Kraken KRL-09S Macro to Wide Angle Conversion Wet Lens Review
Introducing the Kraken Sports KRL-09s Wide Angle Conversion Lens: The NEWEST Way to Take Macro and Wide Angle Photos on the Same Dive.....With Just One Wet Lens!
The Kraken KRL-09s wide angle conversion lens is an incredible wet wide angle lens that converts your dry 60mm macro lens (39.7 degree FOV) to a 154 degree wide angle, fisheye field of view. All you have to do is thread the KRL-09s over your macro port, and you'll get beautiful fisheye underwater optics. The Kraken wide angle conversion lens is not just limited to full frame cameras or 60mm macro lenses. It is also compatible with macro lenses of longer focal lengths (e.g., Canon 100mm macro, Nikon 105mm macro, Sony 90mm macro), but the field of view will not be as wide. The KRL-09s is compatible with cropped sensor cameras, but be sure to make sure your macro lens is at least 60mm at the 35mm equivalent focal length.
We at Bluewater think the Kraken KRL-09s is an incredible lens for two reasons:
1. This lens allows photographers and video shooters with professional-grade underwater systems to shoot wide angle and macro during the same dive with uncompromising underwater optics...and just one wet lens.
2. This lens is priced perfectly. The KRL-09S is more affordable than fisheye lenses on the market, and you don't need to purchase an expensive dome port to use it! So if you don't think you want to use a dry fisheye lens for above water shooting, you can save money and add versatility to your system with this lens.
Overall, we think the Kraken KRL-09S is a truly remarkable lens with the capacity to change how people take underwater photos - as you'll see in this underwater review. Who knows, maybe one day we'll stop hearing the "macro or wide angle?" question that seems to be the only think photographers can say before they jump in the water.
U.S. MSRP: $999
Kraken KRL-09S Wide Angle Conversion Lens in the field attached to Ikelite Nikon Z6 housing and Nikon 60mm macro lens
Order a Kraken Sports KRL-09S Now at Bluewater Photo!
- Field of view: 60mm (39.7°) -> 4.9mm (154.8°)
- Depth Rating: 197 ft.
- Thread: 67mm
- Weight on Land: 2kg
- Built-in Buoyancy Collar
- Weight Underwater: 220g
- Lens Construction: 7 Elements; 6 Groups (6 Glass 1 Poly Carb)
- Magnification: 0.32X
- Dome Lens: Optical Grade Polycarbonate Resin
- Glass/Coating: Optical Glass / Multi Layer BBAR Coating
- Does not focus on land
Close focus wide angle photo of anemones captured with the Kraken KRL-09S, Nikon Z6, and Nikon 60mm macro lens in an Ikelite housing. f/18, 1/80, ISO 500
The Kraken KRL-09s is built to be threaded onto any 67mm threaded flat port from any housing brand. If it has a 67mm thread then you're good!
The KRL-09S can be used with any 60mm macro lens on a full-frame sensor. This creates the widest fisheye field of view possible - 154 degrees. If you choose to use a longer focal length macro lens like the Nikon 105mm, Canon 100mm, or Sony 90mm macro lenses, then you will have a narrower field of view, but the lens will still work. The lens will not work shorter focal lengths as there will be vingetting. The KRL-09S is als compatible with cropped sensor cameras (e.g., APS-C and Micro Four Thirds). In order to determine if your cropped sensor macro lens is compatible, you will need to determine if your focal length is at 60mm or longer at the 35mm sensor (full frame) equivalent focal length. Please contact us if you are unsure about your lens, camera, and sensor combination, and we would be happy to help you out!
The Kraken wide angle conversion lens cannot focus above water, and thus cannot be used for over-under photography.
Flip Adapter Compatibility
The Kraken KRL-09S is the perfect lens to be used with a flip adapter. A flip adapter allows you to flip the lens onto your port in one quick, 2 second motion without screwing anything in. If you get a double flip adapter, you will be able to screw an additional diopter on the other thread, allowing you to shoot wide angle, macro, and super macro on in the same dive!
In our tests we've found that the Nauticam single flip adapter, Naticam double flip adapter, Nauticam MWL Flip adapter, and Nauticam MWL double flip adapter have the best compatibility with this lens. The MWL versions of the flip adapter have an additional piece (a metal circle with screw holes) that does not need to be used with the Kraken KRL09s. The Saga single flip adapter and the Saga double flip adatper are moderately compatible with the lens. You can screw the lens in most of the way. However, there is a metal bump on the saga adapter that touches the buoyancy color on the lens. In order to get the lens all the way flush, you will need to shave the metal piece off the saga adapter with a dremel. It will not harm the adapter. Even if you choose not to shave off the piece, the lens works with the saga adapter and it is secure - it just doesn't completely screw in without modification.
Build, Buoyancy Collar, and Underwater Trim
The Kraken KRL-09S is built like a rock. After a weekend of diving in intense surf, the lens has no blemishes and looks as if it came straight out of the box. Given the shore conditions in the Pacific Northwest, we think the dome on the lens is one of the most durable that we've seen from Kraken. Even if we did receive a scratch, the dome is made from optical grade polycarbonate resin - so scratches can be buffed out with our micromesh kit.
The lens may look a little tall in the photos, but the extra bulk is a good thing because it comes in the form of a built-in buoyancy color. The buoyancy collar keeps the lens from being too heavy, and it weighs in at 220g underwater. We found it to have a very pleasant trim overall. The lens did not push the front of the camera system down as we anticipated that it might. In fact, we really enjoyed having the extended lens as it puts additional distance between you and the subject. This makes fish less skittish. We also found that since the dome is so small, we were able to get the lens into cracks and crevices that wouldn't have been possible with a standard fisheye behind a dome port!
We were able to take this photo of a sea star by getting into a crevice the small form factor of the lens. Photographed with the Kraken KRL-09S, Nikon Z6, and Nikon 60mm macro lens in an Ikelite housing. f/16, 1/200, ISO 400
After diving with the Kraken KRL-09s, we decided that the image quality from this lens is much better than we anticipated. While the image quality is different from a "typical" dry fisheye lens, it is not better or worse. It just has a different quality to it. We found the image quality to have a little less contrast as you might find with a traditional wide angle lens, and the bokeh has a different look to it - it's almost like diffraction rather than a blend. But we think this creates its own quality and personality in the images. And these differences are miniscule. The untrained eye would not be able to tell that these photos are any different than a normal fisheye lens. But as a professional, I personally am even considering purchasing a KRL-09S just to have a lens that can create a different style of photo when I need it. If you would like to see full resolution images before you make a purchase, please reach out to us and we would be happy to show you higher resolution images. Overall, the lens produces images with excellent detail and dynamic range. One of the most exciting things that we found about it are that images taken at apertures below f/13 are acceptable if you don't mind some bokeh. The corner sharpness is good, so this lens may even be able to push the boundaries of corner softness introduced by wider apertures.
Macro vs Wide Angle Comparisons
Here are a few comparisons of the same subject photographed with the Nikon 60mm macro lens on its own, and the Nikon 60 mm macro with the Kraken KRL-09S. These photographs were all captured on the same dive.
Fish eating anemone. Nikon 60mm macro (without KRL-09s). f/20, ISO 100, 1/200
Fish eating anemone. Nikon 60mm macro with KRL-09s. f/14, ISO 320, 1/80
Sunstar. Nikon 60mm macro (without KRL-09s). f/16, ISO 500, 1/200
Sunstar. Nikon 60mm macro with KRL-09s. f/14, ISO 500, 1/80
Aperture (Bokeh/Depth of Field) Test
The quality of bokeh produced by this lens is very interesting. It looks almost like the details in the background are blended by motion blur or diffraction rather than traditional bokeh. This could be a property of the macro lens. At wide apertures parts of the image are still very sharp, and it's exciting to be able to get useable photos at apertures as wide as f/2.8. Macro lenses tend to have wider apertures than wide angle lenses, which makes wide angle with the KRL-09S a new frontier of wide angle photography. On the flip side, macro lenses also stop down quite a bit more than wide angle lenses, and you have the opportunity to get more dynamic range out of dynamic situations like sunballs. These aperture tests show how bokeh and details change by aperture. Any pixelation is a result of downsizing the photos for this review - not the lens.
Here is a closer look at the bokeh at f/4.5:
A closer look at Bokeh (f/4.5)
Overall, we were very impressed with how good the corner sharpness is from this lens. In fact, it might actually be a little sharper than a fisheye behind a normal dome port (not the WACP-1 or WACP-2). The following corner sharpness test shows corner details from a wide angle photo.
Sun Star. Nikon 60mm macro with Kraken KRL-09s. f/14, ISO 500, 1/80
Dynamic Range - Sunball Test
The dynamic range from this lens is excellent overall - considering the optical gymnastics that it has to do. However, is is less than what you would normally find from a dry fisheye lens behind a dome. For most users, they may not notice the difference. We took photos of sunballs and were able to capture a lot of details form the highlights. The cool thing about using a macro lens is that we were able to stop all the way up to f./32 - something most wide angle lenses can't do.
Dynamic Range Test. Fish eating anemone photographed with the Kraken KRL-09s, Nikon 60mm macro, and Nikon Z6. f/32, 1/200, ISO 100
KRL-09S vs Dry Fisheye Lenses
Overall we think the photos from the Kraken KRL-09s are excellent and introduce some new artistic toys - like a wider aperture range and different bokeh. However, dry fisheye lenses due tend to produce slightly better image quality to the trained and professional eye. You will get a little more contrast and a little more dynamic range with a dedicated fisheye lens.
Underwater lighting does take some getting used to with this lens. This is because the Kraken KRL-09s sticks farther out that a traditional fisheye with a dome port. We found that we needed to adjust our strobe positioning as you would for close focus wide angle and sometimes macro - bring your strobes in a little closer to the lens and turn down the power. Don't aim directly at the lens or subject, but you might not want your strobes too far out or it creates shadows from the lens.
Autofocus with the Kraken KRL-09s is surprisingly fast. We found that it didn't really differ from what you would expect from your macro lens without the wet lens on top.
- Macro and wide angle all in one dive with one wet lens!
- Professional image quality
- Good dynamic range
- Excellent details
- Sturdy build - built to withstand shore entries
- Buoyancy collar creates great trim
- Wider aperture range with macro lenses - great for sun balls
- It can be a little large to store to the side during a dive if you want to shoot macro. (We recommend using a flip adapter)
- Can't focus above water - no half-and-half shots
- Slightly less dynamic range than a dedicated fisheye lens
Metridium anemone photographed with the Kraken KRL-09s, Nikon 60mm macro, and Nikon Z6. f/16, 1/80, ISO 500
We highly recommend the Kraken Wide Angle Conversion lens to any diver who doesn't want to worry about choosing between wide angle and macro one the same dive. With this lens, Kraken is revolutionizing the way people shoot underwater photography by bringing affordable solutions to complex problems. Other macro to wide angle conversion lenses may have been unaffordable for many divers in the past. But Kraken is making a real statement about the economics of this lens - ultimately, with the Kraken KRL-09s, it's more affordable to shoot macro and wide angle on the same dive than to have a dedicated lens for both. During our dives, we were blown away by the quality of the images that we produced. I personally did not think the KRL-09s could rival my Nikon 8-15mm fisheye lens. But honestly, as long as you get the lighting right, it does. So will we begin to see more and more divers switching to a macro to wide lens to have both options on the same dive? It's hard to say. But personally, I think that as more people have the opportunity to experience the expanded palette and ability introduced by the Kraken KRL-09s we might just stop hearing the famous question "macro or wide angle?"
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