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Housing & camera dilemma


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#1 battleaxe

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 10:45 AM

Not really sure if this is the right place to post this. I am planing to go to hawaii in about a month with friends & was thinking of getting a underwater housing. I have the GF3 + 14mm lens and Sony A57 with few lenses. I was originally thinking of getting the Kodak underwater housing for the GF3, which can be had for about $100 for the 14mm lens model. But, that is pretty much the only lens I have and it's not the best if we go hiking or see wildlife(not to mention it doesn't have some niceties like the Sony or new Panasonic models have, like panorama mode). Then I thought, just bring both the GF3 and A57 for the different usages. Since the GF3 is small enough, both will fit in my camera bag no problem. Part of me wants to just take one camera, more than likely the A57 as two seems like a bit of an overkill. But, then one of my friends I am going with is you can justify both as they have their uses(but my other friends may not see it that way). My sister on the other hand thinks it is also a bit of an overkill.  
 
I did a quick search on amazon, and found I can get a dicapac or the like housing for my A57 also for about $100. If I went with this option I can have a camera that works for all the scenarios I may see(as I have larger native lens selection), but then it becomes a bit bulky(though I don't think too bad) especially if we go snorkeling or swimming with dolphins. I reviews for the DSLR version of the dicapac don't see that reassuring; but conversely the smaller model, which is more designed for cameras like the Panny GF line, or RX100, has more favorable ratings and reviews. The GF3 is a hard shell housing(though not too sure of quality) vs the soft shell being offered for DSLR cameras at that price. Any suggestions, tips or ideas? Thanks.

Edited by battleaxe, 22 June 2013 - 10:46 AM.


#2 ChristianG

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 10:39 AM

Ouch, where do I start?

 

1) What, exactly, are you trying to achieve?

(a) Are you after an underwater camera housing? If so, you've come to the right place.

(b) Are you after a camera that works "everywhere" (there's no such thing)?

 

Dicapac, and similar housings such as Ewa Marine, are generally considered to be reasonable for things such as rafting, canoeing, mountaineering etc but we generally don't think much of them for underwater purposes. Yes, they're cheap, no they don't work terribly well underwater, the risk of a flood is fairly common when compared to what you refer to as "hard shell" housings.

 

I suspect that you're not a diver (forgive me, but your use of terminology makes me think that way) in which case things such as a Digipac (personally I'd prefer Ewa Marine) are a reasonable solution but your other problems would really be best suited to an above water camera forum. Of course I could be entirely wrong, you might be a diver, you might want a real underwater housing, in which case we would first have to have a look at the suitability, or otherwise, of the two cameras you currently have. Sorry but not all cameras, in fact relatively few of them, are suitable for the u/w environment.


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#3 battleaxe

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 07:17 PM

Well maybe I wasn't too clear, but I have own both cameras. Well I want to use one of my cameras when swimming with dolphins and going snorkeling(nothing too deep, like 5-10 feet at most), without getting one of those compact water and shock proof camera(like the Olympus tough series) as I don't need/want another camera. Thank you.


Edited by battleaxe, 23 June 2013 - 07:17 PM.


#4 ChristianG

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 01:16 AM

[QUOTE name="battleaxe" post="333328" timestamp="1372043838"]Well maybe I wasn't too clear, but I have own both cameras. Well I want to use one of my cameras when swimming with dolphins and going snorkeling(nothing too deep, like 5-10 feet at most),[/QUOTE]

In that case I'd say that a Dicapac or Ewa Marine, or similar, "box in  bag" style housing might be best suited. You'll need to take care though, most housings are not exactly keen on rapid and constant pressure changes. That's exactly what one does when snorkelling so very careful attention to seals etc (one errant hair is all it takes to cause a potentially disastrous leak) is the order of the day.

Edit/: I'd be very wary of purchasing any Olympus Point & Shoot camera, such as the "Tough" series, given that Olympus recently withdrew from that segment of the market. They have "form" for non-support of camera segments they no longer care for even though, having said that, I believe they make some very good camera gear and are arguably the leader in the mirrorless camera market.

Even then, things can change so quickly. The very new, so new that it is not yet available, Samsung Galaxy NX Mirrorless Digital Camera with the Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System might have some considerable merit when it actually sees the light of day (depending on price of course). The bad news? It is only operable via its (huge) touch screen making it useless for underwater purposes. If you didn't know it, touch screens and underwater make impossible bed fellows.


Edited by ChristianG, 26 June 2013 - 03:33 AM.

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#5 battleaxe

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 08:22 PM

Not sure what the Galaxy NX has to do with this, but if I didn't have the Sony it would have been an interesting choice to get. 

 

I have seen the Ewa Marine, but the price is around $200-300(unless I am looking at the wrong places?), which is more than I prefer to spend. The Digipac looks good, but is there any other suggestions like it, or is Digipac best in class? Thanks. 



#6 ChristianG

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 01:55 AM

Not sure what the Galaxy NX has to do with this, but if I didn't have the Sony it would have been an interesting choice to get. 

 

I have seen the Ewa Marine, but the price is around $200-300(unless I am looking at the wrong places?), which is more than I prefer to spend. The Digipac looks good, but is there any other suggestions like it, or is Digipac best in class? Thanks. 

The Galaxy NS was an observation only, it was also an observation that cameras like it (with touch screens only) are useless for u/w purposes, whether snorkelling only or otherwise.

 

I think you'll find that there are not many on here who would be able to give you a definitive opinion n the relative merits of "soft shell" housings - if only because the vast majority on here would prefer "hard shell" housings for their rather precious cameras. I would suggest to you though that in today's day and age you get what you pay for more often than not and Ewa Marine, generally, is more expensive than Digipac, probably also more so than any other manufacturer of such housings that you care to name.

 

Allow me now to disabuse you of another notion that you seem to have. Are you quite sure that you will be able to snorkel with dolphins? In well over 40 years of diving I have only twice ever encountered dolphins underwater and one of those times (in Papua New Guinea) our boat was under way when they appeared and "allowed" us to enter the water with them, without SCUBA gear mind you. The only other time was locally when they approached us on deco and (but of course) I was out of film. Yes, film, it was that long ago.


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#7 battleaxe

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 10:46 AM

Yes, I am as we plan to get one of those swim with a dolphin packages. I am deciding to get a non-baggie housing for my GF3, and I have heard some some very good marks about the Meike case, though most of those were for the NEX variants, I am sure the GF3 model should be just as nice. Plus at about 110-130, the price is pretty fair. Then I noticed on the internet that I should also be looking to using some of those go pro anti-mist/fog pack to minimize the occurrence of that occurring. Just to be sure, is that really needed?



#8 ChristianG

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 01:26 AM

Yes, I am as we plan to get one of those swim with a dolphin packages. I am deciding to get a non-baggie housing for my GF3, and I have heard some some very good marks about the Meike case, though most of those were for the NEX variants, I am sure the GF3 model should be just as nice. Plus at about 110-130, the price is pretty fair. Then I noticed on the internet that I should also be looking to using some of those go pro anti-mist/fog pack to minimize the occurrence of that occurring. Just to be sure, is that really needed?

I suspect you might find that those packages do not incorporate a guarantee that you will in fact do that. Have you read the small print on the contract?

 

As for your final question, the short answer is no. There are easier and cheaper ways of dealing with excessive moisture, such as a girlie tampon stuffed into the housing (if space permits) or, indeed, silica gel sachets (which are reusable after being zapped in the microwave), Even cheaper is a very small bag of rice or even of salt, although salt and cameras are not good bedfellows. There are other solutions but, for my part, I don't use any of them and, touch wood, never have had to. But then, I like to think that I more or less know how to handle a camera/housing (and, yes, it's pretty much an art form). Trust me when I say that care of a housing is not all beer and skittles.

 

Edit/: Incidentally I went to Meike's website because I'd never heard of them. Are you sure that they have a housing for the GF3 (I assume you mean the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3)? Hmmm, on Panasonic's website they say "Intuitive Touch-screen Operation with a large 460,000 dot LCD" and DP Review says "the GF3 can get away with relatively few direct control points because it relies on its touch-sensitive screen for a lot of the more 'in-depth' operation". Touch-screen operation underwater, even in-water? I don't think so.


Edited by ChristianG, 30 June 2013 - 06:42 AM.

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#9 battleaxe

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 10:28 PM

Yes, DMC-GF3. I have it setup in a way that I don't need to use to much of the touch screen. I can just use the hardware buttons to change settings if need be. I only really use the touch screen to select point of focus. Good to know about the tampon trick, I take those flat pads could also work?