Author Topic: Underwater Camera  (Read 13076 times)

tmccabe

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Subscriber?: yes
Underwater Camera
« on: July 27, 2008, 21:00:36 UTC »
I am thinking of buying a Sealife DC800 Pro Kit underwater camera (comes with their latest strobe). Has anyone used this system? If no, any suggestions in the $800-1000 range?
Thanks!

DrDirector

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 7
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 01:38:41 UTC »
I haven't used the DC800 so can't comment directly about it.  However, I had been given a then-just-released DC600 Pro as a retirement gift from my office about 16 months ago.  Compared to the Canon S400 I had been using with a Canon housing, the DC600 was a dog.  Too few settings you could control and not user friendly at all.  Also was extremely buoyant because of the excessive air volume in the strobe head.  Used it for a 1-week trip in Bonaire and was frustrated with the results all week.  Sold it on eBay after I returned home and used the funds to buy a Canon SD800 and compatible housing, which I like even more than my older Canon (which is now relegated as a backup in case I flood the newer one).  Have since added a Sea&Sea strobe to further increase my capability.

Suggest you consider almost any of the standard digital point-and-shoot cameras for which you can get a dedicated underwater housing (Canon, Nikon, Minolta, ...).  Within the Canon family you can consider almost any of the current SD models (less $) or for a higher quality camera with the ability to control more settings, the G-series (more $).  Learned early on in a single lesson from the photo pro in Bonaire how to maximize the advantages and minimize the limitations of my particular camera (i.e., concentrate on macro with the small point-and-shoot digital camera unless you have a good strobe). And each camera will have its advantages and its limitations.

ClaireOK

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
    • Claire's & Walt's Underwater Adventures and Photography
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2008, 10:25:29 UTC »
I agree with DrD - don't waist your time on the Sea&Sea.  Went through a lot of cameras before I got to my SLR (Canon 30D), and my buddy is now on a Canon G7 which does stellar work (see here for some of his shots in San Salvador - he got great shots there).  We both use Ikelite housing and love it - you can see the seal and if it's "taken" or has a leak before - course we always test in the water bucket usually on board most dive boats, before entering the ocean.

Good luck.



derekjones

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2008, 17:31:44 UTC »
I've had great luck with pocket Canon digital cameras in dive cases.  Word to the wise though.  When you're packing up to head home from your dive trip, take the o-ring out of the case, wipe it and store it inside the case loose so that it retains its round shape.  Had a perfectly clean seal leak a few years ago on the first dive of my trip.  Bummer!

craigwood

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 42
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 500-1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2008, 01:17:37 UTC »
I'm very pleased with my Canon SD750 in their WP-DC14 case. Very good pictures in adequate ambient light and good close-in and macro shots using built in strobe. Light, small, and rugged, I always have it along and don't miss a shot. As this camera is no longer new, it's available at a bargain price. If I were to reinvest today, would go with the Canon G9 and Ikelite case to take advantage of the TTL flash control with their DS-51 or DS-160 strobe.

ClaireOK

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
    • Claire's & Walt's Underwater Adventures and Photography
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2008, 03:08:29 UTC »
I agree Craigwood - my buddy uses the G7 with Ikelite housing with the TTL strobe and it does beautiful seascapes.  I do the macro with my SLR and I'm impressed with the shots he gets out of that little camera.  But I think a lot of it is the TTL strobe lighting.

kel789

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 2
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2008, 17:16:53 UTC »
I use a dc500 Sealife and until I took a photography course was a little frustrated.  I see now that the more knowledge you have about settings and the more patient you are the better the results.  Spend if you want but more money doesn't always mean better pictures.

dleepenn

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • Travel Photography by D. Lee Penn
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: 500-1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2008, 14:38:58 UTC »
I dive with a Canon 5D in a Subal Case.  Definitely more than $1,000 range!!!  I also use a single INON strobe but have been considering adding a second one to get better light coverage and to eliminate some of the color shifted shadows that result from using just the one strobe.

The delay between pressing the shutter button and when the camera takes the shot has been the thing that keeps me from seriously looking at the point and shoot digitals in an underwater case.  And, whenever I see images shot by these, I really find they do not compare well with what I get.

http://www.dlpco.com   is the place to see my images.  I use a program called Breeze Browser Pro to generate the pages for different trips.  It has worked well.

Lee

indigodive

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 18
    • Indigo Dive, St. Vincent.
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: over 1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2009, 15:37:29 UTC »
Compact vs DSLR .... the difference about US$4000!

My 2 cents....

If you are a competent photographer who is happy shooting with a DSLR on the surface you will find the limitations of a compact camera frustrating at times.

Point and shoot
Relatively inexpensive, Sean and Sea, Sea Life and Olympus have some great set-ups for the US$1000 mark
Small, light and easy to travel with.
No need for a myriad of lenses and ports.
Most have wet lenses that you can change UNDERWATER, macro to wide angle in the blink of an eye!


DSLR
Quite expensive, but expandable.

I think that it boils down to what you are prepared to tolerate, I have been shooting UW for about 3 years with a compact. I REALLY want to up grade to DSLR, but the additional expense scares the crap outta me!

My gallery shows what you can achieve with a compact, I'm using a Sea and Sea DX1 with YS25 strobe and prior to that I used Sea and Sea D8000... both good little cameras in their own right, each with challenges and limitations. I also use a Nikon D40 top side.

Cameras have become 'digital jewelery' to a certain extent, of course I'd love to own a Nikon D3, or even the new D90, but at the end of the day it's what you as the photographer tells the system to do that produces the shot!

http://picasaweb.google.com/Indigodive/MarineEnvironmentStVincentAndTheGrenadines#

dleepenn

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 8
    • Travel Photographs by D. Lee Penn
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2009, 15:59:51 UTC »
Frankly, I'm more and more UNimpressed with Sea & Sea.  I really like my Canon 5D with Subal Case, but this is a VERY expensive setup and is more for the professional photographer or the experienced amateur.

This Fall, I purchased a Canon G10 and the associated dive case.  I think the whole package was around $800.  I already had a INON strobe and with just a bit of work, created a mounting bracket for the dive case.  The INON triggers from the onboard strobe flash from the camera and works just fine.  No special cable required.  INON strobes are so compact and easy to use.  The whole setup is just slightly negatively buoyant.

http://www.dlpco.com/2009StVincent/index.htm  will take you to a set of images shot with this camera.  Also, at the end, you can see my home made flash bracket which is nothing more than a simple chunk of aluminum with a rubber spray coating so it does not slip around when bolted to the dive case.

My 5D (hands down) creates substantially better images, but this setup was not all that bad and being able to do some dive videos was remarkable fun.  On BIG trips, I'll still take my 5D....

OH... given airline weight restrictions, packing the tiny G10 and case beats the heck out of the 25 pounds of photo gear I normally take.

ClaireOK

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
    • Claire's & Walt's Underwater Adventures and Photography
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2009, 18:53:30 UTC »
I agree with indigodive...my buddy has just gotten the Canon 5D with Ikelite and new 160 strobes, and there is nothing he can not do with this set up - even in "iffy" marine environmental conditions (bad viz, surging waters @ shallow depth, focusing under dark overhangs).  This is after a complete trek in cameras from the throw-away/only-30-feet-deep cameras (with no flash), through Sea and Sea, Canon G7 to my Canon 30D (I use my 100mm macro lens) and my buddy's Canon 5D. 

There is a world of difference between the Sea and Sea and even the Canon G7 (Canon now sells the G10 in this category).  Those Canon point-and-shoots make a great and yet economical alternative to the Sea and Sea cameras.  For the little extra $$$ you spend you get way more versatility and it is well worth the little money you spend.

Here's the bottom line.  If anyone is thinking of purchasing in this sort of price range.  The price is high, but every time you click the shutter underwater, you have one shot right after the other which is at worst good, and most of the time pretty darn good photo.  Whereas, with the lesser-priced model, there's the worry about making sure the camera is like this or that to make sure you get that one shot.  And don't think I'm Ms. Gotrocks here - I gulp hard before I write that check, but have never been sorry for getting the better equipment.

As all we u/w photogs know, we're lucky to have marine critters, animals & coral cooperate, we don't need extra challenges with the operation or management of our equipment.

Anyway - that's my 2 cents on this subject.  Hopefully it helps.

danclem

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2009, 21:33:46 UTC »
I was researching dive operators, and happened upon this post. Thought I would put in my two cents worth.

My rig is a Nikon D300, Subal housing, twin Ikelite strobes and a Hartenberger focus light. I also frequently carry a Casio point and shoot which I can get into places my big (and expensive) rig cannot go. DSLR's are fantastic, but you can do great things with P&S cameras.

Where a lot of folks "muck-up" is in their software. We did a demo at our Pacific Northwest Underwater Photography group meeting last year and did two tasks in a number of different programs: i-Photo, Elements, Photoshop, LightRoom, Picassa, Aperture, and I think two others. White balance and backscatter removal were the two tasks.

Almost everyone who used i-Photo, Aperture, Picassa, and Elements went out to purchase LightRoom. After seeing what Photo Mechanic can do as a browser, the higher end shooters purchased it and subsequently bagged Adobe Bridge. There is still a need for Photoshop/Elements with LightRoom, but it is getting rarer and rarer.

Bottom line from our group: whether P&S or DSLR, shoot RAW, not JPG. LightRoom is the software of choice, be it PC or Mac, and Photo Mechanic is the way to go for a browser. Stay away from manufacturer's software.

Hope this helps some folks!

Dan


dleepenn

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 8
    • Travel Photographs by D. Lee Penn
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2009, 21:56:30 UTC »
I would second this advice and add one other... Shoot RAW.  The reason I selected the Canon G10 as my point and shoot choice was its RAW shooting capability.  When trying to more closely white balance an underwater scene, you need all the bits of color depth that you can get and RAW give that vs JPEG which only gives you 8 bits to work with.

I also use Adobe LightRoom.  Its amazing how rapidly I can download and do the necessary basic correction to my images post dive using LR.

Lee

danclem

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2009, 23:32:19 UTC »
The primary reason for shooting RAW is that, after each edit and save, the compression algorythms that JPG uses results in a loss of data. So each edit and save in a JPG format essentially degrades the image.

The RAW editors use "non-destructive" editing. Edits from cropping to white balance to color balancing to back scatter removal are either stored in a "side-car" file or data base (LightRoom): the original image is never modified. As a side note, when we did our dog and pony, the side car files were visible to PC, but not Mac users. I suspect there is a toggle that would make them visible, but no one seemed to know how to do this. If files are moved without their "side-car" counterparts, all edits will be lost.

Dan

dleepenn

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 8
    • Travel Photographs by D. Lee Penn
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 00:38:53 UTC »
LightRoom edits are non-destructive on all file formats, jpg included.  So, you don't degrade the image with edits in LR until you "export" the image into its final and completely edited state.  You cannot alter RAW files by the way.  You'll see that you cannot export to RAW format which is where the edits would actually be applied to the image.

JPEG images store color information in 8 binary bit bytes.  This allows for an intensity value of 0 to 255 where 0 would be no light and 255 would be maximum intensity.  In black and white, 0 is total black and 255 is total white.  Yet, most camera sensors utilize electronic circuits that use 16 and more bits for each color point and this allows for an intensity value of 0 to 65535, or 65,536 intensity steps.  Consider an adjustment of just the "exposure" of an image.  If you are talking about 8 bits/color point, then you have to take fewer values and spread them out within the software to get the exposure adjustment.  This sacrifices the number of intensity steps within the image.

Try the following experiment.  Take and under exposed jpeg file image and increase the exposure by 2 f/stops.  Now same the file with the modification.  Within LR, you'll have to export it to a new file.  Now pull up the image and look at the histogram.  You will see a whole bunch of vertical lines instead of a smoothly distributed histogram.  This is the result of spreading fewer intensity values to cover the full 256 value spread that is supported by the jpeg file format.   

Now take a 16 bit tiff image or a RAW image.  If you take a single shot in RAW, you can do this by exporting the RAW to an 8 bit jpeg file format which you will then open and modify with an exposure bump followed by exporting to a new jpeg file.  Now bump the exposure of the RAW image by 2 f/stops.  Export THAT modified file to jpeg and pull it up.  Look at how smooth the histogram is.  That is because the image editor had more intensity values to spread.

Most sensors today are actually 24 bit sensors which allow for even more intensity values within the RAW image and giving more head room to adjustments.

Lack of adjustment room within a file format means you'll get lots of red speckle noise when you try to white balance an image shot underwater without some form of red-adding filter.  If you go to my website and look at the FIJI images, you'll find a shark dive.  All of those images where white balanced with the assumption that the sharks should be pretty neutral gray.  On shots that were badly underexposes, you 'll see red specks.  Had I shot 8 bit jpeg image files, I could not have adjusted the images at all....  This is really the reason I shoot raw.

Lee

danclem

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2009, 16:11:21 UTC »
Not sure this is the proper place to discuss software, but here goes.

While it is technically correct that you can perform non-destructive JPG edits in LightRoom, my experience is that in reality this is not so. The same with using Adobe's Camera RAW as a JPG editor.

It depends what the final use of the photos is. In my case, for example, if I am using pictures for a book, article, or newspaper spread, the jpg needs at least three additional saves: 1.) Export with edits; 2.) Conversion from RGB to CYMK for four color printing; and 3.) Final cropping/color adjustment at the newspaper or magazine. Lots of quality is lost if I go this route with JPG's. STill possible with high resolution JPG's, but inferior to RAW to TIFF where no file compression takes place.

If I am posting to a web, different story. High quality images are over-kill, and most folks don't calibrate their monitors, so colors on-line viewers see are not going to match what I see on my screen, or what appears in print.

Bottom line, as we all agree, is shoot RAW, not JPG, whether it is a point and shoot camera or DSLR. A bit of a learning curve, but the results are far superior.

Cheers,

Dan


snewland

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 2
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2009, 17:03:02 UTC »
Well I use a DC600 Pro with 2 SeaLife flashes and have had great luck with the system.  I wouldn't my pictures are quit Professional level, but I typically get some good feedback.  The beauty is that it is a point and shoot system.

One short coming of the SeaLife is it doesn't shoot in RAW

The next step is to go to a real SLR system which will cost 5X the SeaLife.

Here is a link to some of my pics.

[url]http://picasaweb.google.com/scottnewland1/[url]


I have found getting good U/W pics is about 50% the camera and 50% the artistic ability of the photographer.  I have seen some people with very expensive rigs shoot poor pictures.

As far as Software I like Picasa.  It easy and fast.  I have found that if I don't download and do a quick edit on my pictures with in a few hours of getting out of the water I will never get around to.

Scott


danclem

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
  • Subscriber?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2009, 16:48:54 UTC »
Hi Scott:

Point & Shoot cameras do a great job. Just remember that each time you save a JPG file after an edit you lose quality.

With respect to Picassa, we did a comparison with LightRoom, and the results were pretty interesting. Picassa does a good job above the water, and the auto color correct worked pretty well on underwater shots most of the time. We could not find how to do spot corrections for things like backscatter or unwanted particles. If you take a lot of pictures there was also no indexing or key word features.

If you decide you want to compare them, there are free trial LightRoom downloads. Took me a little experimentation to figure out how it worked, but I am a convert. Also check out a couple of on line resources: Wetpixel and the photography section of ScubaBoard. Wetpixel is Eric Cheng's creation, and I have found it really helpful on a number of occassions.

Have Fun!

Dan

aodiver

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 14
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2009, 17:32:36 UTC »
I had a Sealife and updated to Olympus.  Sealife pictures do turn out very nicely if and only if you are within the distance parameters for the shot you are trying to get -  if the manual says 2 feet you must be 2 feet away. 

I suggest you speak to the guys at reef photo - www.reefphoto.com - they can direct you in which system would be better for you depending on what and how much you want to spend.  ( no I dont work for Reef Photo nor do I have any financial interest)

conchasdiver

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • conchasdiver@dreamstime.com
  • Subscriber?: yes
  • Total Dves: Over 1000
  • Underwater photographer?: yes
Re: Underwater Camera
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2009, 00:03:17 UTC »
OK........... I obviously posted in the wrong forum (general interest or some such), but reading these posts answered my question about digital noise (not backscatter)when I'm shooting a S&S 5000G which shoots excellent pics most of the time, but I've been shooting at the highest quality JPG. The camera doesn't offer the RAW option, but next time I'll try the TIFF format.
Do the high-speed cards offer any advantage, or not?

Thanks for your help!

 

Get the diving news serious divers need!

Sign up for our FREE monthly email
with real diving news you won't find elsewhere!

Make your next dive trip the best one ever!

Get the diving info you need with monthly issues online, the 800 page The Travelin' Diver's Chapbook, 24/7 access to 1000's of honest diving reports and much, much more.

Special Offers for Our Readers
Get discounted dive trips/ equipment/ ... from dive businesses the world over.