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First timer / need suggestions

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Hey guys! I just started to get interested in underwater photography in the past few days. Im an avid ametuer photographer, just above the water table. I work for best buy in the digital imaging department and have done so well I actually won a 5 day cruise through them.


So long story short, Im going to wait till january to go, and I'm leaving from galveston to goto cozumel and playa del carmen. Any of yall ever been there and know good spots? Anyways I have a sony p-100 which I will be taking with me and getting the Sony MPK-PHB. I just recently read a post of a member here with a cannon a70 and the pictures turned out great so im sure mine will aswell. What settings would be good? is marine snow particles lit up by the flash? how big of an issue is that?


higher iso?

mess with white balance?



I dont think ill need a strobe as I dont do this often, and this will be my first time. any info would be great!



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Hi Ryan:


I can't help you with the photo questions as I am a newbie myself and will be using an underwater camera for the first time next week. In fact, read my post below to see the questions that I asked which were answered by James.


Anyway, have been diving many times in Cozumel. This is drift type diving as the current is fairly strong. This makes for a relatively easy dive as you are not doing much swimming or fighting the current. There are many good locations and all of them are worth it. However, the reefs are by no means what they once were. So don't expect to see pristine reef formations but what is there can still be spectacular depending on what your expectations are. That said, you can go online and find a variety of dive excursions available that you can prebook. I really recommend you doing this as if you wait until you arrive and then try to find a dive trip you may be disappointed. Also, be prepared to take lots of photos and I would suggest a strobe if you really want to take some good pictures. Keep reading on this site and also do your own research. Finally, if you can, practice with your camera taking some underwater photos even if it's just in a pool area.

That is what I just got done doing and it really helped me to not only figure out the camera operation but also what to do to make the pictures come out better. Good luck.



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Here are a few answers


is marine snow particles lit up by the flash? how big of an issue is that?

The marine snow is called backscatter and it is a very big problem. Of course if the water is crystal clear than it is better.

You can reduce this by using an external strobe.

If you don't have an external strobe, don't use your flash for subjects that are further than 3-4ft. For the rest shoot without a flash and use photo software to do color corection after that on your computer.


What settings should you use ...

Well, I would start with P mode (to be able to disable the flash) and probably setting the white balance to clowdy woudl be good.

The big guys shoot in full manual.

I use Av mode and set my aperture to about middle of the road.

You want a exposure of not less that 1/60 if you shoot something that even remotely fast ... like fish :-)

For effects, movement of course you can go slower thatn that. ... But you know all this since you are a top side photographer!


Play with your camera and the settings, you will find what works best for you.


Oh, a few more things ... I would set the focus mode to center and disable red eye reduction.


Enjoy and I want to see some pictures after you come back.



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I just wanted to add on to Vlad's response. Backscatter (marine snow) is a huge problem with newbie's who don't know to turn off their cameras built in flash.


Backscatter can be reduced or avoided by positioning the strobe/flash as far away from the camera lense as possible. This is why pro underwater photographers have those crazy big rig arms that keep their strobes away from their housings.


That said, before you go all gear crazy buying strobes and arms and whatnot. Start by simply making sure your flash is always turned off (unless you're shooting into a dark coral nook). Also having good neutral boyancy is key.


Underwater you don't have a tripod or stable platform to steady you (most of the time). That and the low light (without a strobe) means that your shutter speed will be much slower than you're used to.


Good luck. And remember, even underwater pro's feel that they're luck to get 1 good shot in 20, so don't be put off by your intial results.

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