Underwater Casing(s)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Aperture, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. Aperture macrumors 68000

    Aperture

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    #1
    Hi Everyone. Do you know if there ever was/is an underwater casing for my Canon D Rebel (300d model)? Any general info on underwater casings?

    Thanks!
     
  2. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

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    #2
    Whwn I wanted to buy a casing for my S1 IS I came across an Ikelite housing for DSLR cameras on Amazon. It looked massive! I've heard great reviews about it. I'll post the link when I find it.

    Remember that if you want to take underwater photography you should think of a flash as well, to avoid any floating particles to come up in the pic and make it look like ugly glitter.

    BTW, which lenses would you like to use underwater?

    EDIT: Didn't find it on Amazon, but I did find it in Ikelite's page. Keep in mind that the housings usually cost a lot more than the camera itself.
     
  3. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #3
    There certainly is - Ikelite, for example, makes housings to suit the 5D, 10D, 20D, 30D, 300D, 350D, and 400D. That's makes, not made. Be aware, though, as has already been said, that these things are not cheap. I want one for my 20D, but it'll take me a while to save up for it. :(

    General lenses you want for underwater photography: the aim of the game here is to get up close and personal with the subject. The closer you get, the less water between you and it; the less water there is, the less chance of backscatter from particulate matter in the water (it's especially a problem in temperate waters, like Melbourne.) This means that you're looking, usually, at ultra wide angles - the 10-22mm would probably be ideal - or macro lenses for the small critters. Telephoto lenses are right out of the question. (As is the EF 180mm macro lens, but that's another story - it's too big to fit into a lens port. Not surprising, really, given that it's about as big as the 70-200mm f/2.8.)

    You'll also want a good quality strobe (or two!), and these can easily add another 50% or more to the price. I'm also pretty sure (haven't looked at this level yet; need to save up first) that you need to buy a port for the lens as an extra (ie: not included in the base price - you'll need a port in any case, I'm just not sure if it's bundled in.) You'll want a flat port for the macro lens, or a dome port for the ultra-wide angles.
     
  4. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

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    #4
    I've always wondered what the ports are for... do they protect the lenses?

    I've seen some underwater pics with a 10-22 and they're breathtaking!
     
  5. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #5
    The good news is that IIRC, the Ikelite case for the 20D can be later refitted to accomodate a 5D :D


    Correct, and as a general rule of thumb, you'll want a domed port for the WA and a flat port for the macro. Main reason being that a flat port will narrow the lens's field of view, but there's also some bit with "focusing on virutal images" that I have to sort out when I finally give up on using my Nikonos V.


    Two strobes. Otherwise you can get some pretty harsh shadowing. With the Ike housing, its smartest to stick with Ike strobes...I'd probably look at the DS-50 or DS-125. I'm probably going to pay Ike to upgrade my two SS-200's to DS-200's, mostly because at $1000 for the pair, its still cheaper than buying totally new (but smaller Guide Number) strobes.

    I think you're right in that Ike is no longer including a port in the base price of their housings.

    I'm also not looking forward to this whole proces of lens/port matching: you need to make sure that the port you buy is compatible with the lens you plan to use. I think its also wise to be making sure of the avaiability of the correct (compatible) port before finalizing which lenses one is planning on buying, since Ike can't affort to support every possible combination, particularly all of the third party lenses.


    -hh
     
  6. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #6
    Well, they do technically protect the lens in that if you didn't have a port on the housing, the housing would have a giant hole in its front that the seawater would pour in, destroying the equipment ;)

    What the port generally does is that it acts as the "window" that the lens sees the outside world through.

    Simplistically, that means that the ideal port is one that is optically transparent, but the catch is that it never can be, because water is a different density medium than air, so there's refraction at the water/air interface. This means that the port effectively acts as an additional lens in your optical path, and different port shapes do different things.


    -hh
     
  7. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #7
    Two things. First, they protect the camera - no port, no sealing against water (as has been said). Second, they provide an interface between water and air - no optics designed for use in the open air will be able to focus properly underwater. Try this: open your eyes underwater without goggles or a mask on, and see if you can see the bottom. You won't be able to; the eye is adapted to use in air, not water. The obvious solution to this - lenses designed to be used in water rather than air - was actually done by Nikon for the Nikonos series; unfortunately, it hasn't happened (and, in all likelihood, will never happen) for digital SLRs.

    Any time you have an air/water interface, you have refraction. Dome ports are designed to minimise the amount of refraction, for a better picture (think of the angle the light comes in from in order to hit the lens; it's reasonably intuitive). With macro lenses, because you're up close and with a very narrow field of view, a flat port works well.

    Really? If that's the case, then it's a bonus - I've been thinking about the pros and cons of going with the 5D (or successor) down the road, and one of the cons is the need (desire, really) for a new underwater housing if I have one at the time I buy the new body.

    Yeah, I've been thinking that myself. One to experiment with, and the second to take the serious photos when I have the cash. :p

    And FYI: there are other companies, not just Ikelite, that manufacture SLR housings. Ikelite is just one of the best known (and for good reason; I really like the idea of being able to visually check the O ring before diving.) Ikelite lists the lenses you can use with their housings and port systems; have a look if you're unsure.

    A lot of this stuff, for me, is at a very hazy, "this is how it probably works" level, mainly because I can't afford it right now. When it comes time to buy, I'll be asking lots of deep and probing questions of the company to make sure I get a good system. :D
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #8
    The other answers are pretty complete, but I'll ask a further question: What are you looking to do? If you don't need to go too deep or you're just planning on shooting in the surf, then Ewa Marine makes some heavy-duty bags that seem to work well with most DSLRs.
     
  9. superted666 Guest

    superted666

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    Oct 17, 2005
    #9
    if its for only a few shots go with a aquapack, designed to fit most slrs and comes in at £80 ish i have one, pictures look good shot through it but its a bit difficult to use sometimes
     
  10. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

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    #10
    Can the built in flash be used underwater? How's the lighting with that? I assume the backscatter is a PITA...
     
  11. Aperture thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aperture

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    #11
    I'm going on vacation with my family this summer to a few places in the Caribbean & want to get a few pics in shallow water. Nothing deep obviously, & this is maybe a 'one time a year' thing so i'm not looking to spend too much $$. Not sure on the lens yet either. I'll take a look into those bags.

    Thanks
     
  12. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #12

    On some systems (ie, "bags" ... which I'd never, ever trust with an SLR), the answer's probably yes.

    However, the general problem with backscatter is that it is a function of strobe-subject-lens geometry.

    The general technique for avoiding backscatter is:
    (a) don't kick up crud
    (b) position the strobe away from the lens

    The reason why (a) works is pretty obvious, but (b) is not quite as obvious.

    The simple reason why is because when it is angling in from the side, the amount of water that is bathed in the light of the strobe *and* within the field of view of the lens is smaller than if the strobe were right next to the lens.

    To illustrate this aspect, visualize the following:

    #1: You're in a car (stopped) on a road with those reflectors in the lanes. With your headlights on, you see a row of the reflectors down the road in front of you...a whole bunch of them, all the way from your car to that stop sign way down by the street corner. The reflectors represent "backscatter" from junk in the water and the stop sign is your subject.

    #2: You're in your car again, but this time with your headlights off. Instead, there's a cop car a short distance down the side street and he has his floodlight turned on and is illuminating the same stop sign. You can see the stop sign just fine (same amount of light on the sign), but because his light is coming in from way over on the side, none of the reflectors on your road are lit up, so you get a cleaner view of the stop sign.

    The difference between #1 and #2 is the angle at which the light source gets to the subject (stop sign). From there, the light reflecting off the sign comes back to you (car = camera lens) and is travelling the same path. By moving your light source off of your highway towards your subject, the reflectors along your sightline didn't get light, so they didn't pollute.

    That's the basics. To get a little more advanced, think about the phases of the Moon. Essentially, how much of the Moon is bright/dark depends on the angles, which when we apply that here means that the angle that our strobe has to all of those particles is like illuminating a hundred tiny "moons" in the water: if the strobe is right next to the lens, then they are are lit up as if they were Full Moons, but if we move the strobe out, then we get Half Moons ... which makes them less distracting.

    Putting these together, the reason why moving the strobe out to the side minimizes backscatter is that it illuminates "fewer moons" and the moons that it does illuminate aren't Full, but only "Half" or thereabouts.


    Thus concludes today's combined Geometry, Optics, and Astronomy lesson. I shoulda just found an illustration on the web :D


    -hh
     
  13. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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  14. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #14

    Not having a good illustration was bugging me all night.

    [​IMG]


    I hope this explains it better.


    -hh
     
  15. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #15
    I finally got off my butt and posed the question to Ikelite. The official answer is that no, there is no easy way to modify one housing to accommodate a different type of camera.

    Sigh. Guess that means that if I buy a 20D housing and later upgrade to a 5D, I'll be keeping the 20D (or forking out another wad of cash for another housing.) Long way off, though; not counting lenses, it's six grand (Australian) to get the kit I want.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #16
    THere are a number of UW housing for that camera that you can choose from. But be warned -- sticker shock. The housing will cost between 2 and 4 times the price of the camera. The "low end" starts at about $1,200. And then you WILL (yes WILL) need to buy at least one strobe, and the mounting arms to hold it. This can add another grand or more. Each lens needs it's own port, they can cost about as much as the lens. Actually if you are stating from scatch, pick a strobe system you like. Some stobes work only with some housings. Some can work TTL some can't. Light and motion has a nice system where you control stobe power and the ratio between two strobes with buttons on the back of the housing. but it don't work with Ikilite strobes but Lots of little details here Strobes are the most complex part of the system. Lets the strobe setup decide the housing and the housing decide the DSLR. Don't by $3,000 worth of gear just because you have an older model DSLR

    OK you can get away without a strobe if you stay if very clear water no deeper than about 15 feet. Below 15ft color begins to disappear unless you add lights.

    For this reason, I always tell people to pick the housing they like and then buy a DSLR to go inside. The DSLR is the lowest cost part of the system

    If the price sounds high feel lucky you are not shooting HD video underwater
     
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #17
    You didn't have to ask Ikelite. Just look at the housing. It fits the camera like a glove and the mechanical controls have to line up exactly with each button on the camera.

    Ikelite makes mechanical housings. a few others make electronic housings. these use the camera's electronic remove control cable. "Light and Motion" makes elect. housings. This is more common with video. I own an L&M video housing that works with any Sony DV camera and controls the camera via the LANC port. There are abut a dozen cameras that will fit on my housing. This is not comon with DSLRs as it is with video.

    The downside of the generic housings is that they DON'T fit like a glove and contain a LOT of air space. As you know in SCUBA diving, air space means it takes lead weight to make it sink. So my housing weights in at 16 pounds. Thats OK for a boat dive but makes it hard from the beach in any kind of surf. Lots of trade offs to concider
     
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #18
    You really, really want to develop your technique near home. Don't expect your first few days of UW photos to be any good at all. It takes some time and you need to because famiar with the camera and how the focaus and flash work. So get one and do at least a half dozen dives near your home where it is not costing you $100 a minute to be under water

    If you really are going to only shoot a few dives a year then RENT a camera. Get a purpose made UW reantal camera like a Sea and Sea.

    For the once a year UW shooter, here are some tips

    1) Get closer
    2) Get even closer, We are takling feet and inches not yards.
    Minimize the amount of water between the lens and the subject by using a wide angle lens. Zoom full wide and leave it there and then get close.
    3) Have good buoyancy control. Can you do slow accents and docents without moving? Can you swim backwards with both hands on the camera and eye on the viewfinder. Best to work on this near home
    4) It's hard to keep track of a buddy when you have your head in a viewfinder.
    5) if you think you are close enough move in another 25%
    6) Get a good tether. Stainless bolt snaps on each end, none of those plastic clips or retractors.
    7) be paranoid about your o-rings. One grain of sand or a hair in the seal can flood a camera. Turns it into a $1K pile of junk real quick. You need good light and a clean environment to inspect and service an o-ring
    8) be careful about what part of the animal you are focusing on. DOF when you are real close and using wide f-top is shallow. The eye needs to be sharp. Focus is the #2 beginner issue. they make blurry images by lack of attention to details.
     
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #19
    That's good. One more function. Many ports for SLRs have a geared system that allows you to control the focus and zoom rings by turning knobs on the outside of the port. They need to be custom fit to each lens

    About the optical shape. Domes are for wide angle work and flat ports are for macro work.

    Before you select a housing brand look at the port system, some brands are more flexible and offer more options.
     

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