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Product Review Nauticam NA-NEX5 Underwater Housing

By Lee Johnson Managing Director

Taken with Sony NEX5 in Nauticam Housing by Lee Johnson, Perth Scuba

Since my partner Joey got seriously into underwater photography I have learnt a lot and heard alot about all different types of brands and products on the market. The first big thing I found was that to get into photography you can either start with a compact or go the whole hog and buy a digital slr. Since most of us don’t know when we first start how much we’re going to get into it, we all look for the cheaper option first.

In the cheaper option of compacts you can also go two ways. The point and shoot in a 40m plastic housing, some of which are waterproof without the housing, or you can spend a little bit more and buy yourself a camera that can be adapted to almost the equivalent of a dslr. The NEX5 is one of those animals.

Firstly , looking at the camera it’s a Sony 14mp compact camera with interchangeable lenses. The camera has high definition video and really cool feature for all the Nikonos lovers, it even takes your old lenses!! The camera functionality is very easy, as are all Sony cameras. The buttons and dials are all very user friendly. The Sony NEX5 camera retails for around $1200 including a wide angle and standard zoom lens, but does need a housing to go underwater.

This is where the new Nauticam NX-NEX5 housing comes in to play. This amazingly robust yet lightTaken with Sony NEX5 in Nauticam Housing by Lee Johnson, Perth Scuba housing has all the features of a DSLR housing, without the price tag. Changing the lenses is as easy as pushing a button and a twist and this can be done quickly between dives in any environment. Opening the housing is as simple as pushing a button and twisting the lock (no more dodgy clips to worry about). The camera itself has a 3 inch screen which is fully visible through the housing, and even tilts up towards the user. Another really cool feature about the NEX5 is that you can zoom to make your photos macro or standard with the turn of one knob. No more having to worry whether you take the macro or wide angle lens with this great little camera.

With way too many features to talk about here, I’d like to share my experience with you of my first experience with the NEX5. For my dive I added a Sea & Sea YS01 strobe, which in itself is an awesome compact strobe which I highly recommend for anyone using a compact or this camera setup. The bolt on base and arm system for the NEX5 makes it look like it was just meant to be there, not some after thought. I chose the left hand grip to leave my right hand free to click away, however, if you prefer you can go two handles or a single handle on the right hand side.

The housing has the ability to attach an optic cable in one of the two front ports, which it made it easy to drive the YS01 strobe perfectly. Upon entering the water the first thing i noticed was how balanced and light the unit was. I knew at this point that i wasn’t going to get the sore forearms my partner Joey gets with her DSLR, which was a relief. Now before I go on to tell you about my dive experience with the NEX5, I must tell you that when it comes to photography I’m better at looking at the photos than taking them. So this was always going to be a challenge for any camera!

After descending, sorting myself out, and kicking off along the reef, I adjusted my strobe into position, turned the camera on and looked for my first critter. Lucky for me, and unlucky for me, we came across an anemone full of clown fish (soon to be blinded by 5000 strobe flashes). The large screen made it very easy for me to see what I was taking photos of, but more importantly, the speed of which the camera focused and took the photo, was way better than any other camera I’d used before. I have to admit that I did cheat a little using the auto Taken with Sony NEX5 in Nauticam Housing by Lee Johnson, Perth Scubasettings (I did say I was an amateur) but this camera has all of the features and functions to go full manual, if you have the ability to do so. Which to me makes this camera future proof to the photographers ability. I found that I could take between 8 and 10 photos in succession before the camera buffered to the memory card. However, this was only for a very short 3 or 4 seconds, leaving me plenty of time to continue my happy snapping.

Having the ability to view the photos after I’d taken them was also a real bonus on such a large screen as I knew whether they were keepers or not at that point.

As I moved on through the dive site and came across bigger critters (including my buddy) I was able to wind back the lens for a full screen shot, of things just an arms length away. And just as quickly go back into macro mode to take a photo of that nudibranch sitting on the rock next to the big critter. Unfortunately a great camera and housing, doesn’t give you more air, so after a few more photos it was time to head to the surface to check out the results of our first dive.

On the surface interval we looked through the photos and I was really impressed with the colour and clarity, albeit on a small screen, some of the photos even made it look like I knew what I was doing! On the next dive I was determined to try out the video mode, after hitting the bottom once again, we came face to face with a Hawksbill Turtle, who was very intent on eating the reef and not fazed about me filming him. He did however at one stage, look up at me, and with the ability of the NEX5 was able to snap a photo or two and then go straight into video, all with the push of a single button. You can see the results of my turtle encounter in this article. I’m not sure how long I was recording for however, I certainly didn’t run out of buffering time or memory whilst doing this. Surprisingly the video afterwards came out very clear and quite still, but did prove to me a focus video light would have been the cherry on the cake to bring out the colours in my video.

After my turtle encounter my buddy and I came across two very friendly cuttlefish (this is rare for me because they usually chase me away). They too obviously like the NEX5 hehe. Once again having the chance to switch between a macro and standard lens gave me the opportunity to get photos up close and personal as well as with my buddy.

Further around the reef I was able to really give the macro a workout on the most inanimate object I could find. And using full macro at full zoom was able to get crystal clear close up photo which showed the colour of the reef. Further into the dive I came across some rather fast moving parrot fish and thought I’d give them a try to see what the autofocus capabilities of this camera could do. Once again I was very surprised at how sharp the picture was of a fish that was swimming past me, at least 10 times the speed I was travelling.

After taking a couple of diver photos in the water, it was time to say goodbye, to the critters on our second dive. I couldn’t wait to get back home to check out the photos we’d taken on a big screen, to see if this camera really was as good as I thought it was… It was!

Overall, this camera and housing are perfectly suited to give the user easy use with convenient functions whilst allowing them to move from automatic settings to full manual adjustment. And the ability to incorporate important underwater photography effects, such as depth of field, shutter speed adjustment, and High definition video. With this complete kit, including camera, housing, strobe and arm, with port it retails for under $5000 and is as close as you’ll get to a DSLR without the price tag. The other really cool thing about the camera on its own, is that it is compact and you can take it anywhere and great results (in both photography and video). Overall, I was really happy with the result, even though I still have my L plates when it comes to photography, this is the camera that will get me past my P’s.

If you’d like to know more about this awesome package or you already have the camera and would like to pick up a housing, Perth Scuba, WA’s exclusive Nauticam dealer, will be only too happy to help you. Come in and speak to one of our Photography Specialists or call us on 9455 4448.

 


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