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 →
This new Aquatica A7r II housing is designed specifically for the Sony a7R II camera, with 42mp still image and 4K video possibilities, an unequalled level of low light performance and a newly release set of high performance optics, this camera is one, if not the best, cameras to bring underwater for imaging purpose.
WHAT’S IN THE SONY® a7R II CAMERA?
The a7R II is the first camera with a full frame sensor to benefit from the back illuminated technology. This incredible advance in electronic science leads directly to previously unheard of, level of performance in low light situation and high ISO setting.
Mirrorless design make do without the mechanical complexity and bulkiness of traditional DSLR cameras, instead relying on electronic viewfinder or LCD viewing, some of the perks of the Sony® Aa7R II are:
It can alternate from still to video record mode directly, without the need to switch, rotate or flip a lever to go from one shooting mode to the other.
Doing away with the mirror mechanism makes for a slimmer body design, yet, the camera maintain a solid quality of feel and handling and the body has a great layout of controls for the underwater photographer with a large choice of customizable buttons. Most functions can be reassigned, including focus operations of the camera to the rear AF-ON button. Shutter speed adjustment, aperture value (both have independent controls) and the ISO setting is quickly accessed using the rear control wheel.
The Sony® lens round-up has dramatically improved recently, and can be expanded by using a Sony® FE to Canon® EF lens mount converter to access a multitude of Canon® EF mount lenses.
The Sony® a7R II is premiering the recording of 4K 30p video footage straight on the internal memory card or stream uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit signal via HDMI, or actually do both simultaneously, it also does in-camera recording of full frame 4K video footage, using the full width of its sensor. It has the incredible 5 Axis sensor shift image stabilization of its predecessor, the A7 II, so be prepared for super high quality images coming out of the water with this camera.
THE AQUATICA A7r II HOUSING
The constant progression of digital technology is apparent in this Sony a7R II, and as they say, never say never, only a few years ago, it was thought that the DSLR as we know it, would reign has undisputed master of the underwater realm, then mirrorless camera started showing up, mostly relegated to the entry type of photographer, as of now, with this amazing camera, we can safely say that there is an heir to the throne.
THE CONTROLS LAYOUT
Aquatica patiently studied the Sony Alpha 7 camera line-up carefully selecting the features that set it apart from other system. We then ergonomically placed the vital controls where they were most needed, right at your fingers tips. At the core of this housing design, is over 30 years of expertise in this field, pushing us forward in incorporating new ideas, concept and technological advances to these constantly evolving imaging tools.
THE REAR ROTARY DIAL OR HOW TO QUICKLY GET TO THE ISO
Expert in the field have moaned the absence, on existing housings for this camera, of accessibility to the rear rotary dial. Given all the interesting functions (Shutter speed, aperture, and white balance and especially ISO) that can be assigned to this back wheel control, it was imperative that an easy and ergonomically located control be designed. Aquatica’s design department came up with a quick and logical way to reach it and this exclusive rear rotary dial is now accessible via a knurled control knob located within easy reach of the photographer thumb.
The SET button is accessed via an extender, engaging the desired value is quickly and efficiently done without the need to remove your hand from the grip, or for that matter, your eye from the view finder.
The custom function buttons C1 and C2 locations are optimized, C1 being extended so has to be right at your fingers tips. Aquatica is well aware that no matter what amount of customizing a camera can offer, if these options are not easily accessed, they might as well not be available, success is often delimited by one reaction time in adapting to a specific situation, and we have invested many hours in designing this ultimate imaging tool that the Aquatica A7r II housing is.
HANDLING THE HOUSING THE BEST GRIPS IN THE INDUSTRY
Handling is made with a pair of grips that have become the bench mark in comfort since their introduction a quarter of a century ago, these grips are a perfect example of Aquatica philosophy, change should be implemented to improve a products, and not for the sake of novelty, when grips are as perfect as these are, leave them alone! Our grips are light, sturdy and form fitting, they contribute to making your underwater photography experience, more pleasing and comfortable. Mounting points on top of them allows strobes arms, such as those from our Delta 3 line, to be mounted securely, freeing the top of the housing from unnecessary clutter.
The Aquatica A7r II offers the best available options on the market for connecting strobes with dual optical ports which includes the LED strobe trigger relay, or a choice of either wired dual Nikonos or single Ikelite connectors. No matter which strobe option you select, you can be assured that there is no hidden cost or supplementary accessory required to be fully operational since all options retail at the same price and includes all components required to connect your strobe(s).
The LED Strobe trigger relay, which is included with the optical version of this housing, is powered by two popular “off the shelf” CR 2450 batteries, averaging 4,000 to 5,000 burst of light, the trigger slide into the hot shoe of the camera like any other hot shoe accessory would. The 20079-OPT version of the housing is ready to accept standard optical fiber sync cable commonly found on the market, there is no need for special proprietary or custom type cord, the optical fiber cord supplied by the strobes manufacturers are ready to use as is.
The 20079-NK versions is set up with time proven Nikonos bulkheads connectors, the same found on all our current Aquatica DSLR housings, it is a well-established standard, which has been the back bone of strobe technology for decades and still, by far, the most distributed type of strobe connectors in the whole underwater photography industry, every strobe manufacturer offering then as a mean of connection. The Aquatica A7r II housing comes, not with one, but two of these connectors installed. These connectors, as well as the optical ones are easy to replace in the field, should one decide to alternate between way of triggering their strobes, no special tools are required, and the operation is done in minutes.
Also available is the 20079-KM version. Since many hard working underwater professional photographers prefer using Ikelite strobes and connectors for their ruggedness and reliability. Aquatica has made a point to have this housing version available equipped with an Ikelite strobe connector.
Viewing is done with either our standard Galileo type eye piece or through the rear LCD screen. Shooting close up at sea floor level is much easier when viewing with the rear LCD screen, while viewing through the view finder is ideal for bright sunny condition that may affect viewing the rear LCD screen.
Additionally our two optional finders, the Aqua View 45o and 180o finders can be attached in less than a minute, they provide enhanced viewing of the camera view finder and when coupled with the Sony excellent focus peak option, will be sure to results in razor sharp focusing performances.
An optional LCD sunshade is also available to improve viewing when using the rear LCD screen for shooting.
While the Sony® a7R II camera itself is diminutive in size, it is nevertheless a full frame sensor and the choices of optics are accordingly sized for the task. Rather than introducing yet another line of ports and extension, Aquatica opted to use its excellent line up of existing port for the DSLR line of housings, simply put, there is no need for special dedicated ports or adapter to benefit from the most appealing lenses mentioned earlier for this camera, it also means owners of any current Aquatica DSLR system can migrate their ports, extension and view finders straight to the Aquatica A7r II housing.
Ports are a vital part of the optical formula of any underwater photographic system, we, at Aquatica, have one of the most comprehensive selection available. Our flexible modular system of extension rings, dome and flat ports is ready to face the challenge of constantly evolving lenses coming out on the market. The irreproachable optical quality of these ports have long made them the choice of demanding professionals from around the world.
Wide angle imaging requirement can be addressed with dome of 4”/100mm, 6”/150mm, 8”/200mm and 9.25”/230mm, from ultra wide angle close up situation to top quality over/under images, our dome ports have you covered
Macro imaging needs can be fulfilled using one of three flat ports available, two are designed for AF operation, one being a slimmer version and the third one, and one, the AF/MF version, is equipped with a knob on its side so critically focusing in manual becomes possible, and if big is not big enough! Then all three of these ports are ready to accept our acclaimed close up wet diopter lenses.
Tying the port system together are a set of ten extension rings, ranging in length from .65”/16.5mm to 3.82”/97.5mm. Port extension are important, as they help optimizing the performance of wide angle lens when properly placed and offer added flexibility in the range of lenses usable behind a specific dome port. When used behind a flat port, they add the necessarily length when using longer focal length, tele converter, dry diopter, extension tube or other accessories that may contribute to added magnification.
The Aquatica A7r II comes standard with our own Surveyor moisture and vacuum monitoring sensor circuit installed at the factory, the housing can be ordered with the optional pressure extracting valve and pump installed at the factory. The visual and audio signal will attract your attention should any of the O-ring becomes damaged or hindered by sand, hair or any foreign objects that would compromise the sealing integrity of the housing. All that is required are a few simple steps for your peace of mind and knowledge that your equipment is safely protected from the environment.
Securing of the housing is done with time proven stainless steel latches with safety tab, these are non-gimmicky, their solid track record shows that they are not failure prone, will not jam up or corrode over time. A large variety of scientific and military departments use theses for securing their valuables assets and equipment for a good reason. Their simple and efficient design makes them reliable, they are a reflection of Aquatica’s commitment to rely on time proven technology.
HOW IT’S MADE
At the core of the design is the shell, made of 6061 T6 aluminum, the same routinely used in aerospace technology. Known for its high resistance to corrosion, this material is then anodized to a MIL-A-8625 Type 2, Class 2 speciation, then covered with a tough as nail, black Polyester powder coating, certified to A.A.M.A 2603-98 specification, which is then baked on at high temperature. This kind of protection is not superfluous, as evidently shown on Aquatica housings having logged over 3,000 immersion and which are still on active duty, day after days.
Controls shafts and push buttons are Type 304 stainless steel, another metal commonly used by the aerospace industry, it is controlled to be free of the iron contaminants that degrade quality and integrity of the metal, such as often found on the less stringent type 316, which, unfortunately, is too often used in this industry.
The housing shell, has two entry point for connecting strobes plus three others for adapting various accessories. There is a large size one on the left hand side that can be adapted for a 16mm or 1/2” diameter, ideal for connecting a monitor, behind it is a standard 1/2” diameter one and to its right, a standard 1/2” hole is provided for the optional Surveyor pressure valve.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE AQUATICA A7r II HOUSDING
Well established and proven system of port, extension and accessories to attend to your personal lenses preferences.
Quick and simple installation of enhanced viewfinders, no special tool required
The best selection of strobes connectors on the market. No additional cost involved, no matter the options selected.
Dual Nikonos bulkheads
Optical fiber with flash trigger included
Ikelite single bulkhead
The best ergonomic, hands on the grip controls placement, including access to the all-important rear control rotary dial.
All controls accessible in all dive conditions, cold or warm, gloves or not.
Secure port locking system and easy access lens release button.
The most comfortable and sturdy hand grips of the industry.
Precise camera mounting via a quick release camera tray.
Three (3) entry point for accessories such as HDMI monitors, Hydrophone, remote control or vacuum monitoring system.
Eight ( threaded standard ¼”-20 holes on top, bottom and grips for mounting brackets, arm, tripods or other accessories.
Depth rating options of 90m or 130m depth at no extra charges.
Time proven manufacturing process using state of the art tooling, and the best material available for years of enjoyable service.
RETAIL PRICE OF $ 2,699 USD (FOR ALL TYPE OF STROBES CONNECTORS CONFIGURATIONS)
To our valued customers, Aquatica has an inventory surplus of A1Dcx housings for the Canon 1Dc and 1Dx, the retail price dropped from $ 4,599 USD to an appealing $ 3,599 USD, but the housing comes equipped with the Surveyor vacuum monitoring system, a $ 349 USD retail value, and a onetime free factory maintenance service on the housing, a retail value of $ 375 USD. For a total saving worth $ 1,724 USD! Contact us at email@example.com if you’d like to take advantage of this rare opportunity!
Canon new high megapixel camera has been receiving a lot of attention in the photographic world. The most notable being it’s massive 50.3 MP of resolution. Aquatica has announced that it will be shipping it’s A5Dsr housing very shortly and we’re looking … Continue reading →