After recovering from an epic DPG/Wetpixel Underwater Imaging Party, we resumed our coverage of the latest photo products on the show floor. Most of today’s coverage fits into several burgeoning categories: GoPro accessories, compact video lights, and filter/wet lens accessories.
A large crowd gathers outside the GoPro booth in hopes of nabbing a free camera.
Perhaps featuring the most new, shiny underwater imaging equipment, the Nauticam booth displayed housings ranging from compact cameras to cinema-quality video cameras. Starting off with the videographer’s dream housings…
One of the noticeable shifts for Nauticam in recent years is an emphasis on video housings. At the show, they had on display two versions of cameras in their RED series. The first version features a slightly smaller port opening, which accommodates standard DSLR lenses.
In addition to the smaller port opening, the back of the housing is interchangeable in terms of length—this lets videographers choose their monitor and battery configuration without being confined to one size fits all. Notably, the new housings feature support for RED’s 7-inch monitor.
For truly demanding videographers, Nauticam offers a second version of the housing with a wider port opening. This opening accommodates the Arri LWZ 9.5–18mm lens, a pro-level ultra-wide zoom lens that’s super-fast. It’s arguably the best wide-angle cinema lens—and has a price tag to prove it ($58,000).
The Nauticam housing’s wider port allows the use of this lens (and other larger cinema lenses) without having to remove it during assembly.
Nauticam’s Chris Parsons got a little sentimental when describing their latest DSLR housing for the Canon 7D Mk II. According to Chris, it was its predecessor, the Mk I, which helped establish Nauticam as one of the top high-end housing brands. In addition to their NA-7DMKII housing, Nauticam has recently announced a housing for the Nikon D750.
The NA-5DIII Deep housing is Nauticam's first to feature new, bright labeling. It really makes your camera model "pop."
A small, but very cool change to Nauticam housings is the addition of new labels to the front of the housing (plus it makes identifying the models a lot easier). This feature debuted with Nauticam’s NA-5DIII Deep housing and will continue into future models.
There’s also been a bloom in Nauticam housings for compact cameras and mirrorless models. One of the more-interesting camera choices is the Olympus Tough TG-3. At first thought, it may seem strange to put a waterproof, entry-level compact camera in a high-end housing. But according to Nauticam’s Chris Parsons, it’s a smart choice for dive shops that want to lend out cameras without having to worry about flooding, thanks to the camera’s proprietary waterproof design. Plus, the TG-3 puts out some pretty amazing video, as Backscatter’s video presentation at the Image Resource Center showed.
In addition, Nauticam is making compact housings for the Panasonic LX100, the Canon GX7, and the Sony RX100 III—fitting a vacuum check system in such a tiny housing as the NA-RX100III is a real engineering feat. According to Chris, Panasonic’s LX100 is perhaps the top-rated compact and shoots excellent 4K-resolution video, so we’re excited about the official housing announcement.
Nauticam's housing for the Olympus TG-3 is a natural choice for dive shops looking to rent out durable, waterproof cameras that can perform well.
Also on display were a bunch of new accessories, both prototypes and final versions. At last year’s DEMA, Nauticam announced their Super Macro Converters (SMCs); this year, the company debuted their multiplier, which adds another 3.5x to the already 2.3x magnification of the SMC. Additionally, they’re rolling out the Compact Macro Converter (CMC) and a wide-angle wet lens for compact models.
The SMC is unique for super macro photography because it is both a diopter and a converter, adding 2.3x magnification.
In terms of video accessories, Nauticam has begun producing a housing for the TVLogic VFM-058Wl, a 5.5” full-HD video monitor. Unique to the housing and monitor are the dual bulkheads with HDMI input and SDI output. This is ideal for big productions where both the videographer can watch what he’s filming underwater while the SDI is routed to the surface for the director/producer.
The TVLogic VFM-058Wl boasts features necessary to review cinema-quality footage—focus peaking, exposure and color tools.
Speaking of 4K-quality video (in a slightly larger package), Nauticam had on display their NA-Z100 housing for the Sony FDR-AX100 and PXW-Z100. Since these models have built-in lenses, Nauticam had to engineer optics specific to the camera—that is, a 120-degree wide angle with tele-zoom. According to Nauticam’s Ryan Canon, the unique optics produce a sharper image throughout the zoom range compared to other housing models. The NA-Z100 also features built-in white balance on the iris that is connected to the housing’s port.
The coolest part of the housing is the removable control blocks, which make it easy to install into the housing without having to fumble about.
It seems like Nauticam announces innovative housings on a weekly basis, so make sure to check out the Nauticam USA blog regularly if you're interested.
Japanese manufacturer Inon came to the show with a pretty sweet setup for their GoPro cage system. The cage system has several benefits over just the standard housing alone: you can fit in the optional monitor, it’s more durable, and it lends the ability to easily attach wet lenses.
Inon’s cage system in action for the GoPro—it will also fit the newly released GoPro HERO 4 series.
The UFL-G140 fisheye lens for the GoPro provides 140-degree angle of view. For close-up footage with your GoPro, Inon offers the UCL-G165 lens, which lets you get within two inches of your subject.
Inon also is releasing the LF1100-W, a 1,100-lumen photo/video light that features an 85-degree beam in a compact form. The light accepts three AA batteries and features a litany of screw-on accessories to modify for your every need: red, dome (widens beam and softens light), and a shade cover to help limit backscatter.
We also got a sneak peak at a video light in the works due to be released by February: the LF-2700W. It will have two power settings with a wide beam angle (85 degrees), making it an ideal, compact video light. More details to come in the following months.
Speaking of GoPro…
It’s become a ritualized sound around 3PM at DEMA that thundering chants of “GoPro” ring through the convention center—all part of a free giveaway. The things people will do to get their hands on a GoPro…
We did get our first hands-on look at the new GoPro HERO 4 series. The GoPro HERO 4 Black Edition is as impressive-looking on the outside as under the hood: 4K-resolution at 30 frames per second.
It’s hard to walk away from the Subal booth with all their shiny, high-end housings for top-notch cameras and camcorders. In previous years, the company had limited its offerings primarily to DSLRs—at this show they’re selection ranges from mirrorless to prosumer video cameras.
Subal’s new ND810 housing for the Nikon D810 is now shipping and gives users full control over the D810’s feature set while offering maximum user-friendliness.
The Subal housing for the Olympus OM-D EM-1 features a totally new design, including spring-loaded buttons that make it even easier to slide your housing in and out.
The housing for the Panasonic Lumix GX7 has a unique look and is surprisingly compact.
DPG editor Joe Tepper’s dream housing for the Nikon D4s. The updated version, “The Angler,” not only looks cool but is depth-rated to tech diving levels.
The housed Odyssey monitor records 4K resolution video. The design features easy adjustment of viewing angle and a handle for transporting the camera.
We were also given insight that plans are in the works for a Subal housing for the Nikon D750, which should be available early next year, along with other camera housings like one for the Panasonic GH4.
After testing out the Fantasea FRX100 III housing last week in Cayman, it was cool to see the final product on display at their booth. As the review explains, at such a low price point ($549.95), the FRX100 III provides an economic way to confidently house your Sony RX100 III and still save some money for lighting and optics accessories.
The Fantasea FRX100 III housing for the Sony RX100 III.
In addition to the RX100 housing, Fantasea has also released upgraded versions of their Radiant lights: the Radiant 2500 and Radiant Pro 2500.
The Radiant 2500 retails for $399 and boasts a 140-degree beam angle ideal for wide-angle video lighting.
Take it up a notch with the 2,500-lumen Radiant Pro 2500 ($499), which comes with beam, spot, red and UV modes.
Fire Dive Gear
Fire Dive Gear is a relatively new company specializing in accessories for fluorescent diving and underwater photography. They make filters to fit on both continuous video lights and strobes, as well as custom blue LEDs in dive torches and video lights.
A demonstration of what can be captured through fluorescent underwater photography.
A selection of Fire Dive Gear’s filter options for strobes, lights, camera ports, and dive masks.
In recent years, Saga has emerged as a specialist in accessories for demanding photographers: Snoots, ring flashes, and wet lenses are just some of their offerings. At this year’s show, they featured customized ring flashes for both compact and DSLR housings.
The ring flash makes lighting up super-macro subjects a simpler task than with traditional strobes.
Saga also offers a “one arm system,” which helps the photographer brace even a heavy housing with just a forearm—perfect for climbing through ripping currents.
The company also now offers +20/+25 diopter ultra-achromatic lenses for close-up and super-macro photography.
Saga’s ever-expanding dome port offerings continue with the addition of a 6.5-inch dome with removable hood. The sibling ports (mini and 9-inch) also feature anti-scratch optic glass.
Over at the Epoque booth, they had on display two new versions of their photo/video light series: the EL-1250 and the EL-750. The EL-1250 features both a spot and beam, making it suitable as both a normal dive light and for video use.
The EL-750 (left) is specifically designed to be a photo/video light, noted for its compact form and strong 750-lumen output.
A less well-known housing company based in China, Meikon makes housings for pretty much any camera you can think of (including smartphones). The housings are made from polycarbonate and are designed to hit the entry-level market ($100–$200).
A selection of all the Meikon housings.
Fancy taking your phone underwater?
Mikon also makes accessories, such as this lightweight camera tray and arms set.
Stay with me here: Bonica’s newest product appealing to underwater photographers isn’t actually an imaging product. We’ll call it a lifestyle product. It’s dive watch clock, which can be customized to include your name, certification number, or pretty much anything you want to be seen hanging up on your wall.
Another company offering GoPro pole accessories is GoPole, which has optimized their line for underwater use and watersports. Many of their poles feature sealed telescoping compartments, meaning that the pole is positively buoyant even with the camera attached.
GoPole poles range in price from $25–$50, making them an affordable pole option for new GoPro users.
A WiFi remote clamp allows you to control the camera at the base of the pole with convenience.
One upcoming product is the “Base,” a bi-directional tripod that can be used traditionally, or inverted and connected to a pole, and serves as a stable base.
Known for their large selection of lighting options, Big Blue had on display several new photo/video lights of note. For more compact options, the AL1800XWP features 1,800 lumens and a 120-degree beam angle in a slim form.
The AL1800XWP also features a red light option and retails for $249.
The 5,800-lumen VL5800P, which has a wide 120-degree beam, is designed to serve as an intermediate light for videographers.
An alternate version, the VTL5000, comes with the features of the previously mentioned model plus a narrow beam (1,000 lumens), which can be used as a dive light or for up-close macro.
If you can’t settle for anything less than 15,000 lumens, check out the VL15000, which is aimed at the prosumer videographer.
This DEMA was our first chance to get a hands-on look at the newest cameras to come out of SeaLife—the Micro HD and HD+. The cameras are self-contained in the housing with PermaSeal technology, so there’s no risk of human error when taking the camera in or out. Charging and data transfer is made via a waterproof USB cable.
Notable features of the 13-megapixel camera include a built-in 140-degree lens suited for wide-angle photography, 1080p video capabilities, and piano key-style controls. It is expected to ship in the coming weeks with an MSRP of $399 for the HD (16GB internal storage) and $499 for the HD+ (32 GB internal storage with WiFi capabilities).
The Micro HD+ is noticeably light and compact, feeling barely bulkier than a standard point-and-shoot.
That’s all for today, folks! Come back tomorrow for our coverage of the final day of DEMA Show!
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