Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
burtjohn

Reef scientist in need of camera advice

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

I'm a scientist who has done all of my work previously in freshwater, but am switching over to reefs. I won't get into the details of why I'm making the transition, but let's just say that getting funding for diving on reefs sounds a hell of a lot more fun then tromping around in streams. :blink:

 

In any event, I will be needing a camera for two things: 1) identifying fish that I don't know (ie sending the pics to a friend) and 2) monitoring invertebrate community change in small plots (ie take a picture every month and use image analysis software to see who is growing, overrunning others, etc).

 

I'd like recommendations on a digital camera that is easy/quick to use for snapping _clear_ photos of unknown fish swimming by, but can also be used for good macro shots on areas that are about 10x10 inches.

 

I'm not a camera buff, so I don't know anything about flash neccessary, housings, etc. I will be working primarily at depths of 10m (30ft), but may go as deep as 30m (90ft) occassionally. I would like something that is good quality, but not super high-end as I probably can't afford it. If you know of a "package" that includes all the accessories I need, that's probably easiest. I guess one that would also be usable on land would be nice, but not essential. I'm a point and click type, so I won't be doing manual adjustments unless neccessary for focusing.

 

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Many thanks!

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi John,

 

Welcome to Wetpixel. I love posts like these!

 

I just last week made a recommendation for a similar type of use - photographing reef monitoring stations 1m by 1m area. .1m by .1m should be a piece of cake! :-)

 

Firstly, if you want to take fish ID photos, you'll need a camera with ZERO shutter lat and a fast focusing lens. For your purposes, you don't need a super high magnification lens, as I'd imagine you just need the fish in focus, and you can crop in on it for the ID.

 

Secondly, are you going to mount it on some kind of framer for shooting the monitoring shots? I'd recommend a plastic frame (can you say CPVC Piping) that you can mount your camera setup and strobes on.

 

I don't know your budge, but just off the top of my head, I'd recommend the Ikelite setup for the Canon 20d, with one or even two DS125 strobes if you can afford them. For lenses, I'd look at the "kit" lens and the Canon 50mm or 100mm macro lens (50mm for 20cm fish and 100mm for 10cm fish or less) The automatic flash control on the housing will let you concentrate on getting the shot, not fiddling with yoru equipment. I would budget about $3500-$4,500 for the setup.

 

My friend at the Bermuda Biological Station is putting together a similar rig, so you may want to send him a message. I think his nickname here is JamesWood.

 

I'm sure there will be other opinions, but this one's mine to keep...:-)

 

Cheers

James Wiseman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there.

 

The 20D housed, is as near a high end system as one could imagine.

 

The 20D has a final shutter lag of 0.077 seconds. All SLRs of the usual design are this speed or slower, due to having to move the mirror out of the way.

 

The latest sonys have autofocus systems nearly as good as the SLRs, and final shutter lags of 0.009 seconds. Even the canon pro1 has the same shutter lag as the 20D, and the pro1 is down around $500 now.

 

I'd recommend either the canon pro1, or the sony V3, either with ikelite housings and strobes.

 

It is hard to beat ikelite for quality or service. Being able to see all the joints and seals, after assembly, is a huge win in reducing the chance of floods.

 

I'd look around the ikelite site, and through their list of supported cameras, and start researching the cameras.

 

http://www.ikelite.com/web_pages/1digital.html

 

The best site for detailed timing measurements is imaging-resource.com

 

http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM

 

And there are other reliable reviews at http://www.dpreview.com/

 

If you tell us the sort of price range you are looking in, you'll get better answers.

 

Good luck,

Don

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, the budget estimate will help us make recommendations.

 

Looking at the V3 and Pro1 on DPreview, the price difference wasn't as large as I was expecting.

 

Canon Pro1 = ~$650

Sony V3 = ~$600

 

The 20D with kit lens is around $1300 right now.

 

So for a $700 difference, you get a smaller camera, but you can't change lenses - you get what's stuck on the camera. Add-on wet-mate lenses may help, but you'll probably never approach the quality and autofocus speed of the Canon 100mm macro for your fish shots.

 

Housing cost differences will probably also be around $500, if you're just looking at Ikelite. So I'd project a total cost difference of $1200 or less than 33% to go from the compact system to the SLR.

 

HTH

James Wiseman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi James.

 

Looks like those are list prices..??

 

The pro1 has a bunch of stores selling it for $575, and the V3 (which hasn't been out nearly as long), is down to $480-500...

 

Not that much difference, but some.

 

:blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi gang,

 

First off, many thanks for the advice, and the time and effort put into it. In looking at the various commenst, I guess I should have thought ahead on a budget. I was thinking somewhere on the lines of $1500-2000, but as I have zero knowledge of underwater photography I guess I wasn't sure if this would get me fully kitted or not even in the water. :blink:

 

I will have a look at the various products people have already recommended, but if you have any other ideas, please keep them coming.

 

Many thanks again!

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, forgot - James: Thanks for the idea on the PVC frame - that's an excellent idea, and one that I didn't even consider (and it is especially important if I'll be using seriesed shots for image analysis!).

 

Thanks!

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the 'gold old days' of film one could use a Nikonos with a framer. One could 'walk' the camera around the quadrat shooting 2 vertical and 2 horizontal format (4 shots in the quadrat total). Everything was done manually. Advantage = consistency. Same area in each shot. Helps during the analysis. Digital equivalents???

Getting ID quality fish shots will vary by species. Video (i.e., low res) may OK for some while you may need to collect a sample for others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John -

 

As far as your methodology for the invert stuff goes I may have a few pointers. You will definitely need a PVC frame mount for the camera. It should be a square of your sampling area with arms reaching up to support the camera at a reasonable distance to get a good clear shot with the sampling area filling the frame. This tripod setup also allows for a stable platform to take pics and will enable clear pictures to be taken. I hope you are not doing a 10" x 10" square - whats the measurment in cm? Another hint is to measure the cm out on the pvc sampling square and mark alternate cms with black electrical tape. You then get a nice black, white, black, white pattern and a proper scale in the picture which will allow area determination software to be correctly calibrated. A final point will be that you must make sure the shot is exactly recreated each month so some type of marker must be put down so you know where to rest the sampling square each time. Reef Pins work very well for this and do relatively little damage. Photoquadrat methodology also has certain drawbacks - it is very difficult in a complex reef environment, the camera framer may be difficult to work with in areas of high current or surge, there is a likelihood of damaging reefs with the equipment if care is not taken, and finally, your data in not "in hand" after a dive - you need to go back to the lab and download the images before you have anything concrete. With all that being said - photoquads are a great method to showing change over time and a powerful tool in coral reef management. Best of luck in your endeavors!

 

regards...

 

- MP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all,

 

Based on the (much) earlier advice that you have had to offer, I've been socking away money in preparation for your recommended purchases, I've gone with the Canon Pro1 as a matter of price and convenience, and because it has such a solid reputation. I'm now in the process of looking for housing and strobes.

 

The housing appears to be only available through Ikelite. There's a german company called Bruder that apparently makes a housing as well, but I can't decipher their german website, and haven't seen anyone recomend it. Ikelite has an MSRP of $750 for their Pro1 housing (#6144). The cheapest I've seen outside has been at Adorama for $630. Does anyone know of any other sites that offer such good prices for Ikelite equipment?

 

My technical question has to do with strobes. There are a range of options available,, and all of this is new to me and I don't want to snafu a choice this important. The recommendations list Manual strobes for this camera, and I gather it has something important behind it... but I don't know what. The other options are with TTL slave sensor or TTL sync cord.. and I have no idea what this means. Rather than making a poor choice off the bat, does someone have some advice that is pertinent to someone with a novice background? I want something easy, but it sounds like there are solid tecnical reasons that I should choose the manual option - I just didn't understand their explanation on the Ikelite site. I gather that it has something to do with the camera's timing.

 

Again, as a reminder, most of these shots will be close up macros of a less than 10x10" area on the bottom.. although I'll be doing fish photos 20% of the time too.

 

Oh, that reminds me: for what I'll be doing, do you see a need for me to go with teh DS125's or should the DS-50's be sufficient? I'll prtobably go with a single arm as I can't really afford 2 at this point.

 

Thanks for any advice!

 

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes shopping for the lowest price isn't the most cost effective way to purchase equipment when you're first starting out. It appears that you'll need some guidance in setting up this system, so I'd advise contacting one of the Wetpixel sponsors for the purchase of the housing and it's accessories. I'd recommend contacting Ryan from Reef Photo & Video, he's a Wetpixel Sponsor, an Ikelite Dealer and a knowledgeable guy. You'll find him listed in the Sponsors banner section on all Wetpixel pages.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If much of your work is macro, the V3 would be better. Maybe too late now.

 

The pro1's macro focus mode is nearly as crippled as the cp8400. You can't close focus except the wide 1/3 of the zoom range, and then kinda close, but not really, for the next 1/3, and no close focus in the last 1/3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...