Boxfish Research is a New Zealand-based company that makes underwater drones known as ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles). One of their latest ROVs, the Boxfish Luna, uses Sony mirrorless cameras to deliver the picture quality and controls required for professional filming.
The Boxfish Luna ROV has a maximum depth rating of up to 1000 m. The depth varies depending on whether you choose a glass or acrylic dome in front of the camera. It also comes with two forward-pointing high CRI lights, each with a maximum output of 8500 lumens. The Luna is designed to be deployed by only one or two people. As such, it measures just over 28 inches (714 mm) in length and weighs around 55 pounds (25 kg).
Which Sony cameras can you use?
The Boxfish Luna is available with either the Sony ⍺1 or A7 SIII mirrorless cameras installed onboard. However, each ROV is built to order to the customer’s requirements, so this isn’t an accessory you can buy to use with your own camera. With the ⍺1, you can record at up to 8K 10-bit 4:2:0 30 frames per second (fps). Alternatively, you can shoot at up to 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 120 fps with both the ⍺1 and the A7 SIII. In addition, you can record 4K ProRes RAW at 30 fps at the surface on an Atomos Ninja external recorder. Both camera options available with the Boxfish Luna come with the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 Zeiss lens.
The Boxfish Luna is tethered to a control console on the surface by a lightweight fiber optic cable. The standard cable length is 200 m (around 650 feet), with an alternative 3,000 m (nearly 10,000 feet) cable option. The console also has a 17-inch 4K primary monitor for real-time surface monitoring and a 10-inch sunlight-readable secondary navigation display. The console gives you complete control of the ROV’s lighting and camera position. In addition, you can adjust the camera’s exposure, white balance, zoom, manual focus/autofocus and push-to-focus modes.
Piloting the Luna
The Boxfish Luna has fine control so that you can carry out precise maneuvers. The ROV also has full auto stabilization, so you can mimic dolly and crane shots underwater. In addition, there are forward and reverse ultra-wide angle cameras to make your navigation easier. Along with piloting assist such as Depth Hold, Position Hold and Trim, there is also an automatic return to surface feature.
The battery on the Boxfish Luna will give you 15 hours of hover per charge. The run time will be less and will be dependent on the operational conditions. It also takes five hours to recharge the battery. As well as the standard equipment, you can add additional options, such as extra lights and a grabber attachment.
What we think
It’s great to see cameras such as the Sony ⍺1 and A7 SIII being used in specialized equipment like the Boxfish Luna. The video that can be captured by this ROV would be perfect for broadcast documentaries and even film work. The Luna is a specialized ROV for professional use, but hopefully, its creation will lead to the development of more affordable options in the future.
Pricing and availability
Each Boxfish Luna is custom-built to order, so pricing will depend on the configuration that you choose.