HELP: Underwater Photography

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by jackieclayton, May 31, 2010.

  1. jackieclayton

    jackieclayton TPF Noob!

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    by the end of this week i'll have my advanced open water cert for scuba diving, and i'm just dying to get into underwater photography! Im really hoping that there are some people on here who know a thing or two about equpment.

    i have a D700 but not sure if I want to purchase a housing for it, or buy a cheaper camera. I'll be able to go the max at 130 ft, but most of all the dive spots in Guam don't really go much deeper than 100-110ft.

    Can anyone give me feedback on what they use? What housing they recommend if you go the housing route? I was thinking another possible alternative would be to purchase a used D90 (i like the video option) to save on cost and housing...

    I have an Olympus Stylus 1030 SW that i used for snorkeling, but it only goes 33ft... and to be honest I really don't want to use a point and shoot while diving.

    Thanks in advance for any advice and tips!!!
     
  2. Pure

    Pure TPF Noob!

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    The thing you need to think about is being a diver before a photographer. There are inherent risks when a person scuba dives whether it is in 30ft or 300ft and adding photography to your list of tasks can be difficult given the typically large gear setup; housing, one or more strobes, and extra weight.

    I do not know many dives you have under your belt, but before you jump the gun and get yourself into a heap of expensive UW photographer gear, you need to be fully prepared to work in the UW environment.

    You need to be a diver before you can be a photographer and safety is most important. Nobody wants something to go wrong wile at depth. Can you control your buoyancy to within inches using only your breath? Can you control your trim? What kind of equipment do you use? Are you using air or nitrox and how is your SAC? Are you well acquainted with your equipment? Do you use good finning techniques? Frog kick? Back kick? All of these are important questions.

    The real question you should be asking yourself is are you prepared as a diver to take on the extra responsibilities of being an UW photographer. You need to be aware of your surroundings especially if you're working near coral or other delicate aquatic life. Again, buoyancy control is key to this.

    The decision is up to you, but you need to make a wise decision based on your experiences in the water.

    Oh yea, and don't forget that failure of the housing is always a possibility. So be prepared to equipment costs.
     
  3. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One route to consider is an underwater nikon film camera. Nikonos cameras are pretty cheap on ebay these days.

    More important then the camera is an underwater flash--it gets dark really quick beneath the surface.

    An outfit like this, which is for auction right now sitting at $200 with less then a day left, would be a great setup:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    How deep is your wallet? An underwater housing for a D700 will rival the camera body itself in cost. One of the cheapest cases I have seen I'm willing to put my D200 into was around $1500.
     
  5. jackieclayton

    jackieclayton TPF Noob!

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    thanks for your caring advice, but i posted this not to get a dive lesson but input on photo equipment. I'm not wanting to go down to the depths and pretend i'm working for NatGeo or anything, I just would like to get some feedback on a nice setup that I can take some good shots with. I got my certs because I wanted to dive, not take pictures... but when your backyard is a coral playground and so easily accessible that you can take a quick dive during your lunch break, i'd love to get some pictures of what i see... and right now I have nothing that can accomodate. But thanks for your concern. rest assured, i'm educated, a professional (geologist at that!), and a mother... i know better than to do something stupid and foolish that would jeapordize my safety.

    djacobox--- saw some of these on B&H, and while the price tag was attractive i never really thought much about film. I guess I just like the ease of digital but definitely something I'll give more thought into... thanks for sharing!

    Garbz--- if only my wallet were as deep as my dives... lol. ya, i saw a housing that was nearly more than the cost of my camera... and i don't think i want to put THAT much money into it. I really wanted something more than a P&S, but my only camera right now is my D700 and i've got way too much invested in it and the lenses to risk a housing leak or something. I was thinking of purchasing a used D90 or something and a housing for that... but still, if you said yours for your 200 was like $1500... yeesh...

    I do'nt want a P&S, but any reasonable and dependable P&S good for dives?
     
  6. henkelphoto

    henkelphoto TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jackie!

    As for the dives on Guam only being not much over 100' think again. You can do Crevice, Blue Hole and a couple of wrecks and be well more than 120 in a few minutes. In fact, if you do Cormmoran (sp?) it's main hull is at 110 I believe. Then there's Truk and Palau close by, both with many +100' dives.

    As for a housing. I looked into a housing for my D300. An Aquatica housing, two flashes, and a dome port was something like $6000. Trust me, you don't want a cheap housing. If you get one, get one that's certified to 300' or more. Also consider an audible leak alarm. I finally decided to stay with my Nikonos at this time. I really don't dive enough to invest the 6k in a housing. A housing for a D90 won't be much cheaper than one for your D700.

    Get ahold of Tim Rock at Double Blue images. He can give you great information. He is the Aquatica dealer on the island. Tell him Jerry said to say hi.
     
  7. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The most important question is: How much are you willing to spend?

    getting a housing for your camera is probably the least expensive part. The more important, and more expensive part is your lighting. If you want to shoot real underwater stuff, plan to spend $3-5,000 on stuff that you'll only use under the water... otherwise, just buy a cheaper sealife setup or something to learn on. That's what I did. I have dive photos in my flickr if you want to see what a cheap setup can do.
     
  8. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I know Canon made underwater housing for their cameras. And those made for their P&S line are not that expensive.

    Housings


    Most of them rated up to 130' (40m)

    So a good point and shoot camera (G11 / S90) with the housing maybe another way to go.

    Of course, I do not own any of those housing. I was looking at the one for G11 and the reviews on B&H site seem positive.
     
  9. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would definitely consider a G11 and an underwater housing with an external strobe or 2... for around $1500, you could have an entire setup, rather than just a case for your current slr. The G11 takes SLR quality photos too.
     
  10. Pure

    Pure TPF Noob!

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    Again, I am not trying to be an ass, but diving to 100'+ is stupid unless you're experienced with deeper depths. At that depth, assuming you're PADI and using an AL80, your NDLs and air time are low and it is quite easy to burn through air at that depth. For those non divers, NDLs mean no decompression limits and is basically the amount of time you can spend at depth without having to decompress. [See term: the bends]

    Maybe you're extremely good at checking your gauges and have a low SAC, but I am merely trying to look out for you. It is quite easy to get interested in something and taking a picture of it only adds as another distraction.



    As for equipment, anything that is going to be rated for those depths is going to cost a pretty penny. A good housing for that D700 can run at least $2000 not including lens housings, and strobes. I would look at Sealife setups which can easily go down to 200' and are much cheaper, albeit not that much cheaper than a full SLR setup.
     
  11. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't want to clog your thread up, but I just wanted to link you to some pics I've taken with my camera. it's a 5mp point and shoot in an underwater case with 1 external strobe.

    pic 1
    pic 2
    pic 3

    It's all about setting up the shot and setting up your lighting... the flash(es) is/are the most important part of your rig. I'm not sure how much EXPERIENCE the rest of the people in this thread have, but this is a topic I know about from experience.
     
  12. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nice shots Rob, I think I'd be too chicken to get that close to a green moray.
     

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