Camera recommendations

Post and discuss beautiful underwater photos and video brought back from the depths of the sea.
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Nwbrewer
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Camera recommendations

Post by Nwbrewer » Mon Jul 02, 2007 9:39 am

So I had the opportunity on my last couple of dives to borrow an old Olympus camera and housing, and discovered that I really like taking UW pictures. I had to return the camera, so now I'm looking at what I want to get.

I'm likeing the look of one of the Canon A-series camera's and a housing. I know a lot of you guys dive the Casio exz1000's. Anybody have any other recomendations? Thing about either of these you like/dislike?

Mostly just looking for something to be able to snap some pics of critters and fellow divers, not a big pro setup.

All help appreciated!

Jake

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coachrenz
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Post by coachrenz » Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:28 am

I would go with the Casio EX - Z1000.

Sweet camera. Great pictures both topside and underwater.
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Diver_C
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Post by Diver_C » Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:56 am

I love my SeaLife DC600 with dual digital strobes!!!! Here's a pic from the Club's dive trip this past weekend in really bad vis:

Image

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Nwbrewer
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Post by Nwbrewer » Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:59 am

Diver-C, that's great. Most of mine w/ a camera flash had lots of "snow" in them, I'm assuming from the internal camera flash and no diffuser.

I think budget-wise I'm a ways off from getting a strobe too, do most of you use a strobe, or just the internal flash and a diffuser?

Jake

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airsix
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Post by airsix » Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:38 pm

Nwbrewer wrote:Diver-C, that's great. Most of mine w/ a camera flash had lots of "snow" in them, I'm assuming from the internal camera flash and no diffuser.

I think budget-wise I'm a ways off from getting a strobe too, do most of you use a strobe, or just the internal flash and a diffuser?

Jake


Jake, I'm not a photographer, but I'm trying to learn. The problem with internal flash is that the light reflects off the particles in the water right back into the lens. With a strobe, the light reflecting off particles takes a different path rather than glaring back into the lens (because the lens and strobe have some distance between them). This is why even in low vis you can get pictures that look good when using a strobe. I don't have a strobe and so I always get the snow if I use the flash at any distance.

-Ben

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Nwbrewer
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Post by Nwbrewer » Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:43 pm

Thanks Ben, that's pretty much what I have been experiencing. I've been expirementing with using my lighhead out to the side and not using the flash and that seems to help avoid the "high beams in a snowstorm" effect.

Occasionally I manage to get a good photo, and after using one on four or five dives I'm getting better.....but still not good.

Jake

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Tom Nic
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Post by Tom Nic » Mon Jul 02, 2007 1:57 pm

I would like to get a strobe, but in the meantime I'm just shooting with the internal flash and a diffuser. As a result most of my shoots are a few feet or less, and my best shots are a foot or less. Love the close ups! A strobe would make it to where I might be able to get shots within 5 to 8' if there isn't too much schmutz. But up here, even with gigantic strobes, it's tough... Is it just me, or do I even see the "snow" in Rich's pic above? And that's a fairly close shot. Step back and try and shoot a fish on a washing machine and you'll see what happens! :-)

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/82311222@N00/695507087/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1386/695507087_b5b6e7a9e8.jpg" width="490" height="500" alt="CIMG0107"></a>

I used an Olympus for awhile, then went with the Casio on Calvin's recommendations, only I went ahead and got the 1050 instead of the 1000. Don't know that it's a big deal, but all things being equal might as well get the latest model.

You will only keep 1 or 2 pics for every 5 or 6 that you shoot, IMO, unless you're just not very trigger happy. Love digital! \:D/ Take lots of pics... delete freely... You will begin to learn what works and what does not simply from the experience to shooting then taking a look at your shots afterwards. My experience has been that I kept everything at first, then as I collect good shots of more and more critters I'm more and more picky about what I keep. Gotta love the external storage! I just picked up a 500 gig external hard drive at Costco for $187! \:D/

Don't get cheap SD cards... they're not that much anyway, but all are not created equal. Get a fast one.

I love the high MP. Perfect for cropping pics and still getting good detail. Whatever cam you get, I'd go with at least 10 MP, especially for shooting in the NW, specifically for the cropping without using quality ability.

There's a link to some of my photosets below... you can see some of my pics.

Keep playing with it! Taking pics and critter ID'ing has become my favorite part about diving...
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jeff98208
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Post by jeff98208 » Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:54 pm

i use the sealife dc500 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff98208/ ... wdiveclub/

that and it was a fathers day gift from the bridal unit and my younglings.
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Post by Nwbrewer » Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:19 am

Anybody dive a Nikon? My father in law is a semi-pro photographer, and has been pushing Nikon. I kind of like the looks of a slim little coolpix camera in a fantasea housing. Anybody use one?

Jake

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spatman
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Post by spatman » Wed Jul 04, 2007 6:42 am

i've been using the canon a610 with the OEM housing for a couple years now and don't had any complaints. well, one: the cam doesn't support RAW image format (but if you're not planning on using the pics for pro purposes, it probably doesn't matter).

as with most cameras, it takes a little while to dial in setting and get the feel for the menus, but once i did, i got pics i was very happy with.

Image
Image

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thelawgoddess
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Post by thelawgoddess » Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:02 am

those are nice shots, spatman! i use the CANON SD700 IS - great macro capabilities and 4x optical zoom. my only big complaint is the same complaint as spatman - no RAW ... and unfortunately i can't really afford to upgrade to the CANON REBEL XTI. well, i also question the re-design of the powershots in general in terms of where the buttons are now, but at least it's a digital camera and i can *usually* re-take the shot that i just messed up by yet-again putting my thumb in what canon apparently thinks is the "wrong" spot.

you can see lots of photos i've taken with it on flickr - all of my shots from december (cozumel) on (including bonaire) are with my current camera - no external flash. here's a few:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelawgoddess/488367726/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/214/488367726_c3210aa504_m.jpg" width="240" height="160" alt="Juvenile Spotted Drum (Equetus punctatus)"></a> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelawgoddess/479855808/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/206/479855808_2ee9c90c14_m.jpg" width="240" height="160" alt="Great Barracuda"></a> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelawgoddess/540870422/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1007/540870422_f14eb6e6e4_m.jpg" width="240" height="160" alt="White-Lined Dirona aka Alabaster Nudibranch (Dirona albolineata)"></a> <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelawgoddess/488598817/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/230/488598817_69182d9ce6_m.jpg" width="240" height="160" alt="Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)"></a>
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spatman
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Post by spatman » Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:44 am

thanks, goddess! you have some great shots too. one of these days i'll get around to putting mine up on flickr...

what is it about the button placement on yours that you don't like? i honestly don't have a problem with mine, but i haven't tried it with thick gloves on yet...

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Post by Diver_C » Thu Jul 05, 2007 1:34 pm

Great shots Law Goddess and Spatman!!!

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thelawgoddess
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Post by thelawgoddess » Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:07 pm

spatman wrote:thanks, goddess! you have some great shots too. one of these days i'll get around to putting mine up on flickr...

what is it about the button placement on yours that you don't like? i honestly don't have a problem with mine, but i haven't tried it with thick gloves on yet...


thanks! i've got more, but yeah; it is a lot of work to get them posted! unfortunately every time i come back from a trip people want to see pictures ... so i try to do as much as i can first thing. don't know when/if i'll get to the rest that are decent enough ... but anyway ...

about the camera, they moved some things around and the menu button is on the lower edge (right) of the camera - right where i seem to want to always have my thumb. it's worse when i'm using it land-side, but i've pushed it a number of times underwater as well. perhaps it's a personal design flaw in having a really short thumb or something, but i never had that problem with the s410. i'm also still not used to the location of the power button and still sometimes turn the camera off instead of taking a photo. (oops!)
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spatman
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Post by spatman » Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:04 pm

thelawgoddess wrote:about the camera, they moved some things around and the menu button is on the lower edge (right) of the camera - right where i seem to want to always have my thumb. it's worse when i'm using it land-side, but i've pushed it a number of times underwater as well. perhaps it's a personal design flaw in having a really short thumb or something, but i never had that problem with the s410. i'm also still not used to the location of the power button and still sometimes turn the camera off instead of taking a photo. (oops!)


that's definitely one drawback to these compact cameras: all the features start getting crammed together. the a610's control's aren't too crammed, but it doesn't exaclty slip easily into a pocket when on terra firma. you just have to pick what you're willing to deal with in exchange for certain features.

i think the next round of cameras will consist of 2: one small pocketable point + shoot for everyday use and something like the rebel or even even a 10D or 20D for uw and serious shooting. but i have a few other things to save up for first, like a few classes, drysuit, regulator, etc etc...

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Post by spatman » Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:09 pm

nwbrewer -

i saw that you sent a PM to hiskychemist about his a620 for sale.
viewtopic.php?t=2332

are you getting it?

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Post by Nwbrewer » Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:42 pm

Nope, i must have been too slow. ](*,)

Still looking around. The A570 IS looks good, I'm also looking at some of Nikon's point and shoot Coolpix models. Unless I come across a super deal I tend to research stuff to death before buying.

Right now it looks like either a canon A series or a nikon Coolpix of one type or another. I was looking at an A560 the other day (only one I could find ot lay my hands on) and I liked the feel and size of the screen. I also was looking at the Coolpix L11. Also seems like a very nice camera.

Been doing a lot of reading at manufacturer's sites and SB to get input.

Thanks Everybody for your input thus far.

Jake

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Post by spatman » Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:52 pm

Nwbrewer wrote:Unless I come across a super deal I tend to research stuff to death before buying.


i'm the same way. took me a while to decide. :dontknow:

this site was really helpful for its reviews:
http://www.dpreview.com/

and this site has a great forum:
http://www.wetpixel.com/

good luck. let us know what you end up with.

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Post by Nwbrewer » Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:15 am

After much research here and on other sites, I wound up with a Canon SD550 and canon housing. First dive will be this evening and hopefully I'll be able to post some pics to show how it works out! Thanks everybody.

Jake

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Post by thelawgoddess » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:02 am

you will love it - can't wait to see your first photos. (don't be discouraged if you don't get great shots first time out - i took over 80 on my first dive with a camera and only 1 turned out stellar.) i'll be looking for your photos tomorrow!
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Post by L.A. » Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:09 pm

I've a Canon Powershot A640 with an Ikelite housing and have been using the in-camera flash with diffuser as I don't have an external flash yet. My plan is to pair an Inon 2000 with the set up. Here's an example of the in-camera flash capability during a night dive. The flash works better than I expected, but definitely has limitations. I wanted to go with a digital SLR (Canon 30D), but the cost differential was significant.

Image

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Post by Nwbrewer » Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:05 am

As promised a few of my first new camera pics from Mukilteo Clay Walls-

Image

Image

Image

Image

It took me a minute to even see the second sole in that last picture. I originally was just taking a photo of the more brown one. Finding the two laying there head to head like that was kinda cool.

I need to learn how to set the WB manually I think. For this dive I just used the UW mode on the camera.

Lawgoddess I didn't have the problem you did, instead at the begining of the dive I kept hitting the mode selector dial with my thumb. I got used to it by the end of the dive though.

For anybody who hasn't done a dive on the clay walls, I highly recommned it. The cool thing is the main wall seems to change over time. A year ago when I first did the wall there were very few spots that were more than 4' tall. Right now a large section of it is ~10' tall. If you feel like getting a little deeper, pieces of the clay wall have fallen off and slid downslope, and there are lots of critters hanging out there also.

Thanks again everybody for the recomendations.

Jake

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Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:12 am

nice, nwbrewer! i have yet to dive the walls over there. ](*,) i also have yet to mess with the manual white balance on my camera - i used the UW setting or the cloudy manual setting (or both for multiple shots). i also tend to take a lot of macros which don't really need much in terms of color correction, and i run pretty much all of my photos through photoshop - i crop them if nothing else, but i usually do some other tweaking in terms of exposure adjustments and/or color corrections. (a lot of times i can just run "auto levels" - but in cs2 you can decide what that means by default.)

i love your two sole shot!!!

ps - are you taking those at the largest size and highest resolution?
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Nwbrewer
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Post by Nwbrewer » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:22 am

Thanks.

I don't think they were the highest resolution, I think they were taken at the fine level, there is still superfine above that. I'll have to try out that cloudy manual setting. I'm not sure what size I used, I'll have to check. Is there a recommended resolution and size?

I need to get some photo editing software to be able to adjust colors and crop images.

Jake

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Post by spatman » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:53 am

Nwbrewer wrote:Is there a recommended resolution and size?

Jake


it really depends on your preference and the way in which you plan on using the images.

the higher the resolution and size, the more information that is captured. this is beneficial if you ever plan on printing hard copies at larger than snapshot size, which usually require around 300dpi for a smooth image (web images are usually fine at 72dpi).

higher res images also allow you to zoom in and crop closely without too much pixelization or graininess, though the max res of the camera and the depth at which you zoom and crop will ultimately determine the grain.

generally, i shoot at the highest res the camera will allow. with 2gb memory cards coming down in price, image size and storage usually isn't an issue anymore.

hope this helps.
Image

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