• Sat, 26 Sep 2020 16:55:07 +0000

    The $4.5K Fuji XT-1 Forensics Package Doesn’t Really Create UV Photos

    UV photography has many obstacles. Ultraviolet light, or light from 200nm – 400nm in wavelength, is notoriously difficult to image with normal camera equipment. A normal digital camera will record images in the visible light spectrum, or 400nm – 700nm in wavelength. To unlock sensitivity to those shorter wavelengths, a camera has to be physically modified to allow passage of light below 400nm.

    We over at Kolari Vision achieve this by performing a full-spectrum conversion service to your camera’s sensor. This modification gives most cameras the needed sensitivity to see UV light, but this is only half the battle. We then have to filter out visible and infrared light or else any UV light coming through the lens will be drowned out by the much more plentiful visible and IR light, and the ultraviolet signal we are looking for will be lost.

    This is where a UV bandpass filter comes in. A proper UV pass filter will allow ultraviolet light to pass through to the sensor while blocking all visible and infrared light that may contaminate an otherwise purely UV image. The trouble is, UV light is so easily blocked by most camera optics that even small visible or IR light leaks will overpower the UV light and create a mostly visible or IR image instead.

    This is also why it’s important to make sure that you are using a lens with high UV transmission, as most lenses block too much UV and end up allowing IR and Visible light to trickle in and take over the exposure.

    The Fuji X-T1 Forensics Bundle

    We noticed that the Fuji X-T1 forensics bundle included an old B+W 403 UV bandpass filter in their kit built for UV and IR forensic photography. Knowing the limitations of these style UV filters, we set out to test it and see if it actually works for UV photography.

    How can you tell if your UV filter is working properly?

    A spectrometer will tell you the exact transmission profile of your filter by plotting a graph visualizing just how much light is managing to pass through and at which wavelengths. Another much easier way to verify if your UV filter is doing the job or not is to know what you’re looking for and check the images. We’re going to demonstrate the latter DIY method here with a set of filters to compare.

    For this test, we’ll be comparing our Kolari Vision UV Bandpass Filter to another popular UV passing filter, the B+W 403 Ultraviolet. Alongside these two, we’ll also be testing our 720nm Infrared filter as a control to demonstrate what an intentionally infrared image is supposed to look like.

    Test number one will be shot with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens on a Full-Spectrum Sony a6400. Test number two was shot with the Fujifilm 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens (also part of the Fuji Forensics bundle) on a Full-Spectrum Fuji X-T2.

    Test #1: Snapshots of our parking lot in strong sunlight

    Kolari IR 720nm B+W 403 Ultraviolet Kolari UV Bandpass

    We can immediately see a clear difference between all 3 filters, and that the B+W 403 is performing much more like a near-infrared filter than a UV Pass filter. Leaves and foliage are usually highly IR reflective leading to bright if not completely white vegetation in infrared images. While producing some different coloration, the 720nm and B+W 403 both prominently display this property.

    Our UV pass filter, on the other hand, creates very dark if not black foliage. We can also see that the most UV reflective object in the frame is the siding of our building. This is likely due to a UV reflective treatment to the siding to protect from long term sun damage. To Fuji’s credit, the 60mm F/2.4 Macro is actually a good lens for UV photography.

    Test #2: Sunscreen Lotion

    Kolari IR 720nm B+W 403 Ultraviolet Kolari UV Bandpass

    As of late, filming in UV has been a favorite method for companies to advertise the effectiveness of their sunscreen lotion, so we’re using that method in reverse here. If the sunscreen is absorbing UV light, it should appear very dark or black. Though the lotion does glisten brightly from certain angles, our filter is the only one showing UV absorption while the B+W 403 is once again performing more like an infrared filter.

    Interestingly, the lotion seems almost transparent when viewed through the B+W 403 Ultraviolet. On another side note, the healing wound on my thumb contrasts much more strongly with the surrounding skin with the Kolari UV Bandpass than it does with the B+W UV or the 720nm IR filters. These characteristics are all very strong indicators of whether or not an image is composed of purely UV light or if it is contaminated with other, undesired wavelengths.

    Filter Transmission

    A look at each filter’s spectral response curve as measured by our spectrometer shows the underlying reasons why both of the UV pass filters are producing such different results. Our UV Bandpass filter on the left is blocking enough infrared light to prevent contamination of the image. Due to the much higher sensitivity, most sensors have to block the out of band signal VERY strongly. We found during development that even 0.1% transmission peaks could wash out the UV signal.

    As you can see from the graph, the B+W 403 Ultraviolet is letting in so much infrared light alongside the UV that it is almost completely overpowering the exposure, leading to what is essentially a near-infrared image. The only way the B+W 403 could be used on its own to create a purely ultraviolet image is in a controlled environment with no infrared light present, or to use it with UV film with no IR sensitivity, AKA how it was initially designed to be used.

    Combining this filter with another hot mirror style filter to block the IR signal and allow UV can also work, and we hope this is the recommendation Fuji provided their clients, however nothing provided in the Forensics bundle can be used in combination to make this UV filter work properly. Both the B+W UV/IR Cut MRC 486M filter, and the new Tiffen T1 filter provided in some bundles, block UV light.

    See below for some comments on the B+W UV/IR Cut MRC 486M filter provided with the Fuji Forensics kit. Using this type of dual-pass UV filter on a digital full spectrum camera will simply not work for UV photography alone. We shutter to think about how much evidence may have been shot with the B+W 403 and interpreted as a UV signal, when really what was being captured was infrared.

    Our 39mm UV Bandpass filter will however work with this forensics kit perfectly and can rescue the Fuji kit. Alternatively, you can order our forensics package designed from the ground up by experts in multi spectral imaging.

    B+W UV/IR Cut MRC 486M

    One minor point on the B+W UV/IR cut filter included with the Fuji Forensics kit. While some hot mirrors can be used in combination with an old-style UV filter to isolate the UV signal, this one cannot. It is an aggressive UV cut filter that blocks the UV signal, while at the same time not blocking enough IR. We’ve tested this filter against our own hot mirror filter, and show that it lets in much more IR light, and produces worse color accuracy when used on a full spectrum camera. Fuji provides two of these filters for their Forensics kit to use with the included lenses to restore normal color for regular photography, where it simply isn’t the best filter for this application. It is also an interference-based filter, which can change transmission at different light angles, causing a color shift towards the edge of the frame with wide-angle lenses.

    Normal camera Full spectrum camera with Kolari Hot Mirror Full spectrum camera with B+W 486 UVIR Cut filter

    If you look at the transmission curve, the B+W 486 filter lets in much more IR light than any normal camera sensor filter. Fuji has started offering the Tiffen T1 IR filter in some bundles which cuts out more IR light, this combined with the B+W 486 should improve color accuracy but we have not tested it ourselves.

    About the author: Pat Nadolski is a photographer and technician at Kolari Vision, an infrared camera conversion business based in New Jersey. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Kolari Vision recently announced the Kolari IR ND filter, which it believes to be the best on the market. You can learn more about the company’s service’s on its website. This article was also published here.

  • Sat, 26 Sep 2020 16:13:54 +0000

    Robotic Nikon D5 DSLRs Installed at Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park

    The Boston Red Sox professional baseball team has partnered with Nikon to have automatic robot cameras installed across its iconic Fenway Park.

    Nikon Professional Services (NPS) installed five state-of-the-art Robotic Pods by Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC) at various key locations in the park.

    The Robotic Pod by Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC), a Nikon Group Company

    The modular camera system housing can be controlled through a custom software interface by a remote operator, and the cameras will be used to capture high-quality photos and videos of Red Sox games during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

    The MHC client interface.

    Inside the weatherproof Robotic Pod housings are Nikon D5 flagship DSLRs with Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR lenses attached. Other lenses can also be swapped in for different photo needs.

    “In the era of social distancing and COVID-19 related constraints, the remote system from automated capture experts MRMC, a Nikon group company, is the solution that minimizes risk and offers operators and photographers a safe way to remotely control cameras to capture amazing content — with the added benefit of more creative options than ever before,” Nikon says.

    The cameras can now be found on the roof of the press box, on the first and third baselines, overlooking center field and the bullpen, and right behind home plate.

    Photographers shooting with the pods have 360-degree movement and zooming capabilities with the ability to pes-set capture points. They can also remotely adjust focus, exposure, and other camera settings.

    “With the system, the photographer/operator can capture high quality photos and videos for broadcast, social media and marketing needs while reducing proximity to other staff and players and gain remote access to restricted areas,” Nikon says. “In fact, a photographer can cover an entire game without ever leaving the booth.”

  • Sat, 26 Sep 2020 15:21:09 +0000

    Estee Lauder Pays NASA $128,000 for Photo Shoot on the ISS

    The cosmetics giant Estee Lauder is paying NASA $128,000 for a product photography shoot onboard the International Space Station.

    Bloomberg reports that the company will be paying the space agency to fly 10 bottles of its Advanced Night Repair skin serum to the orbiting space station on a cargo run that will launch from Virginia on Tuesday and dock on Saturday.

    Once the product is on board, astronauts will be tasked with shooting product photos of the serum floating in the cupola module, which has sweeping panoramic views of Earth and space.

    NASA charges a “professional fee” of $17,500 per hour for the astronauts’ time.

    Estee Lauder says it plans to use the resulting photos on social media, where it will see quite a bit of reach — roughly 4 million people follow the brand on Instagram alone. One of the bottles will also be auctioned for charity after it turns from its jaunt in space come spring.

    NASA announced in June 2019 that it was opening the ISS up to both space tourists and commercial activities “so U.S. industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.” Estee Lauder’s upcoming photo shoot will be the second commercial product to launch as part of the new push.

    “We are thrilled to reinforce our leadership once again as the first beauty brand to go into space,” says Estee Lauder Group President Stéphane de La Faverie.

    Image credits: Header illustration created with photos by Estee Lauder and Don Pettit/NASA

  • Fri, 25 Sep 2020 17:35:57 +0000

    This Android App Will Show You if Your Smartphone Camera is Spying on You

    The release of iOS 14 for the iPhone brought with it a handy security feature that displays a little green dot on the top of your screen any time your camera is being used. Basically a tally light. But what about Android users? As the saying goes: there’s an app for that.

    An Android app called Access Dots, created by XDA developer jagan2, does for the Android smartphones what iOS 14 did automatically for iPhone users: it uses little colored dots to show you when your camera or microphone is in use.

    While Android 9 does include notifications for apps that are using the camera or mic in the background, many users disregard or even silence these alerts. Having a little green dot staring you in the face no matter which app you’re using or what screen you’re on is arguably much more effective at getting your attention.

    On the down side, this is a third-party implementation that will (ironically) need accessibility privileges in order to notice when the camera is in use and display said dot; on the up side, the third party implementation means that you get to customize your experience a little bit.

    The free version lets you select the color of the Camera and Microphone dots. If you “donate” to the developer in-app, you’ll get access to more granular control, like changing the size of the dot or choosing its location on the screen. The latest version also maintains an “access log” that lists every app that has used your camera or microphone in chronological order, so you can go back and review.

    As GHacks points out, you may want to install this only temporarily, using it for a few days to see if any unexpected apps are accessing your camera or microphone without your knowledge, and then deleting it. However you choose to use it, Access Dots is one popular solution if you want to make sure nobody is using your smartphone’s camera to spy on you.

    Click here to learn more or download it for yourself from the Google Play store.

  • Fri, 25 Sep 2020 16:46:21 +0000

    Canon EOS R5 Underwater Photo and Video Review

    The summer 2020 release of the Canon EOS R5 made one thing clear – Canon has decided to set the photographic standard for this decade. Without a doubt, the EOS R5 is the top image maker of 2020 and could potentially go unmatched in the camera world for another few years.

    It is the first full frame mirrorless camera to offer 8K video capability and features a specs sheet that puts it at the top of its class. The EOS R5 directly answers many of the concerns that photographers had with the original EOS R camera and promises significant updates to important functions including autofocus, stabilization, continuous burst shooting, and video.

    Despite the Sony A7R IV‘s dominance in the underwater camera market over the last year, it is likely that the Canon EOS R5 will be even more popular as the camera of choice for both underwater photographers and videographers.

    Some lucky individuals on our staff at Bluewater Photo were given the opportunity to capture some of the first underwater photos and video with the Canon EOS R5. After braving long drives, difficult shore entries, long swims, windstorms, and post-apocalyptic levels of wildfire smoke, we feel quite confident that we put this camera to the test in the harshest conditions the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We also feel confident in saying that the Canon EOS R5 might just be our favorite camera we’ve ever shot underwater.

    Yes, that’s right. Say goodbye to your Canon DSLRs, Nikons, and Sonys.

    With the R5, Canon has reached the ultimate balance of great glass, great resolution, great autofocus, great dynamic range, and pretty much great everything.

    Although Canon got everything right with the R5 from the ergonomics to the performance, they also got one important thing wrong: their marketing. After the original flop of the Canon EOS R, Canon’s marketing department got the memo that specs matter and took the mantra to the extreme. By January of 2020, the R5 had garnered a cult-like following drooling for 8K video, internal RAW recording, and 4K @120p. Yes, the R5 does all these things, but with limited availability.

    Before you read this review, please unread anything you may have read about this camera. While the R5 is a great video camera, it is, in fact, the very best stills camera on the market for underwater photography. So think of it as a stills camera first, with amazing hybrid video capability. It is not a dedicated video camera. For that, we have the Sony A7S III. Alright, let us begin…

    Spectacular resolution with the Canon EOS R5. Photo of a mosshead warbonnet captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite housing, Canon 100 mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, Kraken +13 diopter, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/16, 1/160, ISO 100

    Canon EOS R5 Compared with Canon EOS R

    The Canon EOS R was Canon’s first attempt at a full-frame mirrorless camera. With many good options form Sony and Nikon, it fell short. Fortunately, the Canon EOS R5 addresses many of the concerns that Canon EOS R users brought up. Though I would like to interject and say that the Canon EOS R was one of our favorite cameras that we tested underwater.

    For underwater photography, Canon was lagging behind Sony and Nikon because of a lack of in-body image-stabilization. The Canon EOS R5 is Canon’s first camera with IBIS, capable of 7-8 stops of correction when combined with a stabilized lens. The EOS R5 also features a new 45 MP CMOS sensor – addressing concerns that the EOS R was not a high enough resolution for professionals. Furthermore, the EOS R5 has the capability of shooting 12 frames per second with the mechanical shutter (20 fps electronic), vs the 8fps on the EOS R! Did we mention dual card slots?

    For underwater videography, Canon fell short of its competitors with its original EOS R by offering cropped 4K video. The EOS R5 not only goes above-and-beyond addressing these concerns – it is industry changing. The EOS R5 is capable of capturing 8K 10 bit 4:2:2 @ 30p RAW video recorded internally – and the option of recording in 4K ProRes RAW externally simultaneously! The camera is also capable of 4K video using the full width of the sensor at an amazing 120p! The R5 will be able to capture video with dual pixel autofocus, full AF in all modes. The EOS R5 will be one of the first consumer level cameras to offer 8K video, so it’s already a very popular camera for underwater video.

    Canon EOS R5 Key Specs

    • New 45 Megapixel Full-Frame CMOS Sensor and Digic X processor
    • Canon’s first 5 axis In-Body Image-Stabilization (IBIS) which works in conjunction with optical IS RF and EF lenses. Up to 8 stops of correction
    • Improved Dual Pixel II Autofocus
    • 5,940 AF points
    • 100% of the sensor has AF coverage!
    • ISO 100 – 51,200
    • Animal eye AF detection (for birds, cats, and dogs) – it works on macro fish 20-40% of the time!
    • 12fps burst shooting with mechanical shutter
    • 20 fps burst shooting with silent (electronic shutter)
    • 180 shot RAW image buffer
    • Dual card slots – 1x CFexpress and 1x SD UHS-II
    • 8K video @ 30p, 10- bit 4:2:2 – using the full width of the sensor!
    • Internal RAW and C-Log recording
    • 4K oversampled video up to 120p, 10-bit 4:2:2
    • 5.69 million dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
    • Dimensions: 135.8 X 97.5 X 88mm
    • Weight: 738 grams (with card and battery)
    • Canon EOS R5 Key Features

      Body, Build, Ergonomics, and Battery Life

      We find the build of the Canon EOS R5 to be a little more plastic-y than we would like. But when we first got the R5 in our hands, we were amazed at how small the body was considering it’s video processing capabilities. No wonder there are recording limits! If you want 8K video from a body this small, there are going to be some compromises. The weather sealing on the camera is great. At one point during our tests, we needed to open the housing on the beach and we felt confident that the camera would be ok – even after a little sand and water dropped onto the body. We don’t recommend it, of course, but the camera is pretty solid for most conditions you might find on a dive trip.

      The Canon EOS R5 is built similarly to the EOS R and EOS R6. As a mirrorless camera, it’s a tad bit smaller than its DSLR counterparts. But it’s still a substantial camera with a nice grip.

      In most cases, due to the size of RF and EF glass, underwater housing manufacturers will need to use their DSLR port systems. Full EOS R5 underwater systems are about the same size as a DSLR system, despite the added size benefits of mirrorless cameras. For most manufacturers, we expect the EOS R5 to need a separate housing from the R6 and EOS R.

      The button placement on the camera is well thought-out and the ergonomics of the EOS R5 are excellent. In fact, the ergonomics just might be the best in its class of mirrorless camera across all brands. Canon discontinued the use of the touch bar that many found annoying on the original EOS R. They replaced it with a classic joystick control and added a wheel to the back of the camera, instead of a D-pad.

      We think these button improvements make it an even more compelling camera from the standpoint of usability – clearly surpassing the Sony A7R IV. This is especially the case if you do a lot of topside shooting as the joystick is a breeze to use above water. However, many underwater housings will not support the joystick which will leave underwater shooters with the dials to control their settings underwater instead of the D-pad. This can take some getting used to, but we found that it actually made switching settings a bit quicker once the muscle memory was built into our fingers.

      The battery life of the EOS R5 is acceptable. It could be better, but it will be enough for almost a whole day of diving if you are just taking photos. We found that we could get about 3 dives out of one battery taking both photos and videos (about 200-300 photos and 6-8 minutes of video). If you are just taking video, the battery life is about one hour (i.e., one to two dives).

      Canon EOS R5 in an Ikleite EOS R5 Housing during our field tests

      Video Overheating Concerns

      Although the EOS R5 has a lot to brag about when it comes to video specs, there is a major caveat. Because of the camera’s smaller size and extreme processing power, we actually think the EOS R5 was built a little too small for its spec sheet. Canon ultimately decided not to include a dedicated cooling system in the body in favor of portability – leading to some issues with overheating while shooting 8K video or high frame rates. Canon has been forthcoming about the exact runtime limitations of the body due to heat with a recent statement.

      At 8K, the EOS R5 will be able to record for about 20 minutes at room temperature until it needs to shut down for 10 minutes before it can shoot one minute of video again. After that, it can record for a maximum of 3 minutes unless there is a longer wait period. The camera won’t fully reset unless it turns off for about half an hour. At 4K and 120 fps, the max run time at room temperature drops to 15 minutes.

      This will be a concern for warm water divers, and we do recommend adding silica desiccant packets to and underwater system to prevent fogging. Cold water underwater photographers and videographers may fare better with this camera.

      To obtain a more accurate assessment on how bad the overheating issue may be for underwater videographers, we decided to put the Canon EOS R5 through an underwater overheating test. The overall assessment was that an underwater videographer should have approximately 20-25 minutes of consecutive or nonconsecutive video during a dive at 8K @ 30p with internal RAW recording and slightly less time with 4K @ 120fps. Due to the recovery times that are necessary before you can shoot video again, once the camera reaches its overheating limit, it is essentially done for the dive.

      For most photographers and hybrid shooters this won’t be an issue. However, serious video shooters may want to consider the A7S III if they need those high frame rates. Fortunately, 4K @ 60p shouldn’t cause issues with overheating during a dive and we recommend shooting at that resolution and frame rate anyway.

      You can see the full results of our overheating test here.

      Please Note: Photographers should not be concerned about the overheating issue. The Canon EOS R5 does not overheat when taking photos!

      Improved Image Quality and Processing

      The Canon EOS R5 is Canon’s first high resolution, full-frame mirrorless camera. They designed a 45 megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor specifically for the R5. The original 30 megapixels in the Canon EOS R didn’t quite cut it for us when we compared it to other cameras like the Nikon Z7 and Sony A7R IV. An extra 15 megapixels puts the R5 firmly in the “high resolution class” – ideal for large prints, macro crops, and all-around mouth watering photography.

      For underwater photographers who are considering the EOS R5 for the high resolution sensor, we should mention that more megapixels can add noise in some situations – especially low light photography. However, we really didn’t find this to be an issue when we took photos with the R5 like it was with the A7R IV. The images were all very clean, even at slightly higher ISOs. Any noise that we got in our images was fine grained and easy to remove in post. If you are looking for amazing, sharp images in a high performing stills camera, we think the Canon EOS R5 is second to none – especially when paired with Canon’s amazing lineup of RF and EF lenses.

      The Canon EOS R5 is equipped with the same DIGIC X processor used in the 1DX Mark III. Certainly, the processing power is the key to the 8K video and amazing 12 fps/20 fps electronic frame rates boasted by Canon. Due to this processing power, the R5 is also capable of a 180 shot RAW image buffer. At 20fps, that’s 9 seconds of continuous shooting! It’s a truly impressive feat that is going to tantalize any underwater photographer looking to shoot quick subjects or owns a quick pair of strobes like the Sea & Sea YS-D3 or Ikelite DS 161.

      Photo of a yawning sculpin with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite housing, Canon 100 mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/8, 1/160, ISO 160

      In-Body Image-Stabilization

      In-body image-stabilization, or IBIS, is a mechanical system built into a camera that moves the sensor to compensate for camera shake. This can allow photographers to take sharp, hand-held photos at slow shutter speeds that previously weren’t possible. IBIS has been common in full-frame mirrorless camera competitors like the Nikon Z series and Sony A7 series, but the EOS R5 and R6 are Canon’s first IBIS capable camera. When combined with an optically stabilized RF and EF lenses, the EOS R5 is allegedly capable of recovering up to 8 stops of exposure!

      This is very beneficial to underwater photographers and underwater videographers alike. Underwater photographers will be able to shoot at slower shutter speeds in low light and limited visibility conditions while suffering less motion blur. Underwater videographers will be able to capture stable, handheld video in underwater environments that are notorious for their instability. Combined, with 4K @ 120fps, videographers will have the ultimate hand held underwater video system.

      At the end of our dives with the R5, we realized that the IBIS offered in the Canon EOS R5 ended up being our favorite feature on the camera. When we tested the IBIS for still, we found that we were able to get amazingly crisp photos at 1/13th of a second exposures (@15mm)!! When we tested the IBIS with a 100mm macro lens in video modes, we found that the video was about as still as we had ever captured handheld. There have been some complaints about warpiness in the IBIS in video mode, but Canon seems to have fixed the issue – at least, it’s not noticeable in our underwater video.

      A perfect example of the amazing 5 axis IBIS in the Canon EOS R5. 1/13s, f/22, ISO 200. Ikelite EOS R5 housing, Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter.

      Top-of-the-line Autofocus

      Although it isn’t discussed as much as the EOS R5’s video specs, there have been some truly astounding improvements to the R5’s autofocus capability. Foremost, the R5 is the first full-frame mirrorless camera with 100% autofocus point coverage! This means you can place an AF point anywhere on the sensor. As underwater photographers, we are often put in positions requiring awkward composition and uncentered focal points. The R5 is the ultimate compositional tool.

      Underwater videographers are going to be able to pair Canon’s amazing dual pixel autofocus with 100% AF coverage to capture any subject in motion.

      Canon is also boasting animal eye autofocus that is better developed than its competitors – capable of photographing cats, birds, and dogs. We’ve tried animal eye AF with Sony and Nikon and have had mixed luck with capturing fish eyes. Overall, we’ve found Canon’s autofocus tracking system to be slightly less accurate than Sony’s but much better than Nikon’s.

      When it came to animal eye autofocus tracking, we’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that when we shot macro photos, the camera was able to detect fish eyes and faces about 20-40% of the time depending on the species. When it couldn’t detect the face, the AF tracking worked anyway as long as we selected the correct AF point. In non-tracking modes, Canon’s AF is just a tad slower than Sony’s but certainly useable at a professional level in almost every photographic situation.

      A moon jelly under the sun captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite EOS R5 housing, Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/22, 1/160, ISO 100

      Canon EOS R5 for Underwater Photography

      The Canon EOS R 5 is clearly one of the best tools on the market for underwater photography. A higher resolution, 45MP sensor places the camera in the same niche as the Nikon Z7 and Sony A7R III/A7R IV. Macro photographers will appreciate the ability to shoot at a higher resolution to crop on minute details. Other working professionals will appreciate the ability to produce large prints. And with amazing burst speeds of up to 12 fps mechanical and 20 fps electronic, the EOS R5 will be an excellent camera for wide angle shooters who need to photograph quick, moving subjects.

      Canon’s first rendition of IBIS in a camera promises 7-8 stops recovered with an image stabilized lens. That’s massively exciting for cold water underwater photographers that shoot in low-light situations. To top it all off, 100% autofocus coverage and improved dual pixel autofocus tracking will give creators the capability to produce artistic works of art with unorthodox composition.

      Overall, we think this camera is the best camera on the market for underwater photography. The resolution is just the right level to capture amazing, detailed images with very little noise. The dynamic range is beautiful. IBIS is our favorite feature of the camera, allowing us to take crisp underwater photos even at 1/13th of a second! The autofocus speed and autofocus tracking rarely failed us in our underwater test.

      Any photographer looking to by the top of the line mirrorless camera on the market for stills photos should be looking at the Canon EOS R5. If you want the highest resolution possible, then the Sony A7R IV might be a better option. But if you want an all around great camera, with a high quality selection of lenses, we like the Canon EOS R5.

      Canon EOS R5 for Underwater Video

      What might be even more exciting than 8K video is the R5’s ability to capture 4K @ 120p and 60p using the full width of the sensor. Finally: no crop factor in a Canon mirrorless camera! It’s what underwater videographers have waiting years for. Higher frame rates allow underwater videographers to slow down their footage and stabilize the inherent motion that comes from filming underwater. The 4K video will be oversampled which means it will have more detail than normal 4K video and the lack of a crop factor will allow videographers to take full advantage of their lenses.

      We think that Canon nailed the R5 as a video camera, but they failed at the marketing. They should have presented it for what it is: an amazing stills camera that can capture some spectacular video. If you want to capture spectacular video for most use cases, then shooting 4K @ 60p will allow you to avoid overheating as well as capture some beautiful video.

      We think that this is still one of the best cameras on the market for underwater video, but videographers will need to be willing to only use special features like 8K or 4K @120p during special, short situations.

      Who Should Consider Purchasing the Canon EOS R5?

      The Canon EOS R5 is one of those rare cameras that would work perfectly for any professional underwater photographer or videographer. It features in-body image-stabilization and resolutions high enough for avid macro photographers. It has burst shooting abilities good enough for wide angle shooters. The video is excellent and has the potential to revolutionize underwater video.

      We think any underwater creative in 2020 should consider purchasing the EOS R5 unless they are a serious video shooter that needs long run times over 20 minutes before overheating.

      An urchin under the sun captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite EOS R5 housing, Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/22, 1/160, ISO 100

      Underwater Housings for the EOS R5

      Due to the anticipated popularity of the Canon EOS R5, we anticipate housing from all leading underwater housing manufactures, Therefor, there will be great aluminum housing options from Isotta, Sea & Sea, Aquatica, and Nauticam. An excellent polycarbonate option can be expected from Ikelite.

      If you are upgrading to the Canon EOS R5 from the EOS R, you will need a new housing. The EOS R6 will likely require a separate housing as well, but this has not yet been determined for most brands.


      After months of drooling over the thought of shooting the Canon EOS R5, the last few dives that we had with the camera feel like an extension of our dream. The R5 rocks. It’s great. We love it. It is definitely the camera of 2020. If you are looking for an amazing high resolution stills camera with quick burst shooting, accurate AF tracking with high AF speeds, some of the best IBIS on the market, dual card slots, great dynamic range, minimal noise, and all-around spectacular video then you’ve found your camera.

      After multiple dives with the R5, the content we captured given the conditions we had was nothing short of a miracle. This camera allows you to perceive the world and interact with your environment in ways that weren’t capable with other cameras. The IBIS lets you conquer darker depths and turbulent waters. The autofocus tracking puts you on friendly terms with the most anxious of fish. The burst rates allow you to capture the split seconds between life and death or everything in between.

      Yes, Canon did a poor job in marketing the R5’s video capability. But that shouldn’t hinder anyone from reading between the lines and seeing the R5 for what it truly is – the best all around content creation tool you could take underwater.

      Kelp Forest captured with the Canon EOS R5 in an Ikelite EOS R5 housing, Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, dual Ikelite DS 161 strobes, and Ikelite Canon TTL converter. f/25, 1/6.3, ISO 250

      About the author: Nirupam Nigam is head of marketing at Bluewater Photo and the Editor-in-chief of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is an avid underwater photographer with degrees in fisheries science and biology.

      You can read more of his camera reviews here or here. The review was originally published here.

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