Great to see all these Sony users, remember folks, use a bit of Photoshop and you can create fantastic images. Here is a hints and tips sheet I created a long time ago. It does need an update as I've since learnt more about this great little camera. Right now I've been playing with the Sony T20 which is what all my latest images are coming from.
Diving 4 Images - Sony T series Hints & Tips!
Probably the number one camera for basic underwater macro photography that fits into your BCD pocket!
• The super macro feature on this camera is probably the best of all small sized cameras on the market now! You need to adjust a few settings regularly to achieve the best results.
Press “MENU”, the 2nd feature from the far left is the exposure control "EV" use the up & down to adjust this feature, this is a feature I personally use most often. After this you need to learn about the flash control, 3rd feature from the far right. There are simply “High”, “Normal” and “Low” settings, these are easily moving up and down! Always remember your first photo should only really be as a test shot, take a look at this shot, then set the camera accordingly, I am usually shooting -1.0 to -2.0 EV and often I will be on the lowest flash setting, unless I am shooting a very dark subject! Play with these two settings more than the others; it is a basic camera therefore very easy to understand!
• Using the internal flash you will need to make sure the flash will be hitting the subject in the right direction for best lighting, most point and shoot type cameras are the same.
For instance - if you are shooting a nudibranch, the flash should ideally be directed towards the animals front end (it’s face), you may often need to move the camera so that the internal flash lights up the whole animal and does not leave any shadows. I often shoot macro with the camera held vertically, this allows me to have light coming from the top thus covering the animal! Sometimes I will shoot upside down so that the flash is lighting the animal from the face on.
• I rarely try to shoot the shot as I would with film - with film I would make sure to have the shot fully framed correctly, however with the small point and shoot cameras doing this rarely gives good enough flash coverage. It is easy to frame the shot correctly, however getting the lighting right is not so easy with small cameras which have small flashes and limited range. In order to make sure you have good lighting It is generally better to shoot for the lighting rather than to fill the frame. I do this later by cropping the image to suit! Allowing for cropping later will help you create a much better image. Remember you are rarely going to need a huge blow up of the image!
• For animals larger than say 6” / 15cm it is best to use the close up feature and not the super macro feature. I find it not so easy to get enough quality lighting from the macro feature when I am more than 6”/15cm away from the subject. With the close up feature you will need to make adjustments on the flash and exposure differently as for super macro.
• Another great feature on this camera is that it will save your settings, if you want to change the flash power, when you click menu it will always be on flash power till you change the setting again, if you want to frequently change the exposure setting, you go to exposure and the camera will remember where it was last set and it will always show up first on the feature you last used. Other small cameras do not allow this and on some point and shoot cameras the user has to go through a series of menus to find the required adjustment.
• Learn Photoshop, I personally use Photoshop Elements for simple quick edits like cropping. Then I would use Photoshop CS for any more advanced editing. I find Elements is much quicker and simply to use!
• The battery life on my T1 does not last a very long time - I can easily get one full dive without any problem, though for longest life it is best to turn the camera off after you have taken your shots. The newer T series camera’s have been upgraded and have much longer battery life.
• I use a 256mb memory card and find this is more than enough; I only really need to download after about every 2 dives! Always shoot on the highest setting. To quickly check you are shooting the highest image size, press the feature that looks like a bin, move up to the highest setting and leave alone!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Always remember to keep good buoyancy at all times, by doing this you will not damage yourself, your dive gear and more importantly any of the precious corals. Even on soft sandy sites, try to keep off the sand, even your fins… the slightest fin movement on soft sand will create unwanted backscatter we all hate so much.
Please remember all corals are living animals and every reef should be treated like a well cared for Prize Winning Garden!