Lens Reviews

Detailed lens reviews for underwater photography and video, including specs, key features and comparisons with other popular lenses.
An excellent wide angle wet lens for compact and mirrorless cameras
By Nirupam Nigam

Kraken Sports KRL-01 Wet Wide Angle Lens Review

Nirupam Nigam
An excellent wide angle wet lens for compact and mirrorless cameras

Renowned for their expertise in underwater lighting, Kraken Sports has hit the ground running with a new wet lens – the KRL-01! This ultrawide wet lens is a portal to the wide angle dimension of mirrorless and compact underwater photography. The KRL-01 has proven to be a high quality, easy-to-use option for photographers who want to get more detailed, more colorful photos of big animals and reef/kelp scenes. 

KRL-01

Optical Performance

The KRL-01 is of the highest quality with 6 optic elements organized in 5 groups. With an acrylic dome, the lens is made of high-quality optical glass and coated with multi-layer BBAR coating for anti-reflection and optical clarity, the KRL-01 is ideal for shooting into the sun and over-under (half/half) split images. The field of view is a spectacular 145 degrees when used with a recommended 24mm lens! Combined with an almost zero minimum focusing distance, close-focus wide angle photos are within easy reach. 

Compatibility

With a 67mm thread, the KRL-01 easily fits on most ports and housings. Simply screw it in and you’re good to go. The lens was made for sensor sizes up to Micro 4/3rds. However, I have even been able to push its use up to the full-frame sensor on the mirrorless Sony A7R III. The lens is most ideal for Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless systems as well as high end compact cameras like the Sony RX100 series. 

 

Recommended Focal Lengths

The KRL-01 was made for use with a 24 mm lens. At his focal length, the KRL-01 creates an equivalent of 6.9mm or a whopping 145 degree field of view. Moreover, the lens has zoom through capability which means it can be used with 28mm (12.8 mm equivalent/118.6 degree field of view) and even 35mm (20mm equivalent/94.7 degree field of view) lenses.

 

Recommended Cameras

Sony RX100, II, III, IV & IV

Canon G7X & G7X Mark II

Panasonic LX10

Olympus TG-4 & TG-5

Olympus OM-D E-M5, E-M10, E-M1, E-M5 Mark II, E-M10 Mark II & E-M1 Mark II

Sony A7R, II & III

 

The Kraken KRL-01 is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Pros and Cons

Pros

As with anything else in photography there are pros and cons to using a wide angle wet lens. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the KRL-01 is the ability to instantly screw on a very high quality wide-angle lens to your camera at any point during the dive. The lens of the KRL-01 is made of high quality glass and the dome itself is acrylic so scratches can be buffed out if necessary.

Cons 

Wet lenses are usually known for being slightly lesser in quality than a dedicated wide angle lens. That being said, you’d be hard pressed to find too many differences between the KRL-01 and a dedicated wide angle lens. 

Tips and Tricks

Luckily for the user, the KRL-01 is fairly intuitive to use. There isn’t much you have to do past screwing it in. At wide apertures, photos can become a little soft around the edges. I recommend using f/8 or smaller for the most depth of field and sharpest results. Vignetting should not be a problem, though it could be on some compact systems. If it is, then zoom in until the vignetting goes away. As with all wide angle photography – make sure you shoot close to the subject and shoot up if possible!  

 

Comparison

With the KRL-01

Without the KRL-01

Sample Underwater Photos

 

The Kraken KRL-01 is available now at Bluewater Photo!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. Now he works as a fisheries observer on boats in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his fiancee and taking photos. 

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Nikon's Newest Full Frame Fisheye Option
By Brook Peterson

First Impressions: Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens Review

Brook Peterson
Nikon's Newest Full Frame Fisheye Option


For starters, the Nikon 8-15mm is a stunningly sharp lens. The images I have taken are clear and have great depth and detail. It is also a very versatile lens. Although made for a full frame camera, it can be used on a crop sensor camera as well. It makes beautiful diagonal images and has the added benefit of zooming out to 180 degrees in every direction, creating a circle in the frame

 

Although not really a zoom lens on a full frame camera (as implied by the 8-15mm) rather, it is an 8mm circular fisheye lens and a 15mm wide angle fisheye; in effect, two lenses in one. There is a vignette from about 14mm down to 9 or 10mm that doesn't quite form a full circle, so the 'in-between' isn't really usable. But, the lens can also be used on a crop sensor camera above 10mm where it will completely cover the frame. So on a crop sensor camera, it is a 10-15mm zoom lens. Below 10mm, there is a vignette and it never reaches a full circle.
I had the opportunity to take this lens on location with me to Fiji. The sharpness and clarity of the lens can be seen in the spines of the soft corals. Although on a full frame camera I rarely shoot with an aperture under f/11, this image was shot at f/9 and is still quite clear.


For some, having a circular fisheye lens isn't a draw at all. Others will rejoice at the versatility and freedom the lens gives them. In my book, having the ability to switch between circular fisheye and a regular diagonal image while underwater is a big plus. I like to shoot circular fisheye, but I don't want to devote an entire dive to it. Only a few subjects lend themselves to circular fisheye, and I would rather have the option of zooming my lens out when the time is right, than spend spend my dive searching for that one special opportunity.

The circular fisheye leaves a darker blue ring around the image which can't be helped, but can be adjusted in post.

I found another perk in the form of available dome ports for the Nikon 8-15mm. The tiny Zen 100mm lens with removable hood works great with this lens on a full frame housing. It wasn't a good fit with the Sigma 15mm so I had to use a large dome port to accommodate that lens. Now I have the option of getting really close and in tight for close focus wide angle shots with this lens and port combo. The hood removes easily which makes it a great option for circular fisheye as well. 


In my opinion, the Nikon 8-15mm lens is much better than the Sigma 15mm and the Tokina 10-17mm. For those who shoot with both full frame and crop sensor cameras, it can replace both lenses in addition to the Sigma 8mm fisheye lens. This makes it a valuable tool and a great buy, replacing three lenses with just one. Have a look at the following images and judge for yourself, but I will definitely keep the Nikon 8-15mm lens in my camera bag.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brook Peterson is an avid scuba diver and underwater photographer who enjoys capturing the beauty of the under water environment throughout the world. She is an original member of the SEA&SEA Alpha program. Her work has been featured in both print and online magazines.  She is the owner of Waterdog Photography and authors a blog on underwater photography and techniques.  More of her work can be found at:

www.waterdogphotography.com  |  Facebook  |  instagram@waterdogphotography_brook.

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Nikon 8-15mm f3.5-4.5 full frame fisheye preview and initial thoughts
By Matthew Sullivan

Nikon 8-15mm f3.5-4.5 Full Frame Fisheye Lens Pre-Review

Matthew Sullivan
Nikon 8-15mm f3.5-4.5 full frame fisheye preview and initial thoughts

It was a long time coming, but Nikon has finally released another full frame (FX) fisheye, this time an 8-15mm 3.5/4.5 zoom. Full frame Canon shooters will be familiar with this lens as Canon has long had the Canon 8-15mm f4L Fisheye lens

The lens does not telescope so retains the same barrel length throughout the zoom range. It also has Nikon’s optical coating for increased optical performance

In reality, on full frame, this new Nikon lens (like the Canon counterpart) is really only an 8mm circular fisheye, or a 15mm fisheye. Any focal length between that will have vignetting, so you would have to crop, meaning you’d be better off just zooming all the way to 15mm.

 

The 8mm circle is a nice addition to a portfolio but can quickly become gimmicky so shooters should keep this in mind. I would wager most users will keep the lens at the 15mm focal length.

The lack of a lens hood and the small size of the lens overall means that it can be used behind very small dome ports (4”) as long as the photographer remembers that the lens will have to be stopped down to keep corners acceptably sharp. The smaller the dome, the closer the virtual image (which is what the lens is actually focusing on, so the distortion will be greater, requiring greater depth of field). It will have to be stopped down behind a big dome as well (such is the nature of a fisheye lens on full frame) but the bigger the dome, the better the corners at any aperture (due to the virtual image being further away). One of the biggest advantages of fisheyes is how close they can focus. The minimum focus distance of the new 8-15 is 6.3”. This means it will focus right on the glass of whatever dome port the lens is used behind so if a 4” dome is used, the close focus wide angle opportunities should be fantastic if the photographer can get the lighting correct.

For split shots, reefscapes, or any image where important subject matter lies in the corners of the frame, photographers will benefit much more in terms of overall image quality by using a larger dome. Somewhere in the 8-9 inch range (or bigger).

The full frame fisheye options for Nikon now consist of the dated Nikon 16mm f2.8, the Sigma 15mm f2.8 fisheye, the Tokina 10-17 f3.5 fisheye (only between 15mm and 17mm), the Nikon 8-15mm f3.5-4.5, and (if you can find one) the Nikonos 13mm. Optically, I expect the 8-15mm to be superior to all other options with the exception of the Nikonos 13mm which is a water contact lens and specifically designed to shoot underwater. It should be a fantastic lens for underwater use and I expect it to be extremely popular among full frame shooters. I doubt DX users would find any real benefit over the Tokina, with the possible exception that this new lens should handle chromatic aberration far better than the Tokina. The Tokina is renowned for having less than stellar control over chromatic aberration (especially in high contrast areas of an image). I can’t wait to get it in the water and put it through its paces!

There is no exact release date available yet, but the lens is slated to be released sometime this month (June 2017).

For any questions on this lens, port selection, or any underwater photography questions in general, please email me.

Using the Nikon 8-15mm fisheye underwater with a teleconverter

We expect many underwater photographers will wish to use the Nikon 8-15mm fisheye lens with a telecoverter on a full frame camera, giving them the equivalent of the Tokina 10-17mm on a cropped sensor camera - making the lens a 11mm - 21mm fisheye. We will be testing both the Kenko 1.4x teleconverter and the new Nikon 1.4x teleconverter, however use of these teleconverters will depend on manufacturers making the appropriate zoom gear. In the past, Nauticam has made zoom gears for using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens with a 1.4x teleconverter, and 3rd party manufacturers have made Sea & Sea versions.

Nikon 8-15mm Lens Specifications:

Physical

  • Weight: 485 g
  • Diameter: 78 mm
  • Length: 83 mm

General

  • Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet
  • Focal Length Range: 8-15mm
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F (FX)
  • Max Format Size: FX/35mm 

Optics

  • Elements: 15
  • Groups: 13
  • Three ED with two aspherical elements, Nano Crystal and fluorine coatings

Aperture

  • Maximum Aperture: f/ 3.5-4.5
  • Minimum Aperture: f/ 29

 

Sample Circular Fisheye Photos at 8mm (full frame)

Photos taken with a Canon full-frame dSLR (5D Mark II & Mark III), Canon 8-15mm fisheye at 8mm, 6 inch glass dome port. We expect photos with the Nikon 8-15mm fisheye to look similar at 8mm, when used on a full-frame camera.

canon 8-15mm circular fisheye photo

 

 

canon 8-15mm circular fisheye photo

Sample Fisheye photos at 15mm (Full Frame)

Photos taken with the Nikon D810, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens at 15mm, Zen 4-inch glass mini-dome. Photos taken with a fisheye lens on a cropped sensor dSLR at 10mm would look identical.

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye underwater at 15mm

 

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.

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A review of the Nikon 16-35mm F4 full frame lens for underwater photography
By Scott Gietler

NIkon 16-35mm lens review

Scott Gietler
A review of the Nikon 16-35mm F4 full frame lens for underwater photography

The Nikon 16-35mm F4 lens was never my first choice for a lens. In fact, for years I resisted using a rectilinear lens underwater, opting for the extremes of a fisheye lens or a macro lens. However, a trip to the Galapagos Islands called for a different beast, and I finally pulled the trigger and purchased a serious wide-angle zoom lens. Would I be happy with my decision?

My first dive with this lens was aweful. I wasn't use to such a large dome, by setup was positively buoyant, and I could barely take a shot. The dome port will require between 60mm and 80mm of extension. I always felt like I was floating up. It was a complete mess. I had started to regret my decision.

After removing my BTS buoyancy floats, and positioning my rig under my chest, after 2 more dives I learned how to control the setup during the dive. Surge? No problem. Heavy current? No problem. Hammerheads and fish flying by at the speed of light? No problem. I was getting this setup dialed in. The trick was keeping my rig in tight against my body under by chest, and keeping the dome port rotated down slightly. After a few dives it became very natural.

With my floats gone, my setup was now neutrally buoyant. But more importantly, I realized that this lens focused fast. And accurate. In fact, it focused real fast. I was hard pressed to find a shot that I took that was out of focus.

Audio commentary by Scott Gietler on the Nikon 16-35mm lens

 

 

Here's some observations that I made about the Nikon 16-35mm lens:

Nikon 16-35mm lens review - fast & accurate auto-focus

For myself, this was the most important feature of this lens - the ability to get my subjects in focus over, and over, and over again.

Nikon 16-35mm lens review for underwater photography

Not ultra-wide - but wide enough

Whether it is a 12 foot Mola mola, or a giant school of scalloped hammerheads swimming overhead, the Nikon 16-35mm is there to help you capture the shot. For the bigger animals, simply zoom out to 16mm, point, and shoot.

Nikon 16-35mm lens review

Hammerheads - Nikon 16-35mm review

Capable of selfies

The Nikon 16-35mm lens is more than wide enough to produce a nice selfie, for example with a marine iguana, if you happen to come across one underwater.

Marine Iguana selfie Galapagos

Nikon 16-35mm lens - Almost a macro lens

The Nikon 16-35mm lens has incredible sharpness, and when combined with the 36 megapixel Nikon D810, the ability to crop can produce photos that can almost rival what you would get with a macro lens. Check out these 100% crops of photos.

Here are the original full-size photos:

 

Nikon 16-35mm - the perfect big animal lens

Rays, sharks, fish, dolphins, even slow moving tortoises - the Nikon 16-35mm can do it all.

In Summary

The Nikon 16-35mm F4 lens is a large, expensive lens - and it is worth every penny imho. The rig is huge, but you can quickly get accustomed to it, and you will not feel limited underwater in the least bit. In fact, having a neutrally buoyant rig made it feel almost effortless to move around underwater.

The autofocus is fast and accurate - light years better than using a fisheye lens. Can I repeat that? I love the auto-focus on my Nikon 16-35mm lens. That is what makes it the perfect big animal lens imho. I use AF-C autofocus, not AF-S mode, on my D810 so that I can always take the shot when I want. If you haven't used AF-C mode before, it will take a little practise getting used to, as it will take a shot even if the image is out of focus.

Last but least, it is incredibly sharp. So sharp, that you can crop the hell out of a photo and come out with a great looking macro photo, without needing a macro lens.

Gear Questions & Galapagos Questions

So there you have it, those are my thoughts on the Nikon 16-35mm lens. -Who wants one? Email me with questions about the lens, about which Nikon body to buy (D500? D810?), feedback on this article, info on our epic upcoming 2017 / 2018 Galapagos charters, or just a quick hello at scott@bluewaterphotostore.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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Photos and insight from three underwater photographers
By Brent Durand, Amr A. Abdul-Majeed and Kadir Suat AKCA

Canon 100mm Macro Lens Underwater Photos

Brent Durand, Amr A. Abdul-Majeed and Kadir Suat AKCA
Photos and insight from three underwater photographers

Canon DSLR shooters have two main choices when it comes to macro lenses - 60 or 100mm. But those that shoot with full-frame Canon bodies like the 5D Mark III, 5DS / 5DS R, or 6D are limited to just one lens. Luckily, it's the reknowned Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens.

The Canon 100mm macro lens sports a red ring and stands with the best of Canon's pro-level "L" lenses. Fast autofocus, sharp detail, beautiful contrast, stunning color and wide versatility make this lens the go-to for divers who shoot Canon underwater.

In this article we'll see what a few different photographers have to say about the lens. We've even included a macro video on Mantis Shrimp shot entirely with the Canon 100mm.

 

Canon 100mm Macro Lens Specs

  • Focal Length:  100mm

  • Maximum Aperture:  1:2.8

  • Construction:  15 elements in 12 groups

  • Features:  Canon IS and USM

  • Minimum Focus Distance:  0.99ft / 0.3m

  • Filter Size:  67mm

  • Weight:  22oz / 25g

 

Amr A. Abdul-Majeed

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is an excellent lens to be used and a must for macro shooters. It has an excellent image quality with a fast AF 

The lens is great for capturing lots of macro subjects and even some fish portraits, and because of its focal length (100mm) it provides a good working distance for shy subjects. When it is combined with a diopter such as the Subsee +10 or Nauticam SMC, it is perfect for super macro shots.

What I like about this lens that when I use it without diopter I can work with some shy subjects like shrimps, crabs and squids from a fair distance. Without a diopter you may need to crop your picture, but once you combine it with a diopter cropping will not be needed because your subject will fill the frame. You will be impressed with the sharpness of the lens, and it is excellent for shooting super macro subjects such as nudibranchs, shrimps, coral patterns, frogfishes, etc.

 

My recommended settings using the lens without diopter:

  • Aperture : F11-F13

  • ISO : 160-250

  • Shutter speed: 1/100s-1/160s

  • Strobes are on manual power 

 

My recommended settings using the lens with diopter:

  • Aperture : F13-F25

  • ISO : 100

  • Shutter speed: 1/100s-1/200s

  • Strobes are on manual power

 

I use the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM with the Canon 5DMKIII and the gear below:

 

Amr A. Abdul-Majeed is a Telecom Engineer, avid diver and an underwater photography instructor, living in Jeddah Saudi Arabia.

Website: www.amrmajeed.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amrala

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amrala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kadir Suat AKCA

The Canon 100mm macro is an optically superb lens. Canon 5D Mark III and EF 100mm f/2.8 mm combination gives very fast and reliable focusing in all conditions, even in the low light environment underwater. It provides very sharp images and very high image quality. One of the important advantages of the EF 100mm Macro Lens is Hybrid IS. This compensates for minor camera shake even at low shutter speeds.

The Canon 5D Mark III, EF 100 mm f/2.8 mm lens and dual Ikelite DS-161 strobes with Ikelite housing give a perfect and fast response underwater. Subsee +10 and +5 wet lenses are also good choices for close up photos. The SubSee adapter, however, for the Ikelite glass port is not trustable and the build quality is very low. It can fall off underwater at any time.

 

Kadir Suat AKCA was born and grew up in Ankara which is the Capital City of TURKIYE. He received a BS degree of Geological Engineering from Middle East Technical University/ Ankara. Kadir took the PADI OW course in Jeddah/Saudi Arabia than became a dive addict. He took first underwater photos with a Sealife camera. Than meet with amazing Canon G10 small and versatile monster. After all more than 10.000 pics, decided to take photos with DSLR camera... New era strated in his underwater photography with Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Ikelite housing and EF 100mm, f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens in 2014.

Website: www.kadirsuatakca.com
Facebook: facebook.com/KadirSuatAKCA
Instagram: instagram.com/kadir_suat_akca_uwp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brent Durand

The Canon 100 is an excellent lens and I have used it with a Canon 5D Mark III underwater. It's not only a great underwater macro lens, but a very nice topside portrait lens on a full-frame body.

Shooting the Canon 100mm on full-frame is roughly equivalent to a 60mm on a 1.6 crop sensor. This means that you don't have the same reach as using the 100 on crop, but you can create more depth, negative space and bokeh in your underwater macro work. Add a diopter and you enter the supermacro realm with magnification greater than the lens' native 1:1 reproduction ratio.

I don't have a camera rig or shoot underwater much anymore, but can offer the photos below, shot with the 100, Canon 5D Mk III and the gear below during the Bluewater Photo Anilao workshop in May 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus Video!

Here's a video of some mantis shrimp shot entirely with the Canon 100mm Macro lens and 5D Mark III.

Video by Brent Durand, filmed with I-Torch Venom38 video lights.

 

Additional Reading:

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Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens review, with amazing photos using the GH4 from Cocos Island
By Scott Gietler, photos by Kadu Pinhiero

Panasonic 7-14mm lens review at Cocos Island

Scott Gietler, photos by Kadu Pinhiero
Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens review, with amazing photos using the GH4 from Cocos Island

Many people ask me which lens they should use for big animal destinations like Cocos, Malpelo, Socorro or the Galapagos Islands. A fisheye lens can often be too wide, while a mid-range zoom lens often doesn't do some of these stunning animals justice. Kadu Pinheiro, one of South America's best known underwater photographers, shows us what can be done when using the right focal length. Although at first I was surprised when he told me he was going to use only a mirrorless camera on his recent Cocos trip, I think the results from the GH4 and the Panasonic 7-14mm micro-four thirds lens speak for themselves.

Location: Cocos Island, Costa Rica, aka "Island of the Sharks" in late October 2015

Photographer: Kadu Pinheiro

Gear: Panasonic GH4, Aquatica Housing, Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens, Aquatica SW8 acrylic dome port, dual Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes

Equivalent focal lengths on different sensor sizes:

  • Micro-four thirds:  7-14mm

  • Canon 1.6x crop:   9-18mm

  • Nikon, Sony APS-C: 9-19mm

  • Full Frame:  14-28mm

Recommended lenses for Socorro / Cocos / Galapagos:

I've selected some of the lenses that will give the closest results to the Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens, on different bodies:

  • Micro-four thirds: Panasonic 7-14mm F4, Olympus 7-14mm F2.8

  • Canon 1.6x crop: Canon 10-22mm, Sigma 10-20mm

  • Sony 1.5x crop: Sony 10-18mm

  • Nikon 1.5x crop: Nikon 10-24mm, Sigma 10-20mm

  • Canon full-frame: Canon 11-24mm F4, Canon 16-35mm F2.8, Canon 16-35mm F4

  • Nikon full-frame: Nikon 16-35mm F4

About the Panasonic 7-14mm lens

The Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens came out in March of 2009. Although originally $1,000 USD, the price has come down and it is now on sale for a short time, for a more affordable $698 USD. This focal length not only works well for sharks and pelagics underwater, it is also the perfect focal length for shooting landscape photos, I used a similar focal length during my entire hiking trip of New Zealand.

The lens has 16 elements in 12 groups, including 4 ED glass elements, and 2 aspherical elements. In has internal "Micro motor" auto-focus - auto focus is very fast, and a diagonal angle of view of 75 to 114 degrees.

For an ultra-wide angle lens - lens is very small, only 83mm long.  Having a bulbous front element, it does not accept filters.

For underwater photography, I think the best way to show the capabilities of this lens is through real photos, so please view and enjoy. These were all taken on a single dive trip at Cocos Island in late October 2015.

panasonic 7-14mm lens review underwater

 

hammerhead shark underwater photo

 

Giant Trevally underwater photography

Cocos Island underwater photos

 

 

trumpetfish

 

Eagle ray Cocos

 

Stingray with Panasonic 7-14mm lens underwater

 

Over-unders with the Panasonic 7-14mm

The Panasonic 7-14mm lens is a good option for over-unders, especially since the only port options are 6-inches wide or larger. Be sure read our guide to over/under split shots

Panasonic 7-14mm over/under shop

Panasonic 7-14mm lens - focus speed, sharpness

Having usually shot with a fisheye lens underwater, Kadu was a little nervous taking the 7-14mm lens down on his first trip to Cocos Island - but it turned out to be the perfect choice, allowing him to get marine life photos with divers, and also hammerhead shark portraits. The marine life generally did not come close enough to warrant using a fisheye lens.

Focus speed was excellent, and using the default focus modes of the Panasonic GH4 worked well, using a half-press on the shutter to focus the camera. Matrix focus mode (49 area) was used for animals in motion, and spot focus was used for still scenes. Almost all of this photos from Cocos were in focus.

Overall the lens was very, very sharp. Corners were soft at F4 - F5.6, but got better at F6.3 and higher.

If you are a mirrorless shooter looking to shoot big animals, then the Panasonic 7-14mm, or the Olympus F2.8  7-14mm lens, is highly recommended. If you are using a larger sensor, consult the recommended lenses we mention earlier in this article.

Links to Gear & Destinations

Panasonic 7-14mm F4 lens
Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro lens
Panasonic GH4 Body
Aquatica GH4 Underwater Housing
Nauticam GH4 Underwater Housing
Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobe
Aquatica SW8 dome port
Sony 10-18mm F4 lens 

Cocos Island Dive Travel & Liveaboards
Socorro Island Dive Travel & Liveaboards
Galapagos Islands Dive Travel & Liveaboards 

Full trip report from Kadu's Cocos Trip
Join our Cocos Island Trip October 2016 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

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

 


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

 

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

 


New Nauticam CMC-1 Wet Diopter Specifically Designed for Compact & Mirrorless Cameras
By UWPG News

Nauticam Compact Macro Converter 1

UWPG News
New Nauticam CMC-1 Wet Diopter Specifically Designed for Compact & Mirrorless Cameras

Nauticam previewed their Compact Macro Converter 1 (CMC-1) at DEMA this past November (2014), and the new diopter is now available. This macro wet diopter is optimized for use with compact and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, providing the magnification needed to shoot the smallest critters on your dive trips.

The CMC-1 provides more magnification than the SMC with all compatible compact camera systems for which it was designed.

This lens will be a great addition to the kit of all compact and mirroless shooters and is now available at Bluewater Photo.

 

CMC-1 Availability:  Limited Quantities Available Now

Model #:  81301

MSRP:  $320 USD

 

-> Order your CMC-1 through Bluewater Photo

-> View CMC Camera / Lens compatability Charts

-> Skip down to sample photos

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

Announcing Compact Macro Converter 1

A Newly Engineered Macro Accessory lens for Compact, Mirrorless, and More!

 

Nauticam is pleased to officially unveil the second installment of a growing family of optical products, CMC-1.  The CMC is an extremely powerful super macro accessory lens optimized for use with both fixed lens compact and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

 

Smaller, Lighter, Stronger

While the Nauticam Super Macro Converter (SMC) design inspired the development of the Compact Macro Converter, the new lens is actually more powerful.  The CMC provides more magnification than SMC with all compatible compact camera systems for which it was designed.  

As expected, the CMC  provides more magnification than any compact camera tested can achieve on its own, and does so with improved working distance.  This combination makes CMC ideal for tiny, skittish subjects.  Using the popular RX100 Mk III as an example, CMC-1 results in a magnification of 2.3X the smallest subject the camera is capable of photographing with no accessory lens (34.5mm v 80mm), and it does so with 1.4X the working distance (56mm v 80mm).  Results with the new Canon G7X are even more stunning, providing 3.0X magnification at approximately 2.4X the working distance. To achieve the same image sizes with sealed magnifying lenses +15 Diopter or stronger would be required, but no +15 Diopter lens can match the overall image quality of CMC-1. All while maintaining the smallest size and weight possible; a real plus for photographers in and out of the water.

 

Breakthrough Lens Design

Prior to the development of the Nauticam accessory macro conversion lenses, achieving “super macro” underwater meant using tools that were designed for in air use. These tools simply do not take into account the physics of shooting in water. Thanks to Edward Lai, Managing Director of Nauticam, the CMC takes a radically different approach: hundreds of engineering hours utilizing computer software to model a lens that complements an entire system - camera, lens, port, air, and water – as a whole. This accounts for the critical air-water interfaces in a conversion lens design to achieve the best image quality possible. The improvements are stunning, measurable and a new standard in underwater macro imaging has been established with the Macro Converter family.

 

Uncompromised Optical Quality

The Compact Macro Converter is constructed from lenses precision crafted of specially formulated low dispersion optical grade glass, ground to the most demanding standards. This means greater sharpness and contrast on every shot and extraordinary resolution rivaling a macro lens used in air. Broadband anti-refective coatings effectively reduce common optical issues such as chromatic aberrations, coma, spherical aberration, and field deformation associated with underwater macro photography using traditional magnifying lenses. This means superior light transmission, accurate color and no distortion and vignetting in the most demanding situations.  These exceptional optics are assembled in a rugged hard anodized aluminum housing, and nitrogen purged during assembly to eliminate fogging.

 

“Very impressive sharpness throughout the usable range on both the G7X and RX100 Mk III that I used it with. Impressively strong magnification in a compact unit.”

-Dr Alex Tattersall

 

Stunning Magnification

The CMC is compatible with a variety of camera systems, but the most impressive increase in magnification comes when paired with the Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens for Micro Four Thirds Systems.  This combination achieves a 2:1 reproduction ratio.  This translates into an image 8.5mm X 6.3MM, and one of the most powerful macro imaging systems available in the market today.

 

“Clarity of IQ speaks for itself. The perfect high quality complement to the high quality sensors in today’s compact cameras."

-Dr. Alex Tattersall

 

Optimized for Autofocus

By utilizing a specially developed algorithm in the optimization process, the CMC renders superior image quality over the full focusing range of the camera lens.  This, combined with the high brightness and contrast of the image, allows the autofocus system of the camera to work well - often better than less powerful close focus lenses. Just as important are the out-of-focus (Bokeh) portions of the image that exhibit the same creamy smooth quality that photographers appreciate when shooting macro in air - all without color fringing common to traditional magnifying lenses.

 

Avoiding Diffraction

Due to the overall superior optical performance and precision focus of the CMC it is possible to shoot larger apertures with excellent image quality.   This avoids reaching the diffraction limit of high resolution sensors, and allows selective focus effects with narrow depth of field in super macro images.

 

Also Compatible with Nikon AF-S 60mm Macro

While designed with compact cameras in mind, compatibility with larger formats has proven to be possible in some cases.  Nikon AF-S 60mm Macro (not compatible with the earlier SMC-1) provides 1.5 : 1 Reproduction Ratio when with combined CMC-1.  Image quality is excellent, even when used with full frame systems. This combination is extremely versatile, covering fish portraits, 1:1 macro, and now 1.5:1 super macro on the same dive!

 

Mounting, and Using the CMC

The Compact Macro Converter ships with the common 67mm threaded lens mount.  CMC-1 is has a protruding rear lens element, designed to place the  accessory optic as close to the camera lens port as is possible, providing the best overall image quality when used with flip lens adapters.  A flush mount adapter ring is used when attaching CMC-1 directly to an underwater housing, and is included with the lens.

Flip lens holders, available to suit most Nauticam housings and lens ports, provide the fastest and most convenient lens mount possible.  The lens is always threaded in place, and available to be “flipped” down as needed.

Recommended Compact Cameras

 

Native Lens

with CMC

Camera

Min Focus Dist.

Image Width (W)

Min Focus Dist. (T)

Image Width (T)

Magnification

Working Distance Increase

Sony RX100M2

40 mm

75 mm

65 mm

27 mm

2.8 X

1.6 X

Sony RX100M3

40 mm

80 mm

56 mm

35 mm

2.3 X

1.4 X

Canon S120

16 mm

48 mm

52 mm

20 mm

2.5 X

3.3 X

Canon G16

10 mm

30 mm

59 mm

19 mm

1.6 X

5.9 X

Canon G7X

23 mm

68 mm

56 mm

23 mm

3.0 X

2.4 X

Panasonic LX7

16 mm

52 mm

52 mm

27 mm

1.9 X

3.3 X

Panasonic LX100

16 mm

74 mm

74 mm

32 mm

2.3 X

4.6 X

Recommended Interchangeable Lens Systems

 

Native

with CMC

Micro Four Thirds

Format Width

Image Width

Working Distance

Image Width

Reproduction Ratio

Working Distance

Olympus

M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ power zoom (43mm Macro Mode)

17 mm

34 mm

73 mm

20 mm

0.9 : 1

14 mm

Olympus

M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ power zoom (50mm)

17 mm

83 mm

286 mm

21 mm

0.8 : 1

48 mm

Olympus

M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Lens

17 mm

62 mm

197 mm

21 mm

0.8 : 1

41 mm

Olympus

M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Ver. II R (42mm)

17 mm

70 mm

211 mm

22 mm

0.8 : 1

41 mm

Olympus

M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

17 mm

17 mm

98 mm

9 mm

2.0 : 1

22 mm

Panasonic

Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens

17 mm

17 mm

71 mm

11 mm

1.6 : 1

17 mm

Panasonic

Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm / F2.8 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. Lens

17 mm

17 mm

71 mm

11 mm

1.6 : 1

17 mm

Panasonic

Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 (42mm)

17 mm

98 mm

307 mm

24 mm

0.7 : 1

49 mm

 

Sony E Mount

Sony

E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS E-Mount Zoom Lens

24 mm

75 mm

175 mm

27 mm

0.9 : 1

37 mm

Sony

E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS E-mount Power Zoom Lens

24 mm

92 mm

256 mm

26 mm

0.9 : 1

46 mm

Sony

FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Full-frame E-mount Zoom Lens

36 mm

>150 mm

>350 mm

30 mm

1.2 : 1

54 mm

Zeiss

Touit 50mm Macro

24 mm

23 mm

54 mm

16 mm

1.5 : 1

10 mm

 

Nikon F Mount

Nikon

Micro-Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED

36 mm

36 mm

47 mm

24 mm

1.5 : 1

10 mm

 

 

Recommended Accessories


Nauticam 

p/n

Item

25101

Flip Lens Holder for M67 Macro Ports

25103

Flip Lens Holder for M77 Macro Ports

25104

Flip Lens Holder for Nauticam Flat Port 72

25105

Flip Lens Holder for Nauticam 4" Wide Angle Port

25107

Flip Lens Holder for NA-LX100 Standard Port

25511

67mm Lens Holder: For mounting a 67mm threaded accessory lens on a Nauticam strobe arm

25513

67mm Double Lens Holder: For mounting two 67mm threaded accessory lenses on a Nauticam strobe arm

Details and Specifications

  • Depth Rating:  60m
  • Weight: .26 kg
  • Dimensions: Diameter 70mm x Length 34mm

Model Number: 81301
USA Retail Price: $320
Available Now in Limited Quantities

 

###

More Sample Photos Shot with the CMC-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the Nauticam CMC-1 Compact Macro Converter on Bluewater Photo.

 

Further Reading

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.

 


Underwater Photos from Canon's 100mm Macro Lens on Full Frame
By Brent Durand

Photos & Overview: Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro Lens

Brent Durand
Underwater Photos from Canon's 100mm Macro Lens on Full Frame

 

Photos & Overview: Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens


Underwater Photos from Canon's 100mm Macro Lens on Full Frame

Text and Photos By Brent Durand

 

 

 
SHARE THIS STORY

Underwater photographers in the Canon camp know that the 100mm f/2.8L lens is essential in their lens lineup. Crop APS-C sensor shooters (7D, T5i, 70D) appreciate the reach for 1:1 macro on small subjects while Full Frame shooters (5Dmk3, 6D) appreciate the versatility and ability to shoot both medium and small critters.

The 100mm focal length is the lens size on Full Frame (based on 35mm film), however this reach is extended to about 160mm on APS-C sensors. 

I shoot the 100mm primarily on a 5D Mark III, often adding a +10 diopter for super macro subjects. The lens autofocuses very fast with a 0.3m (0.99ft) minimum focus distance to achieve true 1:1 macro. I generally leave the focal range on Full so that the lens can focus from the minimum distance to infinity. While this is the most versatile setting, know that the lens will "hunt" for focus through this entire range if it doesn't lock right away. I also switch my camera between focusing upon half-depress of the shutter button and back-button focus (utilizing the AF-ON button). The lens tends to hunt more when using back-button focus in dark conditions (i.e. under a ledge in the shade), which is easily remedied with a focus light.

In short, the 100mm macro is a fantastic lens and you'll never see me on a dive trip without it.

 

 

Canon 100mm Macro Lens Highlights:

  • 15 Lens Elements in 12 Groups
  • Diagonal Field of View: 23.4°
  • Focus Adjustment: Internal with IS and USM. Full-time manual focus available
  • Minimum Focusing Distance:  0.99ft / 0.3m
  • Filter Size:  67mm

 

 

Sample Photos from Anilao, Philippines:

Shot during Bluewater Photo's spring 2014 workshops.

 

Hairy (algae) Shrimp and Nudibranch. Shot with Canon 5D Mark III.

 

Whip coral shrimp and sand wave. Shot with Canon 5D Mark III.

 

Hypselodoris krakatoa nudibranch and tunicates. Shot with Canon 5D Mark III.

 

 

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is an avid California beach diver, photographer and writer dedicated to capturing unique underwater, ocean lifestyle and adventure images. Brent is editor-in-chief of the Underwater Photography Guide. Make sure to follow UWPG on Facebook for updates on everything underwater-photography.

 

 

Further Reading

 


Where to Buy

Please support the Underwater Photography Guide by purchasing your underwater photography gear through our sister site, Bluewater Photo & Video. Click, or call them at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


 

 
 
SHARE THIS STORY

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!

 


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.

 


Comparing sharpness, deciding which is better for your full-frame camera
By Scott Gietler

Sigma 15mm and Tokina fisheye on full-frame cameras

Scott Gietler
Comparing sharpness, deciding which is better for your full-frame camera

The Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is by far the most popular lens choice for underwater photographers who own a cropped-sensor dSLR and want to do wide-angle underwater photography.

For full-frame shootings using a camera like a Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D Mark II or Mark III, the Sigma 15mm fisheye is often chosen over the Nikon 16mm or the Canon 15mm fisheye lenses, because of its great close-focusing ability.

However, many full-frame users are unaware that the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is a very viable option for a full-frame camera, and may be preferable to the Sigma 15mm fisheye lens.

sigma 15mm fisheye lens review
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, pool photo, 180 degree diagonal angle of view


Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens on a full-frame dSLR camera
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens at 15mm, on a full-frame Nikon D800 camera. 180 degree angle of view, same as the Sigma 15mm, and no vignetting.

 

Sigma & Tokina Fisheye lens on a full-frame camera

As you can see, the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye and Sigma 15mm fisheye lens produce identical images on a full-frame camera like the Nikon D800, when the Tokina is set to 15mm. There is no vignetting, and you do not need to go into a special "DX" mode.

So does this mean that the Tokina 10-17mm lens is a full-frame lens at 15mm? I would say so, even though it is marketed as a DX lens. The Tokina does vignette from 10mm - 13mm, but it does not at 14mm to 17mm. So in some respects, you have more flexibility with the Tokina that with the Sigma, although the field of view from 14mm to 17mm does not change dramatically.

 

Image Tests

A wine bottle in the pool made a great test subject. We took images at different apertures with the wine bottle at the center of the image, and at the corner of the images, in a 6-inch dome. You can view the images below, or skip to the bottom of this article for our conclusions.

 

Corner image sharpness

Sigma 15mm fisheye lens tests

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

Corner image sharpness, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens

 

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mmm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

 

Center image sharpness, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens

 

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mmm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

Using the Tokina fisheye with the Canon 5D

You can see some amazing underwater photos with the Tokina and the Canon 5D Mark III here

 

Sigma and Tokina fisheye lens on a full-frame camera - conclusions

  • Center sharpness for both lenses was very good at F4 and F5.6, excellent at F8 and higher. 

  • Corner sharpness for both lenses was poor at F4 and F5.6, ok at F8, and good at F11 and F14. I would expect corner sharpness to improve slightly in an 8-inch dome, and degrade in a 4-inch dome.

  • If you are moving into a full-frame camera, and already own the Tokina 10-17mm lens, then I see no reason not to keep using it. If you don't own a fisheye lens, then it appears that you can get good results with either lens.   I also tested both lenses on a D800 while diving at Catalina island earlier this year, and at that time I also found the results to be similar

  • If you don't own either lens, then you have a choice. Both lenses are similarly priced. If you want to own a 4-inch glass zen dome, you'll need to shave the hood of the Sigma fisheye, which is a disadvantage. Ikelite users will also experience vignetting. However, users of 6 or 8 inch dome ports on non-Ikelite housings may be able to avoid purchasing an extension ring by going with the Sigma. 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

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

 


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

 

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

 


An in-depth look at the Olympus 9-18mm wide-angle lens.
By Kelli Dickinson

Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm Lens Review

Kelli Dickinson
An in-depth look at the Olympus 9-18mm wide-angle lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm Lens Review

By Kelli Dickinson

 

Diver

Olympus 9-18mm @ 9mm, 1/60 F6.3

 

 
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For micro four-third's shooters there are a variety of wide angle lenses to choose from, with perks and negatives with each lens. How do you decide which lens is right for you? Here is a quick review on one of the popular choices, the Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm.

I tested this lens last month out at Catalina. Until then I have been using the Panasonic 8mm fisheye for wide angle, so this review will compare the two of those. There is the also the Panasonic 7-14mm lens as a great option for wide angle, but it's price point tends to make it not so popular. If you have the money and want a little extra angle of view, it's definitely worth a look!
 
"Diver with Gorgonian" - a classic wide angle shot, easy to achieve with the 9-18mm lens.(1/80, F8 with lens @ 9mm)
 

Quick Specs:

 

9-18mm

8mm Fisheye

Lens Type

Wide Zoom

Fisheye

Angle of View

100⁰ - 62⁰

180⁰

Minimum Focus Distance

0.25 m (9.84")

0.10 m (3.94")

Maximum Aperature

F4-5.6

F3.5

 

 

 

 

Zoom Capability

 
Overall, the Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm lens works great. Having a wide angle lens with zoom capability is great compared to the 8mm fisheye with no zoom capability. This lens gives you a little more flexibility because it is a zoom lens which allows you to shoot animals or other subjects that you canít get close to. With the 8mm fisheye, everything looks a little bit smaller than it actually is due to the fisheye nature of the lens. This means you have to be able to get up close and personal to your subjects, especially if they are small to medium in size.
 

Dramatic Effect

 
One area where the 9-18 just doesnít compare with the 8mm fisheye in terms of dramatic scenes. The 9-18mm is a rectilinear lens, meaning that you don't see any distortion (bending of straight lines) like you do with the fisheye lens. However, that also means that the angle of view is limited to standard focal length proportions, so at 9mm you get approximately 100 degrees angle of view and when zoomed into 18mm it drops to around 60 degrees.
 
This is still fabulous and for most wide angle shots will work great, but it just doesn't portray the depth and grandeur that the 180 degree field of view of the 8mm fisheye captures. While I have not had a chance to test it yet, the 7-14 gives an extra 10 degrees field of view and has the same minimum focus distance as the 9-18, making it a little better choice for wide angle, but it is also about twice as expensive of a lens.
 
 
"Sheephead and Gorgonian" - take an 9mm close to the gorgonian the image has good depth, but just doesn't compare to the 180 degree field of view on the 8mm fisheye, below. (Olympus 9-18mm @ 9mm, 1/80, F8)
 
 
 "Sheephead in Kelp" - the 8mm fisheye has such a wide angle of view that it easily captures the whole scene. Of course this also means you have to really think about shot composition to create some stunning images. (Panasonic 8mm Fisheye, 1/60, F18)
 

Close Focus Wide Angle

What I found to be the largest downside was the focus distance. The 9-18mm focuses only down to .25m, about 9.8in where as the 8mm fisheye has a focus distance of .1m or about 3.9in. This means you can't get right up on the dome port with the 9-18mm like you can with the 8mm fisheye for close focus wide angle. One thing I love about the 8mm is getting in super close, but still being able to see the full background of the scene.
 
Focus speed is good, on par with any other M4/3rd's lens, and I noticed no hunting, making for quick and easy use.
 

Sharpness

I did notice that there was some blurring in the corners with the 9-18mm which I do not see on the 8mm fisheye (not including standard depth of field blurring).  This seemed to happen mostly with the lower apertures over the higher ones. Nothing that I found too distracting, but it is noticeable.
 
Olympus 9-18mm @ 9mm, 1/60, F11
 

Conclusion

 
My final thoughts on this lens is that it is a great option for those dives when you are shooting animals or other subjects that you cannot get right up close to, but for reef scenes and general wide angle the 8mm fisheye still gets my vote. Having the flexibility of the 9-18mm is wonderful, but doesn't trump the 180 degree field of view of the 8mm fisheye.
 

About the Author

Kelli Dickinson is an avid diver, manager of Bluewater Photo Store and an industry expert on mirrorless cameras and housing options. You can reach her by email at kelli@bluewaterphotostore.com

 

Further Reading

 


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