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BabaGanoush

Hi ISO noise levels in undwerwater camera

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Hi everyone.

 

I have been researching a new compact camera (for land and sea photography) over the last few months. No success! My underwater photography experience is limited to using a 15m rated Fujifilm disposable underwater camera that I was able to take down to 29m! (No flash). The pictures were interesting, but green!

 

Regardless, in my search for the perfect camera, I have been using the ISO noise levels as one of the stronger selection criteria. My logic behind it is that underwater light is scarce, thus higher ISO settings need be used. I would like to know if this is really the case. How often do you actually end up using high ISO and how big of an impact does noise really have underwater?

 

I noticed most people are writing great things about the Canon G9 on this forum. I am thus curious if that camera is really such a great performer, as many reviews have shown a noise level at ISO 400 and up to be quite visible?

 

Thanks.

 

Adam.

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I think you'll find most folks don't use high ISO settings on underwater cameras for the very reason you suggest, noise. I believe Dr. Alex Mustard has written about how he doesn't shoot very many shots over ISO200. In shallow water (15M or less), you can use filters to bring color back to your shots. Obviously using a higher ISO in shallow water with no external strobe would allow you to increase your shutter speed to freeze the action but at a cost of quality unless you're shooting a DSLR. A lot of people use external strobes to bring color back to their shots which negates the need for a high ISO speed. Then there are others who shoot macro with their P&S and are close enough to the subject to shoot using the internal flash of the camera. Again, this really doesn't call for using high ISO.

When I purchased my first P&S years ago my criteria was the following:

1. full manual control - A camera's internal meter doesn't compensate for external strobes (which you may add later). So it often select apertures and shutter speeds that don't give you the result you want. Being able to independently select these values gives you needed flexibility.

2. RAW - Very few compacts have this but to be able to white balance your vacation photos inside the PC when you return...priceless.

3. Battery life - While topside this doesn't come into play, on a boat it can. Let's say you're doing 3 dives. It might be the difference between changing batteries in a saltwater environment versus leaving the camera housing closed until you're back in the hotel.

4. Recycle times - How long after taking the highest resolution shot (RAW) with a full dump of the internal flash does it take for the camera to be ready to take the next shot. This can be the difference between getting, or not getting, that keepsake moment.

5. Lowlight focus ability. - Hard to judge but some cameras perform great with lots of light and really suck in lowlight because they refuse to lock focus.

6. Ease of use - This can also be your number 1 depending on how tolerant you are.

7. Housing ergonomics - again can be higher on the list but most P&S are fairly small, offer OEM housings that have all functions.

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I noticed most people are writing great things about the Canon G9 on this forum. I am thus curious if that camera is really such a great performer, as many reviews have shown a noise level at ISO 400 and up to be quite visible?

I shoot a G9 - usually at ISO 80 - with nice results. I hesitate to use anything much higher than ISO 125/160 on the G9 unless I am willing to go B&W.

 

Here are some recent examples:

 

G9 Gallery

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I like your criteria ... here are my takes on each as it applies to the G9:

 

1. full manual control - A camera's internal meter doesn't compensate for external strobes (which you may add later). So it often select apertures and shutter speeds that don't give you the result you want. Being able to independently select these values gives you needed flexibility.

 

Great manual controls, 2 customs settings, 2 custom white balances

 

2. RAW - Very few compacts have this but to be able to white balance your vacation photos inside the PC when you return...priceless.

 

Has RAW

 

3. Battery life - While topside this doesn't come into play, on a boat it can. Let's say you're doing 3 dives. It might be the difference between changing batteries in a saltwater environment versus leaving the camera housing closed until you're back in the hotel.

 

I can easily do 4-5 dives a day at 100 shots a dive on 2 batteries for the G9.

 

4. Recycle times - How long after taking the highest resolution shot (RAW) with a full dump of the internal flash does it take for the camera to be ready to take the next shot. This can be the difference between getting, or not getting, that keepsake moment.

 

Pretty fast recycle ... camera is faster than the strobes.

 

5. Lowlight focus ability. - Hard to judge but some cameras perform great with lots of light and really suck in lowlight because they refuse to lock focus.

 

Could be better, but a focus light helps A LOT. I use a Fantasea NANO - inexpensive and has cool auto-shutoff feature when strobes fire.

 

6. Ease of use - This can also be your number 1 depending on how tolerant you are.

 

Topside and underwater the G9 is a gem ... you just need light. ISO 125 and below is REALLY good image quality.

 

7. Housing ergonomics - again can be higher on the list but most P&S are fairly small, offer OEM housings that have all functions.

 

The canon oem housing is tiny and only $175.

 

HTH!

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Thanks for the very insightful info guys!

 

I'm not that worried for the ISO noise underwater now. I will likely get the G9 and hope Canon won't release a new model soon. I do want a compact camera as a DSLR is a whole new ball game that I haven't got the time to learn!

 

You did give me a new subject to research though.... stobes!

 

Jeremy, for some reasons your G9 gallery pics are still loading! lol.

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I will likely get the G9 and hope Canon won't release a new model soon.

 

 

no, that is not the way to think. you always want a new model to come out after you buy your camera. that way, if you don't get perfect shots, you can blame your camera and upgrade to the newer model :)

 

Scott

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Canon won't release a new model soon ...

 

Rumors abound about a G10 later this year with a larger CMOS sensor ... but you never know!

 

Jeremy, for some reasons your G9 gallery pics are still loading! lol.

 

Sorry about that ... they are hosted on a machine with a 1 MB/s upstream connection ... not a data center for sure, but no dial-up either ...

 

Try this Flickr link ... Cayman Slideshow

 

Enjoy!

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Rumors abound about a G10 later this year with a larger CMOS sensor ... but you never know!

 

Ahh, a G10, would be nice, but I'm leaving for a 2 week diving trip to Cuba mid August, and need a camera with housing by then.

 

 

As for your pics, they are awesome! I think that's exactly the kind of pics I'd like to learn to do, so now you've solidified my choice of the G9 :)

 

Thanks again.

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