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Old Mar 2, 2004, 5:07 AM   #11
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 897

This gives a good idea of what is available and UK prices http://www.camerasunderwater.co.uk/d_stills/index.html

Given the type and frequency of use my preference would be to house a land camera rather than buy a specific underwater camera. Any camera that is capable of taking good photographs on land is capable of taking good photographs underwater.

What matters is understanding the medium. Even the clearest water is about as good as a foggy day on land. If you got the visibility on land that you get on a good day underwater you probably wouldn't take the camera out of it's bag. The solution to this is to get close and cut down the amount of water between you and your subject. Typically there are two ways of doing this use macro and get in really close to small subjects or use wide angle to take shots of bigger animals wrecks or people. Using wide angle you are looking to take the sort of shot you'd take with a standard lens on land but from much closer in. A lot of housing allow the attachment of external lenses to improve your underwater photographs but this gets expensive.

The next problem is colour. I've no experience of using digital underwater but I believe that the white balance can help in shallow water. The problem is that the different wavelengths of light are absorbed at different rates. Red is the first to go and blue the last. Anything more than a few feet and your photographs will have a distinct blue cast. The answer is to use flash unfortunately you're back to the visibility problem and the on camera flash will light up all the bits of detritus floating between you and your subject and create backscatter. A seperate off camera flash is the best solution but again you're into serious expense.

That's the long answer. The short answer is that a quality digicam in a housing will give far better results than a waterproof disposable. However I'd be wary of the flexible housings as the water pressure can make them difficult to use even at shallow depths.

You can check my website for the results possible with a Nikonos V or housed Nikon F60 both film cameras I'm afraid.

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