So after a few months since I got the Nauticam housing I finally had the time to get in the water and try it on.
I was in Barbados for a week and although the diving was not exactly outstanding I did have enough to test the camera behavior.
The link to the videos are here for YouTube at 1080p
or if you prefer Vimeo at 720p
The footage was all taken at 1080p50 the highest mode of the RX100. The RX1oo can work in both PAL and NTSC standard but I chose the PAL mode just to avoid the annoying NTSC message at startup. The clip has been edited with iMovie 9.0.9 and then exported in 1080p25 using Xencoder codec for quicktime in high profile. Youtube then reconverts it to its own specifications, but at least I have the highest possible starting point.
As mentioned the RX100 shoots at shutter speed of 1/100 in 50p mode and this suited me fine in case I wanted to produce a 60p clip for viewing on the computer as currently no online system supports it.
As discussed in the previous post I shot all wide angle in camera Program mode. This allowed me to use the left control wheel button to call the white balance set menu that in video is not available. I set the picture format to 16:9 so that would show similar on the screen. I did notice that when I actually started the movie recording the crop of the active steadyshot kicked in with a reduction of field of view of around 9 degrees or a 1.14 zoom equivalent.
However the active steady shot was well worth it as I have not used any stabilization for any part of this clip and therefore not introduced any extra cropping.
The wide angle shots with the RX100 are an absolute breeze when you use a filter and there is no need for custom white balance until it gets too deep to actually use a filter. I struggled getting decent results with custom white balance, the 9900 K error came pretty much every time except when in shallow water and balancing on sand. Also the results were off with too much magenta tint to the point I had always to correct it.
Ultimately I kept the filter and the camera in Auto White balance and did not bother doing a custom reading at all. The results were excellent.
In deeper water the filter started making the image a bit dark so I took it off and used a temperature setting of 9900K with Magenta and Amber at the maximum.
For close up at distances over 20cm I still shot in program and had good results. When getting super close or macro I used Movie mode in Aperture priority mode with aperture set at f/11. Towards the end of the clip you can see a shot of a small pink frogfish that is done like that. The close up on the eye is shot with two stacked Inon UCL165 the depth of field is really small as you can see but still workable considering I hand held the camera at all time.
When I shot this arrow crab I had left the camera in program mode so it chose an aperture of f/5.6 you can see that whilst the mouth is in focus the arrow is not
Similar situation with the pedersen shrimp where not everything is sharp in focus
Obviously I am being very exigent with my footage and in normal condition this is already good to very good.
So what I liked and what I did not like about the RX100 Mark II:
- The ergonomics and ease of use are outstanding
- The camera performs incredibly well with a filter in auto white balance
- The manual focus with peaking works extremely well
- Dynamic range and colors are outstanding and not just for a compact
- Image crisp even in the corners at f/1.8 compared to the Mark I this is extremely significant
- The active stabilizer was great and meant to manipulation in post
- Battery life is incredible
- Performance in low light is excellent and better than the Mark I the camera never reached the ISO MAX of 800 I had set hitting a top of 640 at 30 meters
- Autofocus at wide end in bright conditions is superb
The only think I hated was the custom white balance results an absolute disgrace, to the point that there is no benefit doing it. Not only that the few parts of the clip I had used it and correct it were still a bit off and required correction in post to a small extent.
Also to consider some of the topside capabilities of the RX100 Mark II just to give an idea though this is not exactly the same location have a look as this shot with a Nikon D7100 with sigma 17-70 in comparison with the RX100 Mark II
There is a difference but considering the size of the RX100 and the fact it fits in a pocket I don’t think there can be that many complains. Obviously once you look at specific lenses for the DSLR things change but in the 28-100mm all purpose range I would say that the gap is not as much as double as the price of the two set ups.
So is the Sony RX100 the best compact underwater video set up? Definitely
Is the Mark II better than the original RX100? Yes and well worth an upgrade for video
How does it compare with the Panasonic LX7? The dynamic range and the colors are superior and produces footage that is simply better and sharper. Where the LX7 excels is at macro in clear waters, this is not because of magnification as the RX100 and LX7 perform exactly the same with diopters, and this is because of the LX7 amazing autofocus. However with a bit of silt or other objects in range there is need to switch to manual focus and there the RX100 is actually superior when using peaking even if the depth of field is actually less, the manual focus on the LX7 with the magnifier is not as good unfortunately.
So my ranking for video is:
1. Sony RX100 Mark II
2. Panasonic LX7
3. Sony RX100
I would also add that for stills the LX7 is even more rewarding at macro range due to the performance of autofocus.
Any questions please drop a comment
It is not a mystery that the RX100 is capable of shooting excellent video. In fact in some comparisons with SLRs cameras there is little to no difference in the footage quality. The RX100 has many settings and options so which ones are important for underwater video? I will go and explain those that I find useful.
RX100 Video Behavior
Although the RX100 offers full manual control in video this option is not as useful as it seems. Now that many video editors support AVCHD progressive the 50p or 60p options are the more relevant as the footage can be slowed down to half speed and still offer a standard frame rate (50/60p at half speed is 25/30p).
The RX100 shoots video in program mode with shutter speeds of double the frame rate so 1/100 for PAL and 1/125 for NTSC that is excellent news. The camera will then drop to 1/50 or 1/60 when the max ISO is reached which is still acceptable. In Movie Program mode the camera shoots at the lowest possible ISO for the set shutter speed at the widest required aperture. The RX100 has a minimum ISO in video of 125 and the RX100 has it at 160, which is quite high.
Shooting Wide angle
I shoot all my wide-angle footage with the camera in Program Mode. By that I actually mean Photo Program Mode. Pressing the movie button in P mode results in the same behavior that shooting video in P mode. In order to be able to frame correctly I set the image format to 16:9 also for stills. This is also useful to capture ambient light landscapes. I started shooting in P because this allowed me to white balance quickly however I found out that the custom white balance on the RX100 Mark II is a total disaster and in fact I never use it as it gives weird results. I shoot with a red filter with Auto white balance on until approximately 25/27 meters and then I move to White Balance set to K (colour temperature) 9900K Tint set to M7+Y7. When shooting with lights I also use auto white balance. Generally speaking I only use the movie button and the white balance settings for wide angle.
When shooting with diopter at tiny subjects focus with the RX100 is a challenge. I set my video mode to Aperture priority with an aperture of f/11 and Auto ISO, the camera will always keep a shutter speed of double the frame rate which is ideal. If you light the subject properly the RX100 will always shoot at the lowest ISO maybe at 200 but not more. I use auto white balance for all my macro. I find it convenient to leave the video mode like this so that I only have P for wide angle and Movie – Aperture priority for video. If you prefer you can set those as memory recall 1 and 2 but I find that not as useful except you don’t need to use the control dial.
Settings for the Function Buttons
Many features that can be assigned to the function button are not available in video or not useful. I only have 4 settings in the function wheel:
- Metering Mode – Always on evaluative
- DRO – I set it to auto
- Focus Mode – in video only constant and manual are available
To be perfectly honest I rarely change any of those except for testing the camera exposure. Even the metering mode can be left to evaluative all the time as when you shoot macro the area is so small and evenly illuminated that I have never had an issue with exposure.
Settings for the Control Wheel
I use the following assignments and I find them very useful:
- Left: White balance
- Centre: Manual Focus Toggle
- Right: Exposure Lock
The bottom arrow is always assigned to exposure compensation and can’t be changed I set it to -0.3 eV all the time.
The performance of custom white balance with the RX100 Mark II is shocking worse than the original RX100, 9 out of 10 I get a white balance error and the results are usually off with too much magenta. The only occasions where I do not get an error is in 6 meters or water (20 feet) on a sandy bottom. In other conditions it does not matter if you try with sand, tanks, hand, slates the outcome is shocking. The results can be used changing the tint to an M2 or even zero but generally using a filter and auto is just much easier and better. I assign the K setting to 9900K Y7M7 for shooting at depth, This is painful because it means that unless you have a flat lens like an Epoque or Inon you can basically forget shooting video with the RX100 as the custom white balance is erratic at least.
The Inon UWL-H100 has only one red filter that is compatible and is made by deeproof. I find this filter excellent though I prefer plastic to glass I have to say it works a treat.
The RX100 focus automatically on the center when shooting video and does it very well,. Tracking focus is not as useful and by assigning the center button to manual focus it can be eliminated. When shooting macro it is essential to use peaking. I set it to low with white color. Generally with diopters there is only one focus distance so I move the camera until the peaking shows nice white and then press record trying to be steady. That’s pretty much it.
I keep the dynamic range optimizer to Auto. This means the ISO is most of the times set automatically to 200 to preserve dynamic range. When the scene is perfectly lit the ISO is chosen to be 160. I don’t see much difference between ISO 160 and 200 but if this bothers you set the DRO to off which means the camera will mostly shoot at ISO 160 in good light conditions.
ISO and Max ISO
I set the ISO Max to 800, having analysed a lot of my footage I have not found one example where the camera shot at ISO800 yet unless I had a filter and was at 30 meters. However I prefer the camera to drop the shutter speed and keep the ISO to 800 instead of going all the way down to 3200.
In video the RX100 activates digital zoom even when you set it to off. This deteriorates the image so you need to pay attention that the middle notch corresponding to 3.6x is not exceeded or you will see artifacts in your footage.
I use active steady shot thought this reduces the field of view as it does help with shake quite a lot with macro footage.
Other Settings to disable
There are a number of settings that are harmful in video either because they use battery or because they are counter productive I disable them all list includes:
- Smile / Face Detection
- Picture effects
- Audio recording ( I do not like bubble sound)
- Wind Noise Reduction
The following are only relevant for still but I like them off regardless.
- AF illuminator
- Red eye reduction
- MF Assist
As we know the Sony RX100 cameras, we will refer to both Mark I and II as the lens is the same, do not offer the best out of the box super close up performance.
To be clear no compact camera really does macro, as no compact can capture an area 36×24 mm in size without being on top of the subject and having a shadow cast on it.
The RX100 however are particularly unexciting as the capture area is pretty large at 76x51mm at the minimum focus distance of 5cm. This means a reproduction factor of less than 1:2 so things are half life size in traditional terms.
In water the minimum focus distance increases and so does magnification so performance is all in all the same.
This means that a typical small subject like a medium size nudibranch measuring 4cm will fill a bit more than half the frame, not great.
The problem can be addressed by close up lenses that have a set power that determines the focal length and working distance where we can use the full camera zoom.
So the close up lens sets the working distance whilst the camera zoom sets the magnification.
A typical close up lens will have a power of 5 or 6 diopters with a working distance in water of 200 or 165mm, what does it mean for the RX100?
I have done some testing in water using a ruler and an Inon UCL165 this is the result:
Our capture width is now 46mm so our 4cm nudibranch will nearly fill the frame. The working distance of this lens is 165mm so this is a very versatile solution as most critters have no problem being approached so close.
What happens with a +10 close up lens with a focal length of 100mm, this is another test
A +10 diopter like the Subsee or Inon UCL100 achieves exactly 35mm so life size macro. However a lens like this will not focus at longer focal distances without zooming out, furthermore there are plenty of subject that do not need this magnification.
Close up lenses can be stacked so this is the result of two + 6 diopters
The width is now 32mm which is 1.1:1 so more than macro. This is adequate even for pygmy seahorse and with the incredible resolution of the RX100 cropping is not a big issue. Working distance is around 8.5cm which is still tolerated by small critters.
For completeness I have also tested a +16 combination
At around 26mm this is 1.4:1 so real super macro, the working distance is however only 6.25cm which is really close and will scare most critters away.
- Without any close up lens the RX100 can only capture 5cm objects without extensive cropping
- A close up lens with a working distance of 165mm allows for most of the critters we consider small but without super macro effects unless cropped
- Two stacked +6 diopters offer super macro and can also be cropped for more suggestive effect
- A single +10 close up lens achieves real macro however it is not versatile enough for every day usage
- Stacking lenses does introduce chromatic aberration but this can be eliminated in photos and is barely noticed in video
Pay attention when you select your close up lenses that the focal distance that is in the specification is measured in water otherwise you will find yourself with a useless purchase
I have just received this week the NA-RX100II housing also known with product code 17408
This housing is essentially identically to the already very successful NA-RX100 more specifically it looks identically to the NA-RX100V video version.
This looks apparent if we look at the left side of the housing where a screw can attach a bulkhead
According to Nauticam you can attach both the SmallHD 4.3 LCD monitor to use as external monitoring for video or an electrical sync cord to attach a strobe via a hot shoe 5 pin connector. This will not support TTL but will allow to fire an external strobe without triggering the internal flash. This means that there will not be any issue of recycle time especially true at wide angle or when using strobe with edge lighting.
Now I believe this is great news for those underwater photographer that are downgrading from DSLR as this was probably one of the key limitation of the RX100 that will now be overcome.
Remember that the RX100II seems to have other significant improvements with respect to the Mark I in terms of corner sharpness that can make this already excellent camera an absolute killer.
I wonder if it is possible to enable and disable the hot shoe and use both electrical and optical connectors as in macro TTL the camera performs very well indeed and this would only be available with optical connections.
If you are interested in the mini video review of this housing you can find it here
I will do some tank tests for corner sharpness in the next days so stay tuned
The housing is priced at £699 in UK as it was with the Mark I so should be $950 in US. Great value for the additional bulk head port!
Update the M16 port on the side will have an hot shoe accessory but won’t have an HDMI bulkhead, this because there is not enough space to connect the HDMI cable on the bottom of the RX100. The V version will have some more space under the camera to allow the cable to go in
This will be my last production with the LX7 as the camera has been sold together with the Nauticam housing
Few weeks ago I was contacted by Juerg at Luxury Grooves
So this video is a first cooperation maybe not the last
In this feature I have extensively used the transformer tray as in the image
Other than that the usual great performance from the LX7 with up to +16 diopters!!!
Check some of the super macro it is not bad at all
I have been fortunate to receive one of the first RX100M2 that have reached the market so I thought of sharing with you my first impression and what I believe will be the potential for underwater imaging use.
This is the link to the unboxing video of the camera
I posted a summary of the RX100 capabilities for underwater video some time ago on this blog the post is here:
Probably the best thing is to revisit my review and update any significant differences between the RX100 Mark 2 and the original version which is still on the market and will remain at least until the end of 2013.
Bright Lens – Not changed
The RX100M2 has exactly the same lens of its predecessor RX100, it is true that when zoomed the minimum aperture drops down to f/4.9 however this is not a concern for underwater imaging as usually long focal lengths are for macro and we are interested in very small aperture to allow for greater depth of field.
Low Noise – Improvement!
In virtue of the new retro illuminated sensor the mark 2 has one full f-stop advantage over the original RX100. This means that ISO800 is a breeze and potentially we could go as low as ISO1600. I would not do that but what it means is a cleaner image at depth in ambient light.
Image Quality – Improvement
Image quality is outstanding and the lack of aggressive contract and sharpness filters in the default settings means more room for correction in post processing.
Video Mode Control – no change
The RX100 had complete control on video mode and the mark 2 maintains the standard. Very important is that the program mode is excellent and keeps the shutter speed at 1/100 or 1/125 when used in active mode which is ideal for 50/60p smooth footage.
Manual Focus – no change
Same as for the RX100
Battery Life – Improvement
According to Sony battery life has improved from an already outstanding CIPA 330 to a declared value of CIPA 350. The new Mark 2 has also an hot shoe so in theory if any manufactures produces a wired TTL enabled housing this means plenty of shooting before changing the battery pack. We suspect though that only ikelite will have this option on the housing.
Active Steadyshot – no change
I initially slagged the RX100 stabilization system based on performance on land. However at a more in depth analysis it turns out that the RX100 active steadyshot, even if at cost of an image crop is very effective for sudden camera movement and for high magnification macro. The Stabilizer is not as sticky as others so when you eventually vibrate it does not jump. Although the performance for stills is poor to irrelevant and so is the normal mode the active mode is very effective for underwater use. The mark 2 is built exactly with the same algorithm and combination of optical and electronic.
Tedious Workarounds Comparison
Some of the ergonomics of the RX100 are not the best and seriously deduct from an otherwise excellent experience, the most annoying issues:
Lack of focus lock – no change
For some reason Sony decided to skip on this essential feature, the workaround involves switching to manual focus however it is then possible to accidentally change focus if the front ring is set to control focus. The RX100M2 has the same issue.
Setting Custom White Balance in Video – No change
Setting custom white balance is only possible in the still modes, while in fact if you shoot RAW don’t actually need white balancing. This is the largest non sense of this camera that requires the user to navigate out into Program to ensure white balance is set correctly and you don’t end up with the Custom WB Error message. Though this is annoying is not such a killer as it would initially seem if you take your movies in one of this still modes which is valid for wide angle and ambient light shot. For macro you will need to switch to movie mode aperture priority in AWB. If you keep this discipline this is issue is mitigated. The RX100M2 does not change this and I believe this is due to the fact that the shutter button that is used to set custom white balance is disabled in video.
Lack of 24/25/30 progressive modes at 1080HD – Improvement!
The RX100M2 shoots at 50/60p as well as 25/24p in addition to that you can switch between PAL and NTSC which is great!!!
AVCHD – Improvement!
The RX100M2 has not only the progressive modes at double frame rate but also AVCHD 1.0 compliant format, this means that if you choose the 24M 24/25 p mode you can import with all editing programs without issue. Not only that but if you use the wireless import utility this converts also the AVCHD progressive files in mp4 for you. This is great improvement
Key Weaknesses comparison
The RX100 had also some key weaknesses let’s see how the mark 2 fares.
Macro Performance – no change
Exactly the same as its predecessor the RX100M2 has a minimum focus distance of 5cm on land that becomes around 7 in water. Like with the RX100 because of the large capture area you will need diopters for macro shots. On a positive note once you have a close up lens the performance is incredible when coupled with manual focus with peaking.
Stabilizer Sony has adopted a lens shift approach in this camera instead of the sensor shift of the higher end alpha, maybe due to large size of the sensor compared to the camera body. They have then added some software processing in camera but the results are just average. There are many other cameras that do better than the RX100.
Soft Corners at Wide End – Improvement
The RX100 first generation had soft corners until f/5.6 the situation changes dramatically as we can see in this test card comparison shot. Not sure if there was an issue with the RX100 original sensor but this looks excellent and as sharp as the panasonic LX7 or Canon G15.
Look for yourself!!!
No Neutral Density Filter – marginal deterioration
As its predecessor there is no neutral density also on the mark2. A little tip for video is to shoot with filters that take away 1 1/3 f-stop. This is not ideal but helps. There were some speculation that because the minimum ISO in RAW is now 100 instead of 80 sunballs would be more difficult to shoot. 1/3 of an f-stop does not really make any difference I believe this is more a statement so that the RX100 housing that are in stock sell out at full price.
I have to say that the tilting screen is fantastic to shoot on a tripod on lens. I doubt any housing can accommodate for this but the feature is outstanding
And this is the rear
So the question is should I buy the RX100M2 or the RX100 maybe grabbing a deal? Recsea has already announced a housing for the mark 2 and Nauticam is working on it. I believe that when it comes to still photography the difference between the two cameras are not substantial as many shots are with strobes I have however noticed a much faster internal flash cycle time. I do not want to be definite but looks like a full dump takes around seconds to recharge. Also to be considered that in US the price difference is $100 so definitely the Mark2 is the way forward. In UK/Europe the difference on the list price is £150/€180 which is much more.
So I would say if you are planning to use the camera for video go for the RX100M2 the improvements are significant both in terms of video formats but also in terms of sharpness at wide apertures. If your main interest is photography and you live in US go for the mark 2 in Europe instead I would grab a deal on the RX100 when the price of the housing drops.
I am waiting for a test housing from Nauticam as soon as I have it I will post an unboxing video followed by some pool tests.
I thought of doing a debrief of the settings I use as I see few people that have bought this camera and have few niggles to go through and the obvious learning curve of new equipment so here we go.
Which Video Setting
It is always possible to reduce detail if needed so always shoot in the highest mode AVCHD progressive that in the menu is called PSH this records at 28 Mbps.
Which Mode to Use for Video
The LX7 has a one touch video mode that is accessible in still mode. When you press this button, even if the camera is in Aperture or Shutter priority and even in Manual, the movie clip is recorded in Program mode.
It follows that the mode to use to have full control is the creative video mode accessible through the mode dial.
Standard Setting for Creative Video Mode
I use the Shutter priority setting submenu in this mode. This is because the LX7 does not follow the 180 degrees shutter rule in video program mode.
Set your shutter speed to 1/100 for PAL and 1/125 for NTSC so that your shutter speed is double of the frame rate (1/50 for PAL and 1/60 for NTSC).
Exposure Lock Button
I never use the manual or the aperture priority mode as I find the lens fairly sharp even in macro and very small subjects. When I have changing light I point the camera to the exposure I want and the click Exposure Lock. To disable focus lock you need to go into the menu and set the button to AE lock only.
I personally find the standard exposure of the LX7 underwater far too bright. So using the exposure compensation dial found by pressing the shutter speed wheel I dial down to -2/3. This is personal sometimes I even go down to -1.
ISO and Max ISO
The LX7 has a very bright lens even at telephoto end and this lens produces also a very sharp image. In the worst case of deep water with low light I found that having an underexposed but cleaner picture at ISO400 is better than letting the camera go all the way to high ISO. So in the menu I set ISO MAX to 400 or in some cases I push this down to 800. I set the ISO to Auto as the camera generally keeps it very low anyway.
I leave autofocus for video mode to on and I ensure that the autofocus is set to single area. Be careful as the default setting is face detection and that does not work well underwater! Multi area and tracking are not available in video mode.
In video you can extend the 90mm lens to 180 with the iZoom and to 360mm with digital zoom. I set iZoom to on and Digital zoom to off as I have seen that the iZoom is very useful in macro and the picture quality is not visibly affected.
I use multi metering for landscapes and centred weighted for close ups and macro.
This is a tricky setting; generally I keep it off or on Low as the standard settings clip the highlights. In doubt turn it off.
This setting controls contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction. I use the standard setting that is a little bit oversaturated. If you do a lot of colour corrections in post processing use the Natural setting. The footage will be less saturated and a bit less sharp with less noise reduction.
I use two custom settings WB1 and WB2 one for shooting with ambient light and the other one with lights that I only use in special circumstances.
I leave this on and it does not affect the field of view.
Zoom resume has to be left off as this delays the camera ready to shoot time and ends up with missed opportunities.
It is useful to leave this on.
I record all my settings for shooting in ambient light in the C1 mode this has all the settings are describes and recalls the Custom White Balance 1.
I then set another menu C2-1 with auto white balance for shooting with lights and menu C2-2 for shooting with lights and WB2.
This is an example video shot with those settings and no additional lenses this is with video lights and auto white balance little to no correction in post processing.
This other video is with some grading applied and ambient light for most
I hope you found this useful and happy shooting!
I was in Indonesia during the second part of May and I had in mind to take some clips and stills of mating mandarin fish
Mandarin Fish are very skittish creatures. During the day if you can see them they are usually hanging right close to sea urchins to make your life difficult.
Their movements are jerky and fast and they are very hard to capture. Mandarin fish mate every day at sunset, and they can be seen in specific spots around the world. Indonesia is the country that has more of those spots that are public knowledge.
The spot where they mate is usually shallow, 3 to 5 meters depth, and made entirely of rubble of broken coral.
So when you go and see Mandarin Fish mating all you are going to see is Mandarin Fish as other than the fish that prey on their eggs and the odd nudibranchs or squid there is really nothing else.
The rubble is usually quite light color and unpleasant to film, mandarin fish go swimming around those broken coral bits and only emerge from it for their mating ritual that lasts 4 seconds in total until the disperse eggs and sperm into the water.
Mandarin fish hates our light especially video lights and anything more than 150 lumens means the fish will just not show up and choose another place to make. This is very bad news because it means that all mandarin fish footage has to be taken at high ISO or high gain, with a lot of noise in the picture, it is important to have a camera that performs well in low light conditions and will produce footage that is watchable.
Video requires continuous light and as said before mandarin fish hate light especially cold light as your typical 6500K video light.
In order to make our set up more mandarin fish friendly there are few options:
- Buy two special red stealth lights such as Sola Photo light
- Buy red filters for your normal video light those also serve the purpose of reducing power output
- Use some sort of red diffuser for your lights
If you already have video lights and they don’t have the special red beam you are left with option 2 and 3.
A set of 2.2″ red filters will do the trick for the Sola lights
I had ordered two red filters for my Sola video lights and of course these did not arrive on time for the trip so I had to improvise as you can see in this pictures that features my red speedo shorts!
As you can see the mandarin fish really hang out on the rubble.
The red weak light does not disturb the mandarin fish when they come out to play and allows you to get quite close shots.
I took a video whilst in Bunaken using my Panasonic LX7. I used the flat port and zoom between 50 and 90 mm. I performed custom white balance on the rubble with the red lights on.
The result is in this video
I also shot few stills in another dive. If you want to take pictures of mandarin fish you have a similar challenge in terms of not scaring the fish but also you need to be able to know when to shoot.
Those are my suggested settings:
- Shoot a normal lens around 90mm equivalent
- Disable any form of pre-flash as that scares the fish and stops the mating act
- Try to pre-focus as you will be in low light and don’t want blurred pictures
- Shoot RAW
- Try to follow a couple of fish from the start and count to 4
- The eggs are released at 4 any other shot can be taken earlier
- If possible (it was not possible for me) try to point the camera up to avoid the rubble
- Set high shutter speed to have a dark background and get rid of the rubble
The featured image and this other one are my two best shots, there is minimal cropping
I took all my shots at the minimum aperture to have maximum depth of field but this I believe is an error and gives too much detail of the rubble behind.
I think the video that is shot at wide apertures is better and less distracting.
Another tip of environmental nature is that usually the rubble patch with the mandarin fish is small more than 2 cameras and there are just too many and the max is 4 dives plus the guide. I am glad I did my mandarin dives in Bunaken and not in Lembeh where you can get up to 10 people on the same spot whilst in Bunaken I was on my own twice.
I hope you found those tips useful and good luck with your next mandarin dive!
Just before leaving to North Sulawesi and in the process of packing I realised I had not completed the tweak of my GoPro Hero2 Set up.
I do not use the GoPro for video but for time lapse however the modification that I will present here is valid for both video and stills or time lapse.
Some users of the PolarPro filter have noticed that when you point the camera to the sunball or on a very bright day there is quite a bit of flare with this filter in the image corners.
Flare occurs when stray light enters the frame and reduces contrast giving a result a picture with washed out colours.
Flare is more relevant to wide angle and is usually reduced with lens hoods however our GoPro does not have anything like that and due to the large field of view probably it is better to be so otherwise the hood would be visible.
So what can we do to improve our polarpro filter and why does it flare more than others in the first place?
The PolarPro is the lowest price push up filter for the gopro and the reason is that its build is very simple. All other filters will have a dark rubber ring on the edge that has the dual effect to secure the filter to the housing and eliminate the stray light that may enter from the side. The polarpro is one single piece of acrylic and does not have this ring around the lens.
So let’s build one cheaply all you need is genuine gaffer tape, to make it look better I suggest black matt gaffer.
Pull enough length to cover the whole external ring of the polar pro filter and lay it on it to go from the edge of the front side back to the where the lateral panel ends. Once you have measured the approximate length make note of the width and then remove the gaffer. Pull the tape so that it rips at the width required and then tape the exterior making sure the smooth part is on the front side. Then create another strip a bit longer for the inner part. Make sure it is going straight and with no bubble and then once you get to the opening for the button come outside and overlap the exterior ring.
Once finished it should look like this
This is the other side you notice the part we ripped of the gaffer is on the outer side
Gaffer type does not mark and will stay there for a good number of dives. I am going to test this and see how long it goes but I expect more than 20 dives before it falls apart.
What you have seen here can be done for the Hero3 filters and it is actually simpler as the filter has no button opening
There has been a new Mako product coming at the low cost end and that one has a rubber ring so I would recommend trying it if you don’t have a filter already
First of all I have to thank Mike on Scubaboard to get this in motion the original post is here
When you shoot macro and operate at high magnification even the smallest movement translates into shake, let’s think about it for one moment.
A macro image will have a frame size of 36×24 mm, this means that a move of half centimeter or 1/5 of an inch is equivalent to 20% vertical movement a considerable annoyance. When you shoot a picture this is not an issue because with a very high shutter speed you can freeze motion and there will be no blur like in this image.
Trying to take a video of a moving subject like this proves challenging, and you need to slow down the footage to avoid sea sickness like here
So how do we get outstanding macro footage? We need to be super stable and avoid any type of shake.
One possibility is a tripod. There are various examples of underwater tripods such those made by Ultralight example here
There are several inconveniences using a tripod first is that those are more suited to a camera than a tray that may have the tripod hole off centre, so if you use a tray for your set up and just want to occasionally put it on a tripod this gets complicated.
So that where Mike came into action and contacted ULCS to build a tripod out of a tray those are my results using the following parts:
Camera set up
- TR-DM tray
- TR-DUP Extention
- 2x TR-DH handles
- 2x 12 segments 12″ locline arms
- 2x Sola 1200
- Panasonic LX7 in Nauticam housing
Tripod set up (approx $310)
- 3x 1420 ball base adapters
- BA-FBd plate
- 3x clamps
- 3x 5″ arm segments
This gives something like this also called Ultimusmacro
I tried this set up and the key issue is that you are far away from the floor and end up with working distances of around 10-15 cm or 4-6″ those are suited to a +6 diopter but not more and best with camera with at least 105mm zoom.
This is a bit of an issue with my Panasonic LX7 as the max zoom is 90mm equivalent. So I came up with a mini-monopod that has several advantages:
- Closer to sea floor
- Less expensive
- More flexible
For the mini-monopod all you need is ($150)
- 3x 1420 ball adapters (two female and one with screw or bolt) – alternatively 3x 3816 2x female and 1x 1420 with bolt if you use AC-AH handles with 3/8 hole
- BA-FBd plate
- 1 clamp
- 1 8″ arm segment
This is the mini in action also called cyclop
In this configuration I also have a lens holder on the 8″ this gives even more stability
With a mini-monopod you can easily use +10 diopters as you are on the bottom. In my set up I have floats however the 3 1420 ball heads on the bottom are sufficient to have a stable platform that can be pointing down even more raising the arm segment.
In addition to this the monopod can be used to push the camera in remote places or approach critters in crevices or similar
I will be testing both in North Sulawesi starting next week I hope to come back with some great footage
For more pictures of the set up check the Panasonic LX7 link on the top of the page