underwater camera advice

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jpohio
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underwater camera advice

Post by jpohio » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:33 pm

Headed to Galapagos Islands in a little over a month and want to have a camera that I can take video and still shots underwater. GoPro is obvious choice, but not sure how much I will use it after the trip - I have a very good Nikon that I will use for shots on land.

I am looking for advice on options for the underwater camera - by the way, just snorkeling, no diving - so depth is not an issue.

Thanks

FlyAF
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by FlyAF » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:41 pm

What kind of budget?

My underwater rig costs 5+k and requires both of me and wife's carryon bags to transport. I'm also an avid photog that dives beyond recreational depths. This would obviously be overkill for most people. While I like go-pro's, they suck for still photog. Anything "decent" for still photography underwater is going to cost $4-500 on the low end. Not sure it's worth the $ for a single trip snorkeling.

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nisiprius
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by nisiprius » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:50 pm

Warning: 1) I have not used mine underwater. I haven't even tried it out underwater. 2) Obviously this isn't a professional-quality camera.

My little Sony DSC-TX30, which is so small that I just have it on me all the time--including right now--in a holder on my belt is supposed to be waterproof. As in, yes, they say you can use it underwater and they have certain setting, a sweep-panorama setting, specifically for use underwater. It takes video. Two issues with is that, alas, like so many small cameras, they have just kept putting in more and more pixels and as a result the richness of color and tonal range aren't as good as they were two camera generations ago; and there is some kind of noise artifact when you shoot video.

It's not the only inexpensive waterproof digital camera that's out there.
Last edited by nisiprius on Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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climber2020
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by climber2020 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:52 pm

The Olympus TG-5 has good reviews, and it's a more general purpose camera than a GoPro.

My underwater camera is an old Canon D10, which is still a solid camera for non-professional underwater use if you can find a decent used model.

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Lee Saage
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Lee Saage » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:02 pm

I wanted an inexpensive UW camera for a recent Hawaii dive trip and bought the Intova DUB on Amazon for $122. It is a small, very basic fixed-lens, point-and-shoot camera in a waterproof housing with no flash. I do believe the same company makes an UW camera with flash but have not tried it. Many inexpensive cameras claim to be water resistant but cannot really survive at any depth.

I took my unit to >40 feet and it worked fine. It does both video (its default setting) and still shots. Couple of caveats: Any depth greater than about 10 feet, without flash, everything looks blue due to absorption. Also there is no way to actually see anything on the camera view screen while wearing a mask underwater. Best you can do is, literally, point it and fire way. For been-there-done-that documentation, it's fine. Don't plan on submitting anything to National Geographic.
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Sandtrap
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:10 pm

There are waterproof cases for many cameras.

Such as this Olympus case for the TG5 which adds protection if going deeper than just the standard camera case.
https://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Prot ... dpSrc=srch

or if just for swimming and snorkeling but not deep then:
https://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Waterpro ... -5&psc=1

And, from that point on, there are waterproof cases for DSLR's where the complete rig will run into many 1000's $$$.

I had an older Olympus XZ-1 with an inexpensive underwater case and it did great for traveling and sandbar swimming and light snorkeling.
Have a photographer friend that has spent well north of 10k for a pro setup.

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PugetSoundguy
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by PugetSoundguy » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:12 pm

I have used an Olympus TG-4 for a couple of years. The newer version is the TG-5, about $400. Not cheap, but it really is waterproof, is tough generally, and also is a good pocket camera for more conventional shots. You could always sell it on eBay after using it. Suggestions if you get it: At least for the TG-4, the battery runs low pretty quick. And the charging cord is proprietary. You might want an extra battery. And I got the snap-on Olympus floating strap. Didn't want the camera going to Davy Jones' locker.

bob60014
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by bob60014 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:13 pm

Check with your local camera shop about a rental.

Freefun
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Freefun » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:41 pm

PugetSoundguy wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:12 pm
I have used an Olympus TG-4 for a couple of years. The newer version is the TG-5, about $400. Not cheap, but it really is waterproof, is tough generally, and also is a good pocket camera for more conventional shots. You could always sell it on eBay after using it. Suggestions if you get it: At least for the TG-4, the battery runs low pretty quick. And the charging cord is proprietary. You might want an extra battery. And I got the snap-on Olympus floating strap. Didn't want the camera going to Davy Jones' locker.
+1

I have the Olympus and like it. I always have extra batteries.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

Johio
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Johio » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:43 pm

Thanks to all for the suggestions...

Marylander1
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Marylander1 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:45 pm

I have a TG-5 and it's awesome, a big improvement from the TG-4. It uses a standard micro-USB charger cable so it's compatible with almost any charger or external battery pack, plus its internal swappable battery has a reasonably long life.

If you're willing to put extra time into higher-quality images, it also has good photographer controls, and RAW mode.

Marylander1

PugetSoundguy
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by PugetSoundguy » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:58 pm

Marylander1 wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:45 pm
I have a TG-5 and it's awesome, a big improvement from the TG-4. It uses a standard micro-USB charger cable so it's compatible with almost any charger or external battery pack, plus its internal swappable battery has a reasonably long life.
Didn't know they got rid of the silly proprietary plug. Good move, Olympus. And the pictures from the TG-4 are great, so if the TG-5 is an upgrade I think its a no-brainer. Hmmm, it may be time to upgrade.....

shelanman
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by shelanman » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:00 pm

Meikon makes underwater cases for a wide variety of cameras. They cost between $100 and $300, depending on the camera. They aren't professional grade or anything, but they beat the pants off those little waterproof bags -- and they let you use your regular, everyday camera under water.

For a trip to the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago, I spend about $100 and bought a Meikon case for my Canon S100, and I got some pretty good shots.

This link has four of my favorites:
https://imgur.com/a/amZWH

If you look at the edges, you'll see that there's some additional chromatic aberration added, due to the plastic -- but I'm super happy with these images anyway, and they're way better than what a $150 underwater camera would have produced.

If you do buy one of these, I strongly recommend keeping some silica gel packets on you -- cram one into the case whenever you're using it, because the case does have a tendency to fog up.

I will say that I don't expect the case to last forever. I've taken it on 3 underwater trips now, and I'm probably more than halfway through it's life (because the salt water is slowly wrecking the metal parts), but if you're *not* going to be doing this all the time, I think it's a great product.

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Watty
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Watty » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:03 pm

Over the years I have tried a couple of inexpensive underwater cameras and I have been disappointed with them. The problem is that the underwater lighting is not as good as you might think so a high ISO needs to be used but an inexpensive camera will have a small sensor which will have lots of noise at a high ISO. Underwater you will be moving around a lot too so the pictures I took were often blurred because of movement.

I have not done it but another option I would consider is to look around your house and ask friends to try to find a old unused smartphone that has a halfway decent camera, we have ended up with a couple of those in our house that did not have any resale value. You can then buy a reasonably priced waterproof smartphone case for it. You could use that and if it does leak it would not be any big loss. If you get one with a removable SD card you take the card out to get your pictures if the phone does get wet and stops working.

Whatever you get I would be sure to try it out in a pool or lake before your trip since it may take some experimenting to figure out which settings to use.

FYI, If you or someone you are traveling with wears glasses then one thing I would highly recommend is getting prescription goggles. You can buy them online very reasonably but the inexpensive ones will only have a basic prescription with pre-made lenses with basic correction (like -7.5) but not astigmatism correction but I have found that to be good enough . It was a while back but I got prescription goggles here and was very pleased with them.

https://www.snorkel-mart.com/master.cfm?CategoryID=28

Be sure to read all the instructions on how to select which lens to order since there are a couple of factors involved and you can contact them if you have questions.

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Will do good
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by Will do good » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:15 pm

How about instead of buying a so so camera that you most likely never use again, rent the best camera for a faction of the cost?

I have rent from them for many commercial pro shoots, https://www.lensrentals.com/

McGowan
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by McGowan » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:28 pm

Was in Galapagos in Aug 2017 and used a TG-5. Worked great with no issues.

One couple on the boat just used a clear pouch made for an IPhone/cellphone. They were able to get great pictures and videos. Clear pouch is customer made for this purpose. Touch the buttons thru the pouch. Can find in a dive shop, online or maybe in Walmart for $10/$20. We were all amazed it worked so well.

Have a great trip. The best snorkeling and diving I've ever done by far.

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queso
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by queso » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:58 am

I wouldn't go down the rabbit hole unless you are serious about underwater video/photography. Been there done that with Ikelite, Gates, Light & Motion, etc. Then there is the lighting issue, external strobes, arms, external monitors, etc., etc. and then you get into mounting if you have so much crap on you that you can't carry it (scooter, deco bottles, stages, etc.). If it were me I'd just take a GoPro in the pool for an hour and see if it does what you want and then go with that. If they still make those little camera bags that might work too if you are just snorkeling. Just get a cheap point and shoot and throw it in one of those bags. If not maybe you can get a cheap point and shoot that has an OEM case that will work for what you need (Sony used to make a decent one that was good to like 20-30 fsw). If available you could also get the housing for the camera you already own, but I wouldn't make that your only camera on the trip in case it floods. I used to work around that by bringing 2-3 identical cameras that all fit the housing I was using, but again, I wouldn't go down that rabbit hole unless you are more than just a casual underwater photo person. :happy

kaudrey
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by kaudrey » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:16 pm

Freefun wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:41 pm
PugetSoundguy wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:12 pm
I have used an Olympus TG-4 for a couple of years. The newer version is the TG-5, about $400. Not cheap, but it really is waterproof, is tough generally, and also is a good pocket camera for more conventional shots. You could always sell it on eBay after using it. Suggestions if you get it: At least for the TG-4, the battery runs low pretty quick. And the charging cord is proprietary. You might want an extra battery. And I got the snap-on Olympus floating strap. Didn't want the camera going to Davy Jones' locker.
+1

I have the Olympus and like it. I always have extra batteries.
+2 I bought the TG-5 for our January trip to Belize. We snorkeled and went scuba-diving. It is good to 60 feet (and it gave me warnings when we went down to 50 feet and below, which we did several times). It took amazing underwater pictures, is compact, and takes great regular pictures too. I'd recommend it.

remomnyc
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Re: underwater camera advice

Post by remomnyc » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:26 pm

We bought a waterproof casing for our Canon PowerShot years ago. See if you can get a casing for your existing camera. The biggest problem for us was picture clarity in low light conditions. My friend who is an avid underwater photographer has a flash that's nearly the size of the camera. This may be less of an issue for you if you're just snorkeling. Unless this is going to be an on-going hobby, I would see if you could rent an underwater camera at your destination.

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