Monday, December 21, 2015

Nauticam Sony a7II with WWL & 90mm Lenses Review

Shortly before heading to the Philippines, customer Tor Trygstad decided to upgrade his Nauticam Sony RX100 compact system to the new, full-frame Sony a7llr MIR in a NA-A7II Nauticam housing. Although he really likes shooting macro, and housing the Zeiss 90mm macro lens was his first lens choice, he was impressed with the new Nauticam WWL-1 “Wet Wide Angle” lens system that works with the Sony 28mm f/2 lens.

“It was less expensive and much smaller than housing the Zeiss 16-35mm lens,” Tor said, “and having that ultra-fast Sony f/2.0 lens, coupled with the low-light capabilities of the Sony a7rll sealed the deal.” However, he did find it a bit heavy in the water and has added some additional floats. “It’s a lot of glass, he added.”

The Sony a7Rll was quite a step up for him from the RX100, although some of the layout of the menus is similar. He felt that the a7IIr has a great control set, and that he could make changes rapidly. “For my skill level this is invaluable for getting the shot right!”, he stated. One of features Tor liked most about moving to the advanced a7IIr SLR was a separate AF lock button - he ended up using it exclusively of the half-press shutter button; although you can lock AF either way. But locking it down and then recomposing by using the “back button” AF lock seemed easier after getting used to it.

Tor also said that with the with the Zeiss 90mm macro lens focus would hunt at times, or locked inconsistently. Using the focus preview helped quite a bit. Focus peaking and the magnified view display features the camera offers in manual focus are a better answer, so a manual focus gear was the first thing he bought upon his return.

One of the problems he had was that Live View Display comes turned on as a default on this camera (and some others like the Olympus E-M1). It shows the effect the aperture or exposure compensation setting has on the display while in manual camera mode. The result is that the display is very dim and hard to see. “A quick email to Jack at OOS, and he sent the instructions to disable that feature”. (Under Menu: Live View Display, turn feature off).

The Nauticam housing really impressed him. “Another flawless Nauticam experience,” Tor stated. “The controls are so well laid-out and the vacuum leak system was easy to work. It really took the worry out of taking my new system underwater.”

He added, “The only issues I had with the controls was that it was a little easy to hit the video record button. However, there is a camera setting to prevent that. I also occasionally nudged the exposure compensation wheel as well. But that’s pretty normal while getting used to new equipment.”

Tor used two Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes, along with Nauticam’s flash trigger for fiber optic firing of them with manual control. “Manual is all I ever use anyway, it gives me better control than TTL”. You can buy the housing with electrical bulkheads as well. We have found that the new Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobe currently has inconsistent operation with flash triggers, due to a less-sensitive sensor on the strobe. Sea & Sea and Nauticam are aware of the problem, and are working on a solution for the new YS-D2 version of the strobes. Inon and Ikelite strobes don’t have that issue with the flash trigger.

Tor’s bottom line on the Nauticam a7 II system? “I ended up with far more keepers than normal. I continue to be impressed with Nauticam housings and Sony cameras, and this was without a doubt the easiest and most rewarding photo week yet!”