Posted on October 20th, 2009
Gear: Some may prefer a point-and-shoot system; others may want manual control in a compact digital, while others may want a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. So defining the ideal camera must start with the shooter’s needs. For a manual compact digital, the Olympus SP350 is great, and for SLR the Nikon D200 and D2x in Subal housings. For the point and shoot, there are several Olympus systems and even the SeaLife with a wide-angle lens.
Best use of your camera: Get a versatile strobe arm, such as the UltraLight, if you want to vary your lighting. This type of arm is for the diver who is comfortable in the water and wants to improve his style. For any camera, if there is a wide angle lens available, add it to your system.
Perfect Technique: Blurry photos are from too much movement or too slow a shutter speed. Master your balance and buoyancy because that is the most important part of getting great photos underwater. You can’t compose, adjust strobe angles and analyze your results if you are kicking, falling over and scaring your subject away.
Most common mistake: Shooting from too far away. You should take a photo, get closer and take another, and then get closer yet until either you can’t fit the subject into your picture area or the subject leaves. If the fish stays still, move in and shoot just the eye, but keep getting closer.
Here are a few other tips for underwater photography from 42nd Street Photo
- Get out and shoot. Find a place to dive near where you live.
- Don’t use digital zoom
- Make sure you understand the focusing distance of your camera in and out of macro mode. Use macro mode when you are within the macro focusing distance.
- Bring a dive light with you to help your camera auto-focus
- If you turn your flash off, either manual white-balance your camera, or set it to underwater mode
- Anticipate what you might see underwater, adjust your strobe, f-stop ahead. It would be big mistake, to see a shark and having your camera at F22
- Learn how to use your histogram and highlights screen, and use them often
- Use a 100mm or 105mm lens to emphasize or isolate the subject, and reduce the background
- Get the exposure right in camera; don’t rely on post-processing
Posted on October 18th, 2009
The most important factor in photography is choosing a camera. Cameras usually fall into three categories: hobbyists, amateurs, and professionals. You might be taking pictures of your latest vacation or family during the holidays or maybe you are taking shots to build a portfolio. You will also want to consider quality and portability as cameras can range from large professional cameras to small portable cameras. Cameras can be broken down into groups which include ultra-compact, compact, hobbyist, and digital SLR. Most cameras will fall into the middle two categories.
If you are looking for a camera only by the megapixel rating means you will miss out on the other features of the camera like accessories, portability, and a good quality flash, but is still one the most important considerations. Cameras that are less than 3 megapixels are good for basic snapshots. These cameras are good for your standard size pictures but the images won’t be as clear if you want anything bigger. Cameras that are between 3 and 5 megapixels are good for everyday use and vacation cameras. Cameras in the 5 to 10 megapixel range are usually more serious cameras for hobbyists. These images will take up more hard drive space but are perfect for printing out in larger sizes. Anything over 10 megapixels is overkill for casual use. If you are using a 10 megapixels camera then you are probably a professional and expect to be paid for your work.
Zoom is another important consideration. There are two kinds of zoom, optical zoom and digital zoom. Optical zoom relies on the lens itself magnifying the light coming in so that what is distant appears larger and closer in the image. Digital zoom takes the resulting image and magnifies it after. Optical zoom usually produces better results.
Another factor to look at when choosing a camera is storage media. Some camera manufacturers have proprietary storage systems that are icompatible with cameras of other makes. Commom formats are Compact Flash, Secure Digital cards, and Sony Memory stick. The storage sizes can range from smaller 8mb cards/sticks to larger 32GB cards/sticks. Prices are quite reasonable these days so the selection of larger sizes is quite affordable.