New mailing list for blog post

New mailing list for blog posts 🙂

I made this mailing list just for testing, it’s using mailchimp and you can exclude yourself at any time.

Basically you will get email always when I post something. Let me know if there is a problem.

Testing 4 different underwater video lights with Nikon AW-1

All four lights
All four lights

I managed to get 4 different video lights to my underwater testing with Nikon AW-1
Epogue EL-1000Video
Under Water Kinetics UK Aqualite
Ikelite Vega
Light and Motion Sola Video 2000FS(Previous version)

This is not by any means official test nor technical one. Only my thought what I think about them. Please do consider also that Sola’s 2000FS is obsolite and 2100FS have replaced it.

All four ligths side by side
All four ligths side by side

First from the left
Light and Motion Sola Video 2000FS
Price: 979€
Max power: 2000 lumen

Second from the left
Ikelite Vega
Price: 495€
Max power: 2000 lumen

Third from the left
Epogue EL-1000Video
Price: 195€
Max power: 1000 lumen

Fourth from the left
Underwater Kinetics UK Aqualite
Price: 270€
Max power: 600 lumen

At least Epogue and Sola lights are currently on sale so the price is actually bit less, but the price category is the same still. In this test there is actually two kind of flash lights. Higher and lower. Around 200 euros you will get pretty nice light that has replaceable battery and attachment to use either flex mount or ball mount system.

My current main system is using ball mount but I have used flex mount also. The main difference with those systems are that flex mount can handle only limited weight and ball mount much more. My main flashers Ikelite DS-161 are just way too big to flex mount. Flex mount main benefit is speed, you can very easily change the light position.

Epogue EL-1000Video
Epogue EL-1000Video

Let’s start by Epogue EL-1000Video which is the cheapest of these, but not by far the weakest. You have to remember that you can get 4-6 of these lights for the price of one Light and Motion Sola Video Light. Giving you 4000 lumens all together and multiple ways of light your subject. So the price is just amazing. There is of course downsides as well. The shaft of beam is very sharp and the switch is not so well thought as it does not have any lock positions. It is just magnetic switch that turns 360 around the lamp.

Epoque underwater
Epoque underwater

In total darkens it’s very difficult to change the light into correct power output, there is no led lights telling what is the power and you easily turn of or turn off it just by accident. UK Aqualite has much better power switch, you can easily set the correct output power even with your eyes closed.

Under Water Kinetics UK Aqualite
Under Water Kinetics UK Aqualite

So in short for the cheaper dive ligts the main difference is power output and power switch implementation. I would say that you can live with either one, just have to know about them and prepare. These cheaper lights had still actually one advantange over the Vega and Sola, replaceable battery, 18650 battery that the use are coming as standard and you can by them for a cheap price and have several with you on your dive trip.

Ikelite Vega Controls
Ikelite Vega Controls
Ikelite Vega
Ikelite Vega
Ikelite Vega underwater with snorkels
Ikelite Vega underwater with snorkels
Ikelite Vega underwater
Ikelite Vega underwater
Sola Controls
Sola Controls
Sola Video 2000SF
Sola Video 2000SF
Sola underwater with snorkels
Sola underwater with snorkels
Sola underwater
Sola underwater

Lets then go to the more expensive lights Vega and Sola. Both of these lights has integrated battery so when the battery is out, it’s finish and you can’t do anything with the light until you have charged again. The battery life is good but if you do several dives in a day, it might be a problem. Ikelite Vega is pretty strait forward, it’s easy to learn hot to use and clear light indicating the power output and battery life. Sola has more funtions, it has software keylock and spotlight funtionality. Although it’s not that difficult to learn how to use but still much more complex that Ikelite’s Vega. Ikelite’s Vega is still missing the spotlight functionality that can be handy when photographing macro. Ikelite’s shaft of light is bit more narrower than Sola’s. The only case when this would be an issue is when photographing or shooting video with very wide angle lens, but some might say that you will get more power into subject if you can get light closer the subject.

One thing Sola 2000SF have clearly over Ikelite vega is to be able to use spotlight. The benefit is that you get intense beam into one area, and something like macro photography, it really matters.

Sola using spotlight
Sola using spotlight
Maro shot from ring
Maro shot from ring using 10 times makro filter

Conclusion:
There was benefits and cons in all the lights but the price point of Ikelite and Epogue is excellent. If you consider only quality, the Sola is winner but not much as the Ikelite comes close. As the price goes up you will get more power and more features, but are those important to you, I can’t tell. I probably will get at least one Ikelite light to myself, and switchable battery on Epogue is very nice but as I have already the UK Aqualite I’m not sure will I get one.

All the pictures in this post have been taken either Nikon 1 AW-1 or Nokia Lumia 1020

Strange fish at the pool
Strange fish at the pool

Small underwater light test from Juhani Väihkönen on Vimeo.

Testing Nikon 1 AW-1 waterproof camera

– Nikon 1 AW-1
– Nikon 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6

When I first time heard about this camera, I thought that’s amazing, Nikon finally went back to the old nikonos world where we had waterproof SLR camera. I actually already ordered one but then canceled it and decided to go to Olympus OM-D E-M1 and housing for that. The simple reason was that Nikon AW-1 is still focused more to the traditional consumer side.

The camera is only waterproof for 15 meters that is actually quite a lot, as there is a lot just next to surface.

I finally still got Nikon AW-1 to testing as our camera hobby club decided to get one. This weekend I finally had time to take it underwater with some light testing at the same time. I also took it to Helsinki Boat Exhibition to take some surface pictures also.

Boys playing volleyball
Boys playing volleyball while I’m shooting behing the net.

The most of anything that I love in this camera is that it’s always waterproof, you can even in exhibition suddenly take picture from the diver that was doing introduction dives at the affair.

Scuba diver at exhibition
This underwater picture would have not been possible without camera that is always waterproof

When I left from boat exhibition, I stayed outside for a while to shoot some street lights that I likes so much. It was raining lot but it was very nice to be sure that your camera can handle it. I managed to get some decent picture from the lights.

Street lights in Helsinki

So it comes back to the idea of having a camera that can handle almost any weather and situation that you come across. So lets get into underwater then, where I was today. The camera feels very nice underwater. I rigged it into Ikelite GoPro rig, mainly because I had it and you can open the battery and memory card door even the camera is still attached. Normal strait rig you can’t do it. Also it’s very nice rig. 🙂

Nikon AW-1 with Ikelite rig
Nikon AW-1 with Ikelite rig

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I tried several different kind of lights but more about the lights in next posts.

I shooted this strange looking fish at the pool, still don’t know the species…

Strange fish at the pool
Strange fish at the pool

I also tried macro shooting with the ring that one of the divers found from the bottom of pool. I used +10 close up filter in front of the camera lens. You can use 40.5mm filters directly but most likely you want to use step up rings to go like 55mm filters and there you will find pretty nice collection already. Also it would be then possible to use those same filters with GoPro cameras using something like BlueFix

Macro shot from ring
Macro shot from ring using +10 close up filter

Yes, that is really underwater picture. Same as this

Snorkel kit underwater
Snorkel kit underwater

You can see that I was using two light in the picture from shadows.

Lets go into more weaker sides.
Mostly because of the sensor size the camera just can’t handle low light situation so when comparing this camera to my mobile phone(Nokia Lumia 1020), my mobile phone actually wins. So the use case would be only underwater and harsh conditions as mobile phone is always with me anyway and it’s lot smaller. Second thing is the lenses. There is currently only two lenses that are also waterproof and even our hobby club did bought the two lens system. We still haven’t received the second one. There are rumors that Nikon have some problems on delivering the 1 NIKKOR AW 10mm f/2.8 to the customers, but I never think so much about the rumors. I will test the lens when I will have it, but I know already the it will not be wide enough as 10mm angle of view is equivalent to 27mm in 35mm sensor. You need more wider. If there would come something like 7,5mm or more wider, it would be better. You still can’t get more wider pictures than you can get micro four thirds cameras and of course full frame cameras.

Conclusion:
Nikon 1 AW-1 is very nice camera, that you can take with you on your holiday and get some nice pictures, even pictures that would not have been possible in other cameras, but it’s still not quite there yet. Main problems are the sensor size and lens selection. Good underwater lights and strobes will help you a lot and next I will be writing about them.

Testing Ikelite’s underwater tray for GoPro cameras

Equipment test, I haven’t done those for a while.

2601.03 Steady Tray for GoPro
2531.3(left) and 9531.4(right) Release handles

Last weekend, I bought hand on the newest Ikelite tray from EW Dive and decided to test it with small video.
actual_rig

I decided to add these small Ultralight mounting balls to get some extra mounting points.

Ultralight_adds

So here is the final rig configuration. Big thanks to Kuva Järvinen from getting me a old GoPro hero 3 housing fast to still attach LCD to GoPro hero 3+, as you can’t currently get the LCD into 3+ orginal housing.

Final_Rig

I was anyway going to Turku to get one harddrive for study for repairing, so I decided to go scuba diving with scuba center called Fun Dive Oy that is located in Turku, Finland.

I had to add small things to the rig, like handles, ball joints arms and lights. I already had them so it was easy.
Only problem was that the handles that I had was the original Ikelite ones that did had different connection than
in Ikelite tray manual. Mine is with bolts and the tray needs ones that you use slotted screws. Otherwise it’s pretty same.

Here is the rig that I builded first.
GoProTeline

That would have worked but I dedided to go bit smaller thus I changed arms bit shorter and here is the final test configuration.

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So of I started diving. The tray is pretty nice. It’s sturdy and you can extend it pretty much. Of course I went all the way and
added two Ikelite video lights, UK Aqualite and Light&Motion Sola™ Nightsea light. So basically all the video lights that I own 🙂

Here are some pictures from the dive.
20140126_ikelite_rig_0005

20140126_ikelite_rig_0007

20140126_ikelite_rig_0010

20140126_ikelite_rig_0015

20140126_ikelite_rig_0025

20140126_ikelite_rig_0029

20140126_ikelite_rig_0032

So, what is the final verdict. I really like the tray. It’s small, cheap, and you can extend it a lot. I can see that if used with Light and motion sola lights or the new Ikelite’s Vega light it will be almost perfect. The battery that I added under the rig was working but the cables were bit too short. Yes you can use longer cables but as the batteries are coming to lithium time. Those lights that have the lithium battery embedded and still small. You really can’t compete with it. Only small problem that I see with the rig is that when used with video it’s pretty good, but when taking pictures at least my finger is not long enough to take pictures while still holding the handle. So maybe it’s not for that, of course you could take the second handle away and use it only with one light. Ikelite vega have 2000 lumen’s and you can do a lot with that, even take nice pictures.

So for the video it’s pretty nice, you need to add handles and some ball joints to get it working but for that price point it’s all good. For the pictures I would use some other rig. There is at least Ultralight that have direct connection to the gopro and ball joint from there.

Finally the video that I filmed and edited.

Ikelite GoPro rig test from Juhani Väihkönen on Vimeo.

Snake River Prototyping releasing underwater rig for GoPro Hero HD

This was interesting. Snake River Prototyping release rig to underwater filming. The tray is machined aluminum and it has several connection points.

There are in the market other also. Some of them have lights like Sartek, Noctural lights, Tecdiving

I made post from Snake River Prototyping flat lens fix, although there are now similar ones like Backscatter, the snake river is still the one of the most interesting ones. I currently own two snake river flat ports and have been very happy with them. Actually I participated to the Eilat Red Sea Underwater competition only using GoPro cameras. Well, I did not won anything, I was still very happy to the quality of the pictures that I got from there. In all those pictures I used Snake River Prototyping BlurFix flat port with attached SWCY or CY filters. The color filters makes big difference in underwater because otherwise the it will easily clip the red from the video material totally and no post prosessing will get that back.

What I find interesting in the the tray as the called is there are so many possibilities to attach the camera. The only worry I have is that as the camera is attached front of the handles is similar as you would hold the camera with stick, even with both hands. I hope that I will have a change to test it. I would like to make some comparison then between the rigs that I have and theirs. For travellers like me this will be at least very interesting because of the simple design and as it very light(1.7 lbs/0.8kg) and that is including the camera.

The introductory price is 129.99 $, and it seems that the final price will be 150$

Here is their example video using the tray and some color filters

SRP_rig

Information from the tray

Suunto Elementum Aqua Review

I got Suunto Elementum Aqua to test from Suunto in 18 of June and have been testing it since then.  I promised to make a review of it and here it goes.

People that are interested of what it is, here is a link for Suunto homepage.

http://www.suuntocampaigns.com/Elementum/

Well what could I say, it’ s good looking watch and of course. You can use it in daily work easily and even can be proud of wearing it, but you must remember that this is not an dive computer. This is basically good looking watch that you can use also in diving.

So lets do a little comparison. There is little similar products in Suunto also. D4, D6 and D9 are fully functional dive computers, so why you would buy this one. The price, in Finland the price is 625 € so it is quite cheap for luxury watch.

In the watch there are two buttons, the other one is one you can turn in both directions like scrolling logs. The dive mode turns automatically in deeper than 1.2 meters. The watch logs automatically dive time, depth, temperature  date  and time . Though at the temperature does not save into logs, you can only see that during the dive.

The user interface is very easy, when taking it from the box, you just press one button and it starts.  After setting the time and date the clock is fully functional. Setting the time and date is very easy because of this scrolling button. One of the coolest feature it has keylock, when pressing both buttons the keylock is enabled and disabled.

I got this watch right before I went to traveling into Romania.  I haven’t used wristwatch for a while so it needed some learning again, but as soon as I get used it again, I started thinking of how easy is to look the time from watch either than watching it from mobile phone.

The first problem occurred at my flight to back Finland. The watch thought I was diving in airplane when it started landing. I noticed that the problem was that I held my arms crossed and my arm was on top of the sensor. The sensor works that way that when it got moisture on top, the clock makes decision that it is in the water. Well of course this is quite minor problem, but also sure that there could be someway to go around this problem.

After spending some time in Romania I also noticed that the time isn’t that accurate, after couple weeks the clock was delayed about one minute or so. I hope they fix this.

Then the third problem was I didn’t figure out what the clock was showing after one dive. I went about 16 meters and as my way home I noticed that the clock was showing 1.3 meters and counting hours. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t would out from the book that came with the clock. I had to look several times before I found out that there is full manual in Internet. In that manual I found out that it was actually surface time that the clock was counting and the limit when dive starts is 1.2 meters so it means that after my main dive, I probably putted that clock in that 1.3 meters and the surface time started from that. I have heard some Suunto dive computers to do that the dive newer ends. Of course I thought it was that the case. Well good that it wasn’t so but I would say that the diving mode in at least some detail should be in the manual that comes with the clock. I hope they will fix this as well.

 

After using it for a month now, I still consider it to be most suitable watch for me at least, it’s black and cool and of course you can dive with it and it’s good secondary dive watch, as my main dive computer is Suunto Vyper currently. So if my main computer breaks or battery run out, I still have my watch where I know max depth and diving time. I don’t know what would then happen if my main dive computer would be like D9 or D6, would I use this still….

 

Update 7 October

Well, I have been diving with this now several times, and I have to admit although it’s not diving computer. It really is good watch and strong. My cat have been dropping it from table, I have been stepping over it, and it just continues working. There is still none scratch in the glass. Some small scratch it has in metal but otherwise not. So if thinking of watch for my, this starts to be really realistic and I would consider of buying one.