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Photo-Adventure 2015

Photo-Adventure 2015 – Austrian tradeshow for photography & travel

It is a relatively small tradeshow happening every two years in the Austrian capital of Vienna. This time we were the only underwater photography equipment producer exhibiting but there were numerous imaging brands mostly situated in the professional market

LEICA

The big news at Leica was a new model called the SL, their first Full Frame to be equipped with AF. The price is 7.000 € which is quite hefty when you consider that it has only 24 MP. My presumption is that Leica didn’t intend to provoke the major players. However it shines as a video camera with True 4k DCI recording (4096×2160 instead of the more commonly used 3840×2160 UHD resolution), even in 10 bit with an external device though unfortunately in S35/APS format instead of the classier FF. Equipped with a full size HDMI and an USB 3.0 connection and remotely controllable with an app.

Current proprietary lens offers are limited. A huge 24-90 weighing well over 1 kg and costing around 5.000 € is currently the only one available, a 90-280 Tele and a 50/1.4 are announced. But via adaptors you can connect all lenses of the Leica universe: their small and neat M line, the discontinued and optically superb SLR line called R, even the pricy Cine lenses and of course the APS format TL lenses which feature the same mount.

The middle format S2 was also displayed, a SLR style camera with an unique format of 30x45mm.

HASSELBLAD

Their Austrian distributor showed the new H5D-50C Wifi with a very interesting lens for us underwater photographers: the 24mm with 104° angle equaling 17mm at Full Frame. I was asked by them if we can adapt H5D for our underwater housing so we put it into our larger PRO-SLR and it fit instantly. It remains to be seen if and when we will program the software to control this great camera.

SIGMA

I can’t help to be impressed by Sigma’s ART line consisting of 8 lenses by now. They represent the pinnacle of optical engineering and have new and unique features that no one else has, for example a 24-35 zoom with an f-stop of only 2. Their f1.4 line has a 24, 35 and 50mm that can match or exceed the best lenses made by Zeiss, Nikon and Canon at a fraction of the price. Their newest addition is a 20mm f1.4 wide-angle, something that has been deemed impossible. The macro line is of high interest with 105, 150, and a unique 180 2.8.  Hopefully they will be able to extend the high quality to the large Telephotos as well.

CANON

The Canon booth was large and impressive and crowded as always. What struck me most as an underwater photographer is the combination of high performance wide-angles and high MP sensors. The 8-15 fisheye is an optically superb highly versatile lens useful for various formats, photo- and video-cameras and different bayonets ranging from Canon EOS/Cinema EOS to Sony a/FS/F, RED to ARRI. The new 11-24 is the widest wide-angle currently available and recent tests show a high optical quality (except in the outmost corners which is typical for Canon). Combine that with a 50 MP Canon 5DsR and you have one of the best underwater-photo sets.

Also on show was their Cinema EOS line consisting of C100, the new C300 MkII and C500 and some semipro XF HD models. Canon has a very strict policy regarding new formats like 4k. Either you are prepared to invest a lot of money to get it or you are stuck to HD and amateurish stuff like the XC10 that will be outdated soon.

SONY

Unfortunately Sony wasn’t present with an own booth but a dealer was there so I had a look at the Sony A7-II. The R model is the most interesting camera of the year with a 42 MP new technology sensor and 4k recording option. The AF is also improved and I couldn’t find any caveats with native lenses while testing. Unfortunately the fast AF isn’t featured on their low light/video/Full Frame 4k A7S-II which is the main reason I didn’t buy it immediately.

NIKON

Finally I could see and lay my hands on the much awaited and delayed 24-70. It looked impressive though the last tests indicate that it is nothing special and inferior to the predecessor. And if a Nikon orientated company like DXO says that it means nothing good.

I was very impressed with the large array of Telephoto lenses on display. The D810 is starting to get a little outdated but still features the highest dynamic range of all High-MP cameras. I also like the 8 year old 14-24 wide-angle. It is at least as good as the Canon 11-24 up to 14mm and currently costing only half the price. Commlite is already selling the first batch of electronic adaptors to mount Nikon lenses on a Sony alpha body. Hopefully a new fisheye lens will be presented one day since the current 16mm is 25 years old. If there weren’t any converted Nikonos RS 13mm on the market the quality conscious underwater photographer wouldn’t know what to do.

NJU SYSTEM

If you are looking for an underwater housing to control most of the aforementioned cameras and lenses here it is. Our housing works with all Nikon and all Canon DSLRs made in the last 10 years. A latest addition is the inclusion of 15-20 Sony models and a software update for a dozen Panasonics is on its’ way. Around 100 cameras are currently working with it.

It also features adaptors for converted Nikonos lenses and most third party ports, an actively decoupled strobe control system, large 7” monitor and sealed electronics immune to environmental changes.

Improvements include a new port-lock fully operated from the outside, a sunshade for the monitor and ergonomically shaped skeletonized handles to include lanyard. An HDMI monitoring/recording option is on the way, as well as a waterproof network connection to either safely download images without the need to open housing or for remote control over a distance of 100 meters.

EIZO

Myself owning a 27” 2.5k model with integrated calibrator unit I was impressed by their new 31” True 4k DCI model. Great colors due to a selected and individually measured display-panel, an integrated calibration device, sunshade, a height adjustable/swiveling base and a 5 year warranty, what’s more to ask for?

The Eizo is a set-up and forget device, you don’t need to recalibrate or repair it. The price is an obstacle with 4.500 € especially when you consider that it’s using the same display-panel (albeit selected) as the LG-31MU97 selling for a quarter.

Andrej Belic is an Austrian underwater photographer turned into equipment manufacturer. More about his work: www.njusystem.com