View Full Version : Where do I start?

07-01-2009, 11:17
I hate to re-ask the same question that everyone else has already asked, but I'm going to anyway... what is the best way for a beginner to break into underwater photography?

First off, I love pictures, but I have never cared enough to learn about f-stops and such. I like to point, zoom, and shoot. Auto focus rocks! So, no need for SLR (now or in the future).

I have about $150-200 to start with. Obviously, this doesn't buy much in the wet photo world. I want to buy a camera that I can upgrade later with strobe, wide-angle lens, etc. as finances allow. I have my eye on a used Coolpix with Ikelite housing in my price range. The only other thing I've seen in my range is a used Reefmaster Mini, but I think it is something I would be more likely to outgrow and have to replace rather than adding accessories.

The camera and housing that I'm looking at have been discontinued, but the camera is fairly easy to find on closeouts; should I try to pick up a second camera in case the first one ever floods / breaks? I'm thinking a spare $50-90 camera is cheap insurance since the housing doesn't fit other models.

I am several months from being able to add a strobe, but has anyone used the "Fantasea Nano Single Pro Set #2075"? I'm sure I'd be better off with an Inon or Ikelite kit, but this is almost half the price (under $200 for tray, arm, strobe, fiberoptic cable, and case).

I guess what I'm really wondering is: If I go this route, will I quickly outgrow this camera and strobe and have to replace it all? Remember, I'm a point & shoot kind of guy... Also, if I go this route, I'll have $200 into the camera and housing, $200 into the strobe, and eventually $350 into a wide-angle lens; and I may eventually want to add a second strobe. Does this seem like a good value, or should I just wait for a package deal that I can afford?

Also, since the housing is discontinued, will I still be able to get the proper O-rings in the future?

Finally, is it feasible to use this set-up while wearing thick gloves? It's cold here (average 50-55 degree water). Or, is there a way to add dry gloves to a wetsuit? Or, do I have to wait until I can afford a drysuit to really give this a good shot?

07-01-2009, 15:06
hmmmm....where to begin. Don't take this wrong, but you need to spend a bit more to get a system worth upgrades. Some cameras just don't have good lenses on them, or the software isn't the best, so the pics they produce are lesser quality. You don't have to go Dslr to take good pictures, but you do have to have a good camera to start with, then a decent housing, then add the strobes and tray and arms, and then the WA lens... price is going to add up. Look at spending $800-1500 for the beginning level package IF you are planning to dive enough to get your money's worth. Does that make sense?
you can get something like this:
SeaLife DC1000 Digital Underwater Camera Elite Kit reviews and discounts, SeaLife (http://www.scubatoys.com/store/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=SealifeDC1000EliteKit)
here on ScubaToys, which is a good starter kit and use it for a few years, until you get more money, then sell it on ebay.

or you can buy pieces separately, like housing here:
Compact Digital Housings : Reef Photo & Video!, The Underwater Photo Pros (http://reefphoto.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=3&zenid=5b5574db24db979f4b595cabd7529131)

as to your question about using a camera with thick gloves..... no, it is almost impossible. I wear a thin pair of 2mm gloves when using my camera or camcorder underwater, and that is in 60 degree water. I deal with the cold for my art. When not shooting, I use 5-7mm thick gloves.

hope this helps.

08-13-2009, 17:36
There really needs to be a guide set up for Scuba Photography. For all I know there is one available out there on the net; but for any sites that sell equipment, there should be a guide so that we can learn what we are doing.

08-13-2009, 23:10
IMHO, a good starting camera is a point and shoot camera that can focus little stuff like letters on your keyboard and I recommend Ikelite housing with it. My experienced dive buddy (250+ dives) who is also an experienced DSLR photographer above water is using an inotova and whatever he does he couldn’t make clear photos. My husband bought two DC1000 sealife with strobe for teaching purposes. When I practiced shooting little stuff, it couldn’t focus well. I did not bother using it underwater. I think spending a little bit more on a decent point and shoot camera and housing is a good way to start than buying a cheap camera now to be replaced later. Looking back I am glad I purchased a decent point and shoot camera to start with.

I’ve been using a sony dsc-p200 point and shoot and had 50+ dives with it. The camera had a flash defect and it costs $130 to have it fixed. It was a manufacture defect that I did not notice until after the warranty period. I went to ebay and purchased a used, free of defects, for $65 instead. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing used items on ebay but it is an option.

When you get comfortable with underwater photography you can start adding up more stuff. I'd recommend a focus light first then a strobe. I am still happy with my camera. I haven’t been using a focus light and strobe but soon I will be. You can check my photos at www.friendster.com/mdashoredive (http://www.friendster.com/mdashoredive).