2019 Aquatica Digital/SLS Photo Anilao Workshop in the bag!

Participants of the 2019 Aquatica Digital/SLS Photo Anilao Workshop

Well, another year, another successful Aquatica Digital/SLS Photo Anilao workshop done and in the bag! This year, the workshop was lucky to have Elie Haddad, Aquatica’s design engineer as well as Rob Skeoch, Sony Canada’s Pro Support Team Manager. Both were a fountain of knowledge to both Aquatica’s housings as well as the marked dominance of Sony mirrorless cameras used at the workshop. There were 4 Sony A7r3’s, 1 A7r2, 1 A6500, 2 A6300 and even the NEX-5n’s in Aquatica housings! As usual, the workshop was held at the beautiful Dive Solana Resort and as usual, the resort hosted our group with the usual great food, awesome service and beautiful hospitality! Highlights of the trip were our first successful image capture of the egg release from spawning mandarin fish, use of the new Aquatica Digital External Monitor (it’s not just for video capture!), being able to see not just 1 but 2 beautiful rhinopias! Anilao and Dive Solana never disappoint!

Sun setting over another successful photo workshop with SLS Photography and Aquatica Digital

We’re now looking at dates for the 2020 Workshop! Stay tuned!

Please see images taken by Stu below, all were shot using the fantastic Sony A7r3 and Aquatica’s A7r3 Pro Housing. Lenses used were the Sigma 15mm fisheye adapted for Sony with the MC-11 Adapter, the Sony 16-35f4L Zeiss and the Sony 90mm f2.8 GM lens either bare or with Aquatica’s +5 or +10 diopters as well as the newly released Fantasea/AOI +15 diopter. All images 2019 © by Stewart L. Sy/SLS Photography

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Helium Variable Buoyancy Strobe Arms !!! All New!!!

The New Helium Variable Buoyancy Strobe Arms

Introducing our brand new, in house designed Helium Variable Buoyancy Strobe Arms. Features a straight forward and simple design (no valves to muck about or clog or get stuck). One simply adds or removes extensions to change the amount of buoyancy and length of the arm. The 2 blue ends form a standard 8″ arm and offers a net lift of .5 lbs. Each Grey extension will add a further .25 lbs of net lift. No more foam floats that compress at depth and start to stink after a week of diving! No more buying extra arm sections if you need more length or buoyancy!

Machined from aircraft grade aluminum, the hard anodized coating will help keep these arms looking great for years. A dual O-ring ensures that there will be no leakage and thus loss of buoyancy. The arm serves double duty as a handy place to keep your room key or small change! The 12″ kit is basically 3 arm lengths in one package with .5 to 1lb of lift available! Additional .25 extensions available as well.

Contact us now for pricing. Dealer Inquiries Welcome!

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Happy Holidays!

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Shooting the Sony A6500, bye bye DSLR?

SLS Photography Owner, Stewart L. Sy with the Aquatica housings for the Sony A6500 and the Canon 5Dsr at the beautiful Dive Solana Resort in Batangas

Recent, I was able to make my way to the beautiful Dive Solana resort in Mabini, Batangas Province in the Philippines to shoot the Sony A6500 Mirrorless, Interchangeable Lens Camera (MILC for short) and compare it against my Canon 5Dsr.  While this may not sound like a fair comparison, the odds were a lot more even than at first glance!

The Canon 5Dsr is the undisputed resolution king, boasting a whopping 50mp full frame sensor, while the Sony A6500 has a 24MP cropped sensor.  So, if you were to crop a 5Dsr sensor so that it would cover the same area as the Sony, then it would reduce it to about 18MP, thus the Sony actually has the Canon beat by about 6MP. But it’s not all about megapixels.  Would the Sony be able to compete against the famed AF of Canon’s near top of the line DSLR?  How about the ergonomics?  Would the Sony be a viable alternative?  Well, after 6 days of diving both systems side by side, I would say that “Yes” with some caveats, first of all.  A big “THANK YOU” to Rob Skeoch and Sony Canada for lending me the Sony FE90mm and 50mm Macro lenses and another big “THANK YOU” to Aquatica Digital for supplying me with the A6500 housing!

See the 2 near identical images below:

Hairy Frogfish shot with the A6500, Sony FE 90mm Macro, Aquatica A6500 Housing, Dual S&S YS-D1 strobes

Hairy Frogfish shot with the Canon 5Dsr ,EF 100mm f2.8L Macro, Aquatica AD5Dsr  Housing, Dual S&S YS-D2 strobes

Now, for more than 99% of the underwater photographers out there, these images will be displayed for social media purposes, uploading to Facebook, Instagram and the like.  Aside from the colour balance (both at default “As Shot”Smilie: ;) the images are near identical.  The images were shot within a minute of each other.  Even for the remaining shooters, both images would easily hold up to printing up to a 20×30 print, of course the 5Dsr could go higher, but how many of us do?

Pygmy Seahorse taken with the A6500, same setup as above

Pygmy Seahorse, taken with the Canon 5Dsr, same setup as above

Taking a look at the seahorse images above (aside from the body position as that I couldn’t contro), the images are both sharp and pleasing.  Both cameras had a bit of difficulty looking onto such a small animal (the nod going to the Canon for acquiring the critter faster) but the shots were taken and good images were made.

Shaun the Sheep nudibranch.  I didn’t even see the small one!

Now, the above images is where the Sony starts edging ahead of the larger Canon. While I’m sure that the Canon would still have taken a good shot, the extra pixels of the Sony help in the overall crop-ability of this image since I had essentially 6MP more.  The level of magnification is extreme, as the above image is a half of the original frame, so given the use of a +10 Aquatica Close-Up Diopter and that it’s a cropped sensor, this is a 6x magnification of the scene.  The extra depth of field inherent to a crop sensor helped keeping both animals in focus as well.

Suffice to say, image quality is more than adequate.  The Sony FE90mm Macro lens is easily the equal of the Canon EF100mm f2.8L.  I’d be happy to add the images taken by the Sony to my portfolio.   Now, how was the camera and housing in actual use?  Would a long time DSLR shooter find it difficult to switch?  How about a new user?

The Aquatica A6500 housing is a wonder of mechanical linkages, switches and buttons.  Every camera control (and thus function) is accessible from the housing.   The much loved Rear AF button is activated from the housing by an easy thumb lever.  Shutter speed and Aperture controls are easily reached by 2 dials and a simple thumb press on right joystick allows for quick ISO changes.  A nice difference from my DSLR is that the Sony’s video button is always active.  I don’ t have to switch to Live View like on my Canon.  Also, the Sony can take up to 30p, 4K video while my 5Dsr is limited to 30p, 1080.

A user simply needs to get used to the housing layout and it’s no big jump using the A6500 vs using my A5Dsr housing.  The biggest difference was the size and weight of the systems.  After using the DSLR housing, even with 4 x 8″ TLC buoyancy arms, the Sony was much more tossable with half the flotation.  Given the increasingly limited baggage allowances, the Sony is much more travel friendly.

I didn’t get to do much wide angle as I had made a mistake and brought the wrong port extension for the Sony, however I was able to use it with the Sigma MC11 EF to E Mount adapter and the Sigma 15mm Fisheye.


While I would have preferred a slightly faster sync speed than the camera’s 1/160th, it did superbly.  The smaller size made it easier to shoot in tight confines such as the shot with the yellow rhinopia.

So, in conclusion, for the new UW Photographer looking to upgrade from a GoPro or Advanced Point & Shoot, the Sony A6500 and Aquatica A6500 Housing will easily handle all of their needs, even up to producing professional level images and will do so at a price that is much more appealing to the bank account and/or significant other.  As a long time DSLR shooter, I was incredibly impressed with the performace of the A6500 and loved the familiar ergonomics of the Aquatica A6500 housing and would not hesitate in using the system again in the future.  The small size certainly makes the setup attractive to the travelling photographer.

While I’m not quite ready to give up my DSLR, especially for topside shooting, I still prefer the ergonomics of my DSLR for this, the A6500 certainly has me started me thinking about a smaller, travel friendly underwater setup.

See more images from the trip below:


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$5 discount coupon for the 2018 SCUBA & Watersports Expo

Hi Folks,


It’s that time again!  Print the coupon below and get $5 off your admission to the 2018 Scuba & Watersports Expo at the Tacoma Convention Center!  We will have a booth there and Stewart will be giving a talk how to get better underwater images!  We will have show specials for all our items as well as our 2019 Anilao Photo Workshop!



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See you January 27th and 28th at the Vancouver Aquarium for Diver’s Weekend 2018!

This year’s theme is “Training” and SLS Photo will be presenting a workshop on how to improve your underwater photography.  Our booth will have some of the latest housings from Aquatica Digital, the new S&S YS-D2J strobe, our fantastic Fiber Optic Ring Light and many more toys…errr Tools!

Diver’s Weekend Page at the Vanaqua.org website

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Now available, Made in Japan! Sea & Sea YS-D2J

Sea and Sea has brought the production of it’s popular YS-D2 strobe back to Japan! Reverting back to the traditional yellow colour of the original S&S strobes, this version is expected to maintain the quality and reliability synonymous to the S&S Brand!

Contact us for pricing and availability!

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Eclipse 2017 over SLS Photo HQ! LOL

Well, Eclipse 2017 has come and gone.  We had about 86% totality where our offices were.  IMHO, the first image was the best as the clouds were wispy and added drama.  Even the glare of my cheap mylar filter seemed to add a nice balance of cold light to the shot.

Equipment used: Sony Alpha A6500, Sigma 150-600 Contemporary with MC-11 Adapter. Mefoto Traveller Tripod. Meike Grip extension for the A6500.  Mylar Solar Filter. All shots wide open at f6.3, ISO 400, Aperture Priority


About halfway through…

Totality at 85-86%

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Winners of the first Aquatica/SLS Photo Anilao Workshop:

Our bad! We’ve announced the details for next year’s trip but haven’t announced the winners of this past workshop!

Grand Prize, Leslie Blickenstaff, Sparring Soft Coral Crabs

Best Macro: Dennis Cloutier

Best Wide Angle: Norris Colby

Additional Winners:

Macro First Runner Up: Nick Lawlor

Macro 2nd Runner Up: Mario Robillard

Macro Honorable Mention: Teresa Cordoni

Wide Angle First Runner Up: Marc Damant

All images are the property and copyright of the photographers mentioned.

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Join us 2nd Annual Aquatica/SLS Photo UW Worshop in Anilao!

Our 2017 trip was a resounding success with 18 attendees (14 Aquatica Shooters!) have a great time at the Beautiful Dive Solana Resort.  So we just have to go back.  Details below or click this link: TRIP FLYER

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