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My underwater camera setup

Do you recognise this? You see a diver walking towards the water with full equipment and underwater camera setup. You are very curious about what he/she has in the water housing and which strobes he/she is using. But he is already on his way to the water and you don't want to bother him/her.

You still try to look quickly to recognise something, but the lettering on the flash/water housing is too small to see in passing what brand it is.

From the amount of questions I get on the waterfront about what I shoot with, you might be curious about my underwater camera setup. So herewith I tell you what I shoot with and why.

Camera body

I shoot with the Nikon Z8 in my underwater camera setup. I use the camera almost daily in my work as a wedding photographer and other business assignments, so an underwater housing for this workhorse was obvious.

The picture quality is superb and the sharpness impressive.
The Z8's autofocus is fast and precise, even in low-light underwater conditions.

The starlight mode allows me to focus properly even without a focus light. Of all the things I love about the camera, this function is really SO useful!

In reviews, you often read that your camera consumes a lot of battery and heats up quickly. The batteries do indeed drain faster, I notice this especially while shooting weddings. I just have to change the Z8's battery faster. But underwater, this is no problem at all, because I don't make dives of 4 hours or longer ánd I don't shoot as much and in quick succession as when shooting weddings. So no problemo!

Lenses for underwater photography with the NIKON Z8

I already had a very nice set of lenses for my Nikon Z8, but the lenses I use for the weddings and portraits I shoot were not so suitable for underwater use.

The macro and fisheye are F-mount lenses and I use them with an adapter so they fit the Z-fitting of the Z8.

three lenses in my underwater camera setup

Nikon 24-50 mm F4/F6.3

A small lens with big possibilities!

The lens itself performs quite nicely underwater. It just cannot focus at very close range, which is sometimes really necessary when shooting underwater. Combined with wet lenses, it is an incredibly variable lens. So I can use it as a macro lens as well as a wide-angle. Handy if you want to travel lightweight and can't take several lenses, ports and domes with you.

A relatively cheap little lens, super versatile and delivers good quality too.

Nikon 8-15 mm F3.5/F4.5

With a 180-degree field of view, this gives a perfect image underwater. I use it most often at 15 mm because I find the true fisheye image doesn't suit my photography as much.

The lens is lightweight, which is handy in your hand luggage, and gives super sharp images, even in the corners.

Nikon 60 mm F2.8

And a macro lens, of course!

This 60 mm gives a 1:1 magnification and I can use it for fish portraits and also macro shots of small to medium size. For very small critters slightly less suitable, but then again I have a wetlens for that.

WETLENSES

A wetlens is a lens specifically for underwater to turn your standard lens (in my case, the 24-50mm) into a wide-angle or macro lens. You screw the lens to the outside of your port and so it is allowed to get wet, hence the name "wetlens"

They are also called water-contact optics or diopter.

I still have mine from the days when I shot with the Sony A6500 and now use them on my full-frame camera as well.

For macro

The CMC-1.

I bought it for on the Sony A6500 but on the fullframe in combination with the 24-50 ánd the 60mm it also does a great job. The lens gives more magnification and slightly more working distance so I can shoot much smaller critters with it.

Extra handy is the "flip diopter holder" that allows me to easily put the lens in front of the lens and "flip" it aside again.

For wideangle

The AOI UWL Wide angle lens

This lens precedes the 24-50mm and I used to use it on the SonyA6500. Now that I have the 8-15mm lens with accompanying dome port, it is not used much anymore. I haven't sold it (yet) because I still use it occasionally when it's convenient.

Underwaterhousing

I use Nauticam's water housing for the Nikon Z8 with matching ports for using the various lenses. For the 24-50mm and the 8-15mm, I have an extra zoom ring/ gear so that I can also zoom the lenses underwater.
It really is a beautiful piece of technology. And extra safe with the vaccum pump.

ACCESSORIES WATER HOUSING

To complete my underwater camera setup, I can't do without these accessories:

Flash arms and corresponding clamps.

A lanyard for carrying

A leash to avoid losing the camera

STROBES

Two Symbiosis combination lights from I-divesite. This type is no longer made. I have always enjoyed using them because of the combination of video and flash light. Over the years, I started using the video light less and less, to the point where I now only use it as a focus light.

The Backscatter mini flash with snoot.

Ideal for macro, but also nice to create an extra spotlight within your wide-angle exposure. The snoot is a really nice addition and I often shoot with one Symbiosis flash and the Backscatter mini with snoot.

For the flash units, I use 50-cm fibre optic cables.

Flash cables from underwater camera setup

Other parts I really don't want to miss with my underwater camera setup:

Camera bag from Cinebags
A waterproof bag with soft padding yet sturdy enough. Perfect for protection of the underwater camera setup. I also use it as a rinse tank for the camera when travelling.

Opslag
An SSD drive from Sandisk. Mine is already very old, bought in 2011 and obviously no longer available. This is its next-generation successor:

https://www.coolblue.nl/product/877481/sandisk-extreme-pro-portable-ssd-4tb-v2.html

Gopro 10
for all my videos, selfies and "just as quick" snapshots. A must when I go on a macro dive, because suppose something really big just swims by?

Usually my buddy has the gopro, but if I am not diving with my regular buddies, it hangs from a d-ring on my vest. Always nearby. You never know!


My underwater camera setup in protective camera bag

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