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Taking underwater video at night: Where to start?

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Hello all, forum newb here. I am a fisheries biologist in Washington state and work primarily with Salmon in river and nearshore marine environments. I would like to find a video camera that will allow me to take videos of fish behavior both during daylight and night hours. Much of the behavior we observe occurs at night, so I will be focusing quite a bit of effort during the hours of darkness.

 

I was hoping that you all could point me in the right direction of what product(s) I should be looking at for my purposes.

 

I am leaning towards the use of IR lighting Vs. visible spectrum lighting so as not to (a) attract fish or other organisms to the light and (b) potentially deter fish or other specimens from entering the frame. I am hoping to observe the natural behavior of subjects in the environment whilst disturbing said behavior as little as possible.

 

The camera will be deployed primarily in fresh water in a river (flowing) environment. I would like storage capabilities, so that I can start filming, and leave the camera to store footage over a set period of time (or until the memory is full). Having real time viewing capability is not a must, and I would prefer the memory be stored in the camera, rather than in a viewing station as it will be frequently heavily raining and or snowing whilst the camera is deployed underwater.

 

I hope this information will help guide me towards the appropriate camera(s) for me needs. Budget is not necessarily an issue, but I would like to keep things within lets say 200-1500$

 

 

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Sounds like a great project. I'm new to the forum and to underwater video, but I would guess from what I've seen of the price of housings, that your budget is untenable. I have a cannon xa10 that is good in low light and can do IR, and it isn't a new camera so you might find one used for cheap. But, while I just scored a deal on a housing, they are typically unbelievably expensive. And, I don't know if there are any underwater IR lights. I will be looking though myself, as I'm shooting in underwater caves and IR might give me an advantage.

 

Good luck!

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I have shot a lot of salmon behavior in streams some of it after sunset - see my web site esp under "salmonid topics" for behavior examples. However I am a stills shooter. I use the same cameras, housings, focusing lights, and strobes that I use for scuba diving. It is all done by remote control using SEACAM remote control components http://seacam.com/en/products/remote-system

 

I set things up wearing fishing waders then work the cameras from an elevated shore whenever possible - for a better view. Otherwise I will stand on gravel bars in the stream. Depending on current strength and camera setup (e.g. dome size) I use up to 30# in ankle weights to help hold things down. Even with this much weight when the males fight they can knock the camera around requiring a re-set. For this reason I do not recommend leaving your gear alone. When there is very little current sediment can end up on the dome port from digging and fighting also requiring entering the stream for wiping off. As well I will swap out strobe and focusing light batteries while the setup is in situ. Chest pockets are useful for this! It may take 2 to 3 strobe batteries in one day to get to the spawning if it even happens before I have to leave. At open canopy sites where and when the sun shines I do available light shooting at high ISO so don't use strobes for all my shots.

 

If I was to do video I would start using something similar except I would need a housing upgrade as my 1Dx does not AF in video but my 1Dx2 does. AF is important when shooting at point blank range as is typical. I would next think about an external battery for the camera since most of my still shoots go on for many hours - even the big pro batteries in a 1D will not last long (great for stills but doubtful for video in a housing). Possibly would use lights that could run off a generator or separate car battery. The batteries would be on land and run to the camera setup with waterproof cables.

 

IR does not go far in water so not sure if that will even work. You might consider super sensitive (to light) cameras aka night vision. You might have to add a few zeros to your budget. None of this stuff comes cheap.

Edited by Tom_Kline

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I read somewhere today that someone used IR lights above the water and filmed in the shallow water. If the water is shallow, maybe this will work. In fact, if it's shallow, maybe you can just build a dry box around a security camera and run a cable up the bank. That would be well within your budget, just have to think about it differently than a scuba setup.

Edited by Aotus

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