Underwater: Compact or Mirrorless ? No Housing ?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by WAngell, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. Since there is, sadly, no underwater forum, I'll post this here.

    I've wanted to come up with a new underwater solution for a while. My first was a Nikonos followed by a Nikonos V. In the digital world I had (still have actually) an Oly D-450 + PT-018 housing that worked fairly well but is only 1.3Mp

    I don't deep dive anymore compliments of BPPV so I just need something good for maybe 20-30' of which will mostly be from snorkeling.

    I'd prefer something that doesn't require a housing though not opposed to a housing if it comes to it. Something that can be grabbed and used would be more appealing than something that requires a bit of setup prior to each use. A non-housing camera would also be considerably smaller and theoretically lighter (above water).

    Mirrorless would be good to avoid the shutter lag of compact cameras (and for many other reasons).

    - The Nikon 1 AW1 proved quite a bust with lenses fogging up. Otherwise it might have been a great option.

    - My wife has a Nikon 1 J5 that works quite well for a small mirrorless but it would need a housing. I can get a Meikon housing for it w/ a 10-30mm port for $159 which on the surface is a great deal. Possibly kind of a risk though as I can only find two reviews for anything Meikon (though I believe they are also sold under Panasonic, Kitdive, etc.) One is: Meikon Underwater Camera Housing Review for Sony Mirrorless - DIY Photography.

    - Oly TG-5 is officially good to 30' without a housing. One question is if it's safe to 30'? Then again, for this it's perhaps not the end of the world if something happened to it. I could also get the Oly housing to go with it if necessary.

    - GoPro Hero 6. Lots of appeal and I could use it for other things. I'm not sure the still image quality is that great though.

    Thoughts? Other options?

  2. I went through the same decision process for use with snorkeling. Note: I already have a Sony RX100 V.

    My first thought was the GoPro Hero 6, which would have been convenient for snorkeling and video. However, I rarely if ever shoot video and the stills from a GoPro under water leave a lot to be desired -- you'd need to use a red or similar filter by default to improve underwater images. On land, the GoPro would not be of much use because I will always have my RX100. So, the cost of a Go Pro Hero 6 plus accessories for some time use was not appealing. I ruled it out.

    I considered the Oly and others that do not require housing as well, but while they arguably offer better IQ than the GoPro for stills, they would only be useful in the water because on land, I would still have my RX100. Again, at $400 new, it seemed like a waste for my needs. I also ruled it out.

    I compared underwater images of stills and videos from my RX100 in a housing versus the Oly (and similar) and the Hero Go Pro and my RX100 blows them away. So, i looked at underwater housing -- first the Sony underwater housing and then the Camdrive housing (looks the same as the Meikon, so I think it's just a different brand). I bought one from Amazon for $159 and tried it out. First of all, it's a tight and perfect fit for my RX100 -- I had to remove a softie shutter and the hand grip from my RX100. I can operate all of the needed functions. I have dunked the housing in water and the inside remained watertight. I have not yet gone in a pool or the ocean with it, but I have no doubt that it will be fine. I do have small silica gels that I can fit inside the housing. I have no doubt that the Sony housing, which is $200 more, is at least as good as the Camdive. But for me, the Camdive does what it's supposed to do.

    So, in your case, I would recommend using your wife's Nikon 1 J5 and getting the housing. I am fairly certain the Meikon is the same as the Camdive and other brands.

    Good luck!

    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  3. Thanks. Meikon is very tempting. The impression I get is that Meikon is the manufacturer, also resell under CamDive & KitDive, and others like Panasonic also resell under their brand.

    This 'review' site is a Meikon site and mentions Meikon, CamDive & KitDive: Underwater Housing Review

    Why do they need to sell under 3 different names? Why do they try to make their video site sound like an objective review site? Their stuff sounds like it might perform reasonably well. But for how long?
  4. Seafrogs appears to also be a sub-brand of Meikon. Polaroid cases appear identical to Meikon so very likely they are reselling them under their name.
  5. Add Neewer, Eachshot and Puluz to those rebrands -- possibly dozens more. In fact, the CamDive unit I bought comes in a box branded as Kitdive and the tube of silicone grease that comes with it is branded Seafrogs

    At this point, the unit I bought works well enough. Obviously, I don't know how it will hold up long term. The weakest link is probably the seals (which may dry up long term) so make sure you use the silicone grease that comes with it for long term storage.
  6. Verified w/ Meikon that they are the manufacturer and that they and KitDive, CamDive, and SeaFrogs are, not too surprisingly, all one and the same company. Also verified that TVYYBOX who sells all of these on Amazon is their online sales channel.

    Ordered the KitDive J5 kit from Amazon. It s/b here tomorrow so we'll see how it does.
  7. It appears that the Nikon 1 18.5 f/1.8 lens will work with the 10-30 port that I'm getting. We have the 10-30 but the 18.5 would be about $186. I wonder if the extra stop would be worth it given that it'd be a bit longer? I've generally liked very wide angle under water so 10mm sounds better than 18.55mm but the extra stop could be really nice. OTOH, I'll mostly be snorkeling so rarely below 10-15'.
  8. I do think wider is better underwater, so I would start out the day with the 10-30mm. For me, once I lock in the camera in that housing, the only reason I'm opening it during the day would be if I need a new SD card or if I have to change battery, which are obvious necessities. I'd hate to have to go back on the boat just to switch out lenses. The f1.8 does sound appealing compared to f3.5 for the 10-30mm at 10mm, but the fixed 18mm sounds limiting.
  9. Agree on wider. 10mm on the J5 is already equiv to 27mm FX and IIRC I usually shot 14mm FX when diving.

    I'm also debating if I should spend the money on a wet dome. Or dry dome even...
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  10. UPDATE: After a few days of handling and testing the CamDive housing and after handling the Fantasea housing (a friend has one), I decided to return the Camdive housing. It just did not inspire confidence that it would keep my camera safe from bumps and from water/moisture in the same way the Fantasea housing did. Of course, it may not be a fair comparison given the price difference, but I think my peace of mind is worth the extra $$$. So I ordered the Fantasea FRX100 V housing. I also bought a small underwater continuous video light that I can use for 10-15 feet underwater and can double as safety lighting for my bike (I needed one anyway).

    I looked at my wide angle dome options, but the only option available would widen 24mm (on the 24-70mm lens) to about 22mm, so IMO not worth it.

    I hope the Meikon works for you if you decide to keep it. It seems like a good unit and if I hadn't handled the Fantasea housing, I might have kept mine.

    Again, good luck!
  11. Meikon came today. Doesn't look too bad. Very similar in many respects to the housing for my Oly D-450 except the Meikon has two o-rings. I'm hoping to pool test it in the next day or two.
  12. A couple of initial issues.

    1) The flash release doesn't work. It doesn't push the button far enough. It's actually off by about 3-4mm.

    2) The label on the mode dial is backwards and the dial doesn't match in rotations so a full rotation of the Meikon dial is not a full rotation of the camera dial. I did find a mode in the J5 that displays the dial as you turn it so that works.

    Neither of these are show stoppers. Everything else seems to work OK.
  13. Did a bunch of snorkeling around The Big Island w/ the J5 in Meikon housing. Overall worked quite well. The biggest issue, as with many setups, was difficulty viewing the image underwater so a lot of point & pray. A tilted display would be really really handy. And a bit brighter would help in shallower water (anything less than about 30') though the J5 wasn't too bad. I'd love to see an inexpensive WiFi waterproof display that could be attached to the housing and tilted.

    The menu setting that displays the mode dial on the display of the J5 when you turn it worked well. I'm actually kind of glad the Meikon dial was mis-labeled so that I was forced to find that setting.

    Never did get the flash release to work but I didn't spend much time trying so maybe some fiddling around more would have found a solution. Hope to play with it in the next couple of weeks. Since we were so shallow it wasn't a big issue but in some cases would definitely have been helpful.

    I'll hopefully get some photos up in the next week or two. Nothing contest worthy but still fun.
  14. Finally got a chance to take out the Fantasea housing (for a Sony RX100 mV) for a real test at the Great Barrier Reef. It performed flawlessly - water tight, window was clear, controls were clearly and correctly labeled and buttons worked as expected. I had a constant light unit mounted on the housing so I never tested the flash in the water (it did work when I tested on land). I had the usual challenges -- visibility under water and strong ocean currents -- but nothing to do with the housing.


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