Lens Reviews

Detailed lens reviews for underwater photography and video, including specs, key features and comparisons with other popular lenses.
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:

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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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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

 

 

 
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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!


 

 
 
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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!

 


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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

 


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!


 

 
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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.

 


A review of the new Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens for full-frame and cropped sensor underwater photographers
By Todd Winner

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Review

Todd Winner
A review of the new Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens for full-frame and cropped sensor underwater photographers

This is a review of the Canon 8-15mm circular fisheye lens. Since this lens is capable of being used on both cropped and full frame sensors, I've divided my review into two sections below.

 

 

For Cropped Sensor Shooters

The Canon 8-15mm fisheye is one of the most exciting lenses to be released in a long time. It has some very cool features for both full-frame and cropped shooters, but there does seem to be some confusion about who this lens is best suited for. At a retail price of $1499, the Canon 8-15 fisheye lens is not going to be for everyone. It is often compared to the Tokina 10-17mm, and on a cropped sensor camera the Tokina is probably the closest thing to it but at less than half the price.

If you are only shooting on a cropped sensor body it is a very tough decision. The Canon is a better built lens. You will get slightly sharper and contrast-y images straight out of the camera and the most noticeable improvement will be less chromatic apparition. This is a big deal for me, but with a little time spent in post-production most users will not see a huge difference, especially if you don't spend a lot of time viewing your images at 100%.

The useable zoom range on a cropped body is 10-15, so you lose that little bit of extra reach that you would get on the 17mm end of the Tokina. You can of course shoot at 9mm and 8mm but you will start to see the curved corners of the lens. If you want the absolute best image quality then the Canon lens is for you, but if you are a crop only shooter, the Tokina's versatility, low cost and excellent image quality probably will make it a better overall choice.  

 

Canon 8-15mm fisheye - For Full-Frame Shooters

For those shooting full-frame there is not much to compare the Canon 8-15mm to. Canon did make a 15mm fisheye (it has been recently discontinued), but the 15mm end on the 8-15 is not only sharper, but it also focuses to just millimeters in front of the glass. The older 15mm fisheye required too much working distance for really good close focus wide-angle work. Sigma makes a 15mm fisheye that focuses pretty closely, which I have heard good things about but not personally used.

At the Canon 8mm end of the lens you get a full circular fisheye. I happen to really like the look of circular fisheyes, but not so much that I would have invested in a lens like the Sigma 8mm or to have spent a whole dive committed to that shot. Now I don't have to worry about that anymore. I have the best 15mm lens on the market, and when I want a special effect full circular shot I just zoom into the 8mm end. Full-frame shooters are not really going to use the zoom range between the 8 or 15 ends. Of course you can shoot at any zoom range but you will get partially round corners that are not very useful.

canon 8-15mm fisheye lens review underwater photo
Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens @8mm, Canon 5D Mark III. F5.6, 1/40th, ISO 160

 

Dome port choice

You'll want to use a dome port with a removeable dome port shade when using the Canon 8-15mm lens, especially if you want to get a circular fisheye photo at 8mm. I like using a small 4 inch dome port so I can get very close to subjects, the new Zen 8-15mm glass dome port has been working well for me.

Summary

If you're shooting a full-frame body or use both a cropped and full-frame body, the 8-15 is hard to beat in versatility and overall lens quality. On a full-frame body you will get a 15mm full frame fisheye and a 8mm circular fisheye. For cropped only shooters, I do feel the 8-15 is far superior to the Tokina but the Tokina will give you very similar results at less than half the price. On the APS-C cropped sensor you will get a 10-15mm full frame fisheye.

 

Canon 7D 8-15mm @ 10mm. This is essentially the same angle of view you would get on a full frame body at 15mm.

 

Canon 7D 8-15mm @ 8mm. Notice the curved corners. This is similar to the look on a full frame body at any focal length shorter than 15mm until eventually creating a full circular fisheye at 8mm.

 

Canon 7D 8-15mm @ 15mm. At the 15mm end on a cropped sensor the fisheye distortion is much less noticeable.

 

Canon 5D markII @ 8mm. Full circular fisheye. This type of shot is very stylized but can be used effectively on certain subjects. 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ultra-wide micro-four thirds lens for Olympus and Panasonic cameras
By Scott Gietler

Panasonic 8mm Fisheye Lens Review

Scott Gietler
Ultra-wide micro-four thirds lens for Olympus and Panasonic cameras

The Panasonic 8mm micro-four thirds fisheye lens is a small, sharp, stunning lens that really needs to get used more often in the underwater world. It mounts on cameras such as the Olympus E-PL2 & E-PL3, and the Panasonic GF2 & GH2. You can read our guide to mirrorless cameras to get the low-down on these types of hybrid cameras, or our intro to fisheye lenses.

 

About the Panasonic F3.5 8mm fisheye lens

The lens has 10 elements in 9 groups. It features a silent built-in auto focus motor that makes it great for use in videos with sound. It is the world's smallest and lightest fisheye lens of its type.

panasonic 8mm fisheye lens review

Olympus E-PL2 and Panasonic 8mm fisheye lens in hand.

 

 

topside photo taken with the panasonic 8mm fisheye & olympus e-pl2

Topside photo with the 8mm fisheye. F8, 1/640th, ISO 200

 

 

panasonic 8mm micro-four thirds fisheye lens review

Close-up of kelp underwater. F22, 1/180th

 

 

Underwater Testing

We took the lens down on an Olympus E-PL2 body in the Olympus housing using the Precision brand custom dome for this lens. The water had some particles in it, which made it difficult at first to control the backscatter. The strobes really need to be pulled back when using this lens, and either be on the sides of the lens, or directly over the top. A few times I even got the strobes in the photo by accident.

Using a small 4-inch dome was really nice, especially for getting close to small subjects. The Precision dome port was custom designed for the 8mm fisheye lens, aligning the nodal point of the lens in the correct position for maximum sharpness.   

 

precision brand dome port for the panasonic 8mm fisheye lens, olympus housing

Precision brand 4-inch dome port for the 8mm fisheye and Olympus E-PL2 housing. 

 

Focusing speed

The lens focuses very fast underwater, and I was pleasantly surprised. Not as instant as a dSLR would, but fast enough so that I could get the shots that I wanted. This is partly because wide-angle lenses often focus much faster than telephoto or macro lenses.

 

Chromatic Aberrations, Fringing, & Flare

I did not notice any aberrations or fringing in the 100% crops of the photos that I took, and the photos pointing toward the sun did not have any significant flare. Well done, Panasonic!

 

Lens specs:

  • Aperture range: F3.5 - F22

  • Weight: 165 grams

  • Size: 61x52mm

  • Mount: Micro-four thirds

  • Close-focus distance:  Very very close, at just under 1 inch from the lens. The lens is capable of focusing inside the dome port.

  • Angle of view: 180 degrees diagonal angle of view

  • Filters: Gel filters accepted at the rear of the lens

 

Close-focus distance

panasonic 8mm fisheye close focus image

This is as close as the Panasonic 8mm fisheye lens will focus, just under 1 inch from the lens glass.

 

 

Corner sharpness and best aperture to use

Center sharpness is similar from F3.5 to F16. Corner sharpness improves noticeably when stepping down from F3.5 to F5, and F5 to F7. Corner sharpness is quite good across the range from F7 to F16, with F11 being the best by just a tad.

 

100% crop of corner, F3.5

 

corner sharpness test of panasonic 8mm fisheye lens

100% crop of corner, F11

 

 

Compared to the Tokina 10-17mm

The Panasonic 8mm fisheye is a fixed focal length lens, where the Tokina is a zoom lens. When compared to the Tokina at 10mm, they both have the same 180 degree angle of view diagonally, and the same 35mm equivalent focal length.

 

Compared to wet-mount fisheye lenses

The Pany 8mm fisheye is wider and sharper than wet-mount fisheye lenses for compact cameras like the Dyron 16mm fisheye, or the FIX UWL-04. 

 

Other micro-four thirds fisheye lenses

Samyang (not Samsung) is coming out with a 7.5mm fisheye lens for micro-four thirds cameras in September 2011. It will cost much less than the Panasonic fisheye lens, but it will be manual focus only.

 

Underwater photography tips for shooting with the 8mm fisheye

  • To avoid strobe flare and backscatter, your strobes have to pulled back considerably behind the housing, and pointed outwards slightly.

  • Try to keep your strobes to the sides, or straight above the housing.

  • Try to take lots of vertical shots!

  • Don't afraid to get really close to your subjects.

  • Try to get the dome port cover on before handing the camera rig up to boat crew to avoid unwanted/ unnecessary scratches.

  • Review the underwater composition tutorials.

Update: After diving with this lens a second time, by being careful with my strobe placement I was able to control the backscatter much better. I simply kept my strobes back a little further, and tried to align them with one of the port shades.

 

Panasonic 8mm fisheye + E-PL2 underwater photos

starfish and diver with 8mm fisheye lens

Starfish and diver. Olympus E-PL2, Olympus housing, Precision custom dome port for the Panasonic 8mm fisheye. F10, 1/180th, ISO 200

Encounter with a 6 1/2 ft giant black sea bass. F9, 1/160th, ISO 200

panasonic 8mm fisheye lens review

Black sea bass silhouette. F9, 1/160th, ISO 200

F10, 1/180th, ISO 200

 

100% crop of urchin in corner. 

 

kelp and sunlight

F8, 1/180th, ISO 200

 

starfish and urchins

F10, 1/180th, ISO 200

 

100% crop of starfish

 

jellyfish using pany 8mm fisheye

Jellyfish in the sun. F14, 1/180th, ISO 200

 

precision 8mm fisheye dome

F10, 1/180th, ISO 200

 

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:

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Magnify your macro underwater photography
By Michael Zeigler

Lens Review: Dyron Double Macro M77

Michael Zeigler
Magnify your macro underwater photography

Always up for trying something new, I volunteered to field test the Dyron Double Macro M77 lens and Ikelite port adapter

 

Ever since discovering the wonderful world of macro underwater photography, I have been looking for ways to get higher magnification.  Using the Dyron Double Macro M77 lens is certainly one way to do it.  I typically use my 60mm macro lens along with a 1.4x Kenko teleconverter, which is attached directly to the camera body.  Therefore, once I put my camera in the housing, it's there to stay for the duration of the dive.

The versatility of being able to remove the Dyron Double Macro M77 lens underwater came in handy.  I was able to shoot fish portraits without the wet lens on the port, and when I saw, for example, a potentially great nudibranch photograph, I simply attached the port adapter and lens, and voilà, I was ready to get some great magnification for the shot. 

 

The Dyron Double Macro M77 lens and port adapter on my Ikelite D90 macro port.

 

 

The Lens

Double Macro M77 features dual coated lenses to limit distortion, and Dyron now also offers an adaptor that allows any M77 threaded lens to be attached externally to Subal, Ikelite, Hugyfot, or Seacam macro ports. This gives the underwater photographer the option of adding an external diopter, in this case the Double Macro M77, to increase magnification to these ports.

It easily attached to the front of my macro port, and when I chose to take it off underwater, it was secured to the port with its own leash.  One should take care, however, to make sure the lens does not contact the reef while it is off the front of the port.  It may get scratched, and/or it may damage the environment.

Due to the magnification of the lens, it did not allow me to focus my 60mm lens to infinity, but rather forced me to get closer to the subject, which is exactly what I should be doing in the first place!

 

Left: Dyron Double Macro Lens.  Right: Dyron port adapter for Ikelite flat ports.

 

 

 

Underwater Photographs with the Dyron Double Marco lens

 

All of my underwater photographs were shot using my Nikon D90 and 60mm macro lens in my Ikelite housing. My Ikelite strobes were set to TTL, and I used either one or both strobes, depending the subject and effect I wanted to create.

 

Flabellina iodinea nudibranch.  1/200, F14, ISO 200

 

 

         Picture taken without the M77                                                                                                    Same focal distance with the M77

 

            Picture taken without the M77                                                                                            Same focal distance with the M77

 

1/200, F14, ISO 200

 

 

1/200, F20, ISO 200

 

 

1/200, F16, ISO 200

 

 

Specifications

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Zeigler is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for the Underwater Photography Guideand Bluewater Photo, as well as an AAUS Scientific Diver. Michael's underwater photography and blog can be seen at SeaInFocus.com.

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Sigma 8-16mm is the widest lens available for cropped-sensor cameras
By Scott Gietler

Sigma 8-16mm lens

Scott Gietler
Sigma 8-16mm is the widest lens available for cropped-sensor cameras

The new Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 lens ($699 in the US) is the widest available lens for cropped sensor dSLRs. I'm a big fan of ultra-wide lenses and love putting my Sigma 10-20mm lens on my camera. Let's see how I liked the Sigma 8-16mm on my Nikon D300, and look at some real-world photographs.

 

sigma 8-16mm lens review

 

 

This photo makes the Sigma 8-16mm lens look larger than actually is!

 

Specs, Design, Focus and Operation

  • Find out how the lens is constructed, how the auto-focus works, what kind of build quality it was, and how the close-focus performance is

Comparison with other wide-angle lenses & fisheye lens

  • See what other wide-angle lenses compare with the Sigma 8-16mm. See test photos taken of the same subject with the Nikon 10.5 fisheye lens and Sigma 10-20mm lens.

Chromatic aberration, vignetting, barrel distortion, flare

Sharpness tests

  • Find out which apertures give the best results, and what strange exposure problem I encountered

Sample outdoor photos

  • See how the lens actually performs out in nature

Sigma 8-16mm underwater photos

  • Underwater photos taken with the sigma 8-16mm lens

Conclusions for topside photography

Conclusions for underwater photography

  • Find out if this lens is a good choice for underwater photography. Also includes comparisons with the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye

Discuss this review in our forums

 

Further Reading

Best underwater lenses for underwater photography

Review: Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye Lens

Sigma and Tokina fisheye lenses on a Nikon D800

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!

 


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

 


Review of the Nikon 10-24mm lens
By Scott Gietler

Nikon 10-24mm lens review

Scott Gietler
Review of the Nikon 10-24mm lens

Nikon 10-24mm lens review

Using the Nikon 10-24mm F3.5/4.5 lens in underwater photography

By Scott Gietler

 
SHARE THIS STORY

By friend Wilfried Niedermayr just returned from a trip using the Nikon 10-24mm wide-angle lens.  As expected, the lens performed well.

 

 

This lens has the same focal length as a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye at 10mm, and the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye, without the distortion or ultra-wide angle of view that a fisheye lens gives.

 

nikon 10-24mm lens

 

Which means compared to an equivalent fisheye lens

  • It will be easier to light that a fisheye lens

  • The size of objects in the middle will be the same

  • Straight lines will be preserved

  • The additional zoom to 24mm means this lens will be better for skittish sharks & pelagics than a fisheye lens

 

Wilfried says, "What I like about the Nikkor 10-24mm lens is that it is a wide angle lens with which I can zoom a little. I use it when I dive and I am not sure if I will get as close to a object / fish as I would like to get. So I still have the ability to zoom the object a little closer, but I am still able to do wide angle shots which are my favoured way of taking pictures. But my most favoured lens is the Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye."

The Tokina 12-24mm lens is also a good choice for underwater, but the Nikon 10-24mm goes wider, and has a closer focus distance, two big pluses.

A quick look at my nikon underwater lens chart shows that it has an excellent close-focus distance of 24cm, just like the Sigma 10-20mm lens. Max magnification ratio is 1:5. This lens is for cropped-sensor cameras like the Nikon D90 or D300s. Largest aperture is F3.5 at 10mm, F4.5 at 24mm.

Here is the topside review from Photozone. If want to shoot wide-angle topside with a DX lens, I highly recommend a lens that is 10mm at the widest point. I own the Sigma 10-20mm lens. The lens is $800 USD on Amazon.com

I will continue to use my Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens for reefs and schools of fish, but some people will definitely prefer the Nikon 10-24mm lens for certain types of shots.

 

Nikon 10-24mm underwater photos

Taken with a Seacam 9-inch glass superdome, 30mm extension ring, no diopter. Most domes will work best with a 30-40mm extension ring when using this lens, and maybe a +2 diopter, although one is not needed with Seacam's 9 inch port.

 

Photos by Wilfried Niedermayr

 humpback whale with nikon 10-24mm lens underwater

Humpback Whale in Silver Bank, Dominican Republic. F11, 1/125th, ISO 200 

 

underwater photo with a nikon 10-24mm wide-angle lens

 

nikon 10-24mm lens underwater photography

 

 

Further Reading

 


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SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

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

 


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

 

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

 


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