Shooting with different lenses on the same dive.
In part 1 of this series I looked at some of the basic practicalities and advantages of a small camera and housing set up like this.
This is not all that is advantageous about a compact camera set up though.
One of the major issues in shooting with DSLR’s or most Mirrorless cameras is that you are limited to only shooting with the lens you decide to take down on the dive with you attached to the camera itself, and housed inside an all enveloping water tight casing.
This means that you are normally making decisions between shooting macro or wide angle, based on either prior knowledge of the dive site or what the dive guide tells you.
This is often a bit of a gamble, as you are hoping that the dive guide understands the needs of an underwater photographer, which is a little unfair unless you are in one of the dive spots of the world where underwater photographers are in abundance and the dive guides are suitably clued up.
Or you may well encounter something on a dive that is contrary to your lens choice, i.e. a fabulous nudibranch you’ve never seen before when you are setup with your wide angle or fisheye lens attached. Or alternatively, and very annoying, you are shooting at a well known macro site abundant with tiny critters, and a whale shark or dolphin shows up.
These are extreme examples granted, but I’m sure a lot of underwater photographers can sympathise with this.
So shooting with a camera and housing that allows you the option to make the choice between macro and wide angle on the dive, has almost exclusively been the preserve of people shooting with compact cameras.
This can be disappointing for those shooters who want to gain the undeniable quality advantage that cameras with larger sensors like high end MIRRORLESS and DSLR can give.
The Canon G7X though is one of a new breed of compact camera, started with the Sony RX100 Mk1 which I reviewed here a couple of years ago now, that gives you a familiar compact form factor, housing a much larger sensor. Not as large as a micro 4/3 sensor inside a lot of MIRRORLESS cameras, but much much larger than the usual compact camera sensors. This gives a big quality advantage and they are easily quality enough to allow for large prints or for publication in magazines.
With the Nauticam housing though, they have realised that to get the best out of the cameras built in lens, they need to make an interchangeable port system.
With a short port and a regular port.
This means that if you want to use an additional wide angle lens, attached externally to the 67mm thread then you need to accept that you will have to attach the short port, the downside of this is that you will only be only to use the cameras built in zoom to around half the way through its range.
Ideally for macro shooting you would use the regular port and zoom right in, and attach a diopter ( the rather lovely Nauticam Compact Macro Converter in this case ) to gain macro facilities.
I wanted to shoot with both lenses though, so I decided to see if shooting with the short port dramatically reduced my flexibility underwater, only being able to zoom into an equivalent of 50mm in old money terminology.
Conclusion of Part 2
I found that not being able to zoom throughout the range did reduce my capabilities somewhat, although not enough to render this option completely useless, so I would definitely recommend this as a viable flexible option.
For those dive sites that you can’t decide then I would say put the short port on and take along both lenses.
What I couldn’t test as I didn’t have one available, was the option of using the regular port, and instead of using a wide angle lens, attaching the Nauticam Wetmate, a relatively inexpensive, mini dome port designed to attach to a 67mm thread, its purpose to restore the angle of view of a wide-angle lens behind a flat port, and to improve optical aberrations introduced by using wide lenses behind flat ports.
This I think could be a great solution for some folk, particularly videographers, that may well think that the super wide angle or fisheye may be too extreme for some.
For me the short port option with the Nauticam housing is a major advantage over the competing Ikelite housing, which allows you to attach a wide angle lens direct to the plastic port (carefully) but because of the design means that the lens when at its wide end for use with a wide angle add on like an Inon UWL H100, will never perform at its best, optically, and I have seen the results of this first hand, which I for one would find very frustrating, as having a camera with great potential hobbled by poor optics would seem very contrary.
Why not come on one of my photo workshops and I can help you with all these techniques to get better photographs. Here is a link to my upcoming world wide workshops.