Category Archives: Equipment & Technology review

i have officially joined the club of flooded owners ! And how to use nikon j4 on an older housing nikon wp-n2 !

I have officially joined the club of flooded camera while diving in mexico.

It is partially my fault, as i should have check and not let the camera sit in the rinse tank with other people’s camera too long. As they said, it flooded in the rinse tank is a very common phrase.

During the whole dive i did not see any problem, no leaking. When i got home, i saw the whole housing was filled with water!

The nikon j3 stopped working. After researching on the internet , i found out the nikon j4 is similar dimensions, 1-2 mm smaller. I bought it on sale and tried the fit of the nikon j4 in my old housing.

Initially it did not fit: the buttons would not work due to smaller nikon j4.

But with simple modifications with duct tape at support points, ALL the buttons and fucntions on nikon j4 work on the older nikon WP-N2 underwater housing ! yeah! upgrade for my nikon j !

What is surprising is that the old lens 10-30mm that was totally filled with water inside the housing is still working! with no fog or water inside the lens!

the WP-N2 only accept 10-30mm nikon 1 lenses. (NOT the new 10-30mm power zoom)

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I cannot wait to try the nikon j4 underwater! Better resolution, better focus, faster speed, 20 frame per second shoothing etc !!

Why I still love my nikon j series for underwater?

  • super fast autofocus ! the fastest and most precise camera i have tried (compared to dslr  nikon, canon, sony)
  • the 1inch sensor and ISO capabilities are great ! no noise at 3200 fluo pictures!
  • nikon j3 and j4 are the ONLY camera in the world that can take a  FULL 18 meg resolution picture while filming video simultaneously ! The advantages are enormous: it allow shooting still and capture full resolution in extremely hard situations : low light (fluo), backscatters, bubbles in water etc (while chasing a whale shark) where the autofocus will not work well. Anytime where i run into trouble or do not have the time to change the settings, i just fire the video and press on the shutter at the same time. It allow me to take EASY pictures with very good results.
  • following luxemiles philosophy: nikon j series allow me to keep it simple and easy, the most lazy but efficient way possible: K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)

A few years ago, I was the first person to dive at the “frontier of fluo diving” at wakatobi resort, the first guest that bough their own night sea fluo lights and filters. If you have tried taking fluo pictures underwater, it is extremely hard to get proper focus. The Nikon J 3 and now J4 allow me to focus on the picture and composition instead of the problems of the environment or the camera.

In short, it is the idiot’s best camera underwater on the market. It can do anything easily (panoramic underwater), video, 20 frames per second etc… while keeping the quality of the pictures very close to a full frame DSLR nikon.

 

review: nauticam super macro lenses diving

I recently tried the nauticam super macro lenses on the outside of my nikon 1 housing while diving.

What is super macro? it is extreme magnification under water. Normal dioptre (+5 or +10)  are limited in their magnification as the water interface reduce the effective refraction magnification. The super macro lenses is built considering the water interface in mind, with multiple lenses enclosed in sealed air chamber, allowing the magnification to not be affected by the water interface.

the lenses is a “wet” lens, allowing you to flip or screw it in under water when needed, and remove it when you want normal magnification.

PRO:

  • super clear images
  • very high magnification (almost like a microscope !)
  • less diffraction and distortions than other simple wet lenses dioptre
  • standard 67 mm size
  • auto focus is very easy even with super macro
  • working distance is around 5cm
  • relatively easy to work with

CONS:

  • heavy (almost as heavy as my housing and camera combined)
  • bulky ( takes almost the
  • expensive
  • no protection underwater against scratches ( the front cap does not fit well)

click here to see maldives super macro pictures newly added

SAMPLES of pictures taken with super macro, nikon 1 j3 30mm: CLICK on the picture to see full resolution:

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from nauticam brochure:

Super Macro Convertor I
Nauticam is pleased to introduce a breakthrough in underwater macro photography lens design providing higher magnification than competing systems with unprecedented image quality. The Nauticam Super Macro Converter (SMC) is the first underwater macro conversion lens that is fully optimized for in water use. This unique and innovative lens will change the way that underwater macro photography is done.

There are three key advantages to this internationally patent pending new optical design:
· Higher Magnification Than Other Popular Super Macro Tools with Increased Working Distance
· Better Edge to Edge Image Quality, Higher Contrast, and Lower Color Fringing
· Compatibility with “short” macro lenses that traditionally have not worked well with super macro accessories, like Nikon AF-S 60mm /2.8G, Canon EF-S 60mm, Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S., Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 ED M.Zuiko EZ Micro 4/3 Lens, and Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro.

Breakthrough Lens Design
Prior to the Super Macro Converter, achieving “super macro” underwater meant using tools that were designed for in air use. These tools simply do not take into account the physics of shooting in water. The SMC takes a radically different approach: treat the system – camera, lens, port, air, and water – as a whole, and account for the air-water interfaces in a conversion lens design to achieve the best image quality possible. The improvement is stunning, measurable and a new standard in underwater macro imaging has been established.

Stunning Magnification
When combined with a full frame camera and a 100mm or 105mm macro lens, the device converts the optical system to provide a maximum of 2.3X magnification factor. In other words, a subject area of 15.6mm X 10.4mm will fill the whole frame of a 36mm X 24mm sensor.

Improved Sharpness and Contrast
As the Super Macro Converter is optimized explicitly for using together with a macro lens underwater, images captured exhibit exceptional sharpness compared with conventional magnification lenses. Thanks to the broadband multi-layer anti-reflection coating on each surface of the lenses, images also exhibit higher contrast.

Superb Light Transmission
All the lens elements installed inside the SMC are optically optimized to appropriate diameters so as to provide maximum light transmission. The SMC doesn’t suffer from vignette issues under even the most extreme conditions. The broad band multi-layer anti-reflection coating on all surfaces also greatly improves light transmission.

Optimized for Autofocus
By utilizing a specially developed algorithm in the optimization process, the SMC renders superior image quality over the full focusing range of the camera lens (which becomes ~50 to ~100 mm in front of the SMC). Also benefitting from the high brightness and contrast of the image, the autofocus system of the camera usually works acceptably well within this range.

Ample Working Distance
Even at the maximum 2.3X magnification, there is still more than 50mm of working distance between the front element and the subject with 100/105mm macro lenses. This working distance is crucial when capturing behavior with skittish subjects.

review of 3d passive 4k tv: Sony 65″ 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D LED Smart TV (XBR65X850B)

 

1. why 4k 3d passive? if you are really serious about 3d, and want to get 4k tvs, you have to get 4k passive for its 3d: it is simply the best.

PROS of passive 3d on 4k tv:

(passive 3d use polarized filters, instead of active shutters in active 3d)

  • with passive 3d polarized glasses, it will utilize all the pixels available on a 4k tv to display 1080p to each eye,  Before 4k TV 3d passive, the maximum resolution of 3d passive was limited to 540p (half the lines) on an 1080p tv (regular HD).
  • 3d passive is better, Unlike an active 3d glasses, there are no flickers, no ghost effect, no blur, no crosstalk.
  • 3d passive is the same technology as your imax movie theatres.
  • extended 3d viewing is more comfortable in passive 3d
  • images are clearer, more stable. Motion are more fluid
  •   Extra 3d passive glasses are cheaper than active 3d.
  •   With 4k active 3d, max resolution that you get is still only 1080p. Between passive or active 3d on all 4k tv, there is no difference of resolution. It will still only display maximum resolution of 1080p.

on 3d passive 4k tv you get the best of 3d in a 4k tv passive 3d :  full HD 1080p without all the downsides of active 3d.

downside with 3d passive 4k tv:

  • due to the polarized nature of 3d, vertical view angles in 3d are limited. If you are sitting or viewing the 4k 3d passive too high or too low, you will have problems viewing 3d properly.
  • you need to turn down ambient lights and reduce reflections from other lights sources to fully appreciate passive 3d.

click to know difference of passive 3d and active 3d, and why 4k passive 3d is better:

the pictures in 3d on a 4k tv are:

  • sharper
  • clearer, more brightness
  • more lifelike, look more like real 3d, as if you are there.

even the netflix hd and hd shows looks better on a 4k tv, as it is extrapolated and enhanced in 4k resolution. I tried normal HD netflix on an 1080p tv, compared to the sony 4k, it is like day and night.

Pictures of full frame sony a7 on a 4k tv: looks sharper, more contrast due to quadruple resolution of 4k tv. If you are shooting full frame pictures DSLR, you need to view it in 4k to appreciate it fully.

4k computer: you gain 4 times the real estate spae of a computer desktop. most nvidia graphics cards 700 series and up and easily display full 4k  desktop. I can easily view 3d mpo pictures on my 4k tv and computer. You do need a good high speed hdmi cable. ( bought the 25 feet red mere hdmi high speed cable at monoprice.com: they are thin, small, unidirectional hdmi high speed cable, capable of rendereing and transferring my 4k signal though wall and display it on my 4k tv in another room)

specs of sony 65 4k tv:Sony 65″ 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D LED Smart TV (XBR65X850B)

4K Ultra HD resolution of 3840×2160 pixels
3D capable, and includes 3D glasses
Triluminous LED display
Featuring Motionflow XR 240 technology
Sound Booster audio enhancement
WiFi-enabled to let you enjoy instant streaming video
Built-in camera lets you Skype with friends and family

One-Flick remote makes it easy to find something to watch

 

 

 

Model Year 2014
Video
Screen Size 64.5 in
Display Technology LED LCD
Backlight Type Triluminous LED
Backlight Configuration Edge-Lit
Backlight Local Dimming No
Resolution 4K Ultra HD
Native Resolution (Pixels) 3840 x 2160
4K Display Method Native
1080p Display Method Upscaled
Refresh Rate 120 Hz
Motion Enhancement Technology Motionflow XR 240
Dynamic Contrast Ratio 1000000:1
3:2 Pulldown Detection Yes
Colour Enhancement Triluminous Display
Viewing Angle 178ø
TV Tuner NTSC
Picture-In-Picture No
Game Mode Yes
Sports Mode Yes
Cinema Mode Yes
Other Modes Photo; Animation; Music
3D
3D Video Support Yes
3D Signal Transmitter Built-In Yes
3D Glasses Included Yes
Audio
Audio Enhancement Sound Booster
Auto Volume Correction Yes
Speakers Included
Speaker Configuration Bottom
Speaker Output Power 10 W + 10 W
Inputs/Outputs
HDMI Inputs 4 (Side)
Component Video Inputs 1 – Rear
S-Video Inputs No
A/V (Composite) Inputs 2 – Rear
Coaxial Cable Inputs No
IEEE 1394 (Firewire) Inputs No
Optical Digital Audio Outputs 1 – Rear
Stereo Audio Outputs 1 – Bottom
Headphone Jack 1 – Bottom
PC VGA Inputs No
PC Audio Inputs No
USB Media Port 3 – Side
Ethernet Port 1 – Rear
Wi-Fi Connectivity Yes
Bluetooth No
DLNA Certified Yes
Other Inputs/Outputs RS232
Media Card Slots None
Convenience
Media Port Compatible Photo Types WMA; JPEG
Media Port Compatible Music Types MP3; WMA; WAV
Media Port Compatible Movie Types MPEG1; MPEG2PS; MPEG2TS; AVCHD; MP4Part1; MP4Part 2; AVI(XCID); WMV9; MKV
Smart TV Yes
Full Web Browsing Yes
Instant Content Youtube; Netflix; Skype; Sony Entertainment Network;
Remote Control Compatibility Dedicated
Touchscreen Remote Control Yes
QWERTY Remote Control No
Built-In Camera Yes
Closed Captioning Yes
Channel Labeling Yes
Last Channel Recall Yes
Language Options English; Spanish; French
Parental Control Yes
Built-In Program Guide No
Sleep/Alarm Timer Yes
Video Input Labeling Yes
Power
Typical Consumption 285 W
Stand-By Consumption 0.3 W
Auto Off Yes
Energy Saving Mode Yes
Energy Star Qualified No
Physical Features
Cabinet Colour Black
Pedestal Stand Included
Wall Mount Optional
Wall Mount Specification 400 mm x 300 mm
Width with Stand 145.1 cm
Height with Stand 91.1 cm
Depth with Stand 28.6 cm
Width with Stand (Inches) 57.13 in
Height with Stand (Inches) 35.88 in
Depth with Stand (Inches) 11.25 in
Weight with Stand 33.3 kg
Width without Stand 145.1 cm
Height without Stand 86.7 cm
Depth without Stand 6.7 cm
Width without Stand (Inches) 57.13 in
Height without Stand (Inches) 34.13 in
Depth without Stand (Inches) 2.63 in
Weight without Stand 32.7 kg
Warranty Labour 1 Year(s)
Warranty Parts 1 Year(s)

NIKON 1 fast and completely silent continuous shots & 400fps video samples, australian open

the nikon 1 series are great for taking fast continuous and completely SILENT pictures of action scene: other cameras, including my A7 is too LOUD to take 15FPS. Even my canon 7d dslr is still too loud, too slow for those action scenes.

The shutter sound on my a7 is So LOUD that i cannot take pictures during play, especially when we are sitting so close to the court. I got stares from everyone first time i tried it. Sony A7 is supposed to me mirroless like nikon 1, but the shutter sounds is even louder than a DSLR

Taken with nikon 1 J3: 30-100mm, not photoshopped , full format: click on picture to see full resolution

 

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ANOTHER advantage of nikon 1: it can take slow mo video in 400fps: sample video: click to view

slow mo video 400fps sample nikon 1

 nadal serve slow mo video

 

how to create artificial 3d (underwater) pictures with only one camera

there is one way of creating artificial 3d photos underwater, or overwater, with only one camera, one lenses:

  • take one picture, not too close, not too far. subject Ideal distance is min 1 meter to 10.
  • try to take picture of something big, non moving, like a big boulder of coral
  • try not to take picture of fish or moving subjects when shooting with only one lense (very hard to get proper parallax shots with only one lense)
  • after the first shot, keep all the settings of the camera the same (keep settings in manual mode)
  • then move HORIZONTALLY away slightly, then take another picture of the same subject
  • why? vertical deviations are not easy for the eyes or the software to compensate. your eye muscles can compensate to a certain degree shifts in horizontal deviations, but vertical are a lot harder for the eye muscles.
  • for the 2nd shot: you will want to keep a slight “convergence” : try to slightly shift the camera in an imaginary arc compared to the first shot. Your eyes are more capable of converging than diverging view.
  • try to keep the main subject centered on both shots
  • the idea is to shoot the same subject with a slight horizontal deviation difference between the both 2 shot
  • And of course, underwater shots will be extremely harder to just shoot a horizontal deviation, without introducing a vertical deviation.
  • then at home. with a software called stereo photo maker, you can then combine both picture into one 3d  http://stereo.jpn.org/eng/stphmkr/
  • if the subject is further, more horizontal deviation between the 2 shot is required for greater 3d effect.
  • it is artificial, so results vary a lot. YMWV

i have not tried it underwater, as i have a true 3d camera, but if you have two pictures of the same subject, whale, mantas, etc, you can try to create a 3d image for fun. a “true 3d” camera function on the same principle, 2 shot with a slight different view horizontally. It is a lot easier as the shots are taken with fixed deviation, and at the same time, same settings, synchronized. The problem with the current 3 d camera photo is: they ahve problem converging, or changing easily the convergence settings. They can change the artificial axial difference settings, but the convergence and focus at something close up is harder to adjust in current 3d cameras.

MACROS shots:

  • with 2d macro shot underwater, pro photographers tries to blur the background, or use a black background to keep the subject focused and your brain focused on the subject. less distractions
  • In 3 d world, your brain unconsciously  blur the peripheral details or background details  when you try to focus on something very close. The issue with the 3d camera for macros is that everything is still clear, from far to close, center to periphery. hopefully the future generation of 3d camera will allow more creative defocusing
  • in 3d movies that you see in cinemas, for close shots, they try to use similar technique: keep the main subject focused on both right and left eye, in the center. While the periphery or further background is blurred.
  • a good 3d picture does not have too much vertical deviation between the 2 shot, the 2 view. Shooting 3D macros subjects of pygmy seahorse resting on a background (sea fans) is extremely hard, as with most view, you will introduce a vertical deviation.
  • Unless you can position yourself to directly view the macro subject  in a relative DIRECT view where there is not much sea fans introducing a vertical deviation, and where the main focus subject is in the center, not much distracting background around it, like in the next picture:

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if you can have a macro view like the one above, then 3d macro is possible. The idea is to make the main subject look like a 3d “island ” and pop out, closer to you then the rest of the background.

 

the picture below is a picture where 3d macro is harder : too much background, foregoround,  and oblique sea fans introducing vertical deviations

 

luxemiles--12

 

 

NIKON 1 J3 underwater & nikon WP-N2 housing review

 

i have been diving and taking pictures with my nikon1 j3.

It was my first serious underwater camera  ( apart from my 3 d camera, 3d camcorder, and my new sony a7 full frame).

I used to have a go pro. But I drop it after discovering the go pro have a distortion underwater, and cannot take still photos properly, and cannot allow you to get access to creative  controls. Even in video wide angle, there are distortions and peripheral astigmatism, possibly due to the flat design lenses and housing of the go pro.

My old gopro got flooded, do to weakness of the closing mechanism, so watch out for the closing mechanism. if in doubt, buy a new housing for the gopro.

this is my usual set up: (my camera)

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NIKON 1 J3 review:

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why i like the nikon 1 j3 for underwater:

  • very fast autofocus. nikon 1 series are the only few cameras that both have the phase and contrast autofocus built in. The focus is versatile, precise and fast, making it faster than most dslr. Fast autofocus is important for underwater use, as most fish areshy and swim very fast away.
  • the ONLY camera i know of, that can be taken underwater, that can record full HD video, and allow you to take snapshot pictures in FULL resolution at the same time!  This function allow the underwater cameraman to get both those previous videos moment and still photos. Other cameras only take snapshot in 2 meg if you are shooting video at the same time
  • It also allow shooting still in difficult situation (whale sharks, fluo) where there is a lot movements or currents, and in situations where like most divers, you do not have the luxury of time, or private guide, so you only have a few seconds to make the shot and at the same time taking video of that rare animal behavior
  • Very easy to change settings underwater. It has a recent memory changes function. you can recall the most used changes in 1-2 click
  • it allow TRUE underwater panoramic picture. very easy to make, just scan. can the DSLR do that? panoramic underwater photos are so cool
  • the image sharpness is great
  • DEDICATED NIKON made UNDERWATER housing
  • It allow versatility of video: allow you to shoot super slow mo, or at 400fps. Very useful for rare subject like stargazer or other animal feeding behavior

So can your DSLR do all that while keeping a small form factor to be able for snorkeling whale shark?

The weakness of the nikon1 j3 underwater:

  • shooting with flash only allow shutter sync 1/60, making the creative control of the background more difficult (getting black background)
  • camera heats up if you do continuos video after 35 min. it has a auto turn off feature. Heat is a problem with the small nikon diving housing wpn2
  • resolution is less than full frame sony A7 (my other new full frame underwater camera)
  • limited lens selection with the underwater housing, only 10-30mm available

THE TECH SPECS of nikon 1 j3:

effective Pixels

14.2 million
Sensor Size

13.2mm x 8.8mm
Image Sensor Format

CX
Storage Media

SD
SDHC
SDXC
Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution

15 frames per second with AF; 30/60 fps with focus locked on first frame
ISO Sensitivity

160-6400
Movie

HD: 1920 x 1080/60i
HD: 1920 x 1080/30p
HD: 1280 x 720/60p
HD: 1280 x 720/30p
Slow-motion: 640 x 240/400fps
Slow-motion: 320 x 120/1200fps
Motion Snapshot: 1920 x 1080/60p (plays at 24p)
Audio file format: ACC
Movie file format: MOV
Monitor Size

3.0 in. diagonal
Monitor Type

TFT-LCD with brightness adjustment
Battery / Batteries

EN-EL20 Lithium-ion Battery
Approx. Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth)

4.0 in. (101 mm) x 2.4 in. (60.5 mm) x 1.1 in. (28.8 mm)

Approx. Weight

7.1 oz. (201 g)

 

NIKON WP-N2 Waterproof Housing:

WP_N2_front.high images img_01 product_02 images (1)

pros of the nikon wp n2 underwater housings:

  • versatile
  • small and extremely light
  • nikon made, all the controls are easy to change.
  • Shutter button is a lever and very responsive
  • standard 67 mm thread. allow you to put wet lenses, macro, uv filter and remove it underwater
  • has cold shoe for spot light or other accessories mount
  • DUAL optical out for flash, allow TTL shoots, very convenient
  • tinted screen allow to see the lcd and preview pictures easily and accurately underwater
  • comes with all the required accessories
  • locking mechanism is easy and fool proof
  • O ring so far has been good, minimal maintenance required

weakness:

  • Inside the waterproof housing, the nikon j3 heat up easily after more than 30 min of continuous video
  • then you have to wait up to 5 min for the camera to cools down.  Possibly missing crucial shots
  • zoom sometimes works, sometimes don’t. Not as responsive
  • difficult to order replacement O ring for this case (hello nikon ??!)

 

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