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Full Article: Olympus TG-6 Underwater: First Look

The Olympus TG-5 waterproof camera has been the go-to camera for compact and macro underwater photographers since its release in May, 2017. Two years later, the underwater photographic community has been itching for an upgrade. After all, who doesn’t want an even better version of an amazing camera? Unfortunately, the May, 2019 release of the Olympus TG-6 appears to be a firmware update with a few cosmetic changes and a good PR campaign. So if you have the Olympus TG-5, you may want to wait for the TG-7 before you upgrade. 

But if you have yet to experience the macro magic of the Olympus Tough compact camera line, it’s time to take a serious look at the TG-6. The Olympus Tough line of camera is known for an amazing image quality to size ratio, indestructible design, beautiful macro capability, and excellent options for underwater accessories. Underwater photographers and snorkelers alike will be happy to know that the few updates that have been made are mostly geared towards underwater use. So lets get to it….

 

U.S. MSRP TG-6: $449.99

U.S. MSRP Olympus TG-6 Housing: $299.99

 

Olympus TG-6 Camera Specifications

Key Upgrades from the TG-5

Anti-reflective coating to glass around sensor (reduces flare and ghosting)

Better LCD: 1.04 million dots compared to 460 K dots on the TG-5

Improved microscope mode 

Microscope mode available in program and aperture priority mode

Video available in program and aperture priority mode

Focus stacking and focus bracketing

More underwater shooting modes/underwater white balance presets (aperture priority still yields best image quality)

Olympus TG-6 Complete Specs

12MP 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor optimized for low light (4000x3000 image resolution)

Olympus TruePic VIII image processor

Waterproof (50ft without housing), shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof

Fast f/2.0-4.9 lens with 4.5mm - 18mm focal length (equivalent to 25mm - 100mm)

Sensor-shift image stabilization (up to 2.5 stops)

Minimum working distance 1cm (in super macro mode)

ISO range 100 - 12,800

25 autofocus points with Single AF and Tracking

4K@30p video recording (approx. 102 Mbps bit rate)

High Speed Movie mode with 1920x1080@120fps / 1280x720@240 fps / 640x360@480fps 

4K timelapse video

Pro Capture mode for 20fps image capture

Shutter speed 4 sec to 1/2000 sec

Custom white balance (4 slots)

Built-in flash

SD storage (SD, SDHC, SDXC)

RAW and jpeg shooting

WiFi capabilities, including camera control via smartphone

Action track sensors record location, temperature, direction and altitude data 

Weight (approx): 250g / 8.72oz with battery & memory card 

Dimensions: 113mm x 66mm x 31.9mm (4.43in x 2.6in x 1.23in)

Battery life (CIPA): 340

 

Body and Build

The Olympus TG-6 is almost identical to the TG-5 in terms of design. It has the same level of indestructability – freezeproof to 14°F / -10°C, crushproof to 220 lbf / 100 kgf, and shockproof from 7 ft / 2.1 m. The size is the same, and it is compatible with the Olympus TG-5 underwater housing. Likewise, the TG-5 should be compatible with the Olympus TG-6 housing. 

It is waterproof to 50 ft, so if you wish to take photos in the range of normal recreational scuba diving depths, it’s recommended to purchase an underwater housing. 

The LCD screen now has a much sharper resolution than the TG-5. However, it is still a little scratchable.

The one upgrade to the build that will be beneficial to underwater photographers is the anti-reflective coating to glass around sensor that reduces flare and ghosting. This is great for wide angle photographers that like to shoot into the sun and capture sunballs. 

 

Controls/Ergonomics

The controls and ergonomics on the TG-6 are the most significant improvement from the TG-5. However, it could have all been updated as a firmware update rather than a new model of camera. Regardless, microscope mode and video functions are now available in program and aperture priority modes. This makes it so you can shoot macro, wide, and video without switching modes!

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a manual mode on the camera. The TG-6 does offer additional underwater white balance presets as upgrades to the TG-5, but we still recommend shooting in aperture priority mode with auto white balance and strobes for the best results. The underwater white balance presets are more enticing for snorkeling photography without strobes. The white balance presets are depth based which can be beneficial for free divers that want a small package. 

 

Sensor and Image Quality

The sensor on the Olympus TG-6 is still the same great 1/2.3” BSI CMOS 12 MP sensor. Having shot the TG-5, we can say with confidence that the image quality on the TG-6 is excellent for a compact camera of this size. The lowlight performance is surprisingly good with less noise in the image and faster processing times than the TG-4. If you want beautiful underwater images at an excellent price point, this camera will not disappoint. 

 

Implications for Underwater Photography

Overall, the main upgrade in image quality is going to be the anti-reflective coating around the sensor. This will be welcomed by anyone who shoots regularly into the sun or in situations with high dynamic range. 

All other updates in design focus on ergonomics. It’s certainly easier to shoot with macro, video, and wide-angle all being available on one aperture priority mode! So Olympus did, in fact, make an already great camera even better. We just wish there was more!

 

TG-6 Wide-Angle Shooting

A wide-angle wet lens increases the field of view, which means that for shooting a given subject at a certain size in your photo, you have to be quite a bit closer to it. Although this can be a hassle with a skittish subject, what it does mean is that you get less water between the camera and your subject. And less water means a clearer subject, as well as better lighting from video light, photo light or strobe, which means much better colors. A wider angle also allows for more dramatic shots, especially with large subjects like oil rigs, kelp forests, large animals, reefscapes and wrecks.

We recommend using the UWL-04 fisheye lens, which with its 165 degree wide angle of view will allow you to create stunning wide-angle shots. Other great options to consider are the Kraken KRL-01 and KRL-02 wet wide anglelenses, which provide 145 and 150 degree angles of view, respectively. Olympus also offers a wet wide angle lens, the PTWC-01, which provides a 100 degree angle of view. Note that a step-up ring (52mm > 67mm) is necessary to be able to use the Olympus and Kraken KRL-01 wet lenses with the Olympus TG-6 housing.

 

TG-6 Macro Shooting

With other compact cameras, the only real way to take great macro photos of small subjects is to use a wet macro lens (also known as a wet diopter). However, with the TG-6's amazing Microscope Mode, macro shooting can be done without using any wet wide angle lens. As mentioned in the above section on Microscope Mode, the TG-6 can focus on a subject only 1 cm away, and by using the optical zoom can get a magnification of 7x without using the added digital zoom capabilities. 

If you want to get even more macro functionality, to shoot super-macro, the Bluewater +7 macro lens gives very good results. We recommend stacking 2 of these lenses for supermacro.

 

Strobes, Flashes and TTL Capability

Strobes are external flashes for use underwater. They help make your photos sharper, and more importantly, restore true colors to marine life. (When lit only by ambient light, subjects lose color through all the water between them and the surface, and between them and your lens). Check out this article about strobes for more information.

Through-the-lens (TTL) is a strobe setting where your camera controls your strobe power based on its own light metering. The internal flash trigger is transmitted to your strobes via fiber optic cables, and your strobes fire with a corresponding strength. You can get optical TTL when using fiber optic cables with the Sea & Sea YS-03 (also see TG-5 package with YS-03), YS-01, YS-D1, and YS-D2 strobes. You can also use the Inon Z240, Z330, S2000, or D2000 strobes. TTL works in all modes - P, A and auto modes.

One notable downside of the TG-6 when using with strobes, is that on max power the internal flash recycle time is about 4 seconds (meaning you will have to wait that long in between taking photos with the strobe). Often the flash should not be firing at max power though, meaning typically less time between shots. There is also an option to turn down the power of the internal flash using the flash compensation function, which will reduce the flash recycle time further, meaning even less down-time between shots. 

 

Sample Images from the Olympus TG-5

See our Olympus TG-5 Review for more!

 

 

Conclusion

Despite relatively few updates, the Olympus TG-6 is looking like it’s the new top dog in the budget compact camera world. If you already own the TG-5, this may not be the upgrade of your dreams. However, if you are an avid snorkeler and diver and looking for a great compact camera, definitely consider the Olympus TG-6.

 

Additional Reading

Full Article: Canon EOS R Camera Review

When the Canon EOS R made its debut as Canon’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the world’s largest camera manufacturer solidified a global shift away from DSLRs to professional mirrorless cameras. The development of a new RF mount and RF lenses was a testament to Canon’s commitment. Because of this, many photographers expected something amazing to come out of Canon’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera. 

Then the specs sheet and design were released, and many were left confused and disappointed. Some aspects of this camera are indeed enigmatic. But as with anything in photography, specs sheets often lie…. After taking the Canon EOS R underwater we’ve found that it is the world’s most useable underwater mirrorless camera with image quality matching Canon’s high-end DSLR systems, like the Canon 5D Mark IV. It certainly has its kinks that need to be worked out, but the EOS R is still a market-crushing, full-frame mirrorless model.

For underwater photographers the Canon EOS R has two features that really make it stand out – a 30.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and market-crushing Dual Pixel autofocus capability with 5,655 autofocus points. Does it outperform other full-frame mirrorless rivals like the Sony A7R III, Nikon Z6/Z7, and Panasonic S1/S1R? It’s hard to say. As with any other camera there are pros and cons. We feel that the Canon EOS R is the most useable underwater full-frame mirrorless cameras available. If you are a Canon user, this is a very viable mirrorless option – especially for DSLR users with existing EF lenses. The world is going mirrorless so it might be time to make the switch. 

 

Status: Available Now

U.S. MSRP: $1,999.00 (Body Only)

 

 


 

Bluewater Photo Canon EOS R Housings:

Ikelite Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Sea & Sea Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Nauticam Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Aquatica Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Ikelite Canon EOS RP Underwater Housing

 


 

Jump to a Section


EOS R Specs  |   New RF Lens Mount   |   Underwater Performance

Customization Tips   |   Autofocus   |   Image Quality

Underwater Video Performance   |   Pros and Cons   

Recommended Lenses and Housings   |   Who should buy?   |   Conclusion

 


 

 

Canon EOS R

Key Canon EOS R Specifications

30.3 MP, full-frame CMOS sensor (36.0mm X 24.0mm) 

Native ISO range of 100 - 40000 (expandable range: 50 – 102400)

Dual pixel autofocus system with 5,655 autofocus points!

Approximately 88 X 100% AF area coverage

Autofocus tracking

1/200 sec flash sync speed

8 fps burst shooting (5 fps in AF servo mode)

C-Log video color profile available in 10 bit (external recording) or 8 bit (internal recording)

4K video @ 30fps with a 1.8x crop, 1080p @ 60fps

OLED 3.6 million dot electronic viewfinder with 100% coverage

New Canon RF lens mount (adapters for EF/EF-S lenses available)

Fully articulated 3.2” TFT LCD

No In-Body Image Stabilization

Battery life: 370 shots per charge (CIPA) with LCD, 350 shots with EFF 

Single SD card slot with UHS-II compatibility

Weight: 660g (1.5 lb), 135.8 X 98.3 X 84.4 mm

 

Compared to rival cameras on the market like the Sony A7R III, Nikon Z6/Z7, and Panasonic S1/S1R, the specs are a little lackluster. It’s not that there’s any one spec that is particularly bad, it’s just that many things could be improved. The native ISO could be lower, the sync speed could be higher, the shooting speed could be quicker, and there could be in-body image-stabilization. But honestly, those changes would not make a huge difference in the final image.  Specs aren’t everything, and this camera is clearly capable – on the specs sheet, and more so underwater. 

 

 

New RF Lens Mount System

With the release of a new flagship system comes the opportunity to redesign the future of lenses. Similar to Nikon’s strategy, Canon decided to produce a large 54mm lens mount with a relatively small flange distance for higher quality optics. Canon also worked on updating their communication system between the camera and lens. All RF lenses also include a control ring on the lens barrel. Although this could be nice for topside photos, most underwater photographers will find this to be a dud feature requiring extra gear on the port or housing. It’s better to use the control dials already available on the camera. 

Although Canon’s RF lenses are better choices than Nikon’s first Z mount lenses, there are not many viable options for underwater photography quite yet. 2019 looks a little more promising with a Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L on the horizon as a potential candidate for wide angle underwater photography. But as for a good macro option? There isn’t anything on the roadmap yet, but the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro could be a possible semi-macro option. 

 

EF- EOS R Mount Adapter

Fortunately for us underwater photographers, Canon sells an EF-EOS R mount adapter that allows you to use all EF and EF-S lenses with the EOS R. This is amazing news as there are tons of high-quality lens options to choose from EF mount lenses for underwater photography. For our underwater review, we used the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro lens for macro photography and the Canon 8-15mm f/4 L circular fisheye lens for wide angle photography. Both are tried and true lenses for Canon’s full frame DSLR systems used by countless underwater photographers. For faster AF speed, the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro is great. All lenses that we tested seemed to work seamlessly with the adapter. 

There are two EF-EOS R adapters – one with an additional control ring and one without. For underwater photographers it’s sufficient to just get the adapter without the control ring for the low price of $99.

 

Underwater Performance

 

The Canon EOS R stands out for being the most useable underwater full-frame mirrorless camera on the market. A combination of ergonomics, build, autofocus speed/modes, and a nice EVF really make the EOS R an enticing option for someone looking to jump into the full-frame mirrorless world.  The underwater image quality is top-tier, but it’s not quite up to par with some of its competitors due to a lack of a few important features like in-body image-stabilization (IBIS).

 

 

Build 

The Canon EOS R (660g) is very similar in size to it’s competitors like the Nikon Z6/Z7 (675g), Sony A7R III (657g), and Panasonic S1/S1R (1,021g). Although mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller than DSLR’s, full-frame mirrorless cameras are only slightly smaller – especially underwater. This is because many full-frame mirrorless cameras, including the EOS R, use lens mounts that are the same size as full-frame DSLR lens mounts. Larger lens mounts mean larger ports and typically larger housings. So if you were thinking about switching from a DSLR, don’t expect much of a size reduction underwater, even if there is a slight benefit. The 5D Mark IV is only 230g heavier than the EOS R. The EOS R is weather sealed which provides a little extra protection in the event of a flood. 

 

Ergonomics

The EOS R really outshines its competitors in underwater ergonomics. In fact, Canon claims that the EOS R is the most customizable ever built by Canon. You can change 14 different camera controls for still shooting. Because it’s so easy to customize the buttons to suit a housing and functions that are important for underwater use, I found the camera had a very short learning curve. In fact, it was second nature by the third dive. Like the info menu on the Z6/Z7, the Q menu on the Canon EOS R allows for easy access to almost all the important settings you need during your dive.

However, the EOS R’s topside ergonomics leave a lot of be desired. In fact, this has been the source of frequent complaints by photographers. Canon added a touch-sensitive multi-function bar that left a lot of photographers confused and often gets in the way of camera functionality unless you set it to turn on after holding it for a few seconds. Although it’s not very useful above water, it can’t be accessed at all underwater. So as an underwater photographer you don’t have to worry about it. There is also no joystick on the back panel to toggle between autofocus points. Again, as an underwater photographer the key pad is fine for this function, but it can be an inconvenience for topside shoots. 

 

Tips for customization

1. C.Fn4 menu: Set an accessible button (depends on your housing) to change one shot AF <> servo AF. This lets you quickly change between autofocus settings in order to access useful settings like AF tracking and single AF. 

2. C.Fn4 menu: Set the up, left, right, and down control keys to AF point selection so you can control where your autofocus point is

3. Set the Q button to display all useful underwater settings. This includes, white balance, ISO, autofocus mode, and autofocus area selection

4. C.fn4 menu: If necessary (despite the Q button customization), set an accessible button to change ISO. It’s preferred to use the Q button as it can be annoying holding down a button and turning a dial to change ISO underwater

More tips for settings and customization will be thoroughly covered in our Canon EOS R underwater settings article. 

 

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

When mirrors are removed from full-frame cameras, it becomes impossible to have an optical viewfinder. As a result, full-frame mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder which shows a live video feed. Although they lack the dynamic range capability of an optical viewfinder, electronic viewfinders have become increasingly useful due to their ability to show settings, image playback, and anything else the LCD could show in live-view. This means you can do a whole dive, take your shots, change your settings, and view them, without taking your eye off the viewfinder.

When using the EVF on the EOS R, we found that it was not quite as good as the Nikon Z7 which boasts the world’s best EVF. However, it’s still a solid piece of equipment with no noticeable lag during every day use. Canon also offers a cool little trick where they insert the frames you capture in burst shooting modes back into the EVF for a continuous feed without blackout. 

 

Card Slots

Canon is in step with other flagship full-frame mirrorless cameras – it only offers one UHS-II compatible card slot. This is an unfortunate decision for any underwater photographer who likes to back up their images on two cards or for underwater videographers shooting in 4K. Rather than an oversight, this is probably an indication that the design was not fully optimized by the release date. 

 

Battery Life

The EOS R’s battery life is in line with other full-frame mirrorless cameras at 370 shots per charge. Although it isn’t as good as a DSLR, I found that it was, in truth, more than 370 shots, and enough for about three dives. I would recommend changing out the battery every two to three dives to be safe and to let the camera sleep between shots. It’s very quick when waking up again. 

 

Autofocus: The World’s Best Mirrorless Autofocus System

The highlight of the Canon EOS R is its dual pixel autofocus system. Not only does it boast the most focus points in the world – 5,655 – it offers 0.05s locking speed, a minimum lowlight sensitivity of -6EV @ f/1.2, and very effective autofocus tracking. After testing this system, we found this to be the best full-frame  mirrorless autofocus system on the market for underwater photography. The EOS R’s 5,655 AF points cover 88% X 100% of the frame – a huge upgrade for DSLR shooters and one of the benefits of shooting mirrorless. It’s almost not necessary to reframe your shot after you lock on focus, because you can just choose the point you need. 

Lowlight autofocus: -6 EV lowlight autofocus sensitivity is absolutely spectacular. This is especially beneficial to photographers diving in limited visibility or at night. In fact, when we took the EOS R underwater, we almost felt like we didn’t even need a focus light. The focus snapped quick and perfectly every time. 

Autofocus Tracking: We found the EOS R’s tracking priority autofocus to be the most effective underwater autofocus we’ve used. In fact, I personally thought it was better than Nikon’s 3D AF tracking system on the Nikon D850. Tracking priority AF is available in Canon’s servo (continuous) AF mode. Normally I shoot single AF, but with the EOS R, I used servo AF with tracking priority almost the whole time. The AF tracking was very fast, accurate, and it expanded the AF area based on how the camera and subject was moving. Because I was diving in situation of very high current, I was able to take shots with the Canon EOS R that wouldn’t have been possible without AF tracking. The single autofocus was also very fast and accurate, but I began to feel that the camera did a better job using tracking priority than I could ever do manually. 

 

Image Quality

Image quality is where Canon needs to catch up, ever so slightly, with its EOS R line. This is mostly due to a lack of features rather than the camera’s actual performance. Don’t get me wrong – the image quality is professional and excellent. However, the technology has room for further improvement. 

 

Resolution

The Canon EOS R’s resolution is not high nor low for a full-frame mirrorless camera. At 30.3 MP, it is very acceptable for all applications as well as large prints, but not the highest on the market. The Nikon Z7 boasts 45.7 MP which is excellent for getting extreme crops if you’re a macro photographer. The frustrating thing about the Canon EOS R line is that instead of releasing a new model with higher resolution, they released a new model, the Canon EOS RP with lower resolution – 26.2 MP.

 

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range on the Canon EOS R is great and on par with competitors, but it could be better for underwater photographers. For one thing, the sync speed is only 1/200s and the native ISO is 100. Underwater photographers need high sync speeds and low base ISOs in order to properly expose situations with high dynamic range like sunballs. It’s our hope that the next camera in the line-up will have a base ISO of 64 and sync speed of 1/250, as we might expect from a camera like this. 

 

RAW File and “Canon Colors”

As with any other camera, I found Canon’s RAW file and color science unique. The RAW files usually took a little more effort to edit than with files from Nikon, Olympus, and Sony. This is because the colors are a little flatter and softer than with other full-frame mirrorless systems I’ve shot. I found that if I was using lightroom, I would use the “saturation” tool which saturates all colors rather than the “vibrance” tool that targets more muted tones. The saturation tool was more responsive. People are very opinionated about their “Canon Colors,” but I personally have little opinion one way or another on the color – it’s just different. For video, I must say “Canon Colors” on the EOS R are perfect for bringing out red tones and the auto white balance adjusts quite nicely with a video light. 

 

No In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS)

One of the greatest developments in photography has been the development of In-Body Image-Stabilization. So much so that it has become somewhat of a gold standard for full-frame mirrorless systems. The Canon EOS R is notable among the genre for having no IBIS whatsoever. Although many of Canon’s lenses are stabilized, this could be a deal breaker for underwater photographers. In underwater photography you need the extra stabilization due to a large number of low light situations where you’re limited by low sync speeds, crazy three-dimensional movement, and fast subjects. Recovering as many stops of exposure as possible is essential. Personally, I found that a few of my shots could have been crisper if the camera had IBIS. 

 

Underwater Video Performance

Although the video on the EOS R is great for the general user, it’s a bit of a let-down for dedicated underwater videographers. 

Canon offers a C-Log color profile that flattens out highlights and shadows to capture more details to be brought out later through color grading. This is in line with offerings from of Log profiles from all manufacturers. Much to the pleasure of underwater videographers, canon is one of the few manufacturers that offers a Log profile with internal recording. This saves divers from buying a housing for an external recorder to capture a Log profile. 

From an engineering standpoint, 4K video in a high-resolution full-frame camera is a difficult endeavor. The problem is that engineers need to downscale their resolution from 30.3 MP to 8 MP (4K). There are different methods of doing this and each one takes a certain amount of processing power and results in a certain level of quality. Due to a lack of processing ability, Canon chose the method that resulted in the least processing power and largest reduction in quality – cropping. Canon decided to offer 4K at a 1.8X crop factor. Many videographers found the reduction in quality unacceptable – especially since you’re shooting a full-frame camera in order to use the full-frame sensor. But for general use, we still found the underwater footage to be top notch.

Moreover, there is a lack of In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS) in the Canon EOS R, whereas every other competing brand offers IBIS. Although Canon offers a number of stabilized lenses, a lack of IBIS could be a deal breaker for many dedicated underwater videographers. 

While the camera itself is very customizable and ergonomic, we found the video controls to be a little more confusing. It was hard to switch between stills and photos without using the control dial – which isn’t always ideal in a tight situation. 

If you are a Canon user wishing to shoot casual video, the 4k is still excellent. Its more professional than you would get in 4K mode on an action cam like the Paralenz or GoPro. But underwater videographers should look at the Nikon Z6 or Sony A7R III for underwater video instead of the Canon EOS R. In fact, the Nikon Z6 just might be the best full-frame underwater video camera on the market. And with the Z6, there is no crop factor at 4K. For the first time ever, Nikon may have just surpassed Canon for video.  

 

Pros and Cons of the Canon EOS R for Underwater Users

 

Pros

Best underwater autofocus system for a full-frame mirrorless cameras

Autofocus tracking is amazing – lightyears ahead of the Nikon Z6 and Z7, and better than the Sony A7R III due to enhanced autofocus speed

Amazing low light autofocus ability (down to -6 ev @ f/1.2)

Very ergonomic camera underwater

The most customizable Canon camera on the market

High resolution 30.3 MP CMOS sensor

5,655 AF points

C-Log picture profile can be recorded internally (at 8bit)

Adapter for EF and EF-S lenses is available with full compatibility 

 

 

Cons

No ultra-high resolution sensor option available yet in the EOS R line (unlike the Sony A7R III and Nikon Z7)

Dynamic range performance could be improved – native ISO is 100 and it has a 1/200s sync speed

Just one card slot

No in-body image-stabilization (IBIS)

4K video is only available with a 1.8X crop which reduces quality

 

Lens Options for Underwater Photography

Because the RF lens mount is so new, there are a couple RF lenses that could be viable for both wide angle and macro photography in the future (e.g., Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L for wide and RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro for semi-macro and portraits) – but nothing quite as good as the available EF and EF-S lenses with the EF-EOS R adapter. 

 

Recommended Underwater Lenses with the EF-EOS R adapter

Macro

Macro lenses enable to you get close up shots of little critters.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro: This is a great all-around macro lens. It is easier to use than the 100mm macro lens and focuses quicker. However, it has less working distance than the 100mm so it is more difficult to get shots of skittish subjects. This is the recommended lens for blackwater diving.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS: This is the best macro lens for small and shy subjects due to a larger working distance. It’s also an essential tool for supermacro photography when combined with a macro diopter. We tested this lens with the Canon EOS R and loved how sharp the photos were and the working distance for skittish subjects. If you are new to macro photography, it would be better to start with the 60mm macro for faster autofocus speeds.

Nauticam Super Macro Converter: The Nauticam super macro converter (SMC-1) is a wet diopter that can help capture sharp macro and super macro images. It’s the strongest, sharpest diopter on the market. If you are a super macro photographer, this diopter is best used with the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 macro.

 

Wide Angle Fisheye

Wide angle fisheye lenses allow for an ultra-wide field of view but result in a distorted image. The distortion is reduced underwater to the angle of refraction of light through the water.

Canon 8-15mm f/4L circular fisheye: This is going to be the best choice for a full-frame fisheye lens. At 8mm, the lens vignettes over itself creating a cool, artistic, circular fisheye affect. For traditional fisheye images, just zoom into 15mm and you will capture beautiful ultra-wide angle shots without vignetting. We tested this lens with the Canon EOS R and loved its functionality and quick autofocus with autofocus tracking.

 

Rectilinear Wide Angle

Rectilinear wide angle lenses retain a wide field of view but do not exhibit the distortion found on fisheye lenses. They are great for large animals like sharks and reefscapes. 

Canon 16-35 f/2.8 III Ultra-Wide Zoom lens: This lens is the best choice for those who are buying their first wide-angle lens and don't have a strict budget. Most underwater shooters use rectilinear wide-angle lenses for shooting subjects that don't come close enough to fill the frame with a wide fisheye lens: sharks, whales, sea lions, dolphins, etc.

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

Canon 11-24mm f/4L Ultra Wide-Angle Lens: Want the widest lens you can buy? The Canon 11-24mm offers a much wider field of view than the 16mm. This perspective is great for reefscapes, massive wrecks and very wide shots where you do not want the distortion of a fisheye lens. The downside is that this lens is larger, heavier and more expensive than the other wide-angle lens choices.

 

 

Canon EOS R Underwater Housings

Because the release of the Canon EOS R was so anticipated, many housing manufactures were much quicker than usual at coming out with EOS R housings. This gave us the opportunity to test the Sea & Sea EOS R underwater housing for this review, as Sea & Sea was earlier than usual with their housing for the EOS R. 

Available housings for the EOS R include the Nauticam EOS R housing, Ikelite EOS R housing, and Sea & Sea EOS R housing. Aquatica will be announcing their Canon EOS R housing soon. Ikelite offers a Canon EOS RP housing, for users of the smaller full-frame mirrorless offering.

Nauticam Housing for Canon EOS R

Nauticam Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Professional underwater photographers love Nauticam for their top notch and high quality underwater housings. The housing is built with aircraft grade aluminum and is robust and built to last. The EOS R housing lives up to Nauticam’s standards of ergonomics. All controls are within fingers distance from your hand and easily used with gloves. The housing includes a patented port locking system, housing locking latches, stainless steel handle brackets, and supports HDMI output and flash triggering. 

 

The Nauticam EOS R housing is available now at Bluewater Photo!

 

 

Ikelite housing for Canon EOS R

 

Ikelite Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Ikelite offers the most affordable Canon EOS R housing, which is the only housing less expensive than the camera itself. Manufactured in the USA, and made of a corrosion-free ABS-PC (polycarbonate) blend, this housing is both durable and light, making it great for travel. This housing offers full control of the camera, with controls designed specifically for ease of use, and is great for all budgets and shooting styles! We highly recommend using this housing with the Ikelite CT2K Canon TTL kit and compatible Ikelite strobes to take full advantage of the EOS R’s fast shooting speeds.

 

The Ikelite EOS R housing is available now at Bluewater Photo!

 

 

Sea & Sea Housing for the Canon EOS R

 

Sea & Sea Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Sea & Sea is known for high quality aluminum underwater housings. We took the EOS R diving with this housing and loved it. It’s very ergonomic, light in the water, and can take a beating. There are a few features unique to Sea & Sea that make this housing very useful, such as glow in the dark buttons with control labels which makes night and low light photography a breeze.  The housing also features 2 gears for zoom and focus dials, a clear window for the camera’s control panel, and a port lock system.

 

The Sea & Sea EOS R housing is available now at Bluewater Photo!

 

 

 

Aquatica Housing for the Canon EOS R

Aquatica Canon EOS R Underwater Housing

Aquatica is known for top quality housings, which are machined from a solid block of aluminum, that stand up to the roughest ocean conditions. Their control shafts and buttons are made of the finest grade stainless steel to ensure reliable performance.

The underwater housing for the Canon EOS R has not been announced yet and we will be updating the details as soon as it has been announced. 

 

 

The Aquatica EOS R housing has not been announced yet, but is available for pre-order at Bluewater Photo!

 

 

Should you invest in the Canon EOS R

Although the EOS R’s specs sheet has taken a beating on the internet, I can’t help but say time and time again that specs aren’t everything. The EOS R is still a top-of-the-line professional camera and performs as such. If you are a Canon shooter with all the necessary EF and EF-S glass, the Canon EOS R is a no-brainier. Mirrorless is the future of photography and this camera offers more than sufficient incentives for an upgrade from a DSLR and compact system. Personally, I would take the EOS R with EF glass over the Sony A7R III and EF glass w/ metabones adapter any day. 

However, if you are looking for a full-frame mirrorless system without brand loyalty, your search should be more nuanced. The important features for each system are dependent on the photographer behind the lens. If you want amazing autofocus and AF tracking, the Canon EOS R is going to be the system for you. Autofocus and ergonomics is where the Canon EOS R shines. If resolution is a priority, you may want to wait until Canon releases a higher resolution camera in the EOS R line or go with the Nikon Z7 or Sony A7R III. For video, I would consider the Nikon Z6 over the Canon EOS R. The Panasonic S1/S1R has yet to be used underwater at the time of this review, but it also sounds quite promising for video. 

Regardless, based on our underwater tests, it’s going to be hard to find many things wrong with the Canon EOS R when it comes to underwater performance and the art that is produced.

 

Conclusion

When used for underwater photography, the Canon EOS R performs far better than what can be deduced from the specs sheet. The EOS R’s underwater ergonomics and autofocus system is far better than competing full-frame mirrorless offerings. It really doesn’t get easier to capture great professional, full-frame photos. Customizability on this camera far surpasses its competitors giving users the opportunity to really choose the shooting style that feels right for them.

Image quality from the EOS R is on-par with Canon’s highly successful DLSR – the 5D Mark IV. A 30.3 MP resolution is going to be more than enough for most underwater photographers, and its dynamic range performance is excellent, despite having room for improvement. If you’re a fan of Canon for “Canon Colors,” then you’ll love the EOS R.

The Canon EOS R does struggle with less ergonomic video controls and a 1.8X crop in 4K video mode. However, the Canon’s color science and a C-Log picture profile that can be recorded internally still make it an enticing option for video – especially for casual shooters. 

With the EF-EOS R lens adapter and a wide range of housing options, the Canon EOS R is already compatible with a wide selection of lenses and underwater housings. So investing in the EOS R is not going to be a waiting game for underwater options; anyone can go for a dive and shoot with it now. And even if you don’t think the EOS R is the right camera for you, it’s worth noting. The future of photography is mirrorless.

 

Full Article: Vortex: The Full Ride

Aerial shot of the Socorro Vortex and a manta by Ana Paula Álvarez

 

Keep what has never happened before present in your memory.

Paul Valéry

 

Miles deep into the Southwest Pacific Ocean, 22 hours off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, time becomes an endless nothing, and suddenly everything is different.

 

You wake up to the smell of eggs and coffee in a surprisingly spacious, ocean view room. The crew is already up and running, working incredibly hard since dawn to make sure everything is perfect before everyone wakes up. Divers get their gear ready, listen to the morning brief, and jump into Pangas  – always with high hopes for what the tides will bring this time… This place is without a doubt one of the world’s biggest nests of wildlife, filled with the unexpected. 

 

 

On trips like this you learn that another way of discovering is by not searching. There is always, always something going on. 

 

 

Divers come back on board, overwhelmed. It seems as though there is never enough ocean and never enough to witness. Every dive is a different experience with its own story. 

The Vortex, in my opinion, is a powerful magnet for people who share a true love for the ocean. She is undoubtedly attractive on the outside but built for a purpose – to bring people together from all over the world and carry them to one of the richest locations of biodiversity in the world; Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands (San Benedicto, Roca Partida and Socorro). Located in the Pacific Ocean. 

 

She leaves the docks like an unwritten novel. It’s hard to explain how a boat can become something beyond its definition. The life that surrounds it, a vast expanse of life, eventually shapes her into a home – filled with stories to tell and some to keep only to herself. I realized one of the best parts of a journey like this one is entering the unknown, the quiet, and even the people around you. A big part of the trip is about opening up to others and learning to actually live together for a while. Privacy is just as important, and you certainly have options for alone time on this boat considering it takes only 14 guests. The upper deck jacuzzi is definitely the best excuse for relaxing time, either alone or with friends. 

The crew is made up of incredible, talented, and hardworking people that dedicate their entire energy to making things happen on board. Everything needs to flow and function in a certain way in order to survive at sea. It’s an artform. This I must say, even with the crazy marine life congregating outside, is what really caught my eye (and the food of course, mouthwatering). 

 

Afternoons are absolute magic and my favorite time of day. Sunsets fill you up with light like very few places ever do. Best of all, you can enjoy this with an espresso in hand. And at night, there’s something about the dark that’s beautiful and quite haunting. The sea truly becomes alive at night. 

Beneath the striking volcanic islands, mantas, sharks, dolphins, and even humpback whales make this place a perfect diver’s and photographer’s paradise, each island with its own particular charm. For photography lovers there’s a very, very useful camera station that will keep your equipment safe, charged, and ready to use on your way out. We all know how important it is to have your camera taken care of. 

I believe a trip like this one creates inner transformations in each and every person on board that will always keep us looking for that feeling.  It does not end here…and we must always find an opportunity to pay the sea back. 

 

If there’s one thing I miss, it’s the rocking bed at night. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in experiencing the Socorro Vortex for yourself?

Be sure to book your trip through our helpful staff at BluewaterTravel!

Full Article: Paralenz Dive Camera Review

The Paralenz Dive Camera is a new action camera, developed by scuba divers and made for scuba diving. For years major brands such as GoPro have left scuba divers on the fringe of their extreme-sports market. But Paralenz has gone above and beyond in catering to divers and customizing their camera in every way possible to fit scuba divers’ needs. In fact, the camera was developed by a Danish startup that had a team of divers take it for hundreds of dives with white balance slates to optimize the depth-based color correction algorithms with real world data. 

With features such as depth/temperature recording, built in digital color filters (DCC), multiple mount options, an 820ft depth rating, and a single switch control, it sounds like a diver’s dream camera. But as with any camera, there’s only so much you can tell about a camera with a specs sheet. We took the Paralenz out diving in the Galapagos and Pacific Northwest to see just how good its underwater performance is. Our verdict? It looks like a small flashlight, it’s as easy to use as a small flashlight, and it takes great video with all the underwater features a diver could need.

Purchase: Paralenz Dive Camera

Availability: Now

U.S MSRP: $699.00*

*For a $25 discount on the Paralenz at Bluewater Photo, please enter this discount code during check out: UWPGPARA

Paralenz Full Video Review

 


 

Bluewater Photo Paralenz Camera and Accessories:

Paralenz Dive Camera*

Paralenz Maintenance Kit

Paralenz 3rd Person Viewer

Paralenz Ball Mount Kit

*For a $25 discount on the Paralenz at Bluewater Photo, please enter this discount code during check out: UWPGPARA


 

Jump to a Section

Paralenz Specs   |   Camera Features   |   Color Correction Modes

Pros and Cons   |   Paralenz Accessories   |   Conclusion 

 


 

Paralenz Dive Camera Specifications

Depth Rating: 250m/820ft

1/2.5” sensor size manufactured by Sony

White Balance Modes: Auto, 3 Fixed WB Options, and DCC (Depth Controlled Color Correction)

Video Resolution

o 4K (Ultra HD) @ 30fps

o 2.7K @ 60fps

o 1080p (full HD) @ 100fps

o 720p @ 200fps

Video Format: MOV – H.264 Codec

Still Photo Resultion: 8 MP

Battery Life: 3+ hours (1080p - 30fps) / 2+ hours (4k - 30fps), 1600mAh battery

Connectivity: WiFi (app connection), Bluetooth (for future accessories) & USB 0.5" OLED

Storage: Compatible with 64GB or 128GB Micro SD Card; requires U3 speed

Aerospace-grade aluminum construction, titanium screws

Depth & Temperature recording and video overlay

Built in Color Correction by Depth – for both Green and Blue water

Two controls – one switch, one selector ring

Vibration feedback for feeling settings changes

140 degree angle of view with a wide rectilinear lens (no fisheye distortion)

Electronic image stabilization for many modes

Designed to work with thick gloves

Universal mount system – can attach camera to any GoPro style mount

 

 

Dive Camera Features Overview

 

 

Ergonomics

Ergonomics is where the Paralenz really shines. I personally found it to be the easiest camera I’ve ever used. When they say the Paralenz is built for divers – it really is.  It’s about as small as a backup dive light or focus light and can be mounted as such. In fact, it looks, feels, and operates like a simple dive light. And because it’s so small, there were moments where I strapped the camera to my BCD and forgot about it! It’s very easy to hand-hold (unlike the more ungainly square shape of other action cameras) and has grooves along every side of the camera for unlimited mounting capability. 

The camera’s controls were built for use with thick, cold water gloves. As a coldwater diver, I found that changing settings was seamless with gloves and cold hands. A single, magnetic switch on top is used to turn the camera on/off, start/stop video, and surf through settings. A magnetic selector ring allows you to easily switch between modes (e.g., video, stills, custom, settings) by turning the dial one direction or another. Any time you change a setting, turn the camera on/off, or start a video, the camera vibrates in a special pattern. Therefor you don’t have to look at the screen to change settings. It’s very handy for taking video on the fly – especially if you have the camera mounted to a hard-to-reach surface, such as a mask. We recommend changing settings slowly when operating the camera. In some of our tests, a quick settings change caused the exposure to become stuck, ruining the video.

 

Build

The Paralenz is quite literally built for some of the world’s harshest ocean conditions. Made of military-grade aluminum, it’s solid and can take a beating whether it’s through surf, rocky entries, or current. We did some tests in some of the Pacific Northwest’s most current heavy, rocky sites. Despite getting thrashed, the camera doesn’t scratch that easily and you don’t really have to worry about sand sticking in the switch or ring. This camera never fogs as the lens space is sealed.

Having a magnetic switch and dial ensures that there is not point of failure, so you don’t need to worry about the camera flooding via the button. The only point of possible failure is the cap which is protected by two o-rings. Regardless, the camera is rated down to 250m/820 ft – far below the limits of even some of the most technical divers. This depth rating has made me very tempted to tie a line and light to the camera and capture deepwater footage. Always remember to grease the two o-rings before your dive to ensure maximum protection.

 

Rectilinear Wide Lens

The rectilinear wide lens is probably the best choice for casual divers, but it can have its limitations. For one thing, because it’s a wide lens, it is a little more difficult to get good macro video than if you had a diopter on top. Macro is also limited by the camera's minimum focusing distance, which is about two camera lengths. This can be remedied by taking close video at high resolution and cropping in post-production. That being said, the wide lens helps you get a lot closer to subjects, bringing out amazing colors and details in the footage. At 140 degrees, it captures a lot of what is in front of you. The lens on the Paralenz is rectilinear and not fisheye. This corrects the distortion typical of a fisheye lens.

 

Battery Life

The battery life is excellent. More than 3 hours at 1080p? That’s certainly more than enough for a whole dive day for most divers. If you need to charge between dives however, Paralenz makes it easy. The camera comes with a USB charger, so you can just plug it into your computer, car, or wall adapter. I’ve plugged it into my car while driving between dive sites which was very convenient. Most other action cameras only have enough battery for about an hour (one battery per dive). You don’t have to physically change batteries as the battery is built into the camera. This reduces the risk of a flood even further.

 

Video Modes

The video modes are enticing, and certainly sufficient for most divers. We recommend shooting at 60fps or higher, as three dimensional, underwater environments are full of movement. You need the extra frames per second to slow the footage down and reduce motion blur. 4K is offered in 30fps, so we didn’t use this setting very much – unless we were shooting in a very calm situation. It’s also rather difficult to edit unless you have a powerful computer and editing software. 2.7K at 60fps is the sweet spot with the Paralenz. 2.7K resolution is still higher than full HD and 60fps allows you to slow down and stabilize underwater footage. You can also crop your video for macro footage at a large resolution like 2.7K.  The 1080p and 720p settings can be used for cool slow-motion action shots because their frame rates are 100 fps and 200 fps respectively. 

 

Auto-record Mode

Paralenz has a patented auto-record mode where the camera automatically starts recording video at a preset depth and stops when you hit the surface. This is especially useful if you know the depth of the subject you’d like to record as it saves space on the SD card. 

 

Still Photos

The Paralenz can capture 8mp still photos, although it is primarily a video camera. The lowlight capability of the photos could be improved, so it’s best to have maximum light available when shooting stills with the Paralenz. It’s very easy to take photos. You just put it in photo mode and pull the switch. It’s still a good idea to be still as possible so as not to get motion blur in the photo. I also recommend using a video light for added color and less blur.

 

Electronic Image Stabilization

The Paralenz offers electronic image stabilization which takes pixels outside of the recorded frame to provide a buffer for the image when there’s shake in the video. We recommend keeping this setting on whenever possible. Paralenz offers a selfie stick/3rd person viewer which does a great job of adding additional stability to the system. 

 

Temperature and Depth Recording

The Paralenz can record the water temperature and depth throughout the whole dive and overlay it on your video, in the bottom right corner of the screen. It will constantly update as you go through your dive. Then, when you finish your dive, you can review the video on your Paralenz Dive App, and it will show you a dive profile chart in conjunction with your video. It’s finally possible to brag about how deep or cold/warm a dive was and have video evidence! Although you have the option to turn this setting off, I personally loved having it. It adds a lot of context to the dive. Paralenz is also partnering with scientists in using their recording features to help collect scientific data. 

 

Color Correction Modes

 

  

Depth Color Correction (DCC)

Paralenz’s Depth Color Correction (DCC) is what puts the Paralenz in a different category than any other action camera. The Paralenz can apply built-in, digital color filters while recording video based on the depth the camera records in real-time! Thus you don’t need to dive with any additional filters or lights in order to get good colors underwater. All you need is the camera. 

In our tests we found that this feature worked really well. We were able to see reds and oranges come back at any depth during our dive. Because the digital color filter updates in realtime, it has the same effect as if you changed and adjusted your red filter for every inch of your dive. The color correction software has been further optimized by real world underwater color data captured during the camera’s development process. 

There are two depth color correction settings – DCC Green and DCC Blue. Choosing the one you need is simple. If you are diving in blue (usually tropical) water, choose DCC blue. If you’re diving in green (usually cold) water, choose DCC green. In other words, DCC Blue is the same as using a red filter and DCC Green is the same as using a magenta filter. As with using video lights, DCC works best if you are within one meter of the subject you want to capture. If you move too far back the colors become washed out and blue. 

 Because DCC is the same as having a red/magenta filter, any white light from a strobe or flashlight is going to appear red/magenta (click here for an example). So if you want to light up your video with a video light, be sure to use the auto white balance or fixed white balance mode. 

 

White Balance with Video Lights: Auto and Fixed

Although the Paralenz comes with Depth Color Correction, sometimes it’s a good option to use video lights to light up your video and add additional colors. This is especially true if you are shooting video into the sun. 

Auto white balance is a good option to use if you don’t know the color temperature of your video lights or multiple sources of lights will be mixing in the scene. However, because the white balance constantly updates, it does tend have a “wavy” effect with colors that constantly change. It’s not very noticeable, but it’s not as consistent using a fixed white balance. 

The fixed white balance setting with a video light is the best way to get good contrast and color in your video. First, find out the color temperature of your video light and then select the fixed white balance setting on your camera that most closely matches it. You will get consistent, beautiful color as long as you remain 3-5 feet from the subject.

 

To switch between DCC and auto/fixed white balance, pull the switch three times.

 


Pros of the Paralenz

  • Very easy-to-use camera
  • Very sturdy build
  • Depth and Temperature recording
  • Depth-based color correction
  • Battery life is significantly more than competitors
  • 4K video @ 30fps, 2.7K @ 60fps
  • Vibration feedback when switching settings
  • 140 degree wide angle lens
  • Paralenz app that shows dive profile alongside video

 

Cons of the Paralenz

  • Exposure can freeze if you change the settings too fast – slow down when changing the settings (you can still change settings relatively quickly, just not at light-speed). Paralenz is working on a fix, so be sure to update the camera to the latest firmware
  • The auto white balance can be a little “wavy” in complicated light situations. To fix this use a fixed white balance setting
  • Paralenz dive app doesn’t always connect – Paralenz is aware of the situation, keep checking for updates!
  • Limited settings for still photos

 

 

Paralenz Accessories

Although the Paralenz was made so to be used without any accessories whatsoever, the company has developed a number of contraptions that could potentially change the playing field of action camera accessories.

 

Selfie Stick/3rd Person Viewer

Although I’m not a personal fans of selfie sticks, I think Paralenz is going to revolutionize underwater video with theirs. In fact, this is my favorite Paralenz accessory. It’s not just a selfie stick. You can attach floats to the Paralenz camera and then attach the camera to the stick. The floats keep the camera up in the water column, enabling it to tail behind you and capture video from a third person view! It’s almost like having an underwater drone follow you around capturing video without the cost.

The video from the 3rd person viewer stick was surprisingly stable due to the floats and could be brought out fairly far behind the diver. I should mention that a color is lost from the video when you put a greater distance between the camera and the subject (i.e., diver). The selfie stick works as a selfie stick, of course, and it’s fun to play around with underwater. Personally, I liked the 3rd person video better as it feels like you’re watching from a fish’s perspective.

A word of caution....try not to switch mount with the Paralenz when it has floats attached while underwater. It can float away pretty quick!

 

The Paralenz Selfie Stick/3rd Person Viewer is available now!

 

Paralenz Ball Mount

As an underwater photographer I found the ball mount to be one of my favorite mounts of Paralenz’s versatile mounting system. I could attach it to the cold shoe on my primary underwater camera system housing and take excellent videos while taking photographs. It was like having a video camera instead of a focus light, which I found very useful. I noticed the water does corrode overtime if you don’t take good care of it, but it’s easy to replace it for a few cents at a hardware store when the time comes.

Paralenz Ball Mount

 

Mask Mount and Mask Strap

The Paralenz mask mount is a very secure, comfortable mount so that the camera can be mounted to your mask. It is made of plastic that can be bent to any angle for optimal video. Paralenz also sells a mask strap which I found to be one of the most comfortable mask straps I’ve used.

 

Paralenz Maintenance Kit

Paralenz does offer a maintenance that can be used to service the dive camera anywhere you happen to be diving. It includes:

1 x lens for end cap

1 x front lens

1 x carabiner

1 x lens cover

1 x activation switch

Spare O-rings

Replacement Magnet Braces

Springs & Screws

And More all in a sturdy travel case!

 

Paralenz Maintenance Kit 

 

Micro SD Card

For underwater video, we recommend a card with 64GB memory so that you can record video all day without changing cards. The Max-Flash Hyperspeed Micro SD cards are fast enough to capture 4K at fast framerates and a great companion to your Paralenz. They come with a SD Card mount so that you can insert the card into your computer or card reader.

Max-Flash Hyperspeed 64GB Micro SD Card

Max-Flash Hyperspeed 32GB Micro SD Card

  

Video Lights

i-torch fishlite video light

Although video lights are pretty standard for most videographers, they are not absolutely required for the Paralenz. The DCC works very well at the same range you would need for a light, but the colors won’t be the same as a video light. Grayer and whiter tones are bluer with DCC; they are more defined with a video light. But video lights introduce more contrast and warmer tints to the image. So overall, I think shooting with video lights vs DCC is just two different style of video. If you’re a photographer that already has all the equipment – use your lights when you want that style. If you’re new to underwater videography, I would try the DCC first and then decide if underwater video lights are right for you. 

Below are a few of our favorite video lights: 

Kraken Sports Hydra 3500

Dual Light Value Package

Be sure to visit Bluewater Photo to learn about more video lights, whether professional high-lumen or small and affordable.

 


Conclusion

The Paralenz Dive camera sets itself apart from other action cameras with it’s dive-oriented design and features. We loved the Depth Color Correction, depth/temperature overlay, battery life, and ease-of-use. If you’re looking for a camera that you can point and shoot without a care in the world, this is the camera for you. The video is high quality for the camera’s size, and the color correction software means you don’t have to worry about your video looking blue and washed out. The Paralenz is just short of indestructible and can be used in most dive applications. The accessories really add more perspective to the dive, and we highly recommend the 3rd person stick if you want footage of yourself throughout a dive that looks like it was taken by someone else. The Paralenz is also a great camera to have if you would like a small video camera mounted to your camera rig for additional footage. 

As a relatively new company, Paralenz has excellent customer service and really takes the input of their customers into account. That is how the camera was developed, after all. Although the camera can have a few kinks as many new cameras do, they are constantly updating the firmware and working to improve the camera. So be sure to keep your firmware up-to-date. The technology is only going to get better. With a company that markets specifically to divers, we can’t wait to see what Paralenz comes up with next!

 

Additional Reading

 

 


 

Bluewater Photo Paralenz Camera and Accessories:

Paralenz Dive Camera*

Paralenz Maintenance Kit

Paralenz 3rd Person Viewer

Paralenz Ball Mount Kit

 

*For a $25 discount on the Paralenz at Bluewater Photo, please enter this discount code during check out: UWPGPARA



 

 

About the Videographer

Todd Kortte is an actor in Hollywood and has a passion for the underwater world.  He brings his experience and knowledge from working on over 150 different shoots in Hollywood to the underwater filming and editing genre.  Todd has published underwater films, has won 8 film festival awards with his underwater work, and is a 3-time winner in the Bluewater Photo SoCal Shootout for the Edited Video category. Be sure to check out his Facebook page: Todd Kortte Scuba and Instagram

Full Article: Smallest Underwater DSLR: Canon SL3 and Ikelite Housing

One of the biggest complaints among photographers is space. With all the gear they carry, photographers never have enough of it. The driving force behind mirrorless and compact systems has always been their smaller size than DSLRs. But if you’ve been considering an entry-level DSLR, and the sheer size of the equipment has been holding you back, Ikelite has just solved your problem! We can now introduce the world’s smallest DSLR system for underwater photography - the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 and the Ikelite Housing.

 

Canon EOS Revel SL3 Retail Price: $749.99

Ikelite SL3 Housing Retail Price: $1294.95

 

 


 

 

Bluewater Photo Canon SL3 Packages:

 Ikelite Canon SL3 Housing

 

 


 

Canon EOS Rebel SL3

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is an excellent entry level DSLR weighing in at just under a pound (449g) – Canon’s smallest and lightest DSLR camera. Despite its small size, it manages to pack a punch with a 24.1 MP APS-C format CMOS sensor, 4K video recording, and Canon’s famous dual pixel autofocus.  Here are some quick specs: 

24.1 MP APS-C format (22.3 X 14.9 mm) CMOS sensor

DIGIC 8 Image Processor

Built In flash

Compatible with Canon EF Lenses

Dual Pixel Auto Focus

9 AF points

1/200sec sync speed

4K video at 24 fps; 1080 at 60 fps; 4K time-lapse movie

4.82 X 3.65 X 2.75 inches; 449g (0.99lb)

 

Underwater Performance

Are the specs the best in the world? No. But will you get excellent images? Of course! You can’t beat a 24.1 MP sensor, dual pixel auto focus, and 4K video. Canon’s EF lenses are also of excellent image quality. When it comes down to it, image quality is in the glass. The big downside with this camera is that there are only 9 AF points and a lack of in-body image-stabilization, which is becoming increasingly popular. For underwater photography, there’s a lot of potential. For an entry-level DSLR it’s a great start.

 However, it may not be the best camera for underwater video. Although it shoots 4K, you really want to be able to shoot above 24 fps underwater due to the three-dimensional movement. There is a 60-fps option at full HD. So if you’re ok shooting at 1080p, this is still a good camera for underwater video – especially with “Canon Colors.”

 

Ikelite 2000DLM/C Underwater TTL Housing for Canon SL3

Ikelite has gone out of its way to produce a specially-designed, super compact and light underwater housing for the Canon SL3 – resulting in the world’s smallest and lightest underwater DSLR system. The housing has been made with Ikelite’s classic lightweight and corrosion-proof ABS-PC, acrylic, and acetyl construction. The housing meets Ikelite’s standards of functionality and affordability. Here are some quick specs: 

3 lbs, 7.5 X 5.9 X 6 in 

Depth rated to 200ft (60m)

Ikelite flash bulkhead connector with built-in TTL circuitry - fine-tuned to Canon SL3 flash exposure protocol

Accessory port to be used with Ikelite ½” hole vacuum kit

Strobes can only be fired via electronic sync cord – fiber optics not compatible

Controls: All important camera functions (controls are not provided for Diopter Adjustment Knob, Display Button, Wi-Fi Button, Depth-of-field Preview Button, and Flash Button)

 

Recommended Set-Up for the World’s Most Compact Underwater DSLR

 

 

What’s the fun in shooting the world’s smallest underwater DSLR system if you don’t have good port and lens options? Well fortunately there are excellent options! In fact, there is one particularly great wide-angle and one great macro set-up that jumps out at us for being great for the budget friendly photographer

 

 

  • For Macro: Canon EOS Revel SL3 Camera, Ikelite Housing, Ikelite flat macro port (budget friendly), Canon 60mm EF-S f/2.8 Macro USM (budget friendly, and excellent image quality), and Ikelite DS-160 strobes (work’s great with TTL). The Ikelite DS-51 strobe is a great budget option that works with Ikelite's Canon TTL converter for macro shooting, but I would recommend the DS-160 for wide. The perfect macro set up for a budget conscience photographer looking for a compact start-up DSLR. 

 


 

Bluewater Photo Canon SL3 Packages:

 Ikelite Canon SL3 Housing

Tokina 10-17mm lens for Canon EF

 


 

 

Who should buy this camera and housing combo?

The market for the Canon SL3 and Ikelite housing combo is pretty clear. Anyone looking for an excellent quality, budget friendly, and compact DSLR system should seriously consider this camera and housing combo. 

But in the age of mirrorless cameras, I might also consider mirrorless options. Especially if you are looking to upgrade from a compact system or downsize from a large DSLR. There are plenty to choose from with excellent image quality and specifications. For full-frame mirrorless systems (which are much more expensive), I would look at the Nikon Z6, Panasonic S1, and Canon EOS RP as being lower end full-frame mirrorless cameras. The Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II and OM-D EM-5 Mark II are great 4/3rds systems with similar pricing. The Sony A6400 offers a similar APS-C type sensor. The options are endless! Truly. It makes my head spin. 

Ultimately, if you want the pzazz of shooting the worlds smallest DSLR, you only have one option – the Canon SL3 and Ikelite housing.

Full Article: ProRes RAW Now Possible with Nikon Z6/Z7

Full-frame mirrorless. We cannot overemphasize how much of a game changer this format really is. As testified by Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic – full-frame mirrorless is the future of photography. For video, however, this revolution is even more apparent. And it’s not because of 4K recording. Unlike with DSLRs, video is not an afterthought with mirrorless systems. It’s an opportunity to reach new boundaries. Surprisingly, Nikon – historically known for its poor video capability – is making strides toward becoming the leader of the video pack. Why? RAW video recording. 

 

As with photography, RAW* video recording gives the user an opportunity to manipulate the unprocessed, original file recorded by the camera. This allows you to easily adjust dynamic range, white balance, details, and color grade to your heart’s desire. Post production is the most versatile when editing a RAW format.

 

*Clarification: RAW video is not the same as Log video. Although Log is designed to optimize the information outputted by the sensor for color grading in post – it still has some processing. RAW video is completely unprocessed.

 

Photographed in Socorro, Mexico by David Sancho. Nikon Z7 in a Nauticam Z7 Housing, Nikon 16-35mm F4 VR lens, 8-inch dome port, dual YS-D2J strobes, Nauticam TTL converter. f/8, 1/200, ISO 200

The Atomos Partnership

So how does RAW recording work with the Nikon Z-series? It’s not as simple as you might think. RAW video is too dense of a file format to be internally recorded to the camera. Nikon has gotten around this by partnering with engineers at Atomos, a popular manufacturer of external video recorders. The Nikon Z6 and Z7 can be used in conjunction with the Atomos Ninja V to output 12-bit RAW video via HDMI to the external recorder. Atomos has gone further to make it capable with ProRes RAW for Apple which helps manage space constraints by outputting a compressed file size that preserves all the details of the original RAW file. It’s extremely exciting news for semi-professional and professional videographers. The Nikon Z series is now one of the few photography-based cameras that can output 12-bit RAW video – something normally done by professional camcorders. 

Limitations

As with any budding technology, there are a couple of limitations. The largest limitation is that you cannot recording in the camera internally when you are outputting 4K video on the monitor. At lower resolutions you can do some internal recording (often limited to 8 bit). ProRes RAW is not yet compatible with all major editing software, so it’s important to check if you can use it in your workflow. 

Nikon Z Series Quick Video Specs

N-Log recording (only when used with an external recorder)

Up to 10 bit internal recording, 12 bit external 

4K at 30p, 25p, 24p

1080 at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

Excellent autofocus

Implications for Underwater Videographers

For underwater videographers, 12-bit Raw video output at a 4K resolution with a full-frame sensor is a pivotal moment in the artform. It might even be the beginning of an era. Although the everyday photographer has had RAW file formats for years, RAW recording for video has historically cost the price of a car. The Nikon and Atomos partnership make it accessible to many more underwater videographers on a full-frame mirrorless system. 

A combination of the Atomos Ninja V and the Nikon Z6 (the recommended camera for video) will open the door to flexible and accurate white balance, dynamic range, detail, and color corrections for underwater video. This is huge. It’s the potential to bring to life colors and details in underwater video in ways that could previously only be done in photography. I would argue that enhanced control over video files could make underwater video become much more popular than it currently is. 

The Nikon Z series is a massive improvement for video compared to previous Nikon DSLR systems (other than the Nikon D850). Its video capability is similar to the D850, meaning improved color and white balance accuracy underwater. Canon previously held the title for best underwater color, which meant that underwater videographers avoided Nikon. Not only is Nikon’s Z series competitive for underwater video, it surpasses other cameras with RAW recording. 

Who Should Shoot the Nikon Z Series and Atomos Ninja V?

I would recommend shooting the Nikon Z series cameras, specifically the Nikon Z6, with an Atomos Ninja V for anyone interested in shooting ProRes RAW. Professional and amateur underwater videographers are going to love this combination. I think this system would be a great upgrade from the Panasonic GH5, though the GH5 is still a good competitor if you aren’t focused on shooting RAW. Using an Atomos Ninja V also gives you the capability of shooting the N-Log profile if you so choose, as it cannot be recorded internally. It’s also a great system for anyone with old Nikkor lenses they would like to use for video, especially considering the IBIS available in the Z series. Most importantly, I would recommend this system to anyone who wants to have full control during post-processing. 

How to take the Nikon Z Series and Atomos Ninja V Underwater

Taking the Atamos Ninja V and Nikon Z6/Z7 underwater is simpler than you might think. Nauticam currently offers a housing for the Ninja V monitor as well as the Nikon Z6 and Z7. Be sure to visit www.bluewaterphotostore.com to purchase yours today!  

 

 

The Nikon Z6/Z7 is available now at Bluewater Photo!

 

 

 

 

 

The Atomos Ninja V Housing is available now at Bluewater Photo!

 

Click Here for Our Full Nikon Z Series Review

Full Article: Beginner's Guide to GoPro for Underwater Video

GoPro video cameras have become incredibly popular with divers over the last couple years, set up in a variety of ways to capture fleeting moments underwater. Pole cams, selfie poles, housing mounts, handles, trigger grips, dome ports, tray/arm setups, mask mounts, spear gun mounts and all sorts of other accessories are allowing divers to capture their underwater visions and share them online.

Let’s take a look at the basic functions of the GoPro Hero cameras and how to capture beautiful underwater video. 

Note:  I've revised this article for the HERO7 Black, but it still applies to all GoPro models 3 and above.

Read our GoPro HERO7 Review or view all of our GoPro Tutorials & Articles.

Check out another action camera made specifically for diving: Paralenz Dive Camera Review

 

How do I Start Shooting Underwater Video?


Preparing the Camera

 You can shoot video with your GoPro almost right out of the box. Step one is to charge the battery. This is done by inserting the battery into the camera and then connecting the camera to a USB plug via the supplied cable. You can also buy a GoPro dual battery charger for a more convenient method of charging batteries.

 

Batteries

You should use a fully charged battery for every dive. You can plug the USB cord in between dives. Or it’s easier to purchase spare batteries, and swap out a full battery after each dive. You can probably stretch out one battery over 2 dives, but it's not worth worrying if the battery is going to die. Having a battery die on you underwater and missing out on a video of a lifetime is not worth trying to stretch out the life of a battery. With a fully charged battery, you can keep the screen at 100% brightness and set the "Auto Off" to "Never," and the "Screensaver" to "Never." This way the LCD screen will always be on and you can see what you are shooting. If you do not set this to Never, the default setting is 1 minute. After 1 minute, your GoPro LCD screen will go black and you will not be able to see what you are shooting.

 

Charge your batteries the night before your dive and make sure you create a system of where the fully charged battery and the used battery is located so you do not mistakenly put in the used battery between dives. It's always a good habit to power up your GoPro and check the battery before each dive.

 

What Micro SD memory card should I use?

Not all Micro SD cards will work in your GoPro, and every GoPro model is a little different. I have tried the wrong memory card before on dives and the camera will lock up in "saving mode." You don't want this to happen in the middle of your dive when there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Check this link for the official Micro SD card recommendation for the version of your GoPro.

https://gopro.com/help/articles/Block/microSD-Card-Considerations

The higher your resolution and frame rate, the faster your memory card will fill up. I recommend at least a 32gb to 64gb memory card. Anything less will fill up fast. You should be able to make 3 or 4 dives on one memory card.  If you are on longer dive trips with several days of diving, I recommend downloading your files each day to a laptop or external hard drive. For the most recently GoPro models, the most ideal card is a UHS I 128 GB Micro SD card.

 

Download latest GoPro firmware.

While your battery is charging on your new GoPro, take this time to download the GoPro App on your portable device. The app has a lot of great functions you will find very useful. The app connects your device with your GoPro and allows your GoPro to update the latest firmware.  Updating to the latest firmware will insure your GoPro camera is running at its peak potential.

 

Underwater Dive Housing

The Hero5, Hero6, and Hero7 are waterproof up to 33ft. Anything past 33ft, you will need a dive housing. If you are using the GoPro Super Suit dive housing, you will need to remove the lens cover before putting the camera inside. The lens cover can be removed by twisting it to the left.  There are 3rd party dive housing where the removal of the lens cap is not needed.

GoPro Hero4 or Hero3 are not waterproof at all. You will need a dive housing to protect your camera from any source of water.

I recommend keeping your camera in a dive housing whenever possible to protect your GoPro from accidents that can easily happen on a dive boat.  

Also pay special attention to the white rubber O-ring on the back cover of the housing. Make sure it is free of hair, lint, dust, sand, or any other debris. A clean O-ring will prevent the chance of water leaking inside and flooding your camera. 

 

Start Recording Underwater Video

To turn on the GoPro Hero5, Hero6, and Hero7 camera, hold the side mode button down for 2 seconds and release. Push the top button to start recording. Push the top button again to stop the recording. Small red LED lights will flash on front and back of the housing while actively recording video.

 

 

What Video Resolution do I use?

If you are just starting off and don't want to get into intense editing, stick with the default settings of 1080 resolution, 60 frames per second (fps), and Wide field of view. 1080 resolution is what you see on your TV at home and is also referred to as HD. The actual resolution is 1920x1080. 1080 resolution is easier to edit, and is also what you want to post on social media networks to share with your friends and followers.  

If you want to explore higher resolutions, I would recommend 2.7k or 4k. Keep in mind that 4K is difficult to edit. Higher resolutions like 4k require a powerful computer and powerful graphics card to review and edit. The file size can be 4-8x greater (depending on your frame rate) than shooting 1080. There are not many social media platforms where you can share 4K video (though Youtube is great for sharing 4K). If you have no use for 4k, I would recommend staying at 1080 resolution. You can post your 1080 file on social media for your friends and followers.

If you decide that you absolutely need 4K recording underwater, then the GoPro HERO7 is the camera for you. The GoPro HERO7 offers 4K in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. For underwater use I would recommend using the 4K at 60 fps with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and hypersmooth image stabilization. The 4:3 aspect ration does not offer hypersmooth image stabilization which is essential for underwater video.

 

What Frames Per Second should I use?

Frames Per Second (FPS) is the number of frames (pictures) the camera will be creating during every second of video. The more frames that are being shown per second, the smoother the video will be. Hollywood sometimes uses 24 fps in TV and Film to create a more cinematic and dramatic look. This does not work well in the underwater world. Higher frame rates produce better results.

60 frames per second (FPS) is what you should be using underwater.  30 fps is too slow and will result in a more blurred movement. 60 fps is the sweet spot. You can also slow 60 fps down in your editing process and get a slow-motion look.

You can experiment with higher frame rates like 120 and 240. This fps rate is best used in fast action events like a great white eating a tuna head off the side of a boat. Or it is nice to use when filming someone jumping into the water and seeing the splash in slow motion. When you slow down the playback in your post editing software, it creates a nice slow-motion video. Keep in mind that these higher frame rates also mean larger file sizes. This could really fill up your memory card, and could be difficult to play back on your computer. Most of the time anything over 60 fps is an overkill setting for underwater use.

 

Best GoPro Settings for Underwater

If you want to keep things simple I would start off using these settings.

Resolution 1080, 60fps, wide, hypersmooth image stabilization (if you have the GoPro HERO7)

Auto Exposure, Auto White Balance, Auto Shutter, Set your ISO to 400, Sharpness to High, Color to GoPro.  Turn Screensaver and Auto Off to Never.

If you want more control over color correction in post-production editing software, experiment with the ProTune options. Change the color to "Flat." This will give you more of a raw file that you can adjust in a more complex editing process. 

HERO7: Be sure to check out our GoPro HERO7 review

HERO6: Be sure to check out our GoPro HERO6 review

HERO5:  Be sure to check out our GoPro HERO5 Review and Best Settings for Underwater.

Hero4:  Be sure to read our GoPro HERO4 Review and Settings.

 

GoPro Studio for Underwater Video

Tutorial:  Editing underwater video with GoPro Studio 2.0.

 

When do I use a Red or Magenta Filter?

Note: No filters are needed on the GoPro Hero6 Black or GoPro Hero7 Black

Filters are used in underwater video to bring red light back into the picture, providing more color and contrast for the scene. Red filters bring the red color back into blue water while magenta filters are for green water. You can even use different filters at different depths, we recommend the Flip5 filter pro pack.

We do not recommend using filters with underwater lights or in shallow water with plenty of natural sunlight.  Your video will result in a pinkish tone and will not look natural.

To learn the specifics of using filters on the GoPro HERO5, HERO4, Hero 3+ and Hero 3, check out:

Guide to GoPro Underwater Filters

Video:  When to Use GoPro Filters Underwater

 

Should I use video lights?

Video lights are highly recommended when creating underwater videos. The white light from a video light adds missing wavelengths of light that are absorbed in the depths of the water. This will bring out the best possible colors and contrasts in underwater environments. Any light is better than no light. With a wide range of options and costs for underwater lights, the choice can be overwhelming. Use what you can and practice as much as possible.

Underwater lights are good up to about 5 or 6 feet away, depending on the number of Lumens of the light and the visibility of the water. The higher the Lumens on the light, the better. After 5 or 6 feet, the light is absorbed by the water and is overpowered by the blue ambient light that exists underwater. Subjects closer to your lights will have better results than those further away. The direction you point your lights will result in different outcomes (e.g., more or less shadow, softer or harder light, etc.). Experiment around with different angles, adjustments, and power settings until you create your own look and style.  

 

Learn more about lights for underwater video.

View more GoPro Underwater Mounts.

 

How do I Create a Time-lapse for my Dive Video?

Time-Lapse video is really simple with the GoPro Hero4, Hero5, Hero6, and Hero7. There is a time-lapse setting. Push the mode button to time-lapse or navigate on the LCD touch screen to time-lapse options and select video. You will have an option for how often you want your GoPro to take a shot for the video. The options are in seconds and include .5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds. The faster your scene is moving, the lower the number you want to use. The slower your scene is moving the higher the number you want to use. For example, use a .5s interval for a packing timelapse but a 5 or 10s interval for a sunset with moving clouds. I would recommend staying closer to a lower number on the seconds interval. It's better to have more frames and not need them. You can always speed up the video in editing software if the results are too slow.

Keep in mind that your camera needs to be very steady for a long period of time. Make sure your GoPro is secured tightly and is in a place where nothing can move or bump into your camera.

 

GoPro Hero 7 TimeWarp Video

The GoPro Hero7 has a cool new TimeWarp video feature. TimeWarp video is a setting where you can take smooth, hand-held time lapse video while moving around. It's better for land-use than underwater, but it is very effective. You can learn moore about the Hero7's TimeWarp function in our article here. 

 

Quick Shooting Tips

1)  Wipe the lens cover on the GoPro and the lens inside the dive housing before every use to make sure no smears, dirt, lint or anything else is on the lens. Even a quick finger touch with sunscreen on your hand will leave a smear on your lens and ruin all of your shots. I wish someone had told me that when I started underwater video. Carry a dedicated small clean towel to clean the lens, and maybe even a can of compressed air is nice to have to blow out any unwanted debris like a small cotton fiber from a towel.  

2)   We all love macro, however your GoPro will only deliver a sharp image if 12 inches or further from the subject. To get closer, check out the PolarPro Macro & Red Switchblade Filter.

3)   Try to hold the camera as steady as possible. Sharp movement, shaking and vibration in your video will make even hearty sailors seasick. Make sure to be slow and smooth when panning the camera. If you have the GoPro Hero7, be sure to check out the hypersmooth image stabilization function. It works very well!

4) Swap out a fully charged battery before every dive so you won't have to worry about your GoPro dying in the middle of your dive.

5) Use the GoPro App to easily change your camera settings, control your camera, download latest firmware, and instantly review your video shots!

6)  Keep your GoPro at the same temperature as the outside. Bringing a cold GoPro from an air-conditioned hotel room or dive boat to the warm humid outdoors will fog up your dive housing. Keep moister out of your dive housing too. One small drop of water will heat up in your housing and cause it to fog up. 

7)   If you’re not using a tray and handles, make sure your knuckle isn’t visible in the image! Yes, I know this from personal experience.

Want more tips? Read our 3 Tips for GoPro Underwater Video.

 

What’s Next?

All photographers and videographers develop their own personal styles over time. These will lead divers to some of the best underwater photo destinations while also requiring different accessories. Bluewater Photo has listed some of these GoPro underwater video accessories to help you take it to the next level, and check out their amazing holiday specials on video lights.

 

Most of all, stay aware while diving and have fun!

 

 

Manatees at Crystal River by Brent Durand. Filmed with GoPro Hero 3

 

Underwater Videos with the GoPro HERO4 Silver

Anilao, Philippines

 

La Paz, Mexico

 

Underwater Videos with the GoPro HERO7 Black

Underwater Photography Guide editor, Bryan Chu, made a day-in-the-life-of video for Villa Markisa, a dive resort he stayed at in Tulamben, Bali. Bryan combined a small amount of drone footage with a lot of GoPro TimeWarp video. With the GoPro HERO7 Black, he was able to walk around the resort just holding the GoPro in our hand, and get amazingly smooth sped-up walkthrough video. Underwater, he used the HERO7 Black with some 2000 lumen and 2500 lumen video lights to capture a variety of wide angle and macro scenes. The HyperSmooth stabilization really came in handy, especially for the macro scenes. He also made use of hisOlympus OM-D E-M1 to get macro video of the very small critters. Here is a list of the scenes shot with the GoPro HERO7 Black, for reference.

  • All walkthrough/grounds scenes, using a mix of Time Warp video and normal-speed video (all handheld!)
  • All boat scenes (except for the drone shot)
  • All underwater wide angle scenes, using lights (Liberty wreck, giant frogfish, fish/reef scenes)
  • Selected underwater macro scenes, using Macromate +15 diopter and lights (mototi octopus, two pink/purple nudibranchs, two nudibranchs following each other, wonderpus)

This video could only be done with the GoPro HERO7 Black, as no previous model has the TimeWarp function or hypersmooth stabilization. So it is a really nice showcase for what you can get from this GoPro. Check it out below.

 

View all of our GoPro Tutorials & Articles.

Check out another action camera made specifically for diving: Paralenz Dive Camera Review

GoPro Camera Reviews

 

GoPro Tutorials

Full Article: GoPro Hero 7 Review

The GoPro is the world's most popular underwater camera, and for good reason. It is compact, affordable, and surprisingly powerful - allowing almost anyone to take it on a dive and get decent-quality video (depending on conditions and accessories used, of course). In fact, even Hollywood uses the GoPro for those hard-to-get shots. I have had the pleasure of using both the GoPro HERO6 Black and the GoPro HERO7 Black while diving and snorkeling in Southeast Asia. 

So is the GoPro HERO7 Black worth the upgrade from a previous model? Is it the right model for someone new to GoPros? This review answers both questions, as well as providing some helpful tips and tricks we have learned about getting the most out of your GoPro. The short answer from our experience is that the GoPro HERO7 Black is by far the best GoPro ever made. It is absolutely worth making the investment to upgrade from the GoPro HERO6 Black, and it's a no brainer to upgrade from a previous model (5, 4 etc). 

Purchase: GoPro HERO7 Black

Availability: Now

U.S. MSRP: $399.99

 

Shop GoPro PackagesGoPro Accessories and more on Bluewater Photo for all the housing, accessory and shooting tips you need to bring home excellent underwater video.

 

Jump to section:

GoPro HERO7 Black Specs   |   GoPro HERO7 Models |   Image Stabilization

Auto Exposure, White Balance, Colors and Contrast

TimeWarp Video   |   Photos & SuperPhoto   |   Understanding Your GoPro Settings   

Recommended Shooting Modes   |   GoPro HERO7 Accessories   |   Conclusion

Full GoPro Tutorial Series


GoPro HERO7 Black Specs

Key Upgrades from GoPro HERO6 Black

  • HyperSmooth Video Stabilization
  • TimeWarp Video
  • SuperPhoto Mode

GoPro HERO7 Black Complete Specs & Features

  • 12 MP CMOS 1/2.3 inch sensor
  • SuperPhoto mode
  • HyperSmooth Video Stabilization
  • Rugged + Waterproof to 33ft (10m)
  • Live Streaming
  • TimeWarp Video
  • 8x Slo-Mo
  • Touch Screen
  • Voice Control With Wake on Voice
  • GPS Performance Stickers
  • Touch Zoom
  • Photo Timer
  • Short Clips
  • Exposure Control
  • GP1 Chip (same as HERO6 but twice the overall performance of the HERO5)
  • Advanced Metadata
  • Protune
  • QuickStories Enabled
  • Removable Battery (1220mAH lithium-ion)
  • Karma Compatible
  • Super Suit (Protection + Dive Housing) Compatible
  • Video Resolution: 
    • 4K Video @ 60/50/30/24fps
    • 2.7K Video @ 120/60/50/30/24fps
    • 1440p Video @ 120/60/30/24fps
    • 1080p Video @ 240/120/60/30/24fps
    • 720p Video @ 60fps

GoPro HERO7 Model Comparison

Here is how the different GoPro HERO7 models stack up. For underwater use, the HERO7 Black is the only one compatible with the Super Suit dive housing. All models can be used for snorkeling, but the much better specs of the 7 Black, as well as the removable battery, mean that it is well worth the additional investment even just for snorkeling or land use. If you're a diver, the GoPro HERO7 Black is really your only option.

 

HERO7 Black

HERO7 Silver

HERO7 White

Photo

12 MP (with SuperPhoto)

10 MP (With WDR)

10 MP

Video

4K60

4K30

1080p60

Battery

Removable

Built-in

Built-in

Waterproof

33 ft (10m)

33 ft (10m)

33 ft (10m)

Video Stabilization

HyperSmooth

Standard

Standard

Time Lapse Video

Yes

Yes

Yes

TimeWarp Video

Yes

No

No

Super Suit Compatible (for diving)

Yes

No

No

 

Image Stabilization

The biggest improvement with the GoPro HERO7 Black is the hypersmooth image stabilization. It is most obvious with land use, but also makes a noticeable difference underwater.

The stabilization on the HERO7 Black is a big step up from that of the 6, and totally lives up to the hype! On land, it provides a huge boost to hand-held video (both walking and running). Underwater, although a bit less obvious, it still makes the video significantly smoother -  giving it more of a professional, polished feel. This feature alone makes the HERO7 Black worth the upgrade from the HERO6 Black for many GoPro users. 

Auto Exposure, Auto White Balance, Contrast, & Colors

To compare auto exposure, auto white balance, colors, and contrast, I took the 7 and the 6 diving on a reef in Tulamben. This footage was taken at about 30-50 ft depth (10-15m), using two Sola 2500F video lights. 

The HERO6 Black and HERO7 Black were pretty comparable, with the HERO7 Black having a small edge on the color and contrast in the foreground. The main advantage though was in the background - the blue of the background water given by the 7 was noticeably nicer than that by the 6. Overall, the improvements are not nearly as big as from the 5 to the 6, but they are still there. 

GoPro Hero 7 for Snorkeling

Along with testing out the two GoPros while diving at depths of around 10-15 m (30-50 ft), I tested it out for snorkeling use, to see if there was a performance difference at the surface. 

As can be seen in the sample video, at the surface the GoPro HERO7 provides a noticeably nicer tone of blue for the water than the GoPro HERO6. This allows for more polished and professional-looking underwater video without the use of filters or post-processing, even if you are just snorkeling rather than diving.

TimeWarp Video!

Time Warp video is an extremely exciting function which opens a lot of doors for a variety of creative uses. This seems to be more of a land-based function, but it is really, really good on land. It allows you to take smooth hand-held time lapse video while moving around. Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but it is the real deal. You can now take your GoPro and walk all over a cool resort, beach, island, museum, or whatever strikes your fancy, and get a smooth, sped-up video of the complete walkthrough. 

My fiancee and I made a day-in-the-life-of video for Villa Markisa, a dive resort we stayed at in Tulamben, Bali. They really wanted to emphasize the beauty of the grounds, so we combined a small amount of drone footage with a lot of GoPro TimeWarp video. With the GoPro HERO7 Black, we were able to walk around the resort just holding the GoPro in our hand, and get amazingly smooth sped-up walkthrough video. Underwater, we used the HERO7 Black with some 2000 lumen and 2500 lumen video lights to capture a variety of wide angle and macro scenes. The HyperSmooth stabilization really came in handy, especially for the macro scenes. We also made use of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 to get macro video of the very small critters. Here is a list of the scenes shot with the GoPro HERO7 Black, for reference.

  • All walkthrough/grounds scenes, using a mix of Time Warp video and normal-speed video (all handheld!)
  • All boat scenes (except for the drone shot)
  • All underwater wide angle scenes, using lights (Liberty wreck, giant frogfish, fish/reef scenes)
  • Selected underwater macro scenes, using Macromate +15 diopter and lights (mototi octopus, two pink/purple nudibranchs, two nudibranchs following each other, wonderpus)

This video could only be done with the GoPro HERO7 Black, as no previous model has the TimeWarp function or hypersmooth stabilization. So it is a really nice showcase for what you can get from this GoPro. Check it out below.

Photos and SuperPhoto Mode

Both the GoPro HERO6 and HERO7 Black can take surprisingly good photos, if you can get close to a good subject under nice lighting conditions. These sample shots were taken in basic photo mode, with HDR (HERO6) and SuperPhoto (HERO7) turned off, to test out the baseline performance.

For basic underwater photo, the GoPro HERO7 Black has a small advantage, with overall better contrast and sharpness.

So how about SuperPhoto mode? First, a quick explanation - as explained on the GoPro website:

With SuperPhoto enabled, HERO7 Black analyzes the scene being photographed and intelligently chooses the best enhancement process. This results in the best image quality possible in a variety of scenarios every time—long gone are the days of guesswork and being distracted by changing and customizing settings for every shot.

SuperPhoto offers two different options: HDR and AUTO. HDR captures the same high-dynamic range photos that were introduced with HERO6 Black. Whereas AUTO analyzes a wide range of scene statistics—such as dynamic range, available light and scene motion—then automatically selects one of four methods for processing the image:

  • High-Dynamic Range
  • Local Tone Mapping
  • Multi-Frame Noise Reduction
  • Standard (or none)

You can find more information about this feature here.

For these tests I turned on Auto HDR on the HERO6 Black, and SuperPhoto Auto on the HERO7 Black (i.e., full functionality). I tried out a few different photos to test for repeatability, and took shots at about 20 ft of depth. It was a cloudy day and not very bright out, but at this shallow depth there was still a decent amount of ambient light. However, note than a sunny day would have led to brighter and better colors of coral and fish.

As can be seen from these first three tests, the HERO7 in SuperPhoto mode definitely adds more contrast and sharpness than the HERO6. The first two photos are clearly much better with the HERO7's SuperPhoto. In the third photo, the foreground is a bit dark, but also note that instead of being light and blurry, the surface water is more nicely exposed and shows details lacking in the photo from the 6.

Overall, SuperPhoto on the HERO7 delivers much better image quality than HDR on the HERO6. But for scenes with only ambient lighting and very large dynamic range, SuperPhoto may render the darker area of the photo a bit too dark. So in general, shooting with ambient light, SuperPhoto should give you noticeably better shots, but in some cases it may be better to shoot in plain HDR mode instead.

The next tests were done with one small video light, a Light & Motion Sola 2500F, at the same conditions of about 20 ft of depth and a fairly dark and cloudy day.

In the first video light test, the images look very similar, with about the same quality in the foreground, but a bit more detail in the background with the HERO7 in SuperPhoto mode. However, in the second test the HERO7 Black looks significantly better. The colors are nicer, the contrast is much better, and the fish and coral pop a lot more. So, whether using lights or just shooting in ambient light, Superphoto is quite the asset. In some cases it provides only a minor advantage, but in other situations it makes a much better image.

The final comparison I did is to demonstrate the importance of using artificial light for underwater photos. 

Again, this is only a small 2500 lumen video light, but the difference between using ambient light and this video light is very significant. Although the fish form a nicer shape on the left image, they stand out much more on the right because of the video light. If I were to use two of these lights, or even just one light with more power, then the improvement would be much greater. Up until getting to strobe levels of light (call it 50,000 lumens plus), the more light the better. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that even a small 2000 lumen light is way better than no light, as long as you can get within a couple of feet of your subject. 

Understanding Your GoPro Settings

Video Modes

Here is a breakdown of the available video modes for the GoPro HERO7 Black. Note that some of the higher resolutions and higher frame rates do not allow for hypersmooth image stabilization.

Resolution

Aspect Ratio

FPS

Field of View

Screen Resolution

Image Stabilization

4K 4:3

4:3

30/25

Wide

4096x3072

None

4:3

24

Wide

4096x3072

standard

4K

16:9

60/50

Wide

3840x2160

Hypersmooth

16:9

30/25/24

Wide, Superview

3840x2160

Hypersmooth

2.7K 4:3

4:3

60/50/30/25/24

Linear, Wide

2704/1520

Hypersmooth

2.7 K

16:9

120/100

Wide

2704x1520

None

16:9

60/50/30/25/24

Linear, Wide, Superview

2704x1520

Hypersmooth

1440p

4:3

60/50/30/25/24

Linear, Wide

1920x1440

Hypersmooth

1080p

16:9

240/200

Wide

1920x1080

None

16:9

120/100

Linear, wide, superview

1920x1080

Standard

16:9

60/50/30/25/24

Linear, wide, superview

1920x1080

Hypersmooth

960p

4:3

240/200

Wide

1280x960

None

4:3

120/100

Wide

1280x960

Standard

720p

16:9

240/200

Wide

1280x720

None

16:9

60/50

Linear, Wide

1280x720

Hypersmooth

 

Resolution & Aspect Ratio 

The GoPro shoots in two aspect ratios (ratio of video width to height) - 16:9 and 4:3. 16:9 is the standard aspect ratio for video, while 4:3 is the standard aspect ratio for still photos. The GoPro sensor has an aspect ratio of 4:3, and is about 4000 px wide by 3000 px high. So when shooting at 4K 4:3, the GoPro is using basically the full image sensor. When shooting at 4K normal (16:9) then the GoPro is using basically the full width of the image sensor, but not the full height. For lower resolutions, the GoPro scales the video down from 4K. 

Frame Rate

There are a large amount of available frame rates. 30 fps is a standard video frame rate, while 24 fps is the frame rate for cinema movies. Anything 60fps and above allows for slow motion video when output at the normal 30 fps. However, some people do output their video in 60 fps, and there are situations where 60fps can provide smoother underwater video than 30 fps. 240 fps at 1080p is equivalent to 8x slow motion, for a normal 30 fps video. This is very impressive and can allow for some neat slow motion video making.

Field of View

The GoPro HERO7 has two main field of view options - wide and linear - as well as a superview mode.

  • Wide is the full wide view of the lens, which has a fisheye effect to allow for very wide angle shooting. In 16:9 (standard) aspect ratio this gives a 133.9 degree diagonal field of view when zoomed out, or a 70.8 degree diagonal field of view when fully zoomed in.
  • Linear is the field of view with the fisheye effect removed. In 16:9 (standard) aspect ratio this gives a 95.5 degree diagonal field of view when zoomed out, or a 57.4 degree diagonal field of view when fully zoomed in
  • Superview takes 4:3 video and squishes it down vertically to convert it into 16:9 video. As 4:3 video is taller than 16:9 video, this allows you to capture scenes with a larger vertical field of view, but then output video in the normal 16:9 aspect ratio.

GoPros do not have optical zooms, so when you use the zoom function, the GoPro actually just uses a smaller area of the sensor.  This is why you cannot zoom in when shooting in 4K; since 4K already needs the whole sensor in the wide field of view, there is no way to use a smaller area of the sensor. But when shooting in lower resolutions, the GoPro can zoom in by cropping how much of the sensor is used.

When shooting video underwater, you want to get as little water between you and your subject as possible (though don't go closer than the 12" minimum focus distance, or you will get blurry close-up video). The less water between your subject and the camera, the brighter and more colorful the footage will be. So, all things being equal, using a wider field of view and getting closer to your subjects will give you noticeably better video quality.

The GoPro HERO7 has the same issues as the 6 in that you cannot zoom in while underwater. So if you really want to zoom in for macro video you have to set everything up on the GoPro, and then keep it on while putting it into the super suit. You also have to keep it on during the whole dive. Or, you can shoot wide video in 2.7K or 4K and then crop it in post-production. This is what we do, and it works great.

Recommended Shooting Modes

I recommend shooting 2.7K @ 60 fps, wide field of view (fully zoomed out), with hypersmooth stabilization turned on. We use this for all of our macro and wide angle video. We then edit the footage, crop it down and stabilize it, and then output our videos at 1080 and 30 fps. 1080 is more than enough quality for web usage (ie Youtube, Instagram, Facebook). 2.7K provides the extra resolution to allow for cropping and stabilization without any compromise on the quality of our final 1080 resolution video. 60 fps helps have a bit smoother underwater footage, but the most useful part I find is that video shot in 60 fps can be slowed down to 30 fps without looking choppy. This is especially important for macro video, as it allows you to catch fast behaviours and make wobbles look a lot better on your final video.

4K is higher resolution, and is a big buzzword these days, but on a normal computer monitor or moderately-sized TV, the differences are not noticeable. And 4K video is very large and very difficult to edit - I would need to get a new computer to edit 40K @ 60fps. 

We use wide field of view, to get closer to the subject and get the best wide angle results. If we are shooting macro with a diopter, we still tend to use wide field of view, as that allows us to switch back to wide angle during the dive, and using 2.7K footage will let you crop out the blurry edges this creates.

So, 2.7K @ 60 fps should be good for the vast majority of GoPro users. But if you are doing cinema/broadcast quality footage, or if you want to be able to zoom in further on macro subjects, then by all means use 4K resolution. Just don't default to it - only use it if you have a good reason to!

Also note that some video editing software does not like 2.7K footage, as it is a non-standard resolution. For example, in Adobe Premiere Elements, you can edit and work with 2.7K footage for most functionality, but cannot stabilize it. In Final Cut Pro, you can edit and work with 2.7K footage and stabilize it as well. So if you choose to use 2.7K, make sure your editing software will give you the functionality you want.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your GoPro

  • Update the firmware. Our HERO7 black sometimes froze underwater with the original firmware. Once we updated it, the freezing issue mostly went away, though it still does need to be reset sometimes. The 6 does not have these issues, so hopefully with another future firmware update, they should also disappear for the 7.
  • Use a tray. This allows you to get much more stable video
  • Use video lights. Yes, a filter is typically better than nothing, but the only way to get really nice colors underwater is to use video lights. 2000 or 2500 lumens is a great starting point and will make subjects 2-3 feet away pop with color!
  • Consider using a macro lens, such as the macromate mini, to allow you to video small critters

GoPro HERO7 Accessories

 

Super Suit Housing

*A must-have to venture below 33 ft (10m). Only works with the HERO7 Black

The GoPro HERO7 is waterproof down to 33ft (10m) without the housing, just like the 6 was. This is great for snorkeling. But for scuba divers and freedivers it is necessary to use the Super Suit housing, which is rated down to 197ft (60m). This is the same suit as you use for the 5 and 6, as all three are the same size.

To insert the HERO7 Black into the Super Suit dive housing, you need to first remove the waterproof lens cover by twisting to the left and popping it off. Then drop the camera in and lock the latch. 

GoPro HERO7 Super Suit Housing

 

Micro SD Card

GoPro recommends using a Class 10 memory card. For underwater video, we recommend a card with 64 GB memory so that you can record video all day without changing cards. The Max-Flash Hyperspeed Micro SD cards are fast enough to capture 4K at fast framerates and are a great companion to your HERO7. They come with an SD Card mount so that you can insert the card into your computer or card reader.

Max-Flash Hyperspeed 64GB Micro SD Card

Max-Flash Hyperspeed 32GB Micro SD Card

 

Spare Battery

GoPro Hero4 Battery

The battery in your GoPro HERO7 will last one to two dives, depending how much you're shooting. Buying one or two extra batteries allows to you change it out during your surface intervals. GoPro HERO5 and HERO6 batteries are compatible with the GoPro HERO7.

 GoPro HERO7 Spare Battery

 

Dual Battery Charger

GoPro Hero4 Dual Battery Charger

If you're shooting a lot on dive trips, don't hesitate on this. The alternative is to charge the batteries one at a time through the GoPro, which isn't always ideal or easy on tight schedules packed full of diving. 

GoPro HERO7 Dual Battery Charger

 

SeaLife Aquapod

SeaLife Aquapod

Capture your best selfie yet with the extendable Aquapod. Made by SeaLife, the Aquapod is designed for underwater use. Not only can you capture that selfie, but you can get the camera closer to your subject, whether it is something small or something skittish that you can't approach. The aquapod can also be quite useful for immersing the GoPro into the water from a small boat.

SeaLife Aquapod

 

GoPro Multigrip Handle

GoPro Multigrip Handle

Adding a handle like the Beneath the Surface Multigrip handle adds stability and is an easy way to hold your GoPro while diving, or any other activity. Often, if handholding your GoPro, you'll see your fingers wrap around into the picture. This problem is solved with the handle.

GoPro Multigrip Handle

 

GoPro Tray and Handles

GoPro Handles and Tray

Attaching your GoPro HERO7 to a tray and handles will make the camera easier to hold on to and much, much more stable underwater. In addition, the handles serve as a mounting point for video lights. Below are a few of our favorities:

Ultralight Tray & Handles for GoPro

Beneath the Surface Angled Double GoPro Tray

 

Video Lights

i-torch fishlite video light

Bring color back into the picture with the use of video lights. Even a high-powered light will only illuminate a subject a few feet in front of you, so these are most useful for macro and close focus wide-angle video. Adding a video light to your GoPro setup will allow you to shoot professional-quality video on your next dive! Below are a few of our favorites: 

Kraken Sports Hydra 3500

Dual Light Value Package

Be sure to visit Bluewater Photo to learn about more video lights, whether professional high-lumen or small and affordable.

Conclusion

The GoPro HERO7 Black has some major improvements over the HERO6 Black, and is by far the best GoPro yet. If you already have a HERO6 Black, the HERO7 Black is most likely worth the upgrade, as it will get you noticeably higher quality underwater video. And if you want to try out the amazing TimeWarp video mode to unleash your creativity on land, then the upgrade becomes an even better sell. If you have a GoPro model prior to the 6, then upgrading to the 7 is pretty much a no-brainer, as the step up in underwater video quality will be huge. So, no matter what GoPro you have, you should strongly consider making the upgrade, and reaping the benefits of the more professional, polished output of the GoPro HERO7 Black.

 

Check out another action camera made specifically for diving: Paralenz Dive Camera Review

GoPro Camera Reviews

 

GoPro Tutorials

Full Article: Coldwater Diving with the Paralenz

Photography and videography equipment is constantly being “adapted” for underwater usage. Rarely is a video camera made specifically for divers…. until now. The Paralenz Dive Camera is a relatively new action camera on the market. And as they like to say – it’s built for divers, by divers. 

Paralenz was initially developed by a small startup based in the Denmark which is situated on the cold waters of the North Sea and Baltic Sea. In the initial development stages of the camera, the company would have divers go out diving in local waters and bring back data for their color correction and auto exposure software. This translates to a powerful camera in cold water dives around the world. Here’s why….

 

 

 

The Paralenz Dive Camera is available now!

 

Depth Color Correction (DCC)

Paralenz is unlike any other camera by the fact that it can apply built-in, digital color filters based on the depth the camera records in real-time. These filters are optimized by data collected by cold-water divers in the development phase of the camera. The DCC makes it so that you don’t need any filters or lights in order to get good colors at depth! And there’s a setting specific to the green water most cold-water divers experience: DCC Green. Not to fear, if you dive the clear blue water off of Norway, Alaska, or Antarctica there’s a just-as-functional DCC Blue. The auto white balance is the best setting for use with lights, as the white light tends to mess with the DCC. Fixed white balance is the best setting with a video light if you know the color temperature of your light. 

One extra benefit I’ve noticed from diving in cold water with DCC Green, is that the visibility appears far better in the video footage than in reality!! This is because all the “gunk” in the water that is reflecting around green light turns white or clear in the video, yielding better visibility. I recommend moving in close to the subject for the best color results with DCC.

 

Temperature and Depth Recording

The Paralenz can actually record your temperature and depth throughout the whole dive and overlay it onto your video if you choose. You can finally brag to all your friends about how deep your were and how cold it was….with proof! As a coldwater diver, I secretly enjoy bragging about both of those things, so I like having the overlay on the video. 

 

Ergonomics

This is where the Paralenz really shines – the Paralenz is the easiest camera I’ve ever used. I’m not just saying that. It’s just like using a flashlight and there’s nothing easier to use than a flashlight, especially with gloves. In fact, it was designed for use with gloves. The main dial ring is used to flip between settings (such as on/off, video, photo, custom, and general settings), and the switch at the top is used to record and stop recording. The camera vibrates with each function, so you don’t have to look at the screen to know what your doing - especially because each function has a different vibration. The most useful trick that I found with the camera was to pull the trigger three times to switch between auto/fixed white balance and DCC; it helps when shooting with video lights. It’s also useful to know when your camera turns on or off just by vibration and helps save battery.  

 

Build

Coldwater divers experience some of the world’s harshest ocean conditions. The Paralenz is built for that as well. The camera itself is rated down to 250m or 820ft. This is far beyond the limits of even the most technical divers. I’m personally tempted to tie a line and light to the camera and capture deepwater video footage, but I haven’t had the chance. The range of the Paralenz gives it the potential to be used in applications beyond scuba diving. 

It is also made of military grade aluminum. I’ve dived coldwater sites with very swift currents and had no problems taking the camera with me – even if it bumped around against rocks on entry and exit. It feels sturdier than many underwater flashlights I’ve taken underwater. The Paralenz is also a very small camera. Sometimes, I strap it to my BCD and forget it’s even there. It’s about the size of a focus light or back up light.

 

Lowlight Performance

If there’s something coldwater divers need, it’s a camera that can capture video in low light. With such as small camera and sensor, I was skeptical at first. But I was pleasantly surprised. It had no problems taking even third person video perspective of me on night dives (granted – I had a flashlight). Overall, I think the low light performance of the video camera is excellent, but the photos could be improved in low light conditions. 

 

Rectilinear Wide Lens

The rectilinear wide lens is probably the best choice for casual divers, but it can have its limitations. For one thing, because it’s a wide lens, it is a little more difficult to get good macro video than if you had a diopter on top. This can be remedied by taking close video at high resolution and cropping in post-production. That being said, the wide lens helps you get a lot closer to subjects, bringing out amazing colors and details in the footage. At 140 degrees, it captures a lot of what is in front of you. Many underwater photographers and videographers use fisheye lens as the fisheye effect is reduced underwater. The lens on the Paralenz is rectilinear and not fisheye. This means there is not fisheye effect at all, despite the lens being wide. 

 

Paralenz Accessories

I found that several Paralenz’s accessories were very useful for coldwater divers and photographers. 

 

Ball Mount

As an underwater photographer I found the ball mount to be one of my favorite mounts of Paralenz’s versatile mounting system. I could attach it to the cold shoe on my primary underwater camera system housing and take excellent videos while taking photographs. It was like having a video camera instead of a focus light, which I found very useful. I noticed the water does corrode overtime if you don’t take good care of it, but it’s easy to replace it for a few cents at a hardware store when the time comes. 

 

 

The Paralenz Ball Mount is available now!


Selfie Stick/3rd Person Viewer

Although I’m not a personal fans of selfie sticks, I think Paralenz is going to revolutionize underwater video with theirs. It’s not just a selfie stick. You can attach floats to the Paralenz camera and then attach the camera to the stick. The floats keep the camera up in the water column, enabling it to tail behind you and capture video from a third person view! It’s almost like having an underwater drone follow you around capturing video without the cost. The video from the 3rd person viewer stick was surprisingly stable due to the floats and could be brought out fairly far behind the diver. I should mention that a little color is lost from the video when you put a greater distance between the camera and the subject (i.e., diver). The selfie stick works as a selfie stick, of course, and it’s fun to play around with underwater. Personally, I liked the 3rd person video better as it feels like you’re watching from a fish’s perspective.

 

A word of caution....try not to switch mount with the Paralenz when it has floats attached while underwater. It can float away pretty quick!

 

 

The Paralenz Selfie Stick/3rd Person Viewer is available now!

Video Lights

Although video lights are pretty standard for most videographers, I’m not sure if I would recommend video lights with the Paralenz for diving in cold water. This is because I think a huge benefit of using the Paralenz is the compact size. The DCC works very well at the same range you would need for a light, but the colors won’t be the same as a video light. Grayer and whiter tones are bluer with DCC whereas, they are more defined with a video light. But video lights introduce more contrast and warmer tints to the image. So overall, I think shooting with video lights vs DCC is just two different style of video. If you’re a photographer that already has all the equipment – use your lights when you want that style. If you’re new to underwater videography, I would try the DCC first and then decide if underwater video lights are right for you. 

 

Conclusion

As soon as I had the camera in my hands, I could tell the Paralenz was made for coldwater divers. There was never a moment where the conditions, my attire, or my equipment caused any difficulties for using the Paralenz. In fact, most dives with the camera consisted of me choosing the best mount, turning it on, and forgetting about it for the rest of the dive until I got back to review the footage. Durable, easy to use, and as small as can be – everything I look for as a coldwater diver. While conditions can get in the way of a good dive – this camera will not.

 

 

The Paralenz Dive Camera is available now!

Full Article: Cephalopods of Okinawa, Japan

Editor’s note: The Sony RX100 V is a very popular compact camera for underwater photography, with excellent performance and image quality packed into a small camera body. Brandon’s amazing photos below really attest to this. If you are interested in learning more about this camera, check out our detailed RX100V/VA camera review.

My wife and I moved to Okinawa, Japan in late 2017. The waters here in Okinawa are absolutely stunning. Easy access to diving in such a remarkable place is exhilarating. However, it wasn’t until I met Rob Kidston (an underwater photographer) that my love for photography began. I purchased my Sony RX100V, Nauticam housing, and my Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes from www.bluewaterphotostore.com, and jumped right in.

My love for cephalopods is undeniably strong, after spending many nights watching National Geographic and Discovery Channel. I was fascinated with how many species of cephalopods there are and just how unbelievably intelligent they are.

"Leap Of Faith"
Sony RX100 V, Nauticam Housing, Two YS-D2 Strobes, Bluewater +7 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

 

First encounter with a Hapalochlaena Lunulata “Blue-Ringed Octopus”

My first encounter with the venomous blue-ringed octopus was one to remember. My dive buddy found one sitting on a beautiful soft coral. You can imagine the excitement of finally spotting one of these amazing cephalopods. We watched him for about twenty minutes moving around on the reef. I was watching my dive partner take pictures when the blue-ring decided he had enough of photos. The octopus left the reef and came straight at me. You can imagine the sheer panic. I didn’t see where he went, so I thought he was on me. We surfaced, and I stripped my gear but didn’t find him; needless to say I ended the dive due to the adrenaline and anxiety.

As it turns out, they are not aggressive unless provoked or cornered. You just have to allow them space and view them from a distance, and you won't have any issues. Even though my first encounter wasn’t what I wanted it to be, my love and respect for this octopus has only grown with each of my future encounters.

 

"Freefall" 
 Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Bluewater +7 lens. 1/300 F11 ISO100

 

We normally spot these octopi once every few night dives. The Indo-Pacific species is quite a bit smaller than its Australian relative. They can range in size from ½ in to 3 in, and are not as shy as most species of octopus, probably because they carry enough venom to kill 26 adult humans. They move around hunting for small prey or crustaceans, and will not show their bright blue rings unless they feel something is too close or if they feel threatened. For me the highlight of shooting this species was getting a fully extended open water shot of one. I challenge myself to wait for the perfect timing, rather than just being happy with getting decent photos of the subject sitting on the reef. For this octopus I shot 1/250, f/11, ISO 100. I use a +7 macro wet lens that screws right on the front on my housing.

 

"Arrow"
 Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Bluewater +7 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

 

The Beautiful Metasepia Tullbergi “Flamboyant Cuttlefish”

Off the coast of Okinawa, an incredible cuttlefish can be found. The Paintpot Cuttlefish, better known as the Flamboyant Cuttlefish, are slightly smaller than their close relatives in the Philippines, the Matasepia Pfefferi. These cephalopods can be tough to spot if you don’t know what you are looking for, and are mostly found in depths of 25ft-70ft of water. They can be all white and camouflaged to look like the rocks surrounding them, or, depending on the threat level, they can range in colors from white, purple, yellow, and black, to the famous flamboyant radiating color scheme that everyone loves. This color scheme lets all the other predators in the ocean know that they are poisonous.

 

"Colors"
 Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Bluewater +7 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO150

 

I have spent night after night diving to see these spectacular cuttlefish. We dove multiple spots along the coast of Okinawa searching for flamboyant habitats, and found certain rocky locations had rich populations. Watching cuttlefish in their natural habitats can be so rewarding. The way they move around the bottom of the ocean is quite unique, as they mostly walk wherever they go. This unique trait of walking, and not swimming, can only be found in a few of the cuttlefish species.

 

Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Bluewater +7 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

 

The Spotty Bobtail Squid, Sepiola parva

The spotty bobtail squid really puts on a show. Did you know that bobtail squids actually belong to their own group, separate from cuttlefish and squids? This species is one of only a handful that uses a light organ, which is located near the stomach. Spotty bobtail squid collect bioluminescent bacteria from the water, and store them in their light organs. They use the light produced by the bacteria for counter-illumination when they are swimming at night, and then each morning they return to the sandy bottom to completely expel and renew their bacteria.

 

"Disco"
 Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes,Ucl-67  +15 wet lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

Spotting bobtails in the water can sometimes be quite tricky. Usually they are found at night on the sides of reef, by a sandy bottom. When looking for this species you will see little squid shaped ink spots, known as pseudo-morphs, in clusters of three.  Bobtails use these to try to fool any potential predators from spotting them as they make their getaway. After being spooked, they immediately head toward the reef for an opening, or to the sand. Once in the sand they bury themselves with only their eyes and top of their body exposed. Photos of this bobtail are unique, with each individual displaying different rainbow colors produced by its iridiophores.

 

"Golden Nugget"
 Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Ucl-67 +15 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

There are a few different species of bobtail here in Okinawa, Sepiola parva being the most common one “spotted”. I recently had a rare encounter with the tropical bobtail squid, Sepiadarium kochi. This bobtail has distinct orange skin, white around its eyes and tiny blue-ish white circles on its body. This species is a real treat to observe, and unlike Sepiola parva this species buries itself much faster, is very shy, and doesn’t have a light organ.

 

"Blue"
 Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Ucl-67 +15 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

 

The Mysterious Undescribed Pygmy Squid

Diving can be full of surprises; you never know what you might find! One night off the east coast of Okinawa, we were diving when I spotted a small pygmy squid. The squid was about 3mm in length, or the size of a grain of rice. It was incredibly hard to get a good close-up photo with my Subsee +10 wet lens. However, I did manage to get a few shots, before moving on.

I posted some of the shots on our local Facebook page, and quickly received a message from Jeff Jolly, a marine biologist at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. This species is an undescribed pygmy squid and they had been searching for them to study their biology and describe the species. He had collected some in the past and sequenced their DNA. When the DNA was compared to existing samples of all squids in DNA database, it was found to not match any others that have been described.

 

Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Ucl-67 +15 wet lens stacked with the Bluewater +7 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

Over the next few months, we dove and searched for more of these squid. Eventually I located two and collected the specimens to be studied. The specimens laid many eggs in the lab while being isolated. What does this tell us about the females? Even though the female was separated from the males, it stored sperm and fertilized the eggs when it deposited them. After collecting a few more of these and taking lots of photos, there were a few features that were obviously unique to this species. Under each eye they would display a ridge that comes to a point. Obviously it is not yet known why they display this because it’s not always present. Some other interesting characteristics include several white dots near their fins and a sticky part of their skin they can use to attach to rocks, coral, and sea grass. Although it will take some time to study this species and describe it, I am excited to see what the name will be. We have nicknamed this species Hannan’s pygmy squid!

 

"Mustache"
Sony RX100V, Nauticam Housing, Two YSD2 Strobes, Ucl-67 +15 wet lens stacked with the Bluewater +7 lens. 1/250 F11 ISO100

 

 

The Octopus Joubini “Wolf Pygmy”