Wet Lenses for Underwater Photography

Review of wet lenses for compact and dSLR housings

By Scott Gietler

 

 

 

 
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Introduction to Wet Lenses

Compact camera users can purchase "wet lenses", also called add-on lenses, that add macro and wide angle ability. Dyron Inon, and Reefnet make some of the better quality wet lenses. Wet lenses can be added and removed underwater. There are several ways to attach a wet lens to your camera, include a bayonet mount, which simply rotates and locks on, a "quick adapt" mount that snaps on in one motion, and a 67mm screw mount. The screw mount must be screwed on, which takes a little longer, but some people feel it is more secure. Manyt people prefer the quick-adapt mount or bayonet mount for its ease of putting on and off underwater.

 

 

Not every housing supports wet lenses, and the quality is different for each camera/housing combination. Contact your local underwater camera shop or our partner site Bluewater Photo for the best information on your housing.

 

If you are a beginner in underwater photography, you may want to watch my video tutorial on wet lenses.

 

Inon Wet Lenses UFL-165, UWL-100, UCL-165

 

Inon is a Japanese company with a great reputation for making wet lenses for compact underwater cameras. Inon wet lenses are made of optical glass.

 

AD mount, Bayonet mount and threaded filters.

 

Many compact housings such as Ikelite and Olympus already come with a screw mount, also known as a threaded mount. Wet lenses must be "screwed on" to this mount.

 

Alternatively, for other compact housings such as Sony, Canon, Olympus or Fuji you can usually purchase the appropriate Inon mount adapter.

 

The Inon AD mount base is a bayonet mount. Inon bayonet mount lenses are also called "AD" lenses. Bayonet mounts simply twist on, which is easier underwater than screwing on a lens. You push them in, turn them a quarter turn until they "click". Most people prefer bayonet mounts, but only certain underwater housings will work with them. This mount base is optimized for a 35mm focal length.

 

The Inon 28AD mount base is also a bayonet mount, but it is different than the AD mount base. This mount base is meant for cameras that have a 28mm focal length at their widest point.

 

The Inon M67 mount base is a threaded screw mount that attaches to many compact camera housings that do not take the Inon AD mount base. Once this mount is attached, you can screw on Inon M67 wet lenses, or any other wet lens with a 67mm threaded attachment.

 

When you purchase a wet lens, make sure its mount matches the mount you have on your housing, or your adapter. Please keep in mind that not all camera/housing combinations support all wet lenses, this is why you must think ahead and make sure your camera/housing will support the type of photography that you want to do. 

 

People who use wet lenses usually purchase a lens caddy, which holds their wet lenses while diving.

 

Inon UFL-165 AD Fisheye Lens

This wet lens is your best choice for an underwater wide-angle wet lens, but only works with limited cameras that are 35mm at their widest, for example the Canon A570 or Canon SD990. The UFL-165 is a fisheye lens that will give you up to a 165 degree field of view. You can practically focus on the dome port of this lens. This lens is removable underwater, which means you can shoot macro and wide-angle on the same dive if you have the appropriate wet lenses. Many underwater photographers greatly enjoy this flexibility.

Inon UFL-165AD fisheye lens

Inon UFL-165AD Fisheye Lens

 

Many photographers choose their camera based on whether it will accept this lens or not. This lens is the widest out there, and can take great wide-angle photos, allowing the underwater photographer to approach the subject very closely. Unfortunately, many recent point and shoot cameras will not work with this lens because they are too wide, and this lens is optimized to work with cameras that are 35mm wide, such as the Canon A570, Fuji F30, Canon SD990, Oly SP350, Fuji E900.

 

This lens only works with housings with an AD bayonet mount, hence the lens is called the UFL-165 AD fisheye lens. It does not work with the 28AD mount base.

 

Inon UWL-100 Wide Angle Lens

 

This wet lens (also called the Inon WAL100) is not quite as wide as the UFL-165 fisheye lens or UWL-04 fisheye lens, but is still a very good choice for wide-angle. Best when used with the optional Inon dome port.  The Inon UWL-100 will give you up to a 100 degree field of view, and up to a 150 degree field of view underwater when used with the optional dome port. There are 2 versions (mount types), the 28AD version and a 67mm threaded version.

 

To make matters even more confusing, the Inon UWL-100 67mm version also has two mount types, "type 1" and "type 2". Most housings take type 2, which screws directly onto the housing. Some older Canon and Olympus housings take Type 1.

 

underwater photo with inon uwl-100 wet lens

Photo by Edvin Eng with Panasonic Lumix LX3, Inon UWL-100 and dome unit

 

Inon UCL-165AD Close-up Lens

  • This lens is a high-quality dual element diopter for macro that allows your camera to focus closer to the subject. Two of these are commonly stacked together for supermacro photography. This lens acts as a +6 diopter underwater, which is fairly strong. With a diopter you lose the ability to focus at infinity, which shouldn't be a problem when shooting macro.

Inon also makes UCL-165 M67 diopters, which just have a different mount, and screw onto any housing with 67mm threads.

 

When using this dioper, for best results you should zoom in slightly. Zooming in about half-way is ideal. On a compact camera shoot at F8 for maximum depth of field.

 

underwater photo with stacked inon ucl-165 wet lenses

Photo by Edvin eng, taken with Canon G9 & stacked UCL-165 macro lenses

 

stacked Inon ucl-165 wet lens

Photo by Edvin Eng, with Panasonic Lumix LX3 & Stacked UCL-165 M67 macro lenses

 

 

 

Inon wet lens caddy

The Inon Wet lens caddy is in the upper right corner 

 

UWL-04 Fisheye Lens

 

Designed for use with compact cameras such as the Canon S90, Canon S95, Canon S100, Canon S110, Canon G10 & G11, and Canon G12 with the Recsea or FIX housings. Offers a 130 degree field of view. Note that you must switch portson land to do wide-angle on the G10/G11/G12/G15 housings. 

 

The UWL-04  fisheye lens has 52mm threads. This unit, which has a dome included, has been used by some people instead of the Inon UWL-100 + dome unit - and is less expensive than the Inon combination.

 

This combination has no vignetting on the Recsea S95, FIX S95, Recsea/Fix G10/G11/G12 housings, and the Recsea/Nauticam RX-100 housings.

 

Dyron Macro Lenses

 

Dyron is a french company that makes a range of excellent quality wet macro lenses made with optical glass. 

Here is a review of the Dyron Double Macro M77 lens.

They have great macro lenses with a 67mm thread, and adapters that fit the majority of underwater housings, including housings made by Canon, Ikelite, Fisheye and Recsea. The Dyron 2-element 67mm macro lens is a sharp lens that is very popular.. 

 

Fantasea Bigeye Lens

Fantasea makes a dome port that restores the original angle of view on many compact cameras. Remember, when shooting from behind a flat port, which is the default on all compact camera underwater housings, you lose 25% of the angle of view, which is not good for wide-angle! I know there are versions available for Canon G10, G11 and Canon G12 housings, and there are 46mm and 67mm threaded versions for some Ikelite housings.

 

 

Bluewater WA-110 Wide Angle Lens

Bluewater Photo has a great wide-angle lens that works well with most compact camera housings. Results will vary depending on the camera, but in general the lens is very sharp and very wide, with a 100 or 110 degree angle of view. This lens has a flat port, not a dome port. This lens comes with a 67mm threaded mount. Results with S95, S100, S110, RX-100, LX5 and LX7 are excellent.

 

Sea & Sea Wet Lenses

Sea & Sea produces add-on wet lenses for their DX-1G and DX-2G underwater cameras. The results that I've seen look fairly good, and it allows you to shoot macro and wide-angle on the same dive, although the wide-angle is not as wide as a fisheye.

 

Subsee macro lenses

Reefnet makes excellent quality macro lenses known as the Subsee +5 and Subsee +10 diopters. They have 67mm threaded mounts, and are very popular with dSLR users, especially when paired with a 100mm lens.

 

 

Further Reading

Understanding Fisheye Lenses

 

Underwater Housing, Strobe and Lens Reviews

Olympus XZ-1 wet lens tests

Subsee diopter review

Sony RX-100 wet lens tests

Super Macro with Stacked Diopters

 

 

Where to Buy

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

 

Comments

I have a Fantasea Big Eye

I have a Fantasea Big Eye Lens for my s100. It's great because there is no vignetting when using it with the 24mm lens on the s100. However it is not a good addition if you live in a warm humid environment like Fiji. After having sent one back already for warranty last year because of a fogging/film inside the sealed lens my replacement lens is also having the same problem. They come crystal clear from the factory then slowly over a few months they start to haze on the inside flat lens. I can only imagine it's because I live in an area with 70%+ humidity year round, but it does get stored in an AC climate controlled room which should have helped.

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Hi, I have a UNZ-2443 macro

Hi, I have a UNZ-2443 macro lens and I cant seem to flood the lens. How do i flood the lens and drain the water out later? Please help

hi, I have Canon G12 and i am

hi,
I have Canon G12 and i am using Ikelite 6146.12 housing.

to get the best results for wide angle pictures. what lense shall i use?
as I know, i have 2 options. either Ikelite WD-4 Wide Angle Conversion Dome #6430.4 or Dyron 8mm Circular Fisheye Lens 8mm for Ikelite G12 & video housings (DY.IKWA180.

which one will get me the best result?

thanks

Does anyone know the proper

Does anyone know the proper techniques to remove tar and oil from natural seepage that formed a "slick" over the ocean surface resulting in a sticky film across housing and lenses? I have a Recsea housing with a Dyron fish eye and macro lens. I was thinking about starting with olive oil and or baby oil and then moving to soap like Dawn or glycerine soap. If anyone can help with some info I'd greatly appreciate it!
Thanks,
Andrea

Do you know if the Inon

Do you know if the Inon UFL165 AD can be successfully mounted onto an S100 housing (either Caon or FIX) and which adapters would be required?

Can one use an add-on fisheye

Can one use an add-on fisheye or extreme wide angle in a Sea&Sea RDX series SLR housing by attaching to the lens port. Some S&S ports come with screw and bayonet mounts for filters, close-up lens, and I hope, an extreme wide angle to attach to the port so I can shoot different types shots in a dive. Resolution is paramount for the macro, but it can soften for wide angle shots, which are fairly sharp by themselves. I just want the wide angle for environment and people shoots. They make them for surface cameras, I would think they would work underwater too. Anyone ever seen an adaptor that might work?

I recently purchased the Inon

I recently purchased the Inon macro lens and adapter for my Canon g12 with Canon UW housing. Comparing my macro photos with and without the lens, I am not seeing much difference at all. Am I doing something wrong? The photos without this lense look about the same and sometimes better. I have tried both zooming, thus avoiding the vignetting, and not zooming and then cropping the photo. I would appreciate any advice or help on this. Thanks.

In answer to some of the

In answer to some of the queries above: I and others have successfully fitted the Inon UWL 165AD lens to the Canon S90 using the inon 28AD adapter on the Canon WP DC35 housing. The bayonet fitting is the same, the lens fits the AD adapter as easily as a 28AD lens would. I find it works very well, you just need to zoom the camera in to 35mm equivalent to avoid vignetting. To fit to the strobe tray you need an extended tripod screw, these are readily available. Another thing to watch is the lens clearance from the housing front port - it is *very* close, almost touching. This no doubt improves the optical match - the further away it is the worse will be the vignetting and possibly edge focus, but some people have reported that they find the lens touches the port, which may damage it (the port, not the lens - the lens is slightly recessed). A workaround is to slightly enlarge the 2 holding screws on the adapter to allow the lens to sit further from the housing.

Can the INON UWL-100 be used

Can the INON UWL-100 be used as a wide angle lens topside?

Thanks,
Dena

Hi, first of all, thanks for

Hi, first of all, thanks for this GREAT website, amazing piece of work!
Second, u said that UWL 165 is meant to be used for digicams with "35mm lens." Has someone tried to use this lens even with digicams which are wider (G11/G12, for instance..) at their widest, but with their lens set at 35mm? Would this work ok or are there some issues?

thx for your reply, best regards, Lucas