Help me decide on a new camera setup

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stiebs

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It's time to retire my getting-on-a-bit and not-used-lately Pentax housing (Pentax *ist DS 6MP housed in a UK-Germany housing). It's served me well over the years, but I've sold off all my Pentax gear except for 2x *ist DS bodies and a kit lens that I can use with my housing.

About 18 months ago I switched to a Fuji X-T3, and now I want to get back into below the surface photography again.

Top two options on the table are to house the X-T3 in a Nauticam, or two keep the Fuji for topside, and go for a totally different system underwater. Probably a Nikon Z50 also in a Nauticam, or an Olympus M-10.

The X-T3 base housing is considerably more expensive than the Z50 or M10. The additional cost of the X-T3 housing is enough to buy a Z50 or M10 with a lens, so it ends up just about on par. After adding other accessories (eg, zoom ring(s), extension ring(s), port(s), wet optics, etc) the actual housing ends up only around half the cost anyway.

I love the Fuji X line up, the X-T3 is a great camera, and I already have a good line up of Fuji lenses, 4 of which I can easily put in a housing (60mm macro, 15-45, 18-55, 10-24), two bodies (X-T3 and an X-A7) and varying accessories like spare batteries and chargers, flash triggers, etc. So I have no intention of shifting my land based gear.

I have an Inon-Z220S and Z240 which I'll keep.

So looking for anyone who can offer an experienced opinion, positive or negative, in taking the Fuji underwater or whether I should go with something a bit more mainstream (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus) in the underwater photography realm.

And a follow up question -
The strobes on my Pentax setup was wired manual control, so although I'm comfortable with that, it'd be nice to have the option of TTL. So I'm a little bit unsure of exactly what bits I need to make TTL work, and although the Nauticam product page for the X-T3 housing says it supports TTL, I'm not entirely sure how.

There is an optional flash trigger, which states it doesn't support TTL. So is TTL supported by using the on-board camera flash then optical sync to the strobes? And the flash trigger mainly useful for increasing strobe recycle and reducing camera battery use while using manual strobe control?

Thanks in advance for any opinions, helpful or otherwise :)
 

Barmaglot

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There is an optional flash trigger, which states it doesn't support TTL. So is TTL supported by using the on-board camera flash then optical sync to the strobes? And the flash trigger mainly useful for increasing strobe recycle and reducing camera battery use while using manual strobe control?

Yes, if you use the EF-X8 flash, you can run the strobes in TTL mode over fiber optics. The LED trigger is primarily useful for firing bursts and saving camera battery life. TRT Electronics and UWTechnics produce LED triggers that support TTL, but neither of them support Fuji cameras - just Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus/Panasonic.

Can't really speak for pros or cons of Fuji ILCs underwater, except that I've never seen anyone using one.
 
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stiebs

stiebs

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Yes, if you use the EF-X8 flash, you can run the strobes in TTL mode over fiber optics.

Thanks for confirming my suspicion. I wasn't sure how the EF-X8 would trigger, as it only turns on when its flipped up. But just playing with it now, I'm guessing that when mounted in the housing it sits open just enough to turn the flash on without opening fully.

TRT Electronics and UWTechnics produce LED triggers that support TTL, but neither of them support Fuji cameras - just Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus/Panasonic.

Yep, that is really the only reason why I'm thinking about a different system for underwater - there is generally more support for those brands that you just mentioned. Although having said that, Nauticam's X-T3 housing seems to be pretty complete. Even with an optional external battery pack to allow for video.

Can't really speak for pros or cons of Fuji ILCs underwater, except that I've never seen anyone using one.

Pretty much exactly the same for my Pentax set up. I only ever got quizzical looks when I said there was a Pentax DSLR in my housing. But it didn't stop me taking some great photos with it. Including a couple of crisp prints in 18x12" from it's massive 6MP sensor!
 

Barmaglot

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Nauticam's product page for their X-T3 housing specifically mentions EF-X8, so it's a pretty safe bet that there's enough room inside to operate it. That said, I've shot TTL when it was my only option - triggering SeaFrogs ST-100 Pro strobes off my Sony A6300 pop-up flash - and it worked reasonably well, but after I moved to Retra Pro strobes triggered off a UW-Technics converter, I found myself using manual mode pretty much exclusively.
 

Hoag

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stuartv

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Are you talking about an original E-M10, or an E-M10 Mark 3 or 4 or whatever they're up to now?

I shot an original E-M10 for about 4 years, up until last year when I upgraded to full frame Sony.

I used an inexpensive Meikon housing for my E-M10 and it never leaked. The only issues I ever had with the housing were when taking it near its rated depth limit of 132'. Then I would occasionally get a button that would stick in the depressed position. I got a lot of pictures with that setup that I was very happy with. I started with the Meikon wet wide angle dome and eventually replaced that with the Nauticam WWL-1. Always with the Olympus kit 14-42 lens. With the WWL-1, the image quality on my shots went up noticeably and I was very happy with it. I should note that I only shot WA. I never really even tried to macro.

I would personally NOT spend the money required for something like a Nauticam housing for a camera as old as the original E-M10. OTOH, a good deal on a used Nauti would be a great option - if you're sure you want to stay with a camera that old.

All that said, if you're thinking about a new (or new-ish) E-M10 or a Z50, then I would seriously consider a Sony a6x00. And further consider a SeaFrogs (aka Meikon) housing for that. Unless you really know you're going to remain committed to shooting it - then a Nauticam. My E-M10 setup was really GREAT - for what it was, which was, for me, a very inexpensive way to get started in u/w photography. I bought a used E-M10, the housing, a cheap tray, a pair of used Inon Z240 strobes, and (initially) the Meikon wet WA dome. I was out shooting and getting pictures I was happy with for about $1500, all in.

I've never (personally) known anyone to be shooting Fuji for u/w, so no real help on that.

I never used TTL when shooting my Olympus. I have a UWT trigger now, that supports TTL. I am still working on sorting out how to effectively use that. So far, no good results to report. All my good results in any of my shooting have, so far, come from using fiber optic sync cables and running my camera and strobes in full Manual mode.
 

Chris Ross

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Yep, that is really the only reason why I'm thinking about a different system for underwater - there is generally more support for those brands that you just mentioned. Although having said that, Nauticam's X-T3 housing seems to be pretty complete. Even with an optional external battery pack to allow for video.
If you go down the TTL route tread cautiously, the forums are littered with tales of woe trying to get the triggering working with certain strobes. It certainly can work , but there's two sides to the equation first is getting the TTL trigger to relay the commands to your strobe, then getting the exposure right.
The combination of the trigger and the strobe TTL circuit is there to interpret the TTL signals from the camera and it seems some cameras are better at TTL for UW images than others. Typically TTL is reported to work reasonably well for macro and a bit more variable for wide angle. When the camera sees all that water in the frame it might decide it has enough light and turns down the flash or it might turn it up to try to illuminate it. In your case if you went Fuji, there's no external trigger to deal with but the camera still needs to send out the right signals to the accessory strobe. I use the accessory flash to trigger my INON strobes set at 1/64 manual power and it is perfectly reliable.
 
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