The 5.5 Kg rig in hand

My Sony RX100 Mark II Photo Rig Analysis

So the time has come to talk about photography more in depth. I have actually given up stills in favor of video since a few years as I find video gets me closer to behaviors than stills do, I guess am just not patient enough to capture behaviors on still as that involves waiting!

Anyway this is the rig as it is today without the floats.

Sony RX100 Mark II Still Rig as of 2014 January 20th
Sony RX100 Mark II Still Rig as of 2014 January 20th

The RX100 is a demanding compact for the very same reason why it is the best compact the huge sensor it sports. If you come from shooting a canon or panasonic or even Olympus on a 1/1.7″ sensor you find the RX100 to be very unforgiving. In essence you can’t really just point and shoot you need to put some more thinking into your shots.

The rig that I have put together for stills has the same meticulous attention to detail than my video rig has, you would say OCD probably but here it is.

So let’s start with the housing, Nauticam just makes the best most ergonomic housing for the RX100 period. There is nothing you can think of improving about this housing. Even if the bulkhead connector is useless you can actually put a vacuum valve on it to put it to full use.

Nauticam do offer an M67 thread native on all their compact housings but I find this tedious to say the least. The beauty of a compact is that you can shoot wide and macro on the same dive, the M67 thread in essence negates this as it makes virtually impossible to change lenses on a dive. This is the reason why I went for the Inon 28AD mount for my rig using an inexpensive 10 bar adapter priced at $20 or £15.

M67-ADF adapter with Inon UWL-100 attached
M67-ADF adapter with Inon UWL-100 attached

Once you connect the Inon UWL-100 28AD the lens is very close to the housing to the point of nearly touching the port. This means you get no vignette with this lens with the added dome, and actually a larger field of view in water than you get with the UWL-H100. Why is that? The UWL-100 28AD has less magnification so it does not vignette even on land, once you add the dome you get almost the same field of view in water around 150º. The lens is just a tad lighter than the UWL-H100 with an in water weight of 400 grams.

The choice of the 28AD mount means you can only use the UCL-165AD close up lenses, that if attached would crash into the glass, you need therefore a 28AD->AD adapter from Inon.

28AD to AD adapter with UCL-165AD attached
28AD to AD adapter with UCL-165AD attached

You do get vignette until 50mm however this is not an issue as you shoot those lenses at the tele-end.

This is the whole lens set with the two adapters.

Two UCL-165AD, UWL-100 28AD with dome, 28AD->ADF adapter, M67-28ADF adapter
Two UCL-165AD, UWL-100 28AD with dome, 28AD->ADF adapter, M67-28ADF adapter

As discussed in other posts the two stacked diopters give you super macro, they are also light with 35 grams each in water. The small amount of fringing they give can be eliminated in lightroom with a single click.

Inon UCL-165AD x2 with Inon 28AD to AD adapter
Inon UCL-165AD x2 with Inon 28AD to AD adapter

The wide angle lens sports a 115mm optical glass dome with inner anti-reflection coating. If you are into observing fine detail you will notice that the dome is not actually a full semicircle but flatter, if you add the special coating this means no flare and increased contrast. If you wonder why shots taken with Inon dome lenses are sharper is because only 1% of the incoming light is reflected, against 3% of an acrylic dome, the glass dome due to the coating don’t flare, plastic ones do as simple as that.

Inon UWL-100 28AD with Dome
Inon UWL-100 28AD with Dome

Now let’s move on to the strobes a twin Inon Z240 set. I have been a sea and sea user for years until I managed to damage my YS-01 and got no assistance at all from S&S since then I decided to go elsewhere.

What I love about the Z240 is the variety of controls to manage shadows, the sharp aiming light with a red filter good for the most skittish critters. Contrary to what many people think I aim directly at the subject in macro as the distance is short and backscatter is not an issue so no point aiming the strobes away for me.

FIT Sea and Sea adapter for Inon Strobes
FIT Sea and Sea adapter for Inon Strobes

I happened to have a pair of Sea and Sea optical L cable that served me well and had no will to change, FIT produces this cost effective adapter that goes on your Z240 and makes it compatible, I just love it.

Inon Z MV Strobe adapter
Inon Z MV Strobe adapter

I believe Inon Z MV strobe head adapter has no equal in ergonomics but for some reason a part that is $20 in Japan sells at over $40 in US and £30 in UK so is not that popular. My second choice would be the Nauticam strobe adapter that has got the small feet needed to correctly lock on the strobe head.

Sola 1200 on Loc line mount
Sola 1200 on Loc line mount

With the Z240 doing wonders as aiming light there is no real room for a focus light however I have a set of Sola Video 1200 and what I like is that you can use them as dive light. I have connected them with a locline cold shoe, this will soon change to a ball mount, as the cold shoe is on the left side. Probably I will get a Sola Dive 800 so I can leave my two trays set for video and stills on the boat.

Left Handle Ultralight TR-DHB
Left Handle Ultralight TR-DHB

Looking at the tray I use ultralight, it simple and sturdy and allows me to center the port in the middle of the tray.

The most attentive will see that the two handles have different colors.

Right Handle Ultralight AC-H
Right Handle Ultralight AC-H

Why is that? Firstly I want to place the handles at maximum distance, second by placing two different handle I can ensure the ball is at the same height, this would not be true if I was using the same handle on both sides. I use a TR-DM with a TR-DUPL long extension to make the tray 30cm or 12″.

Sony RX100 Mark II Still Rig as of 2014 January 20th
Sony RX100 Mark II Still Rig as of 2014 January 20th

So this is what it looks like, there will be floats on it, I estimate I need 8 floats to make the rig neutral with the lenses off. I am planning to place 3 on each 8″ arm segment and two on the tray however I might change this to 2 on each arm and a bespoke float on the tray bottom. I will run some test to see what works best.

So that’s all folks surely there will be questions and I look forward to answer them.

Just want to remind you that if you are in the market for a compact still or video rig I provide a personal shopper service for £30 or $45 that provides an end to end service on your budget where all you have to do is to call the shop to pay. Of course we would discuss any observations about the set up before this gets finalized, but am sure better to spend a little amount instead of making expensive mistakes!

UPDATE 9 June 2014 I have made some more changes to the rig the current version (never say final) is here

Photo Rig Current

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16 thoughts on “My Sony RX100 Mark II Photo Rig Analysis”

  1. Very interesting. The tray you use makes it possible to thread floats, whereas I don’t think I could on the Flexitray W II that I use. Currently I have 2 floats on the 8″ arm and 1 on the 5″ arm, but to add a caddy, I should probably put 3 floats on the 8″.

    1. Yes once you add the lens caddy there is no space for floats. With your set up once you have 6 floats it will still be 800 grams negative that is quite a lot. You can put two floats on the short segment that is free the set up will be lighter on one side and twist slightly that’s why I like it more on the tray. I have also an alternative solution in progress that allows to put floats on any tray. However I need to be careful that it does not flip in water.

      1. I did some calculations and they don’t float enough plus I like to move my floats around various set ups. I have heard nauticam carbon are the best but not for me

  2. How do you find the double-handle setup for stills?

    I have an RX100 in Nauticam with 1 handle + 1 strobe. I’ve been considering going to two, but the shutter release button seems like it would be impossible to operate with your hand on the handle.

    Do you switch your hand back and forth? Or is the handle mainly acting a strobe holder?

    1. It depends what tray have you got. With ulcs unless you have very small hands you can operate the shutter without leaving the handle using the long extension TR-DUPL. If you want to also operate the front wheel you need the short extension TR-DUP. I am going to be changing mine to this shortly. When I know I will only shoot macro I go out with a single handle and strobe.

  3. Hi,

    Very good information you have here and thanks for sharing your experience.

    I finally choose the RX100ii with the Nauticam housing for my uw photo, all based on the information I got mostly from your web site :)

    I would like to ask about your choice for wide lens. The Nauticam have 67 thread, yet you said that the 67 thread negate the ability to change lens during dive. Can you elaborate on that?

    I’m considering to have the 28M67 for my setup, thus having both the UWL-H100 28M67 and the UWL-H100 dome, but with this setup I lost the ability to change to macro setup during a dive?

    Again thanks for sharing, and do apologize for a new be questions!

    Regards,
    Bona
    https://vimeo.com/user3253222/videos

    1. hi Bona and no problem about the question
      The UWL-H100 28M67 with dome is a heavy lens (1026 grams on land and 525g in water) it is also big with a diameter of 132mm which means trying to remove it during a dive is nearly impossible. I have an UWL-04 lens that is only 160 grams in water and that one is a pain to take on and off. You don’t want to risk dropping the Inon lens so I would recommend to put it on and leave it there if you want to use the M67 lens. Removing it during a dive, putting it on a lens caddy, putting a macro lens and then changing back will be a long task and you will use a lot of air, I do not recommend that

      1. The Nauticam SMC is a +20 diopter with focal length of 50mm. Thought it will attach find I believe it is near to impossible to use with the RX100 not enough depth of field. I think +12 is the most you can do with the RX100 so am not planning to investigate this lens

  4. I have kind of a similar set-up and for me so far it has always been difficult to safely transport everything when traveling. How do you pack all this equipment? Which case(s)/bag(s) do you use?

  5. Hi Interceptor121, I think I’m interested in your offer “…I provide a personal shopper service…”, how do I get in touch with you directly?

  6. Hi Interceptor121, I just picked up an rx100m2 (was flip-flopping between that and the m3 and finally just decided the underwater benefits outweighed the above water benefits). Anyways, this is a huge upgrade from my panny with oem housing/AF35 so I would like to also take you up on your personal shopper offer. I’m especially interested in your choice of a non-hotshoe mounted strobe system (if such a thing exists with the nauticam housing) and the pros/cons of other alternatives…

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