As I mentioned last week, one of the things that I like best about SCUBA diving is being able to take photographs underwater. I love photography in general and Underwater Photography makes scuba diving that much more fun. It allows me to relive my SCUBA diving vacations over and over again. This week we will look at the different types of underwater camera systems that are available to us today.
In the past we were limited to film cameras for any type of photography, whether on land or underwater. The advances in digital photography has been a major benefit for underwater photography, making it easier than ever to get incredible colors and vibrant photographs. You can also take lots of pictures on a single dive rather than being limited to one roll of film. There are three basic types of cameras that are used for underwater photography:
The Simplest is the Point and Shoot Camera: These are compact cameras that are easy-to-use. Point & Shoot cameras are designed for casual pictures of friends, families and events. These are the least expensive cameras.
The Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera (Digital SLR) is for the diver who is relatively serious about photography. The cameras have multiple lenses you can choose from and other accessories. These are the most expensive cameras.
The Full Feature Camera bridge the gap between point-and-shoot and Digital -SLR by offering a moderately compact, easy-to-use camera with many (but not all) the features of a Digital SLR. This camera tends to be much less expensive than Digital SLR, but more expense than point-and-shoot camera. The Sealife Underwater Camera is a good example of this type.
All of these cameras are dependent on an underwater housing to protect them. Many cameras are available that are supposedly waterproof and some are even made for snorkeling. None of these, however, are suitable for scuba diving. A good waterproof housing is a must and can often cost as much or even more then the camera does. Among the best underwater camera housings are the Ikelite Underwater Camera Housings.
Manual White Balance Correction: White balance is how your camera reads the color of your subject and its surroundings. By adjusting the white balance you can control the correctness and brightness of the colors in your photograph. Since colors are often filtered out underwater, being able to adjust your white balance allows you to capture more realistic color and detail in your photographs.
External Flash Capability: Light and color are both lost underwater. The ability to add extra light will greatly enhance your underwater photographs. Even though most cameras have a built in flash, it is not very bright. An external strobe will provide far greater detail and color.
Full Control Access: Your camera has a host of controls to allow you to adjust your photographic settings as needed. Some underwater camera housing only allow you to take the picture. Have buttons or tabs on the back of the camera housing to access these controls will allow you many more options when taking underwater photographs.
Wide Angle Lens Ability: The closer you can get to your subject the clearer your underwater photograph will be. A wide angle lens gets you closer adding more detail and color to your photographs. Digital SLR cameras allow you to adjust your camera lens ratio. The dome port on the front of your housing must be large enough to allow the SLR lens to move in or out. Most point and shoot and most full featured cameras do not have this ability. If the housing can accept a wide angle lens on the front, it will allow the photographer to accomplish the same thing.
Underwater Camera Buying Tips: When selecting an underwater camera select one that can grow with you as you progress in your underwater picture taking ability. Having the capability to add an additional feature. like a second strobe or an extra lens or filter will allow you to increase your ability without having to invest in an entirely new system.
The PADI Digital Underwater Photography Course is a great way of learning how to use your equipment safely while Scuba Diving. The next most important thing is to get out and dive and take pictures. At Aquatic Adventures in Alexandria Virginia we offer this course year round, and it is particularly popular on our Scuba Diving Vacation Trips. You will be surprised at how good you can become with practice.