July 05, 2015, 03:55:31 PM

Author Topic: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII  (Read 2351 times)

Velo Steve

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Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« on: March 04, 2015, 07:58:48 PM »
I have a D10 point and shoot, and about once in 100 shots the fish, my ability, and the slow autofocus allow me to get a shot I really like.  I suspect that the newer D30 is better, but not enough.  I have some big trips coming up, and would like to have faster autofocus, a better sensor, and external flash.

On the other hand, I do a lot of free diving and only a little scuba.  A huge housing for my 5D III and six feet of flash arms would be too much to move around with.  I'm guessing that a fairly small external flash and arm for snorkel shots to 20 feet (depth, not subject distance) would be enough, but with the option to change to bigger flashes for scuba.

I saw some good posts from the past, but the model information is probably out of date.  What is out there these days? 

Oh - my budget is somewhat flexible.  To get most of what I want for under $1000 would be tempting, but I could go quite a bit higher for TTL-capable flash and a not-too-tiny sensor.  The only thing non-negotiable is focus/shutter lag.  I'm sick of waiting 5 seconds or more for the shot to take while my composition goes from good to bad to hopeless.

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Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« on: March 04, 2015, 07:58:48 PM »

pato

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2015, 04:10:26 AM »
Hi
I went for a Canon G16 with the Canon underwater housing. I already had a Sea&Sea YS-01 including arms. This setup works wonderfull, but you need to do manual flash control. TTL would technically work, but it produced way to many underexposed images for my liking. It's actually very easy to do manual output control on the strobe. For < 20 cm I had it on around 40%, for around 20cm - 2 meters I had it on around 70% and for everything further on full output or completely disabled (typically you don't want to flash-image stuff that is to far away).
That setup was surprisingly cheap, camera and UW-case was just some ~600 USD here (or actually around CHF 560). Not to forget that you also get a really nice "above water" camera :)
One of the main strengths of the G16 is its very close macro mode! You can nearly get as close as the front of the underwater case.

Velo Steve

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2015, 12:13:57 AM »
Thanks, pato.  Your setup sound just about right for me. 

Of course if anyone else has other ideas, I'd be glad to hear them.

Lyle Krannichfeld

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2015, 06:56:38 PM »
I have been using an slr underwater for a few years now, and had an opportunity to try out a G1X underwater and found it to be extremely sluggish and much more challenging to use. If you want SLR speed and quality in a more compact package, I'd suggest the Ikelite SL1 kit: http://ikelite.com/housings/canon/6970.02-canon-100d.html. Looks to be pretty compact, but still an SLR. Food for thought.

I use my 7D (upgrading to the 5dS R when it hits) in an Ikelite housing with an 8" dome and use natural light freediving with the housing down to 60'. No strobes to deal with and does really well especially shallower than 25'. Just keep the sun at your back. Then when you're diving, throw on the strobes with some ULCS arms. I use two sections and they total out at about 24" total each. That's what I'd REALLY suggest...
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pato

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2015, 05:55:41 AM »
And that is still within his 1000$ budget? :) ???

Velo Steve

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2015, 12:19:23 PM »
It looks like my $1000 budget is out the window anyway, but still a lot less than most SLR options.  I was tempted by the G7 X's big sensor but I kept reading that it's a sluggish camera.  My latest choices are the Sony RX100 III, an Ikelite housing, the Sea&Sea YS-01 strobe mentioned by pato, and an inexpensive tray and arm.  This comes out just under $2000.

Lyle's 100D option is certainly a lot less than the high-end systems, but my plan includes a strobe for the same price.  This should get me to where I'm limited mostly by my own skill.  I can upgrade all or part of the system in a year or two if I find myself getting really serious.  I'll also have a better idea of how often I'm wishing for wider angles, better macro capability, more strobe power, or whatever.

I'm now expecting to dive in Hawaii, the Sea of Cortez, and Monterey within the next six months.  If I don't get some nice photos out of that, I might as well quit :).


pato

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2015, 12:42:24 PM »
The RX100 III was also in my list of choices. You might also check the first and second version, they don't have many changes, but are MUCH cheaper. I don't remember what the changes were and am to lazy to check it now :)
Anyway, either the Sony or the Canon will be a great choice. For me, one more reason for the Canon was, that I already own one and am used to the menu and also used to the RAW images.
Oh and yeah, always shoot in RAW, that makes after editing sooo much easier (and way better too) if it's to dark or the wrong color. Simply choose the white balance tool and click on a grain of sand or the grey skin of a shark and you're mostly done :D
In case you want videos, compare the two cameras. I think the Canon can't record in RAW (video), that makes it near impossible to correct the missing red color afterwards. Or you carry a red/white video light or filter with you.

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2015, 12:42:24 PM »

Velo Steve

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2015, 12:37:00 PM »
Thanks again to those who offered advice.  I stuck with the choices I posted last, and just came back from my first trip with the camera.  There were lots of lessons learned.

  • The camera, housing, and strobe worked great, although I need to adjust the control for the rear dial better.
  • The inexpensive flexible arm I got for the strobe admits an unpredictable amount of water, which can then leak out wherever you happen to be in the next few days.
  • Water clarity is nice when you are just looking.  It's life and death for photo quality.
  • The camera settings recommended by Ikelite didn't work for me.  I ended up in manual mode with a 1/200th or 1/250th shutter speed.  I'd start at F4 and adjust if conditions demanded.  I used auto ISO limited to 6400 max (most shots were between 125 and 400).  That way I only had to adjust f-stop (and occasionally exposure compensation) in the water.  Less is more, especially when you're still learning.
  • I was often at the maximum zoom.  It's not easy to fill the frame with an 8-inch fish without scaring it. The limited zoom range may be a blessing in disguise, though.  It stopped me from trying shots through too much intervening water.
  • Camera battery life was great.  I could easily have gone two or three days on a charge.
  • Strobe batteries go much faster.  One day I lost the strobe in less than two hours of snorkeling.  Maybe I did something wrong, but I'm taking new Eneloop Pro batteries on my next trip.
  • I need to hold my breath longer.  If I dive straight at a fish, it usually spooks.  That means swimming away, diving down, and then gently kicking over to the fish.  I can do that, but if things don't go perfectly I don't have time for many second chances.

Any tips for training breath hold time?  I'm not interested in the really extreme "it's okay to bleed from your eye sockets" stuff, though.

The attached picture is probably the best of the trip.  Many more are in the "I can tell what species it is but its ugly" category.

pato

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2015, 06:29:44 PM »
Nice image :)
For snorkeling, get either a weight belt with around 2 KG or a few stones. Every diveshop has weight belts for rent or sale, I recommend rent as you don't want to carry around 2 KG of lead in your luggage.
That way you can MUCH easier dive and you are also much steadier in the water. Oh and also important, because you don't have to move much, you also can hold your breath much longer.
 
For training holding the breath, you can do that whenever you have time. The more often you hold your breath, the better you get at it. You can do that while watching tv, while driving train, ...

Velo Steve

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2015, 09:53:02 PM »
Thanks - I'll start holding my breath while writing web posts...

privatebydesign

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2015, 10:14:37 PM »
PLEASE be very very careful freediving, and never ever do it without a competent buddy (somebody that knows what to do to an unconscious person five feet below the surface).

Shallow water black out is real and kills.

https://www.google.com/search?q=shallow+water+blackout&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
Too often we lose sight of the fact that photography is about capturing light, if we have the ability to take control of that light then we grow exponentially as photographers. More often than not the image is not about lens speed, sensor size, MP's or AF, it is about the light.

RobertG.

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2015, 10:39:15 AM »
Did you consider a flexible Ewa Marine housing for your 5dIII? I use the U-B100 housing for my 5DII and it works, although it is not the most comfortable way of shooting. You can't zoom a lens and no dome port is available.
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Velo Steve

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2015, 01:31:13 PM »
Thanks for this message!  My practice has been to limit hyperventilation to two or three breaths so that I don't "fool" my system by suppressing the natural warning signs.  I read many of the articles from your Google link and there were some great ideas (and some scary stories).

I'll definitely be more careful about pushing my limits.

The one thing most lacking is clear advice which doesn't just amount to "don't hold your breath".  I hope there is more progress in that area.

PLEASE be very very careful freediving, and never ever do it without a competent buddy (somebody that knows what to do to an unconscious person five feet below the surface).

Shallow water black out is real and kills.

https://www.google.com/search?q=shallow+water+blackout&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2015, 01:31:13 PM »

Velo Steve

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2015, 07:34:22 PM »
I wasn't really aware of high quality flexible housings when I made my decision.  It definitely looks worth a try, but I'm no longer in the market.  With the Sony/Ikelite/Sea&Sea combo I have reached the point where I need a skill upgrade much more than an equipment upgrade :).

Did you consider a flexible Ewa Marine housing for your 5dIII? I use the U-B100 housing for my 5DII and it works, although it is not the most comfortable way of shooting. You can't zoom a lens and no dome port is available.

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Re: Recommendations needed: more than a D30, less than a 5DIII
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2015, 07:34:22 PM »