Getting into the water!!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by cookie1105, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. cookie1105 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #1
    Sooo...I'm really enjoying surfing photography. But while browsing for inspiration, I see that alot of the really good pics e.g www.naish.com seem to be taken from the water. So I am looking for a waterproof housing.

    Requirements:

    • Waterproof up to 5m
    • Easy to use
    • Big enough to hold reb xt + battery grip + small prime (50mm or 15mm) with hood
    • Floats
    • Clear, not distorted pictures can be taken

    So far I have only managed to find the SLR camera case from aquapac. Does anyone have any experience with this product or can you reccomend something else.

    If you could keep suggestions within an acceptable budget (couple of hundred $$), it would be appreciated as I am going to have to get a wetsuit as well!:D

    Thanks in advance,

    Andy
     
  2. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #2
    I can't give you advice on camera hardware, but I do suggest you familiarize yourself with the sport thoroughly before splashing out in to the water with your camera, if you aren 't already. Waves and the surfers on them can be very unpredictable and hazardous to photogs... Make friends before you plant yourself in the path of a killer barrell, and know when to DIVE! Good luck :) I hope to see some of your work. Oh, and don't forget your fins.:D
     
  3. cookie1105 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
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    London, UK
    #3
    Thanks for the advice. I am happy in the water would only go out with surfers that I know and trust. The safety aspect has always been top priority on other shoots and will continue to be.

    That said, it would be just like me to forget fins:)
     
  4. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #4
    I don't think you're likely to do much better. The housings I'm familiar with are rated to 40+m, and cost of the order of $US1000. Nice, but massive overkill for your needs ... although I'm planning on getting one down the road. ;)
     
  5. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    #5
    Just spend the money for a long zoom....

    Like the Sigma 50-500mm. For what you pay for a good housing you could buuy a great lens and use it everywhere, not just surfing.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    That just dosn't cut it. Surf pictures taken with a tele from shore are mostly boring and look flat. The best pictures are taken either in the water or maybe from a helocopter.

    Do you really want an SLR housing? If so look into the ikilite. It is very sturdy and robust. Made of thick acrillic. All SRL housing cost more then the camera they house, just a fact of life. Expect to pay at least $1400. There are two basic types: Electronic, that connect to the camera wit a remote control cable. These are nice becase the controls can be on the handles and do not have to resemble the controls on the camera body. They can be otimized for use in the water. The other is a mechanical ousing and these connect via o-ring gaskets to the camera's controls and use gears to drive the zoom lens ring. All of then are big and bulky.

    You are going abot this backwards. The housing cost so much more then the camera you should first shoop for a housing then buy whatever camera fits inside. It is only a mater of time before you flood the housing unless you are very carull and nevr open the ting up anyplace near sand. It will take a beating in the surf so you want one that is sturdy.

    Think seriously about a top of the line point and shoot. If you by an Olympus sp350 you can shoot RAW format, have a decent zoom range, assuming you are in close on (say) a buggy board and this is the key. The housing are about $200. All of the P&S makers offer housings in the $200 or less range.
     
  7. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #7
    Yeah, I was thinking about that (and that's why I said I doubted he'd be able to do better - the vast majority of SLR housings are of this nature). There's also housings from Subal, Aquatica, and others I can't remember off the top of my head ... but $US1000 for the housing (without a port, mind you!) is a starting point. (Port: a dome or cylindrical piece of plastic that seals the lens. Lets you choose the housing, then add the port to cater for whichever lens you're shooting with.)

    Most are rated to at least 30 metres; the Ikelite is rated to 40 or 50 (I think, I'd have to check.) They're designed for scuba divers, rather than surface photography in the surf, but at the same time, I'd expect them to hold up better in the long run. Ikelite is the best known, and has a good variety of options for lighting and lenses, but they're not the only option. Just remember that these housings generally won't take the big, bulky lenses (eg: the 180mm macro; the 100-400mm; or the 70-200mm family) because those are generally not of use for underwater photography (the sole exception that I can think of would be the 180mm macro; the problem is probably the pressure exerted on the larger port - at a guess, anyway.)
     
  8. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    Location:
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    #8
    Housings for regular point and shoots are like $150-200 each.

    Housings for film cameras cost much less. Hell, I know someone who didn't have a digital camera and wanted to take photos while snorkelling, and bought a film camera with a housing for a total of like $60 USD. Sure, you need to buy film and have it processed, but if you REALLY need to take photos for cheap, it's cheaper than buying a point and shoot (if you don't have one already). Plus, it's not like he planned on snorkelling every day. ;) The other option was to buy a digital camera for like USD $350-400 and then buy the housing for like $200 USD.



    In my opinion, your best option is to get the Olympus MJU 725 or whatever it's called now (I really really really want this camera now). It's waterproof up to 5 metres, it's completely shockproof and sand proof, etc. It has an underwater mode that will have the proper white balance for underwater and hopefully reduce that hazy look to underwater photos.
     
  9. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #9
    I can't remeber the name brand, but there was a company several years ago that made an enclosure that basically was a SUPER Ziplock bag.

    It had a double layer bag with double zipper and a hand port that you put your hand in like a glove. The lens port was like the ones on the big housing.

    It wasn't designed for deep water dives. Just surface stuff and snorkling.

    If memory serves, it was only about $150.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    http://www.ewa-marine.com/

    I don't know if I'd trust my $1000 SLR to one of these but I'm told they work OK. Price is a bit more than $150. High for a plastic bag, I think.

    I do know of one person you took a disposable 35mm camera and put it in a zip lock bag. If worked down to about 15 feet depth except for the bag plastic blurring the image.
     
  11. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #11
    That's the one.

    $150 was a few years ago.
     
  12. cookie1105 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #12
    Well after reading all of your advice and doing some more research, it seems like I can go in two directions; a couple of hundred $$$s or thousands.

    For a couple of hundred dollars, you basically get a very sturdy waterproof ziploc bag. As far as I can see there are two main manufacturers.

    ewa-marine
    [​IMG]

    or

    aquapac
    [​IMG]

    Although I am sure these products are good for certain applications. I am not too sure about how rugged they are. Would the perspex on the front of the port seriously degrade the images? Would I be wasting the "relatively small" amount of money and end up upgrading to a rigid housing in the end anyway? A bit like the buying theory for tripods, "get the best you can afford and then a bit more!" I am a bit worried about trusting my gear in one of these bags as it is.

    Then there is the rigid housing option. There are lots of manufacturers, but from your reccomendations and research these are the two that sound really good.

    ikelite
    [​IMG]

    and

    hugyfot
    [​IMG]

    These might sound a little bit like overkill, but I would rather my gear was safe and the images the best quality they can be.

    I could always save up for a rigid housing and as it is getting cold in Denmark now, I'm not realistically going to be going in the water very much before spring

    I'm not sure. Do you think the bags will offer more than enough protection or would I be better off waiting and getting the rigid option?
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #13
    [Do you think the bags will offer more than enough protection or would I be better off waiting and getting the rigid option?[/QUOTE]

    Get the bigger housing then learn SCUBA and put it to use. There is so much more to see and phtograph below water then above. That's what I did. (I'm diving tonight after work.)
     
  14. cookie1105 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
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    London, UK
    #14
    I'm already a PADI rescue diver, but haven't dived for about 5 years now. I think you're right Chris, the piggy bank might just have to come out and I'll have to relearn long-forgotten skills. It would be nice to get some UW photos as well.

    Have a safe dive tonight.

    Thanks for your advice everybody
     
  15. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #15
    So, I wanna see some of these pics!! If you inspire me too much I might be looking for underwater housing myself! Getting a clean barrell shot is tough from shore, unless you're in the perfect spot.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #16
    I didnt' see anything particularly indicative of shooting from the water in most of the shots on the site. The one photog I know who regularly gets published surf shots shoots from shore and started with a Sigma 50-500 on a Fuji S2pro and moved to Canon and faster glass over time.

    If you're looking at housings though, make sure you get one that will let you use a flat port, as you'll be shooting from above the surf and most housings have dome ports for diving. Not sure how you'll keep the port dry after a wave comes over or a lot of spray hits it though- that seems to be pretty challenging to me.
     
  17. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #17
    Considering that these things are designed to be used under the surface, I doubt that much thought has been put into that particular problem.

    Most flat ports are designed for macro lenses; the Ikelite system has a few flat ports for some wide angle lenses, but they're predominantly for macro work. After thinking about it a little, an underwater housing would only really work if the photographer can get fairly close to the action ... I'm not sure if that would be viable. Consider, for example, that Ikelite only goes up to 135mm at the long end of the lens lineup they'll support ...
     
  18. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #18
    If I were to go out to photograph surfers from in the water TODAY...

    I'd grab two of my cameras to see which one would work better:

    The first is my (35mm film) Nikon Nikonos V UW camera with the 35mm lens. This is an amphibious lens, so it will focus properly both above and below the water. I'd probably set it at f/8 and ~20ft (its a rangefinder, not an SLR) and the "A" (Auto) shutter speed. The camera should do okay in getting the proper exposure, although I'll listen for the shutter to see if it sounds like its too slow. I'd get the images digitized during developing.

    FWIW, I've been doing UW photography with this camera for the past 15 years. Its a pretty compact & easy "snorkel" camera to use when I remove my strobes and their arm assemblies.

    The second camera would be an older Canon A80 P&S with the Canon housing. We've had the camera for a few years, but added the housing for a snorkeling trip last year - - found out pretty quickly that autofocus seeking in the surge and shutter lag make it a bit of a challenge ... frustratingly low yield.


    If I were to go out to photograph surfers from in the water a month from now...

    I've used Ike stuff (strobes, etc) for years ... an excellent company, so I'd have no hesitation with throwing my Canon 20D into a housing, since I could build upon that to make a decent scuba system tp augment my Nikonos.

    But first I'd do some quick research as to what port/lens combinations I need to have, because it doesn't do much good to have a dramatically wrong lens/port combination. To this end, I'd try to find out what the guys are using in the photos that Andy is finding appealing to him, for if someone else has already figured out the right gear, that's half the battle.

    However, I'd not disregard finding a good P&S with minimal lag and a good OEM housing, as this is likely to be a lot cheaper: if you're starting with nothing, the Ike housing, port, dSLR and lens is probably going to add up to around $3K.


    If I were to go out to photograph surfers from in the water a year from now...

    I'm hoping that a new, lower cost Full Frame version of the 5D is out, as that's what I'm waiting for to build up another UW system. Crop bodies are a bit problemmatic for wide angle.


    Finally, lets not forget...

    Video. UW Video housings these days are incredibly small and pretty inexpensive. You'll hopefully get a nice stream of images from which you can then pick out the best still, too. Again, you can look towards Ikelite as a source for good quality housings...and dang tough, too :) I am being tempted with the end of film to cross over to the "moving medium" for my UW work.


    -hh
     
  19. b0tt094 macrumors 6502

    b0tt094

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    Sep 2, 2006
    #19


    that houseing surving the fire story is sick :cool:
     
  20. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    paradise beach FL
    #20
    What kind of resolution would you get from a digi video cam these days for under $3 K? Good enough to sell?
     
  21. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #21
    No. Stills taken even from an HD video camera are not as good as from a $400 point and shoot still camera. If you are looking to sell still images you are looking at a DSLR. You could actually get a housed DSLR for $3K. A scuba diver would need to spend more because he needs strobes but in the surf yu are using sunlight so the rig is not only a bit cheaper but much more compact and you can use a less complex housing. Also that housd $3K HD video camera will be huge. Very hard to swim while hauling that big box but at least, unlike the scuba diver you will not need the lead balast to make it sink
     
  22. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
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    Redondo Beach, California
    #22
    A housed camera is used by either a swimmer or from a buggy board. The photographer is on the same wave as the surfer hand holding the camera while moving with the surfer. That would be "way hard" with a lens as long as 135mm. Maybe a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens would be perfect? I can'r imagine beig out in the water with a telephoto lens.

    These action sports photographers are telented. Ever see those ski movies. The guy with the camera is skiing backwards facing uphill wearring skis with tips on both ends. We are talking about this same thing here but only in the ocean. I doubt anyone could do this with a 200mm lens
     
  23. b0tt094 macrumors 6502

    b0tt094

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    #23
    damn i was planning on doing some skiing shooting this year too... but my skiis are race skis not freestyle:mad: .... this makes me sad :p :cool:
     
  24. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #24
    I'm wondering how the op decided to go... meh still taking shots from da beach w/ tripod...:rolleyes:

    [​IMG]
     
  25. cookie1105 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    London, UK
    #25
    Nice picture srf4real, I wish the weather here was like that. The surfing season grinds to a halt here from November (Water temp ~5°C).

    I decided that I would save up for a rigid underwater housing from the likes of Aquatech or Ikelite. I'm planning on getting it for the start of the season (April-May) but I've still got quite a bit of saving up to do......:)
     

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