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WetPup

Upgrade advice?

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Greetings,

 

I'm still very much a newbie to underwater photography, and have been reading lots, but am now chasing advice on specific cameras. When I first started taking photos underwater (only a few months ago), I decided to go with a very basic setup to see if I enjoyed it, and as such didn't want to spend much money. So I bought the Intova SP8 and housing for it. Now I find myself with a little more spare time to go diving and being more critical of my photos, and want to upgrade. The problem with what I have is now is that it lacks the ability to change many settings, so the photos are coming out incredibly grainy. And the lag is driving me absolutely bats*** insane. I'd like to upgrade to another point and shoot setup rather than buying the gear to house my SLR at this point. I need something compact camera-wise, as the camera will need to be used on land as well and will have to fit into a shirt pocket.

 

I'm familiar with how point and shoots go on land, but not so sure how they go underwater. Are any better than others at dealing with underwater conditions? Obviously I'd like something that would allow much more control over the settings and that doesn't suffer from bad shutter lag. I don't have a set budget for this, so would like to hear all suggestions regarding cameras/housings/lighting that might be suitable for an underwater photography beginner.

 

Many thanks for any advice!

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Canon S90 is pretty compact with a pretty quick lens and more compact than the Canon G11 but yeah, both are mean and essentially the same camera.

I'd go G11.. Wait, I did :)

Have the OEM housing but I'd love the Ikelite or the FIX.

Also have Inon S2000 and although I haven't fully mastered can definitely recommend ;)

Go hard!

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Sea & Sea DX-2G isn't a bad camera. Checkout the write up by Backscatter about their choices for the best P&S for 2010 - this may assist you with your choices.

 

Karl

Edited by Karl

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Sea & Sea DX-2G isn't a bad camera. Checkout the write up by Backscatter about their choices for the best P&S for 2010 - this may assist you with your choices.

 

Karl

 

 

Every compact I've tried suffers from shutter lag of some sort. Maybe, the way to go for full control that dovetails well with a DSLR (which I understand you have for land use) is the Canon G series. I have a G9 but the latest is probably the G11.

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At the recent INON Underwater Photography Academy Instructor course we discussed compact camera f stops and their effect on depth of field. We concluded that in many compact cameras the f stop has no influence on DOF and is in effect a neutral density filter...

 

An exception to this is the G9 (a compact which thinks its an SLR... hehe) and we were able to demontrate a DOF differential between f/2.8 and f/8. I am sure the G10 and G11 also have a 'real' aperture.

 

IMO, this is one of the most critical functions to determine when selecting a compact and it is simple to do.

 

Take a ruler or sheet of ruled paper, put the camera into macro mode and a high ISO and select the widest aperture (Av mode is good). Brace the camera so the FOV is along the ruler or paper and shoot an image. Without changing the camera position or point of focus, change the aperture to f/8 and shoot another and compare the DOF.

 

I hope this helps you make a short list.

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At the recent INON Underwater Photography Academy Instructor course we discussed compact camera f stops and their effect on depth of field. We concluded that in many compact cameras the f stop has no influence on DOF and is in effect a neutral density filter...

 

An exception to this is the G9 (a compact which thinks its an SLR... hehe) and we were able to demontrate a DOF differential between f/2.8 and f/8. I am sure the G10 and G11 also have a 'real' aperture.

 

IMO, this is one of the most critical functions to determine when selecting a compact and it is simple to do.

 

Take a ruler or sheet of ruled paper, put the camera into macro mode and a high ISO and select the widest aperture (Av mode is good). Brace the camera so the FOV is along the ruler or paper and shoot an image. Without changing the camera position or point of focus, change the aperture to f/8 and shoot another and compare the DOF.

 

I hope this helps you make a short list.

 

I can definitely say that the aperture on the G11 does change DOF... I did shots on flowers and yeah, blurring the background with f2.8 and F8 does make a difference.

However the G11 IS a little big to put in your shirt pocket. I mean it does just fit but you'll feel like a woman with something that big on your chest. The S90 has most of the same features as the G11, it does have a control ring on the front for which I don't know how you'd operate that in an UW case, however, it's a little cheaper and it definitely is smaller! Plus has a wider angle lens, though not by much.

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First, there are certain things you simply CAN'T get in a P&S. The problem is quite simple. The autofocus system that is used for liveview is alot slower that less accurate than what is used in a DSLR where only a viewfinder is used. Shutterlag!

 

Second, MOST P&S do not have a buffer. If you shoot in RAW (and you MUST), then you will wait several seconds for the shot to store and you can not take another shot. Delay!

 

Third, if you have grainy pictures you don't have enough light on the subject and the camera is increasing the gain on the sensor (increasing ISO) to compensate, with the addition of noise. The small P&S sensors all have these problems.

 

There are 3 rules for underwater photography: Get close, get closer, shoot up! Have you learned these yet? Are you within 3' of your subject with good external strobes or within 1' of your subject using an internal strobe.

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However the G11 IS a little big to put in your shirt pocket. I mean it does just fit but you'll feel like a woman with something that big on your chest.

 

I am a woman, but thanks for the advice :)

 

Seems to me the advice is to go for the S90 or G11. Does the S90 offer the same sort of control over the settings as the G11?

 

Third, if you have grainy pictures you don't have enough light on the subject and the camera is increasing the gain on the sensor (increasing ISO) to compensate, with the addition of noise. The small P&S sensors all have these problems.

 

There are 3 rules for underwater photography: Get close, get closer, shoot up! Have you learned these yet? Are you within 3' of your subject with good external strobes or within 1' of your subject using an internal strobe.

 

As I mentioned in my original post, the problem with my current setup is that I do not have control over the ISO...or anything else. Hence the reason I'm looking to upgrade ;)

 

Thanks for the advice everyone!

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I am a woman, but thanks for the advice :)

 

Seems to me the advice is to go for the S90 or G11. Does the S90 offer the same sort of control over the settings as the G11?

Ha, my apologies.

Yes the S90 does offer the same control but in a different way - It has a control ring around the lens opening where as the G11 has dedicated buttons etc.

I personally would go for the G11 because of the dedicated buttons but hey.. ;)

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Ha, my apologies.

Yes the S90 does offer the same control but in a different way - It has a control ring around the lens opening where as the G11 has dedicated buttons etc.

I personally would go for the G11 because of the dedicated buttons but hey.. :)

 

So I think I've decided to go with the G11, Canon housing and the Fantasea Remora flash/focus light kit. I figure if I ever get more serious, I'll probably end up buying gear to fit my SLR. But what are the thoughts on this setup for a newbie?

Edited by WetPup

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If you really think go for dslr next time, why not you buy a dslr set up now since your PnS set up is almost some price with dslr!!:)

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If you really think go for dslr next time, why not you buy a dslr set up now since your PnS set up is almost some price with dslr!!:)

 

Because I need a compact setup. Taking SLR stuff on work trips is out of the question. I need a camera that can double up on land for work, and that means it has to be able to fit in my pocket when I'm on site.

 

If I do go SLR in the future, it won't be for years. I need practice with a basic setup first. And I expect by the time I'm ready to move to an underwater SLR setup, I'll have probably bought a new SLR body anyway. And they're not even remotely in the same kind of price range. I can buy the G11/housing/flash setup for under $1000. It's $1500 just for the housing alone for my SLR.

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I think the G-11 is probably your best bet. Why?

1-You have full control including RAW.

2-I believe that the G-11 actually has a buffer which means you don't need to wait for a RAW shot to write. Big advantage.

3-I don't believe that the G-11 does ttl in manual mode. However, as an experienced photographer setting the strobes manually should be no problem.

 

However, you MIGHT consider an Olympus E-620. It is neither significently bigger nor significently more expensive than the G-11. (Camera + Housing). The difference in size and cost are both in the underwater housing's port and the underwater lenses. I think you may be able to fit a "kit" lens to the e-620 for topside work and the rig may be small enough for you. It WILL be bigger underwater because you'll want the 14/54 in a flat port to shoot both semi-macro and semi-wide angle on the same dive (the same as the G-11). What you would get, of course, with the e-620 is:

1-Much faster autofocus

2-Much better lens

3-ttl (use INON Z-240 optically fired)

 

I am not saying that the e-620 IS small enough for you. You should probably check it out.

 

Tom

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Another consideration might be one of the micro four thirds cameras, like the Olympus EPL-1 in the Olympus housing, or for more $$, the Panasonic GF1 in a 10bar, Seatool or Inon housing (soon to be released).

 

Compared to a compact, you would get a larger sensor, interchangeable lenses, less shutter and shot-to shot lag (I think) and the cameras are only a bit larger than a Point n' shoot. You get RAW, a buffer and ttl if you want it.

 

Just an idea.

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If I was to pick between the G11 or the new S90 I would take the S90. It does just about all the G11 can and has RAW. Its nice and compact and the FIX housing is awsome. It snuggly fits around the S90 and has easier to use and more options than the Canon housing.

 

Have a look at the remora flash from Fantasea or the Ikelite AF35. Both are great external strobes to get you started.

 

Hope this helps.

Edited by Bluediver

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I think you need something stronger than the Ikelite AF35. I looked at the EPL-1 and it might work but I'd still go with the E-620 if the G-11 isn't your choice

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