Equipment Reviews

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

Optical Ocean Sales Trip Report - Dive into Lembeh Resort, Oct. 2016

We came, we saw, we took photos, and more and more photos of an amazing variety of small underwater critters at Lembeh Straits, Indonesia last October on the Optical Ocean Sales Photo Expedition there.
Lembeh is an area centered around the town of Bintung, at the north end of North Sulawesi Island. With 8,000’ deep drop-offs nearby, pumping huge amounts of plankton into the area, it harbors and fosters one of the highest bio-diversities of marine life found anywhere on the planet.

— By Margo Cavis

My first impression when seeing the Kraken 10,000 lumen Solar Flare Max underwater video light was how nicely crafted they are. The light is incredibly durable with metal construction and a strong glass dome for the LED lights that spreads the light underwater.

Divers and underwater photographers are being inundated with a dizzying array of new and different lights. Some of these have similar features like a single button for both mode and power, single lith-ion batteries instead of more reliable battery packs and chargers. Most less expensive LED arrays that have hotspots. In other words, buying lights strictly on the basis of lumens for dollars doesn’t always yield the best results.

When you're diving at 80’ and trying to remember how many pushes it takes to turn a light up, or if it’s double-press, or single-press-and-hold to switch it to red mode, it can be frustrating and time-consuming. A flooded light, or batteries and chargers that go bad can kill the light altogether.

Doug Taleski with many years of industry experience and founder of Kraken Sports, has seen them all. And decided to create his own line of high-quality Hydra Lights that are fully-featured and easy-to-use.

Over the years many customers have asked for some sort of combination of video light and strobe. With most new cameras also shooting excellent video, this need has increased. However mounting both types of lights at the same type is bulky and heavy.

Underwater photographers want to keep their rigs small and compact to swim with. It’s especially so in these days of limited baggage when traveling. When you add in extra batteries and chargers, lighting starts to take up significant space.

The Symbiosis Lighting System SS-2 and SS-1 are a well thought out implementation of the combination strobe/light idea. But they’ve taken it a long step farther by making the design modular with well-integrated controls and features.

Optical Ocean's Margo Cavis has finished up her Red Sea Aggressor Trip Video! We spent a week on this great liveaboard on the southern route to St. John's Reef.
We just received our first Nauticam NA-6300 housing for the Sony a6300 camera. We noticed quite a few refinements and small additions over their older NA-6000 housing that we thought we’d report on.
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Light & Motion Sola Video Pro 8000 Lights while diving in the Red Sea. These 8000 lumen video lights are very close in size to a good set of strobes – bigger than the other video lights I have used – but still fairly compact for an 8000 lumen light.
When I first saw the WWL-1 lens at DEMA, I was intrigued to see if it would work with a less expensive Olympus PEN E-PL7 camera and carbonate PT-EP12 housing that came out a year or so ago. Would the WWL/CMC system be versatile enough to work on a 3rd party housing?

By Margo Cavis

So, after a year of waiting and researching, I finally decided to get the Panasonic GH4 (even though it had already been out for quite some time), since I had started doing more video than photography, but still wanted the option to do both. I also liked the idea of being able to shoot 4K video...

Shortly before heading to the Philippines, customer Tor Trygstad decided to upgrade his Nauticam Sony RX100 compact system to the new, full-frame Sony a7rII MILC in a NA-A7II Nauticam housing. Although he really likes shooting macro, and housing the Zeiss 90mm macro lens was his first lens choice, he was impressed with the new Nauticam WWL-1 “Wet Wide Angle” lens system that works with the Sony 28mm f/2.0 lens.
“It was less expensive and much smaller than housing the Zeiss 16-35mm lens,” Tor said, “and having that ultra-fast Sony f/2.0 lens, coupled with the low-light capabilities of the Sony a7II sealed the deal.”