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    FCP, WACP, WWL, EMWL - A short overview of what you need to know on Nauticam water contact optics

     

    Last year I decided to go big - switching from the tiny RX100 to FF (FullFormat). In my case, it was the A7IV as the best value for money. But having made the decision on the camera model is only one step - lens, housing and port is much more difficult. But with the support of the nice guys here and the old forum, I am now the happy owner of a sleek combination that is tailored to my needs. But how do you know what you need? This article might help.    

     

    The most common type of camera used by underwater photographers is one that is inserted with lens into a housing and has either a flat (flat port) or curved (dome port) front glass at the port.

     

    Even in the days of analogue photography with the Nikonos system, for example, water contact lenses were developed that explicitly take into account the refraction of light at the water-to-glass contact surface. This reduces distortions that would otherwise occur when light hits the port at an angle and cause blurring at the edges.

     

    Nauticam has therefore developed some different types of water contact optics that evolved and serve different purposes.

    FCP (Fisheye Conversion Port) and WACP (Wide Angle Conversion Port) are "dry" optics designed to turn a mid-range zoom lens on the camera into a wide-angle zoom when the combination is taken under the surface. WWL (Wet Wide Lens) is the older version, somewhat less compact and made of more components, wet lens, but otherwise very similar to WACP.

    EMWL (Extended Macro Wide Lens) takes a different approach: different underwater lenses are placed in front of a macro lens and a flat port in order to be able to adjust on different subjects - from macro to large fish.

     

    First and newest: FCP 

    IMG_8684.jpg

    Picture courtesly provided by Alex Mustard

     

    A dry lens that is attached directly to the housing with the appropriate (depending on the camera and lens) port extensions. 

    In concrete terms, you can imagine the FCP as an ultra-wide-angle lens for underwater use. A lens such as the Sony 28-60, Canon 24-50 or Nikon 24-50 is attached to the camera and the FCP is mounted on the housing. This achieves a maximum field of view of 175° - a real fisheye. In the zoom position, the field of view is still 85°, i.e. still quite wide-angle, comparable to a 24mm lens over water.

     

    Next WACP: Still new, especially the WACP-C

    85205-3_1a8e205b-73ad-4dfc-a860-2658b891

     

    The WACP ports with the endings -C for compact, -1 for the "normal" variant and -2 for the maximum variant are not quite as extreme. Also "dry" optics - see above. They are intended to cover a field of view of approx. 70°-130° - i.e. comparable to a lens with a normal focal length (approx. 30mm) to a slight fisheye wide angle (11mm). On the camera, the WACP-C and WACP-1 require similar lenses as for the FCP (for example Sony 28-60, Canon 24-50 or Nikon 24-50), but the largest variant requires a wider-angle lens such as 14-30mm to achieve the same field of view. These water contact lenses are quite bulky and heavy (WACP-C: 2.3kg, WACP-1: 3.9kg, WACP-2: 7.0kg) and offer better sharpness than dome ports, especially at the edges, but above all they provide a wide zoom range under water and focus even directly at the glass. The WACP-C, although labelled as a compact version, also fits some of the full-frame cameras and is the most suitable solution for me personally. 

     

    WWL-1(B): 

    4_e85324c9-4ced-491a-972e-70902c7d2d65_1

     

    AFAIK the two WWL ports (WWL-1 and the newer WWL-1B) are the predecessors of the WACP ports. The area of use is the same as with WACP: field of view approx. 70-130°, i.e. wide normal focal length to slightly ultra-wide angle/fisheye when using zoom lenses with a focal length range of approx. 25-60mm. The difference to the WACP solutions is the technical design. With WWL, you have a compact plan port on the housing and the WWL is mounted wet, i.e. with water between the front glass of the port and the WWL lens. Advantage over the WACP solutions: lighter overall, and you can remove the WWL under water and then have a lightweight telephoto lens (...no one ever does...). Disadvantage: The telephoto lens is rarely needed and air bubbles between the port and the WWL can be annoying. 

     

    EMWL: One size matters fits all

    EMWL_Housing_2-2.jpg

     

    The EMWL wants to be and can be an "all in one":

    The basic here is that an 90 mm macro lens is mounted on the camera and the corresponding port with flat glass at the front (flat port) is mounted on the underwater housing. A close-up lens (e.g. SMC-1) for magnification or the EMWL can be used on a flip port.

     

    The EMWL consists of two or three elements:

    • The focusing unit, which is available in variants for Nikon, Canon and Sony, is located directly in front of the macro port
    • An optional extension piece (relay lens) then follows, which turns the image upside down and brings the front glass closer to the subject
    • The actual lens, which is available in 160°, 130°, 100° and 60° angle of view versions, is located at the top. The 130° lens is particularly popular and is ideal for CFWA, but also for large fish or panoramic images.

     

    In contrast to FCP and WACP, the EMWL is a wet lens, so there is water between the port glass and the focussing unit, but also between the relay lens and the objective lens. Image quality is high in every direction but bubbles between the parts can be annoying and there have been issues about focus breathing.

     

    The main areas of application are thus:

     

    FCP: Fisheye wide-angle zoom, medium volume, compact

    WACP: Wide-angle zoom, medium to large volume depending on version

    WWL: Comparable to WACP, Lighter and slightly cheaper, but with technical disadvantages

    EMWL: fixed focal lengths that can be changed under water, somehow bulky, objectionable appearance

     

    To show the differences in size and appearance here a pic from Alex Mustard, showing (left to right) FCP (prototype), WACP-C, WACP-2, WACP-1 (Thanks, Alex!)

    IMG_7076 copy.jpg

     

    Cost (€)? You have already camera, housing and lens. And focus gear. And port extension. And arms, flashes and so on. Just the port:

     

    Rough estimates

    FCP: EDIT Jan 14th: Now on Nauticam website €6.482,00 (incl. VAT)

    WACP-C: €2.9k

    WACP-1: €4.5k

    WACP-2: €8.2k

    WWL-1b: €1.9k (with flatport)

    EMWL: €8.5k (with flatport, 60°, 100°, 130° optics, rely, focusing unit, flip-holder, SMC-1)

     

     

    If I made errors or incorrectness anybody please feel free to add or correct

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    A number of totally incorrect statements on how the optics are built and no consideration of the fact that outside the Sony system you don’t actually have a choice, only one or maybe two of those optics can be used.

    Whoever reads this better do their own diligence

     

    Edited by Interceptor121
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    55 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

    A number of totally incorrect statements on how the optics are built and no consideration of the fact that outside the Sony system you don’t actually have a choice, only one or maybe two of those optics can be used.

    Whoever reads this better do their own diligence

     

    If I made errors or incorrectness anybody please feel free to add or correct

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    14 minutes ago, fruehaufsteher2 said:

    If I made errors or incorrectness anybody please feel free to add or correct

    It is the job of who approved this article to fact check it. People don’t read comments so this is now beyond repair I am afraid 

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    4 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

    A number of totally incorrect statements on how the optics are built and no consideration of the fact that outside the Sony system you don’t actually have a choice, only one or maybe two of those optics can be used.

    Whoever reads this better do their own diligence

     

     

    Pretty aggressive response! But it turns out you are also incorrect with some of your facts.

     

    You can use every single one of these optics on the Nikon Z-mount mirrorless cameras like the Z9, Z8, Z7, etc as well as Sony E-mount. (WWL-C if not the 1b, but basically the same thing)

     

    You can use all but the WWL on the Nikon F mount DSLRs like the D850, 800, etc.

    Edited by Dave_Hicks
    clarity
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    4 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

    A number of totally incorrect statements on how the optics are built and no consideration of the fact that outside the Sony system you don’t actually have a choice, only one or maybe two of those optics can be used.

    Whoever reads this better do their own diligence

     

    Massimo, if you are going to point out errors please provide detail on what they are. don't just dump on the author of the article.  He is only trying to help provide material for the site.  Attacks like this only discourage people from contributing, please in the future think about what you write and how it might impact people.

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    4 hours ago, Chris Ross said:

    Massimo, if you are going to point out errors please provide detail on what they are. don't just dump on the author of the article.  He is only trying to help provide material for the site.  Attacks like this only discourage people from contributing, please in the future think about what you write and how it might impact people.

    It is not an attack its a statement of facts

    the sections on the wacp wwl is incorrect the design of the lenses is identical this was on an old wetpixel video with edward lai

    the claims about wet and dry mount are also non sense it is not how the lenses were developed

    finally the sony full frame system is the only one that has access to all options in most cases even if a mount can use all lenses those work for crop not for full frame despite what dave hicks says

    the port charts are public so it is easy to see

    finally you should not mix products that are released with others that are not yet on sale if you want to make a comparison

    if you label an article technique it needs to be checked something that adam hanlon when he was sane of mind did very well by reviewing and proofing content

    otherwise this is a forum topic for discussion not an article

    get your basics right if you want to establish yourselves or this is a non starter

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    36 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

    finally the sony full frame system is the only one that has access to all options in most cases even if a mount can use all lenses those work for crop not for full frame despite what dave hicks says

    the port charts are public so it is easy to see

     

    Please back up your claim with data. If there is a crop issue with Nikon Z mount with any of these optics, I would very much like to know of issues that conflict with my data. I just got a Nikon Z8 and plan to get either a WWL-C or WACP-C to go with it.

     

    BTW - The Nauticam Port charts are not up to date in all cases. They are missing a lot of Z mount data. So they are not the definitive oracle on this topic. I've read several hands on reviews and talks to friends who wrote some of the reviews as additional sources of information. 

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    42 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

    It is not an attack its a statement of facts

    the sections on the wacp wwl is incorrect the design of the lenses is identical this was on an old wetpixel video with edward lai

    the claims about wet and dry mount are also non sense it is not how the lenses were developed

    finally the sony full frame system is the only one that has access to all options in most cases even if a mount can use all lenses those work for crop not for full frame despite what dave hicks says

    the port charts are public so it is easy to see

    finally you should not mix products that are released with others that are not yet on sale if you want to make a comparison

    if you label an article technique it needs to be checked something that adam hanlon when he was sane of mind did very well by reviewing and proofing content

    otherwise this is a forum topic for discussion not an article

    get your basics right if you want to establish yourselves or this is a non starter

    Massimo - sorry-no,  there is a right and a wrong way of getting your point across and you are doing it wrong.  Explain what you believe the error is and provide facts to back it up.

    Frankly your points while they may be factual are not really relevant to any trying to choose one of these water contact optics and are an omission rather than an error, as is the the fact that only Sony can use everything on the list, people will soon find this out from the port charts as you mention. 

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    This article uses incorrect information that misleads people making a choice 

    the fact that it says the design is different while it is not is a material error not cosmetic and a such this piece is just misinformation 

    the person who wrote it made a choice making assumptions people should not make assumptions that are wrong 

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    Hey Massimo,

     

    calm down. My article is a broad overview and doesn’t go deep in any detail. If that makes you happy we’ll add a disclaimer: „Not all statements are applicable for every combination. For the individual solution please read the port charts and contact your local supplier.“

     

    The facts are from the Nauticam descriptions or from the colleagues I was diving with. 
     

    You are taking it too personally…

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    You need to fact check an article that is called 

    what you need to know 

    the stuff you write is incorrect nobody needs to know something that’s incorrect 

    its ok to have it as a forum post not as an article 

    next time do some research and have someone reviewing what you write it may be a good idea 

     

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    57 minutes ago, Interceptor121 said:

    This article uses incorrect information that misleads people making a choice 

    the fact that it says the design is different while it is not is a material error not cosmetic and a such this piece is just misinformation 

    the person who wrote it made a choice making assumptions people should not make assumptions that are wrong 

    Sorry Massimo, please elaborate on "the fact that it says the design is different while it is not is a material error"  I just don't follow that, which design is the same?  WACP and WWL?  WACP-1 and WACP-C? 

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    1 minute ago, Chris Ross said:

    Sorry Massimo, please elaborate on "the fact that it says the design is different while it is not is a material error"  I just don't follow that, which design is the same?  WACP and WWL?  WACP-1 and WACP-C? 

    WWL (Wet Wide Lens) is the older version, somewhat less compact and made of more components, wet lens, but otherwise very similar to WACP.

     

    The design of WWL-1 WACP-C and WACP-1 is identical. This was covered in a video on wetpixel live with edward lai. The difference is simply the size

    As the lens front element gets bigger the lens is unable to perform with a smaller optic so it starts to get bigger to avoid vignetting. The dry mount is purely a consequence of the fact it is more convenient to build extension that design a variety of flat ports that may not work. 

    At the beginning there were two prototypes the WWL-WET and WWL-DRY. The first becomes the WWL-1 the second the WACP-C. The results of the first were good the product was commercialised. The second was not that good the product was made bigger to try and improve performance, this then becomes the WACP-1. Later one as there are more mirrorless camera with no native lenses the WACP-C which is identical to the WWL-1 except it has a collar comes to the market. It is not a new product all the producsts stem from the same optical formula. Again this was covered in wetpixel youtube.

    The WACP-2 has a different design actually with less elements and groups and also the WWL-C has a a different design.

    As lenses grow in size by format those optics become more or less available

    A tiny full frame lens like the sony 24/2.8 G works with the WWL-C, a lens slightly bigger 28-60mm with WWL-1 WACP-C WACP-1. Lenses that are again bigger start with WACP-C and up.

    I did some tests in the pool comparing WWL-1 and WWL-Dry and concluded there were no differences Nauticam has never made a claim themselves to compare those and stayed well clear of this hot potato.

     

    The difference to the WACP solutions is the technical design. With WWL, you have a compact plan port on the housing and the WWL is mounted wet, i.e. with water between the front glass of the port and the WWL lens

     

    This is also not true as explained before and discussed the lenses were too big to work with the smaller format. There was no science to look at a dry mount because there was a benefit or disbenefit it was simply not possible.

     

    I recall Adam thought about an advantage of the dry mount and this question was asked to Nauticam but no comment was made as this was not the reason for that nor anybody has measured if dry mount or wet mount produce different results other than the ergonomics. In fact I took the WWL wet and dryu in the pool and could not see any difference between the two using the same camera body and lens

     

    Finally the FCP is not worth talking we don't have design, charts or prices information yet this should be kept separate until more is known.

     

    And other less important assumptions and omissions all over this piece

     

     

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    Another part

     

    WACP: Wide-angle zoom, medium to large volume depending on version

    WWL: Comparable to WACP, Lighter and slightly cheaper, but with technical disadvantages
     

    What are the technical disadvantages? No actual factual base for those statements

     

    Disadvantage: The telephoto lens is rarely needed and air bubbles between the port and the WWL can be annoying.

    You can use a close up wet lens with a flat port this is a benefit who says that is rarely needed?

     

    There are many small examples of opinions that are based on wrong facts and assumptions that are not checked.

     

    Every person has different priorities. Some people like to have a small rig so they go for the smallest possible set up some others prioritise quality so size does not matter but again while we can put things on a scale and check how much they cost so far there is no actual basis to conclude that there is any difference between all those optics using the same master lens and camera.

     

    I have not seen any reliable test in water to compare all those optics but those that I have done myself to compare two of them WWL-1 and WACP-C show no optical differences in the same environment with the same camera and master lens. The technical disadvantages are simply different ergonomics.

     

    I could go and see if I can get a WACP-1 and test in the pool I have not done it so far as every time I do a comparison some people get really upset if certain benefits they expect do not manifest and as I do not have interest in this lens this for me was not a priority and I do not want to create more issues and stir.

    Articles like this do not help getting to the bottom of how things really work and do something that not even the manufacturer is trying to do and I have a real issue with that

     

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    Thanks Massimo  From a literal English perspective the design of the WWL and the various WACP models are different - one is wet mounted others are dry mounted and the lens element sizes are different they are design specs that vary between related models.   Try telling someone his hugely expensive WACP-1 is the same design as the WWL.  It's been established that WWL-1 and WACP-C are quite similar in performance  while the WACP-1 is a step up.  Sure many use the same lens layout, the same thing happens with camera lenses.   Some people like to dig deep into the technical comparisons.  Personally I find all this interesting but am more concerned about how they perform in practice and don't really think it would change which option I chose, it would more likely be set by how much I'm prepared to spend.

     

    However the point of engaging with you is not so much to deal with the facts but more so how the message is delivered.  Like it or not, blunt answers upset people unnecessarily and could easily be delivered as constructive criticism with a little thought. 

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    Hi Massimo,

    your additional comments are absolutely welcome and might clarify some additional facts for people, who have a deep technical interest. In fact I don't see that my Article has "A number of totally incorrect statements"... But with your elaborate comments everybody should be able to decide by himself. Currently I don't see a need to completely rewrite the article.

    Remeber - this is not a scientific article. This is my personal view and I still think it provides a broad overview for people who think about how to put their equipment together

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    3 hours ago, fruehaufsteher2 said:

    Hi Massimo,

    your additional comments are absolutely welcome and might clarify some additional facts for people, who have a deep technical interest. In fact I don't see that my Article has "A number of totally incorrect statements"... But with your elaborate comments everybody should be able to decide by himself. Currently I don't see a need to completely rewrite the article.

    Remeber - this is not a scientific article. This is my personal view and I still think it provides a broad overview for people who think about how to put their equipment together

    it is not a scientific article it is however incorrect in many parts or has no base for the things you say

     

    In essence an opinion piece which is not what you need to make choices and should not be seen as 'technical' as you yourself did not really know what you have written about

     

    The lens are the same. The a mount is wet or dry is a consequence of size and inability to make the whole things smaller. It did not start like that it was a necessity

    The elements of glass are the same and if you made them the same size they would perform the same as in fact even with the size difference they do.

    Nobody has made any real study to understand if a wet mount is worse than a dry mount but when you look at performance you don't see a difference. To say that the dry mount is superior is therefore incorrect.

    This is exactly the question Adam asked Nautican and they told him you don't have to look at it that way is a matter the point was that the lenses become so large that removing them in water is a challenged and this is why the mount is fixed.

    The relationship between size and lens is driven by how big the lens is and how large is the aperture you want to shoot. And this is why you have many old legacy kit lenses used with those optics.

    WACP-2 instead works with newer lenses and is gigantic.

     

     

    Edited by Interceptor121
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    1 minute ago, fruehaufsteher2 said:

     

    Please refrain from personal attacks.


    Quite. Enough already. 

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    You are welcome to use my snap shot at the top of the page - this is also quite a useful image: 

     

    L-R: FCP (prototype), WACP-C, WACP-2, WACP-1

     

    IMG_7076 copy.jpg

     

    Alex

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    Going to be very difficult to rewire my tired brain from FCP = Final Cut Pro to FCP = Fisheye Conversion Port...
    Good thing we're at FCPX now... 😅

    Edited by bghazzal
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    Thank you @Interceptor121 for passing on very valuable information and knowledge. I still think there is way to much energy spent and noise made on those wet lenses. Especially when i see images like the one @upy from rafael caballero, his image is dead bang on sharp using a z14-30f4.  I keep reading everywhere that the z lens are unsharp uw in the corners and full of aberration I feel more and more like there given way more credits than they deserve 

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    On 2/18/2024 at 6:48 PM, christophe chellapermal said:

    Thank you @Interceptor121 for passing on very valuable information and knowledge. I still think there is way to much energy spent and noise made on those wet lenses. Especially when i see images like the one @upy from rafael caballero, his image is dead bang on sharp using a z14-30f4.  I keep reading everywhere that the z lens are unsharp uw in the corners and full of aberration I feel more and more like there given way more credits than they deserve 

    Wet lenses are an important part of your kit but in my opinion are not the best choice for close focus subjects. They are very good at mid range and for fish schools. With regards to domes unfortunately there is limited science on dome sizing and position and furthermore many photos have nothing of interest in the edges. When I look at my camera I can say without the shadow of a doubt that centre and near centre the newer mirrorless lenses behind a dome are way sharper than wet lenses as well as fisheye lenses designed for Canon EF system and 24 megapixels. But it is also true that the perspective distortion of those images does not work well at close range and they are more suited for other type of shots.

    Now the first tests of the FCP are out and it looks like this lens is not beating the previous nauticam products so as far as I am concerned I am going to stick to my kit and use plenty of lenses behind domes together with wet lenses as I see fit

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