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Underwater p+s or u/w housing?
  
 
Slinger
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


I'm fairly new to the world of photography, and am still learning tons. I got my first dslr about 6 months ago, and am fully hooked. The gear never ends! I have got a used Nikon D90 and have now got several lenses and an SB900. I'm heading to Hawaii for 2 weeks and will certainly be taking it. The problem arises with our activities while there. We are planning on getting our open water dive cert, and doing some diving and snorkeling. DSLR underwater housings are simply too expensive considering I dont even dive yet, and the art is still new to me. So that leaves either an underwater p+s (reviews point me to a Panasonic Lumix TS5) or get a "standard" p+s and an underwater case. Everything I read about the underwater cameras seem to say they all suffer in the image quality area. I've never used one, so don't know how bad it is. I have a Canon 300HS that got me started in the whole picture taking obsession, and feel that it was awesome. I bought my girlfriend the newer 110HS and it was even better (she said) until it was stolen.

I know that the housings can cost as much as an underwater camera, but read that the u/w cameras only last so long, and die, then need to be replaced due to seals breaking down. I would think that replacing the standard camera once would then make the cost difference negligible. And I like the idea of the housings being user-servicable and monitorable. As well, with the housing (more stuff over the lenses) removed, I would suspect that the 'standard' camera would surpass the underwater version as a small take-along pocket camera.

Anyone that has any thoughts to contribute, let 'er rip! I know I'm probably over thinking it, but I can't be the only one with this dilemma, but can't seem to find any straight opinions. Thanks in advance



Dec 16, 2013 at 05:16 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


I'd try to find a decent APS-C camera and a suitable housing secondhand - not necessarily being sold together.

Search for RDX-60 and Nikon D40 or RDX-600D and a T3i.

I'd also search flickr and ask for rec's on the forums there.








Dec 17, 2013 at 08:30 AM
Scott T
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


I have owned the panasonic line of waterproof cams for snorkeling, they work fine and cost less than most underwater housings (even for a P&S)

However, for diving, lack of RAW, slow aperture, and poor ISO performance are all working against good pictures at depth, and most won't go below 40 feet. I ruined one of ours going too deep (the camera was rated to 40ft and I think we were below that). They last multiple years and are nice that you don't have to baby them.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell, getting even a little better quality requires exponential increases cost, equipment, and skill. You will need a housing for any camera, and then ideally a strobe. The ikelite P&S housings start around $400 if that's of interest to get one for the little Canon.

There's housing rentals in Hawaii - which island are you going to? Also, some divemasters won't let you take a camera on your cert dive so you're focused on diving and not photos. There may be a photographer on your dive trip, which is nice to not have to hassle with it.

Go pro is an option...just turn it on and let it run. Waterproof to 130 feet.

Backscatter.com has lots of info on specific setups and cameras, lots of great info.

I'm curious what you decide on - be sure to post back.

Scott



Jan 13, 2014 at 05:57 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


I think an Ewa-Marine dry bag could be a good solution. Just do a search for "ewa marine" in the "Search B&H Photo" dialog box, at the top left of an FM forum-list screen.




Jan 13, 2014 at 02:06 PM
Slinger
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


Thanks for the input and suggestions. After thinking about it tons, I actually ended up going with the gopro idea. I know it's not ideal for still pictures, but I didn't want to invest thousands+ in a dive setup when I haven't even dove yet. I would think that even an underwater p+s would be at least on par with it in the water, but the gopro goes deeper. As well, it is far more versatile in that I will be able to use it for video while i snowboard, bmx, mtb etc. I haven't gotten the chance to play with it much, but it has tonnes of features that will be fun to play around with and create unique videos with. One day, maybe I'll even post some of the stuff I get with it up here! One downside is that I think I need a new computer to work with the video files. My little old laptop just isn't enough. But I guess it's probably time....


Jan 26, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Slinger
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


I am back from by holidays in beautiful Hawai'i. I haven't gotten to looking at all my photos and videos yet, but I have taken a quick look at some. Lots of them to go through, and it looks like there is plenty of chaff. Good gauge of what i need to work on with my camera to get the shots that I am seeing in my mind. As for the underwater aspect, I am happy with the choice I made with buying the Gopro. The still pics leave much to be desired, but the preliminary quick look at the video is great. I will update once I have a chance to go over all my content in depth. Too bad the rest of the world doesn't stop while one is on holidays. Coming back to so much to do!!


Feb 19, 2014 at 05:28 AM
 

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Scott T
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


I'd be interested in a link of a few pics...I'm trying to decide what to do for our trip to Hawaii in June.




Mar 01, 2014 at 04:01 AM
Slinger
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


Sure Scott. As soon as I can get something done with them. I am literally only now starting to go through them all. Everything seems soo busy! But I will definitely shoot you a link once everything is sorted out.


Mar 01, 2014 at 04:16 AM
kzoockof
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


If your plan is to get certified while in Hawaii for two weeks, it would seem you will be getting Padi certified. With private lessons, his should take about a week, including the requisite dives/in-water training and classroom time. Including I believe at least one night dive. You will have enough to concentrate on being a new diver. Taking your mask off and having to put it back on at 45 feet is tough if you have never done it before. Having your air turned off at 30 feet by your instructor, is enough to concentrate on as you surface at the correct speed without having any air to breath.

Leave the underwater camera at home for your learning period.

But on to your question about equipment:

#1: considering this trip is really going to be limited in terms of recreational diving, I would get the Panasonic or Olympus point and shoots that are usable underwater and use them mostly for snorkeling and maybe a few shots of "each other" when diving.

#2: to be properly set up for underwater photography at below 30 feet, the lighting is actually more important than the camera! Without the proper lighting, you won't get the color at this depth. But if you insist on proceeding for this trip, I think the company is Sea and Sea that makes a rather inexpensive UW camera and lighting system that you could probably get for about $1,000 (purely an estimate).

#3: Know in advance that almost any picture you take underwater, you will be very close to your subject. In many cases a few inches away and for larger fish and sharks, etc. . . a few feet. Hawaii has decent water clarity but not the best. Most of my UW photography was done in the Rock Islands in Palau, very good clarity, 2-3 times that of Hawaii as measured in distance. I have pictures of sharks from 10-12 feet away - they are blue! and that was with two large flashes. But it was also with a film camera quit a few years ago. I lived in Guam for a decade, so-so water clarity, 100-150 feet on good days. Anything below 45 feet deep had to be within 6 feet to get a really respectable shot.

My advice, start with a waterproof digital P&S. It will be great on this trip, you can take it swimming or surfing, on the beach, in the rain, etc. . . You can take it diving (up to a specified depth). But you need to determine when doing this if you really want to spend your time underwater chasing the shot or enjoying the beauty? You'll be amazed how much you can miss when you are concentrating on the shot . . . hopefully it won't be your dive partner in trouble!

The most important thing when starting is safety and awareness. Master this before concentrating on the extraneous act of UW photography. I think in the long run you will be much better and happier. IMHO



FYI, I am/was aware of the trip had already taken place, my post was general purpose.



Mar 05, 2014 at 01:29 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


Years ago I bought an A70 (3MP!) and a housing - WP-DC700 - and then my A70 died. I recently bought another in preparation for Songkhran and holidays. It's not bad.

I would sit down and have a good hard think about your level of commitment and then decide on how much you're willing to spend.

The advice to trawl flickr is sound - it will tell you all you need to know apart from some prices.



Mar 05, 2014 at 01:40 AM
lonestardiver
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Underwater p+s or u/w housing?


A bit of advice on flash...like in our air breathing world off camera flash works better.
There is a ton of little things floating in the water that reflect the light...kind of like taking pictures while it is snowing and using a flash. The farther off axis from the lens you can get the better.



Mar 16, 2014 at 03:06 PM





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