Wetpixel show coverage: Photokina 2012

This image was created by Daniel the light writing artist at the Olympus stand using the active build mode on an Olympus OW D E-M5.

Photokina 2012: Wetpixel show coverage day two.

After a day exploring the new cameras, Saturday was spent mostly looking more specifically at the new underwater housings on display in the underwater section of the show. I started off my day with a visit to the Subal stand. Here Rolf Sempert talked me through the new housings for the Nikon D800 and D4 cameras, as well as a redesigned 9” glass dome port.

Subal has focused on carrying through its traditional features into these new housings. The D800 has a fiber optic strobe triggering option, as well as three ports for the addition of other bulkheads. It can take the standard array of Subal ports, and has the user replaceable back panels to allow for the sue of all available Subal viewfinder options. Subal has concentrated on making all the crucial controls accessible from the right hand grip, with shutter release, main and sub command dials, AF lock and AF on, Live view and record start/stop all being within easy reach.

There is a lever control that allows access to the camera’s Function button, and a port locking system. The housing has been designed to be very light and compact

He also showed me the company’s D4 housing.

This is a very fully featured housing, again with full access to all camera controls, but at the cost of being a much bigger housing to accommodate the D4’s size. The left hand rear push buttons follow a really ascetically pleasing curved pattern.

Lastly, he showed me a redesigned 9” dome port. Big domes are critical for getting sharp corners with rectilinear lenses on FX, and with new FX options coming out, it is crucial that port support is available. The new port has an internal and external coating, and the shade is constructed of a special plastic that does not lose its resilience and become brittle when cold.

I then spoke with Edward Lai of Nauticam, who showed me the company’s housing for the Canon 5D Mark III.

It has two piano keys on the rear left for the “Q” image parameter setting button and the “set” button. The key camera controls are all accessible from the right hand grip with thumb levers for AF on and record start stop.

Nauticam has redesigned their control dials and now use one with much more pronounced ridges, which should prove to be very good with thick gloves. These new dials will filter into all Nauticam housings soon.

Another in line improvement is the addition of an additional set of holes in the stainless steel stabilzer plates that allow the fitting of extensions onto the handles for those with big hands or gloves.

Image review is also accessed via a thumb lever on the left hand side. Edward mentioned that he is working on an adaptor that will allow the use of fiber optic triggering with cameras that don’t have a built-in flash, or for cameras that do, but the recycle times are an impediment. The NA-5D Mk III has sufficient space to allow one of these to be added in future.

Nauticam has, in the past not been afraid of embracing the specialist market, and has produced housing for the Phase medium format cameras. New for the Photokina show is Nauticam’s offering for the Hassleblad H4D camera. This gives access to all camera controls and is the first medium format camera that can support fiber optical strobe triggering, although the housing is supplied with Nikonos bulkheads as well.

Port support currently includes the 28mm wide-angle, and in the future, the 24mm wide-angle. The housing can be equipped with any of the Nauticam magnifying viewfinders. There were a number of prints in the Nauticam booth that were shot with this camera and housing, and the images seem stunning.

Bodo Sutterer of BS Kinetics then took me off to the Sigma stand to show me his new Dahna housing.

Bodo and the BS Kinetics Dahna housing and Sigma SD1.

This features his trademark carbon fiber construction, and will be available for the Sigma SD1 Merrill and Nikon D800. It features fiber optical strobe triggering, with the option of Nikonos bulkheads and takes the company’s standard ports, which include a 9” dome.

It is fitted with a leak detector as standard, and can be fitted with Inon or Nauticam viewfinders if required. It will retail at around €2,500 to €2,600.

The Sigma SD1 Merrill has a Foveon X3 direct image sensor. This uses three layers of photodiodes vertically aligned to capture all three RGB colors. Although an APS-C sized sensor with a sensor size of 4,800 x 3,200 pixels, the company claims that the three layers of pixels give a resolution of 48 megapixels.

As the color image data is captured in the layer of the sensor, this also means that there is no need for an anti aliasing filter, which enhances resolution and details.

I then went to visit the Olympus stand, to see the new cameras that have been recently released. The key new models for underwater photographers are the PEN E-PL5 EVIL camera and the Stylus XZ 2 compact. The former uses the same 16.1 megapixel sensor and TruePic VI image processing engine as the OM-D E-M5 camera but in a lighter, simpler package.

I was also able to view the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 macro lens, that gives an equivalent focal length of 120mm on a 35mm camera.

The other Olympus/micro 4/3s lens of interest currently is the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50MM f3.5-6.3. This a power zoom, although there are zoom rings available for it too.

The XZ-2 has a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor giving low light performance of up to 12800 ISO with an i.Zuiko f1.8-2.5 lens.

It can be Wi-fi enabled via Olympus’s FlashAir card and has numerous accessories, including the PT-054 underwater housing.

Back in the underwater section, it was a pleasure to meet Andrej Belic.

Andrej has been developing (and writing about on Wetpixel) an adaptor that allows the use of Nikonos RS lenses on housed Nikon SLRs.

He is now through the initial production phase and has working prototypes which he brought with him to the show. He plans to do some further testing in Croatia this moth, and will report back to us on how his design is developing.

Hasselblad has unveiled a new camera earlier in the show, the Lunar. Upon closer inspection, this is actually a Sony NEX-7 with Hassleblad decorative accessories. The version featured below actually has gold leaf applied to it, as well as real wood! I’m not sure that housings will be forth coming, and it will not fit in a “normal” NEX-7 housing due to its decorative features.

Lastly, I went to see Helmut Goerlitz of HGTV.

Helmut has produced a 3D Bluray of a recent diving trip to the Red Sea, and this attracted attention from many visitors. He shot the video with a Panasonic HDC-Z10000 in a BS Kinetics housing called the PanaDive 3D.

The Z10000 has a narrow interaxial distance of 42mm (versus 60mm in the 3DA1) and hence allows much closer capture of objects to 17 inches (45cm), a real advantage for underwater use.

  1. Day one: Sony, Canon and Nikon and others.
  2. Day two: Subal, Nauticam, BS Kinetics, Olympus, HGTV.
  3. Day three: Fantasea, Panasonic, Zeiss, Fuji and the Epson Red Sea Shootout.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Conclusion.