Part 2, Diving in PNG and Using the Metabones AdapterBy Bill Van Antwerp - See part one here.
In the second part of the review for the A6000, I will discuss how the system worked underwater during a 2-week trip to Papua New Guinea on the Chertan and explore some options for macro lenses other than the Zeiss 50 mm macro lens.
First we will take a look at the Metabones adapter with the Canon 60 mm macro lens and the Tamron 60 mm macro lenses. Metabones is a relatively small company based in Canada that makes sophisticated adapters so you can use Sony cameras with Canon EF and EF-S lenses. The adapters maintain electrical contact with the camera and can control both aperture and shutter speed information. The adapters also allow autofocus but with either the Canon or Tamron 60, the autofocus speed is terribly slow. The Metabones site says “Autofocus speed is very slow and inadequate for most moving subjects. The autofocus speed is unfit for professional use for sure, and it would disappoint most enthusiasts.” I can say with certainty that they correctly identify the issue. To use the adapter, I put the camera in manual focus mode, set the focus for about 4 inches away and move the camera in and out slowly to reach focus then fire the trigger.
Before the trip, I compared the Zeiss to the Canon 60 and the Tamron 60 both using the Metabones adapter. Here are some shots to compare the lenses.
|Zeiss 50 macro, 1/160 second, f:22|
|Canon 60 macro, Metabones adapter,
f:22 1/160 second
|Tamron 60, Metabones adapter,
1/160 second f:22
Underwater, I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the images produced by the system. Once the camera/housing/strobes were set up correctly the system is a joy to use underwater.
On one of our first stops on the Chertan, we came across an anemone with Clark’s anemone fish in it. Near the side of the anemone was a patch of eggs and with some patience I was able to capture one of the adults aerating the eggs as shown below.
This was shot with the Zeiss 50, 1/100 sec, f:11 from about 2 feet away. Color and clarity look quite nice.
The Zeiss lens captures both the intricate detail of the Doto and the gorgeous colors.
Overall, I like the system a lot. In spite of a few issues with sync speed and manual strobe control, the system performed well and I was able to get a pretty nice portfolio from the trip. The system using the Zeiss lens is easy to use, all of the controls are very easy to get to (except the back focus button) and it is easy to compose with the viewfinder, I never used the back screen for composition. Battery life is exceptional; it was easy to get at least 3 dives per full battery charge, and the battery life indication is easy to see and appears to be quite accurate. At the end of a particularly long third dive the camera told me “battery exhausted” and I thought so was the diver.
Shooting the system with the Metabones adapter and manual focus is a very different type of photography than shooting it with autofocus lenses. It is much more contemplative since it takes quite a while to set up and shoot, moving the camera very carefully toward the subject and figuring out focus plane.
The above picture was taken with the Tamron 60 macro lens and the Metabones adapter. Controlling where the in-focus areas should be is great fun but a bit more work than simply aiming and shooting. More work, but definitely a lot of fun if you are willing to take the time on a particular subject. One other thing that is very easy to do is to use and adapter and some older manual focus macro lenses. I shot on a couple of dives with an ancient Asahi Macro-Takumar using a NEX – M42 adapter. You have to pick your aperture and focus length on the boat, this is even more fun/challenging than using the Metabones which allows aperture control, but you can achieve a “look” that is completely different than the “look” of modern lenses.
Overall, I think the A6000 camera in the Nauticam system is a great tool for shooting macro and super macro. Using the Nauticam SMC and the SMC multiplier on the Zeiss 50 led to some amazing super macro photos and the quality of the SMC with the Zeiss is remarkably clear with little or no aberrations.