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Thread: A Puffers guide to getting started

  1. #1
    Barracuda
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    A Puffers guide to getting started

    Ok, you have your camera... what now? Will see if I can put down a simple path to follow that makes the learning of UW photography a bit easier.

  2. #2
    Barracuda
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    My wife got me an UW camera system (simple P&S) for our anniversary, so I'm all ears for your tutoring.

    Thanks.

  3. #3
    Barracuda
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    Quote Originally Posted by fisheater View Post
    My wife got me an UW camera system (simple P&S) for our anniversary, so I'm all ears for your tutoring.

    Thanks.
    Ok, so you will have one of three possible groups of equipment:

    1. A simple P&S without a strobe.

    2. A simple P&S with a strobe or two.

    3. A full blown DSLR, with all the "stuff".

    If you have this last one, take a trip to Palau and see my friend Mike V. He will take care of you.

    For the rest...will address the camera without extra strobe (but start saving, as you should have one).

  4. #4
    Barracuda
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    I got the Sea & Sea DX-860g (point and shoot digital 6.2 mb), housing, tray and arm, YS-27 strobe, macro lens and wide-angle lens.

    One question up front: Each of the add-on lenses (which attach to the front of the housing on a bayonet mount) comes with a leash that attaches to a tab on the bottom of the housing. Any problem with having them both dangling when using neither is being used? Or, do I have to make up my mind, pre-dive, which add-on lens to use?

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Barracuda
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    Ok, you have a camera and a case... now.. and I know this is going to hurt.. but read the directions and try all the features..actually learning how it works is important.

    Note: If you did not already get a giant memory card... you need to get one (ask and will give you places with the lowest prices)

    Then read the thread on basic camera settings.. and try those out.

    Then, learn where the macro button is (you will most likely need to use this a lot) and try taking pictures and going back and forth between it and normal.

    Then read the directions that came with the underwater case...pay close attention to all the care and feeding of O-rings - this is important stuff.

    If you don't have moisture packets, get some (ST's sells them)

    So, you have the right setting on the camera, you know the main buttons... you are now ready to get the thing wet.

    Put the camera and a moisture packet in the case and close it. Now put the unit underwater in some very, very cold water... hold it down for at least 5 minute (but 10 is better). Dry off and very, very carefully look for leaks... even the smallest amount of moisture getting inside the case. Se any and you are not ready to dive.

    Note: The reason for cold water (ice water works well if you are in a warm area) is that the cooling puts suction on the case o-rings.

    Assuming it does not leak...time to go diving.

  6. #6
    Barracuda
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    If you don't have a way to attach it to you... get one before you dive... I own somewhat like this:

    Cetacea Locking High Force Retractor - Cetacea Clips

    I like SS Carabiner attachment, and a lock... but that is just me. You can use much simplier stuff, but I sometimes have to get on a boat without being able to hand up my camera, so with this, I attach to my should D-ring and let it hang (locked).

    I'm sure ST has something that would do the trick.

    Ideally you have a nice calm place to pratice... with clear water. In florida, that would be one of the many springs, but any calm place will do.

    Drift diving, like they do in south florida, is not the place to learn...

    You are going to need an understand buddy...or one that does not bore easily.. so just be aware of that.

    So, you put your freshly charged batteries in you camera, the camera and the moisture pack in the case, seal the case and head out to go diving.

    Here are some general guidelines:

    1. This is "practice", have fun... try things and don't worry about how good or bad they are...Practice.

    2. Do not.... I repeat... DO NOT jump in and go try to chase down fish to get pictures of.. you may get a good shot, but you will not learn much doing it, and you will have a lot of fish butt pictures (I have thousands).

    Note: Later, I will be using my images to show the good and bad..

    3. You want to start out, without the flash on... in hopefully clear and shallow water and take pictures of either people (your dive buddy for example or the bottom. You want to get a feel for how it focuses and how easy it is to use.

    4. Find something small (and not moving) and take pictures moving slowly closer and closer... when you get too close, switch to macro and get as close as the cameral will allow (normally closer than you think). Make a note when you think you have it just right, and later look and see if that is true (most people do not get close enough)

    5. No take pictures of lots of things that don't move fast... anything you find interesting.

    6. Turn the flash on and see how the images look with it on... do some close macro shots (it may not work with the flash... but check).

    7. After you can go back and forth between macro and normal... are reasonably comfortable with the quality of exposure and focus... then just have some fun (now you can chase the fish).

    Next we will cover lighting of slow to non-moving things.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fisheater View Post
    I got the Sea & Sea DX-860g (point and shoot digital 6.2 mb), housing, tray and arm, YS-27 strobe, macro lens and wide-angle lens.

    One question up front: Each of the add-on lenses (which attach to the front of the housing on a bayonet mount) comes with a leash that attaches to a tab on the bottom of the housing. Any problem with having them both dangling when using neither is being used? Or, do I have to make up my mind, pre-dive, which add-on lens to use?

    Thanks.
    I would start with just one.. and do some testing..one of the problems is that you will not be able to easily see exactly how good the images are while the camera is still in the housing.

    And, you will be surprised just how much task loading you will have when you start out.

    As a general rule - keep in simple, until you are comfortable with making it more complex.

    Odds are, by the way, that you will use the macro way more than the wide angle, at least in the US...but there are places where the wide angle is a wonder addition.

    Let me give you an example:

    When I first switched from a nikonos to digital, I read the directions, tested the camera and did a nice learning dive... but when I went on my first real dive, I hit one of the small buttons that turns the display information off... so there I am, with the camera in manual, and no information. I didn't remember which button it was, and you cannot see the writing on the buttons with the camera inside the case.... messed up the whole dive....I now know the buttons by heart.
    Last edited by Puffer Fish; 01-13-2008 at 01:31.

  8. #8
    Barracuda
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    Thanks for the info. You're my new hero.

    I'll do as you say and be ready to take a few pictures when I go to Monterey in two weeks.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fisheater View Post
    Thanks for the info. You're my new hero.

    I'll do as you say and be ready to take a few pictures when I go to Monterey in two weeks.
    Keep in mind that there are essentially 4 types of pictures:

    Scenes (usually best with that wide angle).

    Fish

    People

    Little critters (the macro stuff)

    They each require different skills. You may not even like to take some of the above groups. I know two very good photographers (commercial) that one only likes macro stuff and the other only likes to take scenes... I will be going thru each of those tomorrow.

  10. #10
    Grand Master Spammer Founding Member
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    I was wondering if maybe you should include a part about testing the lenses? I know that on my SLR's it's common knowledge that unless you have something like an L lens that the results wide open are nowhere near as good. I know on some of my zooms that at the 300mm range to get an acceptable photo would need no less than F8, where at the middle I could use no less than F6.4 and at 75mm I'd need no less than f7, but it doesn't really crisp up until F9.1.

    Other lenses vary from there. I've never tested my point and shoots but I suspect they exhibit the same issues over the range they offer. It's easy to test, just download an iso 12233 chart for prints and take a lot of pictures.

    Sometimes you might wonder why a picture is soft and yet another is sharp and you assume it was movement when it might have really been the lens causing it.

    I learned that doing aerial photo's when it seemed that the shutter speed was fast enough to stop anything yet the photos were somewhat blurry, yet on another day I'd get good results. After learning about how lenses behave and testing mine I got more consistent results.

    Here's a pdf of one that works fine. Newspaper print can be used too.
    http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/~wes...3-reschart.pdf
    Last edited by cummings66; 01-13-2008 at 12:42.
    Matthew P. Cummings
    Moberly MO

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