Posted by: glennandert | 18-June-2008

Underwater photography equipment

In my three years out cruising on Learjet, I have been through 3 different underwater camera setups – yep, one per year!

In my first year out on Learjet, my underwater setup was a SeaLife DC300. Purpose built for underwater photography. What a dog. Can’t focus worth beans. Slow. Eats batteries so fast that the camera is gone long before the tank is empty. And often trashes the memory card leaving trashed images.

While in Suwarrow, Cook Islands, I met a very switched on Kiwi by the name of Luke aboard the Kiwi yacht ‘Quintessa’. Luke showed me his Canon digital compact, matching Canon housing, and his photos. Wow.

So, for my second year out on ‘Learjet’ I leaped for a Canon S80, matching housing, Inon D2000 strobe, Ultralight Control Systems tray and arms. Completely automatic flash. Awesome photos. Easy to use. Very flexible. Partway through the year I also experimented with the Magic Filter from the UK, which makes for great colors during shallow dives, without the hassle of the strobe, and without backscatter. I had an awesome time with this setup, and took some really great shots. I was lucky enough to have Luke aboard for a few weeks while we explored Beqa and Kadavu Fiji. I struggled to keep up with Luke’s skill! But with more practice through the season, I became pretty adapt. I was gutted (as we say in Kiwi land) when I flooded that camera partway through the season while at a remote island in the Lau Group of Fiji. Ended up sailing the yacht to American Samoa in order to replace it!

During my second year I started fantasizing about taking my D70 underwater. But the price of housings was too shocking. So I gave up on it. Well, not quite. I did put in a saved search on eBay for a used housing. Many months later while in the boatyard in the New Zealand summer that search found me a used Seacam underwater housing. I was the only bidder and got it for a great price. The seller was Mike Mesgleski from Underwater Camera Repair. He was a champ, answering all of my stupid questions.

Of course, the strobes are incompatible between these technologies. So as much as I loved my Inon, I had to get a new strobe and opted for the Sea and Sea YS110.

Oh, and you need a separate focusing light. So I sprung for the Hartenberger Nano focus light, which I also use as my dive light – beautiful piece of equipment.

I received great support from backscatter.com. for the strobe and light. They were very very helpful.

Oh, and I had to spring for another lens for underwater work, a Nikon AF Nikkor 60mm f2.8D macro autofocus I love this outfit.

I have had many many hours of fun with this thing. The macro capabilities are tremendous. And the Hartenberger is awesome. It greatly simplifies the whole lighting situation, which I have to confess is still quite difficult for me, since it is NOT automatic, and no creature waits around while you fiddle with your light settings!

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Responses

  1. Loved your blog and I’m jealous of all the far off places you’ve been compared to me living in the US. I have been scuba diving off the Florida coast, South Carolina and Georgia rivers and lakes. While in Europe I had the pleasure of diving the Med off Italy and Spain. I always wanted to take my photograpy underwater with me but it never was affordable and I didn’t dive enought to make it cost effective. Thanks for your reccomendations and experience. i will keep it under consideration as I move closer to taking more vacations and or retire in the tropics and take my hobby underwater with me.

  2. Great blog! Hope to visit Fiji next year, now still in Carribean Panama. Best regards, Miki

  3. Over the past year I have learned how to dive and gotten really into underwater photography. I have been using a SeaLife Digital Mini. I am thinking about getting the Canon G10. Have you heard anything about that camera.

  4. Have not looked at the G10. Before you buy it, make sure there is a compatible Canon housing, that is actually available. Check out the white balance and close focus capabilities. The camera’s native flash will not cut it. Make sure you can either use the Magic Filter, or that the external strobe you want will work with this housing.


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