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Old April 13th, 2012, 06:56 AM   #1
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Wide Angle conversion lens in Sony Sportpack SPK-HCH

Is there anybody using a wide angle conversion lens inside Sony' Sportpacks?
What lens are you using?
What about lens flare?

I want to buy Sony's new CX730 camera
HDR-CX730E (HDRCX730E, HDRCX730EB.CEH) : Technical Specifications : Cameras & camcorders : Sony
(same as CX760, PJ760 etc) to shoot watersports; surf, kite, windsurf etc.
Sony suggests the SPK-HCH housing
SPK-HCH (SPKHCH, SPKHCH.CE8) : Accessory finder : Sony
But In the manual it says you need to remove any filters and adaptors for use in the housing. A call to Sony confirmed the same thing.
I think I have read before that some people managed to create space for a wide angle conversion lens by modifying the tray and fixing the camera more backward.

Looking at the design of the housing, especially the border around the port I was wondering how wide you can go? Another concern is that the CX730 features Sony's new "Balanced" Optical Image Stabilization which basically moves the whole camera block. I think this will show the housings frame in the borders.

Thanks for any thoughts!
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Old April 13th, 2012, 11:18 AM   #2
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Re: Wide Angle conversion lens in Sony Sportpack SPK-HCH

Hi Anton -

Got your PM, let's see what I can tell you that might help... first off the new 730 I believe has a 58mm filter thread? I'm presuming it's the same general specs as the US CX760, which departed from the traditional Sony 37mm?

I know the "best" WA solution for the CX5xx and CX700 was the HGA07 or the HGA07B (37mm threading), both of which are thinner front to back than the older HG series lenses, and don't seem to have vignetting with the ultra wide stock lens of the newer Sonys. Not sure how much that super duper new stabilization system will increase the lens block movement or if it would cause issues with anything on the corners/edges... it looked like it might be able to move quite a lot!

So, while I am NOT yet familiar with the latest Sonys... here's what I'd suggest - first, the stock lens is pretty wide to start with, and if you also need to zoom in, a WA may be counterproductive. Not sure with surf shoots which end of the lens range will be most important to you, but I would think that the stock lens might well do the trick right out of the box?

If you still think you need a wider angle, you'll need to test some lenses to see whether they will vignette - it's quite possible that they will, defeating your goals. I don't know if Sony is releasing new lenses for the new thread diameter or not... but you'll need very high grade glass, not some cheap import lens, to keep up with the sensor in the cam, so that may limit your choices. You run the risk of degrading your image by adding a WA if the optics aren't up to snuff.

As for the SPK, usually there is a little space between the front port glass (which is plenty big in diameter so you shouldn't have to worry about it getting in your frame in most circumstances) and the front of the camera, typically NOT enough to fit a WA in there in "stock" configuration. It is possible to re-engineer one of the plates usually - I can't say the exact process, as Sony changes the plates with every version from what I can tell (also to fit "current" camera line). I will tell you that you can usually you can re-position the camera in the viewport with a lot of leeway to center it and easily avoid the edges showing in your frame. You also usually need to move the camera back some, and it may affect whether you can see the entire LCD in the mirror...

I don't usually visit this particular part of DVi, but thought it easiest to respond to you here - if you have any other Q's and I don't respond here give me a shout out PM again!
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Old April 14th, 2012, 02:29 AM   #3
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Re: Wide Angle conversion lens in Sony Sportpack SPK-HCH

Wow! Thanks so much for the reply Dave, you are very generous!!

The CX730 should be the same model than the US PJ760.
This is the UK page:
HDR-CX730E (HDRCX730E, HDRCX730EB.CEH) : Overview : Cameras & camcorders : Sony

So it looks like the new filter diameter is 52mm.
What I don't get is when selecting the accessories tab on Sony's product page they suggest the*VCL-HGA07B as a compatible wide conversion lens.
Looking at the specs for this lens VCL-HGA07B (VCLHGA07B, VCLHGA07B.AE) : Accessory finder : Sony
It's diameter is Φ37/Φ30mm??
The mention the lens as "previous mode"l though. Maybe a new lens is in the makes?
I'll call Sony and see if they can tell me something about the new diameter..

Now about the cameras dimensions and how much space is left inside the housing.
I think I read you have been using a CX700 in a Sportpack with a wide angle conversion lens am I right?
Was it the HGA07B lens? And if you also remember which Sportpack exactly?
Maybe some previous models are bigger than the latest SPK-HCH pack?

I was looking to compare the CX730 dimensions:
Depth (mm)*137.5
Height (mm)*73.5
Width (mm)*67.5
With the CX700 dimensions but I found different sizes on websites like Aazon, B&H etc.
At the end I found the official Asian Sony page HDR-CX700 : Flash / Memory Stick : Handycam Camcorder : Sony Asia Pacific
that specifies the dimensions:
Depth (mm) 138
Height (mm) 72.5
Width (mm) 62

Almost the same, so if you have used the CX700 inside a Sportpack with a wide angle by modifying the tray, I am good to go..
Another question, I read in the SPK manual http://pdf.crse.com/manuals/4419631011.pdf
about the "reflex prevention ring". I used a SPK many years ago, but I can't remember if there was such a ring. Off course this can't be used with a wide lens adaptor.
What about flare and reflections? When shooting surf I am in front light conditions with quite a few times the sun in the viewfinder!

Anyway I will take your advice and get the camera + SPK and do some test sessions without an adaptor and see if it's wide enough. I will update the post with some pictures when I finally have them set up.

Thanks very much for your reply!!
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Old April 17th, 2012, 03:07 PM   #4
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Re: Wide Angle conversion lens in Sony Sportpack SPK-HCH

I have some suspicions about the thread diameter, as I noticed something in the description about a step down adapter...

I doubt the lens block and lens REQUIRE a larger diameter filter thread. aside from perhaps that new stabilizer, which seems like it could have significantly more physical excursion, which of course could cause the framing to move enough that you'd get the corners showing the adapter or the lens - I know that was the case with earlier cameras, you could actually see the edges of the WA lens moving in and out of the frame with the optical stabilization, at least on some lenses and hoods!

It's "possible" that the HGA07/HGA07B would work with a step down ring just fine as long as you're not moving around TOO violently, and that's why they still show it as an accessory... OR it could be one of the all too common "glitches" in technical specs, and won't work... without a 760 in hand, can't tell ya, I know the properties on any CX5xx series and the CX700. but it'll probably be a while before I pop for one of the new cams, just did the upgrade of the Alpha/still cams with video...

Aa far as I know the basic SPK "shell" had remained the same since about the HCB (we're now at "HCH") - with only changes to the "sleds" that the camera mounts to, that slide into the physical "shell". In other words, you can probably use ANY of the SPK's, they should have the A/V cable LANC interface, and you just have to mod the sleds as needed.

The HGA07B is the thinnest WA lens from front to back, and I actually need to go back and re-fit for those and the CX700. The joys of "upgrading" on a regular basis! I don't use the sport packs THAT often, so they are one of the last things I upgrade... actually reminds me I've got a couple that I should sell, as they don't fit an Alpha camera, and I'll be using the SPK's only in the rare extreme weather situation... not shooting with the Handycams as much what with some of the other cameras I've got that "also" shoot video!

The "reflex previention ring" is nothing more than a black plastic non glossy disc that threads into the filter threads - if you look at MOST Sonys. there's this lovely CHROME trim around the lens that makes it look all shiny and purty in the store... between that and the lettering you typically see around a lens area, you've got a situation ripe for NASTY reflections off the front port! The ring is a cheap easy way to block off those chrome rings - you could just as easily use a step up adapter from the camera thread to something rather large enough to cover any potentially offending chrome - or in an emergency, black electrical tape would serve the same purpose although rather crudely!

Of course if you customize the mounting, you can set it up so the camera lens is as close as possible to the front port, minimizing the problem. This positioning will probably differ from the "stock" positioning that the "out of the box" sleds provide.

Hope this will help you in the process!
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Old April 29th, 2012, 05:52 AM   #5
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Re: Wide Angle conversion lens in Sony Sportpack SPK-HCH


I have the sony cx760 and have used the CX700. The 760 has a very wide lens. I do under water too and think you will not need a wide angle lens. I also have use of the HDR-SR1 and the 760 is much wider. I would need a wide angle lens on the SR1 but not the 760. I put an old sony 37mm wide lens and had to zoom in to get rid of vignetting. The 760 is a great camera. Hope this helps.

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