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amy

Which one do I get???

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Hi,

I'm hoping someone out there will be able to help me with the daunting decision of which camera to buy. I seem to spend months researching only to find that the model I've decided I like has been replced with something else or isn't so good afterall! As I am new to both digital and underwater photography I would find any advice useful. I like the Pentax Optio s4i which has got very good reviews for on land use but have been unable to find any information on the performance of the housing (O-WP-2). I'm on a tight budget (hoping to get a camera and its housing for under £600) and looking for a compact camera that won't dominate the dive with a relatively large pixal number that can be updated at a later date (with external strobes etc) if required. Any ideas? Help would be much apprciated!

amy.

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You may find the Olympus brand cameras 5050 etc are probably the best suited for underwater use as well as great on land. They come with multiple housings, from little plastic ones that are small and easy to take on a dive to nice full featured aluminium (note the second i in aluminium for you pommie types) from Light and Motion.

 

You may be able to find a great deal on a used Oly 4040 with a housing somewhere like Ebay or elsewhere.

Check the Consumer Digicams section of the forums for more in depth discussions of these types of cameras

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An Olympus C5050z and PT015 will come in on budget with a bit to spare for a decent sized memory card too. I take as a .tif file that weighs in at 14MB so the 32MB card supplied doesn't go far. I managed to get a 5050, a housing and a 2.2GB Microdrive for about £640. I did get a *big* discount on the camera (business contact) but that was nearly 12 months ago. However I believe the camera can now be had for roughly what I got it discounted to.

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I would share that opinion

 

I have used olympus proffesionally (not like magazine shooter although plenty shots have been in magazines) as taking photos of clients diving with me underwater.

It has taken daily abuse for 2 years and on off abuse for 2 more years or there abouts.

I got the tetra housing just because i knoew how much abuse i would be giving it, but up until 4 years and probably 10,000 photos later I have had no problem with the camera, actually that 10,000 is probably under by lots as i am only counting personal shots not work shots for 2 years.

 

The camera puts out great images better than any other similar priced competitors underwater, I don't know why it just does, and i have used a fair few others, even the cheaper Olympus' do great jobs .. Underwater Photography Magazine Online Issue 19 has a great article by Alex Mustard and a littl help from me on the performance of the little olympus, and it was way under your budget, the upper model 5050 in the PT housing would rock your world as a starting camera and would last you for years i promise. I have freinds on my island who use it and they love it. Especially with a sea and sea 90dx on the side .. stays light and compact and adds some strobe power when you are ready.

Digideep is a great resource .. here is the newest 5060 and it's housing

Oly 5060 wide & the PT020

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Thanks for your comments - I've been hearing that the Olympus 5050 and 5060 are a good choice all over the place and it does look great. However, as I will rarely get the opportunity to dedicate a whole dive to taking photos (the majority of my dives at the moment are survey and sample dives over seagrass) I was hoping to get something smaller that (as a very last resort) I could shove in my pocket or let dangle from my wrist. The dimensions of the camera seem big to me so I assume with the housing it will be getting quite bulky. I don't think I'd use a camera that big to take snaps on land and its size would discourage me from taking it along on dives. Is there anything else that produces pretty good photos but is more compact? I thought the Olympus c-50zoom and c-60zoom were a good choice until I heard that you had to close the cover before you could view and delete pictures (?). Help again please!

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If it's any help the housing for the 5050 is roughly 14x16x17 centimetres and it does have a wriststrap. When you add the counterweight to it it's as good as neutrally buoyant.

 

I know nothing about the C50 and C60; infact I didn't know there was a C60 until you mentioned it. :)

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Hi,

Thanks for all your help so far. This 5050 and PT015 housing sounds like a great system and now I really want one but as my luck would have it they now seem quite hard to come by since the 5060 has come out. I've heard that the 5060 isn't quite as good for underwater use - not as versatile and the housing doesn't accept as many lenses or something like that? If I manage to hunt down a 5050 I'll be using the basic Pt015 housing without any additions for a while - do you think I'll have problems finding strobes and lenses to buy at a later date because the model is long gone from the shops or will I have this problem regardless of what I buy cos the model turnover is so high? Arrggghhh its all so complicated - or am I just making it so !!?? Once again any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Amy.

PS - the olympus C-760, C765, and C-770 have been suggested to me as alternatives - anyone go any thoughts on them?

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the upper model 5050 in the PT housing would rock your world as a starting camera and would last you for years i promise. I have freinds on my island who use it and they love it. Especially with a sea and sea 90dx on the side .. stays light and compact and adds some strobe power when you are ready.

 

Here's hoping whoever posted this is monitoring this thread...

 

I'm also thinking about the Olympus 5050 w/ housing, per the recommendation of an underwater photo pro friend of mine. I'm also in the midst of shopping for basic gear for myself and my wife -- BCs, Regs, Wetsuits, Computers -- so we're going to be lightening our bank accounts here, so I'm hoping to put the camera part of the package together via eBay, which looks to make it very affordable.

 

I know this question is fundamental, but I'll ask it anyway: will the Olympus 5050 w/ housing work OK without a strobe? I know that the pix won't be as good as they would be WITH a strobe, but will they at least be passable? Better, say, than a cheaper fixed-focus, no zoom, no exposure controls type digital U/W camera?

 

And, how does the strobe sync with the camera? Does the Olympus housing have a direct wire connect, or is there some other way that is accomplished.,

 

From what I've seen of strobes, they can cost more than the camera. But, then, again, there's always eBay...

 

Thanks,

 

--PS

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Hi,

I'm still umming and arghhhing about which camera to get and have spent hours on the internet trying to decide. What I've found out is that the 5050 is now quite hard to come by (typical as I'd just decided I wanted one!) and has now been replaced by the 5060 which as far as I can tell is basically the same camera but with slightly better zoom. Olympus makes its own housing for it as well as its own strobe with housing. I've been told the strobe has major drawbacks (something about spare parts not being available) but that other strobes are out there as alternatives should I decide I want to buy one later. As for whether you need a strobe or not the general concensus seems to be that its definately not essential in the beginning. There are some good picutres on www.digideep.com which used the camera's internal strobe only. Hope that helps!

Amy.

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Hi

 

I have a 5060 and Olympus PT 020 housing and it serves me quite well . You can

still add on a macro lens or a wide angle , but the coverage on the WA will be reduced . The Olympus strobe and housing is only really good for macro work - and you can get spares for it now . I have a Sea & Sea YS 90 Auto strobe which works well - there are also many other options out there .

 

I would start off with the basic camera and housing , use it for a while and then make choices later .Also maybe consider the Ikelite housing .

 

Safe Diving

 

Andrew

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I just wanted to put in a word, saying that the "common knowledge" around here, is that everyone has olympus. This has more to do with the fact that olympus put out adequate housings, at very cheap prices. In fact, the earlier olys were better than the lastest in some very important ways.

 

To me, far and away the biggest frustration, in underwater photo, with a P&S digicam, is the extremely slow autofocus, (which gets MUCH more iffy underwater, when everything is constantly moving, light and contrast get low...), and then the killer is final shutter lag.

 

The olys all have quite slow auto focus speeds, compared to any competing cameras. They are near the slowest.

 

The last 2 olys - 5060 and 8080, both include a non TTL external auto focus ranging system, which does not work inside a housing, and so the AF slows down more. Alas, the nikon 8400, 8800, and canon pro1 ALL use the exernal AF rangfinder now.

 

The only way to use these cams, for anything moving, is to pre-focus on the subject, (i.e. half press the shutter), recompose, and shoot. The time between the last half press of the shutter, and actually taking the image is the final shutter lag.

 

The Sony 828 has a final shutter lag of 0.009 seconds. The upcoming V3 is 0.017. The latest nikons are less than 0.1.

 

Yet, the oly 5060 has a final shutter lag of an unbelievable 0.254 seconds, and the 8080 is still up at 0.167 seconds!!!

 

To me it is clear why so many people try these, and can't stand how many shots of fish tails they get. With that kind of lag, things have totally changed.

 

You can live, barely, with a crappy autofocus system. You end up with lots of extra focus assist lights, and scare shy things away. I know, I've used a canon G2 for quite awhile, and it is frequently VERY frustrating. But it's final shutter lag is 0.095 seconds. No WAY would I consider a camera with 1/4 second final shutter lag.

 

The sonys and the minolta A2 are the only ones with really fast autofocus systems, and really fast final shutter release times. And they do not use any external or hybrid AF system. All TTL. The sony V3 looks extremely good, since it supports raw, and CF cards, and continues their extremely good AF, low light, and fast shutter release tradition.

 

All the data is at http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM

in case you didn't know about it.

 

Don

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Thanks for all your help over the last few weeks. After much dithering (and being unable to find the olympus 5050 still on sale) I've finally gone and bought a 5060 instead. I have my reservations about the mixed reviews its got but decided to take my chances as generally it still seems like a good camera. My housing is on its way shortly so I now move onto my next worry....I'm pretified of flooding the bloody thing! Does anyone have any "whatever you do, don't....." tips that will help me not drown the baby before it even sees any fish? Also, I've been looking at insurance and I can't find any which insure against flooding (understandable I guess) - does anyone know of any companies - preferably UK or ireland based?

Thanks very much

Amy.

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To me the most important thing to me would be that your camera have a manual mode, or at least Aperature priortiy. Automatic propram modes are of little value UW. Next would be the lens. A wide lens, at least a 28 mm equivelent, is essential. Also a good close up or macro capacity.

 

As mentioned above many point and shoot digicams have a slow shutter speed and autofocus. You will want to get the fastest shutter speed and autofocus you can afford.

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