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AOI Announces UWL-03 Wide-Angle Lens for Action Cameras and Smartphones
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, April 9, 2021 @ 03:00 AM (EST)

AOI has announced a new wide-angle wet lens especially designed for action cameras and smartphones. According to AOI, the UWL-03 corrects for the distortion caused by the flat port of an underwater housing and allows action camera to get as much as four times closer to subjects. In addition, the lens allows the macro and ultra wide-angle capabilities of smartphones to be usable underwater.

The lens attaches to compatible housings using a new locking bayonet-type mount called Quick Release System-02 (QRS-02), or Q2 for short. Shipping now, the UWL-03 is priced at $200.

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AOI‘s game-changer for action camera and cameraphone

We cannot break the Laws of Physics, but we can certainly bend the law a little. Action camera and handphone camera are certainly the victims of these Laws. These devices are not optimized for use in an underwater water environment, which often leads to less than stellar results.

AOI Ltd. is introducing a new wet lens designed to overcome the challenges faced by these devices when used underwater. The new wet lens will benefit water enthusiasts such as surfers, snorkelers, freedivers, and even mermaids. Victor Tsui, the Managing Director of AOI Ltd explained, “In our consumer studies, we found that action cameras and camera phones were hugely popular with the “beginner” segment. These devices were popular due to its low cost and ease of use. Despite the hi-tech features in these devices, the results were often far from satisfying”. Victor further elaborated that the “beginner” segment is budget and time conscious, therefore the solution should not require a lengthy learning process, nor should it be costly in relation to the device. Above all, the image quality produced by the lens must meet the high standards set by AOI.

Action camera and camera phone, face challenges that are both man-made and natural. For example, the underwater housings produced for an action camera or camera phone commonly employs a flat port design, which then results in image distortions such as curved or soft edges when used underwater. A typical action camera produces a wide-angle look and is able focus on everything if it is far enough. But this same feature prevents the camera from getting closer, which is almost the mantra for underwater photos or videos. Likewise, the underwater environment presents a whole host of challenges such as loss of light, color loss, diffusion, refraction and many more. Water conditions such as turbidity or currents can affect the clarity of the image or video. To overcome or reduce the effect of these challenges is often as simple as getting close to the subject.

The new UWL-03 will allow a typical action camera to get up to 4x* closer to the subject. Simply by mounting the wet lens to an action camera or camera phone, it remedies the distortion caused by the flat port of an underwater housing. When used with camera phones, it allows features such as macro or ultra wide-angle to be useable underwater. The lens will correct the distortion and recover the field of vision lost when underwater. Many professional photographers tout the importance of being close to the subject but often needing specialized equipment. Now, the average water enthusiast, armed with just an action camera or phone camera can get close and obtain greater results more consistently.

Without a doubt, there are numerous advantages in getting closer:

  • By getting closer, it reduces the number of particles between the subject and the camera. This improves the clarity of the images or videos.
  • By getting closer, the dissipation of light by water is lessened. Colors recovered by using external lights will be more vibrant and richer.
  • By getting closer, the subjects will appear larger on screen. Small subjects will now appear more prominently.
  • By getting closer, the action becomes more obvious. No more searching for the subject.
  • By getting closer, stability is greater, and chances of motion blur are less.

Getting closer was not the only design criteria, equally critical was finding a way to mount the lens on the many different types of housing for the different devices. The mounting solution needed to be robust and yet easy to use. The lens will employ a new mounting system known as the QRS-02, or affectionately known as the Q2 mount. Taking a cue from the hugely successful AOI Quick Release System, the Q2 employs a bayonet-like mount that is easy to attach while underwater and is secured in place with a locking mechanism. Another benefit of the Q2—it is compatible with lenses that employ a similar and popular bayonet mechanism. Offering greater flexibility and choice to the user.

The lens is also designed to be lightweight and compact in size. The aim is to reduce drag and improve hydrodynamics. The user should still be able to move around freely—adding on a wet lens should not result in a bulky and cumbersome rig. Priced at USD199.00 (MSRP), the lens will come with a neoprene lens cover, tethers, and a lens pouch. The lens will no doubt offer more creative freedom and make the action camera and phone camera more ubiquitous than ever. AOI will reveal the new wet lens at the 28th Annual Marine Diving Fair, Tokyo, Japan, from April 2 to 4, 2021. The event will be held at the 3rd floor, Exhibition Hall C, Bunka Kaikan Building, Sunshine City, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan.

This and other AOI products can be found at booth C-10. For more information, visit your local AOI authorized dealer or go to www.aoi-uw.com, www.facebook.com/AoiUw on Facebook or aoi-underwater on Wechat.

*Depending on camera model.




Isotta Housing for OM System OM-1 I & II
SeaLife SportDiver Smartphone Housing
Nauticam Fisheye Conversion Port (FCP)
Ikelite RC1 TTL Receiver for AOI and Backscatter Octo Housings
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