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Equipment Reviews

Reviews of various products, and comparisons between them. Includes hardware and software used for underwater photography.

This year Sea & Sea added a new strobe to their underwater strobe line-up: the YS-D3 Lightning. While Sea & Sea’s most popular selling strobe model, the YS-D2J, is the go-to for many underwater photographers, the YS-D3 Lightning offers a notable upgrade for fast-action shooters and macro enthusiasts alike.

Sea & Sea’s new YS-D3 Lightning Underwater Strobe is a full-featured strobe, elevating Sea & Sea’s already stellar lighting range to a new level. A significant upgrade from the highly popular YS-D2J, the YS-D3 Lightning is equipped with high-precision circuitry allowing continuous shooting at Guide Number (GN) 16. With a long list of impressive features, this strobe is well-suited for the demanding underwater photographer.

By Jim Lyle, OOS Customer

The TG 6 is the latest version of the popular Olympus “tough” series of cameras.  While not a huge upgrade from the TG 5, the TG 6 does have some improvements that add to its versatility underwater.We just spent three weeks in Cozumel, Mexico where I was able to play with the camera in warm, clear water.  I’m impressed!  There are a lot of detailed reviews of this camera available on the web so I won’t repeat what most of them say, just share with you my experiences and the settings I used.

"So Far I'm Impressed..."

I was able to get my hands on both an Olympus TG-6 camera and PT-059 underwater housing from Optical Ocean Sales fast and at a great price despite a backlog of orders from other vendors. Of course, with a new toy, I wanted to play with it as soon as possible.

Want to Light up a Whale?

Can a single very powerful continuous underwater video light work well for stills of large animals? As the quality and output of video lights have increased, I’ve been asking myself that question.

We know that many continuous lights can work fine for macro and closer up images, although they tend to give a softer look than strobes. Strobes output a single, very high and very short energy burst of light at high intensity, this freezes detail and gives better color saturation. Lights simply can’t to do that as well. But many still photographers find that they do work well, especially when shooting both video and more casual stills.

Shining a ray of light on this new small light.

Kraken’s new Macro Snoot Light is an easy way to get into the use of directed light for underwater macro photography.
Snooting refers to the control of light through a cone, or light shaper, so that it’s used as just a small beam for more dramatic, lighting solutions.

 

Nauticam's innovative new MWL-1 is a game-changing wet mount wide angle lens. Designed to be used in front of a housed macro lens, it allows for an approximate 150° field of view with excellent sharpness and quality. Using a specialized double lens flip holder, you can now switch to three lens lengths; shooting close-up macro with a diopter, shooting standard macro with the 60mm lens or a moderate fish portrait type shots), or a wide angle lens with a 150º field of view. The ability to shoot wide angle and macro on the same dive is now a reality - even for full-frame DSLR systems!

Nikon’s new D850 full-frame camera is proving to be one of their most popular cameras ever, and what’s not to like? A massive 46MP sensor with resolution that matches or exceeds film, fast autofocus (AF) borrowed from the pro-level D5, low base 64 ISO to better capture bright scenes and a fast 7 fps frame rate with an electronic front curtain shutter, for just a start. Matching that are improved flash electronics, TTL protocols and 4K video. For those D800 and D810 underwater photographers who fell in love with shooting full-frame images, the upgrade is intriguing. As I now have around 60 dives on this new Nikon rig, I can offer a comprehensive review.

I love shooting underwater macro – specifically super macro. One of the challenges of this discipline is deciding on which diopter to bring along on a dive. Inevitably I choose one strength lens and wish I had brought along something different. Enter the Saga Dive Trio. This innovative lens from Spanish optics manufacturer Saga Dive, combines a +5, +10 and +15 diopter in one unit, giving you the ability to shoot anything from a fish portrait to a pygmy seahorse on the same dive.

The latest offering from Kraken Sports is the Kraken WeeFine Ring Light for macro illumination. This innovative light attaches to any threaded port. It features a constant-on 1000 lumen light and is small, lightweight and self-contained.

Underwater photographers have always debated their cameras and  there are always questions and continuing debates about the virtues and performance of various formats. We cover all of their pros and cons in our free Handbook: Choosing an Underwater Camera & Housing, but here's my experience.

For my next trip to Cabo Pulmo and the Socorros Islands in Mexicos, I decided to take the new Nauticam E-M1MKII housing. Although there was a strange dearth of large animals, I did get good shots.

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