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Underwater Use of Prime Lenses


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Perhaps a dumb question, but how commonly are Prime lenses (those with fixed focal length) used in underwater housings?  If so, what's your favorite Prime lens?

 

I realize most underwater photographers use Prime lenses for macro-photography, such as the Nikkor Z 105mm macro lens. But what about wide-angle lenses? Nauticam lists certain Prime lenses in its port charts, including the Nikkor AF-S 28mm and Nikkor Z 35mm lenses. But how commonly are they used in practice? 

 

I suspect most of us use zoom lenses simply because they're more versatile underwater where we cannot easily change lenses in the field. But I wonder if there are any situations where a Prime lens is a superior choice to a zoom lens?

 

@Interceptor121 I suspect you may have thoughts on this as you've tested and compared Prime vs Zoom lenses in the past...

 

Thanks!

Edited by ridgebackpilot
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28 minutes ago, ridgebackpilot said:

Perhaps a dumb question, but how commonly are Prime lenses (those with fixed focal length) used in underwater housings?  If so, what's your favorite Prime lens?

 

I realize most underwater photographers use Prime lenses for macro-photography, such as the Nikkor Z 105mm macro lens. But what about wide-angle lenses? Nauticam lists certain Prime lenses in its port charts, including the Nikkor AF-S 28mm and Nikkor Z 35mm lenses. But how commonly are they used in practice? 

 

I suspect most of us use zoom lenses simply because they're more versatile underwater where we cannot easily change lenses in the field. But I wonder if there are any situations where a Prime lens is a superior choice to a zoom lens?

 

Thanks!

Most of the Nauticam listings for such primes seem to be for special purpose applications like the 28mm with WACP-1 or the Canon 35mm macro has a note that it is for blackwater applications for example.  For me I think flexibility is the reason most people use zooms.

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Sigma 15mm fisheye on full-frame and Olympus/Panasonic 8mm fisheyes on M43 are probably the most widely used wide-angle primes underwater. Canon/Nikon 8-15mm fisheyes can also be considered kinda-sorta primes, as they have basically two settings - circular fisheye at 8mm and diagonal at 15mm - but most people desire flexibility, hence the popularity of teleconverters with those lenses to give them a useful zoom range.

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Agreed on the 15mm FE. The Sigma was my go-to wide-angle lens for a full frame sensor camera. I never found anything else useful - but then haven’t used wet lenses. 

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5 hours ago, ridgebackpilot said:

Perhaps a dumb question, but how commonly are Prime lenses (those with fixed focal length) used in underwater housings?  If so, what's your favorite Prime lens?

 

I realize most underwater photographers use Prime lenses for macro-photography, such as the Nikkor Z 105mm macro lens. But what about wide-angle lenses? Nauticam lists certain Prime lenses in its port charts, including the Nikkor AF-S 28mm and Nikkor Z 35mm lenses. But how commonly are they used in practice? 

 

I suspect most of us use zoom lenses simply because they're more versatile underwater where we cannot easily change lenses in the field. But I wonder if there are any situations where a Prime lens is a superior choice to a zoom lens?

 

@Interceptor121 I suspect you may have thoughts on this as you've tested and compared Prime vs Zoom lenses in the past...

 

Thanks!

Prime lenses focus you on a specific shot. For wide angle this is harder than it is for Macro.

I believe today is very rare that someone takes a 20mm rectilinear lens behind a dome however there are cases where you take a prime lens for a distorted optic

Fisheye is an example but I also use the Sony 28/2 with the WWL-1 when I know that I will shoot fish schools and rarely I will zoom.

If instead I was shooting sharks I would definitely have a zoom solution

The fisheye with teleconverter is very useful for whale sharks and manta rays which are large but can be approached closer than an hammerhead shark for example

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2 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

Fisheye is an example but I also use the Sony 28/2 with the WWL-1 when I know that I will shoot fish schools and rarely I will zoom.

If instead I was shooting sharks I would definitely have a zoom solution

What is the advantage of 28mm/2 over 28-60mm? Does it resolve more pixels?

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I had a project last year to film a catfish hunting during the night. I only have a sony A6400 aps-c camera and a 10-18 mm f/4 zoom, which is a fine set-up during the day. I had 2 video lamps and the I managed to film some nice footage (3 night dives), but still I felt that a full-frame sensor would be proper for this job.

I'm planning to try it again this year, but after calculation of the cost to switch to full-frame and considering my budget, I decided that instead of complete switching I just purchased a bright aperture affordable prime lens (sony 11mm f/1.8).

I hope, this will be a significant improvement (2 f stops) with a minimal investement.

I hope it will be good example for the use of prime lenses underwater

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Thanks for your thoughts!
 

Bottom line: Would any of you buy the Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 or Nikkor AF-S 28mm f/1.8 lenses for use with the WACP-1?

 

These Primes appear on the Nauticam port charts for the WACP-1 but I'm not sure they're very useful since I already have other lenses that are my primary kit. Those include the Nikkor Z 24-50mm lens, which I can use with either the WWL-C or the WACP-1; the Nikkor Z 105mm macro; and the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.6-5.6 OSS lens (with Techart and Megadap adapters). For extreme wide-angle shooting, I have a Nikkor 8-15mm fisheye that I use behind a Nauticam 140mm dome port.

 

Given the utility of these primary lenses, I'm not convinced that the fixed-focal length Prime 28mm or 35mm lenses would give me any real capacity that I don't already have? The only thing I can think of is that they're both f/1.8 lenses and thus would work well in low light situations...

 

Edited by ridgebackpilot
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I frequently use a Sony a6600 camera in a SeaFrogs housing with a Samyang 12mm f2 lens. It just so happens that it is nearly perfectly optically matched to the Seafrogs 6" glass dome. It gives you a 100º FOV with almost zero distortion, and the corner sharpness is really surprisingly good for such a relatively inexpensive setup, even shooting at fairly wide apertures (f4 is quite usable). Focusses right to the glass so it's great for CFWA. If you like reefscapes but don't love the fisheye look, it's a really solid setup. It also has the benefit of being excellent for underwater photogrammetry (which is what I use it for primarily). 

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My favorite wide set up is the Loawa 9mm on aps Fuji.  When you have fast action you don't want to complicate with focal length, pick a FOV and go with it. Shooting Whale Sharks or Sailfish. At f5.6- 11 you can zone focus.

Here is a link to some photos :

Pez Vela Isla 2021

 

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I think a lot of the reasons to consider using a prime above water applies to using one below water.  And specifically, one is forced to focus on composition differently, and that can be a strength.  

 

I'd say 28 is pretty long, but I do use a 24mm prime sometimes.  This can also add some real joy into the experience by adding a bit of simplicity into an endeavor that is not very simple to begin with.

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I know I'm on a "boring old DSLR" (Nikon D850), but I shoot only prime lenses with one exception:
Nikon 16-35

Otherwise:
Nikon 105 - favorite prime for macro
Sigma 15FE
Nikon RS13 - favorite prime for WA 


 

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On 2/24/2024 at 12:00 AM, Tobyone said:

My favorite wide set up is the Loawa 9mm on aps Fuji.  When you have fast action you don't want to complicate with focal length, pick a FOV and go with it. Shooting Whale Sharks or Sailfish. At f5.6- 11 you can zone focus.

Here is a link to some photos :

Pez Vela Isla 2021

 

issit it a manual lens?  how do you get things in focus?

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44 minutes ago, hellhole said:

issit it a manual lens?  how do you get things in focus?

 

My guess is that with a 9mm on an APS-C sensor at f11, almost everything is going to be in focus if you set the focussing spot slightly back from infinity. 

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On 2/23/2024 at 5:00 PM, Tobyone said:

My favorite wide set up is the Loawa 9mm on aps Fuji.  When you have fast action you don't want to complicate with focal length, pick a FOV and go with it. Shooting Whale Sharks or Sailfish. At f5.6- 11 you can zone focus.

Here is a link to some photos :

Pez Vela Isla 2021

 

 

These are excellent pictures. I for one can't wait to try Sony 14mm/1.8GM behind 180mm glass next week in Maldives. I am thinking of Manta cleaning station, maybe channel shark dive, tiger zoo and fish factory rays madness 🤞

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Hellhole , you pre focus. At f 8-11 you have a great depth of field. I focus at about 10-15 ft using peaking. I have sharp focus from about 1 ft from the dome to the edge of visibility.

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