The last day of DEMA and we dropped by some of the most exciting booths of the show, including Backscatter, Nauticam, 360Heros, Sea & Sea, Light and Motion, and Seacam.
We caught Backscatter on the flip side (of the DEMA show floor), displaying their new line of Flip 4 filters. Increased production of this updated line has resulted in lower prices along with higher quality products. Backscatter hasn’t dramatically changed the design of the Flip filters, but rather kept what’s made them so popular and fine-tuned the product even more.
The Flip 4 series features the same types (including snorkel/shallow, blue, and green water) along with the same fitting. But they’ve redesigned the latch system with a tighter grip, which makes it easier to put together more quickly and lock in place on both GoPro “dive” and “standard” housings alike.
The Macromate Mini for the GoPro has also been updated and is better than ever, according to Backscatter. The increased production allows Backscatter to use their own custom glass, resulting in an even sharper image.
New also—by popular demand—is a convenient travel pouch that accompanies the Flip 4 series. A neoprene pouch that keeps your filters and lenses safe and secure during travel, it is affectionately known by the Backscatter crew as the “taco case.”
The rugged Tough TG-4 camera and corresponding housing from Olympus is still generating buzz with its microscope mode and RAW shooting. Make sure to look out for our hands-on review—coming soon
Our reviewer raved about the AOI port and Olympus 8mm lens for wide-angle photography
The AOI dome port for the 12–50mm lens can serve either as a wide-angle option (when used alone) or for great macro (when you add on the optional macro wet lens).
There’s also an adaptor ring for the AOI ports that allows them to serve both the PEN and OM-D series
We also got a close look at the new OM-D E-M5 II...
... and Olympus housing
The award for booth with the most dropped jaws might have to go to 360Heros. Manufacturers of the 360Abyss, a camera setup capable of capturing 360-degree, virtual reality footage, the NY-based company saw a constant crowd of gawkers at their booth.
We profiled the 360-degree technology as captured by Bill Macdonald, but it’s not until you pop on a virtual reality headset that you realize the potential. Several DPG team members were seen reaching out to touch the massive school of fish displayed by the VR setup.
In terms of new stuff, the company is planning to release an updated version of the GoPro-combined kit with an electronic back and magnetic on/off switch that will allow complete control of all devices in the water.
The 360Abyss captures 360-degree, virtual reality video
The Nauticam booth is a sea of housings—and most of them for cameras announced in the last six months. This perfectly illustrated Nauticam’s Chris Parsons’ point that, more than ever, the manufacturer is bringing refined housings super-quickly to market. Just take a look at some of the goodies:
Canon 5DS/5DS R housing
Sony a7 II housing
Nikon D7200 housing
Keep in mind all of these housings are shipping and available for purchase. Nauticam has also built a prototype housing for the brand-spankin’ new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which is set to ship very soon.
Nauticam’s Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II prototype housing—soon to hit the market
Outside all of the new housings—almost too many to count—Nauticam had on display their new Wet Wide Lens (or WWL-1). Designed “from the ground up,” this solid-glass lens has optics that aim to minimize or eliminate any imperfections that might arise from using a wet lens.
The WWL-1 is compatible with Nauticam’s compact housings as well as those for Olympus and Panasonic’s micro four-thirds systems. For compacts, the highlight is the ability to full zoom through the wet lens without distortion or focusing issues. This means you can go from shooting wide-angle reef scenics to smaller reef fish without removing the lens. This ability is also available when using Panasonic or Olympus 14–42mm power zoom lenses.
This amazing diversity combining the powerful zooms and optics of the WWL-1 turns one lens into several: an ultra-wide fisheye, fisheye zoom, rectilinear wide angle, and even mid-range zoom. For the Sony a7 series, Chris recommends using the WWL-1 in addition to the Sony 28mm for close-focus wide angle.
The new WWL-1 attached to Nauticam’s housing for the Sony a7 II
Along with the new wet lens, Nauticam is rolling out a bayonet system. The system supports the new WWL-1, as well as existing SMC and CMC macro wet lenses. It currently also comes with a caddy to store extra lenses—a double caddy is in the works.
There’s a nifty allen key type accessory that locks the new port system into place
In recent years, Nauticam has also expanded into the high-end video market. That trend continued at this year’s DEMA with the display of the new Arri Alexa Mini housing. Ready to ship now, this housing may look complex, but a brief demonstration shows that assembly and insertion is actually quite simple (even for a stills shooter like myself!).
It is possible to remote access the controls (focus/zoom/iris) and power can be accessed from a topside source, meaning for those big Hollywood shoots, the cinematographer can control all from the boat above.
Inside, a unique design of the rotor mount alongside the camera (as opposed to the lens) opens up the option to use larger, higher quality lenses—key for demanding shooters.
Nauticam bills their housing for the RED Epic LT as the smallest and lightest aluminum-made model. It offers a selection of options for customization, including a standard back for the RED Touch 5 or a longer back for two Pag batteries and the RED Touch 5.
The RED Weapon with its ultra-cool new carbon fiber finish will set you back $80,000
There’s also an option to include a new back for the SmallHD 502 monitor. As well, Nauticam is now shipping a separate housing for this compact monitor. It supports both HDMI and HD-SDI
The market for ultra-compact video lights to accompany GoPro-type action cameras is expanding rapidly, as illustrated by several new companies showing at DEMA 2015. One such manufacturer is Vecino, which produces a 600-lumen wide (flood) and spot light. They can be used independently or combined for more power.
The compactness of this system on display as it sits in a small fish bowl
French lighting manufacturer Bersub is expanding their line of photo/video lights with a new, unnamed prototype expected for release in 2016. Billed as a “compact video light,” the model will output 1,000 lumens at a full-power burn time of up to two hours.
The light will accept either larger lithium-ion batteries or standard AA batteries—an increasing trend in underwater lighting
Speaking of a rapidly expanding segment of underwater imaging: You have more options than ever to house your iPhone or other smartphone for diving. At this point, it is innovative design that separates one product from the rest.
Valstech’s “Lenz” housing for the iPhone 6/6s is one such product. It features a removable dome port, with additional options such as macro and ultra-wide angle coming soon. The dome port features built-in integrated filters that can be switched on and off with a flick of a lever. The housing will be available in February for $295.
You’ll never misplace your filters again, since both shallow and deep options are integrated into the port
The housing also features pretty nifty swing arms, which allow the user to access the phone’s native camera app, as well as advanced features like pinch zoom and setting exposure point
After a brief hiatus from attending DEMA, Body Glove returned with more to offer the diver and underwater photographer. The company has spared no expense in researching, designing and building their top-of-the-line Atlas wetsuit. It features a unique, asymmetrical front entry as well as arm and leg zippers for easier entry.
Inside the suit, smart fiber “red cell” technology absorbs UV rays, which are converted to heat. The tech is borrowed from Body Glove’s surf line, but will be much appreciated by divers struggling to stay warm for that perfect snap.
The 7mm Atlas suit retails for $499
The company also featured a suit called the Voyager. At a less expensive price point ($199), this suit still delivers, with a lower V-neck to avoid choking up when donning dive gear. The inside fabric is modeled after the hollow hair of the polar bear, which dries quickly and stays warmer longer.
Body Glove is also getting into the underwater photography game with a new Optrix iPhone housing ($169). Unique to this design is access to the touch screen, so you can have full control over your phone (but no texting underwater, sorry).
The housing is depth-rated to 33 feet, making it ideal for snorkeling and watersports
The Passage mask from Body Glove allows you to record GoPro footage hands-free. So, you know, you can use your iPhone as an underwater camera
Sea and Sea
The big new product at the Sea & Sea booth is actually rather small—in size, that is. A few months ago, Sea & Sea announced new YS-D2 strobes, but DEMA was the first chance to get a personal look at these small, but powerful strobes.
In terms of specs, the YS-D2’s are almost identical to their predecessors, including a guide number of 32 in air, 1.5-second recycle time, and a non-diffuser beam angle of 80 degrees. But it is the little changes in design and ergonomics that make a big difference with this new model.
First and foremost, the output and mode dials are now rotaries, which are more secure and less likely to be accidentally changed. The YS-D1’s were long criticized for their unsecure controls, which tended to alter mode and output without the user’s knowledge.
This strobe features an LED that displays a color signaling the specific mode. That way, a photographer need only glance at the strobe’s LED color to know it’s in TTL or Manual, etc.
Inside the battery compartment, each AA battery is divided into quadrants, making insertion a breeze
The strobes ship with diffusers of 100 and 120 degrees, which soften the light and widen the beam angle. Finally, there’s a bit of a redesign in the YS mount, which allows for a tighter fit into your strobe arm. You can also mount the strobe with an optional 1” mount.
In addition to the new YS-D2 strobe, Sea & Sea also had on display their housings for the latest cameras, including the Canon 5D Mark III, the Nikon D7200, Sony a6000 and Sony RX100 III.
Sea & Sea’s housing for the Sony a6000
Sea & Sea’s housing for the RX 100 III
Sea & Sea’s housing for the Canon 5D Mark III
Light and Motion
Light and Motion’s display looked a little sexier this year—and it was on purpose. The underwater image lighting company has redesigned their packaging for many popular models, including the Sola series and GoBe.
Having said that, Light and Motion has also made an important improvement to their products by addressing an issue long bemoaned by underwater shooters: the inability to recharge lights on the go. Light and Motion has announced a neat portable charger, which can provide two full charges for the videographer on the go.
There will be two options: 28Wh ($199.99) and 49Wh ($269.99)
Light and Motion has also moved more into topside shooting. After all, even underwater videographers might need to light an interview or topside shot in the field. Rather than needing to bring along two separate lighting setups, the Stella Pro 5000 can be switched from dive use to topside by swapping modular heads.
The new Stella Pro 5000 offers the option to shoot topside with Light & Motion’s top-notch CRI specs
Big Blue Lights
Two is better than one—that’s perhaps why the buzz around Big Blue Lights is the ability to switch between two different Kelvin temperatures depending on the situation. Called tricolor lights (there’s a red output too), each light features 5000K and 6500K outputs. The idea is to limit the amount of post-processing work, and to add warmth (5500K) when in conditions with less ambient light.
The option to have two Kelvin temperatures is featured in four to five models, from 1,800 lumens all the way up to 7,500 lumens
Want some more juice? Big Blue’s got your back there too. There’s a 15,000- and 30,000-lumen light option, although these do not offer multiple Kelvin outputs as there’s really not the demand from the pros.
The new line of Big Blue lights, including the 15,000- and 30,000-lumen models to the far right
Big Blue is also selling their single handle for GoPro ($59), which can be paired with an 1,800-lumen light ($289)
Seacam always has refinements on display for their already-refined housings. Take for example the new compact wide-angle dome (177mm), which is ideal for fisheye lenses on full-frame cameras.
New dome port reduces bulk while also reducing curvature of the image
A new lens holder is easy to attach with a bolt, and makes it easy to store when not in use
A new slave trigger allows users of Seacam strobes to use them off camera. It features a removable hood to help narrow the source of light accepted to signal the strobe to fire
Well, that’s a wrap of our coverage of DEMA 2015. There was, as always, a ton of new gear, from the entry-level to the video pro. We hope to bring you a closer look at all the exciting technology at this year's show—via reviews or hand’s-on guides—in the coming months. Until then...
Fantasea FG7X II
Ikelite Housing for Nikon D500
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