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The need for a wide-angle lens

Discussion in 'Underwater Videography' started by IceCone, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. IceCone

    IceCone Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Norway
    Hello everybody!

    This is my first post on the forum. So far I've enjoyed reading and learning, but I think it's time for me to get a bit more involved, so here goes...

    I've decided to get into UW videography (as a hobby). I enjoy making video, but my experience in this field is land-based only. Since I'm going to the Galapagos this summer, I see it as a opportunity to start my hobby and hopefully get some big animals on tape/hard drive.

    I'm thinking about getting the Canon HG20 with the Ikelite housing and nessesary filters. However, I am still undecided if I should get the Ikelite wide angle lens (W20) as well. I was wondering if you consider a wide-angle lens as a "must-have" for video. Based on your experience, how important is a wide angle lens for a hobbyist as myself?
  2. robint

    robint Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Albuquerque, NM
    How much diving in clear tropical water are you going to be doing? I don't think a WA lens will really be necessary for Galapagos in particular. Maybe you should wait until after that trip and decide. From all the videos I have seen there, the schools of sharks are not close so putting a WA lens on your camcorder would throw them even farther back.

    I used an internal WA lens with my old camcorder (not HD) and I liked it alot for reef shots and such. But I was sorry I had it on at times as there was a big fish of some sort (like sharks) that ended up looking tiny when it was actually pretty close to me. So there are good things and bad things about it. I used mine about 50% of the time.

    Anybody else have an opinion?

  3. crpntr133

    crpntr133 lost, even with a compass

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: West Central Indiana
    I'm in the opposite boat as Robin. But I do most of my diving in lower viz waters so I don't normally shoot big schools of fish 30 feet away.
    What little I have had a chance to use my video rig I think wide angle is almost a must for my application. I decided this when I was swimming with a couple curious bass that came pretty close. Once we viewed the video all I got was shots of their eyes and some swim bys. All was way too close to enjoy and caused by the water magnifying everything. The next week I bought a cheap wide angle lens.
    The lens I bought is internal and has a macro lens attached before it. So I still have some of the macro ability and still have the WA. You can't have your cake and eat it too but I think I came close.
  4. Ed Jewell

    Ed Jewell Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Melbourne, FL/Shavertown, PA

    I shoot with the lens that you are considering (W-20). My set up consists of a Sony DCR HC90 mini DV camcorder (non-HD) inside an Ikelite housing and, although I am pleased with the results I get with this budget wide-angle lens, the lens has some limitations. Note on Ikelite's site the following:

    From Ikelite's web site:
    "Please note that the distance between the camera's lens and the rear element of the wide angle conversion lens can affect both sharpness and angle of coverage. The edges of the image may appear slightly soft in some portion of the camera's zoom range. Results vary by camera model.

    With my system I have noticed the fall off in sharpness at the edge of the frames and also some severe vignetting. The vignetting in my case shows up as the shadow of the W-20 lens. This appears as a dark circular shadow that frames your entire subject. I can counteract this somewhat by using the camera zoom function.

    What Is Vignetting?.

    Vignetting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  5. C8X

    C8X Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: NSW, Australia
    I use an HF100, rather similar to the HG20, and I've opted for a dry Raynox 5050HD lens on the camera, with an ikelite flat port addon to the housing to make room for it.

    Fish, Rock, Cave. on Vimeo

    Sometimes I wish I had wider :) It does vingette so I try to remember to zoom in a little bit, 5-10%, before the dive and never touch the zoom control underwater. When you consider that stuff in the video is quite a bit closer than it appears, you'll realize that the shark less than half a meter from my camera. If I didn't have WA I'm sure this would have been a waste. I had the feeling that these Canon cameras didn't have good wide angle abilities in the first place, not sure about other camcorders.

    Also, I find lots of good shots are ruined by camera shake, I'm still having problems with that though I'm really working on my trim and buoyancy a lot more than before I had a video camera. The wide angle might not get those closeups of sea creatures, but in my experience/ability those shots would be ruined by camera shake anyway, I've never really wanted to zoom in.
  6. IceCone

    IceCone Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Norway
    Thank you all for your comments!

    I guess the lens is not totally nessesary for my trip to Galapagos, so I could wait until I get some experience with UW video before i buy a lens. However, since I live in Norway I guess I would need the lens anyway if I want to film anything in our own muddy waters. Not an easy decision... Anyways, I ordered my camera today, so now I just have to decide on the housing, filters and the optional lens.

    I just watched your video, C8X. I think you've captured some great underwater moments, and this is exactly the kind of results I'm hoping to achieve. Does your Raynox lens have similar issues regarding sharpness as Ed Jewell is mentioning with his W20? (It's a bit hard to tell when viewing a small internet video.)
  7. Blackrock

    Blackrock Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Take me to the Galapagos
    I have a similar dilemma to IceCone's.

    I just bought a housing that will accept older Sony SD miniDV cameras with the ability to attach wide angle lenses. Or it will fit the Sony HC 7 & 9 but without room for lens attachments. (It has a flat glass front. No attachments to the actual housing).

    If you had to choose one or the other, which camera system would you buy? SD miniDV with wide angle OR HD miniDV without wide angle? I am new to UW videography and am not sure. If it helps... I will be spending 3 months on Bonaire later this year and will be using this setup down there.

  8. ronscuba

    ronscuba Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: NYC
    Bonaire is known for its macro. I'd go HD.
  9. jnicholson1437

    jnicholson1437 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Miami, Florida
    I wouldnt get a Wide Angle lens unless you are planning on doing a lot of macro videography.

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