I'm planning a trip to go snorkeling with Humpback Whales in March 2014. I'll be going on a professionally guided tour down in the Dominican Republic where it's legal to swim with them. In trying to prepare for this trip (my first real trip), I'm trying to figure out what my best option is in terms of photography. Any insight or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!
Option#1: Originally I was looking at a GoPro3 Hero, but reading how terrible the battery life is scared me away. So now I'm looking at (5) other underwater point and shoot cameras, but I think I narrowed it down to (3). They are the Canon Powershot D20, Pansonic Lumix DMC TS5, Olympus TG-2 IHS, Pentax WG3 GPS, or the Nikon Coolpix AW110. The (3) that I think I've narrowed it down to are the Panasonic, Penxtax, and Nikon with the Panasonic having the slight edge so far because of the better video quality. Does anyone have any experience with any of these cameras? Would you consider them to be good choices for this trip?
Let me state that I’m very aware that one of the above cameras will not get me the professional quality photos that I *really* want, certainly not as good as my DSLR would. However, this trip alone is already in the $4,000 - $5,000 range so I’m trying to work within my budget. My goal is to come home with some nice shots that’ll be worthy of sharing online and printing/hanging in my house. Any camera that would let me accomplish that would be great!
Option#2: I cannot afford to get an actual underwater housing for my DSLR (Canon T3i), but I have been wondering if using a Dicipac might be another possible solution. I do worry about bringing my DSLR into the water regardless of which casing I use, but of course I'm a bit more nervous about this one since it's essentially a bag. Have any of you used one of these or know of someone who has? Did it work well without springing any leaks?
Any other advice you can offer or if you can think of a different camera I haven't mentioned, please let me know and I'll add it to my "to research" list. Thanks!