Fantasea Eyes for FP7000 – Product Review
A couple of years ago , Fantasea, an experienced and well-known manufacturer for underwater housings, started developing a line of underwater optical accessories for the industryï¿½s most common underwater housings.
Since then, this line has undergone serious improvements which brings us to the optics package I would like to review today for the Fantasea FP7000 housing designed for the Nikon Coolpix P7000 Digital Camera.
The products included in this review are:
- Fantasea Big Eye (Wide Angle) Lens for the FP7000 housing.
- Fantasea Eye Grabber (Lens Holder) for the Big Eye Lens, Red/Pink Filter and Eyedapter.
- Fantasea Red Eye (Red Filter) for the FP7000 housing (similar Pink Filter also available but was not tested).
Another Optical accessory Fanatsea are offering for the FP7000 is the Eyedapter FP700-F67 which allows mounting any 67mm accessory such as filter and Close Up lenses on the FP7000 housing. I have not tested this product but knowing the previous adapters Fantasea has made , this adapter will be great for its purpose.
The Big Eye lens is a glass wide angle dome lens designed for the FP7000.ï¿½ Being an air lens (one thats pressure resistant and filled with air), it is designed to reduce the magnification effect the water has on the optics and return the cameras angle of view to its normal view it was originally designed for while adding a little bit of extra view.
Here are the specifications according to the Fantasea Website:
- Depth rated to 60m/200 feet
- Field of view recovery (magnification): 127% (0.57x)
- Lens material: Optical glass, hard coated plastic and anodized aluminum
- Weight: 498g
- Dimensions: 157x77mm
- Dedicated slot for color correction filters
In reality, just to be practical, the camera with this lens will operate as if it had a 24-25mm lens on it (35mm equivalent).
The big eye was designed in a unique shape that will let it clip on and off from the housing’s port or the Eye Grabber.ï¿½ This clip takes a little bit of time to get used to but once you master the exact angle in which they should be connected, you will find that this is the simplest way of connecting and disconnecting a lens underwater.
This new generation of Big Eye lenses has a color filter insert at the back.ï¿½ This means that one can use the Red / Pink Filter with the lens and remove or insert it very easily underwater. The filter is designed as a plastic card that snaps into the back of the bigeye without much effort.
The Big Eye lens requires the camera to be in Macro mode in order to focus behind it , this is obviously an optical necessity that is very easy to forget. Luckily the P7000ï¿½s LCD screen is large and clear enough that after a few shots you will notice your photos lack focus and remember what you just forgot which is putting the camera at macro mode.
One slight con of using a wide angle lens is that it causes the images to be slighly blurred and distorted around the corners and sides of the image.ï¿½ While this produces a nice effect, it is a slight distortion one needs to take into account when using this lens.
The big eye comes with an included Neoprene cover and secure line which are very important to keep your lens safe.
Fantasea created a very nice video demonstrating the optics underwater , it can be viewed here: http://vimeo.com/28055813
The Eye Grabber is a plastic adapter mimicking the housings port and serving as a lens holder.ï¿½ It has a T-slide mount which allows mounting it on any arm if one has the right T2 slide adapter on.ï¿½ The Eye Grabber is as simple to use as the cameras port and is a must when diving with the Big Eye and an external arm.
In most dives, I would like to put on and remove the wide angle lens at least 2 or 3 times and as this lens is delicate and quite large, there is no other place to hold it but the eye grabber.
This lens holder is exclusively provided by Fantasea, it is the only one that can hold the big eye lenses and it is also capable of holding the rest of the FP7000 accessories such as the Red/Pink filters and the Eyedapter for 67mm.
Fantasea new generation Red Filters are a big improvement.ï¿½ The main reason is that they can be put behind the Big Eye lens and easily inserted and removed during dives underwater.
The filter is designed as a plastic card which can either be inserted behind the Big Eye or mounted on a dedicated holder that clips on the port by itself.ï¿½ This means you can shoot with it with or without the Big Eye lens.
The optics are quite trivial here, just a Red or Pink filter to color correct the waterï¿½s red absorption.ï¿½ The results are very good, much easier than photoshopping each shot and thus losing the images quality and clarity.
The filter produces too redish results shallower than 6 meters and performs at its best at around 10-15 mts depth but by using a camera such as the Nikon P7000 which has very simple to use manual white balance , one can use this feature to compensate for the limitations of the filter and choose colder color temperatures above 6 mts and warmer colors below 15 mts.
As it is very easy to insert and remove, one can shoot up to 6 mts without it and mount it while deepening.
The Red filter includes a secure line that will help you insert and remove the filter undewater and keep it safe.
The Big Eye optic package for the FP7000 is a breakthrough in the compact underwater photography industry.ï¿½ By investing a small amount of money (Fantasea were able to bring these products at a great price point) you could significantly improve your photos underwater.
I would recommend this package as a must to any FP7000 owner, especially in unclear waters , having the wide angle lens is crucial to getting clear photos.
Here are some sample Shots (Click on an image to enlarge):
|FP7000 with Blue Ray Package , 2 strobes , Big Eye and Red filter card||Big Eye shot at 23 mts.|
|Big Eye Assembled||Red Filter shot at 8 mts – Perfect colors|
|Red filter at around 5 mts.. too Redish||Bigeye and Red Filter Together – Perfect shot|