Filming Dahab with the Sony NEX FS100

Michael Zomer from  Kraakhelder Productions recently shot a superb video of Dahab, Egypt using the Sony NEX FS100 and shares his experience with us along with the trials of shooting underwater with an improvised housing. Sometimes it all comes down to using what you’ve got and as Michael shows us, you can create a great cinematic image and story with a little ingenuity.

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I’ve had the SONY NEX FS100 for about six months and I use it for almost all of my video productions.

After using different DSLR’s I believe this is the next level camera I was looking for. It gives me a cinematic image, awesome grading possibilities, full HD 60FPS and great low light performance while still being a ‘Run and Gun’ camera.

Last summer H20 Divers in Dahab offered me to come over and create a short video about the little hippy village they have been operating in. The village is surrounded by beautiful marine life and lies in the Gulf of Aquba, a perfect opportunity to bring the FS100 under the reefs what I’ve always wanted to do.

At first it wasn’t easy taking the camera under water. At the time there wasn’t any official housings out yet, and if there was one like what BS Kinetics makes, it was way out my budget for this production.

I searched the internet for different affordable housings and saw this €150 second hand SONY MPK VX1 housing. I couldn’t find anybody online who tried the FS100 with this yellow submarine before so I had to find it out myself, time for the bathtub-test! I took some toilet paper, filled the housing and tested it in my bathtub. It didn’t show any wet paper so it passed the most important test! Just in case I cleaned al the O-rings and oiled them again. Unfortunately my FS100 didn’t fit in straight away so I had to do some customization.

After removing the old baseplate the FS100 fit in perfectly, even the monitor and the housings recording button worked directly! One disadvantage of using this housing with the FS100 is that there’s no possibility of using the settings buttons, so you’re forced to use the automatic settings on your camera.

I used a lot of information from Michaels blogpost on the Arcturus website to find out what works best for me.

All packed and geared up I went to Dahab and prepared my FS100 for the first video test dive. I took my wide angle Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6 and set the focus endless. I had to set the lens on about 14mm, otherwise the housing created some vignette. I set auto shutter and a manual 5600K white balance, including a red filter.

After this dive I recognized that the auto shutter quickly set itself under 1/25 and created blurry images, so I gained the camera to 6db and this worked out. I didn’t worry about noise since the FS100 knows how to deal with gain and low light conditions. The 5600K balance gave me the best results up until the depth of 15m.

I shot and captured all the footage on 1080p 25fps with a flat profile picture. I have only been using one lens beneath the surface, that’s the Sigma 10-20mm. Next time I also would like to give the Tokina 11-26 f/2.8 a try. On land I’ve been using the following lenses:

-Samyang 35mm f/1.4

-Samyang 14mm f/2.8

-Samyang 8mm f/3.5

-Helios 44-2 2/58

-Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5.6

All of the above resulted in the following video:

Alhamdulillah | About a village called Dahab from Kraakhelder Productions on Vimeo.

I haven’t had much experience filming under water, but my €150 Sony housing made me feel quite comfortable and for me this is the best alternative to capture under water footage with the FS100 (or even the FS700).

Of course you’ll get much more possibilities if you buy or rent a proper housing, but to me it’s way more satisfying to get maximum out of your production while being creative and using minimum amount of resources.

Michael Zomer

www.kraakhelder-productions.nl

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