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Chrispie

HC7 Housing.... Again....

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Hello,

 

OK - there seem to be a lot of threads on here on the HC7. Hands up who has a winner?

 

Amphibico?

Gates?

Light & Motion?

Seatool?

 

They are my top four - amphibico out because of lack of MWB? Light and motion out because of price? Seatool and gates then? Any takers?

 

Come on, help a girl spend her money.

 

:(

 

Chrispie

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OK I'll bite...

 

I also considered all 4 of those housing above when I bought my HC7... I ruled out Amphibico and Seatool since they don't offer manual white balancing. I got to see the seatool HC7 in person and it is an engineering beauty... Tiny little thing - smaller than many still camera housings... But sadly, no manual white balance... You do have control of the white balance shift though I haven't been able to confirm how effective this is u/w. And you do have to wonder how well you could keep such a small package stable for a smooth shot.

 

That left L&M and Gates which offer a manual white balance option. I was turned off by the L&M initially since you have to use a viewfinder or buy an expensive external monitor vs Gates where you can view the camera's own LCD. But... having now used the Gates housing, I am actually thinking maybe the viewfinder would be better in some situations. While you get a good view of the LCD in the Gates housing, strong sunllight from behind can make it a bit difficult to see and judge exposure/ focus. There were a number of times I found it hard to tell if I was getting a good focus and wished I could look into a protected viewfinder. But then, if I had to put my eye to the viewfinder, I would have had a tough time shooting some objects on the floor.

 

Price wise, I think you'll find the L&M and Gates about the same when you factor in a port for the Gates. You also have the electronic vs mechanical housing argument. I've found the Gates controls easy to use. No batteries or circuits to worry about. While not that frequent, you do see reports of electrical problems in the L&M housing.

 

Hope this helps...

Edited by pakman

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Chrispie, I would definitely narrow it down to Gates and L&M because of the manual white balance issue.

 

Pakman, how is the placing of the controls on the Gates, in particular rec/pause and zoom? Are the controls easy to use with contorting your hands and would they be OK for smaller hands?

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Pakman, how is the placing of the controls on the Gates, in particular rec/pause and zoom? Are the controls easy to use with contorting your hands and would they be OK for smaller hands?

 

The controls are well placed that you can reach the rec/ pause with the right trigger finger and the left zoom controls with your left thumb while your hand is still on the handle. The roller control is also well placed on the left. Only criticism I have is the left control button (for locking focus, etc) is a bit short and not easy to depress in while trying to keep your left hand on the handle. Maybe easier for someone with longer fingers...

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Chrispie, I would definitely narrow it down to Gates and L&M because of the manual white balance issue.

 

Pakman, how is the placing of the controls on the Gates, in particular rec/pause and zoom? Are the controls easy to use with contorting your hands and would they be OK for smaller hands?

 

I agree on all said points for going with L&M or Gates. I chose Gates partially because I know they are bullet proof housings (this is my 3rd housing from Gates, and I enjoyed them all.) I also chose Gates for the ability to use the camera's own flip own LCD. I can't really go into the mechanical vs. electronic controls debate (not that anyone wants to, right? RIGHT? ;) - as I have always used mechanical)

 

Nick - the mechanical zoom control on the gates actually uses the zoom buttons on the left side of the lcd panel - so it's not cluttered with the rec/pause or the photo buttons. In my opinion the controls should work well for smaller hands (not an issue for me with my XL gloves - for which it also works well.) My wife ( small glove-er) had no problems using the housing gloveless in the caribbean. All in all - I don't think you can go wrong with the Gates (thanks to folks like Pakman too for helping me through the a couple of the issues I've had with the housing so far)

 

The controls are well placed that you can reach the rec/ pause with the right trigger finger and the left zoom controls with your left thumb while your hand is still on the handle. The roller control is also well placed on the left. Only criticism I have is the left control button (for locking focus, etc) is a bit short and not easy to depress in while trying to keep your left hand on the handle. Maybe easier for someone with longer fingers...

 

Dang! I thought I had beat you here then saw your post after I had posted. Sorry for repeating info!

 

Interesting point regarding the button for the dial-set control. I can easily push it in with my middle finger, but if it has turned slightly sometimes I need to remove my hand from the grip to reposition the control before pressing it in (if that makes sense).

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Interesting point regarding the button for the dial-set control. I can easily push it in with my middle finger, but if it has turned slightly sometimes I need to remove my hand from the grip to reposition the control before pressing it in (if that makes sense).

 

it must be my short sausage fingers... ;)

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All in all - I don't think you can go wrong with the Gates (thanks to folks like Pakman too for helping me through the a couple of the issues I've had with the housing so far)

 

 

OK - i'm almost sold - what issues might they be?!?

 

Thanks!

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One issue you might have with the Gates is corrosion between the stainless steel latches and the aluminium body.

 

There is a zinc anode (or is it cathode, can never remember) on the bottom of Gates housings (or at least mine had one) and you should make sure that the screw that holds it on is really tight so you get good contact between the body and the zinc (but don't go totally nuts and strip the thread).

 

Always wash/soak the housing really really well, brush it around the latches with a soft brush while it's submerged in the water to get all salt out, and dry it off quickly, especially around the latches.

 

I basically don't recall anyone ever being disappointed with a Gates. One or two of their housings have had slightly tricky control positions which is why I asked above. But sounds like this one is fine from that point of view.

 

p.s. Has the whole world gone on the sardine run? No Drew, no Shawnh, no NickJ, no Wags...

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Is it worth buying one of those white balance card things - needless to say i've only been underwater once with a video camera - and that was handed to me, in the water, half way through a dive so i could have a go. That lead to me having to buy one. I found some photos of underwater with filter, underwater with MWB etc on one of the many threads i was reading through. Anyone care to give me a few tips. My first subjects will be big and fast (whale sharks), my second will be fast and big (Orcas).

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Here's a link I found invaluable. If you look under the "Video Techniques" section you'll find excellent articles that are really top notch IMO. I'm no pro and have a lot less video experience than most here, but for starters I found these to be excellent, especially the ones on focusing and white balancing. I think they are just right for those starting out (not too much and not too little) but the principles are basic and usually hold long afterwards:

 

http://www.backscatter.com/learn/article/

 

There are lots of opinions and you'll probably see other answers from the experts here, too.

Edited by pablo

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Great post everyone! I'm brand new to the underwater video world and am pretty much sold on the HC7/Gates combo thanks to research here and elsewhere. Pablo, thanks for posting that link to the articles, great stuff there!

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Here's a link I found invaluable. If you look under the "Video Techniques" section you'll find excellent articles that are really top notch IMO. I'm no pro and have a lot less video experience than most here, but for starters I found these to be excellent, especially the ones on focusing and white balancing. I think they are just right for those starting out (not too much and not too little) but the principles are basic and usually hold long afterwards:

 

http://www.backscatter.com/learn/article/

 

There are lots of opinions and you'll probably see other answers from the experts here, too.

Those "Jump settings for blue water video" from that link will create a total nightmare for a beginner. And gain does not always need to be at 0dB. You'll want some gain in darker situations and it won't get noisy (grainy) until it's over about 9dB.

 

Start with white balance set to manual and learn how to do it using a white slate, a white fin, the sun, or just the palm of your hand (which is what I now usually do). White balance very regularly as you change depth.

 

Switch everything else to auto and see how it goes. Keep the lens and port absolutely spotless and you might get away with auto focus 99% of the time, especially in good viz.

 

When you're happy with the basic handling, white balancing, framing etc. then if you want you can try manual focus next and later manual iris and shutter speed. Manual focus for wide stuff is a case of focussing on the reef or your fin or something and then locking it and leaving it. But for macro stuff you'll want to manually adjust it shot to shot if you're in auto mode. I still use auto a lot for wide stuff unless I'm shooting something like a manta or whale shark in dodgy viz and I fear focus "hunting". But I think the majority on the forum opt for manual more than I do.

 

Above all think steadiness steadiness steadiness. This is the biggest thing that differentiates accomplished underwater video work. And don't pan around too much. Let the subject do the moving. Think of each shot almost like a photographic still.

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