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Simon K.

Good Advanced Amateur/Prosumer/Semi-Pro Setup

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Hi,

 

my girlfriend is finally bored to just be my spotter and wants to start UW-Video.

 

Now we are looking for a nice setup.

 

It don't hav to be absolute "hi end" but we want something that we don't get buyers remorse after a couple of dives because an important feature is missing.

 

The problem is, I know a lot about UW-Photography but have no idea what are important features for UW-Videography.

 

If I would be looking for a Photo Camera I would ask for "RAW-Capable, Fully Controlable Manualy, decent and fair priced Housing" and recommend myself a Canon G or S (before 70) Series or a Olympus x0x0 Series Camera.

 

But What are the key features for Video? And what are recommendable Setups?

 

Do we need lights from beginning or are filter (real or post-production) enough for the first couple of trips?

 

Anything else we should know as newbies?

 

 

Thanks in advance

Simon!

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I'll off a few thoughts, but I'm a newbie myself so you'll have to take what I say with a grain of salt. I'm sure the more experienced people here will jump in with any necessary corrections and more required information.

 

Seems the first question you'll want to decide is whether you want HD capability or not; that can significantly influence the camera you buy.

 

Then next question might be which brand? Personally I would look at the two latest Sony offerings - particularly the HC7. The problem there, though, is that it was just announced and won't be available for another month or maybe more. And then there's no housing for it yet, either. But the price is right for "prosumer" IMO, and surely the housing makers will be jumping on it right away. If I were looking I'd consider it worth the wait of a few months to get that one.

 

You don't need light(s) to begin with. I should think you'd have to be looking at that before too long but the first couple of trips as you mentioned might work out well without having to worry about it to begin with.

 

Whatever you do, make sure the model you pick has manual settings for at least these features:

 

- White Balance

- Focus

- Exposure

 

(I think any valid "prosumer" model will likely have those anyway.)

 

Another thing is to consider the editing software you may wish to utilize. I just bought a Sony SR1 and codecs for the AVCHD format are still under development for the most part. That doesn't bother me since I can wait a few months for actually using the HD, but it might be a big consideration for someone else.

 

Hope that helps a little, and others more experienced can add more or make corrections as necessary.

Edited by pablo

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Simon, in my opinion the most important feature you might regret not having is the abillity to white balance the camera underwater. I rate that even ahead of manual exposure, but you'll likely get that anyway in such a housing.

 

In tropical water you can do an awful lot without lights. In Thailand/Burma/Indonesia I've shot the vast majority of my daytime video without lights, typically only using the lights when very deep or in dark corners, caves etc.. But then I have used cameras that are relatively good in low light (VX2000, Z1).

 

Another big decision to make is whether you want electronic or manual controls. Manual controls (Gates, Ikelite etc.) tend to be better for reliability and "feel". Electronic controls (Light & Motion, Amphibico, Sea&Sea etc.) offer some convenience and ease of use.

 

Pablo has some good suggestions which entail waiting a bit. Another option might be to get a quality used standard definition setup which should be in the 2nd hand market as HDV takes over. For example a Sony VX2000/VX2100/PD150/PD170/TRV900/TRV950 in a Gates or Amphibico housing. You can make great u/w video with those if HD is not essential for you.

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Yep, i think MWB is huge too.

 

The DV cameras Nick pointed out would work really well. SHould be able to find a good price on used ones.

 

Nice thing with a 950 would be the small size for travel

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TRV900 is an absolute classic for u/w use if you can get one and something like an Amphibico Navigator housing (mostly mechanical). Compact and better in low light than the TRV950, although I think(?) the 950 has native 16:9 that the 900 doesn't. But TRV900 may be hard to find as it was discontinued long ago.

 

But of course if you're set on HD then forget all that.

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Hi Simon,

 

I have a PDX10 - PAL (pro version of the 950) with a USVH housing (extended version) for sale. Price for the package 2500€. The PDX10 has only been used for around 60 hours.

 

The housing gives you full control of the camera including MWB, under water review, ...

 

Let me know if you are interested. I'm regularly in Germany (Dusseldorf), so you could see the camera/housing, or even try it out if you want to.

 

Peter

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I currently use the amphibico housing for an 4 year old sony video camera. I purchased the most expensive camera I could afford at the time and it has worked wonderfully with me diving 4 weeks a year. I chose amphibico because people at wetpixel commented on the advantage that the controls won't break because of the electronic component. People at wetpixel also mentioned that if the camera floods then you can always turn the camera on and just shoot continuous footage. It's not perfect, but it works.

 

Regarding lights...the amphibico has a flip filter that makes any video taken down to 100' very good! I've never felt the need for lights as I do with still images.

 

I'm by no means an expert, but I feel that as an amature that STRUGGLED to spend $1700 on a housing at the time, that I made the right choice.

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Yes the Navigator 900 is a classic housing and so is the TRV900-PD100 cameras.

It's perfect for shooting day vids on boats as not only can you use it one handed, but it's flip out screen is just wonderfull. It also came with a optional right electronic handpiece, best of both worlds.

 

If you can get your hands on a second hand setup, would be good.

 

I wish we could buy housings like this still.

Ours is still going strong from 1999 and it's had a very hard life indeed.

However is only shoots 4.3 and is DV.

 

Using a URPRO filter, you don't need lights for normal tropical diving.

 

Lets us know if you find a setup and we will give you our thoughts.

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Simon

DV is dead! Go HD! :D

 

I would say that you first have to consider how much of a techno geek your gf is. Is she going to bother about WB, filter etc? Or is it you who want those features. WB, flip filter, electronic controls + manual controls, availability of UWA lens. All those are great features to have, IF she uses them.

 

Also consider the size of the camera and housing.

 

Right now, the cameras with one button white balance are:

Sony: FX1/Z1, FX7/V1, A1

Canon XLH1, XHA1/G1

Panasonic: HVX200.

 

The FX7/V1, XHA1/G1 do not have housings as of yet. Other smaller cameras have most functions tied into their menu system. So you may want to consider a housing with a menu system control function.

 

Without manual white balance, the choices open up big time. My personal recommendation is the Canon HV10. High resolution and sharp in a small package. Not too many manual controls but if you get a housing with control functions, it's a nice little package.

Another choice would be the Sony HC3 with Seatool housing and Inon lenses. I've played with it and the quality is very decent for such a small package and the interchangeable lenses of Inon make it versatile. Throw in a good light system and it's a pretty nifty package for fun. HC3 isn't as good as the HV10 though.

I do recommend lights with smaller cameras. There are many compact choices. Check out the L&M Sun Ray (which are really built for their own housings) and the Patima HID30. Small package lights that give a nice beam.

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hi drew

 

 

i'm curious about the seatool. the spec claims that it does "white balance shift"? what is that? is that manual white balance?

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hi drew

i'm curious about the seatool. the spec claims that it does "white balance shift"? what is that? is that manual white balance?

 

"White balance shift" is the white balance equivalent of things like exposure compensation. You can dial in a plus or minus setting to tweak the white balance a bit. It's definitely not the same thing as manual white balance, and that's the main feature I wish I had in my Seatool HC3 setup.

 

In order to access the actual one-touch white balance menu option with the HC3, you'll need to get a housing like the Light&Motion Bluefin HC3. That's a much bigger and heavier housing though.

 

More details of the HC3 and the available housings can be found on my web site:

http://www.lizhanks.com/video/hdr-hc3-unde...r-housings.html

 

Cheers,

 

Liz

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...snip...

 

Without manual white balance, the choices open up big time. My personal recommendation is the Canon HV10. High resolution and sharp in a small package. Not too many manual controls but if you get a housing with control functions, it's a nice little package.

...snip...

 

i'll be trying it out underwater in an ike housing in a couple of weeks on a trip, i'll be using an ike housing. unless someone has provided input before, and even if they have :D, i'll write a short review (and consequently of my feeble debuts in underwater video) when get back beginning of march.

 

/paul

Edited by 3@5

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"White balance shift" is the white balance equivalent of things like exposure compensation. You can dial in a plus or minus setting to tweak the white balance a bit. It's definitely not the same thing as manual white balance, and that's the main feature I wish I had in my Seatool HC3 setup.

 

In order to access the actual one-touch white balance menu option with the HC3, you'll need to get a housing like the Light&Motion Bluefin HC3. That's a much bigger and heavier housing though.

 

More details of the HC3 and the available housings can be found on my web site:

http://www.lizhanks.com/video/hdr-hc3-unde...r-housings.html

 

Cheers,

 

Liz

 

 

I would agree, White Balance Shift is not the same as the Manual White Balance. I like to use the WBS for subtle changes (for example coming off the reef and shooting a WA scene) but it is NOT a replacement for MWB. Drew implied earlier that the HC3 does not have Manual White Balance, which is does. It does NOT have 'one-button' white balance however such as the FX1, etc.

 

Simon, if you are interested in the L&M housing for the HC3, I recently wrote a review on the setup...HC3 Review

 

My advice on purchasing your first UW video setup would be similar to a first time home buyer; buy as much as you can afford, don't make yourself house broke (in this case 'housing' broke). You will be much better off purchasing a housing with a good control set & lens options than spending extra for lights, monitors, arms, etc.

 

My .02

 

Ryan

 

 

More details of the HC3 and the available housings can be found on my web site:

http://www.lizhanks.com/video/hdr-hc3-unde...r-housings.html

 

Cheers,

 

Liz

 

I just checked out this link, what a nice way to examine all the HC3 options. Good work Liz...

 

Ryan

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hi drew

i'm curious about the seatool. the spec claims that it does "white balance shift"? what is that? is that manual white balance?

 

Syam, white balance shift, as Liz says, is just a blue/red shift for the WB setting. -ve = more blue +ve = more red.

 

The controls to manipulate manual white balance on the Sony HC3 is menu based. So the minimum steps to get manual WB is a 5 button push. You first have to set it in the pmenu system then turn the menu on and off to check the balance. It's a bit of a pain really.

 

I'm quite sure that any casual user will not bother with MWB too often with those steps. So with that in mind, I'd get the best resolution and best looking picture and try to use a flip filter and color correct later.

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Where is a good place to find an second hand TRV 900 or TRV 950?

It appears as if they do not exist anymore.

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