Underwater Photography: Camera Care & Maintenance
Everyone loves to have photographs to help remember those great times. Scuba diving is no exception and if you are like me you even enjoy underwater photography almost as much as the scuba diving vacation itself. At Aquatic Adventures Scuba Academy, a PADI 5 Star Dive Center in Alexandria Virginia, we offer underwater photography courses on all of our Dive Center sponsored Dive Trips.
Underwater Photography: Camera Care Well Prior to Your Scuba Diving Vacation Trip
Just like you regular scuba diving equipment your underwater camera needs some regular maintenance and care. Well prior to your trip you need to make sure that your camera and your underwater camera housing are intact and working properly. This will give you ample time to obtain repairs or replacements prior to your scuba diving vacation trip.
Make sure that the camera functions properly and that you have an ample supply of batteries or extra rechargeable batteries for your dive vacation. Very carefully remove the camera “O” ring. You can use a plastic credit card if needed but do not use any metal pics that can scratch the “O” ring groove or the “O” ring itself. Carefully inspect your camera housing “O” rings for wear. Replace them if necessary. Inspect your underwater camera strobe to make sure that it functions properly and that any cables are intact.
Underwater Photography: Camera Care Just Before Your Scuba Travel
Immediately prior to your scuba diving vacation clean your camera housing thoroughly. Do this while relaxed at home rather then just prior to your scuba dives to prevent errors from rushing or excitement. Remove the “O” Ring and lightly lubricate it if the manufacturer specifies that it be lubricated. Some underwater cameras use “O” rings that do not have to be lubricated. If it does use very little lubrication – only enough to moisten the “O” ring not grease it up. It should not feel greasy but have a light shine to it. Too much silicone lubricant can attract grit or sand which can cause the housing to leak.
Use a cotton tip applicator to clean the “O” ring groove. Use a clean soft lens cloth to clean the camera port both inside and out. Make sure that dust, lint and finger prints are removed from both the lens port and strobe port. Protect you camera housing with a protective coat of UV Tech or something similar. This puts a very thin layer of preservative on the outside of the housing and helps protect the housing from sand and salt residue.
Underwater Photography: Test The Camera
Once you have completed the appropriate service you will want to test the camera housing. Put a paper towel inside the the housing and submerge it inside a bath tub or swimming pool. The paper towel will absorb any leakage and it will be readily visible. If it does not leak you are good to go at this point. If there is any leakage at all you need to check and find the cause. I will even test a brand new camera housing just to be on the safe side, before diving with the unit.
Underwater Photography: Traveling With Your Camera
If you underwater camera system is very large then you will want to house and protect it with a hard sided locked case. If it is smaller the preferred method of travel is to carry the underwater camera system on board the airplane with you to prevent it from being banged around. I usually with check my underwater camera strobe but always carry the underwater camera and housing on board with me.
Underwater Photograph: If the Worst Happens
In the event that you should experience a leak in your camera system during a scuba dive keep the underwater camera system pointed down. This keeps the electronics higher and possibly dry. Surface immediately, making sure that you complete your safety stop, etc. Once you are out of the water remove the camera from the underwater housing and remove all batteries and the SD Memory Card. Dry your camera and keep it in a cool air conditioned environment. Once it is dried it may, if you are very lucky still work. If not it may need to be repaired by the manufacturer or even replaced. If you send it back to the manufacturer they may offer you a special replacement price should it not be repairable.
Check out my article Avoiding Underwater Photography Mistakes for some helpful suggestions. Being an underwater photography also carries a responsibility of being careful and ecologically minded. For some suggestions check out the article Ten Environmentally Friendly Tips for Underwater Photography.
Taking the PADI Underwater Photography or PADI Digital Underwater Photography Courses will help you learn camera basics in a safe and controlled manner. You will learn many techniques to improve your photography and camera handling. By taking the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course you will learn to better control your buoyancy thus improving your buoyancy and underwater photography as the same time. The best way to learn is to practice and there is no better place to learn then on your next great Aquatic Adventures.