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First HC7 Dive Report


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#1 marshallkarp

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 05:08 AM

For those of you thinking about going high definition, you may find this post useful. This is the first Hi Def dive report that I posted. As some of you may know, I got a Sony HDR-HC7 for a real nice Christmas present from my wife. I have been just waiting to use it to make underwater video and my trip last week to Grand Cayman gave me the perfect opportunity. It is at:



I can see that the PQ is much superior to my formerly SD dive videos. There are several clips that I think are close to stunning. Which brings up a point that even though the PQ is better, there is still a HD learning curve going on. In looking at the raw video and editing it, I see where I could have done some things better to maximize the high resolution. Anyway, the video is what it is.

I think it looks pretty good in Vimeo HD, though there is some amount of compression. I plan on getting a blu-ray player for this Christmas and believe the true HD quality will come through when I am burning blu-ray discs and watching them on my big screen HD TV.

#2 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 12:55 PM

Excellent new toy! Fun stuff. I too got my HC7 last Christmas as a present too and finally took mine in the water last week for the first time. I'm hooked.
Although not a broadcast quality camera it sure if good enough for my use.
Yes.. too much to learn at one time. I am now adapting to editing in HD, and think I need to invest in new NLE, codecs, and authoring software.
I think I'll check out that vimeo site for posting some clips too.

Edited by wolfeeldiver, 17 July 2008 - 12:56 PM.


#3 Filmbeloh20

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 04:37 PM

Just out of curiosity, what is your set up? I have the HC9 and Gates housing w/NR HID 20s. Did you use the Manual WB? Or did you just set the camera on auto. Lights? What focal length do you set the focus to, or do you roll as you go? I've only had mine in a pool - but I'm going to Catalina with it in 3 weeks.

Great footage BTW.

#4 marshallkarp

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 04:28 AM

Just out of curiosity, what is your set up? I have the HC9 and Gates housing w/NR HID 20s. Did you use the Manual WB? Or did you just set the camera on auto. Lights? What focal length do you set the focus to, or do you roll as you go? I've only had mine in a pool - but I'm going to Catalina with it in 3 weeks.

Great footage BTW.


I have an Equinox ProPak 6 housing. No manual WB, wish I could, only three manual controls, on-off, record-stop, and zoom in-out. No lights, as I color and light correct in editing with Sony Vegas. I used manual focus set at infinity. Again, the zoom came in post-production with Sony Vegas pan and zoom.

#5 ScubaBob

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 11:29 PM

Just out of curiosity, what is your set up? I have the HC9 and Gates housing w/NR HID 20s. Did you use the Manual WB? Or did you just set the camera on auto. Lights? What focal length do you set the focus to, or do you roll as you go? I've only had mine in a pool - but I'm going to Catalina with it in 3 weeks.

Great footage BTW.

I have a similiar setup to yours (see sig). I think you will find that you will be doing all of the things you are are talking about - depending upon your situation. I think it's good to start wide, that is zoomed out all the way, especially in our less the crystal clear SoCal waters. Manual WB as much as possible, and when you are close and can take advantage of those HID20, use em! I have sample footage and stills in my dive blog here: http://www.mydivinglife.com/ScubaBob

Sorry - just realized most recent video is several pages back - here -
http://www.mydivingl...3...ism=&thisd=

Edited by ScubaBob, 21 July 2008 - 11:33 PM.

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#6 Steve Douglas

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:00 AM

Took a look at your video, if I may suggest, you may want to get lights as cc in post can only do so much. I would avoid shooting down on your subjects as it only flattens them out and forget the back of the subject approach and double pans. Good start on your new endeavor.
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#7 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 11:10 AM

In my humble opinion, I feel if its withing the budget, to always bring down with you "some sunlight" to help return colors that the water naturally absorbs. Given that you may not have lights, the 2nd best approach may be to use a CC filter and White Balance on the sun or a white slate, if you can accomplish that. Not all housing setups will allow that however. Its always better to try to get the source material as near perfect as you can, and not have to rely on post corrections.
Regarding focus, setting the focus fixed is better than auto, in that it avoids the "seeking" that the autofocus may do sometimes. However, I'm not sure infinity is the best setting. If you are shooting behind a dome port, then your dome creates a virtual image, that is somewhere closer to the lens than an infinity setting. This may be a better option, and setting focus somewhat closer may give a better depth of field range of focus. Setting focus at infinity may appear to be in focus, given a smaller appearant size, softening of the image due to the water, but under closer scrunity the subjects may not actually be as sharp as they could be. Some folks like to focus on their fins, and find that this is a good focus distance for the medium to far shots. Just some ideas...

#8 Filmbeloh20

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 11:40 AM

I have a similiar setup to yours (see sig). I think you will find that you will be doing all of the things you are are talking about - depending upon your situation. I think it's good to start wide, that is zoomed out all the way, especially in our less the crystal clear SoCal waters. Manual WB as much as possible, and when you are close and can take advantage of those HID20, use em! I have sample footage and stills in my dive blog here: http://www.mydivinglife.com/ScubaBob

Sorry - just realized most recent video is several pages back - here -
http://www.mydivingl...3...ism=&thisd=


First of all - I should let you know that my moniker on a hunting site I visit is SCUBABob as well :D

Second - for whatever reason, all I can see are stills on your site. Am I just missing finding the video? BTW - where do you set your focus at? I had pretty good luck at .9 meters in the pool I had the housing in. It was pretty dark in there - just test footage, but I might chop some of it and post a link to it...

Lastly - if you're going to be anywhere near Avalon Aug 8-14th, let me know. My wife and I are flying in on the 8th and plan on spending each day underwater. One of my good friends owns a dive shop on the island - so I get free air :)

#9 ScubaBob

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:22 PM

First of all - I should let you know that my moniker on a hunting site I visit is SCUBABob as well :D

Second - for whatever reason, all I can see are stills on your site. Am I just missing finding the video? BTW - where do you set your focus at? I had pretty good luck at .9 meters in the pool I had the housing in. It was pretty dark in there - just test footage, but I might chop some of it and post a link to it...

Lastly - if you're going to be anywhere near Avalon Aug 8-14th, let me know. My wife and I are flying in on the 8th and plan on spending each day underwater. One of my good friends owns a dive shop on the island - so I get free air :)


No shortage of Bob's in the diving world - that's for sure. Regarding the videos, they are at the bottom of the pages, but not each page. The last few don't have a video at the bottom, but the two before that - and many others before those do. The most recent video is here:
http://www.mydivingl...c...b&e_id=2986

This is video was taken off Palos Verdes penninsula in SoCal, so is definately not clear good viz footage. It is an example of the kind of macro footage I've been able to get with the HC7/Gates. If you scroll back you will find some Catalina dives with video as well.

As far as focus, I leave my camera on auto-focus and switch to manual when my subject demands it, or the camera is searching too much.

I don't usually make it over to Avalon/Casino point, as I usually am on charter boats if I go over to the island. I'll have to look at that weekend though - I'm overdue for a trip over to the park.

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#10 Filmbeloh20

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:33 PM

No shortage of Bob's in the diving world - that's for sure. Regarding the videos, they are at the bottom of the pages, but not each page. The last few don't have a video at the bottom, but the two before that - and many others before those do. The most recent video is here:
http://www.mydivingl...c...b&e_id=2986

This is video was taken off Palos Verdes penninsula in SoCal, so is definately not clear good viz footage. It is an example of the kind of macro footage I've been able to get with the HC7/Gates. If you scroll back you will find some Catalina dives with video as well.

As far as focus, I leave my camera on auto-focus and switch to manual when my subject demands it, or the camera is searching too much.

I don't usually make it over to Avalon/Casino point, as I usually am on charter boats if I go over to the island. I'll have to look at that weekend though - I'm overdue for a trip over to the park.


Thanks! I got the direct link in the PM you sent. That's awesome footage, BTW... I may have access to a boat the week we are there - but no promises on that yet. We're sucking it up and staying at Hamilton since it's our 10th Anniversary. We normally crash on someone's floor or stay at one of the cheap hotels, but we're splurging this time... Anyway, I'm going to also see if I can get permission from the HM to dive that little reef off of Hamilton Cove's beach. You have to be a guest to do it - so I might as well....

Let me know if you can make it over!

#11 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 07:27 PM

Hey Scubabob, when you shot your nice nidibranch video, were you using a close up lens behing the flat port of your gates housing?

#12 ScubaBob

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 08:40 PM

Hey Scubabob, when you shot your nice nidibranch video, were you using a close up lens behing the flat port of your gates housing?



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#13 ScubaBob

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 08:52 PM

Thanks! I got the direct link in the PM you sent. That's awesome footage, BTW... I may have access to a boat the week we are there - but no promises on that yet. We're sucking it up and staying at Hamilton since it's our 10th Anniversary. We normally crash on someone's floor or stay at one of the cheap hotels, but we're splurging this time... Anyway, I'm going to also see if I can get permission from the HM to dive that little reef off of Hamilton Cove's beach. You have to be a guest to do it - so I might as well....

Let me know if you can make it over!


Thanks. Hmm, sounding more enticing with potential boat access :D Will let you know for sure - always great to meet new people especially those with video interests/backgrounds. Reef off Hamilton Cove - so that's just northwest of Casino Point? Hmm, not sure if I've dove that area (show's Frog Rock nearby) before.

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#14 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:45 AM

...Thanks for "nice" comment :D

You well deserved the "nice" comment, I was impressed by the way you held the camera steady and still for the closeups. I just recently purchased my Gates HC7 housing, and now am going thru the learning steps too.

Did you just hold the housing steady against the bottom or you using a tripod?

And I'm curious how you're setting your WB. To a slate? You using the Gates slate and Arm combo or some other trick? I have their arm and slate combo, which serves as a third arm, but I hate lugging it around during a dive.

PV is fun diving. I used to dive it alot years ago. If you like that, then hop on a Truth Aquatics boat out of Santa Barbara, and dive San Miguel Island. You'll love that for macro. Enjoy.

#15 ScubaBob

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 11:59 AM

Thanks again. I do have the tripod attachment and have been using it with the gorillapod as much as possible lately. Around here though, especially with the surge even the tripod doesn't help much. I do tend to rest the housing against a rock to stabilize as much as possible. Ultimately, I end up throwing a ton of footage away and hope to get at least a few useable clips.

For MWB, I white balance on the scene about 90% of the time. Luckily when you are doing macro you don't have to make as many adjustments as you do when you are shooting wide and depending upon ambient light, differences in exposure and distance. If the scene doesn't have the right balance of color, then I will white balance against an area next to me about the same distance away. Very rarely do I provide a pure white source to the camera to WB on. I've tried the slate, fins, sun, palm of hand etc etc etc. and this is what I find works best for me.

I keeping hearing that about some of the northern islands, I need to get out there soon!

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