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First Underwater Photographs with Nauticam NA-D800
By Keri Wilk, April 30, 2012 @ 01:50 AM (EST)

I was recently approached by Nauticam USA's Ryan Canon about reviewing the first prototype of the Nauticam NA-D800 for the Nikon D800 camera, and obviously I was down. I had three back to back to back trips planned at almost exactly the same time the housing was set to be ready, including a trip to the centotes of Mexico with DPG's Matt Weiss, a Wide Angle Workshop in Fiji for DPG Expeditions, and a Sport Diver assignment to Curacao.

The prototype arrived in the States the day I was set to leave for Mexico, so instead of shipping me the housing, Nauticam USA's Chris Parsons flew it over to hand delivery it. 

The camera, as expected, is impressive, especially the amount of detail its  36MP sensor captures and the high ISO performance considering the mega high resolution and small pixel pitch.




Although having prototype status, the housing looks and performs like a finished product.  The first overall impressions have been almost entirely positive -- a dedicated ISO lever,  shutter and aperture dials that are easily accessed and operated without removing your hand from the grip, a directional pad that allows diagonal movement (no more "staircasing" to review the corner of an image!) and other new ergonomic improvements over past housings have stood out during the first few dives with the housing.



A full review of the camera and housing is coming soon, but until then here are a few of my first underwater photos taken with the housing in Mexico over the past 2 days.

Matt and I brought down 17 strobes (no, that's not a typo) with the goal of shooting the Yucatan's cenotes in a way that hadn't been done before. It's worth noting that many of these shots are taken with the much hyped new Sea & Sea YS-D1's (full review also coming soon). Another update will come soon after I've got a few more dives under my belt.

 

A 9-strobe shot of a particularly interesting portion of the Nahoch Nah Chich cenote. I had to review images frequently to ensure that they were all firing on each shot. The innovative 8-way directional pad made zipping around each image a breeze. (f/11, 1/250, ISO400. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes on camera, 7 Ikelite DS-160 strobes with homemade slave triggers.)


The opening between 2 stalagmites/stalactites, backlit. Even with an almost-dead focus light, the D800 was able to grab focus every time. (f/14, 1/250, ISO100. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 1 YS-D1 strobes on camera at minimum power, 2 Ikelite DS-160 strobes with homemade slave triggers)

DPG publisher, Matt Weiss, exploring the ornate stalactite formations of another cenote. (f/10, 1/50, ISO400. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes on camera, 4 Ikelite DS-160 strobes with homemade slave triggers)

The tips of a group of stalactites breaking the surface of Nohoch Nah Chich cenote.  (f/13, 1/250, ISO200. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes)

 A group of formations in the cenote called Car Wash. (f/8, 1/250, ISO640. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes on camera, 4 Ikelite DS-160 strobes with homemade slave triggers)
The entrance to a cenote from below.  This isn't the greatest image, but it shows the D800's wide dynamic range. Exposing for the sky left the underwater portion drastically underexposed, but a quick tweak in a raw converter brought the detail back out. (f/13, 1/250, ISO200. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes)

A cave. (f/11, 1/250, ISO400. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes on camera at minimum power, 5 Ikelite DS-160 strobes with homemade slave triggers)

A monolithic group of column formations in a large cavern. The large viewfinder of the D800 combined with the equally large Nauticam straight viewfinder made precisely composing this image possible. (f/8, 1/250, ISO400. Nauticam NA-D800, Zen 230 dome, 15mm Sigma fisheye. 2 YS-D1 strobes on camera, 7 Ikelite DS-160 strobes with homemade slave triggers)



When purchasing underwater photography equipment like the product mentioned in this article, please support DPG by supporting our retail partner -- Backscatter.com.






 

 

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Aleksandra Bartnicka
May 1, 2012 10:18 AM
Aleksandra Bartnicka wrote:
Amazing shots as usual, Keri. Can't wait for the final review.
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