Editor’s Note: This is the second of four parts of DPG’s DEMA coverage. Check out our DEMA 2018 Home Page for a comprehensive look at this year’s show.
The DEMA show floor can be overwhelming. But fortunately, much of what is of interest to underwater shooters is located quite close together in the Imaging Resource Center. The booths in Part 2 of our DEMA coverage were only a few yards apart, but they offer a completely different array of products for the underwater image-maker.
Fantasea has really carved out a niche in the mid-to-high-end compact camera section of the underwater photography market. This began years ago when they produced their first housing for the Sony RX100 line and continues today with their housing for the latest iteration, the RX100 Mark VI.
This housing is branded as “limited edition” in part to differentiate it from the company’s FRX100 V housing, which accommodated the Mark III, Mark IV, and Mark V. Sony’s decision to change the lens to a 24–200mm focal length range demanded that the company design the housing virtually from scratch. By design, the focal length is restricted inside the housing (24–66mm), but that’s not a problem given most of what underwater photographers will be needing is at the wide end of the spectrum.
Fantasea has long been invested in the RX100 series as a high-end compact with a broad appeal in the underwater imaging market
The housing might be redesigned to fit the lens, but the FRX100 VI comes standard with many of the features lauded in previous models—double O-ring main seal, built-in moisture detector, and dual fiber-optic strobe connectivity.
If you want to accessorize your FRX100 VI (or any other housing with a 67mm threaded mount), Fantasea and AOI have also just announced the UCL-900F Super Macro Wet Lens. Considered their “pro” version of a macro wet lens, it offers a +15 diopter with a solid build (hard-anodized aluminum barrel), and all glass elements feature an anti-reflection coating.
As well as housings, Fantasea continues to expand their line of wet lens accessories in partnership with AOI
Pivoting over to the Ultralight booth, we were impressed by the company’s Pivot Tray—see what we did there? One of the more time-consuming elements of underwater photography is the need to rotate strobes 90 degrees each time you want to switch from landscape to portrait orientation. With the Pivot Tray, you instead simply rotate the camera’s orientation while keeping the position of the strobes unchanged.
Ultralight’s Pivot Tray comes in three sizes to accommodate cameras from compact to mid-sized mirrorless. Users can customize their strobe mount options with either ball or dovetail mounts. Of course, Ultralight remains a staple in the industry for trays, arms, and other similarly machined accessories.
The Pivot Tray in position for some landscape-oriented images
Pivot! And now you’re ready to take portrait-oriented images without needing to move your strobes’ positioning
As expected, the Backscatter booth was a bonanza for underwater photography. Sure, you had all of the latest new products on display by the world’s largest underwater imaging gear retailer (more on that in a moment), but the booth was also a beacon for inquisitive image-makers, with multiple mini-seminars delivered by experts daily.
Joel Penner delivers one of Backscatter's mini-seminars on the use of the new FLIP7 system
Aside from that, the booth offered the most diverse selection of imaging gear—both in terms of type and brand—at the DEMA Show. Perhaps their most popular product is the FLIP filter system for GoPros. The latest iteration, FLIP7, is their most versatile yet, offering a variety of filter options for models HERO3 to HERO7. It can even be mounted on non-GoPro housings, such as that produced by Isotta.
The FLIP7 Pro Package comes with three colored filters and a +15 Macromate Mini diopter—all connected and customized with the solid, easy-to-use flip mechanism. Having such a diverse array of pro-grade filters really gives the budding underwater videographer the opportunity to film almost anything—from super-macro critters in the shallows to big pelagics in the depths (50-plus feet) with the DEEP filter.
Don’t skimp: The FLIP7 Pro Package has everything you need to maximize your GoPro's underwater shooting performance
That’s one sweet setup: Dual Light & Motion SOLA lights, a Gorillapod, tray, and FLIP7 filter
It was great to get a first glimpse at two upcoming strobe models. The first may sound familiar: Retra’s first foray into the strobe market was put on pause back in April following production and delivery issues. Now, the company has announced two new strobe models, the Flash Prime (100Ws output) and the Flash PRO (150Ws output). The strobes have a slightly widened beam angle of 130 degrees and have an output color temperature of 4900K.
Another cool new feature with these strobes is the addition of a built-in leak detector. This comes standard in the PRO version and is an optional add-on for the Flash Prime. Hoping to avoid disappointment in delivery times again, Retra says it will begin shipping the Flash Prime ($675) and Flash PRO ($835) in May/June of 2019. You can pre-order now.
Retra’s two new strobe models will begin shipping next summer
The Flash PRO will feature a built-in leak detector
A new, new strobe was also on display at the Backscatter booth. Italian manufacturer ONEUW recently announced the ONE160x strobe, which features a durable hard-anodized aluminum construction and a circular flash tube. It’s capable of producing an output of 150Ws at a beam angle of 130 degrees.
The back control system seems quite intuitive and allows the user to access a variety of setting options such as manual control, Nikon iTTL, Canon E-TTL, and s-TTL. Still, with a price tag of more than $1,800 and a relatively low guide number (20), it will be interesting to see the reviews coming out when the strobe hits the market this month.
The ONE UW strobe was on display for the first time at DEMA 2018
Backscatter is also the exclusive Olympus distributor in North America’s underwater retail market. So, if you’re in the market for a nice mirrorless system from Olympus for your next dive trip, it’s a one-stop shop for camera and housing. You don’t need a beast of a system to get great results. We recently put the Olympus Tough TG-5 to the test with Backscatter’s M52 Wide-Angle Wet Lens and were highly impressed by the results that can be achieved with this waterproof, rugged compact system.
So many Olympus options, but which to choose…
It didn’t take long to get to the new Subal products—in fact, Subal was part of the Backscatter booth. Their synergy is of benefit to North American underwater photographers from the product purchase to having the equipment serviced.
In addition to their traditional lineup of high-end DSLR housings, it was cool to see Subal investing in the mirrorless market. Their new housing for the Sony a7III also fits the a9 for photographers hoping to use both models underwater. We’ve also confirmed that the company has finished production and testing on housings for the Nikon Z7/Z6 and Canon EOS R. These housings are expected to ship in mid-December.
There are various improvements for Subal housings across the board. For instance, beginning in 2019, all new housings will feature a built-in vacuum system. This will have integrated vacuum and leak detection electronics.
Subal is tweaking their lock mechanisms to make them easier than ever to use without sacrificing durability or performance
Did you know you can custom order your Subal housing in almost any color you want? We’ll take one in DPG blue, please!
When purchasing underwater photography equipment like the products mentioned in this article, please support DPG by supporting our retail partner—Backscatter.com.
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