Camera Reviews

Detailed camera reviews for underwater photo and video, including specs, key features for u/w photography and camera comparisons.
A collection of widely accepted specs and rumors for the upcoming Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera
By UWPG Editors

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Rumors & Preview

UWPG Editors
A collection of widely accepted specs and rumors for the upcoming Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is heavily rumored to be announced this September, becoming the new flagship of the Olympus micro 4/3 camera line.

The original OM-D E-M1 made a big impact with underwater photographers when released in late 2013. The mirrorless body delivered pro-level image quality in a fraction of the size and weight of a DSLR. Most importantly, the E-M1 had very fast autofocus, helping establish mirrorless cameras as 'the real deal.' Since then, Olympus has released other models in its micro 4/3 lineup, most recently the E-M5 Mark II, along with a number of new lenses. 

The mirrorless camera category has grown significantly, with very impressive cameras making debuts, including the Panasonic GH4 and Sony alpha series (the Sony a7R II being most popular).

Olympus has much to prove with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, and it's believed that the camera will explore new levels of autofocus speed, tracking and low light performance - all very useful tools for underwater photo and video. We also expect to see 4K video resolution, which is almost necessary for any camera brand's flagship camera at this point.

Anticipated Announcement:  September 20, 2016 (during Photokina)

Anticipated Retail Price:  TBD

 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II Rumored Specifications

These rumors are compiled from several sources, credited below.

  • 20 megapixel sensor

  • Hybrid AutoFocus

  • Dual IS

  • 4K UHD Video Resolution

  • High Resolution Mode

  • Full HD upto 120p

  • ISO 100-12800 (Expandable to 51200)

  • Dust, Splash, Freeze Proof

  • Built-in Wifi Connectivity

  • Tilting LCD Touchscreen

Sources:  Petapixel, 43rumors and many camera-geek conversations

 

Best Lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II features a standard Micro 4/3 lens mount, allowing it to use all Olympus 4/3 lenses, plus those from 3rd parties like Panasonic. Below are our recommendations for fisheye, wide-angle and macro lenses.

Fisheye Lenses

There are two choices for fisheye lenses, ideal for capturing reefscapes, big animals, wrecks, close-focus wide-angle and other large underwater scenes. The new Olympus 8mm Pro fisheye offers the best image quality and fast speed of f/1.8. The Panasonic 8mm fisheye lens has long been our go-to lens, delivering great photos with a full 180 degrees of coverage and widest aperture of f/3.5. Both lenses have a very close focusing distance, you can practically focus on the dome port!

 

Wide-Angle & Versatile Lenses

The E-M5 Mark II has many different wide-angle and mid-range zoom lenses to suit every underwater photographer. For wide-angle shooting, helping capture subjects like whales, sharks and sea lions, the new Olympus 7-14mm Pro lens and the classic Panasonic 7-14mm are your choices. Similar to the fisheye lenses from these brands, the Olympus will deliver slightly better image quality, but at a higher price. Wide-angle shooters will love the Olympus or Panasonic 7-14mm, choose Olympus for the best possible optic quality. The Olympus 9-18mm lens is a great choice for those on a budget who want a good wide-angle lens.

Kit lenses are an affordable way to get your camera in the water while also providing mid-range focal lengths ideal for shooting models in a pool. The Olympus 12-50mm is a great choice for ocean shooting, with a nice zoom range as well as built-in macro mode for capturing those small subjects. The Olympus 12-40mm Pro captures nice images with a f/2.8 aperture and professional level glass.

 

Macro Lens

The best option for shooting macro with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, is the Olympus 60mm macro lens. This lens delivers sharp 1:1 macro images and can be used with wet diopters outside your port in order to magnify your smallest subjects into great supermacro images. If that lens is too much, or you like shooting slightly larger macro, we recommend the Panasonic 45mm macro. This lens is a bit more money than the 60mm, but offers more flexibility in larger subjects, however it is not ideal for super macro.

 

Conclusion

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II will be an excellent camera for underwater photo / video and will become one of the top choices for those purchasing a mirrorless camera. A wide selection of lenses, excellent dynamic range and high ISO performance, fast autofocus, 4K video and versatility will set the bar high.

We expect to see housings announced several months after the camera begins shipping.

Check back for more updates on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.  Bluewater Photo will be preordering the camera, so we'll have a detailed review published as soon as we get our hands on the camera.

 

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


The Canon 5D Mark IV camera has finally been announced.
By Brent Durand

Canon 5D Mark IV - Now Announced!

Brent Durand
The Canon 5D Mark IV camera has finally been announced.

The Canon 5D Mark IV camera has finally been officially announced today, August 25, 2016.  This is their fourth addition to the 5D lineup which most photographers have been waiting for.

The camera is based 30.4 MP Dualpixel CMOS AF sensor and has exceptional features made for enthusiasts, professional photographers and video shooters. Aside from that, there are a lot of new features incorporated to the new 5D Mark IV such as 4k video, 7.0fps for continuous shooting, dual pixel raw etc.  See specs below.

The much anticipated Canon 5D Mk IV has a big legacy to step into, and with the specs that have been announced this will surely surpass the expectations.  This will also be a fantastic upgrade for photographers and video shooters who know and trust Canon as their workhorse cameras.

 

Anticipated Announcement:  August 25, 2016

Rumored Pre-Order Ship Date:  mid-September

Anticipated Retail Price:  $3,499 USD

 

* Last Update:  August 25, 2016

 


 

Canon 5D Mark IV Announced Specifications

  • Sensor: 30.4 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image Processor: DIGIC 6+
  • AF point: 61 points
  • ISO: 100–32,000; expandable up to 50–102,400
  • Continuous shooting: 7 frames / sec.
  • Video is 4K 30fps
  • Can cut out the JPEG still image of 8MP from 4K video
  • Dual Pixel RAW
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF 
  • 150,000-pixel RGB + IR metering sensor
  • Touch screen
  • Anti-flicker
  • HD video for slow motion
  • Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi · NFC connection
  • Media: SDXC / SDHC / SD  (UHS-I enabled), CompactFlash 
  • The main terminal: USB 3.0, Mini-HDMI
  • Size: 116mm X 151mm X 76mm 
  • Weight: 890g

Do you Buy a Full Frame or Crop Sensor?

Full frame cameras are becoming more and more popular among underwater photographers.  Many photographers are upgrading systems to full frame and many brand new photographers are purchasing full frame as their first camera system.  But even with the popularity of large sensors, the crop sensor has a strong place in the mirrorless and DSLR market, and actually excels in many areas of undewater photo and video.

So which is the right camera for you?  Here's a quick breakdown:

 

Pros of a Full Frame Sensor

  • Larger sensor is more sensitive to light.

  • Better performance at high ISOs, specifically with electronic noise and color.

  • Less depth of field at the same apertures results in smoother bokeh.

 

Pros of a Crop Sensor

  • Cheaper than full frame camera body.

  • The standard 1.6 crop factor (1.5 on Nikon DX) essentially magnifies the image, bringing you closer to that shark swimming in the distance or to filling the frame with a small nudibranch.

  • You can use a lower aperture to achieve the same depth of field as a higher aperture on a full frame sensor. This is beneficial for three reasons:

    • Most lenses deliver their best image quality in mid-range apertures.

    • Higher apertures become prone to diffraction.

    • Lower apertures allow more light to hit the sensor, which helps bring more vibrant color from video lights (when shooting video), while maintaining necessary depth of field for the shot.

Have more questions?  Contact the experts at Bluewater Photo, who can guide you to the perfect camera setup for your shooting style and budget.

 

Best Lenses for the 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV will have a full frame sensor and use Canon's EF lenses plus compatible 3rd party lenses. Underwater photography generally falls into two categories, wide-angle and macro. The lenses below are best for shooting in these styles with the Canon 5D Mark IV (and all Canon full frame DSLR bodies).

 

Macro

 

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

This smooth and fast lens should be in every experienced (Canon) underwater photographer's bag. It provides the magnification needed for shooting small macro subjects and the tiniest subjects when combined with a diopter on the outside of the housing port. It also happens to be the only Canon macro lens for the 5D Mark IV.  View some photos shot with the Canon 100mm Macro lens on full frame bodies.

 

Wide-Angle Fisheye

 

Canon 8-15mm Circular Fisheye

This is one of several fisheye choices for 5D Mk IV shooters. A sharp fisheye at 15mm, you can also shoot this lens at 8mm without a dome port shade in order to produce circular fisheye images. Check out some examples in Wide-Angle in Bunaken or read or full Canon 8-18mm Lens Review.

 

Alternative Fisheye Lenses

Other great fisheye lens choices for the Canon 5D Mark IV will be the Sigma 15mm and the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens (between 15-17mm since this is an APS-C lens).

 

Rectilinear Wide-Angle

 

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II Wide-Angle Lens

The most popular rectilinear wide-angle lens for Canon full frame DSLRs is the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 Mark II. This lens sits at the top of the selection in terms of corner sharpness, speed, and price. Most underwater shooters use this type of lens for shooting subjects that don't come close enough to fill the frame with a wide fisheye lens: sharks, whales, sea lions, dolphins, etc.

 

Canon 11-24mm f/4L Ultra Wide-Angle Lens

Want the widest lens you can buy? The Canon 11-24mm offers a much wider field of view than 16mm. This perspective is great for reefscapes, massive wrecks and very wide shots where you do not want the distortion of a fisheye lens. The downside is that this lens is larger, heavier and more expensive than the other wide-angle lens choices.

 

Alternative Rectilinear Wide-Angle Lenses 

Underwater photo and video shooters on a budget will be looking towards the Canon 16-35mm f/4L or the Canon 17-40 f/4L USM wide-angle lenses. And unless you're a pixel-peeper with critical details in the corners of your images, it will be hard to tell the difference in IQ between these lenses and the popular 16-35mm f/2.8L II. The quality of the dome port you are shooting through will make a much more significant difference. These lenses are also much lighter and sport 77mm filter threads instead of 82mm.

 

Canon 16-35 f/2.8 III Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

This lens is floating around in the Canon rumor world, and now it has just been announced.  This will surely produce sharp images and Canon has improved on durability and perfomance of the lens.

 

 

Conclusion

The Canon 5D Mark IV will be an excellent camera for underwater photo / video and will become one of the top choices for those purchasing a DSLR. A wide selection of lenses, excellent dynamic range and high ISO performance, fast autofocus, 4K video and versatility will set the bar for full frame prosumer DSLRs.

We expect to see housings announced several months after the camera begins shipping.

Check back for more updates on the Canon 5D Mark IV.  Bluewater Photo will be preordering the camera, so we'll have a detailed review published as soon as we get our hands on the camera.

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide and leads several photo trips and workshops for Bluewater Photo (see below).  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Bali & Lembeh Strait Workshops (Sept '16)   |   La Paz Big Animal Photo Trip (Oct '16)   |   Sri Lanka Wrecks & Reefs OR Whales & Dolphins Workshops (Feb '17)   |   Alor, Indonesia small group Photo Trip (Oct '17)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


First camera to feature Canon's new DIGIC 7 processor, plus faster autofocus, increased noise performance, better RAW capture and more
By Brent Durand

Canon G7 X Mark II Camera Review

Brent Durand
First camera to feature Canon's new DIGIC 7 processor, plus faster autofocus, increased noise performance, better RAW capture and more

The Canon G7 X Mark II is a powerful camera in a compact body. An upgrade from the G7 X, the Mk II incorporates the same sensor and lens but is the first camera to use Canon's new DIGIC 7 image processor to support new performance improvements.

The Canon G7 X Mark II has a faster startup, better autofocus tracking, enhanced image stabilization, longer battery life and faster continuous shooting. The G7 X Mark 2 also records 14-bit RAW files instead of 12-bit like the G7 X. In simplest terms, this means more data, which means more room for advanced post-processing.

Bluewater Photo didn't hesitate to buy a G7 X Mk II to add to their rental gear, so I had a chance to shoot that in a few different situations. Insights and sample photos from these tests are included in this review.

If you haven't yet, be sure to read our detailed comparison of the Best Compact Cameras of Summer 2016.

 

Jump to section:

Canon G7X Mk II Specs    |   Thoughts for Underwater Photography   |  Changes from G7X   |   Body and Controls

Comparison with Compact Cameras   |   Sample Photos (high ISO, 100% crop)   |   Underwater Housing Options

Conclusion

 

 

Canon G7 X Mark II Specs

  • Bright f/1.8 (w) - f/2.8 (t), 4.2x (24-100mm equivalent) optical zoom lens with IS and 9-blade iris diaphram
  • 1-inch 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • New DIGIC 7 image processor
  • Multi-angle 3.0 inch capacitive touch panel display
  • 1080p Full HD video recording
  • One-touch white-balance for underwater video
  • In-camera RAW conversion/editing (customize and view edits prior to sharing from camera)
  • WiFi and NFC built-in
  • U.S.A. retail price: $699.99

 

Thoughts for Underwater Photography

The Canon G7 X Mark II is one of the best choices for underwater photo and video with a compact camera. The Canon G7 X has been very popular, although it faces stiff competition from the Sony RX100 IV, which also has a 1-inch sensor and more robust video capabilities. The one-touch white balance on the G7X Mark II is extremely convenient for video shooters, while manual white balance on the RX100 IV requires some menu navigation. In short, ambient light video shooters may look towards the G7 X Mk II, while those whose style incorporates video, high resolution and slow motion may look to the RX100 IV.

Canon has a long reputation for excellent image quality, and with the new DIGIC 7 processor and resulting performance upgrades, we expect this camera to have the edge among still shooters.

The G7 X Mark II will be supported by a number of housing manufacturers, which means that accessories like wet diopters for macro and wide-angle wet lenses will be readily available for capturing any underwater scene.

From Bluewater Photo owner Scott Gietler:

"With stunning image quality, TTL in manual mode, and great video & white balance features, the Canon G7X has quickly become one of the top two choices for compact camera underwater shooters, and we expect the Canon G7X II to continue in the same vein. Although it is not a "major" upgrade, we recommend the G7X II over the G7X due to its claim of 25% better battery life and improved low-contrast focusing, which will of course need to be tested."

 

Changes from the G7 X

The Canon G7 X Mark II has the same control layout as the original G7 X, but in a larger body. This means that the Mk II camera will likely not fit inside the older housings. It's a bummer but just the way it is with new cameras.

The major physical differences are highlighted below:

  • Front Control Ring:  New switch to allow click or smooth action (smooth action is great for manual focus).
  • LCD Screen Articulation:  Now pulls away from the body, allowing for 45 degree downward view (i.e. used when holding the camera in the air in a crowd).
  • Exposure Compensation Dial:  This has been reversed. Maybe it's more intuitive now?
  • Top Control Dial:  Creative effects mode has been removed from the control dial.

In addition to the physical differences above and the spec upgrades we highlighted earlier, the G7 X Mark II has other new features to be discovered. One is a new timelapse mode that video shooters will find useful. Another is new in-camera RAW file editing. The theory behind this is that you can edit your photos before sharing with your mobile device (and then social media) via the camera's WiFi or NFC. I prefer to transfer the image, edit on my mobile device (using Lightroom Mobile or other apps) and then share the content. There's no right or wrong workflow though.

 

 

G7 X Mk II Body and Controls

Like the G7 X, the Canon G7 X Mark II has a great set of controls and is easy to hold and shoot. Of primary importance is the front control ring, which controls aperture when in manual mode, but can be changed quickly through a dedicated button. The rear control ring defaults to controlling shutter speed but can also be custom programmed.

The red video record button is tucked under the flared thumb grip on the back of the camera, which makes it easy to access but also difficult to hit accidentally. The quick / set button, playback and menu buttons are also tucked under the thumb so that they are out of the way but easy to press when desired.

Lastly, the LCD touchscreen works very well. You can quickly access the Quick menu by pressing the Q in the top right corner, or adjust settings by pressing the aperture or shutter speed. My personal preference is to access these controls via the physical controls, but the nice thing is that every shooter can use the camera as they wish.

 

Compact Camera Comparison

For detailed comparison tables with the Canon G16, G5 X, G9 X, Sony RX100 IV, and Olympus TG-4, view our article Best Compact Cameras of Summer 2016.

You can also learn about Bluewater Photo's recommended compact camera and housing combinations in Best Compact Cameras and Housings for 2016.

 

Canon G7 X Mark II Sample Photos

Image Quality at 100% Crop

 

Image Quality at 100% Crop

 

High ISO at Night

 

Canon G7X Mark II Underwater Housings

Canon G7 X Mk II housings are now available from several leading manufacturers. Unfortunately, the larger size of the Mk II means that it will not fit in the original G7 X housings.

Canon G7X Mk II (approx: 105.5 x 60.9 x 42.0 mm).  Canon G7X (approx: 103.0 x 60.4 x 40.4 mm).

Below are some great housing choices from our sister company, Bluewater Photo. Check out the housings and contact them for the best recommendations for accessories like macro and wide-angle lenses, lights and strobes.

 

Recsea Canon G7X Mark II CW Polycarbonate Housing - $599 (Available)

This tiny housing fits the G7X II like a glove. The material is vey high quality, you will even think it is an aluminum housing. Easily fits in your BCD pocket.

 

Ikelite Canon G7X Mark II Housing - $550 (Available)

 

Ikelite Canon G7X Mark II Action Housing - $299 (Available)

 

Fantasea Canon G7X Mark II Housing (coming late August for $399) 

Although inexpensive, the polycarbonate Fantasea Housings give you access to all of the important camera controls and dials. Stay tuned for a complete housing review in late August!

 

Nauticam Canon G7X Mark II Housing $1100 (Available)

The Nauticam Housing is one of only two housings to offer an optional short port option for better wide-angle wet lens options. Also has an optional vacuum check system, and includes a shutter release extension.

 

Recsea Canon G7X Mark II Housing $1100 (Available)

Very small, high quality housing with precision controls rated to 100 meters. Optional vacuum check system and LCD viewfinder. Short port options for several wide-angle lenses including the UWL-04 fisheye lens.

 

Conclusion

The Canon G7 X Mark II delivers excellent image quality in a very small camera body. While it faces tough competition from the Sony RX100 IV for underwater video, the G7 X Mk II holds its own for still photography. 'Shutter Lag' (actually focus lag) is barely noticeable, even when shooting in low light.

The 1" sensor delivers great color, and the speed of the DIGIC 7 processor is readily apparent when powering on the camera, shooting in burst mode and focusing. Pair the G7 X Mk 2 with some of the better underwater housings and you have an excellent, and versatile, photo rig for macro and wide-angle.

 

  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide and leads several photo trips and workshops for Bluewater Photo (see below).  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Bali & Lembeh Strait Workshops (Sept '16)   |   La Paz Big Animal Photo Trip (Oct '16)   |   Sri Lanka Wrecks & Reefs OR Whales & Dolphins Workshops (Feb '17)   |   Alor, Indonesia small group Photo Trip (Oct '17)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


We compare the best compact cameras for underwater photo and video, including specs, photos
By UWPG Editors

Best Compact Cameras of Summer 2016

UWPG Editors
We compare the best compact cameras for underwater photo and video, including specs, photos

For underwater photographers looking for a compact camera setup, there are many different options to choose from. And with so many similarities between camera names and specs, the comparison process can be a bit confusing.

In this article, we will look into the compact cameras that we recommend for underwater photography, weather they are available now or coming later this summer. We consider things like image sensor size, megapixels and lens specs. To find specific housings and Bluewater Photo's complete underwater kit recommendations, you can check out the 2016 Compact Camera Buyer's Guide.

 

 

Skip to:

Olympus TG-4   |   Sony RX-100 IV   |   Canon G16

  Canon G5x   |   Canon G7x Mk II   |   Canon G9x

 

Camera Comparison Charts   

 Summary of Strengths and Weaknesses 

 Underwater Housing Availability 




Be sure to check out Bluewater Photo's Compact Cameras Buyers Guide to learn which camera and housing is best for you


 

Olympus TG-4

The Olympus Tough TG-4 is a tough camera that is waterproof down to 50ft even without the housing. RAW photo recording (new for the TG-4) allows for greater post-processing options while a new Microscope mode lets shooters capture intricate macro details. Read our complete Olympus TG-4 Camera Review.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 112 x 66 x 31 mm

  • Weight: 247g

  • Sensor: 16MP - 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: TruePic VII

  • Lens: 25–100 mm F2.0 - F4.9 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1080P, Timelapse feature

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 380 Shots

  • Other features: Waterproof upto 50ft. (15m), Sensor-shift Image Stabilization, Face Detection Focusing, Built-in GPS

Olympus TG-4 Housing $299
Recsea TG-4 Housing $690
Nauticam TG-4 Housing $800 


Sony Rx-100 Mk IV

The Sony RX100 Mk IV is a versatile and advanced compact camera with 1 inch sensor that produces high resolutions photos.  It also excels on capturing videos, with 4k and slow motion high bit rate capabilities. Read our complete Sony RX100 IV Camera Review.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 102 x 58 x 41 mm

  • Weight: 298g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor:  Bionz X 

  • Lens: 24–70 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 4K (3840 x 2160 video resolution)

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 280 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Articulating Screen, Electronic Built-in Viewfinder, Face Detection Focusing,1.229k dots LCD Resolution, Viewfinder

Sony RX-100 Mk IV Underwater Housing Options

 

Canon G16

The Canon G16 features a 12.7 MP sensor and delivers excellent image quality, even in low light. It is able to shoot in RAW with full manual mode and comes equipped with a fast and high-quality zoom lens.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 109 x 76 x 40 mm

  • Weight: 356g

  • Sensor: 12MP - 1/1.7" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: Digic 6

  • Lens: 28–140 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 360 Shots

  • Other features:  Image Stabilization, Face Detection Focusing, Timelapse Recording, 1/4000s High Shutter Speed

Canon G16 Underwater Housing Options

 



Be sure to check out Bluewater Photo's Compact Cameras Buyers Guide to learn which camera and housing is best for you 


 

Canon G5x

The Canon G5X features 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder, large 1 inch sensor and fast zoom lens. It is also fitted with numerous physical controls, including a dedicated exposure compensation dial, front dial, control ring and control dial for quickly customizing various shooting settings.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 112 x 76 x 44 mm

  • Weight: 353g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: DIGIC 6

  • Lens: 24–100 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 210 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Articulating Screen, Touch Screen, Electronic Built-in Viewfinder, Face Detection Focusing, Timelapse Recording, 2360kdot Viewfinder Resolution

Canon G5x Underwater Housing Options

 

Canon G7x Mk II

The Canon G7x Mk II is notable for imaging qualities; camera has a 20.1 MP sensor, new DIGIC 7 processor with faster startup, less noise when shooting at higher ISOs, better autofocus tracking, enhanced image stabilization, longer battery life and faster continuous shooting. It records 14-bit RAW files which have more data and more room during post processing. Read our complete Canon G7 X Camera Review.

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 106 x 61 x 42 mm

  • Weight: 319g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: DIGIC 7

  • Lens: 24–100 mm F1.8 - F2.8 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 265 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Articulating Screen, Touch Screen, Face Detection Focusing, 31 Focus Points, Timelapse Recording

Canon G7x Mk II Underwater Housing Options

 

Canon G9x

Canon G9X has a 20.2 MP sensor and DIGIC 6 image sensor which delivers clean, clear image quality, sensitivity to ISO 12800, continuous shooting up to 6 fps and Full HD 1080p/60 movie recording. It has a notable intelligent image stabilizer which helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting in difficult lighting conditions. 

Quick Specs:

  • Size: 98 x 58 x 31 mm

  • Weight: 209g

  • Sensor: 20MP - 1" BSI-CMOS Sensor

  • Processor: DIGIC 6

  • Lens: 28–84 mm F2.0 - F4.9 Zoom Lens

  • Video: 1920 x 1080 video resolution

  • Wifi: Yes

  • Battery Life: 220 Shots

  • Other features: Image Stabilization, Touch Screen, Face Detection Focusing, 1.040k dots LCD Resolution, Timelapse Recording and offers 2 colors to choose from.

Canon G9x Underwater Housing Options

 



Be sure to check out Bluewater Photo's Compact Cameras Buyers Guide to learn which camera and housing is best for you 


 

Camera Comparison

Physical

 

Shooting Features

 

Sensor

 

Lens

 

Video 

 

Summary of Strengths & Weaknesses


 

Underwater Housing Availability

 

Aquapazza 

Best priced aluminum housing, available in awesome colors

See choices / prices

Fantasea 

Polycarbonate housing, excellent value, good ergonomics

See choices / prices

Ikelite 

Clear housing, TTL capability with some housings, outstanding support

See choices / prices 

Nauticam 

Aluminum housing, Vacuum check available,excellent options for wet wide angle lenses.

See choices / prices 

Recsea 

Aluminum housings, very small & long lasting, G16 on sale for $699

See choices / prices 

Recsea CW 

Polycarbonate housings, very very small, housing for RX100 & RX100 II also available.

See choices / prices 

 

Learning how to use your new camera

What to learn how to use your new underwater setup? Join one of our photo trips, which are perfect for people with their first underwater setup, their first GoPro, or a new underwater setup.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


16 megapixel high resolution power with Full HD video in a very compact, easy-to-use underwater camera
By Brent Durand

SeaLife Micro 2.0 Camera Review

Brent Durand
16 megapixel high resolution power with Full HD video in a very compact, easy-to-use underwater camera

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is the flagship of a great line of fully-sealed, easy-to-use compact cameras. We have reviewed much other SeaLife gear, including shooting Sea Lions with the Micro HD+, and the Micro 2.0 earned it's position, delivering high quality photo and video.

So what's different? In short, the SeaLife Micro 2.0 is built around a new 16 MP Sony CMOS image sensor. This sensor delivers the image quality Sony is known for, plus full HD video (fun fact: Sony also makes most sensors in Nikon cameras). The Micro 2.0 also features a 130 degree field of view lens, SeaLife's trademark piano key dials, and compatibility with the SeaLife Sea Dragon line of video light accessories.

In this review, we take a closer look at how the Micro 2.0 really performs for underwater photo and video.

Purchase: SeaLife Micro 2.0 at Bluewater Photo

MSRP:  $499 (32GB)

 

Key Specs and Features

  • Permanently sealed - no o-rings to maintain

  • 16 MP Sony CMOS image sensor

  • Full 1080p HD video, including 60fps for slow motion

  • 130 degree fisheye lens (adjustable)

  • 3x piano key controls for simple operation

  • Adjustable ISO settings

  • 32 or 64GB internal memory

  • Picture in video capability

  • Various capture modes (single, continuous, HDR, burst)

  • Easy set-up mode

  • USB cable connection for transferring photos and charging

  • Compatibility with Sea Dragon lights and accessories

  • Minimum focus distance:  12"

  • Weight and size:  279g (10.1oz), 4.2" x 2.1" x 2.9" (10.7cm x 5.3cm x 7.4cm)

  • Waterproof:  200ft (60m)

 



Purchase the SeaLife Micro 2.0 on Bluewater Photo.


 

A diver passes mangrove roots in the Yucatan cenotes of Mexico. Shot with SeaLife Micro 2.0.

 

Micro 2.0 in the Lab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is easy to hold; the body is rubber armored and shockproof, with flared right side to help hold between fingers and thumb. The shutter button is angled for optimum trigger finger ergonomics. There is a standard (1/4-20) tripod hole for mounting the Micro 2.0 to a tray/handle setup... or a tripod.

Charging the Micro 2.0 and transferring photos is easy. Simply remove a rubber plug that covers the wet USB contacts and slide in the USB adapter. You can also transfer images via WiFi, as we explore later.

The SeaLife menu is very easy to operate. You turn on the camera by holding down the Play button. A push of the center Menu button brings you to three menu categories.

Photos are recorded as .jpg files. While .jpg doesn't offer the same post-processing flexibility as RAW files, it makes the photos easy to share straight from the Micro 2.0 and SeaLife mobile app. For one-click editing, be sure to check out our review of Vivid-Pix.

 

Easy Setup

Push the shutter to enter this menu. This is where you can select a land mode or 3 different underwater modes. The difference between them is the camera's white balance setting, or how much the camera corrects for the blue/green color you often see in u/w photos.

Once in the Setup menu, just press the up or down arrow (video & menu buttons) to choose Land or Underwater modes. If you choose Land, you're done.  Woo Hoo!  If you choose Underwater, you can now select from diving, snorkeling or diving with video light(s).

 

Image Settings

Self Timer:  Off

Capture Md:  Single. The other modes may prove useful in certain situations but are for advanced users.

Scene Md:  Leave as is. This is another way to change the mode you initially set in the Easy Setup menu.

WB:  Auto

EV:  0.0

FOV:  Wide 130.  Tip: if you are shooting smaller subjects like fish, try setting this to medium 100 or narrow 80 degree field of view in order to help fill the frame more.

Picture Res:  16MP (4:3)

Video Res:  1080p-30fps

ISO(Picture):  Auto

Quality:  Super Fine

Sharpness:  Standard

Metering:  Center.  We recommend this setting for the most common shooting situations - fish, divers, corals, etc. If you are shooting things like reefscapes, try using Average.

Video TimeLapse:  Off

Color:  Standard

 

System Settings

WiFi:  Off.  Turn this on and download the SeaLife App to control the camera and view photos/videos via your phone or tablet.

System Reset:  Restores factory default settings.

Format:  This deletes all photos and videos.

Upside-Down:  Off

Shotcut:  Off

Date/Time:  Set as desired

Auto Off:  3 min.

Fimware Version:  V1.24 (as of 4.3.16)

Sound:  On

Microphone:  On

Quick View:  Off

Language:  Set as desired.

Light Frequency:  60Hz

Mem. Available:  Variable depending on how many photos/videos are stored in memory.

SSID:  Available when WiFi is turned on.

 

Most of the settings above are camera defaults, so you don't really need to dive into these menus if you are a bit intimidated. That's exactly why SeaLife created the Easy Setup!

 

Scene from the kelp forests of California's Channel Islands National Park. Shot with SeaLife Micro 2.0.

 

A moray eel and cardinalfish share a narrow crevice under a rock at Catalina Island - a shot unreachable with a bulkier camera/housing kit. Shot with SeaLife Micro 2.0.

 

Micro 2.0 in the Water

I took the SeaLife Micro 2.0 into the water on three dives:  once stuffed down my wetsuit in the cenotes, once in my drysuit pocket and once as a primary camera mounted to a tray and light system. Pictured is the Flex-Connect tray, handle and the Sea Dragon 2500 lumen light, part of the Micro 2.0 Pro 2500 kit. The camera is easy to use whether hand held with finger or gloves, or mounted to handle and tray.

Unlike most compact cameras, the SeaLife Micro 2.0 focuses just before it shoots, instead of by half-depressing the shutter. This serves to make things more simple. You can also shoot a still photo or start recoding video without changing modes, plus shoot still photos while recording video. Easy.

In each shooting situation you see in the pictures in this review, I simply chose Underwater in the Easy Setup menu and then shot away with out any changes after that. Reviewing images is easy; just press the playback button and then the up and down keys to select an image to magnify, then the shutter button to magnify the image. Press Playback again to go back a step.

One important note is that the minimum focus distance is 12". Be very mindful of this when shooting macro images as anything closer than 12" will not be in focus. The compact V10 focus light provided plenty of light to bring out vibrant colors of the reef and macro critters.

 

Underwater Video with the Micro 2.0

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 records Full HD 1080p video. It does this at 30fps, which is standard for digital video editing. In addition, it can shoot at 60fps, which allows editos to slow the footage down for slow motion! I didn't get a chance to test the Micro 2.0 video, but it is sure to perform even better than this great demo shot with the Micro HD+.

 

Recommended Accessories

 

 

SeaLife Sea Dragon 2000 Video Light

 

 

 

 

SeaLife Aquapod


 

 

 

 

Micro 10x Closeup Macro Lens

 

 

 

 

Conclusions

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is a great camera for divers who are looking for simplicity as well as divers looking for a small and compact first camera system. The ability to add the SeaDragon tray, quick-connect handle and video lights makes the system scaleable, while the fact that you don't have to deal with any o-rings makes maintenance a dunk in fresh water (literally).

 

Pros

  • Compact with no o-ring maintenance or flood risk

  • Easy 3 piano key operation

  • Simple menu

  • Ability to add Sea Dragon or 3rd party lights

-  New powerful Sea Dragon 1500 and 2500 video lights will make video even easier - wide 120 beam angle perfect for the Micro 2.0's fisheye lens, with light color temperature dialed for precise color representation (5700K and 5000K respectively).

  • Several modes for various shooting conditions

  • New SeaLife super macro lens coming in May '16 for close focus of 3.5 - 7 inches

 

Cons

  • No manual controls for advanced photographers

  • No RAW file recording for advanced post-processing

 

The SeaLife Micro 2.0 is available with 32GB or 64GB of memory, making the pricepoint right no matter your budget.

 



Purchase the SeaLife Micro 2.0 on Bluewater Photo.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide and leads several photo trips and workshops for Bluewater Photo (see below).  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Bali & Lembeh Strait Workshops (Sept '16)   |   La Paz Big Animal Photo Trip (Oct '16)   |   Sri Lanka Wrecks & Reefs OR Whales & Dolphins Workshops (Feb '17)   |   Alor, Indonesia small group Photo Trip (Oct '17)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Review and comparison of the 80D, featuring a 24.2 megapixel dual-pixel CMOS sensor, 45-point AF system, DIGIC 6 processor
By Brent Durand

Canon 80D Review for Underwater Photo & Video

Brent Durand
Review and comparison of the 80D, featuring a 24.2 megapixel dual-pixel CMOS sensor, 45-point AF system, DIGIC 6 processor

The Canon 80D is a feature-rich DSLR for underwater photography and videography. The successor of the 70D, the Canon 80D sits in the lineup behind the iconic 7D Mark II. The 80D is built around a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, combining lighting fast autofocus with a wide pattern of sophisticated autofocus points for accurate AF when shooting through the viewfinder or Live View (i.e. for video). Divers can also now shoot 60 frames per second at full HD (1080p) resolution, instead of 30fps as on the 70D, which can be used to create a slow motion effect during post processing. A fast processor and 100% coverage through the viewfinder sweeten the deal.

The specs are impressive, and so is the price in relation to all of these features. In this review we'll take a closer look at the Canon 80D for underwater photography and video, plus compare it with the competition.

 

Jump to Review Section:

 

 

Canon 80D Key Specs

  • 24.2MP APS-C Sensor

  • Dual-Pixel CMOS AF

  • Digic 6 Processor

  • 1080p/720p MP4 video recording, both with 60fps (30fps with All-I)

  • Servo AF for video shooting

  • 45 Point "All Cross-Type" Autofocus

  • 100% coverage viewfinder

  • 7 FPS

  • ISO 100-16000

  • SD, SDXC, SDHC memory

  • Built-in Flash

  • WiFi and NFC

MSRP:  $1,199 USD


Highlights for Underwater Use

  • Advanced, fast autofocus system with more focus points for photography

  • Fast live view autofocus for video, plus Full HD recording at up to 60fps (for slow motion)

  • Increase in megapixels for more resolution than 70D and 7D MkII

  • WiFi for fast sharing to social media

  • Great price compared to 7D Mk II or 5D Mk III

 

Body and Controls

The Canon 80D feels great in your hands. The ergonomic build of the body makes it easy to hold, whether in shooting position or down at your side with a heavy lens attached. 

The control layout closely matches that of the 70D, with all essential functions right at your fingertips. The control dials for aperture and shutter speed are easy to adjust, with crisp action so that you can quickly move 3 clicks (1 stop of light if set to 1/3 stops). AF, drive and ISO are in located in Canon's standard pointer finger position. The Menu and Info buttons remain on the left back of the camera, out of the way until needed. The playback buton is accessed with right thumb, which can then roll through images with the thumb control dial. The Q button (quick menu) is easy to press with the thumb, as many shooters will use this menu to adjust all or some settings underwater. Switching between photo and video modes is also easy to control via thumb yet won't be bumped accidentally.

The 80D control dial sports two different custom (Program AE) modes (the 70D only had one), plus a new mode for creative effects. These will certainly come in handy with advanced underwater shooters.

On the left side, the 80D now features a headphone jack (the 70D does not). This is great for "serious amateur" videographers who want to record and monitor audio internally. The older 70D pushed the shooter to accept whatever audio was recorded (no monitoring via headphones) or invest in external audio recording equipment. The E3 remote trigger port has also been moved to its own position on the 80D, presumably for landscape shooters who use a trigger but want to keep the headphone and mic ports clean and weather sealed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory is handled through choice of an SD, SDHC or SDXC card, accessed through a spring-loaded door on the right side of the camera.

 

 

80D Best Lenses for Underwater Use

The Canon 80D uses a crop (APS-C) sensor and is compatible with Canon's EF-S and EF lenses, plus 3rd party lenses. Underwater photography generally falls into two categories, wide-angle and macro. The lenses below are best for shooting in these styles with the Canon 80D (and all Canon APS-C DSLR bodies).

 

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

This lens is the first lens for underwater macro photographers, with a very close focus distance to subjects. The 60mm is also much easier to use than the 100mm mentioned below, making it ideal for those without experience shooting underwater macro with DSLRs.

 

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

This smooth and fast lens should be in every experienced (Canon) underwater photographer's bag. It provides the magnification needed for shooting small macro subjects and the tiniest subjects when combined with a diopter on the outside of the housing port. Read our Canon 100mm Macro Lens Review.

 

Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X DX Fisheye Zoom

This Tokina fisheye lens is heralded as the best lens for shooting reefscapes, big animals, divers and more. It provides the best image quality on crop sensors. Make sure to get the Canon version and not the Nikon version, as these are different mounts. Read our Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye Lens Review.

 

Mid-Range Zoom Lenses

Divers who will be shooting sharks, whales or other objects that may be further away with opt for a mid-range zoom lens like the Canon 10-22mm, Sigma 10-20mm or Tokina 11-17mm. Many divers also use the Sigma 17-70mm OSM HSM for it's great flexibility between wide-angle and macro.

 

Canon 80D Spec Comparison

Read our detailed camera reviews:

 

Canon 80D vs. Canon 70D

We got the Canon 80D into the hands of Tommy Stylski from Bluewater Photo, who shoots regularly with his 70D, for a comparison. Below are his thoughts.

I’ve shot with the Canon 70D for a few years and have been looking forward to getting my hands on the recently released Canon 80D. It nearly has the same mold and button/control positions, but as with most new camera models will not be compatible with the previous model's underwater housings.

The main improvements the new Canon 80D has over its predecessor is mostly seen when shooting video. The new model has upgraded from 20.2 to 24.2 megapixels and boasts many others advantages, but when getting the camera underwater you clearly notice the upgraded autofocus. Since having doubled its cross-type AF points from 19 to 45; its auto-focus capability is extremely fast. These additional autofocus points tracked moving swimmers and kids in the pool very well when using live view for video, allowing a wider range of compositions without needing to focus and recompose.

I look forward to seeing more underwater photos and videos made using the Canon 80D once this exceptional camera catches on with underwater photographers and videographers.

 

Canon 80D vs. Canon 7D Mark II

The Canon 80D is priced under the Canon 7D Mark II, so it's natural that there are some feature compromises when comparing both models. These compromises, however, are not a huge concern for undewater shooters. The bottom line? The 80D is likely the camera for you.

The 80D is smaller than the 7D Mk II (better for travel), with more megapixels, WiFi, touchscreen for topside and faster video framerate (up to 60fps).

The 7D Mk II has more autofocus points, dual memory card slots and faster burst shooting (10 vs. 7 fps) with larger memory buffer. The 7D Mk2 also uses Canon's pro level controls, the highlight being a joystick above the rear control wheel and left thumb buttons for faster image review.

Long story, short if you're not shooting fast action sports, the 80D will likely be a great choice!

 

 

Canon 80D Sample Photos

These photos were shot in RAW with some global adjustments added in Lightroom during post-processing prior to export.

 

MACRO

Example of very shallow depth of field with the Canon 80D and Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens, handheld.

Settings:  ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/60

 

 

 

 

WIDE-ANGLE

Wide-angle scene with the Canon 80D and Canon 24-105mm f/4L zoom lens, handheld.

Settings:  ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/40

 

 

 

 

CLOSE FOCUS WIDE-ANGLE

Shallow depth of field shot at minimum focus distance of the Canon 24-105mm f/4L zoom lens at 58mm, handheld. Learn more about close focus wide-angle underwater.

Settings:  ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/80

 

 

 

SAMPLE 100% CROP

 

 

Canon 80D Underwater Housings


 

 

Ikelite Canon 80D Housing

$1,599.95 - More info on the Ikelite 80D Housing

 


 

 

Nauticam Canon 80D Housing

$3,300 - More info on the Nauticam 80D Housing

 


 

 

Sea&Sea Canon 80D Housing

Sea&Sea 80D Housing coming soon!

 


 

 

Aquatica Canon 80D Housing

Aquatica 80D Housing coming son!

 


 

View all of our Camera Reviews for Underwater

 

Conclusion

The Canon 80D is an excellent camera. It is packed full of features for underwater photo and video shooters with a much better price tag than Canon's prosumer and pro DSLRs.

Underwater housings are already available, and they support all the lenses used in underwater photography. So whether this is a first underwater camera or an upgrade from a smaller system, you can't go wrong with the Canon 80D.

  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide and leads several photo trips and workshops for Bluewater Photo (see below).  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Bali & Lembeh Strait Workshops (Sept '16)   |   La Paz Big Animal Photo Trip (Oct '16)   |   Sri Lanka Wrecks & Reefs OR Whales & Dolphins Workshops (Feb '17)   |   Alor, Indonesia small group Photo Trip (Oct '17)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


24.2 megapixel sensor, lightning-fast autofocus, 4K video recording, 11fps and more in this incredible mirrorless camera
By Brent Durand

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera First Look

Brent Durand
24.2 megapixel sensor, lightning-fast autofocus, 4K video recording, 11fps and more in this incredible mirrorless camera

Sony has announced their new flagship APS-C (crop sensor) camera: the Sony a6300. This impressive and powerful little camera uses Sony E-mount interchangeable lens, compatible with full-frame cameras like the a7R II.

The previous a6000 proved a very capable camera for underwater photographers, with neat tricks like rapid strobe fire with sync cords, and we have found that the a6300 has proven to be just as nice an option, with support from most major underwater housing manufacturers.

The headlining features of the new Sony a6300 camera are the incredibly fast 4D autofocus using an impressive 425 phase-detection AF points, a new image sensor producing the incredible image quality Sony is known for, and 4K video recording.

Retail Price (U.S.):  est $999 (body only)

Availability:  March 2016

 

Key Features     |     Video Review     |     Thoughts for Underwater Photography

Related Articles     |     Best Lenses     |     Underwater Housings     |     Sample Photos

 

Sony a6300 Key Features

  • New 24.2-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor 

  • ISO 100 - 25,600 (expandable to 51,200)

  • BIONZ X™ image-processing engine delivers blazing speed and performance

  • 2.95" wide-angle LCD monitor with brightness control for sharp vivid color in any light

  • Electronic XGA OLED Tru-Finder™

  • 425-point phase detection autofocus

  • 4D Focus picks up both space and time to capture moving subjects with new clarity

  • 4K video recording with no pixel binning

  • 11 FPS burst

  • Built-in WiFi for easy sharing

  • Battery life approximately 350 shots using LCD screen

* View the full details for each of these highlights on the Sony a6300 website.

 

Audio Commentary on the a6300
With a discussion on new features, performance, lens selection, and underwater housings

 

Thoughts for Underwater Photography

The new Sony a6300 is be a solid option for those who want professional image quality without the additional costs and size of full frame cameras (DSLR or mirrorless). With dedicated mirrorless housing ports and lenses compatible across Sony E-mount camera bodies, the a6300 could also be viewed as an advanced stepping stone for new photographers who think they will eventually upgrade to something like the Sony a7 II or a7R II.

The advanced autofocus system looks very promising for underwater photography, however we won't really know until we test it in dark conditions with the Sony 90mm macro lens. The new 4D focusing should prove very quick and reliable for tracking wide-angle subjects while shooting photo and video.

Video buffs will appreciate the 4K 30p recording with no pixel binning (to lessen compression) as well as 120p recording for ultra slow motion.

The built-in popup flash makes it easy to use fiber optic cables to trigger external strobes.

Battery life, however, is the achilles heel of the Sony mirrorless cameras. The a6000 battery can last two dives, and we expect the a6300 to be the same. Changing the battery means opening the housing during surface intervals in less than ideal conditions. By contrast, DSLR users can keep their housing closed all day. This is a big consideration if you're not comfortable opening/closing your housing on rocking dingys or the beaches during intervals.

Overall, I'm pretty psyched about this camera and the possibilities for underwater photo and video.

 

Best Lenses

Macro:

  • Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro - this native lens is great and offers 1:1 magnification

  • Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro with Metabones adapter

Standard / Mid-Range:

  • Sony 16-50mm - standard kit lens

  • Sony FE 24-70mm F4 - higher end mid range lens

Wide Angle:

  • Sony FE 16-35mm F4

  • Sony 10-18mm F4 wide-angle lens

  • Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8 with Metabones adapter

Fisheye:

  • Sony FE 28mm F2 with Sony Fisheye Conversion Lens -while not a true fisheye, this lens and converter combination works excellently, offering the wide field of view in a native Sony lens.

  • Canon EF 8-15mm F4 Fisheye Lens with Metabones adapter

  • Nikonos 15mm Fisheye Lens with Nikonos Adapter (Nauticam) -a good option if you have one of these laying around or can find one, though not as wide as the 28mm + FE Conversion Lens.

 

Underwater Housings

Nauticam NA-A6300 Housing $1650

The Nauticam Sony A6300 housing is a high quality aluminum housing with full camera control plus unique accessories and options. Precision engineered to provide the most ergonomic control of the camera.

Learn more about the Nauticam Sony a6300 Housing

 

Ikelite Sony a6300 Housing $975

The Ikelite housing for Sony A6300 is made from a new polycarbonate blend and delivers access to all camera functions with easy use and maintenance. This housing is a great value.

Learn more about the Ikelite Sony a6300 Housing

 

Acquapazza APSO-A6300 Housing

 

Acquapazza has recently announced their aluminum a6300 housing. This unique housing features a larger-than-normal port opening so that the lens doesn't need to be removed in order to take the camera out of the housing - a nuisance with other housings.

Learn more about the Acquapazza a6300 Housing

 

Recsea Sony a6300 Housing

This housing will be available this August. Details coming soon.

 

Aquatica Sony a6300 Housing

We expect this housing to be announced soon.

 

Sea&Sea Sony a6300 Housing

We expect this housing to be announced soon.

 

 

Related Reviews and Articles

 

 

Sony a6300 Underwater Photos

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide and leads several photo trips and workshops for Bluewater Photo (see below).  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Bali & Lembeh Strait Workshops (Sept '16)   |   La Paz Big Animal Photo Trip (Oct '16)   |   Sri Lanka Wrecks & Reefs OR Whales & Dolphins Workshops (Feb '17)   |   Alor, Indonesia small group Photo Trip (Oct '17)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


In-depth review of the Sony a7R II with best lenses, comparison with other cameras and underwater housings
By Kelli Dickinson

Sony a7R II Camera Review

Kelli Dickinson
In-depth review of the Sony a7R II with best lenses, comparison with other cameras and underwater housings

Sony wowed the photography world last year with the release of the Sony A7, A7R & A7s cameras. A full frame, 35mm sensor packed into a small mirrorless body. It was the first of it's kind and did not disappoint. With the large sensor and small body, it was easier to travel with, created a lower profile underwater than larger DSLR's and the three different camera bodies gave photographers the ability to choose the one that best fit thier needs without buying a completely separate housing if they wanted to switch between two versions. The biggest downside to this great new Sony camera was the lens choice. 

Flash forward a year and we not only have several great new lens options, but Sony has revamped their A7 line with the release of the A7 II, A7R II and A7S II. Both the A7II and A7S II are great. Choose the A7 II if you want the high detail of the 35mm sensor but without the added expense of the high resolution R version. Choose the A7S II for the best video production, including internal 4K recording - a great new feature. 

For the best of the best though, the A7R II takes the cake. This camera offers high megapixel count on the 35mm sensor creating extremely detailed images and allowing you a little wiggle room to crop photos without losing important resolution.

Quick Links:   Best Lenses   |   a7R II vs. Other Cameras   |   Underwater Images   |   Underwater Housings

 

Garibaldi shot with Sony a7R II

Garibaldi shot with Sony a7R II. Photo: Kelli Dickinson.

 

Sony a7 II Versions:

  • Sony A7 II - The original. Full Frame 35mm sensor, excellent image detail. 24.4 MP CMOS Sensor - the perfect choice for those wanting a small full frame camera without breaking the bank. 

  • Sony A7R II - R stands for Resolution. This beast features a 42.4 MP back illuminated full frame sensor. Extra wide range of ISO sensitivity and super fast phase detection and contrast detection auto focus. Built in 4K video recording. The A7R II offers the best of all worlds, with the back illuminated sensor improving low light capability, 4K recording mode offering improved video recording ability and high megapixel count priving incredible detail in still images. This is the one to choose when you want the most detail possible and cost is not so much a concern. This camera will be the best choice for most underwater photographers.

  • Sony A7S II - S stands for Sensitive. This low megapixel version improves on the original A7S with high sensitivity in low light. The lower resolution (12.2 MP) means larger pixels which can let in more light creating better low light performance. If you are dedicated to video this is the camera to choose. New internal 4K recording mode offers full pixel readout without pixel binning, resulting in the highest resolution 4K possible. ISO goes up to a mind-boggling ISO 400,000.

 

Sony a7R II for Underwater Use:

I recently had the opportunity to take the Sony A7R II underwater and it did not disappoint. Paired with dual Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes, the resulting images were not only incredibly detailed, but also vibrantly colored and crisp. This is definitely the option to pick if you want the best of everything with this Sony line. 

The biggest problem with the Sony A7 II Cameras, especially the A7R II is that it eats through batteries. Sony continues to use the small NP-FW50 which aids in keeping the overall camera body small, but it means you'll want to change batteries or charge the camera between every 1-2 dives max. One saving grace with the A7R II is that Sony did include a second battery with the camera, so you don't have to buy it, however for us underwater photographers, it does mean opening up the housing more often than you may like.

For Video Shooters: If you want the flexbility of shooting high resolution still images and high quality HD video then the A7R II is the choice for you. This camera also records 4K video internally as the A7S, and offers two crop modes to shoot in. The Super 35 (APS-C) 4K crop mode is specified by Sony to offer the best overall video quality. This mode uses a smaller portion of the sensor but does not use pixel binning, offering you better overall 4K quality than in the Full Frame 4K mode. While I have not yet had a chance to test it, reviews differ on which mode has a worse rolling shutter effect when panning side to side. One really nice aspect of the A7R II due to the innovative back lit sensor is that the low light quality is excellent, a plus for video shooters underwater.

 

Sony a7R II Specs:

  • Full Frame 35mm Back Illuminated Sensor

  • 42.4 Megapixel Resolution

  • Wide ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable to 50-102,400 for still images)

  • .51" OLED Electronic Viewfinder & Large 2.95" LCD Screen

  • Fast Hybrid Auto Focus (Phase and Contrast Detection AF)

    • 25 Contrast Detection AF Points / 399 Phase Detection AF Points

  • XAVC S/AVCHD / MP4 Video Recording

  • Internal 4K recording supported!

  • Battery Life of approximately 290 Shots (Viewfinder) & 340 shots (LCD Screen)

    • Includes 2nd Battery in Box!

  • Dimensions 4.69" x 2.74" x 1.50"

  • Weight 20.53 oz Solo / 22.05 oz with battery and media card

  • Magnesium Alloy Body with Enginerring Plastic Exterior

 

View underwater cenote photos shot at high ISO with the Sony a7R II.

 

Best Lenses for Underwater Use:

Finally Sony stepped up and released some great new lenses that are ideal for underwater photography. The first released FE 16-35mm F4 lens offers nice wide angle, but still left us lacking for that super wide angle of view that can only be obtained with a fisheye lens. In addition there was no macro support, leaving underwater photographers struggling to use a diopter with the kit 28-70mm lens. Now we have support for both Fisheye and Macro, here's the best lenses for underwater use with the A7 II line of cameras. 

Macro:

  • Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro - this native lens is great and offers 1:1 magnification

  • Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro with Metabones adapter

Standard / Mid-Range:

  • Sony FE 28-70 F3.5-5.6 - standard kit lens

  • Sony FE 24-70mm F4 - higher end mid range lens

Wide Angle:

  • Sony FE 16-35mm F4

  • Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8 with Metabones adapter

Fisheye:

  • Sony FE 28mm F2 with Sony Fisheye Conversion Lens -while not a true fisheye, this lens and converter combination works excellently, offering the wide field of view in a native Sony lens.

  • Canon EF 8-15mm F4 Fisheye Lens with Metabones adapter

  • Nikonos 15mm Fisheye Lens with Nikonos Adapter (Nauticam) -a good option if you have one of these laying around or can find one, though not as wide as the 28mm + FE Conversion Lens.

 

Excellent dynamic range and image quality at the Yucatan Cenotes, Mexico. Sony a7R II with Sony 28mm lens + fisheye converter. ISO 100, f/8, 1/125. Photo: Brent Durand

 

Sony a7R II vs. Other Camera Formats:

The Sony A7 series sits somewhat in its own class of camera. Without a mirrorless it can't be considered a DSLR, but it comes equipped with a Full Frame sensor. With the larger sensor it stands apart from other mirrorless cameras like the Sony A6000 and popular Olympus O-MD cameras.

A7R II vs DSLR:

  • Much smaller camera body = smaller housing

  • Full frame sensor, high 42 mp count is better than some DSLRs and on par with Full Frame DSLRS

  • Overal focus speed and responsivness is not quite as quick as high end DSLRS

  • Camera controls and functions all the same as DSLR

  • Battery life is MUCH worse than a DSLR

  • Electronic viewfinder vs optical viewfinder

  • Less variety of lenses

A7R II vs Other Mirrorless:

  • Slightly larger camera body = larger housing. Also lenses are larger than most mirrorless lenses

  • Full frame sensor and high megapixel count means much more detail and resolution

  • Camera controls are similar as many mirrorless have DSLR like controls

  • Battery life is similar, possibly a bit worse than other mirrorless

  • Olympus mirrorless have a better variety of lenses

Sony a7 II Underwater Housings

The Sea & Sea a7II Housing, Nauticam a7II Housing, Aquatica a7II Housing and Ikelite a7II Housing are all currently on the market.

Both Nauticam and Sea & Sea have released underwater housings for the A7 II line of cameras. Since the only difference between all three cameras is that the A7R II and A7S II have a locking mode dial where as the A7 II does not, we can confirm that all three cameras will work in the same housing. While not an issue for most people, this is excellent for pro shooters who may buy the housing an choose the body they need based on the shoot requirements. 

Sea & Sea a7 II Housing - $2,499.95

The Sea & Sea housing combines the sleek, simple engineering of their high quality DSLR housings into a smaller package. You have control over all camera functions with this housing and the controls are further to the left to make them easy to reach. Designed like a miniaturized DSLR, you have included molded grips, stainless steel latches, easy to use shutter release lever and support for the Optical YS TTL Converter. 

 

Sea & Sea Housing Specs:

  • Body: corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy (machined)  / Grip: corrosion-resistant die-cast aluminum alloy

  • Depth rating 100m / 330ft

  • Dimensions (WxHxD) 325 x 160 x 104mm / 12.8 x 6.3 x 4.1 inches

  • Weight Approx. 2,250g / 79.4oz. - Without grips: 1,860g / 65.6oz

The YS Converter is a real selling point for this housing. As one who has been skeptical of the results I get through onboard camera flashes and fiber optic cables I tend to shy away from TTL. However, I tested both in Manual mode and in TTL with this housing and the Sony A7R II and was very impressed at the accuracy. For most wide angle shots it was great (shooting into the sun is always the exception), and when using the macro lens I left it in TTL without even thinking and ended up with great exposure every time. 

Overal I found it intuitive to use the housing, and really liked that Sea & Sea offers quick access to the C1 and C2 buttons through well placed levers on the side. Changing my settings was a breeze and I was able to reach all controls underwater, with my average sized female hands. The overal buoyancy was decent (a little buoyant with the large dome when using the 16-35mm lens and a little bit negative with the 90mm macro). The housing is compatible with both the 45° and 180° viewfinders and includes the hotshoe bulkhead for using sync cords if you do not opt for the Optical Converter. 

There are a few cons to the Sea & Sea housing, the primary one is that they used the same port diameter of about 85mm as they used in previous mirrorless housings like the Sony A6000. The problem with this is that many of the Sony FE lenses have wider diameters that will not fit through that sized port opening so in order to use them you have to put the camera sans lens into the housing, close up the back, then attach the lens to the camera from the front of the housing, then put on the port. It also means that if you want to remove a memory card or swap batteries you'll need to reverse that whole process. 

One saving grace is that Sony also includes a USB charging cable and AC Adapter. It works out perfectly that the mini USB port on the camera is accessible without having to remove the camera body from the housing. Simply remove the back of the housing and plug in the cable. On a one hour surface interval you can regain about 20-30% of your battery life, giving you plenty for the next dive. 

SEA&SEA a7 II Housing  - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.

 

 

Nauticam a7R II Housing - $2,750

The Nauticam A7 II housing continues with the ergonomic design of previous housings offering easy to use controls and a variety of useful accessories. Similar in size to the Sea & Sea housing it is much smaller than any DSLR. All controls are very well labeled and designed to be within easy reach. Just like the DSLR housings, the A7 II housing includes rubberized grips and ball mounts. The shutter release lever is large and sensitive, they offer two rear levers for movie record and AF/MF/AEL control. The two custom function buttons are simply buttons on top of the housing, similar to their placement on the camera. All camera controls are accessible within the housing and it utilizes Nauticam's excellent port release system which uses internal components to lock and unlock the ports allowing you to simply push on and pull off - no twisting, no strap wrench needed. In addition, Nauticam created a new port size with the original A7 line which they continued with this housing. The N100 (100mm) port opening is larger than the standard mirrorless allowing the new larger Sony lenses to be used without having to assemble from the front. 

The housing includes both an M14 and M16 bulkhead allowing you to use a variety of accessories, such as HDMI bulkhead for external monitors, vacuum bulkhead and electronic sync cords if you don't want to use the flash trigger. These accessories are one thing that set's Nauticam apart from other housing options, its easy to add on and create the perfect system for your needs. In addition the Nauticam Enhanced viewfinders are also compatible with the A7 II housing.

 

Nauticam Housing Specs:

  • Depth Rating: 100m

  • Weight: 2.35 kg (including handles and ball mounts)

  • Dimensions including handles: 335mm x 165mm x 110mm

While there is no TTL capability with the Nauticam housing they do offer a nice accessory in their fiber optic flash trigger. This piece slides directly into the hotshoe on the camera and produces light for the fiber optic cables through two small LED's. Since the A7 II cameras do not have any built in flash this is the only way to use fiber optic cables with the Nauticam housing. 

The one small thing to keep an eye on is the locking camera tray. For some reason Nauticam combined both versions of their tray into this housing, so it locks twice. There is the red locking tab that you push in to release the tray and that clicks into place automatically when you insert the tray, but there is also the black locking lever that you open to release the tray and have to also close after inserting the tray. Its a bit redundant and if you forget to close that black lever it will be very difficult to close the housing, and it will prevent the housing from creating a solid seal once you force the housing closed. This will result in a flood.

Nauticam a7 II Housing - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.

 

Aquatica a7r II Housing - $2,599

The Aquatica a7R II housing is definitely a fantastic option for the A7RII (or other A7 II cameras). Well built, and ruggedly designed to stand up to challenging ocean conditions, it has the classic Aquatica matte finish and full camera controls available. In fact it is the only housing option that truly offers complete control of the camera due to their innovative dial control on the back of the housing. This control corresponds with the dial on the back of the Sony camera and allows for quicker scrolling through menu and setting options as well as a third custom dial option when setting up the camera. One custom function that can be set is ISO control, which gives the shooter immediate access to adjusting ISO on the fly - something that video shooters may find extremely helpful.

Aquatica also moved the control for the OK button on the camera to a large lever, well positioned by your thumb. They extend a lever for the C1 Function button on the top of the housing as well. I found this nice since they did not reposition the AF/MF button on the housing. Instead of using AF/MF for focus lock I set the C1 button to AF ON which then allows the camera to auto focus when you press the C1 button. This is very useful for macro with the 90mm lens which is not super fast to focus. You can lock focus with the C1 button, turn the AF w/ Shutter control to OFF, and then shoot as many exposures as you like without refocusing which can save time and stress under the water .

All the controls on the Aquatica housing seemed well placed, well designed and easy to use. They function as they should making the overall shooting experience underwater a breeze.

In addition Aquatica has gone one step further than the other housing manufacturers and created a flash trigger for this housing that comes included at no extra cost. This flash trigger is compatible with the Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes and offers the shooter the ability to fire strobes using fiber optic cables on the A7R II camera despite having no pop up flash. You also maintain the faster recycle rate of the UW strobes since you are not relying on an accessory flash or on camera flash. When purchasing you have the option to get the housing with the Fiber Optic ports + flash trigger, with a manual nikonos bulkhead or with a manual Ikelite bulkhead. Just like with the Nauticam housing, there is no TTL option for firing strobes, only Sea & Sea or Ikelite offer TTL when using their own branded strobes.

The A7RII housing utilizes the same port system as the Aquatica DSLR housings. This means that there will be a wide variety of good port options to fit any lens choice, and that there will be no issues with fitting the larger diameter lenses through the port opening on the housing. They have port options for all the Sony FE lens options for underwater as well as Canon lenses with the Metabones adapter giving a wide variety of options for the Sony A7R II camera.

 

Aquatica Housing Specs:

  • Dimensions: 6’’ x 3.75" x 11.2" (with handles attached)

  • Weight: 6.3 lbs (including handles)

  • Depth Rating: 90m or 130m available

Overall I was very impressed with the housing, and found it was easy to get comfortable shooting underwater and controlling the camera from outside the housing. The excellent image quality of the Sony A7R II and the ease of use with the Aquatica housing make this a perfect combination for underwater photography or videography.

Aquatica a7 II Housing - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.

 

Ikelite A7r II Housing - $1,499.95

The Ikelite A7r II Housing has just been recently released. Though we have not yet had a chance to check out the housing, it looks like is has great lens support, and it very well priced. The Ikelite will likely be a bit more bulky than the aluminum options as is the case with other housings. They have a new composite polycarbonate being used that changes the overall look of the housings. No longer complete see through the new Ikelite A7 II series housing features a beige opaque front with the classic clear back so you can still check o-ring seal and housing controls. This new polycarbonate is lighter and stronger.

 

Ikelite Housing Specs:

  • Weight: 5lbs (not including tray with handles)

  • Dimensions: 9.1" x 7.1" x 6.1"

  • Depth Rating: 60m

The A7 II housing utilizes the same port opening as the DSLR housings so you have access to a full line of ports that will fit a variety of lenses including the Sony FE lenses and canon options with the meta bones adapter. Lastly it is one of a few housings that offer TTL control with the A7 II cameras. Using Ikelite strobe and electronic sync cords you can shoot in TTL mode for easy, accurate lighting control.

Once we get this housing in our hands we'll get more information up, but overall it looks like the Ikelite will offer a perfect solution for the underwater photographer that wants the A7 II but can't afford the more expensive aluminum options.

Ikelite a7 II Housing - Buy or view ports, lenses & product video on Bluewater Photo.

 

Conclusion:

Overall both housings are great for the Sony A7 II / A7R II and A7S II. Pick the one that best suits your needs as they both offer a full line of ports. For TTL lovers the obvious choice is the Sea & Sea, but if you want to have a few extra bells and whistles then the Nauticam may be more enticing. The Ikelite is a great value, and the Aquatica housing combined a bulletproof design with great ergonomics.

If your unsure of which A7 II camera to purchase, go with the one that both fits your budget and your shooting needs. Dedicated video shoots will want the A7S II for its high resolution 4K shooting and excellent low light performance. Those wanting the most detail possible will want to pay the extra money for the A7R II, but if that is out of your budget, the original A7 II is still an incredible option. 

Sony A7R II Underwater Images:

 

 

Check out the Sony a7R II and recommended lenses, housings and accessories on Bluewater Photo:

->  Sony a7R II for Underwater

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli Dickinson is an avid diver and underwater photographer who shoots primarily on mirrorless cameras. Familiar with a variety of cameras and housings she tries to shoot on as many different options as possible to improve her overall knowledge of underwater camera systems. In addition she is Manager of Bluewater Photo. In her spare time she can be found running, hiking or underwater. 

Connect with her on instagram @kelnkelp or at www.kelnkelp.com

She can be reached via email at kelli@bluewaterphotostore.com.

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Canon 5Ds camera review with 5D Mark III comparison by underwater photographer Ken Kiefer
By Brent Durand with Comparison & Photos by Ken Kiefer

Canon 5Ds Review plus 5D Mark III Comparison

Brent Durand with Comparison & Photos by Ken Kiefer
Canon 5Ds camera review with 5D Mark III comparison by underwater photographer Ken Kiefer

The megapixel war between camera manufacturers has been reignited over the past year, with several mega-megapixel camera bodies entering the market. Canon's entry is the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R, which pack 50.6 megapixels into the same body frame as the Canon 5D Mark III.

As underwater photo and video shooters, we look to the Canon 5Ds. The 5Ds R cancels the low-pass filter that is built into most DSLRs (including the 5Ds). This produces an ever slightly sharper image, but makes the camera much more susceptible to the effects of moire when shooting things like fabric (i.e. wedding dresses) or architecture. Suffice it to say that the 5Ds is the better choice unless you're well-versed in AF microadjustments on your lenses and advanced post-processing techniques.

The high-resolution of the Canon 5Ds makes it the perfect camera for those who make large photo prints, or for those who need the freedom to make major crops of their images. This very high resolution makes it essential to use high-quality lenses and achieve crisp, sharp focus.

The Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R also have an Intervalometer and a Time-Lapse Movie Mode that provide two different time-lapse options. These are useful for those shooting video who don't already have other time-lapse accessories or software like Magic Lantern, and those shooting time-lapses inside their housings where accessories won't fit.

Quick Links:   5D Mark III Comparison   |   ISO Tests & Comparison   |   Macro Test & Comparison   |   Sensor Ratings   |   Best Lenses   |   Underwater Housings

 

Canon 5Ds Specs

  • 50.6MP CMOS sensor

  • Full frame (35mm sensor)

  • 61-point autofocus system

  • RAW image capture in several aspect ratios

  • Full HD video recording

  • CF and SD (SDHC, SDXC) memory cards

 

 

Canon 5Ds Comparision with 5D Mark III

Through the years, I’ve used a few different setups for capturing images or video underwater.  From a Sea&Sea MX-10 I progressed through some video-only setups, a Nikonos V, and Canon’s early Rebel cameras in my pursuit to show others some of the incredible sights of the underwater world.

In the never-ending march of technological progress, most photographers end up asking themselves every couple of years or so whether enough has changed to make a camera upgrade worthwhile.

Last year, I was trying to decide whether my Canon 5DMark3 had come to the end of its run in favor of the recently released Canon 5Ds.

But it turned out that I didn’t really have to choose. Through a turn of events, one of my friends made me a deal that I could not pass up - to trade my backup 5D3 for a lightly used 5Ds and an unused lens. 

Because Canon uses the same physical frames for both cameras; and basically left all the controls in the same locations, I can fit both cameras in my Ikelite housing without any sacrifice or modification.  All of the buttons and dials work perfectly. 

Finding myself with the decision to choose between the two cameras, I generally grab the 5Ds any time I’m going to shoot underwater. But the reasons that I generally grab this camera aren’t cut and dry.

 

5Ds vs 5D Mark III

Both cameras have basically the same weight, size, screen, controls, etc.  They also produce images that are for most intents and purposes identical. 

However, there are two factors that help tilt me in the direction of the 5Ds.  First is the fact that it has 50 megapixels.  I don’t print out images 60” and up very often, but every once in a while I do, and several of my customers do as well.  Having such a huge file does make a difference for the really large prints.  And, I never know for sure while taking a shot whether I might love it enough to want the overload of pixels.  The other factor is a little hard to put my finger on.  The images come out of this camera with a little different feel than the ones from the 5D3.  It’s nothing I can point out, and it’s not even possible to see unless I’m working with the full resolution images on my large screen at home.  It could be that the added depth from so much resolution creates a velvety texture.  It’s also possible that it’s all in my head : )

The focus speed on both the 5D3 and 5Ds is superb. In the water and on land, I can detect no difference in subject asquisition or the ability of both cameras to maintain AI Focus on moving subjects.

The 50.6 megapixel files do come with some compromise.  The need to stock up on large/fast memory cards is pretty evident.  I don’t use anything smaller than 64GB and usually prefer 128GB.  Also, working with and storing the files requires some different equipment.  I had to upgrade my external storage.  And, while I was doing that, I went with Thunderbolt connections to speed up the transfer.   

There are times that I choose to load the 5DMark3 in my housing over the 5Ds.  Usually, I choose the 5D3 when I’m going to be shooting all day; either with a swim team or a large fashion shoot.  

To handle processing the larger files, the 5Ds uses more processing power, which takes more battery power.   Depending on how much image review I do, I’ve found approximately 25-30% less shots possible with 5Ds versus 5D3 in similar situations before needing to swap batteries.  And, that is more of an extreme case.  I sometimes take over 2500 shots of a swim team in a day.  Not a normal occurrence for most underwater shooters.

 

ISO Tests and Comparison

The Canon 5Ds and Canon 5D Mark III have excellent performance shooting at higher ISOs. Ken set up some tests with both cameras to evaluate image quality when shooting at the base ISO of 100, as well as ISO 6400, which is useful for subjects like topside wildlife, surfers during the golden hours and indoor shooting.

Below are the original .jpg files followed by 100% crops of the RAW files, exported from Adobe Photoshop as unmodified .jpg files at 100% quality (no optimizing, etc). These photos were all shot with the Canon 85 f/1.2L lens.

 

1) 5D MkIII @ ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/80

2) 5D MkIII @ ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/250

3) 5Ds @ ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/80

4) 5Ds @ ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/250

 

Image left:  Canon 5D MkIII - ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/80
Image right:  Canon 5Ds - ISO 100 f/1.8, 1/80

 

Image left:  Canon  MkIII - ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/250
Image right:  Canon 5Ds - ISO 6400 f/5.6, 1/250

In looking closer at these 100% crops it's easy to see the additional resolution of the Canon 5Ds (which is why you see less of the subject in the frame than the 5D Mk3 photos). It's also apparent that the images shot with the 5Ds are slightly darker than those with the 5D Mk3. This is due to the increased pixel density of the 35mm sensor on the 5Ds, where each pixel picks up slightly less light. 

Both cameras show great IQ at ISO 100, but it's not quite fair to compare the noise and depth of field of each camera at 100% crop for ISO 6400, so I've created a new crop from the 5Ds ISO 6400 image to match the 100% crop of the 5D MkIII image for a fair comparison.

 

With pictures being equal, we can see that the depth of field of each image appears equal (as it should for same-size sensors). We can also see that noise at ISO 6400 is virtually the same.

In conclusion, high ISO noise performance on these cameras is great. What you do see can be easily smoothed out during post-processing. The 5Ds requires slightly more light, so underwater video shooters will need to open the aperture 1/3 stop more (decreasing DOF) or increase their ISO a 1/3 stop to create the equivalent exposure. 

 

Canon 5Ds vs. 5D Mark III Macro Test

For macro testing, Ken was able to set up both camera bodies in his Ikelite housing (one at a time, of course!) with Ikelite DS161 strobes, shooting the below photos with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens.


 

Both cameras show excellent quality when set up in a housing. Note that composition and strobe lighting were changed somewhat when switching cameras, so these photos serve only as indicators of image quality. You better believe that those nudibranch rhinophores will be sharp and crisp with either camera.

 

 

DxOMark Sensor Rating

Let's geek out a second. DxOMark is a group that provides independent image quality measurements and comparisons via RAW file. For this section of the review we'll look at sensor measurements for the Canon 5Ds.

Canon 5Ds

  • Overall Score:  87

    • (Nikon D810: 97, Canon 5DMkIII: 81 bits, Sony a7R II: 98)

  • Portrait (color depth):  24.7 bits

    • (Nikon D810: 25.7 bits, Canon 5DMkIII: 24 bits, Sony a7R II: 26 bits )

  • Landscape (dynamic range):  12.4 Evs

    • (Nikon D810: 14.8 Evs, Canon 5DMkIII: 11.7 Evs, Sony a7R II: 13.9 Evs )

  • Sports (low-light ISO):  2381 ISO

    • (Nikon D810: 2853 ISO, Canon 5DMkIII: 2293 ISO, Sony a7R II: 3434 ISO )

Source:  DxOMark.com

 

What Does This Mean for Underwater Photography?

The DxOMark scores above must be interpreted with proper context. Let's go through color depth and dynamic range:

  • Color Depth:  Color sensitivity of 22 bits is excellent, and differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable.  The 5Ds is rated well into "excellent", although ranking below the Nikon D810 and Sony a7R II.

  • Dynamic Range:  A value of 12 Ev is excellent, with differences of 0.5 Ev usually not noticeable. The 5Ds ranked about 12 along with the D810, but the 5D3 and a7R II fell below. 

Source:  DxOMark.com

This must all be taken with a grain of salt. The results above speak for themselves, but it is important to remember that this sensor data is only one small piece of the image-making equation.  Equally important is what the camera does with that information, which is why the debate over best IQ will always continue among pixel-peeping photographers.

 

Best Lenses

Canon full-frame DSLRs benefit from high-quality lenses. This is especially true for the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R's large resolution. We've listed the most popular lenses for underwater photography below.

 


  • Canon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens Review

    • The fisheye lens of choice for Canon full-frame shooters, offering traditional wide-angle shots at 15mm and circular shots at 8mm.



  • Canon 11-24mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide-Angle Lens

    • An ultra wide-angle lens for Canon full-frame shooters. This lens has excellent image quality, but comes with heavy weight and price tag.

 

 

Related Reviews

 

Canon 5Ds Underwater Housings

The Canon 5DS and 5DS R will fit in housings designed for the Canon 5D Mark III, which is very convenient for those who have both DSLR bodies. Below is Bluewater Photo's selection of housings.

 

The Ikelite Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is full-featured yet affordable and includes built-in TTL conversion circuitry that puts perfect exposure at you fingertips.

Read our Ikelite Canon 5D Mark III housing review.

For more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Ikelite Canon 5D Mark III housingpage.

 

The Aquatica Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is precision built with smooth knob and button operation that will feel like new no matter how much you use it.

Read our Aquatica Canon 5D Mark III housing review.

For more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Aquatica Canon 5D Mark III housing page.

 

The Nauticam Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is intricately engineered to re-position camera controls to the most ergonomic and convenient locations on the housing, plus converter for fiber optic cable use.

For more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Nauticam Canon 5D Mark III housing page.

 

The Sea & Sea Canon 5D Mark III housing (fits the 5DS) is a compact and popular housing. This Version II housing features a built-in converter for fiber optic cable use and TTL shooting.

Fore more info and recommended ports and accessories, visit Bluewater Photo's Sea & Sea Canon 5D Mark III housing page.

 

 

Conclusion

The Canon 5Ds packs a whopping 50.6 megapixels into the body of the Canon 5D Mark III. If you own a 5D Mark III and are considering upgrading, you will not be disappointed.  Just make sure that your computer and hard drives can handle the large amounts of data. 

If you are deciding between the 5D MkIII and the 5Ds, there are pros and cons for each camera. The 5Ds offers greater resolution for large prints or large crops, but battery life is a little less, the files will move slower on your computer and technical aspects of photography, like focus, are critical. The 5D MkIII is a proven workhorse for full frame shooters but doesn't offer you the massive amount of resolution of the 5Ds.

Luckily, both cameras fit in all the 5D Mark III underwater housings, and the nice L glass you buy is compatible with most Canon DSLRs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Kiefer is an underwater photographer that specializes in big animals and fashion/fitness shoots.  He uses his images of sharks to educate children about the realities of sharks –vs- media portrayal.  

View more of Ken's work at: www.kenkiefer.com.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


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The long awaiting D500 finally arrives. Can it do ISO one million? See what the hype is about
By Scott Gietler

Nikon D500 Specs & Pre-review

Scott Gietler
The long awaiting D500 finally arrives. Can it do ISO one million? See what the hype is about

It has been 7 years since the D300s arrived, and many photographers have given up waiting for the D400. Well, Nikon skipped directly to the 20 megapixel D500, and what a powerhouse it is. Let's pre-review the Nikon 500 and how it may fit into your underwater photography or video arsenal. The Nikon D500 body arrived in March 2016 for $1,996 USD.

NIkon D500 ISO & Focus Testing

View our real-world Nikon D500 ISO & Auto-focus tests to see how the Nikon D500 performs shooting great blue herons in the dark, fast moving terns & cormorants, and distant moon shots at high ISO's, using different auto-focus modes, shooting at 10fps, and using the auto-ISO feature.

Nikon D500 - 4K Video

  • 4k video captures at 30p

  • 4k video is available only as an additional 1.5x crop, relative to a regular picture taken with the D500. That's a 2.25x crop relative to a full-frame sensor photo taken with the lens.

  • Simultaneous recording to memory card and external reader

  • Active D-lighting can now be applied to video

  • New 3-axis "Electronic VR" feature can stabilize video via software in 1080p mode

  • Create 4K time-lapse movies in-camera

  • Auto-ISO smoothing provides smooth transitions through exposure changes

The D500 can record 4K video, 3840 x 2160 at 30p/25p/24p as well as 1080/60p video for up to 30 minutes, with simultaneous output via HDMI available. It is also possible to generate 4K time-lapse movies within the camera. In Full HD or HD mode, the D500's electronic Vibration Reduction function reduces the effects of camera shake in the horizontal, vertical and rotational directions during hand-held movie recording, while Active D-Lighting preserves details in highlights and shadows to capture footage with natural brightness. Overall, the video capabilities look great!

ISO 51,200, expandable to ISO 1,640,000

We'll have to wait and see how useable the higher ISO ranges are on this camera. Even the Sony a7S II is only expandable up to ISO 400,000. Still, we would be surprised if these higher ISO ranges are actually useable. The native ISO is 100 - 51,200. My own guess is that we'll see 1 stop performace over the D7200, and for higher ISO's you'll want to stick to the ISO 6400 - 25000 range, but we'll see.

153 Auto-Focus points

  • 99 cross-type sensors

  • 55 user selectable points

  • 15 of the auto-focus points will operate at -4 EV for what we expect to be exceptional low-light performance

We have high expectations for the auto focus capabilities of this camera, for underwater, birds, behavior, sports and wildlife.

Dual card slot - XQD / SDXC

Switching away from compact flash, the new XQD cards can read & write at over 350MB/s, faster than any CF card. XQD cards are not cheap, a 64GB XQD card will run you over $200 USD, plus $35 - $45 for the reader.

10 fps for 200 frames

10 frames per second in the Nikon D500's high speed shooting mode is quite fast, but sometimes it is the number of frames you can shoot that really counts. With a XQD card, you can shoot 200 frames of 14 bit lossless compressed RAW files - that is huge! This buffer size blows away other cameras, and means you can shoot at 10fps for 20 seconds.

Bluetooth - always on

The camera has an always-on bluetooth connection called SnapBridge for fast and simple transfer of images to smart devices.

Pro Body

The pro body of the D500 is more like the Nikon D810 than the semi-pro D7200 body, which will allow greater stabilization in the hands of more experienced shooters. This body has the same weather sealing as the D810. Most of the body is made from magnesium alloy, with the front reinforced with carbon fiber.

Control via WT-7A Wireless Transmitter

The new WT-7A wireless transmitter ($799 USD) allows high-speed transfer of images over a range of 650 feet, if you have line of sight of the camera. The data transfer rate is 130Mbps, and the WT-7A can then transfer images to a computer or FTP server over ethernet. Users can also take complete control of the camera remotely using this device. Image comments and copyright info can be edited remotely on the fly.

Other notable features

  • 100% circular viewfinder, with 1.0x magnification - very nice!

  • 20.9 megapixel sensor

  • No built-in flash

  • PC sync socket and 10-pin port for connectivity

  • No low-pass filter for better sharpness

  • CIPA battery rating is excellent - 1,240 shots

  • Has a new "advanced scene recognition" system that we look forward to testing out

  • Single hand ISO changes are finally possible!

  • Dedicated joystick on the rear of the camera for easier moving of focus points

  • Optional battery pack / grip is available

  • Shutter rated to 200,000 actuations

  • Battery rated for 1,240 shots

NIkon D500 Underwater Housings

We expect this camera to be popular for underwater photography & underwater video, and there is no doubt that we'll see underwater housings from several - look for the Ikelite D500 housing, Sea & Sea D500 housing, Nauticam D500 housing, Aquatica D500 housing, and one from Subal. Exactly when is anyone's guess, the companies will have to get their hands on the camera first, but Ikelite and Nauticam are usually pretty fast to market.

Since there is no pop-up flash, we will expect to see flash triggers from most manufacturers. Nauticam, Sea & Sea, and Aquatica have all demonstrated the ability to make flash triggers, S&S has one embedded in their optical TTL converters, so we don't expect this to be an issue. 

Ikelite D500 Underwater Housing

Available in August 2016 - $1,799

Polycarbonate Ikelite housing support a very wide range of lenses and deliver an incredible value, and include a free TTL converter. 

 

Nauticam D500 Underwater Housing

Currently in stock - $3,500

Available now, this popular housing offers great ergonomics, the easiest port change system and numerous innovative features.

 

Aquatica D500 Underwater Housing

Available in August 2016 - $3,200

The aluminum Aquatica housings are known for an excellent finish and holding up really well against the test of time. 

 

Sea & Sea D500 Underwater Housing

Available in August - $3,600

Sea & Sea aluminum housings deliver a great combination of ergonomics, reliability over time, and small size. 

 

Recommended Lenses for Underwater

Recommended lenses for underwater photography with the Nikon D500 include the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye for wide-angle, the Nikon 10-24mm wide-angle lens for sharks & pelagics, the Sigma 17-70mm for a mid-range lens, and the Nikon 60mm and 105mm VR lenses for macro. For wildlife, I'd go with the NIkon 100-400mm VR, or for more serious shooters the Nikon 200-400mm F4 VR. For underwater video, we like the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, the Nikon 16-35mm F4, or the Nikon 17-55mm F2.8.

Sample Photos:

Conclusion

The specs on the new Nikon D500 are quote amazing, It was definitely worth the wait. After using the camera for the last 2 weeks, I can say that it is the most fun camera I have ever shot with. With high speed shooting turned on, taking photos is like using a toy machine gun, you have to experience 10fps to really appreciate the speed.  In addition, being able to shoot at very high ISO's is very spoiling, and makes it very hard to shoot with a lesser camera. For wildlife action/behavior and low light shooting, it is hard to beat the D500 as a choice -  Scott

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Santa Monica, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


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