Let me start off by saying that I just discovered this forum, and holy cow is this place great!
I need your help! I'm looking at getting a new digicam for both above- and underwater use. Realistically, I need to keep the budget around $700, but if there's a great option out there for a little more, I can probably stretch a little. DSLR would be awesome, but nowhere near possible budgetwise.
Basically, I'm looking for a camera/housing combo that will do a great job of taking pics with the existing light, as I'm a novice when it comes to underwater photography and don't really want to deal with the complication of adding an external strobe just yet. Budget constraints also make strobes difficult at this point. Lag is important - obviously there are a number of factors that influence this - af time, actual shutter lag, etc. Lag time from one shot to the next is important, too, as well as flash recycle time. Manual WB adjust is also very important, although it seems some digicams do a good job with their presets. I don't think I'm going to do much wide angle stuff, but will focus more on fish portraits/macro shooting. That said, I'd like the ability to pull away from the reef and take it in at a distance every once in a while, too.
From what I've read, it seems like the Fuji F30 does an outstanding job of dealing with existing light levels. However, it doesn't do RAW format, and it doesn't do full manual (only aperture priority, right?), both of which are problematic. That doesn't mean I've ruled the camera out, only that I'd like to get a better feel for what my other options are.
It seems like the Oly 350 is very popular here - any thoughts on how well it takes photos sans strobes? I love the dedicated underwater shooting modes - it's great to see such support of underwater photography from the manufacturer. Battery life is somewhat concerning, ce4jesus' findings notwithstanding. Fuji E900 gets some pub, too, but I'm concerned about the recycle times for flash on that one. Any Canon lovers out there? I think they do a great job above water, but am not sure how that will translate below. Help me out!!!