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#1 gofigure?

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 12:11 PM

Being VERY new to photography, and COMPLETELY CLUELESS to today's innovations, designs, and potentials, I need help.

Here's my quiry. I've been diving for decades, but never got into the UW photo end of it. Now I want to. I have money, that's not an issue. Issue is I have no experience with photography both topside and unerwater. What I've been thinking of doing is OBVIOUSLY learning, but purchasing the Nikon D100 camera and some lens' and the Titan D100 housing for it with strobes to be added, etc. Now, don't flame me just yet.

The way I figure, why spend $500 (or around there) for something I learn on and then realize it's inferior when I start getting more into it. Then that 'toy' is then useless. Learning 'seems' easier on video, but I get bored by video, you watch it once, the you yawn later. Put a picture on the wall though and you smile every time you walk past it. I like the idea of digital. Have seen a million people (not exact count) with film cameras, Nikonos, housed, etc, etc, etc and think GREAT stuff...but millions of dollars in film and processing, and mistakes that can't be corrected until you see the processing later....whatever, not my desire.

So I figure to purchase slightly higher end cameras with digital technology and I might improve the learning curve more quickly. AM I WRONG? STUPID IN THINKING THIS WAY?

Why?

Any serious photography suggestions from people who know what they are talking about on cameras, housings, or where I should be starting would be greatly appreciated!! I don't mind spending $6000+ for a system if I do it right.

(Should I wait longer for more megapixels? Friends of mine use Fuji Velvia on their trips and I have yet to see any digital out there that comes close in crisp images and texture...sometimes digital seems so "flat"...speed technology for us all, please!)

#2 bobjarman

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 12:22 PM

To quote my old Golf teacher, "It's not the Equipment Bob, its the hands holding it" :)

Seriously, you can spend A ton of money and get the best or a smaller amount and get a decent set up, unitl you spend a lot of time practiing and learning, it wount matter.

Do get a slr, either digital or film, if you are serious about taking up this hobby. You will end up with one.

As far as megapixels, dont let that drive your decision unless you plan on doing serious cropping or making huge enlargements. What you want is a good camera with great optics and autofocus if possible.

I love digital, shoot it exclusively topside, but I am using film now underwater simply because I like it better. Film set ups are cheap, relatively, and I only dive once a year.

That said, if you are good with digital, and have good gear, it is every bit as good as film if not better in most cases. I really think that nowadays the only thing that film can dothat digital cant is handle the sunshots and bright whites a lot better.

Others will give you a ton of advice on different gear and set up recommendations, they are much more knowledgable than I. I just wanted to get you thining about the why and how often of the equation.

#3 james

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 12:25 PM

Well, I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I've got some suggestions...:-)

Don't start with a DSLR unless you absolutely feel you have to. SLR cameras yield nicer results, BUT, they are also much harder to learn how to use.

Instead, why not get a hight quality consumer camera that will give you FULL control of the camera features, so you can learn how everything works. You can sell it for almost no loss (talking hundreds of dollars) and just consider it a learning tool.

I'm afraid that if you invest in a $6,000 "tool" you will expect "pro" results right away, and you will be disappointed.

It's funny, an average driver doesn't go out and buy a formula 1 car and expect to drive like Mario Andretti. But a photographer will go out and buy an F5 or a D1x and expect to shoot like a pro on day one.

This is just my humble editorial opinion. I'd suggest you get a Coolpix setup and a strobe. I've got a Coolpix 990 setup that you can try out as long as you don't break it. :-)

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#4 bvanant

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 03:28 PM

I agree with James. Get a reasonable point and shoot digital camera and a relatively inexpensive housing. I have had great experience with the olympus 5050 and the olympus housing and all kinds of strobes. This setup is $2K and is small and easy to use. At the end of the day it makes great pics and you have a relatively small digital camera for shooting topside. Learn about digital photography that way cause the in between parts especially getting nice output from photoshop is not trivial. Then progress to SLRs if you need to. I shoot Canon D60 topside and have a housing for it which I love, but I always take the P&S on trips too since you never know when you need it. On our last trip, one of our fellow divers unfortunately flooded an MX 10. I gave her my housed Oly and she took about 300 pics with it, many of them great. In fact, she has given up on film and now has my oly system, I have just gotten a housing for my wife's canon S50.
Anyways, learn digital photography first, then go SLR if you think the P&S cameras are holding you back.
Bill :)

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#5 craig

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 03:56 PM

I also agree with James. The 5050 and Olympus housing are relatively inexpensive, easy to use (once set up), they travel well and they produce very nice results. They won't match a dSLR ultimately, but today's dSLR won't match tomorrow's either. You'll spend $1000 on strobes and $1000 on the camera and tray. When you upgrade, you are likely to keep the strobes. The $1000 you lose on the 5050 is nothing compared to the many thousands lost on the Titan D100. You'd want to upgrade the D100 eventually, too. I suspect the market for top-dollar used Titan D100's will be pretty small.

Now, if you know you won't be happy with a modest system right away, consider a SLR housing from a proven still housing company. The list is long, but I would be wary of the Titan D100. The last thing you want is a housing failing that you can't service and who's functions no one understands. I would put the Titan at the very bottom of the list for beginners with its unconventional strobe circuitry, infrared grips, and electronic interfaces. Of course, it's at the bottom of my list for everyone else, too. Anyone familiar with a housed SLR could help you with an Aquatica and if you had an Aquatica, Nexus or Subal D100 in your hand, you'd realize they give up nothing to L&M.
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#6 scottyb

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 04:13 PM

The only thought I would add is, if you do decide to go with an SLR, learn it extensively above water before you take it below. I carry my camera with me every day and use it for project documentation, shooting landscapes, and anything that interest me. It is sort of belted in and hangs in front of the front seat of my truck in it's holster. This is a huge bonus below water and allows you to think more about finding and composing shots.

#7 Marc Furth

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 08:27 PM

My suggestion would be, go with what ever you can afford right now.

If I could have afforded a Hasselblad camera when I started out, instead of the Olympus OM 10 I bought. I believe it wouldnít have made much difference in the learning curve in my own evolution as a photographer.

Understanding the basic principals and relationships between aperture and shutter speed and itís relationship to the correct exposer will not change no matter what make of camera you select.

This might be over simplifying the matter, but never the less, your image quality will be based on your knowledge and your equipment, at least youíll be ahead of the game with the better equipment on your side.

Chances are that if you buy any camera now, youíll be up grading to the new and better one when itís released, and youíll probably have your more expensive DSLR longer than a consumer camera.

Anyway itís good for the economy , spend, spend, spend.

Marc
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#8 underwatercolours

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Posted 16 April 2003 - 10:04 PM

There are a lot of good suggestions here. I might add that if you've never dived with camera in-tow before, you might want to rent something for a couple of dives first, either film, digital or both. You're probably a great diver with your experience but your attention and priorities do change when you've got a camera in hand.

Another suggestion would be to take a class. There are many basic topside things you need to know before you attempt the underwater stuff. You might also want to look into Marty Snyderman's Online Course in Underwater Photography. Whether you are shooting film or digital, it covers a lot of very basic topics all underwater photographers need to know.

If you spend $6000 on a setup and don't like it, you're in a lot deeper than if you spend $2000 on a setup and don't like it. I'd spend some of that cash on a nice trip to a warm water resort destination with camera rental options. Try out a couple of different setups and see what you like. Then you'll be in a much better position to make a decision on what to buy.

#9 Kasey

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:28 AM

That's a great idea - take a visit to Cathy Church's place or the like, and dive the SLR and the consumer cameras - then make up your mind. I started with a high end camera - the E20 Titan - but still outgrew it within a year (but I probably dive more frequently than you'll be able to). I wish I had upgraded sooner, because many great photos I took with it have such high noise that it has limited their value. I do think that it nutured mydevelopment as a photographer very well.

My D100 will be with me for quite some time! Great camera, fast camera, great image quality!

One other thing that noone mentioned was the increased maintenence on the DSLR - You'll have twice as many o-rings to maintain, and twice as much to lose if you don't do a good job. Underwater photography is time consuming before and after the dive. I've known too many people that felt that they should buy the best - $ no concern - but then get annoyed at the expensive repair fees because they didn't maintain their sync cords and they froze into the bulkheads. It is not all about taking pictures - you have to be willing to commit 1/2 an hour (longer at first) before and after the dive to the camera setup and cleanup. It requires far more attention to detail than setting up your scuba gear, so you shouldn't be chatting with your dive buddy as you go through these motions. My girlfriend, for example, loves handling the camera underwater - if I set it up and clean it up. What fun for me!

Take a class - or find a buddy with a few cameras (most of us have too many!) to show you what is involved in preparation.


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#10 Ben

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:48 AM

I totally agree with what has been said above.
I was in your situtation 6 months ago when I decided to start underwater photography. I first bought a Canon G2Pro for topside use, and went for an Ikelite housing+single DS 125 strobe. I practiced topside and became quite comfortable with the rig in a few weeks.
Then I went to Cuba to start UW photography for the first time in my life... and the results where clearly above my expectations (some of the best pics can be seen there : http://2a2b.free.fr).... and I still have room for improvments !!
I know these forums are read by a lot of Olympus / Nikon users... but Canon G2/G3 (high end consumer cams) are very user friendly as well and give excellent results for beginners topside and UW !

#11 Ben

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 01:50 AM

Sorry the link is http://2a2b.free.fr

#12 bobjarman

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 05:17 AM

I agree totally with the comment about renting first.....make sure you like the hobby.

I disagree with the point and shoot route. The poster has indicated that he is comfortable with the money side of the equation. Assuming he falls in love with this hobby, it will be a very short time before he wlltrade to a SLR if for no other reason than to combat the shutter lag of P/S cameras. Modern SLR's have the benefit of being as easy to shoot as a P/S or as complicated as you want to make it.

UW gear depreciates very fast......if you have the funds, and your sure you want to do this, why not start with a set up that you can grow into without having to go thru the buy-sell-upgrade-sell-upgrade routine.

that said.....Rent or borrow first!


B)

#13 tshepherd

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 05:33 AM

I'm with bob on this one, rent or borrow first, and if you really like it and can truly afford it, go ahead and step up to the SLR. I wish I hadn't spent the money on my first UW digital and had just committed to the dSLR up front like I had originally wanted to. My decision was between a Canon D30 and a Sony DSC-S85. The thing that made me go with the Sony was that I was getting more megapixels for less money (didn't know anything about pixel density, etc., then) and that the number of housings available for the D30 were not in line with what I wanted. I did manage to get a decent price for my Sony and the Ikelite housing, but I still think I should have gone with the D30 instead of buying the Sony then 8 months later getting the D60.

Tom

#14 gofigure?

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 07:19 AM

Hey everyone, thank you SO MUCH for the really great suggestions and advice. It's a difficult decision and it's hard to compile good feedback as there are only a few UW photo enthusiasts around me. Most are P/S people who don't look into photo past their one trip a year.

To help in my ambitions, here's a little background and my initial outlook toward the puchasing. I believe I am a good diver (still learning on every dive), and have dives well into 4 figures. My wife and I take an average of +/- 4 dive trips a year. We love it and fortunatley or unfortunately, however you look at it, we have no children, so traveling is a great passion of ours.

I've tried underwater video and realize the big difference any camera in your hand changes the way you dive. I know that starting out means a large learned curve is ahead and quite frankly, no matter what camera system I get, I believe I'll pretty much suck at it for a while. To me, it should be an ongoing development through the decades. I just like to be wise with my purchases, owning better QUALITY tools to make the results better with experience.

I agree with the topside training philosophy. I expect to take courses, not only at local photo shops but online with Snyderman's course - who I've met many times and believe he has a great program going. (We've only spoken of trips and rebreathers in the past).

Renting seems somewhat difficult at times, as though you gain experience, sometimes you can't seem to find a variety of camera options on locale - though I might be looking at this from the wrong angle.

A far as the care issue of my investment, this is not a concern for me. Why? Because I work part time as a dive store technician and own 3 regs myself which I service constantly besides the 300 other regs I do a year. I'm more meticulous than most people have had experience with, my goal with every reg is to be the best in perfection - lets just say there's not many who know and take care of their gear better.

F5, D1X, did somebody say?? Look at the puddle of drool on the keyboard. (Though that's out of my league. Isn't an F5 like a ferrari compared to a model T vesrsus the Nikonos V?) And the Nikonos RS - why'd they half to go and do that, tears here... I've been 'around' many photographers before and different models, but just an observer watching from the sideline....like a boy watching the pizza guy toss the spinning dough in the air...it's so cool, I want to do that, just not waste any 'dough' nor end up with it on my face.

Don't you just LOVE this lifestyle and the oceans around us? Boy we are so lucky to live life!

Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think some good investments would be a few (not jsut one) intro course on photography and different models. Gainign experience and learning how the models produce results to find the desired acheievements in the future.

It's just that with cameras, there seems to be so many choices and good options out there, I just want to invest in more of the cream of the crop - I do with all my gear, less headaches that way.

Any further suggestions are greatly appreciated. Really, thank you all so much for your patience, time, and help with all of this!

#15 bobjarman

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 07:43 AM

Personnally, if your that good at maintaining gear that well and dive that often I would get one of two setups.

1: Nikon RS Used. With all the lenses and 2 good strobes this would'nt be much more than a good digital set up. Its lighter, smaller and simply an awesome underwater set up.

2: Either the Fuji the Nikon or the Canon DSLR with a high end housing. I love canon, have 4 canon cameras, but Nikon mount cameras have a huge advantage underwater. Tone of more housing options. (Although this is changing.) Problem with canon digital is you cannot get TTL flash hard wired. I think you can with the Fuji and nikon. You have to add a sensor system for the canon. (Not sure about the Fuji)

Of course the purists will tell you to shoot manual strobes and bracket, which is correct if your subject stands still. :)

Either system is awesome, and you cant beat digital for being able to see and correct your mistakes on the fly. That said, if I dove as much as you did, and was positive I was going to keep it up, I would probably invest in an RS system used, assuming I could find one I trusted.

But then again.....I am still one of the oldtime film holdouts. :) :ph34r:

#16 gofigure?

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 08:42 AM

And I do plan on continuing to dive as much (health holding of course) as I have plans for trips well into 2006 and beyond.

I was so bummed, years ago the previous dive store owner here who I am friends with had an RS, but wasn't sure what he would do with it. He owns an F5 now, but when I asked him about the the RS, he had traded it in.
...even not knowing photo, I new the RS' reputation...lost opportunity made a grown man pout, it did. I might look into the RS, I could always try UW photo-tech or Southern Nikonos for one?....decisions, decisions, decisions....argh, it's frustrating.

#17 tshepherd

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 09:35 AM

Ahhh, but it's a fun kind of frustrating!

#18 gofigure?

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 09:59 AM

The GREAT fun kind! :) I can't wait, one more month and I get to be enraptured by that 'blue' again! Thanks all!

#19 gofigure?

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 03:01 PM

I just got the chance to talk with Marty Snyderman today, he's still such a wonderfully nice guy! Posed the same questions as here and he helped me look at things from other viewpoints as well. Just wanted to say how great the responses have been and useful this site is. Keep up the great work!

Thanks,
Pat

#20 Mathis

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 04:09 PM

If you want to try renting a digital camera you can rent one before you leave for the trip. This way you know what your working with before you leave. I rented a digital camera housing (Tetra Housing) from Backscatter ((831) 645-1082 or www.backscatter.com) in California before I bought a housing. I actually did this b/c there were not yet any housings available for my camera. The only complicationn is that Backscatter did not rent the Olympus 4040 camera that goes in the Tetra Housing. So, I bought a used Olympus camera from ebay and then sold it when I got back. My whole mission was to have a digital camera for my dive trip and this happend to be solution for me. But, the point is that you could look into renting from Backscatter OR from someone else who might rent digital systems. Backcatter was the only company I could find that rented digital set ups (this was June 2002 so there might be others out there that rent digital systems now). I THINK they even rent housings for digital SLRs (not sure about the camera though). The rental was costly but worth it to me.

Additional comment: the folks at Backscatter provide simple instructions on how to operate the camera if you need it.
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