Underwater Macro with the D800E in the Lembeh Straits (Underwater.kr dive photography competition)

Started Dec 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Kay Burn Lim New Member • Posts: 5
Underwater Macro with the D800E in the Lembeh Straits (Underwater.kr dive photography competition)

Just returned from an excellent trip participating in the inaugural Underwater.kr shootout in Lembeh Straits, Indonesia. It was my first time using the D800E in competition and the second dive trip with it. I had previously used DX D7000 and D300 cameras.

The move to FX especially for shooting macro underwater was extremely frustrating. I couldn't fill the frame like I used to and struggled with DOF. My previous style of shooting allowed me to get much more in focus when using a DX camera and shooting macro. However, after a few dives and two trips, I am starting to enjoy it. Shooting in DX mode on the camera is truly like adding an instant TC without using any glass. Yes, you can crop after the fact, but in competitions, you must submit a RAW file and cropping in post is generally not allowed or restricted (as is other post processing). Switching to DX mode means you still MUST frame within the DX area as outlined by a red box within the viewfinder. The RAW file will only record within the box.
I thought I would share some of my submissions for the competition to show what the D800E is capable of underwater. I was fortunate enough to place in a few categories. *
1st place DSLR
1st place Supermacro
1st place Unrestricted
2nd place Unrestricted *
Almost everything here is tiny. Mostly 0.5 to 2cm long (with the green shrimp at only 3mm). They were shot using a Nikon D800E, a 105VR Nikkor lens and a 1.4 TC (at times) in a Nauticam housing with stacked wet diopters. Either one or two Sea & Sea YS-110a strobes were used to light the subjects.
As per competition rules, no more than 10% crop was allowed on any of these final images with the exception of the Unrestricted category. Minimal Photoshop work is allowed such as slight use of exposure and contrast sliders. We were not allowed to create black backgrounds in post using the raw converter. Minor cloning of a few dots of backscatter was allowed... perhaps up to 5-6 spots as per your own discretion. The images uploaded here are the same as those submitted for judging, only resized for internet use.

If there are photos that were not submitted for the competition or taken before or after, I will label them accordingly and will also add them to this thread.
I do hope you enjoy viewing this set. C&C is welcome as usual. More pics from the trip can be seen here;


1st Place DSLR
Bargabanti Pygmy Seahorse
Approximately 1 cm tall and pregnant

1st Place Supermacro *
Green Shrimp (yet unnamed species)
Discovered a year ago. About 3-4mm tall and carrying eggs

1st Place Unrestricted
Swimming Common Shrimp
About 8 cm long and shot during a night dive

2nd Place Unrestricted
Porcelain Crab in Green Anemone
About 3 cm wide

Tiger Shrimp *

Soft Coral Crab (0.7cm between eyes)

This is actually a heavy crop of a much larger image. It shows the detail retained even after cropping.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish and eggs
(cuttlefish is 1 cm long and just hatched) *

Pink-eyed Gobies on coral
(Each are between 1 & 2 cm long) This image was pretty much a direct conversion from RAW at full FX mode (36 megapixels)

Nikon D300 Nikon D7000 Nikon D800E
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