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

WP_20140205_21_15_07_Raw

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.

New GoPro Hero2 HD camera with 3D housing

I finally got two new GoPro Hero HD cameras. And tested them in 3D housing. So far it seems to be working somehow but at least not fully. Those new video modes are not working with 3D housing and there is some strange turn on problems like in one case the second camera didn’t turned on and in one case it didn’t started the second camera recording. You still can use them but I think it’s better to wait for firmware update.

As for the camera itself seems to be very nice and the new LCD display is much better. It basically shows all the same things than the back display if you have one. The menu structure is actually changed a bit, still haven’t decided is it better or worse. I haven’t tested so much the camera in low light situation but I need to do it. The modes have been improved a lot as there are more modes now that just video and time-lapse mode.

I will continue testing it.

GoPro Hero HD Out of Focus Problem

I did end up buying Eye-of mine GoPro housing with fixed focus, the housing was about 100 euros here in Finland.

 

You can also buy modified housing for Gopro with 100 dollars from Sartek Industries

GOPRO original vs. Sartek Housing from Dustin Mcintyre on Vimeo.

GoPro knows about this and in their support pages is said that they are currently developing a solution, when this comes is a mystery. In the mean time we just need to hope that it’s coming soon.

Making a 3D-Underwater camera from GoPro Hero HD camera.

I love 3d movies and as soon as I figured out that I could start shooting 3d video I started to study how to do it. As many know, I also shoot underwater stills and videos so my need was of course underwater possibility. So as I had already one GoPro HD Hero camera and I noticed that GoPro had announced a 3d-housing for their camera, it was time to buy a second camera.(Please check NAB 2010) After many failures with different types of rigs I soon figured out that the simplest solution is the best. Until I really have a 3d-housing I need to use something else, this is what I made. I just connected the two cameras with iron barn.

3d_rig-1

First I used Cineform NeoHD program with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to edit my 3d videos. I did get some nice videos with this solution but because of some odd software problem(NeoHD crashing), it was really difficult to get any good example file.

I had to gave up from Cineform because I got info from them that it’s known bug. Cineform was able to pinpoint my problem in their software and provided me an update where this problem was fixed. I need to test it separately.

I found easy way to watch my 3d movies. First I open them in QuickTime, edit the file so that it will start from my sync point and then I save as reference file. I can play them directly in Nvidia Vision 3D Player just by opening two videos, though FullHD was too much for my hard drive, now I need to update my computer 🙂

I will update the workflow of editing 3d footage into here

Anyway I found much more simpler solution. I edited the video directly in Premiere Pro CS5. I made an sequence that is double the wide of my footage and imported all video in there. Then I just offset right video to the left side and left to right side, YouTube wants it in this format. After this I edited it, added sound and exported it. Here is the final solution.

premiere3d

As you can see from the video GoPro Hero HD out of focus problem really becomes an issue in 3d so I need to find a solution for that.
I made blog post about this to Here
Edit:
Here is my first actual edited 3D video, if you want to see the 3D menu, you need to click the video to go to youtube. There you can select the format where you want to see it. There are several other as well.