I’ve posted in the past about compact system cameras and how I reckon they will end up being good choices for water photography, especially close up fisheye work, the only thing letting them down is the frame rate, sensor size and resolution and lack of shutter release port (in some cases), otherwise they are smaller, less expensive and easier to build housings for.
Enter the Fuji X-A1, the new entry level mirrorless camera from Fuji, I’ve heard good things about Fuji’s cameras, but they’ve been pretty pricey so far and they haven’t quite fixed the issues that would prevent them being used as a water set-up.
This post on Petapixel has the latest details on the new entry level interchangeable lens X-A1: http://petapixel.com/2013/09/06/photos-press-release-detaling-upcoming-entry-level-fuji-x-a1-leaked/#more-122221
The leaked spec’s for the X-A1 might mean that most of the issues have been fixed though, it’s got a 16MP APS-C sensor, that’s the same size sensor as my Canon 60D (the same size that was used to take a quarter of the top 50 red bull illume photo’s this year), with slightly less resolution (nothing major though 16MP is plenty for most applications), and it shoots at 5.6 fps, which is faster than the 60D.
As it’s an entry level body it should be reasonably priced, especially when it’s available second hand after a few months, I think I’ll get rid of the Panasonic GF1 that I have now as a back up and grab something like this when the time comes, the only issue for making a housing will be the shutter release, if it’s like the x-E1 it will work with a standard Canon release, making it very easy to make, but it’s more likely that it will use the usb based proprietary system like the X-M1, which means it’s still possible, but a bigger hassle.
As for lenses, you can get a cheap adapter for the Canon EOS mount, so I could sick my Tokina 10-17mm on there, you get no automatic aperture or focus control obviously but that’s no problem for fisheye, there’s a work around for setting the aperture on the lens if you don’t want it wide open and the focus will generally be taped in place anyway.
If you want a native fisheye lens or you don’t have an EOS lens collection already go for the Samyang 8mm for £285. This set up is going to weigh a fraction of my current rig and be around half the size.
Even if the buffer is small, for fisheye you don’t really need that long a burst to get the action, and you could easily have a housing capable of taking something like the Fujinon 35mm f1.4 which would be a great option for shooting quality shots from the channel.
Mirrorless cameras are going to be the obvious choice for people getting into most types of photography very soon, they haven’t quite got there yet but it won’t be long before you start seeing smaller cameras