Joe from Winter Park Fl. asks:
I’m looking for a digital scuba camera -nothing complicated. What do I look for and where do I start looking for the right one?
Selecting the right digital camera is always a chore. Many designs have come and gone with the next model being bigger and better than the previous. Sometimes it comes down merely to personal preference. While one scuba diver thinks highly of cameras made by Canon another might swear by SeaLife. The way a camera is set up and the features it has to offer tends to be what people are attracted to at first.
This initial attraction is put to the test once photos are taken with the camera. Paying high-dollar for a digital scuba camera that takes poor pictures is possible. It’s best to read reviews of many types and make sure they are reviews posted by a scuba diver who has actually used the camera.
Warning: Many forums are filled with people who boast about a certain brand of equipment that they haven’t actually used because they are getting paid by the company who manufactures the equipment.
What to look for in a digital scuba camera
A large monitor will allow you to better see the images in photos you just snapped underwater. Small screens can be very frustrating to view and thankfully most digital cameras have at least a 2.5 or 3 inch monitor.
If you are looking for a camera that will allow you to take pictures of sea life, then you might want to invest in one with exceptional zoom capabilities. 3X and 4X zoom options should be perfect. A wide angle lens will also help. 15mm to 20mm is a good standard to have – whether you are taking pictures of sea life or stationary underwater structures.
The basic flash that comes with most digital cameras doesn’t allow you to get the best color in your underwater photos. Many of the pictures come out blue with these types of flashes. It’s best to have an additional flash source that is connected to your camera. This extra flash will also enable you to extend your range of photos as well. You won’t be stuck taking pictures of items that are right next to you. Instead, you’ll be able to snap some photos of objects out of your reach as well.
Shutter speed can be slow with wide angle cameras. Purchasing a compact camera with optical stabilization is one way to avoid bumping up the ISO (International Standardization Organization) light sensitivity. When the ISO goes over 400, noise is an issue. A noisy camera often makes getting pictures of sea life a bit tricky.
If you are looking for the least complicated scuba camera around, you might already have it. Waterproof housing is available to make the digital camera you already own into an underwater camera. The range of depth the housing is good for will vary between camera styles. One might allow you to take your Olympus down 131 feet, while housing that fits certain models of Canon cameras can be used as deep as 350 feet below the water’s surface.
The waterproof housing is made from material that is resistant to scratches and corrosion. You can still access all functions on the camera, so taking pictures underwater is similar to taking them on land. There’s no need to learn how to use an entirely new camera with a price range anywhere between 120 to 300 dollars. It will depend on the type of camera you have – some housing styles even come with flood insurance for the first year that is figured into the sale price.
Two fantastic features most brands of digital camera housing have include the safety lock and a double O-ring seal. The lock is perfect for insuring that the housing isn’t accidentally opened underwater and the O-ring is what keeps the water out of the housing.
When you find a digital camera that seems to have everything you are looking for, then read some of the testimonials on this specific camera – found on most company websites. This also gives you a first-hand account of how well the camera was received by customers. Any concerns you have about a particular model might also be brought up by someone else and addressed by a professional – very helpful indeed.
Purchasing a digital scuba camera from an online source is usually where you will find the best deal, but be sure the source is a reputable dealer. Most companies have a home website where their products can be purchased. If you are able to visit a scuba store that sells cameras, this will enable you to ask the sales representative any questions that you may have. If you have a specific camera in mind, be sure you let the representative know the make and model. Sometimes they are looking to make a sale on a certain type of camera and will try to talk you into buying the one they want you to purchase but there are plenty who are very helpful and willing to help you find the digital camera that will be perfect for your needs.
I hope this information is helpful to you in purchasing your new digital scuba camera.