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Old Nov 16, 2011, 12:41 PM   #1
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Default Underwater Photographer Questions

I'm a certified Scuba diver and new to underwater photography. I picked up a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 and am considering an Ikelite underwater housing so I can it to low depths and don't have to worry about it flooding.

Looking for some guidance from experience Scuba diving photographers:

1) With a diffuser on my underwater housing, is the built-in flash useful at all? Should I just keep it turned off or does it actually help in shallow depths?

2) Assuming clear water, such as the tropical environments, at around what depth does a strobe become necessary?

3) Do "wireless" strobes such as the Ikelite AF35 perform any worse than those with a fiber optic cable adapter? Since light moves fast, even under water, it's not clear to me whether or not strobes with fiber optic cables perform any better than detached ones.

4) The price for the Ikelite housing and Panasonic manufacturer housing are identical on B&H. Is Ikelite generally better than the manufacturer's cases?

I also asked a question about underwater macro shooting settings since my DMC-TS3 isn't clear on which option to use. Any help or advice would be much appreciated!
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Old Nov 17, 2011, 10:42 AM   #2
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First up I have to admit to never having used a compact camera underwater.

1) In very shallow water no flash is probably best.

2) For wide angle shots available light with the blue colour cast can be effective for marine life and close ups the reds disappear very quickly probably by about 3m certainly by 6m you'll get colour casts that will be difficult to remove in post processing.

3) I used a Sea & Sea slave strobe for a while and it wasn't very successful. However the AF35 has a separate sensor which you can point at your camera strobe, the one I used had the sensor in the flash head so tended to miss my main strobe going off. Ikelite are good at what they do and my gut feeling is that the AF35 would work fine but using fiber optic will remove any element of doubt about the slave triggering from the on camera flash.

4) I'm on my 4th Ikelite housings for a DSLR. They are robust and comparatively cheap. Ikelite housing for compacts have tended to be bulky in the past but looking at the images for the TS3 housing it looks little different to Panasonics. I'm not sure if the extra 20m on the Ikelite housing rating makes much difference to you for me 40m is enough. I'd look into the options for adding supplemental lenses, the Ikelite definitely has this. You may never want to do this but close up or wide angle supplementary lenses can make a big difference to your results.

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