I have never seen any U/W optic setup for motion pictures that truly seemed sharper edge to edge than the 15mm. I suspect that it is due to the perfect alignment of the lens with the dome (nodal point, optical axis, and possibly some additional optical correction) which is difficult to achieve with any kind of housed system.
The 11-16mm is an excellent lens, but it seems to me that in combination with the available port systems it doesn't quite compare to the 15mm. Just looking at the photos you posted recently, there seems to be significant loss of sharpness at the edges. And this isn't a criticism of you or the housing/port you are using - in fact I found out at the recent DEMA show that the acrylic ports Gates uses are exactly the same as the ones we use. It is just the nature of dome ports at large apertures. I haven't done much comparison with our glass dome, but it probably isn't a lot better - glass probably has a little less aberrations in the optics itself but the primary difference with glass is the ability to keep it really clean (and with fewer microscratches) and the AR coating.
I have not had time to do really exhaustive tests (one of my goals this winter is to set up a good test tank in our warehouse that makes it easy to do comparative testing of different setups. I had a good one years ago but it got destroyed in one of the moves.)
As far as the Nikonos 15, the way to do it is to remove the frontplate/mount of the epic/scarlet camera and replace it with a frontplate with the nikonos mount at the proper FFD. It would be bigger than the camera and become the front of the underwater housing itself. (kind of like the old spiro16 Jacques Cousteau cameras). Also remember that this only really makes sense for a full frame scarlet or epic (or a mangled 5D MarkII - like pawel did with putting a pl mount on his 50D) since the 15mm is really a 20mm lens (look it up) so isn't really very wide on APS-C/S35.
BTW as I said, the 11-16 is excellent, but in side by side shots I found the Canon 10-22 to be slightly sharper on the edges - for those that have or will be getting a Canon mount.
with such a setup, don't you then limit your lenses to ONLY Nikonis lenses in that case? no zooms etc... I know how beautiful those lenses are, but seems a heck of a project to limit yourself to ONLY Nikonis lenses then. personally i don't see anything wrong with using plain nikon glass behind a dome.....simple and inexpensive and a variety of lenses to choose from. Now using the OptiTek mount with great results.
I'll chime in about the 11-16 as well....used it on a shoot in Alaska and was VERY HAPPY with results. HOWEVER i also encountered significant drop-off of sharpness and detail as you move towards the outer edges of the dome. BUT that said, it really did not distract from the image...merely a remark on what i experienced. However, compared to the Arri 8r....the 8r is so much sharper....so i'd have to say it has to do a lot with the optics itself rather than just the width of the lens. $30k vs. $1500 (i can't recall what i paid)---BUT, i'm very happy with my 11-16 PL mount and it's in my bag for good.
Yes, you're right, in essence, this set up would a single lens/port set up. So I would get a Scarlet and dedicate it to this and pretty much forget it exists for anything else. But this would be worth it for me. Most of what I shoot underwater is wide angle anyway, the days of macro photography/video are gone for me, I really don't have the patience or passion for it anymore. But this set would allow me to carry a presumably fairly small and light combo of housing/port, which I could use freediving, and follow humans and creatures down to 130 ft or so, which is what we do now with the HDV and AVCHD housings. This is not something I could do with either the Gates or Aquavideo set ups for RED and the same would apply for a big PL lens with a dome on the Epic or Scarlet. So this could be my "mobile" wide angle set up. I agree however that a more elaborate set up would be needed to film other things, something with a zoom and gears to actuate it, like what you use now, so I would look at this as a second set up.
As for whether current lenses are as sharp as the 15mm nikonos, they are, but only on land, the minute you put them behind a dome, however good it is, they loose a lot of their magic and mojo. I fought with this notion for years when I made the move from Nikonos to housed systems, but hey, no picture I ever took with a plethora of domed wide lenses ever approached the crispness and natural feel of the Nikonos lens. Not to mention that that baby can really focus sharp at 5 ft from you, can go to 340 ft (where I've taken it several times) and costs $600! A thing of beauty. As soon as Scarlet full frame is out, I'll be knocking on Mike Hastings' door and bug him until he builds me one of these...
The issue will be whether there is clearance between the back of the lens and the OLPF on the camera.
Do you guys really use the Canon 10-22mm? Isn't that one too slow for underwater? I mean, I am sure there are waters depths and times of day that will let you blow out the whole frame at f3.5 but go a little deeper, murkier, or later and you are in trouble. Isn't f/2.8 already close to dangerous for the bulk of your UW work?
I was at F8 to 11 shooting sharks in the Bahamas at 45 feet with the RED1 on a slight overcast day. On a full sunny day you might need an ND. (ND is pretty commonly necessary for HVX200, Z1, etc. shooters.)
For Alaskan shoots of large animals like Johnny and Ken were doing, you need a pretty fast lens. But even in fairly dark areas, for macro and fish shots you would use lights also which would bring up the levels past 3.5.
But with that said, one of the reasons I really like my Zeiss t2.1 10mm even though it is huge is because it gives a full stop more light than the 2.8 lenses and it is great to have when you need it.
Many will disagree with me, but I in turn, disagree with the obsession of shooting WFO all the time. From my still photography days, I learned to shoot at F5.6 and 1/60 second aperture in the first 50 ft/15 meters layer of water from surface to that depth, and this is on 50 ASA film! You'd be surprised how much you can get away with, if you know how to frame your subjects and use all that diffuse light around judiciously, and, if you add a strobe or lights, then you're golden. Now, that's film, but the strength of digital is that it allows you to see more into the shadows, so you can really push your exposure and never need to go below F4. But for the life of me, I've never understood how people can so easily accept shooting wide open when no matter the lens, even a Master Prime, this will produce the worst results in terms of sharpness. So we spend all that money on a lens and then use it at its worst setting? Remember, underwater, you'll have a subject or subjects, whether animals or humans, somewhere in the foreground, and the rest will be a blue backdrop that does not need illumination, so a few good lights underwater, especially if you know how to diffuse them so they look natural, are all you need to bring your subjects into sharp relief from the background and still use your optics at their very best. Even when shooting for films, we used 1 or 2 divers loaded with light banks, and they would position themselves at either side of the photographer, and we would have enough light to shoot whatever we needed and never go below a sharp aperture. And again, I'm talking about 200 or 400 ASA film, that's it, so with digital sensors that customarily rate at 500, 600 or 800 ISO, I don't see why anybody would not be able to plan themselves so they don't need to shoot WFO.
But of course, that's just me...
My wife keeps asking me how either of us manages to get any work done when we're always up to speed with Reduser :-) ...... What do women know, right?
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