LENS TEST: SAGA TRIO LENS SYSTEM

Saga Trio Lens SystemDue to a secret Deepshots project I haven’t had a time to do much testing lately. However when I got my hands on this unique UW photo gadget I had to fill my test tank again. The item I’m referring to is the new Saga Dive Trio close-up lens system. Saga Dive is a Spanish company and over the last few years they have made some interesting products like the multi fibre ring light system. They have also offered other kinds of macro photography gizmos like flip holders and close-up lenses. The Trio Close-Up system is however quite different as it is an all-in-one built-in 3 power magnifying lens unit.

In essence the Saga Trio is a housing for 2 close-up lenses which can be slid down individually or together to give different magnifications. First of the lens is +5 dioptre and the second one is +10. Together they of course form a powerful +15 dioptre stack for super macro photography. Although the Trio lens system can be used with all kinds of housings, I’m guessing, due to its weight and size it will not be extremely popular with compact camera users. The lenses plus their aluminium housing weigh a hefty 700gr, topside.

Saga Trio with Nauticam EM10MKIIThe Saga Dive Trio lens system obviously tries to tackle the eternal macro photographers problem; Where to put the close-up adapter when not in use. Lots of different kinds of flip systems already exist but they all have their downsides. Trio system tries to have as small footprint as possible by enclosing the slide-in lenses in to a housing.

 

Test results

To see how the Trio performs underwater I’ve put it up against two well-known underwater close-up lenses: The Inon UCL-165 and the mighty but small Nauticam Compact Macro Converter 1. All the shots are taken with Olympus 60mm macro lens at f5.6 at the closest possible focusing distance. Due to longish shutter speeds I wouldn’t draw any conclusions about lens image quality. The test images are here just to measure up the strength of magnification.

So as you can see from the test images the Trio lens performs reasonably well. Its magnification in +15 “mode” is about the same as two stacked Inon UCL-165 lenses. The Nauticam CMC-1 still gets you a step closer and has the biggest magnification of the tested lenses.

Saga Trio test with inon and nauticam CMC1As said the Saga Trio It is a beast of a lens in weight comparison. A single Nauticam CMC-1 weighs just under 300gr and single Inon UCL-165 M67 about 150gr…. (300gr for a double). Apart from the weight, The Trio does have some usability issues. The placement of the levers on the front of the lens housing is not ideal in my view. To use the levers you have to reach quite far from behind your housing. Also as the magnification markings are on the top of the unit it’s not clear straight away which lens is in and which out.

The slide-in levers are also very stiff and when pushing the lever the whole lens housing unit tends to rotate rather than the lenses themselves. Maybe if the levers were on the sides of the unit these issues would be solved… the lens unit would not turn and the levers would be more visible from behind the housing. Maybe on the Mk2 version.

Final Words

All-in-all the Saga Trio lens system is an interesting product and if you want to try something new with your macro photography the Trio might just be the tool you need. Travel friendly it is not though due to the weight. Currently the Trio costs just over £700 in the UK, which might put people off, but if you add up costs of a traditional flip holder and two lenses you are not too far off.

 

 

Leave a Reply