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Underwater Photography or Video


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3 replies to this topic

#1 orcaman

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Posted 13 September 2006 - 01:58 PM

Hi everyone, thinking about getting into Underwater Photography or Video, read on.

If you are interested in still photography, I have gleaned a few tidbits from some knowledgeable people which I can share with you. As I have told others in the past, I tried that still stuff and literally sucked at it.

But if you are interested, it is probably the easiest and cheapest, or least expensive way to get into the exciting world of underwater photography.
Several major Manufacturers including Sony and Olympus make underwater housings for some of their more popular point and shoot cameras. They are camera specific and made to fit the particular camera like a glove. I have friends who just clip it to their BC and when they want to take a picture, it is very handy. The downside is that if you later want to add a strobe for extra lighting and you probably will sooner or later, they are easily or readily adaptable to that and you must be very close to the subject and use the camera’s strobe to fill the light. Some have trays or handles to house the camera and a strobe and use the camera’s flash to trigger the strobe. To get any better, you would have to move up to a more expensive housing with more advanced features like dual strobes or TTL, which is through the lens metering used by the camera to set up it’s functions with the environment it senses through the lens.
Then there is the dilemma of how many mega pixels do I need? I guess the correct answer is as many as you can afford. But because of the geometry of cameras and formats, doubling the number of pixels does not double the quality, as I have been told to get double the quality; you need four times the number of pixel. That is to say that if you go from 5 mega pixels to 10, you would need to go to 20 to get double the quality.
The bottom line is that the more you spend, the better the capability of the quality of the photograph. However, as the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
Also, there are those who still chose to stay with film photography. That is obviously their choice, but the pros are going to digital and the magazines and others who buy that product now prefer a digital image to that of a film print. The technology has progressed to the point that some think digital technology has passed the film technology.

As for underwater videography, there are many different housings on the market and like the still camera industry; the function goes up with price. The bare essential ones have just the basic functions such as start/stop recording and zoom functions, and maybe an On/Off switch. From there they go up to electronic controls that control most of the camera functions with the touch of a button. They range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.
Then there is the issue of what kind of camera to put into that housing. Most are camera specific, again meaning that the housing is specific to the camera you are putting into it. There are housings for a lot of the popular Sony and Canon videos cameras, but not for all of them. If you have any idea of the number of models of camera that these manufacturers make then you would understand that there would be no market and profit to do that. Instead they only make housings for particular models. So if you have a particular model in mind, you have to be sure that some manufacturer, and hopefully one that you prefer makes a housing for it.
Then there is the issue of which video camera to choose for you underwater videoing. First there is the tape format, analog, digital8, digital or digital video referred to as DV. Analog it the old format before digital came along, and mostly today in the 8MM form. Digital8 is the same tape form, but the information is in digital format, not analog. DV is the same digital format on the tape as D8, but with a smaller tape form factor. Most consumer digital video cameras today are in the DV form factor. There is also the mega pixel question with the video cameras as well as with the still cameras. But the range is much less and it is less of a concern than others considerations. You may have heard of single chip cameras with a single CCD and 3 CCD cameras. The CCD is the electronic eye that senses the image in front of the camera. In single chip cameras, there only one “eye”, if you will that senses what the camera sees. In 3 chip camera, or 3 CCD as they are called, there are actually 3 “eyes” that detect the scene in front of the camera. There is one that sees on the reds, one that sees only the blues, and one that sees only the green. Most professional cameras are 3 CCD because they produce a better quality than a single chip. On the other hand, most consumer cameras are single cheap because they are cheaper to produce and most consumers do not need or want to pay for the quality of a 3 CCD camera. Sony had a high end consumer 3 CCD camera that was popular for a while called the TRV-900. It was popular with consumers and pros alike because of the quality and the price. Many underwater housing manufacturers made housing for this camera. It was on of the longest running productions of a single camera that Sony ever had. Most products are updated every year, the 900 was produced for some 8 or 9 years. Others make consumer # CCD cameras, Panasonic being one, but there are not as many housings available for these cameras as there are for the Sony’s.
But the latest rage is HDV or high-definition video which is a whole new ball game and I will elaborate on it more later.
I hope this information was informative and helpful to you, if you have any questions, contact the Orcaman @ singledivers.com.
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#2 WreckWench

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 05:54 AM

Are there any lower end or reasonably priced housings that will produce good results without breaking the bank to own them?

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#3 PlatypusMan

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 07:53 AM

Are there any lower end or reasonably priced housings that will produce good results without breaking the bank to own them?


Yes.




...oh, wait---you want more, right?

As much as we have bashed it, there are a number of housings on Ebay that might do the trick for you, with several of the listings including the camera. I am the proud owner of two U/W PlatyCam housings thanks to Ebay auctions and at a significant discount when compared to the price when new.

Consider in your search exactly what you want to use the final product for: Personal enjoyment? Broadcast distribution to others? Internet only? This can help you in your decision as to what to buy. Then you must figure out if you want a still camera, video or something that will do both.

As with anything, you must be careful what you bid on and remember that once you have it, there may be a learning curve to consider as well--both with the hardware and, in my case, video editing software in order to burn DVDs or create computer-friendly stills and video (or both).

Hope this helps.

PlatypusMan
...Beware! Mating season starts next month...

ps: The avatar I currently use was done using a digital Sony Mavica FD-87, 1.3 megapixels to give you an idea of simple quality of image.

Edited by PlatypusMan, 18 October 2006 - 07:57 AM.

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#4 vettenorlando

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 10:09 PM

Are there any lower end or reasonably priced housings that will produce good results without breaking the bank to own them?


Yes.




...oh, wait---you want more, right?

As much as we have bashed it, there are a number of housings on Ebay that might do the trick for you, with several of the listings including the camera. I am the proud owner of two U/W PlatyCam housings thanks to Ebay auctions and at a significant discount when compared to the price when new.

Consider in your search exactly what you want to use the final product for: Personal enjoyment? Broadcast distribution to others? Internet only? This can help you in your decision as to what to buy. Then you must figure out if you want a still camera, video or something that will do both.

As with anything, you must be careful what you bid on and remember that once you have it, there may be a learning curve to consider as well--both with the hardware and, in my case, video editing software in order to burn DVDs or create computer-friendly stills and video (or both).

Hope this helps.

PlatypusMan
...Beware! Mating season starts next month...

ps: The avatar I currently use was done using a digital Sony Mavica FD-87, 1.3 megapixels to give you an idea of simple quality of image.



eBay is a great place to get your underwater gear. Just be very careful, talk to the owner on the phone, demand close up pictures etc. With many early adopter videographers moving to HD there are MANY GREAT 3ccd camera's and housings out there to be picked up.

If you want new and don't want to break the bank... check out Ocean Images... Amazing housings and great customer service. I personally own one of them that I used when I got started and their service is 2nd to none.
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