Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 14-42mm / F3.5 – 5.6 / Power OIS and Nauticam Macro Port 35

The Lumix G X 14-42 Power Zoom lens is designed for video with a silent motor zoom controlled by a slider that is quite effective to use.

The focal range in 4:3 format is 14-42mm which corresponds to 29-87mm in the standard 35mm format (the crop factor is 2.08 36/17.3 and not 2 how commonly thought in the classic 3:2 aspect ratio).

This lens is not exactly a best in class in terms of performance especially considering quite a bit of vignetting at wide end and distortion that anyway gets corrected nicely in camera for most. A detailed review is here http://www.photozone.de/olympus–four-thirds-lens-tests/765_pana14423556hd

You can see that this is lens is quite sharp at 2868 LW/PH to give you an idea the much more expensive Lumix 12-35mm reaches 3110 LW/PH though sharpness drops at corners to around 2100-2200.

Another interesting characteristic is that this lens performs best at f/3.5-f/5.6 which is close to the widest aperture as we will use this lens with the Nauticam flat port 35 this is all good news.

Nauticam Macro Port 35
Nauticam Macro Port 35

The lens fits very nicely inside the port leaving space for small filters and close up lenses but not really a lot.

The lens does not really move much between 14 and 42 mm and reaches his longest at 14mm.

I have tried using a set of Inon diopters to see the degree of magnification you can get.

This shot is with an Inon UCL-165 +6.06 diopter.

Lumix G X 14-42 PZ @ 42mm with Inon UCL-165
Lumix G X 14-42 PZ @ 42mm with Inon UCL-165

The smallest frame width with this lens is 42mm however in video mode using the ex tele converter option this becomes a much smaller area achieving in fact super macro easily with the added benefit of larger depth of field.

If you are into pixel peeping you can see some chromatic aberration on the edges this is a combination of the lens and the wet diopter.

I also tried stacking an UCL-165 with the UCL-330 this achieves a capture width of 32mm so we are in super macro zone.

Lumix G X 14-42 PZ @ 42mm with Inon UCL-165+330 Stacked
Lumix G X 14-42 PZ @ 42mm with Inon UCL-165+330 Stacked

Image quality does not get much worse but there are some internal reflections here on the white surface as the Inon lenses are not coated externally.

Finally I wanted to see if the Inon UCL-100 would work and it does achieving super macro without any fringing. If you want to use this lens for pygmy sea horse photography and do not want to get an Olympus 60mm this or the sub see 10 are the close up lenses to get, also the nauticam SMC is in the same range.

Lumix G X 14-42 PZ @ 42mm with Inon UCL-100
Lumix G X 14-42 PZ @ 42mm with Inon UCL-100

Now onto what is really good of this lens port combination and this is the versatility as you can attach the Inon UWL-H100 and get a very wide 18mm flat wide angle that is very sharp indeed as per previous images

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Nauticam 35 Port with Inon UWL-H100 on Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm

Consider that this image is taken at f/3.5 and the ruler is in the corner at ISO 1600 and you can see that sharpness is more than acceptable.

More interesting is that for some reason with this lens you can fully zoom through even down to 42mm without soft corners.

I have no idea how this is possible but it works just fine.

So if you are a video junkie you can cover the whole 100 degrees wide to super macro with this lens the Nauticam 35 Macro Port the Inon UWL-H100 and the UCL-100. For video it gets even cheaper with the UCL-165. You can of course use the flat port to do nice fish portrait in the mid-range of the zoom.

I forgot to mention the zoom gear which is actually pretty expensive because of the complex spring design.

The total cost for the Nauticam 35 with zoom gear is $510 plus of course the lens itself $290 total of $800.

Inon UWL-H100 + LD adapter = $654

Inon UCL-100 = $282

Inon UCL-165 = $205

Wet Lenses Still total = $936

Wet Lenses Video total = $859

Let’s compare to getting an Olympus 9-18mm with 4″ wide angle port and the Olympus 60mm with 30 extension ring total price $2129.

Price gap for stills $393 but you now also have a mid range lens for portraits, personally I don’t really like the Olympus 9-18 behind that port comparing side by side images taken with the 14-42 PZ and Inon lens I am not sure the Olympus is any better and definitely needs diopters due to mushy corners. For macro the 60mm Olympus lens has the advantage of increased working distance but is a very specific lens that you would only use for really small stuff.

For what concerns video you would probably look at the Panasonic 7-14 and forget the Olympus 60mm the combination is worth $1800 which is a difference of $636. Again the issue with rectilinear lenses and dome ports is there and the 7-14 does not take diopters.

So if we were to use the lenses on land no doubt you would need additional glass but in water wet lenses can be quite cost effective especially if you use a micro four third camera for video.

Peter Rowlands uses a Panasonic GX7 with Inon UWL-H100 and dome successfully and I am joining that club now.

Stay tuned for more tests next to come will be the Panasonic Fisheye 8mm with the 4.33″ dome which is another essential buy for the micro four third cameras underwater, obviously for pictures and not video.

 

 

 

Moving to Micro Four Thirds

In a previous post last year I had mentioned that a move to an interchangeable lens camera was unlikely however seeing the latest generation of compact on the market also have a port system it is time to reconsider the options.

During the Christmas holiday Panasonic put up a double cash-back promotion which meant you could get a Panasonic GX7 with kit lens with £100 off the retail effective price.

On the web you could find the GX7 with the 14-42mm G Mega OIS for £449 and combined with the 20mm f/1.7 for £579. The 14-42mm is actually a good lens but knowing I had to get the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm I opted for the 20mm f/1.7 a very bright lens that seemed good for occasional photos.

Butterfly bokeh

 

So I got myself the X Vario PZ 14-42mm and also the Lumix G 12-32mm Mega OIS as I thought I needed something midrange but did not want to spend a lot of money for the 12-35mm Panasonic and especially did not want to entertain a 6″ wide angle port.

Foliage Detail 12-32 mm
Foliage Detail 12-32 mm

I actually think this lens has better IQ than the 12-42mm PZ

14-42mm PZ
14-42mm PZ

The 12-32mm is the kit lens that used to come with the GX1 so is not a massively popular lens. A quick look at the Nauticam Port Chart confirms this lens takes the same macro port 35 of the 14-42 PZ, this port through a 30mm extension can be used to house the Olympus 60mm Macro. So went ahead and contacted Alex at Nauticam UK to get a quote on the housing. It turns out that there are no stocks of the NA-GX7 so had to wait until yesterday to receive mine.

I asked Alex to lend me a Nauticam Wetmate as I thought this could be used on the 35 port with the 12-32mm Panasonic lens in case the Inon UWL-H100 vignettes.

I was not quite sure of the physics of the wet mate so I got myself some close up filters in case there were focus issues.

The 12-32mm won’t focus in water with the wet mate until you add a +1 close up filter.

12-32mm with +1 diopter and wet mate on macro port 35
12-32mm with +1 diopter and wet mate on macro port 35

Once you get focus the image quality seems pretty decent despite being shot at ISO 1250 f/3.5. However this configuration would start having focus problem past 15mm so I put on a + diopter and tried again until 20mm or 40mm in 35 equivalent terms.

12-32mm at 20mm with +2 diopter and wet mate on macro 35 port
12-32mm at 20mm with +2 diopter and wet mate on macro 35 port

Quality is pretty good and the chromatic aberration are probably coming from the cheap diopter more than the wet-mate.

I am quite happy with those results although I have to admit the wet mate with the 67mm thread is a pain to take on and off in water and also is not coated so scratches easily.

Nauticam has still to confirm if the 4.33″ dome port can offer full zoom with the 12-32mm, I suspect it will with the help of a +2 diopter. The alternative is the 20mm extension with the 3.5″ wide angle port, in future perspective this is interesting for wide angle macro photography but not so much right now so will go with the 4.33″ dome.

I also did some tests with the Inon UWL-H100 28LD, once again the Fix M67-LD adapter let me down the screws had melted into the aluminium despite the tender loving care and broken the adapter I could however take some shots without the hood before that happened.

Panasonic 12-32mm with Inon UWL-H100 at 12mm
Panasonic 12-32mm with Inon UWL-H100 at 12mm

There are some dark corners but all in all the result could be acceptable equivalent focal length in 16:9 is 16.5mm which is approximately 105 degrees.

There seems to be some variability and some times I would get black corners more. Considering I will switch to the Nauticam LD adapter that vignettes more this at the end is not so interesting. The image is also a bit distorted.

With the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario  PZ 14-42mm instead there are no issues of vignette even in 4:3 aspect ratio.

Panasonic 14-42 PZ with Inon UWL-H100
Panasonic 14-42 PZ with Inon UWL-H100

The camera focuses literally on the glass.

What is even more interesting is that the camera lens combination keeps sharp focus all across the zoom range all the way to 42mm or 84mm equivalent.

Pamasonic 14-42mma t 42mm with Inon UWL-H100
Pamasonic 14-42mma t 42mm with Inon UWL-H100

Fringing is contained and generally the image is sharp across the frame considering we are at ISO 3200.

I also did a test with the UCL-330 and using the Extended Teleconverter function available in video I could achieve 32mm width frame with the 12-32mm lens!!!

The other positive note is that this is a 1″1 pixel read without artefacts and moire so generally quality is very high.

I think the PZ 14-42mm with the Inon UWL-H100 and a single UCL-165 makes a fine combination to shoot all purpose stills wide and macro in one dive. For video I will have to determine if the UCL-330 is a better choice considering the extended tele converter feature.

A few other features of the GX7 that really make this camera a video machine include the flicker free video recording that allows you to fix the shutter speed if you had to press the video record button when you are taking stills. Normally the camera would work in P more and not respect any shutter rule, with this feature you are telling the camera to shoot in shutter priority.

The GX7 has also the capability of altering the gamma curve for contrast which is great and a number of picture style presets of which I recommend the Scenery one for underwater use if you white balance.

I did some low light comparisons with the Sony RX100 and despite two full f/stops advantage for the RX100 lens the GX7 still resolved more detail at ISO 3200 versus the RX100 ISO 800 which was a bit surprising.

The AVCHD implementation at 24 Mbps will be my favourite underwater mode unless I am shooting macro and is a full IPB codec unlike the IP only with no B frames that Sony provides. That must be reason why the image quality in video is better even at two stop higher ISO.

In case you are looking for the holy grail for Nauticam micro four thirds camera to do a bit of everything the Macro Port 35 and the Panasonic G X Vario 14-42mm Power Zoom are highly recommended. Probably the image quality is not as good as the Panasonic 7-14mm although in my opinion with the Inon lens the results are very similar to the Olympus 90-18mm with 4″ wide angle port. Macro again is acceptable but not amazing with wet lenses. I will have to test more I am concerned the UCL-100 may not work with this port. For a mid range lens the 12-32mm costs one third of the 12-35mm Power OIS and once I receive the 4.33′ dome I will do more tests, meanwhile an option is to use the wet mate that works until 20mm before you have to take it off. The 4/33″ dome should have better image quality but maybe I will be surprised there too.

Finally with the 30 extension you can transform the macro 35 into a 55 port ready for some serious macro with the Olympus 60mm so I think having only one flat port, an extension ring and one dome to cover fisheye photography, portraits, wide angle, close up and macro is not bad at all. And for video most likely is the only port you will ever need together with the Inon UWL-H100 which is expensive but every flexible indeed.

I will post more images of the rig once I have nailed all options in terms of lenses and arms.

The end of advanced compact cameras for underwater photography

With the arrival of the new Nauticam N50 port system for advanced compacts I believe we say goodbye to using a large sensor compact underwater.

We already saw some signs when Sony released the RX100 Mark III with a 24-70mm equivalent lens, this effectively killed any use of the camera for macro. The new Panasonic LX100 has a similar problem with a 24-75mm lens but on top it has the new N50 port system in the nauticam housing or a severely limited functionality in the Ikelite version. It is obvious that the Panasonic LX100 will have similar sever limitations for macro but also with only 10 Megapixels really not be a strong competitor.

The last kid on the block is the Canon G7X, this camera looks very similar to the Sony RX100 Mark II and has a 24-100 zoom range that on land is very useful with an aperture of f/2.8 at tele end that is really interesting for land use. However this camera in the Nauticam version has the same port system N50.

So why has Nauticam introduced this? Both the Canon G7X and the Panasonic LX100 have fairly long lenses in terms of physical size and the zoom mechanism is such that the lens is retracted at wide end. This means that there is quite a gap between the lens and the port and wet lenses in those conditions have issues of both corner softness and chromatic aberrations. So Nauticam has introduced a short port with zoom blocked so that wet lenses can be used.

Effectively this is like diving with a fixed 18mm lens on your camera behind a dome with no zoom capability, taking the wet lens off results in horrible pincushion distortion so not really appealing.

Pincushion Distortion at 24mm with flat port
Pincushion Distortion at 24mm with flat port

The dome port does not allow the use of the full zoom at least without a diopter, so this is of limited use too for video.

Cost wise the new housing with the port system are around $1,200 in the US with additional $350 for the dome and $180 for the flat wide port. We are approaching the low end of Micro 4/3 Nauticam housing prices and are more expensive than Olympus OEM options but without the same flexibility and quality in terms of lenses.

It is clear that the Sony RX100 Mark I and II will remain one of a kind and this is the reason why they remain popular few years after launch.

Sony RX100 Mark II Rig June 2014 Front
Sony RX100 Mark II Rig June 2014 Front

 

Nauticam NA-LX100 Pricing Confirmed

It is official now the prices of the NA-LX100 are confirmed

in US $1,200 for the housing with flat port, $180 for the wide short port and $350 for the 3.5″ acrylic dome.

In UK £920 for the housing and flat port, £150 for the wide short port and most likely £290 for the dome.

Which means we can now update the GH4 comparisons for 4K

Super Wide

Panasonic LX100  $899 NA-LX100 $1,200 with Short Port $180 and Wet lens Inon UWL-H100 $522

Panasonic GH4 with 7-14mm and 6″ dome $2750 housing and port only plus camera and lens $2,399

The max field of view of the two options is almost the same however you can’t zoom the LX100 due to the zoom lock on the housing.

LX100 $2,801

GH4 $5,149

Price Difference $2,348

Mid range

Panasonic LX100 $899 housing $1,200  3.5″ dome circa $350

Panasonic GH4 with 12-35mm and 6″ dome $2750 housing and port Camera and Lens $2,399

The LX100 is wider in 4K at 26-81mm vs 28-81mm of the GH4

LX100 $2,449

GH4 $5,149

Price Difference $2,700

Close Up

Panasonic LX100 with NA-LX100 rectangular port $2,099

Panasonic GH4 with 14-42 and 35 macro port $1,815 housing and port $2,680

The GH4 will have more magnification due to the longer focal length with the same diopter.

LX100 $2,099

GH4 $4,495

Price Difference $2,396

The gap is still significant even with the price increase ranging between $2348 and $2700.

I still have some concerns on the 3.5″ acrylic dome for the LX100 as I am not sure about focus distance. If this port works with the full zoom it is definitely the most appealing for video but we will need to check this out.

 

 

Nauticam NA-LX100 Released

On Christmas day Nauticam has released the NA-LX100 housing for the Panasonic DMC-LX100. It is priced at ¥168,000 which is 50,000 more expensive than the last NA-RX100 III.

If this translates correctly in $ and UK prices it means $1,399 plus tax or £895 including VAT for UK.

Here is the original link in Japanese on the fisheye homepage

http://www.fisheye-jp.com/products/compact/na_lx100.html

NA-LX100 with flat rectangular port
NA-LX100 Rear View

 

Prices for the short port for wet lenses and the dome port have not yet been announced but we know that the dome can use the camera at full zoom and that the short port. The US price of the flip diopter for the rectangular port is known and is $220.

Which means we can now update the GH4 comparisons for 4K

Super Wide

Panasonic LX100  $899 NA-LX100 with Short Port and Wet lens $2,000 circa

Panasonic GH4 with 7-14mm and 6″ dome $2750 housing and port only plus camera and lens $2,399

The max field of view of the two options is almost the same however you can’t zoom the LX100 due to the zoom lock on the housing.

LX100 $2,899

GH4 $5,149

Price Difference $2,250

Mid range

Panasonic LX100 $899 with 3.5″ dome circa $1,699

Panasonic GH4 with 12-35mm and 6″ dome $2750 housing and port Camera and Lens $2,399

The LX100 is wider in 4K at 26-81mm vs 28-81mm of the GH4

LX100 $2,599

GH4 $5,149

Price Difference $2,550

Close Up

Panasonic LX100 with NA-LX100 rectangular port $2,299

Panasonic GH4 with 14-42 and 35 macro port $1,815 housing and port $2,680

The GH4 will have more magnification due to the longer focal length with the same diopter.

LX100 $2,299

GH4 $4,495

Price Difference $2,195

The gap is still significant even with the price increase ranging between $2200 and $2500.

There is still an option to use the GH4 with wet lenses although this has only been tried with diopters to date it is technically possible to use a wet wide angle lens.

 

Panasonic DMC-LX100 Nauticam 4K Underwater video becomes affordable

This week I have been in contact with Nauticam that have given me some final details with regards to the NA-LX100 housing that will be released in the next weeks and is already available for pre-order in Hong Kong.

The housing is confirmed to have a changeable port system the default is the rectangular flat port as in the image below.

When shooting 4K the Panasonic LX100 focal length is 26-81mm which means that in water the default port will give a range of 35-108mm due to water magnification. This is however negated by the increased working distance so don’t get too excited about macro.

Panasonic LX100 Flat Port

There will be a flip diopter for the rectangular port as a separate accessory. Due to the limited zoom of the LX100 a strong diopter with power of at least +10 in water is required for macro.

The other option displayed was a mini dome port.

Nauticam LX100 Mini Dome Port

Nauticam has confirmed that this dome is 3.5″ wide and unfortunately there is no provision currently for a flip diopter for this port.

The 3.5″ acrylic port is probably the most versatile option for the Panasonic LX100 and I am a bit puzzled of why the flat port is offered as a default. The mini dome seems perfect for all round reef use when there are no really small critters and medium size fish.

 

Nauticam has also a super wide option that utilizes a short port with a 67mm thread. This takes the Inon UWL-H100 from what we have heard and also a new lens Nauticam has designed.

The zoom will be  locked so the lens will stay at 24mm limited to circa 50mm which means with the wet lens this is a 16-32mm wide lens in water, I am not sure however that zoom in will be a possibility with the Inon lens but will be possible with the Nauticam lens as far as I understand.

Nauticam LX100 Wide wet lens

So what is the strategy for Nauticam and this housing?

It is quite clear for me that the Panasonic LX100 has the same 4K capabilities of the GH4 the same IPB codec and processor. It falls short of cinema options but costs half of the GH4 body.

So for your perusal those are the equivalent options

Super Wide

Panasonic LX100  $899 NA-LX100 with Short Port and Wet lens $1,700 circa

Panasonic GH4 with 7-14mm and 6″ dome $2750 housing and port only plus camera and lens $2,399

The max field of view of the two options is almost the same however you can’t zoom the LX100 due to the zoom lock on the housing.

LX100 $2,599

GH4 $5,149

Price Difference $2,550

Mid range

Panasonic LX100 $899 with 3.5″ dome circa $1,300

Panasonic GH4 with 12-35mm and 6″ dome $2750 housing and port Camera and Lens $2,399

The LX100 is wider in 4K at 26-81mm vs 28-81mm of the GH4

LX100 $2,200

GH4 $5,149

Price Difference $2,950

Close Up

Panasonic LX100 with rectangular port $2,000

Panasonic GH4 with 14-42 and 35 macro port $1,815 housing and port $2,540

The GH4 will have more magnification due to the longer focal length with the same diopter.

LX100 $2,000

GH4 $4,355

Price Difference $2,355

So the performance may be better but the price difference is very high.

The total cost of the Panasonic GH4 plus lenses housing and port is around $6,640 but the LX100 stops at a much more modest $2,400 without the wet wide angle lens. This still does not include flip diopters adapters and lens worth another $800+ but gives an idea that the total will be around $3,200 for the whole set.

You can get a complete 4K underwater video rig around $4,500-4,700 including tray, video lights and all the rest which few years ago would have been unthinkable.

Panasonic DMC-LX100 More Info and Reviews

Like the LX7 the LX100 has a multi aspect sensor. This means that the diagonal field of view does not change in the various aspect ratios.

The camera is a micro 4:3 so the sensor size is half of a full frame sensor at 18×13.5 mm. However only part of this is used by the camera more specifically 13.7×10.3mm are actually used in the same aspect ratio.

Resolution 4112×3088 in 4″3 format

When the aspect ratio changes to 16:9 although the diagonal field of view remains the same the horizontal pixel count increases

Pixel count at 16:9 Aspect Ratio

Now we have 4480 horizontal pixels and 2520 vertical so the horizontal field of view is wider than in the 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratios.

This means that at normal 1080p the camera will perform like a normal 3:2 sensor at 22.9mm. All of this to say that the LX100 like the LX7 are wider in movie mode than the Sony RX100 Mark III despite the lens is declared at 24mm in both cases as when we go to 16:9 the Sony crops the sensor and goes to 25mm whilst the Panasonic cameras stay at 24mm. So even at 4K 16:9 the LX100 will be marginally worse than the RX100 Mark III at 26mm vs 25mm. Note that the crop is 2.56x at 4:3, 2.47x at 3:2 and 2.38x at 16:9.

We don’t have details about wet lenses yet but for the solution with a dome like the Ikelite housing or the Nauticam mini dome we are talking about a maximum field of view of 79.52º at 4K which is acceptable for most cases.

The challenge like with the Sony RX100 Mark III is at telephoto end were 81mm in 4K is quite little. Panasonic has however the option of the iZoom that was pretty useful with the LX7 and that crops down to a ‘normal’ 1920×1080 which promises to be pretty good with a 2x digital zoom with scaling.

In DxoMark sensor test the LX100 scored the same of the RX100 Mark II and III with a minimal improvement in low ISO.

Which in shorts leaves to the conclusion that unless you need 4K the Panasonic LX100 is not going to be your wonderful underwater camera however if you can process the 100 mbps IPB files that the camera produces, the result when scaled down to 1080p has got so much more quality compared to other 1080p cameras.

The lack of the ND filter compared to the previous LX7 is a miss, but Panasonic though that at f/16 there are anyway the 3 stops so performance will not suffer, we disagree with that as surely diffraction will be substantial at f/16 and we rather have less depth of field near the surface than more.

Let’s face it, the LX100 is half the cost of the GH4 if you use the nauticam housing and this is before the GH4 has added lenses and ports, the GH4 will give you richer color and probably 2/3 step ISO improvement and much more if you use an external recorder but the LX100 is the 4K camera for the consumer and we are looking forward to a full operational housing from Nauticam, Recsea or any other!

 

 

Panasonic DMC-LX100 Ikelite Housing

The American manufacturer is the first to reach the market with a polycarbonate housing for the Panasonic LX100.

Specifications

  • 200 ft (60m) depth rating
  • Controls for all camera functions except Diopter Adjustment Dial, Aspect Selector Switch, Front Control Ring, and Focus Selector Switch
  • Ikelite 5-pin bulkhead with TTL circuitry
  • Near neutral buoyancy in fresh water
  • Weight 4.7 lb (2.1 kg)
  • Dimensions 7 x 6 x 6 in (18 x 15 x 15 cm) including projections
  • 3.9-inch (99 mm) diameter glass lens port

The first thing that we notice is that not all controls are accessible, is this going to be an issue?

Diopter Adjustment Dial – this is normally set fixed

Aspect Selector Switch – this does not change during the dive

Front Control Ring – this controls manual focus and is important

Focus Selector Switch – this switches between macro and normal focus mode an is important if you don’t use a close up lens

As the LX100 with a 24mm lens is not going to be really a photographer dream Ikelite could have spared an expensive TTL converter but I requested confirmation from the manufacturer and they said only a TTL version is planned – not good for us!

Ikelite LX100 Front View
Ikelite LX100 Front View

The housing looks a bit bulky as usual but considering that for video we access a limited set of controls this is not going to be a major problem except maybe the rear metal buttons.

Rear View
Rear View

Probably the best feature of this housing are the accessories.

The housing comes with a large 3.9″ flat round port that per-se is not good for much, however you can add the WD-4 Dome and the macro M67 adapter to improve matters. The WD-4 dome is a glass removable dome that is sharp and will restore the lens field of view and allow for some zooming, the macro adapter allows to mount M67 close up lenses as a push on.

Probably the feature that will miss the most is the focus mode switch as the rest can work quite nicely with focus lock.

Cost wide the housing is $750 with the WD-4 and the Macro adapter this totals at $1115 plus taxes.

The nauticam housing is rumored to be $1,100 without ports so this ikelite housing could be competitive and we like the port system a lot for simplicity even if the choices are a bit limited as all in all this is good enough for video if combined with a selection of diopters. The lack of the focus mode switch could create some challenges in portrait work with the bare port but a series of mid range close up lenses can fix the issue.

Panasonic DMC-LX100 Housing and More

So the LX100 gets the highest score for a compact camera on dpreview with a staggering 85%

Full details are here

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx100

Of particular interest are the video grab comparisons

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonic-lumix-dmc-lx100/8

In my opinion the 4K mode of the LX100 is as good as the GH4 there are however fewer options and control and rolling shutter seems to be an issue with the LX100.

Nevertheless the 4K video mode blows the Sony RX100 series away in any version so I guess for land use the Panasonic DMC-LX100 truly is the camera to beat.

I have been waiting patiently for housing and now is confirmed that Nauticam will come up with a housing in early 2015. Wetpixel has a special on Dema on their news section and this has images of the LX100 housing prototype.

http://wetpixel.com/articles/wetpixel-coverage-dema-2014/P1

The housing has a changeable port system similar to a micro 4/3 and 3 ports were shown at Dema

Panasonic LX100 Flat Port

The rectangular flat port is very similar to the Recsea housing for the Canon G series.

Many people get very excited to read that the LX100 has a minimum focussing distance of 3 cm at wide end but this is as such not so exciting as it seems. Due to the wide field of view of 84º diagonal this means that the area captured at the minimum distance is somewhere in the region of 1:1.25 reproduction ratio. So this is not real life macro. This compares to the much smaller area of the older LX7 that had a 1.25:1 and as such offered super macro out of the box (though nobody would shoot macro at wide end or be 1 cm away from the subject).

Which means that the LX100 will need diopters with this flat port to achieve macro and more specifically a close up lens with power in water of 10 to achieve macro. This corresponds to the Subsee 10 or the Inon UCL100 or the Nauticam SMC.

The flat port is nothing to get very excited as in water the camera will behave as a 32-100mm equivalent lens camera and a field of view of only 68º.

The other option displayed was a mini dome port.

Nauticam LX100 Mini Dome Port

This looks around a 4″ dome, if this is the case the camera will not only maintain the land focal length 24-75mm but also potentially be compatible with a flip diopter as the one used with the micro 4/3.

This is a hope more than a guess, Nauticam please ensure you can apply a flip diopter to the dome port as that would be the best all round option for this housing. As previously noted 24mm is wide enough for reef scenes and with a +10 diopter, and possibly an additional +5 or +6 this becomes a great solution for underwater video. At 4K the focal length changes to 26-81mm which is still acceptable.

24mm is not enough for wreck dives or whale sharks so here it comes the wide option.

Nauticam LX100 Wide wet lens

I am not sure if this port will work at all with the zoom but it is declared to offer 110º and therefore a 0.63x magnification.

Nauticam has declared that standard wet lenses do not work with the LX100 and hence they have come up with this specific port system.

Looking at the G7X housing this seems to be just a special adapter with a set of wet lenses more than real ports

Nauticam G7X Housing

Anyway we will have to wait but my favorite option would be the mini dome especially if the flip diopter holder for 4″ dome can be used.

If this is not the case I would have a major problem with this housing as the lens out of the box is not good enough to be used as is. I am slightly confused also by that weird rectangular port considering that 32mm is not wide enough for anything I can’t comprehend the reason for its existence.

We will have to wait and see. I have contacted Nauticam asking if the dome can have a flip diopter holder. Will keep you posted

Final Note: the Panasonic LX100 is not an option for stills as the RX100 Mark III, a 24-75mm lens is not good enough and the lack of fisheye options combined with the short zoom is definitely a no go.

Right now for stills I would still consider the Sony RX100 Mark II as the winner until we get confirmation of that lenses can the Canon G7X use.

Panasonic DMC-LX100 Youtube 4K selection

Still no confirmation that there will be housing I am compiled some of my favourite 4K videos

This is a breathtaking clips from Benjamin Todd

Another test here

There have been some rumours that the 4K mode is not a full sensor read however considering that the resolution is 4480×2520 (11M) in 16:9 and 4K is 3840×2160 this gives a crop of 1.16x there are not enough pixels to do a half line scan but the resulting angle of view seems to indicate 28mm focal length not the 26mm advertised that would give a 1.08x crop. The multi aspect sensor of the LX100 could explain why the field of view relationship changes but a 1.08x scaling seems very strange and difficult to implement. Probably something in the internal logic between sensor and lenses makes this work to have more details we need to compare the 4K still shots captured by the camera with the grabs from the video clip. Nothing on the manual seems to suggest any difference between the two so my guess this is a full sensor read.

Finger crossed that Nauticam and Ikelite produce a housing for this camera soon

 

 

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