Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mirrorless Underwater Setups

Within the next three years I will likely start putting together an underwater mirrorless camera setup. So I decided to price out a few options. They are all with the Sony E mount since my daughter has a camera on the same lens system.

Sony A7rII Camera with Nauticam Housing:
Ok, I will stop pretending this is an option. This will be almost $10,000 once strobes, gopro mounts, and better lenses are included. While mirrorless camera setups have cheaper housings than DSLR cameras, the high end still costs a fortune.

Sony A7II Camera and Meikon Housing:
 The A7II would probably take the best baby photos of the plausible cameras I could get. This may make it an attractive option. Additional cost of strobes would ultimately make sense to add on to this package.

Sony A7S Camera and Meikon Housing:
It is possible that I can get a cheap A7S since the A7SII is just about to come out. If that happens I may elect to go this route. The low light capabilities of the A7S are legendary, allowing photos to be taken of things too dark to see with the naked eye.

Sony A7SII Camera with Meikon Housing:
  • Sony A7SII Camera: ~3,000 (not yet released)
  • Meikon Housing: ~$300 (not yet released)
Having the best low light consumer camera released would be a lot of fun. Risking a $3,000 loss if a $300 housing fails is terrifying however.

Full Sony a6000 setup with Ikelite housing:
This is the nicest setup I could plausibly get. While after taxes it will be something like $4,500 it could be easily bought in pieces over a fairly long time. The camera could be one purchase, the macro lens another, the housing and ports another purchase, and the strobes bought one at a time after that. Probably because of the long delay before the kit is assembled I would wait until the next version of the a6000, although I might be able to get a good enough deal on the a6000 to stick with it.

Partial Sony a6000 setup with Ikelite Housing:
This build has the advantage that it is comparatively cheap, and upgradable to the full setup if it is insufficient. At a minimum it should blow the Gopro away. There is a high probability I will start with this setup.

Sony A7S Camera and Meikon Housing
This is one of the cheapest ways to get started with underwater photography with an E-mount camera. Unfortunately it is not upgradable, and will produce worse images than the other options because of a less nice port. Still, snorkeling it probably does just fine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

College Scorecard

It has previously been very difficult to rank colleges on whether they are a financial disaster. Some reasonable looking schools give students lots of student loans and no more pay than they would get with simply a high school diploma.

The government just made it really easy to figure out whether schools are decent. Now there is a College Scorecard. They took income data from tax returns, so they have a very accurate picture of how much money college graduates make. They also assembled a lot of other information like cost, average debt levels, and graduation rate.

State schools in California still hold up rather well. The big name schools like UC Berkeley, UCLA, or UC Santa Barbara of course have great graduation rates, leave students with good incomes and are relatively cheap. The state college system does a much poorer job, but still is a solid system. For example Fresno State has above average graduation rates, above average incomes for graduates, and a cost which is way below average for in-state students.

A lot of the for profit schools rather predictably do horrible. University of Phoenix for example costs more than average and only about one in eight graduate. Surprisingly those who do graduate make decent income but would clearly have been better off at a state school.