried the combination on land - that is certainly also a good idea times to produce similar shots as under water and then compare the sharpness. But I think I remember a  cool series of photos from Venice in a castle with Sigma 15mm and Sony A7R III and it was also not 100 percent sharp.  Is there anyone who has real field experience with the Sigma 15mm and higher resolution Sony cameras?

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I'm helping my buddy with a Sony A7RIV + Sigma 15mm-MC-11 combo.

No luck, so far. 

The camera is like crazy.
It switches itself between AFS and AFC. Occasionally it focuses or the screen goes black.
The aperture does not work.

We initially tried with original fw and then updated camera and ring to the latest fw version
The sigma manual explains that if the ring led is off, the lens is not compatible and Sigma does not list the 15mm as a compatible lens but I trusted the many users here in the forum.

End of sad story 

Edited by Davide DB
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@LastAdventures re: autofocus issues with the A1 and adapted fisheyes, I use the Canon 8-15mm on my A1 with the Sigma MC11 adapter and I’ve been very happy with this and haven’t had any issues with autofocus failing to lock on. If you use continuous autofocus it’s definitely slower than a native combo (such as the 28-60 with WWL-1) but for example it was able to accurately lock on to a pod of dolphins swimming towards me at top speed which I was pretty happy with, and the auto-focus has worked fine for CFWA situations right up close to the dome too. (The sigma MC-11 and the metabones equivalent both have different gotchas when it comes to video autofocus, but that’s another topic).

 

I can’t speak for the A7R5 with it’s new autofocus system, and I haven’t tried Sigma’s fisheye on the A1, but the MC-11 with Canon’s fisheye definitely does work on the A1.

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@

shanesmith.photos

Thanks for your feedback! Dolphis swimming towards you is a great test! Whats you opinion about the adapter? I have the feeling that Sigma is better / faster than Metabones. I recently bought the Canon 8-15 and I will try it hopefully soon in Australia...

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