PHOTO KIT REVIEW: Nauticam WWL-1 wide angle conversion lens was put through its paces in Lembeh. This might not be a classic wide angle destination, but as you will see, the versatility of this lens helps gain fresh perspective.
What is it?
The new Nauticam WWL-1 wide angle conversion lens gives you 130 degree diagonal view. It simply screws onto the port of your housing with a 67mm thread. But the main difference between this and all other wide angle lenses is that it gives you access to the full zoom range of the camera lens. Even at full zoom you can focus close up. It claims to maintain sharpness and contrast and has been designed with high resolution sensors in mind.
Does it live up to the hype?
I tried the WWL-1 out with a Canon G7X (used with the short port) and the Olympus EM1 (with the Olympus 12-50 lens). Performance was great on both cameras, and I was especially impressed with the corner sharpness at the widest range. I did find that, as with many wide angle lenses, you need to zoom in a bit to prevent vignetting.
If you are using a mirrorless set up, this lens gives you a huge amount of versatility… It reminded me of the way in which wet lenses on compact cameras improves the range of shots you can achieve underwater on a single dive. I was now able to shoot traditional wide angle reef scenes and schooling cat fish as well as nudibranchs and frogfish without having to change lenses.
It is a very robust bit of kit that feels solid in your hands. Nauticam are well known for their build quality and the WWL-1 is no exception. It’s made from 6 elements of highly refractive optical glass and all the internal elements have an anti reflective coating to prevent flat and internal reflections. The neoprene cover is easy to attach (without falling off!) so you can protect your investment on land and in the boat.
Did I want one?
YES! The WWL-1 currently retails for £764.95, which puts it at the higher end of the price range for wide angle lenses. But the added zoom functionality coupled with the image quality makes it a real contender for space in your kit bag.
TECHNIQUES: Strobe position essentials
So you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a strobe arm systems. You’re ready to take your photography to the next level! But many divers find themselves unsure really how to position their strobe to get the most out of their kit. Getting it wrong can be really disheartening. It’s easy to want to go back to the world of white balance when faced with a series of shots that are poorly lit… or even worse… not lit at all!!! Believe me, we’ve all been there.
This blog will give you 3 basic positions to try out. These are key strobe positions to remember and should work in many situations underwater.
Before you get going, a word of warning. You do not want to aim your strobe directly at your subject. Instead, imagine a triangle of light coming out from your strobe in a cone. The strobe’s light is strongest in the middle but weaker on the edges. The strong light is often far too much, and will illuminate any particles in the water, meaning you can accidentally highlight any backscatter into your pics! Aim to light your subject using the softer
, more flattering edges of the strobe’s light. This also helps reduce backscatter issues.
1) Front Macro
This is a simple to use set up for macro shots, producing even lighting. The shadows should also fall behind and underneath your subject.
Keep the strobe about a fist width above the port. Pulling the strobe back behind the front of the port will help minimise the potential for hotspots.
2) Top Macro
With this top macro position get the strobe high above the port – the higher you can place it, the fewer problems you should have with backscatter.
The end result will simulate natural lighting, mimicking the suns rays hitting your subject. Shadows will be directly underneath the subject.
3) Classic wide angle
If you only have 1 strobe and want to start lighting wide angle shots, this is a good position to start with.
It is vital you keep the strobe aligned with the housing and never in front of the port. This should help keep backscatter and hot spots in check. The end result will have high levels of contrast, with dark shadows on one side.
If you want to even out the shadows, you need 2 strobes. Point these out a bit so that the subject is lit by the side light from both strobes. Expose for the background (think about your shutter speeds here!) and you should end up with a nicely lit foreground and properly exposed background!
Want to know more about lighting?
Talk to Mario today 07824 880005
Ready to practice in the water?
PHOTO KIT REVIEW: Which strobe arm system?
Once you decide to add a strobe to your camera, you will you need to select an arm system. And as with all bit of camera kit, you will find there are several options to chose from. This post hopes to make that selection process easier, so you can chose the right arm, first time.
An ideal arm is lightweight, comes in a range of lengths and is robust enough to be moved frequently underwater. You want a nice, smooth movement. And it needs to support the strobe weight easily.
On the face of it, flexible arm systems can seem the cheapest solution. To start with, you don’t need clamps and they come in a range of lengths. A flexible arm can be handy for a very lightweight item, such as a focusing light. But some strobes (eg Sea&Sea YS-D1 or INON Z240) are really too heavy for flexible arms and the longer the arm, the worse this is. Over time you can find the arm joints will loosen up. I find ultimately, a flexible arm is limits the position I can get the strobe into. If you want to get a bit more creative with your lighting, you need to be able to really move the strobe around underwater.
I’m big fan of 1inch ball jointed arms. These are typically made from aluminium so will last you years to come. Available from 7.5cms to 40cms, you can add 2 arms together with clamps. It’s easy to chose how long you want your strobe arm to be. Very long arms can be unwieldy underwater. I personally tend to use 2x 20cm arms. Underwater you will find you can position your strobe around more accurately throughout the dive and you have enough length for all kinds of lighting positions.
Most photographers will find their camera set up inevitably gets heavier. By the time you add lenses/dioptres, multiple strobes and a focusing light, you have quite a fair bit of weight. Dragging around a negatively buoyant camera rig can be hard work. Think about your air consumption! If you are planning to use or have a larger camera set up, float arms make sense. Your goal is to make the camera as close to neutrally buoyant as possible. Foam float arms are a great option, and don’t cost the earth. Make sure the foam is as high quality as possible, and ideally non-compressible.
The ultimate in float arms are buoyancy tube arms. These are a high end solution that will last for years to come.
Most Promising British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2015
It is with great honour that I get to call myself a winner at the inaugural Underwater Photographer of the Year competition. I was awarded the title of “Most Promising British Underwater Photographer”.
I’m still slightly shocked to be honest. This is the first major competition I have ever entered and I never expected to win one of these coveted titles. I owe a huge thanks to the judges, Alex Mustard, Martin Edge & Peter Rowlands.
Two of my images were also placed in individual categories. The liferafts at the Salem Express received a highly commended in the International wrecks category. And a backlit goby was awarded 3rd place in the Up & Coming worldwide category. Wow! I love both these images, but would never have expected to do so well amid some exceptionally high competition.
Interestingly, I was one of the few photographers on a mirrorless set up. The wreck was shot on an OMD- EM1 and the goby on an OMD-EM5, a testament to the quality of equipment that we now have access to as underwater photographers.