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Canon G9 Casing

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Is getting JUST the Canon underwater casing be good enough for taking pictures? As i know zilch about underwater photography (where to take pictures, how close can i be, how far i can be), I'm looking for some help here. Or do I absolutely absolutely, as a beginner and probably not doing this much still need to get stuff like Strobes and what not because not investing in them at those depths is completely useless.

 

The entire combo is costing me 700 bucks ... any suggestions?

 

Yes. Get the Canon G9 along with the underwater housing from Canon and have fun. I have been doing underwater video for years, and picked up the G9 and Cannon housing just for fun, and it worked out great! Do yourself a favor and spend some time learning how to take good pictures witht he G9 instead of worrying about whether to pour more money into a better housing for the G9. This is a *really* nice point-n-shoot camera for on land as well as underwater.

 

It is particularly important to learn how to use the white-balance feature of the camera. This is actually pretty easy: there is a one push white-balance setting on the camera. You just take something white down with you (like a dive slate), and when you are ready to take a picture, you aim the camera at the slate and push the white-balance button. This will tell the camera to "adjust" for the blue look that always happens underwater. You can then take a picture just like any other point and shoot camera. You will have to set the white balance every time you change depth by more than about 10 feet, but that is all you really need to worry about.

 

Have fun!

 

--Mark

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As others have said, the flash is good underwater for about 3 feet. If you are closer than 3 feet, use the flash and no magic filter. If you are further away than 3 feet, use the magic filter and no flash. On my last trip (to Thailand BTW), I shot everything without any filter and just used the one-push white balance. The pictures came out great!

 

This camera lets you control a *lot* of stuff manually. Don't worry too much about all of the manual settings. Just concentrate on your air and the environment around you. For now, safety comes first. Use the camera as a point-n-shoot. You will get better with it as you learn about it. You will be amazed at the quality of picture you can take with all automatic settings (and white balance).

 

--Mark

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As others have said, the flash is good underwater for about 3 feet.

In my experience, the built-in flash on the G9 is only effective out to about 12-18 inches.

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Regarding White Balancing

 

I added a short cut for white balance on the top left button. Now I don't understand what pressing that button means.

 

When i press that button, it opens up the menu that shows AWB, daylight, cloud, tungsten, underwater ...etc and waits for me to choose. Did i program this button right?

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Regarding White Balancing

 

I added a short cut for white balance on the top left button. Now I don't understand what pressing that button means.

 

When i press that button, it opens up the menu that shows AWB, daylight, cloud, tungsten, underwater ...etc and waits for me to choose. Did i program this button right?

You need to assign the button to either Custom WB 1 or Custom WB 2.

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You need to assign the button to either Custom WB 1 or Custom WB 2.

 

Ok

 

Assigned.

 

Do i need to do some setting for Custom WB 1? Like something that tells the camera what to do when Custom WB 1 is selected? I have it assigned now and everytime i press it, it makes a click sound, screen goes black and then comes on. Is that really all that there is to it or is there more I have to do to set it up?

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You need to point it at something white while you press the button. Underwater, this would most likely be a slate held a coupkle feet away.

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While setting WB manually like that is certainly effective, I would argue/reiterate the fact that shooting RAW enables you to EASILY change the WB to whatever is necessary to "correct" the color after the fact (even in Photoshop Elements).

 

For a beginning diver/uw photographer, therefore, I would STRONGLY recommend that you simply set WB either on AWB (auto) or the "Cloudy" setting and shoot RAW. That will allow you to concentrate on buoyancy control and composition, which CANNOT be corrected after the fact.

 

Speaking of composition, a couple of valuable general rules:

- Try to include some blue water in the photo, rather than shooting "into the reef". On every shot, ask yourself, "Could I reposition myself to get this same shot with some open water in the picture?"

- Get DOWN and shoot subjects at their level, rather than shooting down AT THEM from above. BTW, this will help a LOT with the first rule (getting blue water in the photo).

- With macro subjects, it will be hard/impossible to get blue in the picture, but you should still try to get down and take the photo at THEIR level.

- Get CLOSER - remember, the more water is between you and the subject the less sharp your photo will likely be; water (like some people :P ) is dense and full of crap. Whenever possible, take a photo, then try to cut the distance IN HALF and take another, then try to cut it IN HALF again, and so on...you'll usually find that the last (i.e., closest) photos are consistently the best ones.

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While setting WB manually like that is certainly effective, I would argue/reiterate the fact that shooting RAW enables you to EASILY change the WB to whatever is necessary to "correct" the color after the fact (even in Photoshop Elements).

 

For a beginning diver/uw photographer, therefore, I would STRONGLY recommend that you simply set WB either on AWB (auto) or the "Cloudy" setting and shoot RAW. That will allow you to concentrate on buoyancy control and composition, which CANNOT be corrected after the fact.

 

Speaking of composition, a couple of valuable general rules:

- Try to include some blue water in the photo, rather than shooting "into the reef". On every shot, ask yourself, "Could I reposition myself to get this same shot with some open water in the picture?"

- Get DOWN and shoot subjects at their level, rather than shooting down AT THEM from above. BTW, this will help a LOT with the first rule (getting blue water in the photo).

- With macro subjects, it will be hard/impossible to get blue in the picture, but you should still try to get down and take the photo at THEIR level.

- Get CLOSER - remember, the more water is between you and the subject the less sharp your photo will likely be; water (like some people :P ) is dense and full of crap. Whenever possible, take a photo, then try to cut the distance IN HALF and take another, then try to cut it IN HALF again, and so on...you'll usually find that the last (i.e., closest) photos are consistently the best ones.

 

 

Hey Thanks

 

So I shouldn't use the Underwater setting and instead, go for Cloudy or AWB?

 

Also for those that took a video with it, is it okay if i limit the size to 640 by 480? I tried the 1024 but it used up over a 100 megs for a 12 second video. no way i'll have that much memory space left. but if at 640, the video quality will be shit then i have no choice.

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So I shouldn't use the Underwater setting and instead, go for Cloudy or AWB?

 

Correct. Underwater setting is fine for someone just using the camera in a pool and not knowing/thinking anything about settings (that setting "tries" to add back in some of the reds that are lost uw, but doesn't do a great job of it). You just don't want to use that setting AND a Magic Filter or flash because it could give you really weird colors. As long as you're shooting RAW, WB won't be a problem in either AWB or "cloudy" - you'll just tweak the WB on the computer when you get home.

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You just take something white down with you (like a dive slate)

 

I normally use the grey palm of my glove, works well, and means I'm not always pulling out a slate to do it. Specifically got these gloves because of this.

 

Ryan.

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Regarding White Balancing

 

I added a short cut for white balance on the top left button. Now I don't understand what pressing that button means.

 

When i press that button, it opens up the menu that shows AWB, daylight, cloud, tungsten, underwater ...etc and waits for me to choose. Did i program this button right?

 

To program the one-push white balance on the G9, push the MENU button. Scroll down in the menu and select "Set Shortcut Button...". There will be several icons. The one you want is "Custom White Balance 1" (or 2, it doesn't make any difference for what you want to do). Select that option and then press MENU again to leave the menu.

 

Now, when you are diving, if you want to set the white balance, all you do is point your camera at something white and press the shortcut button. The camera will act like it is taking a picture, but it is not. What it is doing is recording an image that you are saying is white. The camera will now adjust all subsequent pictures (until you white balance again) so that white looks like what you showed it when you pushed the shortcut button.

 

It is important to set the white balance every time you change your depth by more than 5-10 feet (the amount of red light decreases with depth, and you are trying to compensate for this). It is also important to reset your white balance when you are done diving and taking pictures on the surface (simply using the menu to select one of the preset white-balance settings should be fine). If you don't do this, all of your surface pictures are going to come out way too red.

 

There are a lot of things you can use as your white reference. Some people use white fins, and aim at their fins. Others wear gray gloves, and aim at their gloves (gray works because it has the same relative amounts of red, green, and blue, just darker). Finally, others aim at sand or the sun as their reference for white. I like to use a white dive slate because I've already got it with me to use in case I need to communicate with my buddy, and it is white.

 

In my experience, white balance is one of the most important settings on the camera for achieving natural looking pictures. It is good to practice with this setting as much as possible. If you want to see what the camera is doing when you set the white balance, (on land) you can point your camera at something that is not white (say, a red piece of paper) and set the white balance. Now, take a picture of something. You will see how the camera adjusts for proper white balance (if you used a red piece of paper to white-balance, your test picture will look very blue).

 

Here is a short description of what white-balance is doing (for those of you who are interested):

 

First, we have to start with the question: what is white? this would seem to be a simple question, because we all know that a "white" piece of paper is white when we see it. The question turns out to have a complicated answer. White is really an equal mix of the three primary colors (red, green, and blue). If you are out under very bright daylight on a clear day (one of those days when the sky is really blue), and you hold out a white piece of paper, the paper is actually kind of blueish. If, on the other hand, you are inside at night with normal incandescent light bulbs, the same white piece of paper will be kind of reddish. We don't notice this because our brains compensate for what we see; outside on a bright day, our brains think "that paper is supposed to be white, so I'm going to ignore the blue tint to it." The same thing happens inside at night under incandescent light.

 

The camera's white balance setting attempts to do this for you when it takes pictures. The preset white balances (daylight, indoors, underwater, etc.) are just adjustments to the amount of red, green, and blue that are recorded. As others have noted, you can adjust white balance by taking a picture in RAW mode, and using Photoshop. The problem with doing it this way is that you often don't know what white is supposed to look like when you are trying to adjust the picture on your computer. Unless you can find some white strip of sand or some white coral in your picture, you have to just guess. This is fine (in my opinion) if you are trying to be artistic. Just adjust the white balance until it looks good to you. If, however, you want to get a "true" representation of what the image should look like, then you are better off using white balance when you take your pictures (I say "true" because if you just set your white balance on the surface, then whatever your camera takes at depth is what it looks like (blue tint and all). By setting white balance under water, what you are really trying to do is take a picture of what the object would have looked like if it were on the surface under full sunlight).

 

Next, we have to understand how water changes the light that passes through it. As you go deeper in the water, the light that was white on the surface starts to change. As you go deeper, more and more light gets filtered out; if you go deep enough, there won't be any light left at all. Now, if light was filtered out uniformly, we wouldn't have to worry about white balance. Unfortunately, red is filtered out faster than green, which is filtered out faster than blue. So, as you go deeper, things look a lot less red, a little less green, and a lot more blue (all three colors are getting filtered out, but your eyes are adjusting for less light, so it *looks* like there is more blue. In reality, there is less of all three colors, and again your brain is compensating for you).

 

When you white balance your camera, you hold a white object in front of the camera, and tell it (by pushing the white balance button) that this is white. The camera records the image and sees that there is a lot less red than green or blue, and a little less green than blue. Suppose the camera records 50% red, 75% green, and 100% blue. Each subsequent picture that your camera takes will be adjusted by doubling the amount of red, increasing the amount of green by 33% (there is 75% present and 25% missing. The camera needs to increase green by 25/75 = .3333 or 33%) and leaving the blue alone.

 

Things get more complicated when you are taking a picture of something that is far away in the water because the color shifts for every inch of water the light passes through. If you are taking a picture of something 3 or 4 feet away, then the light hasn't changed much. But, consider what happens in the following situation. You are at 40 feet, and see a really nice wall. You want to get a picture of the entire wall (top to bottom, and side to side), so you move 20 feet away from the wall. When you white balance, the sunlight will have traveled about 40 feet through the water to your white card, and then to your camera. However, for an object right in front of you on the wall, the sunlight will have traveled 40 feet to the wall, and an additional 20 feet to your camera (for a total of 60 feet -- 50% further than your white card). For an object 20 feet below you on the wall, the sunlight will have traveled 60 feet to the object, and then about 28 feet to your camera (for a total of 88 feet -- a whopping 120% further than your white card). The net result is that you are going to get a continuous color shift across your photograph. There isn't much you can do about this without a lot of Photoshop work.

 

Finally, if you are using a flash (and are taking a picture of something really close to the camera), then you are taking your light down with you, and you can just white balance once to your flash regardless of depth.

 

There is a lot of science behind vision, and how our brains interpret white, and the above is an oversimplification, but it should get you started on your way to understanding how to use the white balance setting of your camera to take much more pleasing pictures.

 

--Mark

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If/when you decide you want to upgrade your system, the first thing I'd do is buy a good external strobe, since that (unlike a more expensive G9 housing) will be transferrable to your next uw camera, and thus will retain its value far more than spending extra money on a more expensive G9 housing.

 

Also, as someone else mentioned, find and order an OEM housing sooner rather than later, since it's no longer being made.

 

Good luck! The G9 is a great little camera!

 

HI! I just managed to get my hands on a G9 and Canon housing. can I attach a flash to the canon housing? How?! (yes, I too am brand new to this!) I will be going to Honduras in 4 weeks and would really like to add a strobe to my camera. Any suggestions?! who? where?

Thanks so much!

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HI! I just managed to get my hands on a G9 and Canon housing. can I attach a flash to the canon housing? How?! (yes, I too am brand new to this!) I will be going to Honduras in 4 weeks and would really like to add a strobe to my camera. Any suggestions?! who? where?

Thanks so much!

You can use any strobe that can be triggered via fiber optic slave cord and you will need some kind of "tray" and "arm" to hold the housing and the strobe together.

 

What kind of subjects do you think you'll be shooting?

 

Something like the Sea & Sea Light arm and tray with a Sea & Sea YS-110 alpha would be a very nice setup ... have used exactly that myself and found it very effective. I've used it with the YS-110 alone and also paired with a YS-27dx.

 

It all depends on how much you know about photograhy, underwater in particular, and what you plan to shoot.

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Finally, if you are using a flash (and are taking a picture of something really close to the camera), then you are taking your light down with you, and you can just white balance once to your flash regardless of depth.

 

 

How do I "white balance to the flash"?? I shoot with a Nikon P5100, Ike housing & Ike DS51 strobe which I'm about to trade to dual DS125s. I normally shoot in manual using manual WB or flash, but not both.

 

BTW DrMark-Excellent piece on WB.

 

TIA

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I think the general concensus is to use the 'cloudy' pre set white balance when using strobes though there are variables to consider. The colour temperature of your strobes and your camera manufacturer's setting of any pre set white balance may have an effect, to a greater or lesser extent. You may like to choose a suitable static subject and shoot a range of correctly exposed shots at all available pre set white balance settings and then decide which works best for your rig. It'll probably be 'cloudy'...

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The G9 is an awesome camera for a point and shoot. I've used it with the Canon Housing and have been satisfied. I'm thinking of moving up to the Ikelite housing to allow for lenses etc in the future.

 

If I were you, G9 with the Canon Housing and a Magic Filter on the lense (adds red back in making the colours better).

 

I have read (though I cannot confirm it) that the magic filters work only near the surface, and an even more distant memory is that I read they work in up to 6-10 feet of water. I do understand the appeal (that they add back red in), but, if you shoot raw (near the surface), you can do this to some extent yourself (never enough for national geographic cover photos i'm afraid). If you actually dive with your camera, you will need a strobe.

 

I shoot with a G9 in an Ikelite housing with a Ikelite DS51 substrobe, and I would say the images are superb. I have found the high resolution of the G9 (and the macro setting!) enable me to create some pretty spectacular images (cropping in the editing process). The Ikelite housing nicely balanced and easy to dive with, and the delux strobe arms are easy to use. The principle benefit of the Ikelite housing for me over the Canon was being able to add a brighter strobe. The DS51 is strong enough for taking photos up to about 6-8 feet, but beyond that you really need 2 strobes.

 

I have experimented with wet lenses (diopters), which have the benefit of letting you get wide angle shot closer (i.e. get less backscatter), but have found the G9's macro setting does pretty darn well and I'm not sure the extra lenses you might mount on the external housing are worth the effort (i.e. more trouble focusing, issues with vignetting). I don't know if these are the lenses you refer to. (They are kind of fun to play with.)

 

Tips on using the G9 underwater... choose the center auto-focusing mode, use the macro setting for critters/small stuff, turn off the digital zoom (the manual has a few useful pages on this).

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I normally use the grey palm of my glove, works well, and means I'm not always pulling out a slate to do it. Specifically got these gloves because of this.

 

I have found that a white blank (no receptable holes) electrical faceplate works well. They are pure white as anything, cheap, plastic and easily stored in a BC pocket. Plus they're flat and easy to focus on with AF. I wedge mine between the strobe cord and the arm so it's readily available during the dive. At the end of the dive, I'll stick it into my BC pocket. Take a handful of them cause you might lose one if not tied to your rig and they're nice giveaways on the dive boat or liveaboard.

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I have found that a white blank (no receptable holes) electrical faceplate works well.

Couple things to keep in mind about WB underwater ...

 

** It is depth dependent ... I'll do a new balance one every time I move up or down 10 feet

** It is distance dependent ... it is important to do a custom WB on something at approximately your shooting distance

 

I have found that a sandy bottom works, as does a colorful coral head.

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If you're using flash to light the foreground then you want to set the WB to the kelvin of your flash. This doesn't change with depth - but what will change is the water/background color.

 

Cheers

James

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If you're using flash to light the foreground then you want to set the WB to the kelvin of your flash. This doesn't change with depth - but what will change is the water/background color.

 

Cheers

James

But with the magic filter, shouldn't you be rebalance when you change depth?

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You shouldn't be using a flash with the magic filter.

 

Cheers

James

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You shouldn't be using a flash with the magic filter.

Cheers

James

 

A) You CAN use the magic filter with a flash (particularly if you shoot RAW, but even without if you make sure you do a proper TTL custom WB with the strobe) - as we've discussed before - and there's a decent reason to do so in my opinion with the G9 as it allows you to shoot nice video AND strobe-assisted stills on the same dive ... something us touristas like to do ...

 

B) When using the magic filter alone the proper WB is depth dependent, no?

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you want to set the WB to the kelvin of your flash.

 

That's not really possible to do with the a G9 in advance. You can't specify an absolute temperature aside from the presets.

 

Personally, I prefer to almost always use "Auto" WB when shooting RAW as you can always update to a known Kelvin or other preset later ... the camera's auto WB is a worthwhile addition to your processing options, in my opinion.

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How do I "white balance to the flash"?? I shoot with a Nikon P5100, Ike housing & Ike DS51 strobe which I'm about to trade to dual DS125s. I normally shoot in manual using manual WB or flash, but not both.

 

BTW DrMark-Excellent piece on WB.

 

TIA

 

On the G9, if you have the flash turned on, and press the white balance button, the flash fires, illuminating the white card that you are using as your reference. It then sets the white balance according to what the sensor sees through the lens.

 

--Mark

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