Underwater with 120, is it possible?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Loose Gravel, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I'm interested in doing some underwater photos in a pool. I'd like to use 120 film. Obviously, the depths are not great so I don't need super gear. Is there a cheap and easy way to do this, or only expensive, new, and difficult?

    I have Pentax 67 and Mamiya 7, but if the underwater housing is cheap enough, I could buy a camera to match. Otherwise, it looks like a Nikonos might be my best bet.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There's a picture of Peter Gowland on his website with a Rolleiflex in an underwater housing.

    I think this is one of the things that Bob Monaghan is into. He probably has a page about it on his MF website-- http://medfmt.8k.com/
     
  3. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you are shooting just below the surface or maybe a very little deeper several manufatures make "splash bags" for video cameras that should accomodate a MF. B&H, off the top of my head, has them listed.
     
  4. Andrey Donchev

    Andrey Donchev Member

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    Hallo, I saw this on e*ay last week. Although the auction is alredy closed, it shows that the answer on your question is, generaly, "YES"!
     
  5. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Wow, the prices have come down on those housings. Perhaps I am just thinking of the one like Gowland used, but I seem to recall those selling for a lot more.

    In answer to the Original question, a good place to check is "Backscatter" in Monterey. Also, "subaquatic photo". Both places have a fair amount of used stuff.

    Matt
     
  6. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    Pentax made their own marine housing for the 6x7 including a porro-prism, but it was a special order item and consequently quite rare. I have seen various parts of the system on eBay but they are very expensive. Apparently Cameratech in San Francisco bought out the remaining parts from Pentax.

    A scan of the original manual is available on the Pentax USA site:
    http://www.pentaximaging.com/customer_care/manuals_literature/show_manual
    Look for "6x7 Marine" in accessories.
     
  7. eric

    eric Member

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    I was thinking this too since summer is approaching. I was thinking:

    Holga
    ductape
    clear filter
    and 2 or 3 ziplock bags
     
  8. DBP

    DBP Member

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    It's a Holga, do water leaks matter?

    Somewhere around here I have a vintage book on underwater photography with a whole section on medium format cameras usable underwater. Shall I post a list?
     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    That idea crossed my mind last week and I don't see any reason why any format can't be used if enclosed properly. The Channel Islands would be a great photo site with a larger film size. What about 70mm in a custom built camera or even a 645 with a motorized film advance?

    Curt
     
  10. photobum

    photobum Member

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    As a former surfer and scuba diver I have been following this thread with interest. The housing David mentioned is the Rolleimarine. In the '60's you could buy a plexiglas housing for most any camera. It would seem to me that just about any M/F housing would be from 20 to 40 years old. That would mean replacing all of the O-rings at the very least. That means the exact O-rings. And be sure to lube with petroleum jelly.

    A holga is one thing, taking a prime Rollei TLR or a 'Blad and sticking it into a 30 year old housing of unknown history is bad idea.

    You can buy a new Nikonons V and O-ring kits from B&H. This is where 35mm shines.
     
  11. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Keep in mind that the Nikonos V is a discontinued product:

    http://www.nikon-image.com/eng/news_release/2001/nikonos-v.htm

    You can purchase a new NikV body for $400, or used (from B&H) for $250. A 35mm lens should set one back about $50.

    Here are some things to consider--

    DOF is a big deal in UW photo. If you are in the pool, you will be moving unless you weight your self down. Even then bouyancy will mean your arms are moving. So, you need fast shutter speeds. Your subjects are moving. So, you have fast shutter speeds and you will have problems making critical focus, so you can't really shoot wide open. Also, you will be using equipment you are not familiar with (and is not fast to use anyway) So, you will likely be using fast film and shooting zone focus.

    You may think that MF would allow for better quality, but under these conditions, the lower DOF will likely hurt you. UW photographers are happy with digital (crazy people) in part because the sensors are smaller, so they are using shorter focal length lenses and getting more DOF.

    The advantage of a housed camera is that you can adjust focus. With MF, it will be slow, though.

    Now, here is where it can get tricky. The focus distance shifts above water and below for the 35mm lens. I.e. if you set your lens to focus at 3' above the water, it may be only 2' underwater. So, if you are moving above/below the water, this will be a problem.

    Keep in mind that a NikV (and a Sea and Sea, I believe) is a viewfinder camera--not a rangefinder. You set the focus on the lens and shoot. Given the focus shift for a 35mm lens underwater, this can be fun.

    When I have used my NikV in the pool, I used 400 speed film and shot bascially zone focus. You could probably get by with 100 speed, but I was going for maximum number of in-focus shots.

    So, here are recommendations

    1) A Nikonos camera with a 35mm lens. This is a really nice lens for sharpness. Underwater it acts more like a 50mm lens.

    2) A Nikonos camera with a 20mm lens. This will allow you more DOF and more good shots underwater. Keep in mind, the 20mm is *only* usable underwater. It is also a lot more money (like almost 10x used).

    3) you can find a Nikonos IV for cheaper than a NikV. The reason is that you don't have manual control. This makes for a nice canoe/kayak camera as well as a pool-camera, but is limiting.

    4) A Nik III is all-manual. They can be had somewhat cheaper than a NikV.

    5) The Nik II is even cheaper. There are rumored to be some problems with the design, so it can be difficult to work with.

    An option are the "Sea and Sea" line of cameras. These are fixed lens cameras (but you can get attachments for the lenses to make them more WA, if you like). One of the great bargains out there is the "Hanimex Amphibian". This is basically the first Sea-and-Sea under a different name. You can find these for under $50 (and often under $30). They are basically a point-and-shoot type camera built into a dedicated housing.

    Hope some of this may help.

    Matt
     
  12. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    Nik II are great thingies!
    The only thing to have in mind is the uneven frame spaces you will get, and a upgrade of the flash connector if you itend to use one. Apart that they are almost undestructable.

    Flash is a real need underwater, even at a modest depth.
     
  13. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I love the Nik IV, which tends to be very affordable. So far I have not had much trouble zone focusing with it underwater. The theory I have heard is that your underestimation of distance due to maginification offsets the focus shift. If you are not used to zone focusing it can make you nervous. Got some decent pictures with it snorkeling last summer, which I would post if I hadn't had to do the color correction digitally (the water was brownish, which I had not expected). Haven't been deeper with it yet, due to a series of problems that have kept me from diving. I don't miss being able to set shutter speeds under water, as I can usually make a decent guess as to when it is getting low. At snorkeling depths - 400 ISO, f/8, and be there. Deeper, use flash.

    The earlier Niks are smaller, lighter, and more able to endure damage due to the absence of electronics.

    There were also some cheaper medium format underwater cameras back in the 50s, though they tend to be harder to find. They are basically just underwater Brownies, nothing fancy.
     
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  15. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have a Nikonos that I use just for shooting in the rain or here in Arizona dust storms and the like. With the improvements in 35mm film I am unsure about the need for MF or LF gear for underwater shooting. In the mid 60's I saw a housing for a Press Camera, I think it was Graphic with a roll film back.
     
  16. smcclarin

    smcclarin Member

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    Niikonos V is Far FAAAAR Cheaper and Easier to come buy for underwater film.

    Aquatica made an RZ67 under water housing for 6x7 format RZ Pro II cameras with the RZ Auto Winder installed,


    One is listed for sale out of the 50 ever made, see parts list below: offered by Mauricio Handler of NatGeo Fame and association.

    Aquatica RZ 67 Housing w/ alarm
    Flat port for use with Mamiya 110mm lenses
    Dome port for use with 37mm and 50mm
    4" port extension ring- add to macro port for using 140mm macro lens.
    Internal focus rod and gear.

    Package price $4750.00 plus shipping.

    If you pockets are deep you can contact mauricio handler <mauricio@handlerphoto.com>

    I cant afford it otherwise I would buy it just to have it and use it, but then thats probably the main reason I cant afford it at this point.

    best of luck.
     
  17. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Hasselblad housings cost more than the camera.... get a nikonos... or better yet a dedicated digital UW shooter. Unless you have lot's of cash.
     
  18. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Site looks half dead from here. Suspect traffic's slowed to a trickle.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Bear in mind that link was originally posted 5 years ago.
     
  20. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    There's some scary-good underwater work by Chuck Davis in the most recent LensWork; apparently it was largely shot with a Contax 645. Maybe that's the sweet spot between the advantages (area) and disadvantages (DOF) of MF for this purpose. IIRC, his underwater housing is a custom job.

    My one attempt at shooting underwater with a Sea & Sea camera was seriously humbling.

    -NT
     
  21. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I just wish they had a 150-exposure back for the Nikonos V. The 36 exposure limit is seriously limiting.
     
  22. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    DOF is a nightmare underwater... My hat would be off for anyone who shot LF underwater just as my hat is off for those 16x20 glass wet plate photographers that ventured into Utah and beyond in the 1850's

    36 exposures are not much underwater. I did buy a Nik V 35mm and 20mm with finder in near mint and useable condition for under $500 this summer. That 20mm is needed the 35mm just doesn't quite do the job, in clear water the 20mm seems like a Ziess (or Nikkor... or whatever coated lens you love) out of water.

    Sorry to repeat the much more experienced UW poster "MAtt" above. exactly what I was trying to say above.
    Thanks MAtt.
     
  23. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You need something like this:
    [​IMG]
     
  24. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Wow thanks for posting no idea one of those was made....
     
  25. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    The practical upshot of this is that you can get anything if you have the money. If not, you will be a thousand times better off with either a digital camera and a housing or a Nikonos V. The Nikonos has great super-ultrawide lenses since it's a viewfinder camera, plus they are specifically designed to be in contact with water rather than air. Plan about $100 for the camera plus about $200 for your lens of choice, plus strobe. For best digital results, plan on getting access to a Nikon 9000 scanner or a drum scanner. If you get a digital camera, it's essentially this or that, whatever you can get a housing for plus a superwide zoom plus matched dome. Plan on the order of $2500 for this, plus strobe for a DSLR, or $300 plus strobe for a P+S housing.

    There's also the PiratePro housing, which is EXTREMELY promising if they ever get it off the ground. Essentially, it mounts Nikonos-V lenses on an Epson EP-1. As mentioned, the Nikonos-V optics are custom-designed for water and are amazing.

    Anything beyond this will be extremely expensive. You should plan on 3-5k of expenses to procure a Rolleimarin or a Pentax 67 Marine housing. At least. Also, you only get 20 or 24 exposures, and they'll be less wide than is possible with digital/35mm. While it's possible, I don't regard this as a great option. Unless you are VERY experienced at underwater photography, the instant feedback of a digital camera is worth more than the resolution of medium format.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2011
  26. lacavol

    lacavol Member

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    You might check Ikelite. I have a friend who has used an Ikelite housing for his 500C for years. You also need a flash as it's dark down there.