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Old Jun 13, 2002, 12:02 AM   #1
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Default Help me please

Hi there
I'm a keen diver and have wanted an underwater camera for a while now - the only problem is that I know absolutely nothing about cameras. Therefore I was just about to buy a Sea&Sea MX10 as I thought it was the best option for a moron like myself - however I know that digital cameras are probably a smarter option. I'm willing to spend about US$800. Can anyone recommend a digital camera and housing for around that price or is that an unrealistic price.
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 1:53 AM   #2
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Not sure if you can stay within that budget and still get a digital comatible strobe & camera but there are a lot of ways to keep it simple and get good results. I've got a Canon A10 which has outstanding image quality but only 1.3 megapixels so it's not suitable for large prints. The A40 is about the same price I paid and is adequate for 8x10s. Canon's dedicated housing works welll and gives full control of the camera. Add a digital compatible strobe and you're in business but probably over $900.

FWIW working wiithout a flash is only possible near the surface under bright sun. Trying to use the camera's flash is usually a waste even under the best conditions.
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 6:14 AM   #3
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Annie,

You could try the Olympus C3040 or C4040z. Olympus also makes a housing for this digicam and is depth rated at 30m/100 feet with full control of the camera. You could probably get the digicam and housing for under $800.00


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Old Jun 13, 2002, 6:42 AM   #4
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You can get a C4040 for under $600 from a decent retailer (I bought mine here). Be carefull going with the cheapest you can find. If you have a credit card that has price guarantee (like an Amex Gold), use it. You'll be able to get the cam for like $500.

Since he didn't plug himself, you can get the PT-010 from underwaterdigital here for $249, but it appears he's outta stock for a little while.

So that'll put you around $750-$850+shipping for a base, usable setup. Down the road, you can add on a strobe if you want. You might also want to get a tray and handle system (I use ULCS, but there are others).

Good luck and happy hunting!
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 7:27 AM   #5
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annie


... or if you want to stay with Canon's A40/A30 as Padeye suggested (also in your budget).


.


It's down to the batteries and flash memories type decision... and I think the Oly will win out in the battery department for long dive!

[Edited on 6-13-2002 by NHL]
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 8:06 AM   #6
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Default A comment on internal strobe shooting...

Hi Annie.

You have received some great advise so far, except Padeye's comment about shooting with the internal strobe only.

If you are shooting in Caribbean conditions (clear water with good visibility), you can get some great shots using only the internal strobe.

Here are links to two galleries of shots taken with the internal strobe of an Olympus C-3030 in an Olympus PT-005 housing.

<a href="http://home.att.net/~sharptoolsusa/saltcayweb/SltCyDig.html">Salt Cay</a>

<a href="http://home.att.net/~farmach2/cozgallery.html">Cozumel 2000</a>

You do have to be careful in your shot composition. Wider angle shots suffer from a lack of an external strobe. But, tight shots of mid to smaller subjects turn out reasonably well. I would recommend that everyone make at least a dozen dives with their camera system without an external strobe. It is a great exercise in learning your camera system.

HTH
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 11:35 AM   #7
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Sorry if I'm picky about photos Sharpdiver. Pardon my comments but the photos are good examples of how off camera flash can make a dramtic difference. Particle glare isn't an issue but the lighting is flat and falloff is severe. None of them are bad photos but the subtle differences are what separate ordinary snapshots from outstanding photos.

Annie, sorry to get esoteric, I'll explain a little. Moving the flash off the camera does several things. As Sharpdiver noted he was in exceptionally clear water but you know that's not always the case. Using the camera's flash will illuminate particles in front of the lens much brighter than it illuminates the subject giving severe glare. Puttiong the flash nearer the subject and off axis helps a lot. Moving the flash off the camera's lens axis also gives more depth and texture. Notice how difficult it is to see contours and shapes. Technically falloff is more severe with the flash close to the subject but the angle of the flash can be manipulated to suit the subject so it isn't a problem.

Yeah, yeah I know I'm picky. I assume that if you're going to drag a camera with you that you'll want results that justify the effort and cost. With the right setup and technique you can go from blah to something that belongs on the cover of a dive magazine.

At any rate that's why I suggested the Canon A40/WP-DC200S + Ikelite DS-25 setup. It's not too far out of your budget and will be easy to use. The combination is fully automatic if you want simplicity and the flash is designed to work with any digicam if you decide to upgrade later. I do agree that the Oly 3040 or 4040 would be better cameras but put you well over budget. The Canon has outstanding image quality but not enough resolution to print bigger than 8x10.
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 11:58 AM   #8
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There's no question that you can take good photos without an external strobe. There's also no question that an external strobe will allow you to take better photos (assuming you know how to use it :-).

There is a more important issue in regards to this specific question: a complete novice will come home with more keepers with a digital setup (with or without a strobe) than they would with an MX-10. This is because of the single most important feature of a digicam: the ability to see the photo immediately. This feature isn't as important to someone that has been shooting film for 10 years, but for a newbie, it's priceless!
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 12:39 PM   #9
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Well guys

I'm a real starter in underwater pictures... and I only snorkeled in the V.I. so far. Flash doesn't do me any good @ the surface, Is there any way to increase the contrast other than just do a blue water color balance correction with my 990?

Any suggestion... beside snorkeling @ night?
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Old Jun 13, 2002, 3:42 PM   #10
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Default External strobes continued

Padeye, Annie, and others:

Just to be sure we're all on the same page, I want to clarify my comments earlier. There is no question that an external strobe (or two) will improve your underwater digital photography. But, to say that shooting without an external strobe is a waste of time is overstating the case.

Sure, shots with the internal strobe are flatter than shots with an external. And, of course there is fall-off from the tiny strobe tube in the camera compared to the enormous tube found in most external strobes.

The point I was trying to make is that for a complete camera novice (as Annie described herself), Getting a Canon or Olympus with the factory housing is a great way to get started (significantly better than an MX-10). When you can see the differences that an external strobe would make, then it is time to get one.

Hopefully, the following two images will illustrate my point.



This is a spotted cleaner shrimp in an anemone shot in Cozumel November 2000 with the internal strobe.



Same species, same location (same shrimp?) one year later with a pair of YS-90DX strobes. Everything that Padeye said about the shortcomings of the internal strobe is apparent in the first shot, yet when I took it, I was thrilled with it. If I had started with an external strobe, I might never have learned just exactly what I intended for the strobe to do.

[Edited on 6-13-2002 by sharpdiver]
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