Camera Reviews

Detailed camera reviews for underwater photo and video, including specs, key features for u/w photography and camera comparisons.
Nikon D850 Preview

Here Comes the Nikon D850

Nikon D850 Preview

As seemingly more and more people are moving to the mirrorless cameras, the all too familiar "DSLR's are dead" shouts are more and more prevalent everyday. 

Enter the Nikon D850. A camera that, at least on paper, proves that DSLR's are very, very far from dead. 

 

Key Features:

The highlights that will be important to underwater shooters and differentiate the D850 from its predecessor the D810

  • 45.75 megapixel Full Frame BSI (Back-Side Illuminated) Sensor
  • The world's best autofocus system taken from the Nikon D5 (153 AF points, 99 cross type)
    • Can focus center spot down to -4EV
  • Improved low and high ISO performance over the D810/Improved Dynamic Range.
  • 7fps, 51 shot raw buffer
  • True full frame 4K video
  • Max flash sync speed 1/250s
  • XQD/SD card slots
  • $3296 (An incrediblely reasonable price for what should be an incredible camera)
-*That is not a comprehensive list of upgrades and features for the D850, those are the ones IMO that are notable upgrades from the D810

 

Nikon has already stated they're sold out and won't be able to fulfill the first run of this camera, that should really tell you how popular this camera is going to be. Several housing manufacturers including Nauticam, Ikelite, S&S, and Aquatica have all confirmed they'll be making housings (Get yours here when they become available! http://www.bluewaterphotostore.com/products/search/d850 )

For most underwater shooters, the D850 may well be the best DSLR ever made. In the past there has always been a compromise between speed and high resolution. No more. The D5 autofocus system + 7fps will be more than enough for just about every situation underwater. The dynamic range and ISO performance will be hugely appealing to wide angle shooters and the resolution to allow insane detail and ability to crop heavily will appeal to macro shooters. 

To get the most out of such a high resolution sensor, the best quality Nikon lenses will need to be used.

 

Lens Recommendations:

Macro:

  • Nikon 105mm 2.8G VR Macro
  • Nikon 60mm 2.8G Macro

Wide Angle Fisheye:

  • Nikon 8-15mm 3.5-4.5G Fisheye - Best fisheye overall for Nikon FF
  • Sigma 15mm 2.8 Fisheye - The budget option but focuses very close, is quite sharp and much cheaper than the other lenses listed.
  • Nikon 16mm 2.8 Fisheye - Sharper, more expensive than sigma, but does not focus as close

Wide Angle Rectilinear

  • Nikon 16-35mm 4.0 - The mose popular and versatile choice but requires a big dome port for acceptable image quality
  • Nikon 20mm 1.8G - Small, compact, sharp, doesn't NEED as big a dome as the 16-35

 

I did not order the D850 and if I were smart, I should probably never shoot with one or chances are I will want one. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on the camera for underwater testing. Stay tuned to Underwater Photography Guide for a comprehensive review once housings are available!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Sullivan is an underwater and conservation photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. For more of his pictures follow him on Instagram or on his website mjsimaging.photoshelter.com

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The new addition to Canons full-frame cameras with specs and recommended lenses.

Canon 6D Mark II Camera Review

The new addition to Canons full-frame cameras with specs and recommended lenses.

Celebrating the National Camera day, Canon USA Inc., has timely announced their new full-frame camera, EOS 6D Mark II.  The camera has been designed for the advanced-amateur photographers. It has been 5 years already since its predecessor, 6D, has been released and both topside and underwater photographers are thrilled with this announcement.

The camera is packed with great features such as 26.2 MP CMOS sensor, the dual pixel AF similar to the the 5D Mark IV, DIGIC7 Processor, touchscreen, wifi/gps and a lot more. 

This is a promising full-frame camera and we are expecting to produce great results underwater. 

Status: To be released end of August 2017

MSRP: $1,999.00

 

Jump to section:

6D Mark I| Specs    |    Full Frame or Crop Sensor    |     Best Lenses    |    Underwater Housings

 

 

Canon 6D Mark II Specifications:

  • 26.2 MP Full-frame CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor
  • High-speed Continuous Shooting at up to 6.5 fps
  • Optical Viewfinder with a 45-point All Cross-type AF System
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Phase-detection 
  • Full HD 60p Video
  • ISO 100-40000
  • 3.0-inch Vari-angle Touch Screen LCD
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • NFC3
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS technology
  • Dust- & Water-resistant

 

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:

1.  Most lenses deliver their best image quality in mid-range apertures.
2.  Higher apertures become prone to diffraction.
3.  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 6D Mark II

The Canon 6D Mark II uses a full frame sensor, making it compatibly with 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 6D Mark II (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. 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 6D Mark II 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 6D Mark II will be the Sigma 15mm and the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens (between 15-17mm since this is an APS-C lens). The Sigma will likely deliver better image quality, however the Tokina is very convenient if you already have it in the camera bag.

 

Rectilinear Wide-Angle

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

It's safe to say that this is the best choice for those who are buying their first wide-angle lens and don't have a strict budget. Most underwater shooters use rectilinear wide-angle lenses 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 16-35mm f/2.8L II Wide-Angle Lens

The most popular rectilinear wide-angle lens for Canon full frame DSLRs has been the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 Mark II. This lens sat at the top of the selection for the last few years in terms of corner sharpness, speed, and price... although that will change as more new shooters purchase the version III.

 

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 (we haven't tested images with the new 16-35 III yet). 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 - which is significant for topside filter use.

 

Underwater Housings

There is still no announcement from manufacturers yet but we are expecting housings these companies.

 

Nauticam

 

Aquatica

 

Sea & Sea

 

Ikelite

 

AquaTech

 


View all the cameras, lights and accessories at Bluewater Photo.


 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chino Mendoza , is an avid diver and underwater photographer and tries to go everytime he can.  He is based in Manila which is a few hours Anilao which is the “critter capital of the Philippines”  He likes to shoot macro and his favorite subjects are nudibranchs and frogfishes.

Get in touch with him via email at lorenzo@bluewaterphotostore.com

View Chino's work:  Facebook     |     Instagram

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.

 


Detailed review of the Sony a6500 mirrorless camera for underwater photo and video, tested for macro and wide-angle across 30 dives in the Philippines.
By Brent Durand

Sony a6500 Camera Review

Brent Durand
Detailed review of the Sony a6500 mirrorless camera for underwater photo and video, tested for macro and wide-angle across 30 dives in the Philippines.

The Sony a6500 was announced very soon after the a6300; so close in fact that the camera was just becoming available as I was shooting for our a6300 camera review. Needless to say, the Sony a6500 features some nice upgrades.

The a6500 is Sony's flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, packing a robust set of photo and video features into a very affordable camera body. The camera is much smaller than the full-frame mirrorless Sony a7R II, making it a great choice for those who are looking at mirrorless cameras for their impressive image quality in a small body.

I shot the Sony a6500 in the Fantasea FA6500 housing across 30 dives during Bluewater Photo's spring workshop in Anilao, Philippines, leading to the insights in the review below.

Price:  $1,398

 


Purchase the Sony a6500 at Bluewater Photo




Jump to section:

Key Features     |     Upgrades from the a6300    |    For Underwater Photography    |    For Underwater Video

Best Lenses    |    Underwater Housings    |    Conclusion    |    More Underwater Photos

 

 

Sony a6500 Key Features

  • 24.2-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor 

  • 425-point phase detection autofocus points

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

  • BIONZ X™ image-processing engine delivers blazing speed and performance, combined with new front-end LSi

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

  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization

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

  • Touch screen focusing

  • Electronic XGA OLED Tru-Finder™

  • 4K video recording with no pixel binning (sampling from full sensor for increased detail)

  • 11 FPS burst

  • Built-in WiFi for easy sharing

  • Battery life approximately 350 shots using LCD screen

 

Sony a6500 Upgrades from the a6300

  • 5-Axis Image Stabilization

  • Touch Screen Focusing

  • Newly Developped Front-End LSi (image processing algorithm)

  • Higher quality 4K video recording (Super 35 feature now uses 6K of data before recording at 4K)

 

A nudibranch reaches out towards the camera. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UCL-09LF diopter, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @24mm, ISO 100, f/22, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand

 

Sony a6500 for Underwater Photography

I used the Sony a6500 for both macro and wide-angle, photo and video, in Anilao a few couple weeks ago. I shot exclusively with the Sony 16-50mm power zoom kit lens, which when combined with Fantasea's macro diopter and wide angle conversion lens, presented a versatile camera setup.

Image quality of the a6500 is excellent, as you can see in the sample photos throughout this article, however I do think there is some clarity to be gained by shooting higher-quality lenses like the Sony 90mm macro and Sony 16-35mm wide-angle (f/4 or brand new f/2.8 version).

The color delivered into Adobe Lightroom was a little warm for my preferences while using Bluewater's rental Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes (camera set to auto white balance), so I created an a6500 preset to set each image at 5000k as an editing starting point. After this, the color really popped (a true hat tip from a guy who shoots Canon DSLRs on land!).

The a6500 defaults to showing the blinking highlight alert during image review, which I find very useful (along with the histogram). This alert has a lower tolerance than Adobe Lightroom, meaning that if an area is just slightly blown out and flashing on the a6500 LCD screen, there may still be recoverable info in the pixels once the .ARW file is opened in Lightroom.

Camera Controls:  The Sony a6500 default control functionality is very intuitive, and that is without programming the custom C1 and C2 buttons on top right of the camera.

Camera Operation & Processing:  The a6500 takes a few seconds to boot up, and controls also take a split-second to respond. This lag will be unnoticeable (or even much faster than normal) for most compact and mirrorless shooters, but might might bug some DSLR shooters who are used to buzzing in between settings, photo to video, and menu changes. This is the only reason I point it out.

Max Sync Speed:  This is 1/160s on the Sony a6500. The camera actually limits your shutter speed to 1/160 when the pop-up flash is up, which prevents you from bumping up the shutter by accident. For shooting video at 1/250s (manual setting for recording at 120 frames per second), I simply pushed the flash down, which then opened up the full range of shutter speeds.

Autofocus: 4D autofocus performed accurately on the Sony a6500 for both wide-angle and macro. There is a definite improvement in ability to lock focus when shooting macro, but note that I was using the 16-50mm (I had used the 90mm for reviewing the a6300). Given that the a6500 was marketed as the fastest camera in the world at launch, I would expect nothing less.

This said, there were a couple times where I was using a diopter and beyond the maximum working distance, and the single AF lock let me fire images even though the subject was clearly not in focus. Once I moved the camera within range the system regained accuracy.

Moving a single AF point around the frame is a multi-step process, unfortunately. You must push the function button, push set once the AF area is selected, then push the M area once selected, and then move the focus point around the frame. The focus point stays active until you need to use the rear control dial to access another setting, like ISO. At that point you would need to reactivate it through the process above (note: you could program ISO to the C1 or C2 button in an effort to keep the focus point active constantly). 

I shot the a6500 using Single AF.  I did try tracking a few different times on some very camouflaged subjects (network pipefish, ghost pipefish, juvenile sweetlips) but found it wasn't any more successful delivering images than Single AF. The tracking works much better on subjects with a clear contrast difference from their background.

Battery Life:  The Sony a6500 battery lasted about two macro dives with the pop-up flash set to Fill Flash. When shooting video, I would recommend changing the battery after every dive.

 

Known for macro, Anilao also is home to gorgeous reefs. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UWL-09F wide-angle conversion lens, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @18mm, ISO 320, f/13, 1/100. Photo: Brent Durand

 

A mototi octopus crawls across the sand while hunting. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @33mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand


Sony a6500 for Underwater Video

The Sony a6500 is a powerful video machine. 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps make the a6500 versatile for beginners and pros alike, those making long-form films or those aiming for short clips.

If you're a casual video shooter, simply push the red button when the action starts. More advanced shooters will be pleased to know that the Sony a6500 features 4K Super 35 mode (popular in the a7 II series), which records video across the entire 6k sensor (full pixel readout, no binning). This oversampling results in crisp 4K (3840x2160p) imagery, and when combined with flat gamma curve profiles like S-Log 3, contains much more dynamic range to work with while editing and color grading. The a6500 records 8-bit, 4:2:0 4K at up to 100Mb/s. Adding an external HDMI recording device increases this to uncompressed 4:2:2 4K (although still 8-bit).

The closest video competitor in this camera class is the new Panasonic GH5.

White Balance:  Sony does not offer 1-touch manual white balance on the a6500. Read our complete Guide to Manual White Balance on the Sony a6500.

Sony a6500 Video Settings:  I set the camera to record in XAVC S HD format, 120fps at 100Mb/s. Why no 4K? Aside from the fact that my laptop can't process it, most of us can't view true 4K resolution anyways. There is a valid argument that you'll see better image quality when shooting 4K (and resizing to 1080p during post), however the maximum frame rate on the Sony a6500 is 30fps. Since I only use short unedited clips for social media (and was looking for action to replay in slo-mo), shooting 1080 at 120fps made far more sense.

Image Stabilization:  The new 5-axis image stabilization in the a6500 body is apparent when filming underwater video. It's most noticeable when handholding the system, rotating around the subject, and slowly moving in and out. The IS serves to minimize the shake, resulting in smooth motion. I didn't notice it as much when the camera was filming on a tripod.

Autofocus:  Video autofocus is fast and accurate. The autofocus found and held subjects well for both macro and super macro shooting, although it did shift focus off my selected subject a few times when confused (e.g. from colmani shrimp eye to antennae bristles when they moved in front of eye, and then back to eye when the antennae was moved again). This is very normal when using autofocus with distracting elements in the frame or backgrounds of similar contrast/patterns as the subject.

While I recorded quite a few video clips during our dives in Anilao, we'll save the detailed pro-level video review for a separate article to come soon.

 

A nudibranch reaches out across a sponge. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UCL-09LF diopter, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @39mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand


Sony a6500 Best Lenses

Macro

Standard / Mid-Range

Wide-Angle

Fisheye

Additional Lens Options

Individual housing manufacturers may offer macro and wide-angle wet lens options. For example, Fantasea a6500 housing shooters can use the Sony 16-50mm lens inside a small flat port, donning the UCL-09LF macro dioptor or UWL-09F wide-angle conversion lens depending on the shot.

 

Shooting a zoom lens with wet lens conversion setup makes you ready for anything. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UWL-09F wide-angle conversion lens, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @23mm, ISO 320, f/13, 1/100. Photo: Brent Durand

 

Sony a6500 Underwater Housings

 

Aquatica Sony a6500 Housing  $1,650

Aquatica designed this housing to retain the small, easy-to-use size of the a6500. Robust in build with ergonomics at the forefront of design, this housing features various strobe connectors, M16 bulkhead for a monitor, vacuum capabilities and many other great features.

Learn more about the Aquatica a6500 Housing.

 

Fantasea Sony a6500 Housing  $980

The Fantasea FA6500 fits both the a6500 and a6300, with a functional and sleek design that blends ergonomics with great value. A wide range of accessories, including TTL converter and wet lenses complement the housing.

Learn more about the Fantasea a6500 Housing.

 

Ikelite Sony a6500 Housing  $975

The Ikelite a6500 housing delivers great value in their iconic polycarbonate housing, complete with an integrated TTL circuit that's powered by the strobe - no extra batteries needed. A wide range of ports complements the a6500's arsenal of lenses.

Learn more about the Ikelite a6500 Housing.


Nauticam Sony a6500 Housing  $1800

The Nauticam NA-A6500 housing is precision engineered to provide the most ergonomic control of the camera. Nauticam has moved camera controls to positions at the fingertips and offers many accessories to build this kit for beginners and pros alike.

Learn more about the Nauticam a6500 Housing.

 

Conclusion

The Sony a6500 is a great camera in a small package. The flagship Olympus and Sony a7 II series are big cameras, and while the performance is there, their housings look more like those of DSLRs than small mirrorless cameras.

Excellent image quality, fast autofocus, video image stabilization and a quickly growing selection of lenses make the Sony a6500 a great choice for underwater photo and video shooters. Housing prices start at $975 and go up from there, so you can build a very affordable underwater system around the a6500 - a huge PRO in my book.

Less experienced shooters will not see many cons with the a6500. Shooters coming from DSLRs will need to adjust to the slightly slower operating speed (menus, startup, button controls) and the fact that everything in the LCD screen and EFV is digital instead of the real scene reflected in a mirror.

In short, if you're looking for a compact and powerful interchangeable lens camera system at a great price, then the Sony a6500 is for you.

 

More Sony a6500 Underwater Photos

Hawkfish, while common, are a fun portrait subject. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UCL-09LF diopter, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @28mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand

 

Anemone shrimp are commonly found with eggs. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UCL-09LF diopter, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @41mm, ISO 100, f/29, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand

 

A friendly green turtle hangs out for a portrait. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @37mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/125. Photo: Brent Durand

 

Two clownfish swim the same path through their host. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @25mm, ISO 125, f/16, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand

 

A nudibranch perches on a rock as current rips by. Sony a6500, Sony 16-50mm lens, Fantasea FA6500 housing, Fantasea UCL-09LF diopter, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes. @45mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1/160. Photo: Brent Durand

 

Disclosure: Fantasea loaned UWPG the gear reviewed in this article, which was returned after the review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Brent is a writer for the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

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.

 


Preview, specs, features and thoughts for underwater photo and video with the brand new Olympus TG-5 compact camera
By Brent Durand

Olympus Tough TG-5 Camera Preview

Brent Durand
Preview, specs, features and thoughts for underwater photo and video with the brand new Olympus TG-5 compact camera

Olympus has just announced a follow up to the extremely popular TG-4 compact camera - the Olympus Tough TG-5.

The TG-5 is packed full of features useful to underwater photo and video shooters; the latest camera from a brand that actively considers underwater shooters when designing its products. Not only is the camera waterproof down to 50ft (15m), but it is designed with the Olympus PT-058 UW housing rated to 147ft (45m). This housing is the most affordable TG-5 housing on the market and accepts most popular underwater photo accessories.

The Olympus TG-5 also packs RAW photo recording for wide latitude when editing (including white balance), 4K video recording, 1080p video recording at 120fps (4x slow motion!), a super macro mode with minimum focus distance of 1cm, and automatic TTL flash control with Olympus and/or 3rd party underwater strobes.

Est. Availability:  Shipping by June 16, 2017

Est. U.S.A Retail Price TG-5:  $449.99

Est. U.S.A. Retail Price PT-058:  $299.99

 


Bluewater Photo TG-5 Packages:

Olympus TG-5 Camera

Olympus TG-5 Underwater Housing PT-058

Olympus TG-5 and Housing Bundle

Olympus TG-5 Camera, Housing, and YS-03 Strobe Package


 

 

Olympus TG-5 Camera Specs

  • 12MP 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor optimized for low light (4000x3000 images)
  • Waterproof (50ft without housing), Shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof
  • Fast f/2.0-4.9 lens with 4.5mm - 18mm focal length (equivalent to 25mm - 100mm)
  • Minimum working distance 1cm (in super macro mode)
  • ISO range 100 - 12,800
  • Olympus TruePic VIII image processor
  • 25 autofocus points with Single AF and Tracking
  • 4K @30p video recording (approx. 102 Mbps bit rate). 1080 @120fps High Speed Movie mode
  • Pro Capture mode for 20fps image capture
  • Built-in flash
  • SD storage (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
  • WiFi capabilities, including camera control via smartphone
  • Weight (approx): 250g / 8.72oz with battery & memory card 
  • Dimensions: 113mm x 66mm x 31.9mm (4.43in x 2.6in x 1.23in)

 

TG-5 Upgrades from the TG-4

The Olympus TG-5 is almost, but not quite, the same size as the Olympus TG-4. This means that owners of a TG-3 or TG-4 housing cannot use the TG-5 in their current housing. The TG-4 became extremely popular with its semi-manual shooting modes, RAW image capture, image stabilization and (especially important for underwater photo/video shooters) microscope mode for super macro. The camera can shoot a crisp image of the back of the lens cap, literally.

The Tough TG-5 builds on this strong foundation with upgrades that follow the trends of high-ISO shooting performance, low light performance, 4K video recording and burst recording. These improvements can largely be summed up with a few notes on the new TG-5 image sensor.

 

TG-5 vs. TG-4 Image Sensor & Megapixel Comparison

The Olympus TG-5 uses the same size 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor as the TG-4, although the TG-5 has 12MP while the TG-4 has 16MP. Why the reduction? This is for two reasons. First, less megapixels generally results in better low light sensitivity. The TG-5 images will have less noise in the shadows and dark areas of the images. Second, less megapixels also means less data, which leads to faster image processing - essential when recording 4K video and high-fps bursts. The TG-5 does have an upgraded image processor, but the lower megapixel count surely makes a bigger difference in processing speeds.

Also keep in mind that Olympus has a wide-range of nice OM-D mirrorless cameras, so shooters who are looking strictly for megapixel count will likely shop the mirrorless options since they are more advanced cameras with better image quality. Check out this Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II bundle deal.

 

Thoughts for Underwater Photography

The Olympus TG-5 will be a great compact camera for underwater shooters who want a simple system on a budget. The camera is the perfect topside adventure companion, making it a smart purchase for the dive boat even if you already have a big camera system. The TG-5's upgrades in low light performance will deliver better image quality with less noise than the popular TG-4 when shooting underwater video and ambient light wide-angle, both of which often require shooting with ISOs above the base 100.

RAW image capture is an essential feature for divers who really want to edit their photos. Manual aperture control in the TG-5 is limited to three settings, but I don't see this as a huge drawback. 4K video (at 30fps) is available for those that really want the resolution, and 120fps (at Full HD) is available for those that are more interested in slow motion effects. When shooting in Microscope Mode, resolution is limited to 1080p at 60fps.

The TG-5 will be competing with the SeaLife DC2000, which features a larger 1" sensor and simple piano key control at a slightly cheaper price (camera + housing). That said, the entire feature set and versatility of the Olympus TG-5, from super macro mode to WiFi apps, make it a solid choice for both beginners and experienced shooters looking for something small. Other compact camera options are much more expensive, including the Sony RX100 IV / V and Canon G7 X Mk II.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympus TG-5 Underwater Housings

Unfortunately, the new Olympus TG-5 will not fit in the older TG3 and TG-4 underwater housings. The camera sizes are nearly identical, but do have some minor control differences as well as a larger finger grip. A new Olympus PT-058 TG-5 underwater housing will be available with the camera's release.

We also expect to see housing options from Ikelite, Recsea and Nauticam. The Ikelite housing price point will be similar to that of the Olympus PT-058 (see the Ikelite TG-4 housing for reference). The Recsea will be priced slightly higher and the Nauticam will likely be more than double. As above, we expect that the TG-5 will not fit into TG-4 housings from these brands.

We'll update this section as soon as we have more underwater housing information.

 

Related Reading:  Olympus TG-4 Camera Review

 


Bluewater Photo TG-5 Packages:

Olympus TG-5 Camera

Olympus TG-5 Underwater Housing PT-058

Olympus TG-5 and Housing Bundle

Olympus TG-5 Camera, Housing, and YS-03 Strobe Package


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Brent is a writer for the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

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.

 


Sony has announced flagship full frame camera body designed for speed, with 24MP sensor and 20fps burst shooting
By Brent Durand

Sony a9 Mirrorless Camera Preview

Brent Durand
Sony has announced flagship full frame camera body designed for speed, with 24MP sensor and 20fps burst shooting

Sony has just announced a new flagship full frame mirrorless camera at an event in New York City. The Sony a9 boasts a 24MP CMOS sensor and 20fps burst, with big claims that aim to create strong competition with other cameras in the pro sports category - namely the Canon 1D X Mk II and Nikon D5. The camera looks sexy with the new Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS telephoto zoom lens attached.

The Sony a9 incorporates a full-frame stacked 24.2MP CMOS sensor paired with an upgraded BIONZ X image processor. 20fps shooting is possible without any blackouts between frames (blackouts break up autofocus on DSLRs due the drop of the mechanical shutter). The electronic viewfinder is the best in the Sony mirrorless camera lineup and the autofocus is incredibly fast, focusing (and calculating exposure) at up to 60 times per second.

The electronic shutter means no mechanical shutter vibration - something that macro and supermacro shooters will cherish.

Battery life, a nagging issue with those that shoot Sony underwater, has been improved 2.2x from Sony's previous full-frame camera models (a7 II series). Topside shooters can also use a grip for expanded battery life.

Video image quality is very impressive, delivering 3840x2160 4K video from full-pixel 6K readout with no pixel-binning.

4D autofocus, 5-axis image stabilization, dual SD media slots and other features are just the cherries on top with the Sony a9's impressive spec list. Drooling yet? I am!

Availability:  Pre-orders start April 21, 2017

Estimated Price:  $4,499 USD

 

Sony a9 Camera Specs

  • Full-frame 24.2MP stacked CMOS sensor with integral memory
  • BIONZ X processing engine
  • Continuous shooting up to 20fps with AE/AF tracking
  • 693-point wide-area phase detection AF
  • 5-axis image stabilization (up to 5 stops)
  • 4K video recording with no pixel-binning (oversampling at 6K full-pixel readout)
  • ISO 100 - 51200 (mechanical shutter), ISO 100 - 25600 (electronic shutter)
  • Viewfinder: 1.3cm electronic 3686k-dot Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder
  • Dual SD card slots. (lower slot UHS-II)
  • Sony E-mount lens compatibility
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 126.9mm x 95.6mm x 63.0mm  /  5 x 3 7/8 x 2 1/2 inches
  • Weight (with battery & SD card): 673g / 1lb 7.7 oz

Sony a9 Recommended Lenses

Sony offers a nice lens selection for underwater photographers shooting the full-frame a9, both for photo and video.

 

Macro Lenses

  • Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro - The best option for Sony macro and supermacro shooters.

  • Sony 50mm F2.8 Macro - This lens is more of a mid-range when shot on full-frame, ideal for larger (yet still not wide-angle) subjects like big frogfish and stingrays.

  • Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro with Metabones adapter - This is the best macro lens out there but we haven't tested it with the adapter, so expect significant performance loss.

 

Wide-Angle Lenses

  • Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II Vario-Sonnar T* - A fast, pro-level ide-angle lens for situations where fisheye field of view is too large or warped and when macro is too narrow.

  • Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS Lens - A great wide-angle lens choice for those who don't want to buy the more expensive f/2.8 version.

  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 II or f/4 with Metabones adapter - These are Canon wide-angle staples, and great if you're switching over, but if you're starting new we recommend the native Sony wide-angle lenses.

 

Fisheye Lenses

 

Thoughts for Underwater Photo and Video

The Sony a9 is going to be a fantastic camera underwater, although it's more camera than most shooters will need. Many of the key differences between the a9 and the a7R II involve high-speed autofocus, burst shooting and fast processing speed that only those currently pushing those limits will notice.

Keep in mind that the Sony a9 has both a mechanical and mirrorless shutter, so the body size is going to be closer to that of a DSLR than that of a small mirrorless setup.

Personally, I find the Achilles heel of the Sony system underwater to be the 90mm macro lens. I used this lens with the Sony a6300 in Lembeh Straight while leading a workshop last September, and the autofocus / lens combo simply didn't compete with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 100mm macro setup I owned in 2012-15. Granted, the Sony a9 has some serious AF upgrades, but then so do the competitors - the 5D Mk IV and Nikon D810.

There are two reasons I would choose the Sony a9 over the Sony a7R / a7R II and DSLR competitors:

Video: The Sony a9 condenses full-pixel image into 4K video with no pixel-binning. Bottom line is high-quality video with beautiful color tones, contrast and sharpness. The full-frame sensor will likely deliver more dynamic range and better image quality than even the hyped up Panasonic GH5. That said, we won't know for sure until we test it, since the GH5 records 4K 4:2:2 10bit (1024 RGB color levels) while the Sony a9 only records 4K at 4:2:2 8bit (256 RGB color levels). 

High-speed shooting:  This camera should excel for topside shooting with better AF tracking, 693 AF points, 20fps burst and the quick integral processing of the new stacked CMOS sensor. Naturally, this screams sports, however there are some applications underwater where this will prove invaluable. This includes ambient light wide-angle with fast subjects like sea lions and dolphins, as well as macro behavior shooting under constant lighting.

So what's the move? Call or email the experts at Bluewater Photo to further discuss your camera options.

 

Sony a9 Underwater Housings

We expect to see the first housings ship within 3-5 weeks of the camera release. Expect Ikelite and Nauticam to be first, followed by Aquatica and Sea & Sea in following weeks. For pre-orders and to be first to know about these housings, email Bluewater Photo and they'll keep you up to date.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Brent is a writer for the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

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.

 


Preview of the newly announced Nikon D7500 camera specs and best lenses for underwater photography
By Chino Mendoza

Nikon D7500 Camera Preview

Chino Mendoza
Preview of the newly announced Nikon D7500 camera specs and best lenses for underwater photography

Nikon has just announced their new addition to their mid-range line, D7500.  From the specs that was released, the camera is built to perform.  

It is built around a 20.9 MP DX-format image sensor and EXPEED 5 processor; same as the award-winning D500. Aside from that, the camera is packed with features such as  wide ISO range up to 51,200, 8 fps, rugged design, 3.2 inch tilting touchscreen, 4K video to name a few.

Truly this would be a game changer for its class whether for topside or for underwater.

Below are the specs for the new Nikon D7500.

Availability:  Not yet available for purchase (we'll update this as soon as we know)

Retail Price: $1,249.95 USD

Nikon D7500 Specifications

  • 20.9 MP DX-Format Image Sensor 

  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor

  • Wide ISO Range up to 51,200

  • Fast Write Speeds

  • 8 fps Continuous Shooting

  • 51 Focus Points

  • 180,000-pixel RGB Sensor

  • 3.2 inch Tilting Touchscreen

  • 4K Video

  • Rugged Design

  • Up to 950 Shots in One Battery

  • Built-in WiFi

  • Bluetooth

 

Best Lenses for the Nikon D7500

The Nikon D7500 multiple lenses available in the market that would best suit the Nikon D7500, we would focus on lenses for underwater application. Underwater photography generally falls into two categories, wide-angle and macro. The lenses below are best for shooting in these styles.

Fisheye Lenses

This Tokina fisheye lens is dubbed 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 Nikon version and not the Canon version, as these are two different mounts. Read our review of the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye Lens.

 

Wide-Angle & Versatile Lenses

Divers who will be shooting sharks, whales or schools of fishes that may be further away may opt for a mid-range zoom lens like the  Nikon 10-24mm, Sigma 17-70mm or  Nikon 16-35mm. Many divers also use the Sigma 17-70mm OSM HSM for it's great flexibility between wide-angle and macro.

 

Macro Lens

There are two options main options for macro lens, Nikon 60mm and Nikon 105mm VR. The Nikon 60mm Macro lens is great starter lens and it is easy to use. The other option is the Nikon 105mm VR, it is great for macro and super macro. 

 

Underwater Housings Options

Since the camera has just been announced, we are still uncertain with what housing will be available. We will be updating this article as soon as we receive any information on what housings will cater to this wonderful camera.  But we are expecting to seee housings from these manufacturers.

 

Nauticam D7500 Underwater Housing

Aquatica D7500 Underwater Housing

Sea & Sea D7500 Underwater Housing

Ikelite D7500 Underwater Housing

 

Conclusion

The Nikon D7500 will surely be an excellent camera for underwater photo / video. Sensor and processor same as the D500, 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 Nikon D7500.  

Additional Resources

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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In-depth review of the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 micro 4/3 mirrorless camera, with video tests, comparisons, still photos and more
By UWPG Editors

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 Camera Review

UWPG Editors
In-depth review of the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 micro 4/3 mirrorless camera, with video tests, comparisons, still photos and more

The much anticipated Panasonic LUMIX GH5 micro 4/3 mirrorless camera is here! We've been eagerly awaiting the successor to the LUMIX GH4, which quickly became popular for its high-quality video, customization, small size and great price.

The Panasonic GH5 is packed full of carefully thought-out features designed to let videographers of all levels record what they need with the new system. The body is larger and the price tag increased as a result, but the video produced speaks for itself. Oh yea, and did we mention that the GH5's still photo capability holds it's own against the best from Olympus and Sony?

We shot with the GH5 for several days pre-release to create the tests and reviews below. Once we get our first production model in late April we'll continue adding more tests, sample videos and shooting guides... especially once the first underwater housings are released.

Preorder the Panasonic GH5 at Bluewater Photo.

 



Jump to Section:


Specs   -   Firmware Upgrade Path   -   GH5 Sample Footage & Test Video


Kelli Dickinson:  Detailed GH5 Comparison with Olympus E-M1 Mk II and Sony a7R II

Specs   -   Physical   -   Battery Life   -   Electronic Viewfinder / EFV   -   AF Speed   -   ISO
Image Detail   -   Kelli's Conclusion

Bobby Arnold:  Detailed GH5 vs. GH4 Video Comparisons

First Impressions   -   Video & Photo Comparison   -   GH5 vs. GH4 Comparison Video
Image Stabilization   -   GH5 Test Drive Video   -   Final Thoughts

Brent Durand:  General Shooting and Features

GH5 In the Field   -   Setting Custom White Balance   -    Post-Focus   -   6K Photo   -   Burst



 

 

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 Specs

  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor (no OLPF)

  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization system with 'Dual IS 2' support

  • All 4K footage taken using full width of sensor (oversampled from 5.1K footage)

  • Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2 video capture

  • 4K/59.94p and 50p shooting with 10-bit 4:2:2 output or 8-bit, 4:2:0 internal recording

  • 1080 video at up to 180p, enabling 7.5x slow-motion

  • 225-area Advanced Depth-From-Defocus AF system

  • 4K and 6K Photo, 18MP stills at 30 fps using HEVC or 8MP stills at 60 fps using H.264

  • 12fps (AFS) or 9fps (AFC) burst shooting

  • Advanced DFD autofocus

  • Dual UHS II card slots (V60 ready)

  • Autofocus point joystick

  • 5GHz Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth

  • Pre-configurable rack focus mode

  • Waveform and vectorscope monitors

  • 3.2" RGBW free-angle touchscreen LCD 

 

Notes on Firmware Upgrade Path

The Panasonic GH5 will ship with firmware version 1.0. Those who have been following the first reviews know that some features will become available only after two scheduled firmware updates. Below is the schedule as we understand it.

Upgrade Available at Launch:

  • V-Log Color Profile ($100). Note that if you previously purchased this for the GH4 that you will need to buy it again.

April Firmware Update:

  • 4:2:2 10bit update for 1080p (v1.0 includes 4:2:2 10bit for 4K and UHD)

Summer 2017 Firmware Update:

  • High Resolution Anamorphic (4992x3744 pixels, 4:3, 18MP)
  • Full HD 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra (200Mbps)
  • 4K  4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra (400Mbps)

 

Panasonic GH5 Sample Footage and Test Video

Panasonic GH5 Sample Footage. Note that 60fps comparison is slowed to 50% speed. Video by Bobby Arnold.

 

 

Detailed GH5 Spec Comparison

with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II and Sony a7R II

 

 

Panasonic GH5

Olympus E-M1 Mark II

Sony A7R II

Price

$1,999

$1,999

$3,1999

Format

Micro 4/3rds

Micro 4/3rds

Full Frame (35mm)

Max Resolution

5184 x 3888

5184 x 3888

7952 x 5304

Effective Pixels

20 MP

20 MP

42 MP

ISO

Auto, 200-25600 (Expands to 100)

Auto, 200-25600

(Expands to 64)

Auto, 100-25600

(Expands to 50)

Custom White Balance

Yes (4 Slots)

Yes (4 Slots)

Yes

Image Stabilization Info

5 Axis, supports Dual IS 2

5 Axis, up to 5.5 stops shake reduction

5 Axis, up to 4.5 stops shake reduction

Autofocus

Contrast Detection

Contrast & Phase Detection

Contrast & Phase Detection

Number of Focus Points

225

121

399

Flash Sync Speed

1/250

1/250

1/250

Burst Shooting

12 fps

60 fps* / 15 fps

5 fps

Video Formats

MPEG-4, AVCHD, H.264

MPEG-4, H.264

MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVCS

LCD Screen Size

3.2”

3”

3”

Screen Dots

1,620,000

1,037,000

1,228,800

Touch Screen

Yes

Yes

No

Electronic Viewfinder Coverage

100%

100%

100%

EVF Magnification

0.76x

0.74x

0.78x

Viewfinder Resolution

3,680,000

2,360,000

2,359,296

Storage Types

Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC

Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC

Single SD/SDHC/SDXC

Memory Stick Duo/Pro/Pro-HG Duo

Environmentally Sealed

Yes

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

410

440

290

Weight

725 g (1.60 lb / 25.57 oz)

574 g (1.27 lb / 20.25 oz)

625 g (1.38 lb / 22.05 oz)

Dimensions

139 x 98 x 87 mm (5.47 x 3.86 x 3.43)

134 x 91 x 67 mm (5.28 x 3.58 x 2.64)

127 x 96 x 60 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.36)


*E-M1 Mark II features and electronic burst mode allowing for up to 60fps capture (in RAW or .jpg format), although with a limit of 50frames. Standard mechanical burst rate is 15 fps.

 

 

Panasonic GH5 Physical Comparison

The benefit of mirrorless cameras is that they offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, with a higher quality and better focusing than compacts in a smaller, lighter package than their DSLR counterparts. As the mirrorless cameras are becoming more robust, we’ve seen the sizes of these cameras begin to increase, almost getting close to the same size as DSLR cameras. Luckily we’re not quite there yet, and the Panasonic GH5, which the largest of the mirrorless options so far, is still smaller than a DSLR. Compared to other mirrorless cameras, it is slightly larger both in height and thickness, and weighs more by nearly a third of a pound. The Panasonic GH5 sits taller and is much thicker than the E-M1 Mark II and A7R II, especially when you take into account the larger eyecup around the electronic viewfinder. It also weighs the most, coming in at 1.6lbs, compared to the E-M1 Mark II’s 1.27lbs and the A7R II’s 1.38lbs. All three of these cameras are smaller and weigh much less than popular DSLR options, such as the Nikon D500, which comes in at 1.9lbs.

 

 

GH5 Battery Life Comparison

Battery life is also a big question for underwater photographers because we have no way to change a battery mid dive, should we run out of juice. Mirrorless cameras have long been known to have mediocre batteries, often needing to be changed one or more times during a multiple dive day. Panasonic is usually on the higher end when it comes to battery life, and the GH5 is no exception. The new battery for the GH5 is rated to 410 shots. With the way many people shoot this means it will last you between 2-3 dives. Compared to the E-M1 Mark II it’s good, though the E-M1 Mark II has a slightly more powerful battery, rated for around 440 shots. Both of these blow the Sony A7R II out of the water, which only comes in at 290 shots, often needing to be changed after each dive in order to not run out of battery life during the next dive. It’s also pretty easy to see how the E-M1 Mark II could have a better battery life than the others, look at the size of the battery, especially compared to the Sony!!

 

 

 

Electronic Viewfinder and EFV Comparison

Before checking out the specs on the cameras we did a simple, “by my eye” test to get a feel for the LCD and EVF on each of the three cameras. We asked, which looked best to our eyes, which offered the smoothest view when panning, did any cut off the image?

It was a hard choice between the Panasonic and Olympus cameras, but the Panasonic appeared to have the clearest and highest resolution LCD. Both the Panasonic GH5 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 were clear, and super fine. The Sony LCD seemed a little rougher, as if you could make out the pixel grid when looking carefully. All three were extremely smooth and fast acting, there was no image delay or issues when panning (jumpy / jittery playback, etc).

For the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), Olympus and Panasonic came out tied in our tests. Resolution wise the Panasonic was a bit sharper and brighter, but when you start to move the camera around, the EVF stutters much more than the Olympus, creating a blurry and jittery image, especially in low light. The Sony quality does not look as good as the Panasonic and Olympus, however it does react better in low light, creating the most natural looking image when you move the camera around.

 

 

GH5 Autofocus Speed Comparison

When it comes to Auto Focus Speed, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II appears to be the winner, with the Panasonic GH5 hot on its heels. Sony performs well in good light, but is dismally slow in low light. We tested the Olympus & Panasonic with the 60mm macro and the Sony with 90mm macro. The goal with using the macro lens, was to really push the cameras focus speeds by using the lens that offered the greatest range in focus.

The Panasonic GH5 is extremely fast focusing. It averaged around 1.3s to change focus from infinity to near the minimum focus distance in low light. Going back out to infinity from minimum distance usually took around 1.7s. These tests pushed the camera to its limits, so for most shooting focus speeds would be faster than a second! When we tested refocusing at similar focus distances, the results were so fast, we could not stop the timer quickly enough (less than .5 seconds!). (improvement over GH4??)

In comparison, the Olympus E-M1 Mark II matched, and sometimes beat the GH5. In low light, the Olympus would focus from infinity down to its minimum distance on average of 1 second, and from minimum focus distance out to infinity in about 1.3s. When refocusing the camera at a similar distance from the previous shot, the E-M1 Mark II averaged around .7s. There was little to no hunting for focus, and we only saw that happen when trying to focus on an extremely low contrast subject. In good light, focusing was nearly instantaneous, a huge improvement for this camera over the older bodies.

The Sony A7R II, while impressive with its 42mp and full frame sensor, lost the focus tests by a long shot. It’s well known that the 90mm macro lens is a bit clunky and very slow to focus, and our tests confirmed that. When moving from infinity to near the minimum focus distance in low light, it took 4 second to focus on average. In good light, this was drastically improved to around a second or less. General refocusing in low light conditions also took a long, 3 seconds on average, however when the light was good, focus was nearly instantaneous. If you choose the Sony – make sure you have a good focus light for macro!

 

 

Panasonic GH5 ISO Comparison

In continuing the comparison, we looked at the image quality against all three cameras as we progressed through the ISO range. Each shot was taken to match exposure as we increased the ISO, with the same settings for each camera. We found that all three produce great, clear photos at low ISO, as to be expected. As we progressed through the higher ISO’s the Sony maintains high quality, with low noise as we knew it would from previous tests. The full frame sensor, and high megapixel count along with Sony’s innovative backside-illuminated sensor, which allows for more light gathering, resulting in high quality, high ISO photos.

However, we were pleasantly surprised with the performance of both the GH5 and the E-M1 Mark II. In the past, mirrorless camera quality degraded very quickly once you began pushing the ISO, but that is no longer the case. At ISO 1600 image quality on the GH5 is still excellent, as is the E-M1 Mark II. Even when pushed to the max at ISO 25600 the image is still useable for some. The noice and breakdown of image quality is significantly less than previous mirrorless cameras, resulting in great photographs, even in low light conditions.

 

ISO 400

 

ISO 400 - 100% Crop

 

 

ISO 1600

 

 

ISO 1600 - 100% Crop

 

 

ISO 6400

 

 

ISO 6400 - 100% Crop

 

 

ISO 25,600

 

 

ISO 25,600 - 100% Crop

 

 

 

Panasonic GH5 Image Detail Comparison

Both the Panasonic GH5 and Olympus E-M1 Mark II use the same sized micro four thirds CMOS sensor (17 x 13mm). They both feature 20 MP and use a high end processor. With all this in mind, we expected detail levels to be very similar between the GH5 and E-M1 Mark II. After a few test shots, we confirmed, both cameras offer a very nice level of detail for the smaller sized sensor. In the 100% crop examples below you can easily make out all the fuzz on the flower stem for both cameras.

Not surprisingly, the Sony A7R II, with a full frame (35 x 24mm) CMOS sensor and 42 megapixels offers not only the ability to crop in further to an image, but also a higher level of detail. If high detail reproduction is the most important aspect of your photography, then looking at a full frame camera is the way to go.

One more thing to note, is that both the Panasonic and Sony produce much warmer colors on default. All test images were shot under the same lighting conditions using each camera’s “Auto White Balance”. The Olympus results have much cooler colors, none of the photos have been color corrected.

 

Image Detail

 

Image Detail - 100% Crop

 

 

Kelli's Conclusion

All in all, I am very excited for the new GH5. With the specs it offers, the video should be incredible, as has always been the case with Panasonic’s GH series. In addition to that, they have really crafted an excellent still camera. The increase to 20MP makes a huge difference with image quality and ISO performance compared to previous models. The camera is lightning quick to focus, and easy to use with dedicated buttons for many key controls.

When compared against other top of the line mirrorless cameras, the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the full frame Sony A7R II, the Panasonic holds its own. Of course, the backside-illuminated full frame sensor of the Sony, with 42 MP is going to return higher detail, but the level of detail between the Panasonic and Olympus is nearly identical and vastly improved from previous versions. ISO tests were fantastic, with very little noise apparent until extremely high ISO’s on both the Panasonic and Olympus. In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Panasonic to any avid shooter that want’s the best out both video and still photo options.

 

 


 

Panasonic GH4 vs. GH5

Having used the GH4 for 2 years, and the GH2 before that, l was very excited to try out the new GH5. I compared the GH5 to the GH4, and also to the GX85 a camera offering some of the features that have been vastly improved on the GH5.

 

First Impressions of the GH5

My initial observations were that the GH5 seemed a little heavier and larger than the GH4, but they layout of the controls was very similar to the GH4 and my muscle memory kicked in right away. The most noticeable change to the controls was the addition of a joystick control. While use of the joystick is not required, I can definitely see where this will be the preferred method of menu (and on-screen) control for many users. To review the differences better, I set the camera up on a tripod next to the GH4, this confirmed the size differences, but not drastically so. Turning both cameras on revealed another difference, the image on the LCD of the GH5 appeared flatter than that on the GH4. I later dug into the menu and found that the LCD controls were vastly improved over the GH4. This is great news for the underwater shooter and the video professional. You have many more options to adapt the LCD to the shooting conditions as well your shooting style (Picture profile, use of external recorder etc). Wrapping up my initial impressions of the GH5 was the menu itself. The GH4 already had a plethora of options and settings, and the GH5 greatly expanded on that. To combat the sheer volume of menu controls, the GH5 now organizes much of the menu using categories. The GH5 also delivers a custom menu you can add their favorite settings to for quick access.

 

GH5 Video Comparison

The GH line, including the GH5, while appearing to be a dSLR style camera, is targeted at the person primarily shooting video.  The GH4 was targeted at the consumer, but included features aimed at “prosumers”. The GH5 continues that trend, and will likely also be the choice for B-roll and even main camera work by video professionals. While the GH4 was the first consumer camera offering 4K, the GH5 is still offering firsts this time in the form of 4K video at 60 frames per second (4k 60p). This will allow for improved slow motion footage in 4K. Bit rate offerings have been increased to 150Mb/s in the first version of the firmware. Panasonic believes in continual improvement for their cameras and is already planning an update offering a 400Mb/s All-Intra format later this year. Another big change is offering up to 190 frames per second (the GH4 had 96fps) in regular HD (1080p) mode.

The GH5 also offers more picture modes aimed at the prosumer, including flatter picture profiles that lend themselves to applying color correction in post-production (including the use of custom LUTs – Look Up Tables). I was happy to see the Cinelike profiles are also still available on the GH5. My favorite on the GH4 is the Cinelike-V profile, which I used on the GH5 and produced beautiful results with minimal color correction required. Finally, due to the implementation of a new 20 megapixel (20MP) image sensor (prior versions of the GH series and most micro-four-thirds cameras utilize a 16MP sensor). The main benefit of this new sensor for video shooters is the fact that the GH5 utilize more of the sensor to capture a video image. This results in less of a crop factor (2.0 on the GH4 vs 2.4 on the GH5). This is great news for wide angle shooting as more of the camera lens is utilized resulting in a wider shot.

 

GH5 Photo Comparison

While the GH line is primarily targeted at Video shooters, the photo qualities and features have continued to improve greatly in recent versions of the camera. The GH5 continues in this trend by offering the improved 20MP image over the previous versions which only offered 16MP. I shot mostly video with the pre-production GH5 I got to try out for the weekend, but also took some photos using the new 12-60mm f2.8-f4 lens. The results were impressive to say the least. Another big improvement was the removal of the anti-aliasing feature on the sensor. The feature was needed in past versions of cameras to minimalize the moire resulting in video footage. Due to improved processing power, the need for this filter has been eliminated. The result is a sharper, more detailed image.

 

GH5 vs. GH4 Comparison Video

Panasonic GH5 vs. GH4 Comparison Video. Note that 60fps comparison is slowed to 50% speed. By Bobby Arnold.

 

GH5 Image Stabilization

While Olympus has primarily focused on in-body stabilization (aka in-body image stabilization or IIS), Panasonic has focused on lens stabilization (aka optical image stabilization or OIS). Panasonic has recently upped the ante offering both image stabilization in addition to the lens stabilization. For supported lenses, the two are combined offering 5-axis stabilization known as Dual-IS. The feature really appealed to me and last year I purchased the first Panasonic camera offering Dual-IS for both photos and 4k video, the GX85. This feature has proved tremendously valuable, both on land and underwater. While the water column tends to buffer some of the “shake” that can make video footage less desirable, the sensor image stabilization can further help to stabilize the image, even when shooting with a tripod. The sensor image stabilization also helps to stabilize prime lenses and other lenses that do not feature OIS. The GH5 offers the second generation of Dual-IS from Panasonic and was very impressive with pre-production GH5. Finally Dual-IS also helps still photography by allowing the photographer to shoot at slower shutter speeds producing crisp images with no-noise. According to Panasonic, the Dual-IS offers up to 5 full stops of light over OIS. The GH5 also offers electronic stabilization, which works similar to the “Warp Stabilizer” in Adobe Premiere. This will appeal to those wishing to minimizing their time in post-production (and wouldn’t you rather be shooting more video then staring at your computer?). 

 

GH5 Test Drive Video

Pansonic LUMIX GH5 Test Drive Video. By Bobby Arnold.

 

Final Thoughts on the GH5

Panasonic won me over from using traditional video cameras with the GH2. While the GH3 didn’t offer enough for me to upgrade, but the GH4 hit a home run in features, video quality and photo quality. The GH5 continues in that trend and will likely attract many video professionals over cameras costing many times price of the GH5. The increased image quality, improved slow motion capabilities, image stabilization and continued improvement in shooting options will also greatly appeal to the underwater photographer and videographer and is definitely worth the upgrade over the GH4. 

 

- Bobby Arnold

-->  View More of Bobby's Videos on his Vimeo Page

 


 

 

Panasonic GH5 In the Field

The GH5 feels nice in your hands and is easy to carry. The button layout is ergonomic and easy to use while shooting photos, videos and reviewing content in the LCD. The many custom function buttons mean you can program your favorite features at your fingertips. The menus, while different from the brands I'm used to, were straightforward and easy to set up for photo and video shooting, although I did need to look up a few Panasonic tricks like activating VFR mode and setting a 180d shutter angle (more on this later).

The first feature I noticed was that you can start/stop video recording with the shutter button, which is nice underwater since the shutter lever on most housings is easiest to depress/pull without much shake.

Autofocus performance was very fast in different lighting conditions: silhouettes in the sun, fast action, low contrast fog, and a low-light night scene. The continuous autofocus tracked well for both photo and video, and I didn't have any instances where the camera shifted focus from the subject to background (note that this happens more when shooting macro underwater).

The new Venus Engine image processor is largely responsible for this great speed, although I did experience some lag when jumping quickly between shooting modes and menu, and especially when pushing playback after shooting an image (using a Delkin SD HC card with write speed of 80MB/S). This won't stand out if you shoot a mirrorless or compact, but if you are coming from a DSLR you'll need to adjust.

Lastly, the image on the rear LCD screen flutters slightly when autofocus is actively tracking; which, however, seems to be the norm with EFV and LCD displays on mirrorless cameras using phase detection AF (* The GH5 uses DFD autofocus, which is very similar).

All-in-all, I really enjoyed shooting the Panasonic GH5 and truly look forward to shooting a production model once released.

 

How to Set Custom White Balance

The first question I receive from video shooters on new cameras is whether there is one-touch white balance and how it's set. So here's a quick guide to setting manual white balance on the LUMIX GH5.

  1. Push WB button on top of camera

  2. Navigate to Custom WB1 (icon of two opposing triangles)

  3. Push rear control dial up

  4. Fill the box on the LCD screen with a properly exposed white surface (i.e. white card)

  5. Push Set button. Screen then displays Completed.

  6. Start recording!

Note: Pros will love that there are 4 different custom white balance modes, plus 4 different custom kelvin temp settings.

 

Special Features

These special features on the Panasonic GH5 are very cool, but the end result is a .jpg file instead of a .RW2 (RAW) file. They'll be fun for some people while others likely will not use them.

 

Post-Focus Function

The GH5 autofocus performed quickly and accurately during our tests, proving that Panasonic's Depth From Defocus (DFD) AF technology can hold its own in the high-end mirrorless category. But what if you don't get the focus just right on your supermacro shot? No need to worry. If you are shooting with Post-Focus, you can literally change the focal point of the image in-camera during image review. Just remember - you need to capture the image using Post-Focus, which takes 1-2 seconds, meaning you cannot use underwater strobes.

 

6K Photo Function

The 6K Photo function on the GH5 is great for those who want to ensure they capture the best moment in a sequence. While the GH5 shoots an impressive 9fps burst with RAW image files, sometimes that's not enough. If you set the top left control dial on the camera to 6K Photo, then the camera will essentially record a 30fps movie. To record this movie, you can simply hold the shutter down, set the camera to start/stop or set it to PRE.

You can then create a 18MP .jpg file from any point in that 6K Photo file (4992x3744). Need more frames? Set the camera to 4K at 60fps, although this limits you to a 8MP .jpg file (3328x2496).

Why would you use 6K Photo instead of taking a still image from regular 4K footage? When recording video, the camera's shutter speed generally doubles the framerate. As a result the subject in scenes with motion will suffer from motion blur. This isn't really noticeable when playing a video but will make a still image useless. 6K Photo records the file at your selected framerate, allowing you to freeze motion in each frame. When you pull the still image it will be nice and sharp.

 

Panasonic GH5 Burst Shooting

The Panasonic GH5 shoots an impressive 11fps burst in single autofocus mode (AFS), or 9fps in continuous (AFC). This is, of course, if you're not using the 30fps 6K Photo function. I shot some skaters in Venice Beach and the camera had no problem tracking the moving subjects. See sample below.

 

Additional Panasonic GH5 Sample Images

 

 

 

 

 

Panasonic GH4 Resources

 

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In-depth look at the Nikon D500 for macro and wide-angle, including comparisons to the D300s and D7100, plus detailed MDX-D500 housing review
By Mike Bartick

Nikon D500 Review with Sea & Sea MDX-D500 Housing

Mike Bartick
In-depth look at the Nikon D500 for macro and wide-angle, including comparisons to the D300s and D7100, plus detailed MDX-D500 housing review

At last, Nikon has finally released the successor to its series of pro-consumer sensor cameras, the D500. A clean jump over the cloud of mid-consumer grade bodies that were released in the interim, the D500 is a solid and robust camera that will surely function at a higher professional level for many years.

I have to admit, I was waiting for the D400 to materialize, but when it never came I felt I had to settle with the D7100. I used that system each day and logged more than 1200 dives on my Sea & Sea MDX-D7100 housing without any rebuilds, which is a true testament to durability and reliability. Looking back on that system, overall I was very pleased with that decision and will continue to use that setup as a backup.

It’s also important to disclose that I am not being paid by Nikon, Sea & Sea or Bluewater Photo for this review, and while I'm not a technical writer, I’ll be honest and as thorough as possible.

I dive 20+ days a month logging 500-600 dives a year, and I rarely enter the water without my rig. I’m not easy on my gear but do daily rinses and regular O-ring maintenance. 

This quick review of the Nikon D500 will be in comparison to the D300s and D7100 camera bodies - both APSC sensors. My choice for shooting on an APSC sensor comes from the style I shoot the most, which is macro. And while I enjoy shooting wide, my biggest use for the D500 will be the small stuff. I also shoot fully manual strobes using sync cords and rely on autofocus for most shots.

 

Supermacro view of a Cryptic sponge shrimp

Nikon D500 with Nikkor 105mm macro lens, INON CL67 diopter, Retra Snoot, Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobe

The subtle details of the shrimp were picked up well in this image. I used the AF lock lever to secure the critical focus point and standard shutter release to capture the image. Selecting the proper focal point is faster and more precise using the “4-key” command dial on the MDX-D500 housing verses the single round selector found on the 7100 housing.

 

 

Nikon D500 Feel and Form:

Out of the box the D500 body feels solid in the hand, ergonomic, and like the others in the series (D200, 300, 300s), it’s easy to function with small or larger hands. It’s weather sealed and will withstand water droplets, mist and other natural environmental challenges.

The D500 comes with a reduced amount of megapixels (20.9 million) packed into its 24x16 DX CMOS sensor without the low pass filter, offering a very suitable dynamic range. The video function shoots at 4K resolution, plus alternative choices, and provides memory slots for fast XQD and SD memory cards.

I purchased the camera while in the US and tested the body right away shooting butterflies and other terrestrial subjects while waiting for the housing to be manufactured, and I had a hard time setting the camera down. The camera really is fun to shoot. When shooting at 10 frames per second, the shutter sounds like a machine gun and is sure to turn some heads when shooting shoulder to shoulder with other photographers! While this capability might not be used everyday underwater it will certainly make any sports photographer happy, and with its expandable ISO ranges, capturing action from a distance or in low light conditions should never be an issue.

The most significant drawback for the D500 camera body is the lack of pop up flash. For me it’s a non-issue, but it does force the underwater shooter to purchase a flash trigger to use fiber optic cables (instead of sync cords), which means an added expense if he/she chooses to shoot with that method.

I have seen the largest improvement in the D500 over the D7100 and D300/300s in the image quality. The images seem sharper and cleaner - even in the RAW files, which is particularly evident when I shoot fluoro images at high ISO (1600) and in a darker environment. The D7000/7100 series failed miserably here, so I was quite pleased to see the difference. I’m also excited to say that I have not seen any sensor diffraction from shooting at accelerated F-stops of 22 or greater. This is really good news if you like to shoot super macro or need to stop down to the extreme.

You can find many more technical specs to in UWPG’s Nikon D500 First Look article.

 

Rare hard coral pipefish

Nikon D500 with Nikkor 105mm macro lens (*cropped), dual INON Z-240 strobes

Clean, sharp and good on noise. The D500 eats macro subjects for lunch and the housing is small enough to squeeze into tight spots. This small coral head took a bit of yoga maneuvering to gain access. The sensor doesnt seem to have the diffraction issues of the D7100.

 

 

The Sea & Sea D500 Housing Feel and Function:

Finally, after much anticipation and patience, I've been able to pair my D500 with the new Sea and Sea MDX-D500 housing and get it in the water. The MDX-D500 housing is a small, simple and rugged housing system.

Stark improvements and subtle details can be seen inside of the housing and out, starting with the main selector dial. The MDX-D500 has shifted back to the 4-key main dial that controls the camera’s main wheel from the outside. The subcommand dial is located on the right. Thumb access allows for very quick AF point selections to be made, which helps you create stronger compositions while shooting.

A slightly larger rear window provides greater visibility of the LCD screen – useful for reviewing images, checking your histogram and shooting video. The OK button remains in the same place, which might confuse the D7000 line of shooters (that button is located in a different position). The ISO control is a lever at the index finger tip just behind the shutter release and with just a few dives becomes highly functional in its new location.

The Sea and Sea camera mount ensures a consistent and solid fit each time you slide your camera body into the housing. The mount also allows 3D tracking to be enabled using the lever located on the left of the housing just above the AF/MF lever.

The levers on the right side of the housing - AF lock, ISO, Video - seem a little cramped, but with the smaller housing size it’s a fair trade-off. Using the levers is a simple task when making adjustments or toggling to video and back. The review lever, located on the left thumb, provides quick reviews when pushed up and zooming into the reviews image when pushed down. I use this new function frequently and love it.

The MDX-D500 housing has changed the back to a dual latch locking system, securing the housing together. Water channels near the housing O-rings and grooves direct droplets of unseen water away from the open back. This is handy when changing lenses on the boat from the front of the housing or the rear. Bulkheads are in place for electronic modular strobe connectors, auxiliary video screen or vacuum systems.

Underwater, the housing might feel a bit heavier in the hand since the smaller housing doesn’t hold the same volume of air as some of the bulkier housings on the market. I recommend using float arms to counter balance the system to your liking. One key benefit to the small housing size is that the buttons are easy to access for small hands.

 

Feeding Lizard fish

Nikon D500 with Nikkor 105mm macro lens, Kraken 1000 lumen light

Testing the sensitivity of the white balance wasn't the idea when I shot the image. My strobe cable had failed and i quickly switched to using my 1000 lumen torch. It worked well enough to pull out a decent shot. I'll use this technique a little more down the road to see how far I can run with it.


 

Shooting Underwater

Macro:  60mm, 105mm, 105mm + diopters

Macro is always going to be the easiest shooting style for controlling color balance, and as expected the D500 is a monster for macro. Quick AF point selections and compositions are fast, focus is quick, and access to the back-button focus mechanism, seamless. This is vital to gain critical focus on super macro subjects and for rapid firing. The D500 continues to be a bit fussy to fire at times but I've overcome that using the focus locking function. The 3D focus tracking is also a great tool for tracking subjects within the frame. Once the focus point has been selected, recomposing within the frame is a snap.

 

Shooting Underwater

Wide-Angle:  Tokina 10-17mm fisheye with Zen dome port

I like to shoot with the sun either entirely in the frame or completely out of the frame, rarely overlapping the edge of the frame. This seems to be the best way to get the full force of the sun onto the camera sensor, control it, and create a “bright and tight” orb in the frame. The D500 handled the sun without any issues and with very little effort. I shot fast and slow shutter speeds and could see the difference on the smoothness of the surface while retaining the same light qualities from the shadows to the sun.

I also shot in the shallows to capture sunrays. This was easier than I had anticipated and I was able to do so very easily with higher shutter speeds. Without any large creatures or any significant reef fish for this test, I selected a couple of well-formed coral heads that cooperated by not swimming off.

 

Dynamic Range Test, Dark to Light

Nikon D500 with Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, Zen mini dome, dual Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes

Changing the port and lens from the front of the housing is a fast and easy task with the MDX-D500 housing.  Accessing the shutter speed dial and f-stop dial is simple on the housing, although the levers do feel a bit cramped. ISO is easy to adjust on the fly, which I use when shooting W/A quite often depending on my depth.

 


Nikon D500 Noise Test:

Blackwater diving is part of my routine and ISO speed is usually set to 650. This is very helpful when cropping very small subjects during post processing. I’ve even used the cropped DX function in the D500 and it seems to add a slight magnification to the macro images, allowing me to fill the frame a bit more.

I did see some noise in my fluoro images shot at ISO 1600 and expanded to 100%. But this is probably an extreme example of searching for digital noise rather then noticing it take away from image quality. For everyday use and publication on the Internet, the noise at these ISOs will never be an issue.

 

Fluoro Lizardfish

Nikon D500 with Nikkor 60mm macro lens, Kraken 2800 torch on blue, 1 Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobe with blue diffuser

When we check for noise at ISO 1600 it's apparent, although the image is still of high-enough quality for print publication and digital dissemination.

 

Learn more about underwater fluoro photography.

 

In Conclusion

Overall, I am happy with the D500’s performance after 20 days of diving. It’s a powerhouse of a camera that will perform well for underwater shooters and topside shooters alike.

The Sea and Sea MDX-D500 housing is the ultimate fit for the D500 and I highly recommend it.

Ease of use, durability, function, button access and price point make the Sea and Sea housing a definite buy. The wait is over, get out there and buy one - you’re going to love it!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Bartick is an avid and experienced scuba diver and Marine Wildlife Photographer. He has an insatiable love for nudibranchs, frogfish and other underwater critters, and is the official critter expert for the Underwater Photography Guide. Mike is also one of the UWPG trip leaders. See more of his work at www.saltwaterphoto.com.

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Canon reveals their new addition to the PowerShot Series, the G9X Mark II with new processor, improved stabilization and lots of new shooting modes

First Look at the Canon G9X Mark II

Canon reveals their new addition to the PowerShot Series, the G9X Mark II with new processor, improved stabilization and lots of new shooting modes

It has been a couple of years already since Canon released the G9X.  Now Canon will be releasing a follow up with the Canon G9X Mark II. It is a sleek and compact camera packed with features and comes in two colors, black and silver. It has some similaries with its predecessor but with few updates which might rise interest to photographers.  The important updates will be discussed further below.

The body of the G9X Mark II is very similar with its predecessor, so it might fit in many of the underwater housings from G9X.  

Availability:  March 2017

U.S. Retail Price:  $599.99

 

Canon G9X Mark II Key Upgrades:

  • New DIGIC 7 Image Processor - improved performance, less noise on higher ISO, faster continuous shooting performance especially when shooting RAW.
  • Improved Dual I.S. Image Stabilization - Capable of up to 3.5 stops of correction compared to the 3 stops with the G9X.
  • More Shooting Modes 
  • Battery Life - Slight improvement

 

Canon G9X Mark II Complete Specs

  • 1.0 inch, 20.1 MP High-sensitivity CMOS Sensor
  • Digic 7 Image Processor
  • Full HD (60, 30, 24 fps) / HD (30 fps) / VGA (30 fps)
  • Optical Zoom: 3.0x
  • Lens (in 35mm format): 28–84mm, f/2.0(W)–f/4.9(T)
  • ISO range 125 - 12800
  • Continuous Shooting: Up to 8.2 fps
  • 3.0" Capacitive Touch Panel LCD
  • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (PictBridge compatible); AV Output (NTSC, MP4, Stereo Audio); Micro-HDMI Connector, SD Memory Card Slot
  • Built-in WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in
  • Weight:  Approx. 7.3 oz. / 206g

Comparison Between Canon G9X and Canon G7X Mark II:

You can also read our Canon G7 X II Review.

 

Underwater Housings:

We expect to see the first housings announced when the camera starts shipping in March. Ikelite and Nauticam housings will likely be the first to ship, followed by Aquatica, Sea&Sea and Acquapazza. The team at Bluewater Photo is always available to answer questions.

We'll update this section as we learn more!

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chino Mendoza , is an avid diver and underwater photographer and tries to go everytime he can.  He is based in Manila which is a few hours Anilao which is the “critter capital of the Philippines”  He likes to shoot macro and his favorite subjects are nudibranchs and frogfishes.

Get in touch with him via email at lorenzo@bluewaterphotostore.com

View Chino's work:  Facebook     |     Instagram

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Review of the 5D Mk IV for video, including HDR shooting, ISO tests, dual-pixel autofocus, dynamic range and 4K resolution image quality
By Mike Raabe

Canon 5D Mk IV Underwater Video Review

Mike Raabe
Review of the 5D Mk IV for video, including HDR shooting, ISO tests, dual-pixel autofocus, dynamic range and 4K resolution image quality

The Canon 5D mk IV is the long awaiting upgrade to the 5D mk III.  It seeks to be an all around powerhouse with many new features for stills and video. This review will focus on the video features of the 5D mk IV. The ability to shoot 4K at 24/30 fps, 1080p at 60fps, and 720p at 120fps is a welcomed addition to the 5D line of cameras.

The Dual Pixel servo autofocus in video mode is a DSLR game changer, the first of its kind in the 5D family and second in the Canon family. Having servo AF and the ability to track focus on a moving subject is a much-anticipated upgrade from the 5D mk III. The 5D mk IV also shoots in 4:2:2 color space, allowing for greater latitude in color correction compared to the 5D mk III. The ISO settings did not increase much, but the quality of the higher ISOs is a noticeable improvement.  The 5D mk IV also boasts HDR filming in 1080p, which allows the camera to reduce highlight and shadow clipping, achieving a higher dynamic range when filming. Overall, the advancements in video mode coupled with the 30 megapixel sensor for stills makes this an awesome upgrade from the 5D mk III.

Be sure to also read our complete Canon 5D Mk IV Review for underwater still photography.

 

Video Autofocus

The most important and significant upgrade to the 5D mk IV is the Dual-Pixel Autofocus that allows continuous focusing while recording!  This upgrade makes the 5D mk IV the first full frame DSLR with continual focus. Movie servo AF options include; Face Detection with tracking, FlexiZone Mulit, and FlexiZone Single. Even with a dive mask on, the face detection will work underwater, though it does not work on animals. I recommend using the face detection option or the FlexiZone Multi, because the camera will focus on the dominant subject in the frame and continually track focus. The FlexiZone Single will only focus on what is in the white square on the screen.  The performance of the focusing is smooth and fast. You can even change the speed of the focusing in FlexiZone mode, allowing for more creative control. With the ability to quickly track focus while recording, the shooter can now take full advantage of a situation and let the camera roll while the AF tracks with the subject.

 

5D mk IV Dual Pixel Auto Focus from Mike Raabe.

 

This is far superior to manually focusing and having to continually change the lens focal distance for different subjects. But there are still circumstances where manual focus is better to use. One example is when there are multiple subjects sporadically moving about the frame. I was diving a sea lion rookery and had multiple babies zooming in and out of the frame and as a result, the autofocus had a tough time deciding which sea lion to focus on. This is due to the changing focal distances of the multiple sea lions in front of the camera. In hindsight, I should have turned the AF off in this situation and manually set a desired focal length for that shot.

Overall, the Dual Pixel autofocus is an exciting advancement in filming with DSLRs and has great potential to create dynamic camera movements that previously could not be achieved with manual focus.

 

Video Image Quality & Memory Cards

The 5D Mark IV's 4K video capability redefines the image quality of the 5D family of cameras. The detail, color, and dynamic range are far superior to what the 5D mk III could achieve at 1080p.

The 5D mk IV shoots 4K video in Motion JPEG codec at 500 mbps, creating color and sharpness previously unattainable with the 5D mk III.  There is some Ying and Yang regarding this codec, however. 4K footage will require the fastest CF cards on the market. They also need to be the largest, since 1 minute of footage is 4 GB of data. There is both a CF and SD card slot in the camera, but unfortunately, shooting 4k video to an SD card is not recommended. The 5D mk IV utilizes a slower UHS-I SD slot that doesn’t allow SD cards to write at their maximum potential, which is unfortunate since that speed is needed for the 500 mbps data rate when recording at 4K.

There has been much speculation about why Canon chose to use the outdated Motion JPEG codec, since it results in giant file sizes compared to competitors, but what the codec does have on its side is image quality. The latitude and sharpness in the files is impressive. You can even frame grab 8.8MP jpegs from the 4K footage.

 

Another advantage the 5D mk IV has over the 5D mk III is the latitude in the file for color correction. Whether its highlights, noise in the shadows, or the overall tone, the 5D mk IV outshines its predecessor in all aspects. The camera shoots in 4:2:2 color space, allowing for exposure and color control that the 5D mk III was not capable of achieving in post production.

If you are grading film I recommend downloading the Cinestyle picture style from Technicolor. This will render a flat image with greater detail in the highlights and shadows. You can later edit with greater detail and contrast than the standard picture styles that the camera has in the menu. Another feature the 5D mk IV has is HDR filming. You can only shoot in HDR mode in 1080p at 30/24 fps but the extra detail in shadows and highlights is a welcomed addition to the 5D mk IV arsenal for underwater shooters.

 

5D mk IV HDR Movie Shooting Mode from Mike Raabe.

 

Format and Field of View

The 4k footage is shot in a slightly wider Cinema 4K format that measures 4096x2160 pixels, so you will have to crop the sides of the frame to fit the typical output of 16:9.  Taking a 1:1 pixel crop directly from the center of the sensor makes the 4K video frame. Doing this reduces scaling artifacts, but also means there is 1.64x crop! The crop is definitely a hurdle the 5D mk IV has to jump over in regards to full frame shooters who want full lens coverage (for example, your 16mm lens will deliver a field of view of 26.2mm). This can be viewed as a disadvantage or an advantage depending on your style of shooting. Macro shooters will certainly appreciate the crop because you will achieve the same shallow depth of field as full frame, but with a 1.64 magnification. Wide-angle shooters will have to plan ahead and anticipate what they are shooting. For example, if you plan to shoot stills and motion with a wide-angle lens on the same dive, you will have to take the crop factor into consideration when shooting video. A zoom lens like Canon’s 8-15mm fisheye could be a fix for the ultra wide shots, while the Canon 16-35mm could work for medium to wide shots. That said, even at 16mm you are only getting a 26mm frame. The framing adjustment between 4K video and still shots will take some adjustments for the user, but the overall image quality is worth the headache.

 

ISO and Dynamic Range

The Canon 5D Mark IV ISO settings are 100 to 32,000 (100-12,800 in 4K) and expandable from 50 to 102,400. These numbers are slightly higher than the 5D mk III, but the quality of the higher ISO is definitely a jump up.  At 1250 ISO, noise begins to be seen in smooth color gradients, although it's very minimal. At 3200, noise can be seen in the shadows but still looks great.  At 6400 ISO, the noise is definitely not ideal, but with some noise reduction and consideration of the lighting environment (dusk or at night), the footage is much better than what the 5D mk III could achieve. ISOs of 12,800 and above are not really useable.

 

5D mk IV ISO Test from Mike Raabe.

 

The dynamic range is also impressive jump up from the 5D mk III, as the 5D mk IV is more capable of dealing with high contrast scenes in camera, requiring less manipulation during post-processing. Highlight clipping was a problem for the 5D mk III, where in the 5D mk IV there is a significant improvement (especially in still photos).

 

5D mk IV Dynamic Range Test and Comparison to the 5D mk III from Mike Raabe.

 

Slow Motion / Frame Rates

The 5D mk IV also shoots 60 fps at 1080 and 120 fps at 720, albeit I wish it shot 120 fps at 1080 like the Canon 1DX Mk II. But the addition slow motion frame rates in the 5D Mark 4 is a big improvement for underwater shooters. Now those fleeting moments of a shark or whale that showed up for 10 seconds can be slowed down and made into a smooth (twice as long in duration) edit of an encounter that has much more impact on the viewer!  Slow motion is a great editing tool and should inspire more creativity with this addition to the 5D family.  Please note that autofocus does not work when shooting 120 fps at 720p.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the Canon 5D mk IV brings some exciting new features to the table that will allow filmmakers to achieve shots that could not previously be captured with the 5D mk III or even some of its other competitors. The best example is the dual-pixel autofocus, which delivers reliable autofocus while shooting video. If you are considering upgrading from the 5D mk III, one should also weigh in the fact that you can use your 5D mk III housing!

 

5D Mark IV 4K Video Sample from Mike Raabe.

 

Additional Canon 5D Mark IV Resources

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Raabe is a freelance underwater cinematographer and photographer specializing in marine life and sports media. He has shot for a variety of clients including Nike, Neutrogena, ESPN the Magazine, Men’s Health, Guy Harvey Magazine, and many more. Mike prefers shooting while free diving because of the numerous camera movements and close interactions with marine life that can not be achieved while scuba diving. He can free dive to 40 meters, and has a bottom time of up to 2 1/2 minutes.

 

Instagram @raabephoto   |   Twitter @sharkdiver7   |   Facebook Mike Raabe   |   www.raabephoto.com

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