View Full Version : New to U/W photography

09-17-2008, 16:55
Hello all,

I have always loved to take pics. Not a fanatic, but still it is fun. Now that i am certified (OW) i would like to begin taking pics and small vids when i go diving. I am not too concerned on the camera, rather on how to set one up when i am finally ready to go under. What are the things one of you more experienced cats can tell me to learn? I plan on using PAS maybe SLR, all depends on whether or not i can get a job here soon. I also plan on shooting anything i can that i find interesting; small fish, coral, rocks, sharks, boats - basically anything in my path. I just want something more to read about in the meantime, to kill some time; however, i ask this so i can refine my search. For example. ISO ratings etc. What do i need to learn so i can take good to decent pics. Please give some examples if possible and please explain it to me like i am a 5 yr old , hahaha...


09-19-2008, 04:13
One of the most important things at depth is a good flash, pref an external strobe although a built in flash can be used up close, otherwise all your nice photos turn out a horrible blue colour as the water filters out the colours, you can use a filter on your camera or apply one afer in photoshop but I find using a good strobe cant be beaten on the results, I will show you a photo when I get home from work and upload it, one half has caught by the flash and the other half was not so shows a good comparison between the two.

09-19-2008, 04:39
If you already own both PAS and DSLR cameras, check to see how much housings for your models cost. Prices for DSLR housings sometimes run more than the camera itself! PAS housings are far less expensive. If you do not own a PAS, but do own a DSLR, then it will take some weighing of factors before you can decide whether to invest in both a decent PAS camera + housing or simply apply all those funds to a DSLR housing.

Shooting underwater adds a whole new dimension to task loading. People who had pretty much nailed buoyancy more often than not lose it, at least temporarily, as soon as they squeeze off that first shot. People often forget to check their air as they become absorbed in getting the shot. People end up with zero situational awareness at times. For this reason alone, I think it's a very good idea to start out with a smaller housed PAS camera. You can easily clip it off on a D-ring, and you can decide which (if any) manual functions you'd like to set it up for. (For example, you can decide to set for Shutter speed--say 1/125 and let the camera make all the other adjustments.) That way, you can simply "point and shoot" without making a bunch of decisions about your settings.

Until you know what kind of camera you'll be using, it doesn't make a lot of sense, IMO, to talk about aperture, ISO, exposure compensation, or other things along those lines. I took a photo clinic with Tim Rock and Mike Veitch a couple of years ago, and it took them a whole week to guide us through the variations of applying those concepts to our shooting, particularly since it makes a big difference if you're shooting DSLR or PAS.

Finally, I have to say I heartily agree that an external strobe makes a big difference in the quality of the shot. But again, it adds bulk to the camera rig, and it adds a bunch of other settings as well as strobe positionings to worry about.

My advice: if it makes sense given your present camera equipment and your budget, get a good PAS capable of fully manual settings to begin with. Then tell us what you've got; it will give those who shoot with the same/similar setup a better basis for walking you through the early steps.

09-20-2008, 19:20

Thank you very much for the information. Currently i have a "PAS" by canon, a Powershot A400. I am considering buying the housing, however, when comparing it to the sealife (mini) cam; i would be better off buying a new one that comes with everything necessary to start. Well, once i make a final decision i will post on here again for more info. As i stated i LOVE to read and wanted to get a headstart so that i am not totally lost.


11-02-2008, 16:09
I would say the number one decision if you already have a PAS camera is to make sure it has FULL manual operation (control over shutter/aperture/iso) if you don't have that control then it will not be something that you'll get good pictures with. Yes, you can get some that are okay, but you'll constanty fight the controls.

The second thing is to see what kind of lens the camera has built in. If it is not wide enough, it won't be very good for wide angle without the use of a wet lens. If it can't focus up close, then it won't be good for macro. While on the focusing subject, the better the camera is to find focus in low light the better time you'll have because if it hunts alot and can't find focus in low light, you'll have fun trying to find focus underwater.

Next would then to be look and see what housings are available for it. That gets into a whole new set of questions. Does it have fiber connectors, or a sync cable connector, or neigther. What depth rating does it have, 130 is fine unless you plan on going for the deep dives.

The reality of it is, there are very few good PAS cameras for underwater use and not every DSLR can be housed but most of the popular ones can.

The best way is to research the PAS camera you want to use, see if it has any of the pitfalls I described, and then see who else might be using it and look at their pictures and ask questions of them on ease of use because that will really play a factor under water when you are trying to change settings and the camera is difficult to use. Its not like on land where you just put it in Auto and go shooting.. At least not if you want the pictures to look good.

11-24-2008, 09:39
Rich gives some very good advice. I'm not sure your current a400 makes a good candidate - if I recall they don't have a very wide angle lens and not much in the way of manual controls.

If the sealifes do what you want - that's great.

I would recomend you look to see if you can find the recently discontinued Canon a570. I got my case and camera for under $300. There are many strobes that will work with this camera (optically triggered). These are not the widest angle cameras either but you can add lenses at a later date.

Good luck - and how's the diving in your part of PR?

Here's an example (with a less than talented photographer at the controls):

01-26-2009, 12:34
In your spare time you can get some good pointers on underwater photography (http://www.aquaticimages.com/) at Underwater Photography - Take or find great underwater photos! (http://www.AquaticImages.com)

02-02-2009, 17:05
Canon PowerShot A400 http://a.img-dpreview.com/reviews/images/canon_a400.gif
Effective pixels- 3.1 million
Zoom wide 45 mm Zoom tele 100 mm (2.2 x)
White balance override- 5 positions plus manual

Even though your camera does have manual settings with the 45mm 100mm lens I do not believe (IMO) this would make a very good U/W option for you other than basic snapshots.

There are plenty of options on the market depending on your budget and your experience in photography. If you could give us some more details about your experience above or below water with cameras in general and a target amount for a camera system I am sure you could get some more specific recomendations.

03-10-2009, 19:42
Here's an example (with a less than talented photographer at the controls):

are you kidding? that's a fantastic shot!

03-18-2009, 18:03
I have an Olypmus 795u and the Olympus housing and strobe. It didn't cost much to setup and I have been able to get some good pics with it. The camera itself is waterproof to 10m and shock proof from a fall of 1.5m onto a hard surface. We often go spearfishing in the afternoon after diving, so I take my camera out of the housing and put it in my pocket in case there is anything worthwhile to snap. Also if the housing leaks the camera can withstand a bit of water.