We will be at Diver’s Weekend this Jan. 21st and 22nd at the Vancouver Aquarium, we will have some new toys…err tools! We have the new FIT dome diffuser for the YS-D1/D2, our Fiber Optic Ring Flash, all new lights from Big Blue Dive Lights as well as the new A6300 housing from Aquatica.
Introducing The AQUATICA A6300 Underwater Housing
For The SONY Alpha a6300 Compact Camera
The Aquatica A6300 is a housing designed to be small, compact and easily handled just like the camera that it is designed for. With 24 MP stills and 4K video capabilities coming in at a retail cost of $1000 dollars, the SONY Alpha a6300 is a great camera for the beginner and professional Underwater Photographer alike.
THE SONY a6300:
Advanced Auto Focus (4D FOCUS)
Fastest Auto Focus for an interchangeable lens digital camera.
425 focus points, the largest number focus points for a Mirrorless camera
4 m-dot XGA (1024 x 76 OLED
120 FPS refresh rate
First APS-C mirrorless camera capable of 4K video capture
Built from a Magnesium alloy and includes dust and moisture resistance
This camera is a powerhouse of technology. That being said, it requires a lot of energy to power. Aquatica has carefully looked at all the strengths and challenges of housing a compact camera and used this opportunity to create some options only available with the Aquatica A6300 housing:
The Aquatica Digital Power Saddle incorporates an optional rechargeable battery pack that plugs into the camera’s micro usb port and attaches magnetically to the camera’s mounting plate. This option can be purchased with the housing or purchased later as an add-on. Purchasing the Power Saddle will allow both still and video shooters to have the equivalent of two extra batteries in their housing, allowing the extra power they need to fuel their creative visions.
Interchangeable View Finders:
Aquatica Digital is proud to announce the support of our Aqua View Finders. The A6300 will come standard with our Aquatica eyepiece and the housing allows the user to switch between our Aqua View 45 and our Aqua View 180 Finders without having to change the LCD window of the housing. Upgrading to these Finders gives the user a 1.2 magnified view of the electronic viewfinder, allowing for improved underwater viewing. These finders are among the best finders available on the market.
Adjustable Hand Grip Support:
Aquatica is world famous for having the most comfortable hand grips on the market and we are excited to announce that these grips have been adapted for the A6300’s smaller size. We have been able to include these grips as part of the A6300 package in the form of highly modular tray to mount either strobes or video lights to the top of the grips. The tray it self can be moved left and right for added comfort. Furthermore, the tray brackets can be independently adjusted to a forward, mid and back position while the grip brackets can be adjusted to an inward, centered and outward position from the housing, thus allowing for you to have industry’s most ergonomic control access available. Additionally; an adjustable Aquatica nylon hand strap is included at no extra cost allowing for the avid freediver, or available light shooter to streamline their profile by removing the handles.
The A6300 can be used with or without grips. The right side of the housing has been designed so that you can comfortably hold and operate the housing with your right hand with the shutter button positioned to naturally rest under your index finger.
Additionally, at the rear of the housing, we have provided access to many of the camera’s functions. The controls can be easily reached by simply moving your thumb, thus allowing you to never have to remove your hand from the shutter lever. Primarily among these controls is the record button which has been given a large red oversized button for ease of use. For those that prefer a steady hold on the housing, the Aquatica grips and shutter extended trigger are available, allowing for a more traditional hold of the housing underwater.
We have ergonomically placed the control dial at the rear of the housing so that it gives you quick and easy access to shutter speeds, aperture, white balance and the ISO of the camera.
At the core of the design is the shell, machined on a state of the art 5 axis CNC machine from a solid block of 6061 T6 aluminum alloy. The shell is then anodized and painted with a black polyester powder coating. This type of finish is capable of handling the toughest conditions a professional photographer can throw at it.
We are immensely proud of how often our clients at rental dealerships praise our trademark crinkle powder coat finish being as “tough as nails”. What is often noted is that housings that only have an anodized finish do not stand up to the abuse rental housings are exposed to, therefore making Aquatica housings the ideal choice.
Our control shafts and push buttons are made from the finest grade of stainless steel available rather than plastic or less expensive metals. This ensures the most reliable performance on the market.
The housing shell has two entry points for connecting strobes plus two others for adapting various accessories. The housing is sealed with our signature rotary closure made popular on our Amphibico cinema housings.
There is also a large 16mm diameter access point on the left hand side which is ideal for connecting a video monitor. Located on the left hand side is a standard 1/2” diameter access point for the optional Surveyor vacuum valve to ensure a water tight seal prior to your dive, thus giving the shooter watertight piece of mind.
Every underwater shooter’s needs are different, as such we offer a full complement of flash triggering options to suit those needs. Whether you use basic fiber optic connections or the hard wired flash connections with which to fire your strobes independently, we have you covered with our impressive line up of available flash connectors.
The Aquatica Digital A6300 will have three options for flash connection:
#34000-OPT our fiber optic version will feature our industry standard L-type fiber optic cable connectors
#34000-NK our Nikonos type connector with universal hot shoe
#34000-IKE our Ikelite type connector with universal hot shoe
With the purchase of the A6300 housing, add one TLC #77514 DELTA 3 ARM and get a second one free
We felt that a camera like the Sony a6300 needs to support the best lenses for the best optical results possible. We have created a full line of extension rings and adapters for both our mirrorless ports as well as our standard port line up.
Our support will cover the unbeatable Zeiss Touit 12mm 2.8 rectilinear wide angle lens as well as the ultra-sharp Zeiss Touit 50mm 2.8 macro lens. This is followed by the stellar Sony 90mm 2.8 macro with manual focus support, and of course the industry’s favorite Tokina 10-17mm fisheye Canon mount with Metabones adapter. Last but not least we support the Sony 10-18 and 16-50 “kit” zoom lenses and by popular demand both the Sony 16mm and 18-55mm lenses.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Anodized 6061-T6 Aluminium Housing
Crinkle Powder Coating
Best Grips in the Industry (Left and Right)
Two Fiberoptic Ports
Extended Trigger adapter
Extra main sealing O-Ring
Extra Port O-Ring
Aquatica Standard Eye Piece
Choice of Strobe Connectors
Built in Leak Sensor
Aquatica Nylon Hand Strap
Adjustible Tray (left and right)
2 Adjustible Tray Brackets
2 Ajustible Grip Brackets
2 Zinc Anodes
RETAIL PRICE STARTING AT $ 1650.00 USD
Available Late September/ October 2016
Contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-618-3421 to order this amazing new housing!
Our new fiber optic ring flash was designed to create a light source that would envelope your subject in a soft glow and remove any harsh shadows. Comprised of 16 3mm fiber optic light pipes, the light transmission is so effective that a single strobe is all that’s needed to power the light.
Notice the image below, the polyps of the sea fan are out, because of the smaller profile created by our light, there is nothing pushing against the fan and the polyps are not disturbed.
The ring light is designed to accept the Aquatica +5 and +10 close up diopters and will mount on the Aquatica AF and AF/MF Macro Ports.
The unit is machined fromhigh grade aluminum and hard anodized for a lifetime of use, no cheap plastics here. The “light collectors” accept the S&S YS-D1/D2 and the Inon Z2xx series strobes.
The 2 current megapixel champs in Full Frame, 35mm sensors are the Canon 5Dsr and the Sony A7Rmk2. The Canon specs out at 50.6 Megapixels (8688 x 5792) and the Sony at 42MP (7952 x 5304). While the megapizel count seems to favor the Canon, a look at the actual pixel differences between the 2 sensors shows that the difference in both the horizontal and vertical pixel count is only 736 pixels horizontally and 488 vertically. In the grand scheme of things, the difference isn’t all that great. Other websites have debated the specs of these 2 cameras enough. This comparison report isn’t about the imaging capabilities of each body (they’re both amazing), it’s how they are when used side by side in the underwater world.
The Gear Used:
Canon EF 100mm f 2.8L Macro
Sigma 15mm f2.8 Fisheye
Sony FE 90mm Macro
Sony FE 28mm f2 with Fisheye conversion lens
Metabones IV EF-E Mount Converter with latest firmware
(Much thanks to Sony Canada & Rob Skeoch for graciously letting us use the Sony camera and lenses). The Metabones Adapter was lent to us by Aquatica.
Aquatica A5Dmk3 Housing (yes, the sr fits) though the new A5Dsr does have additional options for Ikelite TTL triggering and the ISO lever is now included and not an option as it is on the mk3 housing. The housing is owned by SLS Photo.
Aquatica A7Rmk2 Housing with the new Optical Trigger. This housing was lent to us by Aquatica.
Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes on the Canon, YS-D1 with the Sony.
Below is a photo of both systems assembled with the respective macro lenses. We would have liked to have matching sets of arms but there was only so much we could lug around with 2 x 50lb bags. We settled for using the Stix buoyancy collar on the Sony. First of, it’s easy to see even with the collar that the Sony housing is noticeably smaller than the Canon’s. Detailed descriptions for each housing can be found here for the Canon and here for the Sony.
One thing to note though is that the controls on the right side of the Sony housing tend to stick out more than the Canon’s and if you have larger hands then we do highly recommend getting the grip extension that Aquatica offers as an option, the extension moves the handle out enough so that your fingers don’t feel cramped up.
Now for some images, we won’t be showing 100% crops of the images, both systems produced beautiful, LARGE files. The Canon’s CR2 files were in the low 50MB range while the Sony’s were in the low 40MB range, though Sony does apply a lossy compression to their .ARW files.
Taken with the 100mm f2.8 L IS Macro
Taken with the 100mm f2.8 L IS Macro
Taken with the Sigma 15mm Fisheye and the Aquatica 4″ Mini-dome
Taken with the Sony 90mm f2.8 FE Macro
Taken with the Sony 90mm f2.8 FE Macro
Taken with the 28mm f2.0 and fisheye conversion lens, Aquatica 6″Acrylic Port
We’ve been shooting Canon for about 20 years now, the interface and button layout vary little between body to body so using the camera and the housing was like putting on a well fitted suit. Everything fell into place and we didn’t have any issues using the camera and housing. Aquatica as usual, did an outstanding job in the control layout and changing settings was a breeze.
The Sony isn’t entirely new to us as we’ve been using the Sony mirrorless system since their introduction of the NEX-5 and we published a review of the AN-5n housing. The user can pretty much program any function to any button on the camera and thus the housing. A really important one is being able to toggle the viewfinder and the rear LCD.
Both systems were set to use back button AF and this made composition easier since you could lock the focus on your primary subject then recompose. The Sony does have a lot more AF points than the Canon but we found that moving the focus point using the joystick to be lots slower than the focus/recompose method. It’s not impossible to do, and actually if the subject wasn’t something that moved quickly, then we did move the focus point around.
Lens Use and AF Speed
There’s not much to say, both systems, using the native mount lenses focused extremely fast and accurately. For underwater use, the 90/100mm macros and the fisheye lenses will pretty much do for 95% of UW shooting, both companies offer a 16-35 f4 zoom that will be a great large critter lens. The Sony does lack teleconverters so being able to go into super macro will be more challenging until a suitable set of TC’s come out.
We did do an AF fine tune on our Canon 5Dsr but since the Sony uses both Phase and Contrast Detect AF, this camera didn’t need it.
Using the Metabones did take a bit of work, the Sigma 15mm EF mount wouldn’t AF at first, however a quick update of the adapter’s firmware fixed the issue. The lens did focus slower than when it was mounted on the Canon. Luckily, fisheye lenses don’t require too much movement so while there, the difference was negligible. The image below was taken using the Sigma and the Aquatica 4″ Minidome. In fact, we preferred using the Sigma and Metabones rather than the Sony 28 with Conversion lens because we were able to use the Aquatica Mini-dome and the small dome allowed for more forced perspectives.
Rhinopia and Photographer, A7rmk2, Sigma 15mm FE with Metabones.
Much has been written and bitterly argued on the forums on how much better the new Sony back illuminated sensor would be compared to the Canon’s. This might be the case when one is shooting something where an extra stop or so in the shadows come in to play. There were instances that shadows were better handled by the Sony, however when shooting underwater (in our preference anyway), the use of strobes, does negate the shadow regions. What we did notice in some sunburst images is that where the Canon would render the sensor bloom as a cyan-ish fringe around the white blown out sun ball areas, the Sony would render it as more of a grey fringe. Both look OK to our eyes but that was what we noticed most.
This issue was what plagued us the most. The 5Dsr would easily last through 2 days of intensive shooting before needing a recharge though we usually swapped out batteries after the last dive of the day. The A7Rmk2 though would require a battery swap after no more than 2 dives. We weren’t even shooting video and were very careful not to do too much chimping underwater. Sony recognizes this by including 2 batteries with the camera, but a fully charged battery is useless on the diveboat if the battery dies in the camera underwater! So if you plan on shooting video (we didn’t, we’re photographers, not videographers) it’s best to have a full battery for every dive, for still shooters, then the battery should be ok for 2 dives.
Both systems would provide stunning images in the hands of a capable shooter. Be aware that one cannot fault the camera if you come back with crappy images. These systems are just that good. The only change I would have done was to outfit the Sony setup with the YS-D2s as well. The improved recycle time, audible ready beep and better control knobs are a worthwhile upgrade. Aquatica does include their new optical trigger with the A7Rmk2 since the camera doesn’t have a pop up flash. This allowed shooting at 5fps tying the 5Dsr. Both cameras were used in Manual Mode with Manual Strobe Control.
I was sad to see the Sony head back to Sony HQ, it did make for a nice, tidy package with big features..for the body, but even Sony can’t change the laws of optics and lenses that can over the size of a FF 35mm chip need to be of a certain size and there is definitely no savings in size there. Same goes for the housing, the housing itself is smaller but you are still required to use the same domes as a FF DSLR user needs. Price wise, the Sony and Canon less than 10% apart, same goes for lenses. So, maybe for a DSLR shooter, there is not perceived advantage on going with a FF mirrorless system, but for someone who’s upgrading from say the Sony RX100, Canon G Series, then I would definitely recommend the Sony as a fully capable underwater setup.
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been back from Anilao and the memories are as vivid as the colours you see here. Dive Solana was predictably amazing and made sure to ply us with enough hospitality and food to … Continue reading →