Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Photos of Some Flounder?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Sorry about last week, I've been having connection issues, and it was a busy week.  Combine the two and I didn't get a chance to make a proper post.

April requested that I do a post about underwater cameras, and I'm always happy to oblige my loyal fans, so here we go.

When discussing underwater cameras you've really got two options to consider.  One route is built-in waterproofing, much like my Olympus point-and-shoot that I've talked about here before.  The other option is to go with a non-waterproof camera and buy an underwater housing for it - essentially a water-tight plastic box that holds your camera when you need to go underwater.

Let's have a look at these in further detail.  The advantages to the built-in waterproofing on a camera are obvious; it's always waterproof.  You don't ever need to think about it, you can just get your camera wet and that's that.  The benefit of this goes beyond casual snorkeling too.  I've never actually taken my camera in the water, but I also don't hesitate to take it out in the rain.  Some waterproofing on a camera really can just lead to a lot of peace of mind.  Looking at the site for Henry's Camera (a big camera retailer in the area) shows that EVERYONE is getting in on the waterproof point-and-shoot game.  Olympus still appears to be leading the market in terms of the sheer number of cameras they have out there, but shop around and see what you can find since Cannon, Sony, Fuji, and Casio all offer underwater cameras as well.

Now for the downsides to these.  In browsing through the various offerings I'm seeing most waterproof cameras being rated to a depth of 10-15ft, with the highest being one of the models of Olympus Stylus Tough, their extra-durable line, which will go down to 33ft.  Absolutely perfect for taking out in the rain, splashing worry-free around the pool, or going snorkeling with some light free diving.  However, if you're considering scuba diving, even very casually, 33ft is just not going to cut it.  The other downside, and this can be less obvious right at first, is maintenance.  Buried deep in the manual to my camera is a note that you need to have it sent in annually for inspection of the O-ring seals that keep the water out, otherwise it can't be trusted for underwater use.  As I've never really cared to take my camera underwater I haven't bothered with this recommended maintenance, so I can't really comment on how long it takes, or how much it costs.  Still, it's bound to be an inconvenience and expense that you'd rather not have.  I can't say if all underwater cameras have this stipulation, but it's well worth looking into when you're researching what to buy.

On to the underwater housings.  The main advantage here is depth.  Some of these protective shells are rated to dive deeper than I am.  If you ever thought you'd want to explore the joys of scuba diving (and I recommend that you do!) then this really becomes your only option.  Another advantage is a direct counterpoint to the built-in waterproof camera, and that is the fact that with the housings you have access to the O-ring seal.  On my Dad's housing, and I imagine this is pretty standard, you actually grease the O-ring before use to help with the seal.  This means that you are essentially maintaining and inspecting the O-ring with each use, and it saves you the trouble of having to get someone else to do it for you.

The downside to the housing really is sheer bulk.  It's just one more thing that you've got to carry around, and they can be a bit large.  Depending on the model you may also find that some of the features of your camera aren't accessible when it's in the case, which is something to keep firmly in mind if you find yourself shopping for one.  From what I've see all underwater housings seem to be paired to a specific model of camera, due to the fact that they have to be designed precisely to have the buttons on the case lining up with the buttons on the camera inside.  This can lead to a situation like what Dad found himself in, where the camera has become obsolete long before the housing has, but he can't find a camera that will work with his housing anymore.  It's also worth pointing out that the protection of the housing isn't full-time like it is on the built-in models.  As soon as your camera comes out of that protective shell it's just another soft, vulnerable camera again.  Lastly, you'd be shocked at the cost of some of these.  The housings don't often come cheap... and you still have to buy a camera to put in them.

So, in conclusion, I recommend... a camera.  Yeah, I know, everyone would love it if I just told them exactly what model of camera to buy, but I'm afraid I can't do that.  It's just another one of those situations where you've got to figure out what works best for your usage.  In most cases I'd recommend the built-in waterproofing on a camera, since most people aren't going to need them to go to any great depth anyway.  Just make sure you look into any maintenance requirements before hand.  I'm not a huge fan of the interface on my camera, but it's held up well through the years, so I'll happily give a nod to the Olympus Stylus line of cameras.  Also, as I mentioned, Cannon is making an underwater camera, and I've yet to meet anyone who's bought a Cannon and been unhappy with it.  Worth considering.

Well, I think I've rambled on enough for one week.  Time for me to get to work.  I wanted to get this camera post up, but on a more personal note I just picked up my brand new GMC Canyon yesterday.  It was my first ever brand new 4 wheel vehicle (the motorcycle being my first new vehicle) and my first truck ever.  I'll be back later with more details on that... this post has become long enough already.  Have a good week everyone.


Jabbles said...

I was considering a waterproof model but the main thing I found was smaller zooms, I found nothing above a 4X zoom. Fine for random pics but I wanted the ability to zoom in more. Another option is a waterproof carrying case, sure you can't take any pictures in a downpour but if caught in said downpour no need to worry about the camera.
One thing I did find is there are actual dive cameras, no housing needed and can go much deeper than 33ft, they even have some built into a scuba mask. http://www.scuba.com/scuba-gear-535/Cameras-Our-Most-Popular-Digital.html

Aunt J. said...

Great info on the cameras. I realize now that it's certainly an advantage to having a waterproof one for anytime you're out in the drizzle.
Talking about cameras, take a photo of your new truck and post it on next week's blog(please).