Saturday, March 14, 2009
In the water with my new Canon 5DII
I shot my Seacam 5DII housing yesterday on Aquarius Habitat, here in Key Largo.
A few quick observations on housing + camera:
Set -up - New latches and integrated lens release are very nice additions to new style housings (also on Nikon D3 version). Otherwise very similar to my other Seacam housings, except considerably smaller and lighter than MKII and MKIII housings I have been using. Also, the shutter release is different on the newest housings, and there is a "molded" region where the shutter release can travel, effectively creating a stop so it can't travel too far. This is good because we have replaced several shutter release springs because of people operating without camera in housing and simply pushing too far and stretching the spring beyond optimum.
In-water - Wrist fatigue is not an issue with this camera. I shot 2 dives with 5DII housing, most of the time hand-holding a Seaflash 150 in left hand and 5DII housing with superdome and PVL 57.5 in right hand. With 2 dives like that on my MKIII housing my right wrist would likely have been sore from upward torque of only one hand on housing (mounted strobes and 2 hands on grips are not an issue, but long periods of hand-holding housing with MKIII with superdome and long port extension is tiring). 5DII housing handles very nicely in water & I was surprised what a modest decrease in size of housing could make to overall comfort. Of course, camera is much lighter than MKIII too. So, as a package, it was very pleasant and easily manageable.
Native viewfinder discernibly smaller than MKIII, but not an issue when using S180 viewfinder, in either reading numbers or fine-focus on groundglass. As compared to the 5D, where the zones of AF are black, on 5DII they are red, and therefore very easy to see and navigate. Controls essentially similar to other Canon housings I've used over the years, aside from those relating to video.
Image Quality - Quite excellent, no surprise there as I expected that from having shot the camera topside already.
Quick Evaluation - Already owning a 1DMKIII for the 10-frames per second, and a 1DsMKIII for the high res 21MP full frame, the 5DII leaves me conflicted about which to pack for a serious shoot. Which, says a lot about the 5DII and its ability to render very high quality files in a smaller package, easier for travel and in-water applications. If I didn't sometimes need the ultra-high speed motordrive sequencing of the 1DMKIII and the fact that I get a nice expansion of options by carrying 2 such different camera bodies that fit in the same housing, the 5DII could easily be my go-to system. I was certainly impressed with its abilities to shoot still images underwater.
Video - Observations deferred to a later date. I was diving with Pete Zuccarini, filmmaker for UW segments on many Hollywood movies, and he was shooting his own 5DII in Seacam housing. Since he was shooting video this day, I just shot stills and figured I'd hold off until I heard his thoughts on the matter and present them at a later time. More on that in a subsequent post, from his far more experienced cinematographic perspective.