Are you planning your next trip to Indonesia and are considering buying an underwater camera to take some great photo’s while you are here?
The compact camera offers the best value but are so many different accessories on the market it can be difficult to know what you should be and what’s not necessary. We’ll start with the very basics (which you need) and work our way up.
There are so many incredible compact cameras on the market today – it can be difficult to choose. Here is a selection of 3 of some of the best cameras around.
The Olympus TG5
This has been consistently voted as the best all round compact camera in many reviews. It has the ability to do both wide angle macro with ease, 4K video, and an incredibly easy to use microscope mode makes for the most diversely capable compact camera on the market.
The camera itself is also water resistant so you can use it at the pool, and if your housing leaks your camera will remain intact. If you have kids then you might be also interested that its also shockproof and can be dropped from 2m!!
The Panasonic Lumix LX10
Its also a great camera and offers slightly more advanced features than the TG5. Excellent image quality, 4K video, accurate white balance, and a control set more like an SLR than a compact camera makes this the one of the best advanced compact cameras.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
This is considered not as good as the other two because it does not shoot 4K video, but has a 5-minute clip length limit. However, its image quality is excellent and it has one of the fastest still image frame rate with a blazing 16 frames per second, making it a great choice for fast action with no strobes like in a bait ball, with white sharks, or a sardine run.
Underwater Camera housing
This may sound obvious, but once you have a camera and are looking to get started you should be aware that there are a few options….
- Buy the camera manufacturers own housing – these are durable usually up to around 30 meters – check the depth capabilities match your requirements.
- Buy a housing from a specialist camera housing manufacturer such as ikelite, nauticam etc. If you are doing this make sure you buy the exact match for your make and model number of camera. Specialist housing companies usually produce housing which will with stand greater depths than the camera manufacturers and they tend to be stronger.
- Buy an unbranded housing – this is not recommended. The quality is usually poor and there are often issues with fit, button alignment etc.
Lanyard or Bungee
Now you’ve got your camera adapted for underwater the last thing you want to do is drop it and lose it! Some way of clipping it to your BCD or to your wrist is essential – especially if you and your compact camera are starting out in underwater photography.
Get them while you can! When cameras become considered “out of date” by the manufacturer they become difficult to source. It’s best to buy the ones produced by camera manufacturer as then you’ll be covered by your warranties on both the batteries and the camera.
Housing Maintenance Kit
You can build your own kit and essentials include silicone grease (for your O-ring), lens cleaning cloths and spray are useful for the housing lens and silica gel sachets are good for preventing fogging but need to be carefully placed so they do not interfere with the seal of the housing or operation of the buttons. Compact cameras can be quite sensitive and it’s not recommended to try cleaning the camera lens yourself unless you know what you are doing – it’s best to take it to a professional.
Once you have the above items you are good to go and if you don’t want to buy any more items you don’t need to. Compact cameras can take excellent macro shots at very close range under the strength of their own strobe. However, should you want to do more than this you need to think about additional lighting. Internal strobes will not give you the colours you are probably hoping for if you are more than 5 – 6cm away from a small subject.
Strobe or video light
Both are plausible for underwater photography. For underwater videography you’ll need a video light. If you have a good understanding of cameras then a strobe is a great choice and usually the cheaper option. One issue beginners have with a strobe is that’s it’s only after they have taken the shot and looked in the viewfinder that they can see how it looks and adjustments can be tricky. A video light is similar to a torch in that it delivers a constant light beam so what you point it at becomes illuminated so you can see the lighting effect before taking the shot, not just after. You’ll need to decide between using just one light source or two. One is a good start and you can also add a second one later. Two lights will give you even better colours and less shadows.
If you are buying additional lighting you will need a tray. See below (and image)
A tray is exactly that, a tray which screws to the bottom of your housing. Trays come with one handle or two which allows you to hold the camera much steadier in your hands. Trays also are what allow you to attach your light or strobe. Flexible arms with ball and socket joints attach to the tray on one end and the lighting source at the other. If you have a housing from a housing manufacturer you will need to check with them which tray to buy for your housing. Generic trays are available and are adjustable but often the screw holes in the tray do not take the specific screw size that the housing manufacturers housing requires.
We hope that you found this useful and with Christmas right around the corner this might be a good time to share this with your buddies!
Why not join us at Two Fish Divers in Lembeh for the world’s best macro and muck diving? Combine your stay in Lembeh with a stay in Amed and you’ll receive 10% discount on the diving in your second location! Check out our special offer details here.
All Two Fish Divers resorts (Amed, Nusa Lembongan, South Lombok, Gili Air, Bunaken and Lembeh)are set up for underwater photographers with fresh water tanks on our boats, rinse tanks for cameras at the dive centres and all of our Dive Guides and Instructors love looking through any images taken by guests.
For more information about diving with us or to make a booking, fill in the form below and we’ll get right back to you.