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CurtMonash

Lighting for snorkel photography

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Hello!

 

I'm a snorkeler, new to photographer (on either side of the water's surface, actually). My wife and I take an annual 2+ week vacation on the East side of Grand Cayman, where the snorkeling is superb.

 

Last year I bought a DicaPac bag, stuck a simple point-and-shoot Canon camera in it, and snapped a couple thousand shots of fish. I loved it, but you can imagine the difficulties with the photographs. We're going back in two weeks, so I'm researching equipment, and this site came up on Google.

 

It's easy to find online recommendations about cameras, and I imagine what's true for diving about cameras is often pretty true for snorkeling as well. But what I need to learn in a hurry is -- what about lighting? Is an external strobe needed? Are there cameras for which the internal flash suffices at depths of 10 feet (3 meters) or so and under? I don't fancy swimming around with camera-plus-strobe, on the surface amidst gentle waves, if I don't really have to ...

 

All thoughts will be much appreciated! I'm a total newb at this.

Edited by CurtMonash

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Hi and welcome to wetpixel!

 

My first u/w camera was a Canon P&S in the OEM plastic housing. The Canon housing for your camera is relatively inexpensive and well worth the investment over the bag in terms of durability and functionality, IMHO. The internal flash will work OK for you, you just have to get close - very close, like no more than 1.5 ft. max from your subject. When you think you're close enough, get closer. I found the underwater mode to be very good, so set the camera on underwater mode, macro setting (because you're really close, right?) and have the flash always on. Most important of all - have fun with it! Then post some results here ^_^

 

Have a great trip!

 

Phil

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Hi and welcome to wetpixel!

 

My first u/w camera was a Canon P&S in the OEM plastic housing. The Canon housing for your camera is relatively inexpensive and well worth the investment over the bag in terms of durability and functionality, IMHO. The internal flash will work OK for you, you just have to get close - very close, like no more than 1.5 ft. max from your subject. When you think you're close enough, get closer. I found the underwater mode to be very good, so set the camera on underwater mode, macro setting (because you're really close, right?) and have the flash always on. Most important of all - have fun with it! Then post some results here ^_^

 

Have a great trip!

 

Phil

 

Thanks!

 

I was thinking of getting a Canon D10 or Olympus 8000 or whatever, rather than a plastic housing set-up, mainly to reduce the number of ways human error can be fatal to the equipment (complex electronic devices hide in fear when I am around, or should ...). The sort of apparatus scuba photographers carry, with 1 or 2 strobes on arms, is not what I have in mind ...

 

As for proximity -- I get the message. And indeed my best photos from last year were from very close, in shallow water.

 

One thing that's rarely said explicitly, but is obvious from the physics -- color attenuates if you're shooting through water horizontally just as it does from depth. Oh well ...

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Yeah, if I were looking for a camera for use snorkeling alone, the d10 would be first and last on the list.

 

As for strobe use, the on camera flash will give horrible backscatter in anything other than perfectly clear water, but it can be used.

 

And a diffuser, made out of a hunk of translucent white plastic and duck taped over the flash, will make much more pleasing photos and less backscatter.

 

Good luck,

Don

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Yeah, if I were looking for a camera for use snorkeling alone, the d10 would be first and last on the list.

 

As for strobe use, the on camera flash will give horrible backscatter in anything other than perfectly clear water, but it can be used.

 

And a diffuser, made out of a hunk of translucent white plastic and duck taped over the flash, will make much more pleasing photos and less backscatter.

 

Good luck,

Don

 

Thanks!

 

Does duct tape actually hold underwater?

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Thanks!

 

Does duct tape actually hold underwater?

 

Amazingly durant and long lasting.

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I second the OEM plastic housing for a camera, nikon or canon. I used canon one's for yrs and they worked great, small, easy to use, low cost. Nikon related one's are likely just as good.

In water that shallow, I would tend to avoid the on-camera flash altogether due to potential issues with backscatter. You could try a few photos and see how it turns out. You might consider using a Magic Filter. You tape it to the housing lens.

Another choice would be correcting color in software in post processing.

 

If you have a laptop with you on the trip, do a day of on-camera flash and a day of magic filter and see which you like better. Ocean Frontiers would likely be willing to let you see some of your pics at their office if you do not have a laptop with you on the trip for the comparison but take a card reader with you. Their customer service was second to none when I was there some yrs ago.

just some food for thought.

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I second the OEM plastic housing for a camera, nikon or canon. I used canon one's for yrs and they worked great, small, easy to use, low cost. Nikon related one's are likely just as good.

In water that shallow, I would tend to avoid the on-camera flash altogether due to potential issues with backscatter. You could try a few photos and see how it turns out. You might consider using a Magic Filter. You tape it to the housing lens.

Another choice would be correcting color in software in post processing.

 

If you have a laptop with you on the trip, do a day of on-camera flash and a day of magic filter and see which you like better. Ocean Frontiers would likely be willing to let you see some of your pics at their office if you do not have a laptop with you on the trip for the comparison but take a card reader with you. Their customer service was second to none when I was there some yrs ago.

just some food for thought.

 

I carry a laptop, so that's a non-issue. But I agree re Ocean Frontiers. If nothing else, their Wednesday snorkeling trip rocks. :)

 

I'm more than happy to rely on post-processing software. It seems as if the problem should be solvable algorithmically. A web search a year ago, however, didn't turn up anything that did a great job on the photos I took then.

 

Based on the helpful comments here and on ScubaBoard, I'm going to just get the D10, maybe try some adhoc filtering on the flash and/or lens, and see what I can find out about post-processing options. I'm traveling at the moment w/o access to last year's pictures, so posting those isn't an option today, but anyhow I hope this year's will be a bit better based on improved equipment, experience, and understanding. :)

 

My current thinking is to take some pictures early w/ the new gear, post them, and ask for advice as to how I can do better and/or post-process them. :)

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If you can screw on a extension barrel to the camera and add a filter, you might look into the magic filter. It is excellent at snorkelling depth.

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Yeah, if I were looking for a camera for use snorkeling alone, the d10 would be first and last on the list.

 

I do not agree that the only option is D10! I am using Panasonic DMC-FT1 which is capable to take photos up to 8 meters deep and allow to record HD (720p) videos.

 

In 2005 I bought my first underwater P&S camera Pentax OPTIO WP and after that W10,W20,W30,W60, Panasonic DMC-FT1 and two Olympus cameras 720SW and 1030SW. Apart from the Olys I was very pleased with all of them, especially with the FT1 which is really excellent. I also tested D10, but for me FT1 is better. I advise not to buy any of Olympus UW cameras, which are really tough, but IQ and movieQ are very poor.

 

Some of my pics (Sharm el Sheikh, oct.2009 - FT1, UW scene mode, no flash, free diving up to 8 m deep):

 

P1020869-vi.jpg

 

P1020761-vi.jpg

 

P1030009-vi.jpg

 

P1030092-vi.jpg

 

P1030114-vi.jpg

 

P1030120-vi.jpg

 

P1030143-vi.jpg

 

P1030173-vi.jpg

 

 

I also made some movies there: YouTube - PrimozP's Channel

 

More Photos and videos:Public Home | Primoz | Fotki.com

YouTube - PrimozP's Channel

 

About using strobe UW:It is almost impoissible to make a decent underwater photo when using flash which is lying almost on the same optical axis as the lenses (embedded flashes on compact cameras). Typical UW photo with flash:

P1010748-vi.jpg

Edited by primus.3a

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I do not agree that the only option is D10! I am using Panasonic DMC-FT1 which is capable to take photos up to 8 meters deep and allow to record HD (720p) videos.

 

In 2005 I bought my first underwater P&S camera Pentax OPTIO WP and after that W10,W20,W30,W60, Panasonic DMC-FT1 and two Olympus cameras 720SW and 1030SW. Apart from the Olys I was very pleased with all of them, especially with the FT1 which is really excellent. I also tested D10, but for me FT1 is better. I advise not to buy any of Olympus UW cameras, which are really tough, but IQ and movieQ are very poor.

 

Some of my pics (Sharm el Sheikh, oct.2009 - FT1, UW scene mode, no flash, free diving up to 8 m deep):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also made some movies there: YouTube - PrimozP's Channel

 

More Photos and videos:Public Home | Primoz | Fotki.com

YouTube - PrimozP's Channel

 

About using strobe UW:It is almost impoissible to make a decent underwater photo when using flash which is lying almost on the same optical axis as the lenses (embedded flashes on compact cameras). Typical UW photo with flash:

 

Nice color!

 

I'm getting more and more convinced to just do the best I can with no strobe and no flash. Worst case: Try to find some digital manipulation techniques that are sensitive to how color attentuates. :)

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