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Alex_Mustard

Nauticam EMWL - new 160 degree lens

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I had the chance to use the forthcoming 160˚ degree lens for the EMWL in Canada this month. I thought it was great - basically makes the EMWL better still at shooting Wide Angle Macro - I've written it up here:

https://wetpixel.com/articles/field-review-nauticam-emwl-with-160-degree-lens-by-alex-mustard

I thought I'd share a few of the images at a higher res than possible on the front page articles. Click on the images to see them bigger.

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Alex

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Great article about the EMWL and 160 lens! Thanks for sharing your photos and thoughts :-) Maybe your answers on my questions are interesting for other uw entusiasts and worth to share with others: Have you ever considered leaving out the middle part (relay) and working with a rotated image? I can well imagine that with such a long distance and working hard to fill the frame you might run the risk to bump into an animal and injure it or even scratch your sensitive lens on stones/coral?! Can this combination also be used (for someone photographing with 50 megapixels and being sensitive about image quality) for larger landscape images, with significantly more distance to the object (e.g. schools of fish, sponges or large sea fans etc.) or is the quality significantly below, compared to a WACP or large dome port (at an aperture of 8-16, for example)? I know that the EMWL is not designed for big landscapes and there is better solutions on the market but once it's attached and you're passing some great scenery - is it worth making a stop or do you prefer to swim on and concentrate on the actual purpose of this 160 degree lens

I received this as a PM - but thought I'd reply to the interesting points here.

I've not tried the EMWL without the relay section - but I will make a point to try on a future trip. My Hasselblad housing had a reversed viewfinder and while you could adapt to the reversed view, you would never say it is optimal. I can't imagine volunteering to do that with the EMWL!

I also think a reversed view would make you much more likely to disturb a subject or scratch the lens. You need to keep your subject relaxed to get good results with these lenses.

There is nothing to stop you shooting wide angle with this lens, but this isn't going to match a dedicated wide angle for ease of use or quality. These two shots are with the EMWL + 130˚ lens. Which are getting towards more standard wide angle.

Hawksbill, Maldives

MAL22_am-14063.jpg

Brittlestars On Maerl, Scotland

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Beautiful images, Alex. I can't wait to try the 160 myself. 

I have some experience relating to that person's questions and will offer a few thoughts:

I have used the EMWL exclusively without the relay lens - to keep my setup more compact and to save money. I use a monitor which allows me to correct the inverted image and shoot without the relay lens without issue (except for the minor inconvenience of the settings/menu being inverted). I have also tried a few times to shoot it without correcting the inverted image, and I find that very difficult. I'm sure with practice you could train your brain to move the camera in the opposite direction, but then switching back to using a non-inverted lens would likely be difficult. 

I'm comfortable with the image quality (of the 130) for normal wide angle images if opportunities arise when I'm using it, but it is a step below the very best wide angle optics and wouldn't be my first choice for outings on which I'm not planning to shoot some CFWA. I'll also note that on my setup anyway (Sony A7R II and 90mm macro) the best image quality occurs at f/8-f/11 (diffraction softening becomes noticeable by f/13). Stopping down further for more depth of field can be desirable for many CFWA shots but may be counterproductive for regular wide angle shots. 

Edited by Isaac Szabo

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The EMWL is a specialized, but amazing tool. It sounds logical that it is not working well for "normal" WA images. Can someone state how "bad" is the IQ for general WA (130 or 160 degree), in comparison to dedicated WA eqipment, as WAPC-1, WWL-1 or a 230mm domeport (in the center (most important) as well as in the edges)?

It is not only the money (of course also this is important), but even more important is the hughe amount of equipment to drag around that matters on dive trips. In case IQ would be comparable to a 230mm domeport (center sharpness, I guess in the edges the EMWL is better), it may be well desirable as the only general WA lens to take for a trip, plus the bonus of having a perfect CFWA equipment...

 

Wolfgang

 

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On 10/23/2022 at 3:13 AM, Architeuthis said:

Can someone state how "bad" is the IQ for general WA (130 or 160 degree), in comparison to dedicated WA eqipment, as WAPC-1, WWL-1 or a 230mm domeport (in the center (most important) as well as in the edges)?

My experience with the EMWL is only with the 130 optic and Sony 90mm macro lens. For "normal" wide angle images I don't think it's quite as sharp as any of the other options you mention. That said, I do consider it usable. It's decent in the center but not great near the edges. I'm shooting on a pretty high resolution sensor (42mp), so its performance will look better on lower resolution sensors. I sent you a private message with a link to a full resolution example so you can judge for yourself.

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Would be great if you can share that link publicly. I don’t think @Architeuthis is the only one interested. 

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I am happy to share some high resolution files, I have taken. I am on the road at the moment (cancelled flight delaying return home). But can share some when I am back.

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12 hours ago, hyp said:

Would be great if you can share that link publicly. I don’t think @Architeuthis is the only one interested. 

OK sure. Here are some normal (not close-up) wide angle shots taken with the 130 EMWL (full resolution links below photos). As I said previously, I think the image quality is acceptable/usable but certainly not quite as good as the best wide angle setups.

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Full resolution

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Full resolution

Edited by Isaac Szabo
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Thanks a lot Isaac! :good:

 

What were the aperture values?

Subjectively I have the impression that the photos lack sharpness and contrast in the center, compared to conventional WA solutions (I complain here at a high level). Or is it just the visibility in not so clear waters or diffraction caused by very high aperture values?

In case this is what one can get with the EMWL, it looks to me the EMWL is a specialized tool for CFWA macro. Maybe it can concur with the MWL-1 for general WA (but it may be a very worthy alternative to the MWL-1, since it provides the additional possibility of CFWA macro)?

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis

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No problem, happy to help!

Those were all shot at f/8 (all the settings can be seen in the metadata). I find f/11 to be slightly preferable (similar sharpness with more DOF). However, due to the focus shift problem with the Sony 90mm and the required workaround, stopping down past f/8 isn't viable with my setup in most situations. 

Yes, as I've said previously, the sharpness is not as good as the best wide angle setups. I use the Nikonos 13mm when I'm only planning to shoot more typical wide angle subjects. But I consider the EMWL sharpness to be good enough considering it can do things other lenses can't. Wide angle macro is the obvious one, but I also think it's perhaps the best solution for being able to switch between true wide angle and true macro on the same dive.

Note with the above photos that the focus plane isn't always exactly in the ideal location (again, a consequence of working around the focus shift problem). For example, with the two turtle shots the sharpest focus is just slightly behind their heads, and with the horseshoe crab it's at the closest part of the shell. 

Also note that if you're used to lower resolution files (your profile lists 16mp and 20mp cameras), then you would have to downsize these 42mp files to your camera's resolution in order to make a fair comparison. Or to put it another way, the EMWL sharpness will look significantly better when used on lower resolution cameras. High resolution sensors really challenge lenses and magnify any weaknesses.

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I don’t have the kind of cash required to afford the emwl, but the focus shift issue would really deter me from buying one considering you can’t really try and return uw optics.

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30 minutes ago, hyp said:

I don’t have the kind of cash required to afford the emwl, but the focus shift issue would really deter me from buying one considering you can’t really try and return uw optics.

For sure! Trust me I tried to return mine but the store refused. So I was stuck with the most expensive photography item I had ever purchased, and it didn't even work. I tried contacting Nauticam multiple times but never heard back (does their contact form even work?). Thankfully, around a year later Edward Lai explained the focus shift issue in a post here on the forum, and that knowledge finally helped me figure out a partial workaround. So now I can use it (with some limitations), but my success rate is still much lower than it should be. Despite all the issues, I do like it, and I'm very excited to try out the 160 lens when I can afford it. 

All that said, it entirely depends upon which macro lens is used with it. Some lenses naturally have a small focus shift as you stop down the aperture, and in those cases the EMWL greatly magnifies that focus shift. But other lenses don't have the focus shift and so work perfectly with the EMWL. The Nikon F 105mm seems to be the main one that is publicly known to work fine. Edward said that they have now tested all of the compatible lenses/bodies and that they all performed very differently. It would be very helpful if they would release that information so we could know which lenses work well. But since I can't seem to get that information from them, I recently purchased another Sony E mount macro lens (Sigma 105mm Art) and will do my own tests to see whether or not it suffers from the focus shift issue. 

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