6-Step Guide How to Improve Your Underwater Images

When one decides to go “hunting” for subjects underwater, he must bare in mind several crucial setting of the waterproof digital camera and how to squeeze most of the moment. The laws of physics underwater differ from the ones on the ground pretty much. Therefore here I have listed several most important settings of the camera and useful hints every underwater photographer should check before he/she submerges under the water surface.

1. Underwater Mode

Every waterproof digital camera has at least one underwater mode. This is the most important setting to handle white balance (WB) correctly. As you might know, the colors of the visible spectrum are absorbed in the water differently. The red color is absorbed very quickly, it penetrates only about 0.5 m underwater. For instance, the blue goes much more deeper, several dozens of meters. That’s the reason why the sea seems blue when you are looking at great depths of near the horizon underwater.

It’s also important that you don’t forget to switch back to normal mode when you get return from water, since all the images taken on the ground using “Underwater Mode” seems reddish – again, with respect to the different physics of light under and above the water.

2. Get Close to the Subject

If you would like to take a portrait of fish or any other creature, you need to approach as close as you can. I know there are many species which are scared of human divers and you should invest more time and nerves capturing these ones, but if you do it correctly, the result will pay-off. If you’re in doubts about spending the whole dive time just for a photo of one sneaky fish, ask yourself the question: “Do I want one great shot of the rare subject of full memory card of snapshots when I return to surface?”

3. Use Flash for Macro Shots

In the most situations an additional source of light is more than welcome underwater, because of the absorption (discussed above). Therefore you should use the flash to illuminate your fish. There is a lot of plankton in the water and small dirties, so the flash should be used just for short distances – let’s say in general up to several feet (1 meter). The backscattering effect (will be discussed in details in one of the following posts) ruins your photos when trying to use the flash for longer distances and for larger sceneries.

So keep in mind, if you like colorful and contrast closeup shots, do not forget to turn on the flash.

4. Choose Easy Subjects

It’s advisable for novices to avoid difficult subjects. There are lot of chances that one gives up because of bad first photos, the result of extremely difficult subject.

5. Sensitivity (ISO) of the Sensor

The ISO sensitivity of the CCD or CMOS sensor of your camera is very much depended on the conditions underwater – which part of the day is, which diving location, how clean the water is, what you are photographing … The general rule is that when you’re using flash and in shallow water on sunshine day you should use lower ISO settings, which decreases noise. On the other hand, when imaging the wreck at 30 meters, you need to choose higher ISO settings (400 and up), otherwise you end up with blurred photos.

6. Be a Good Swimmer or Diver

Last but not the least, you need to be very well balanced and lithe in the water. You should have no troubles with buoyancy. Handling digital camera underwater is way much more difficult than on the ground and without skills you collect during many dives you unfortunately will not be able to take a single shot.

I hope you found this article informative and wish you happy clicking underwater!

PREVIEW: Kodak Waterproof Pocket Video Cameras – Zx3 and Zx5

It’s always fun recording your water and sports activities, right? With these two camcorders from Kodak I am introducing to you today this has never been easier before. Kodak PlaySport Zx3 and PlaySport Zx5 are waterproof Full HD pocket camcorders with a clear and vivid picture you will enjoy to share with your friends. They are sized like a mobile phone so they really fit in hand.

There are not a lot of differences between these two models, but anyway we find some of them pretty important. First of all, Zx5 is waterproof, dust-proof and freeze-proof, while Zx3 is just waterproof. That means Zx5 is more resistant and we can expect slightly better build quality. Anyway, both cameras are waterproof to the same depth – 10 ft / 3 m. That is fairly enough for playing arround in a swimming pool or in shallow water, but forget about diving with these two camcorders. They are simply not meant for it. If you want really good waterproof camera with sturdy case you should consider GoPRO HD Hero cameras. Another difference is that Zx5 has a macro mode, which allows you to get really close to your subject.

Even though both camcorders are primary meant for recording movies, you can also take 5 MP still shots in 16:9 ratio. For the sharpness of the image is responsible Electronic image stabilization, which is not as good as optical image stabilization, but still much better than nothing, right? Talking about software features, the camera has SmartFace tracking technology and when you connect it to your computer you can instantly upload your media to Facebook or YouTube.

Capturing and previewing movies is smooth and easy with vivid 2.0-inch LCD screen. There are three different playback modes for previewing in different circumstances.

There are four different video quality and resolutions available:

  • 1080p @ 30 fps – the Full HD for the best image quality and sharp picture
  • 720p @ 60 fps – HD resolution with 60 fps (frames per second) allows you to create slow motion videos
  • 720p @ 30 fps – standard HD
  • WVGA – when you are running out of space on memory card

Both cams are recording the data to SD/SDHC type of memory cards, which does not come with the camera. Zx5 has also 128 MB of internal memory, but that’s hardly enough for some minutes of recording, so another memory card is a must. It’s also very delightful that the cameras are using removable rechargeable batteries, which mean you can buy additional ones for any case. There is remote control available as well, but does not come with a camera.

Bestsellers in September 2011

The summer is at the end and therefore holidays as well. That is definitely also noticeable in Amazon’s Point & Shoot department. Waterproof digital cameras dropped down from the top ten most popular cameras at the moment. But nevertheless, that does not mean that now is a bad moment for buying waterproof digital camera and I will tell you why. As the season is ending the merchants want to empty the stockpiles and therefore now it’s very likely you will get the camera much cheaper. Definitely it is good to take a look at Amazon and other similar online shops for best prices. And this does not apply just to waterproof digital cameras, but all cameras since in autumn and winter a new cameras are announced. Cameras you buy now are not out of date, they are usually just as good as the successor of the model you are buying. Or sometimes even better since more MPix means smaller pixels and more noise.

Let’s focus now on the bestsellers in September 2011:

1. Panasonic TS3 / FT3

One could expect Panasonic Lumix TS3 / FT3 to be the winner of the summer 2011. Do you remember I have predicted this in my post in June? I won’t repeat the technical details about this splendid waterproof camera once again, check out the review I made and the video on YouTube. Panasonic TS3 is currently placed 13th, which means that it even climed 2 places since August. It’s surely the best time to buy this waterproof digital camera now. The successor (probably Panasonic Lumix TS4 / FT4) comes out in January 2012!

2. Kodak C123 Sport

That was the best cheap waterproof digital camera of the summer 2011. It resisted on the first place among waterproof digital cameras at the peak of the season – July and August. It’s surely handy and all-around waterproof digital camera you can take anywhere with you and let your kids to play around with it. For the price ($60) there’s no need to care a lot, but the image quality is good enough though. I regret a bit I had no time to get this camera in hands this season, but surely I will test this one or the successor the next spring/summer. The cameras ranks still very well, it’s currently 20th most wanted point & shoot camera.

3. Canon PowerShot D10

We have already almost forgotten about this waterproof camera from Canon. There are two years and a half since the release but D10 does not want to leave the top selling cameras in Photo department on Amazon. As Nikon has just lunched their first waterproof digital camera – COOLPIX AW100 – we can just wait for the response from Canon. We at Waterproof Digital Camera Blog are sure that this autumn/winter Canon will come up with totally new waterproof camera that will be difficult to compete with.
PowerShot D10 is currently taking 28th place. You can find preview and details about this camera here: Canon PowerShot D10.

Other popular waterproof digital cameras in September 2011

PREVIEW: Nikon COOLPIX AW100

That is the camera many have been waiting for. Finally the Nikon released waterproof digital point-and-shoot camera and entered the market of small compact cameras that you can use in different environments, inappropriate for regular compact digital cameras. The hearth of COOLPIX AW100 is 16 Mega pixels CMOS sensor which records photos and videos (Full HD 1080 resolution) in superb quality. Seems to you like a tough camera which you can depend on anywhere? Read on …

Overview

Waterproof digital camera Nikon COOLPIX AW100 is “Born to be Extreme”. It is waterproof down to 33 ft / 10 m underwater, you can go skiing and take it with you since it is freeze-proof down to 14 °F. The rugged body is designed the way interior of the camera can easily survive drops from 5 feet. And finally, AW100 successfully deals with dirty and dusty places and still captures clean photos! 16 MP CMOS sensor is great for capturing low-light scenes and fast-action photos which the camera is build for.

There is no doubt that 5x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens takes care for the perfect picture. Life on the road demands orientation, so this camera has build-in GPS and e-Compass. Therefore you can always check where you captured your images using build-in maps. 3-inch large and bright LCD adds some more fun and even easier handling to everything.

The innovative feature of this camera is Action Control. It allows you to control the camera just with shaking it. This way you can change some camera’s settings when you are wearing a gloves or if you need to shoot immediately.

If you want to record someone in action – just go and do it. Or if you would like to record yourself, there are many possibilities of attaching the camera to your gear – bike, snowboard, backpack … Options are endless! The camera will be prepared anytime to capture the scene in Full HD 1080p resolution.

The camera will be available shortly, the MSRP is $379.95, but you can pre-order it on Amazon and get the best price this way.

Technical details

  • Sensor: 16 MP CMOS
  • Lens: 5x optical NIKKOR ED
  • Lens f/number: f/3.9-4.8
  • Image stabilization: yes, lens-shift VR
  • LCD size: 3-inch
  • LCD resolution: 460,000 dots
  • Storage media: SD, SDXC, SDHC
  • Internal memory: 83 MB
  • Sensitivity settings: ISO 125-3200

More about the camera you can find on official Nikon website.

REVIEW: A Diver’s Guide to the Art of Underwater Photography

Recently I read the book A Diver’s Guide to the Art of Underwater Photography, which is written by Andrea & Antonella Ferrari and published by Nautilus Publishing. I would like to share some thoughts about it with you. First of all, I need to be honest; I haven’t read dozens of books like this, but I have flipped through many of them and read a lot on the Internet.

Talking about physical appearance, this book has a pretty odd, ultra-wide format, mainly because of large colorful prints inside. It has 360 pages, which makes it pretty thick, but as soon as you open it you notice that the main content is pictures, not text. I could say the pictures-vs.-text ratio is about 5:1 or even more. Anyone who wants to learn about taking great underwater shots should be very happy about this since an image tells more than 1000 words. If you take a brief overview through the pages, the thematics of the images seems to be put inside randomly, but as soon as you start reading and studying the book more carefully, you notice that every picture is placed there for a purpose and the authors are constantly referring to the case studies in the text. Because of this the reading turns out very interesting; the text is very understandable in its tone.

The book is divided into eight chapters, every one of them leading you to become a better underwater photographer. After a very inspiring introduction, the authors share their knowledge about the equipment, diving, seeking for photographic opportunities, maintaining underwater photography gear, and giving good advice about underwater photography. The book really covers all types of underwater photography, from ultra-wide shots with fish-eye lenses to macro shots.

Two special things I really liked about the book The Art of Underwater Photography are guest photos from guest photographers and a special chapter on point-and-shoot pocket cameras. Every single photo from guest photographers has a detailed description of the subject in the photo, who took it, and technical details (camera, lens, underwater housing, strobes).

The chapter about point-and-shoot waterproof digital cameras explains to the amateur user the basics about the digital camera and its importance when shooting underwater – Megapixels, ISO sensitivity, JPEG or RAW, White balance … And provides seven easy steps on how to take good shots underwater with compacts. This chapter is written by Leon Joubert & Claudia Pellarini-Joubert, two famous underwater photographers.

I have some criticism of the book nevertheless; sometimes it is hard to read since there are images through two or four or even five pages between the text. But when you realize that, it’s not a problem anymore. And the second thing, the paperback seems to be weak.

Overall, I learned a lot of new things and really enjoyed reading The Art of Underwater Photography. It is an excellent book guide because there are lots of examples inside, combined with the necessary theory about underwater imaging. Even if you are not an underwater photographer or you don’t intend to become one, you can still enjoy flipping through the book because the images inside are really fabulous!

On Amazon the book is priced around $60. Take a look also at many great reviews from other readers who bought this book: A Diver’s Guide to The Art of Underwater Photography!

I have some criticism of the book nevertheless; sometimes it is hard to read since there are images through two or four or even five pages between the text. But when you realize that, it’s not a problem anymore. And the second thing, the paperback seems to be weak.

Overall, I learned a lot of new things and really enjoyed reading The Art of Underwater Photography. It is an excellent book guide because there are lots of examples inside, combined with the necessary theory about underwater imaging. Even if you are not an underwater photographer or you don’t intend to become one, you can still enjoy flipping through the book because the images inside are really fabulous!

On Amazon the book is priced around $60. Take a look also at many great reviews from other readers who bought this book:

Most Popular Waterproof Digital Cameras of August 2011

Here they come: the bestselling waterproof digital cameras of August 2011. I’ve checked the bestsellers on Amazon in the Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras department. I have also made also a quick overview of the most popular cameras at this moment. Check it out!

In fact, the winning two models from July are still positioned in the same order. They have just climbed the overall list, which is not astonishing because most of people buy waterproof digital cameras in the summer. I’ll emphasize the best features of the cameras anyway.

1. Kodak EasyShare C123

This model from Kodak keeps its very good sixth place among waterproof digital cameras, just as in July.

  • Extremely good price for the camera you get (Check it now!)
  • 12 MPix sensor
  • 3 different colors (Blue, Red, Gray)
  • Waterproof up to 10 ft. underwater
  • Innovative 3-step sharing system

2. Panasonic Lumix TS3 / FT3

Even though the summer 2011 is coming to an end, this camera is still a good purchase. Now the price will definitely drop, but the camera is absolutely the Panasonic’s pearl of 2011. Don’t believe me? Check out my review. It’s currently placed 15th.

  • 12 MPix rugged waterproof digital camera
  • Waterproof up to 40 ft. (more than any other waterproof camera)
  • 28 mm (eq. 35 mm format) wide lens
  • Superb picture quality – sample shots and video, ISO test
  • You can get it for around $300 – check the price!

Canon PowerShot D10

This is the proof of how good of a camera Canon is capable of producing. Even though PowerShot D10 is practically their only waterproof compact, it still is successful after almost three years of being on the market. This month it knocked out Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 from the third place! Now we found it on 31st place overall.

  • 12.1 Mpix waterproof digital camera
  • 3x optical zoom
  • Image stabilizer
  • Waterproof to 33 ft., shock-proof, freeze-proof, dust-proof

Other popular waterproof digital cameras

Best Waterproof Cameras and Bestsellers of July

It’s July – the hottest month of the year and probably many people are going to vacations now. It’s absolutely a good decision to buy a waterproof camera if you are planning to go somewhere you can capture interesting, colorful and photogenic scenes underwater. Once again I did my best to find interesting and most wanted wateproof point-and-shot digital cameras on market. In this post you will find waterproof digital cameras of July 2011.

Some shuffling has appeared on the bestselling list on Amazon comparing to June. In fact the order of the first three cameras just reversed. Some of the cameras climbed the list and other dropped down. Here is currently the most fresh list of most popular and best waterproof digital cameras:

1. Kodak EasyShare Sport C123

This little one from Kodak jumped from the 40th place last month to 6th place now (blue version, red one is on 13th place)! Kodak really won with this model for the summer 2011. It’s inexpensive, almost anyone can afford a camera priced $65 and it is waterproof up to 10 feet / 3 meters underwater.

It’s quite obvious that this camera is so popular due to low price and pretty good characteristics:

  • 3-step sharing allows you to define the final destination of your pictures and videos to be set in the camera already. When you connect your camera to the PC, is automatically transfers your media to popular social and media sites: Kodak Gallery, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter are just some of them. Or you can set to send the images via e-mail automatically.
  • 2.4″ bright and vivid LCD display
  • 12 MPix CCD sensor which ensures large prints up to 30 x 40 in.
  • camera is waterproof and dustproof
  • many scenes and color modes
  • adjust White Balance underwater, so the colors look natural not not bluish

You can read more about this camera in post from June.

2. Panasonic Lumix TS3

This waterproof digital camera from Panasonic stays on the 2nd place on our list of bestselling cameras and dropped one place on Amazon’s bestselling point-and-shot digital cameras from June (from 17th to 18th place). As we have already mentioned last month, the camera is probably the best decision if you intend to buy a camera that will take good pictures for several years and you would like to use it all over the year, not just in the sea.

I have this camera on the test right now and in a few days (probably the next post) will be a detailed review of Lumix DMC-FT3 / DMC-TS3. I took it to the seaside last weekend and did some magnificent shots underwater, so I can say this camera really rocks from personal experiences! Below you can find a sample shot taken this weekend for the review:

A large crab – sample shot, taken with Panasonic Lumix TS3 / FT3

More about this camera you can read in a review or read about it in this post.

3. Olympus Tough 6020

There is not much more to say about this camera that haven’t been mentioned a month ago. Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 was a winner of month June, but today sits on the 3rd place in the list and it is 20th bestselling camera according to Amazon.

Technical details of this camera from Olympus are the following:

  • 14 Megapixels CCD sensor
  • 5-times optical zoom
  • waterproof up to 10 ft / 3 m and shockproof up to 5ft / 1.5 m, freezeproof (-10 °C / 14 °F), dustproof
  • 1 GB of internal memory
  • dual image stabilization will help you to make sharp images in lowlight conditions
  • you can express your creativity with creative art filters
  • intelligent auto feature automatically detects the scene your are shooting
  • advance face detection can recognize up to 12 faces on your images
  • auto-panorama mode for creating panoramas

Currently priced $165 and we believe that this price will additionally decrease over the summer.

Other popular waterproof cameras in July

Of course there are not just three waterproof cameras selected above. But we can certainly say that they are probably the best decision at time. They are all in different price range and one can pick the one which suits his budget and needs.

Moreover, these cameras also deserve to be mentioned on the list of the best waterproof digital cameras of July 2011:

That’s more or less all for July. These are all waterproof camera to the 100th place on the bestselling list this moment. See you again in this category in August. Till than – go, dive and shoot!

Fujifilm FinePix XP30 Waterproof Digital Camera Preview

Fujifilm FinePix XP30

It’s a nice rugged waterproof digital compact camera. Is the follower of fujifilm’s first outdoor rugged camera the XP10. The body is made from plastic and a bit of metal.The case feels solid and quite heavy for it’s size. The grip is a bit poor and the camera can easily sleep away while underwater. The position of the lens doesn’t help either. It is mounted in the top corner of the camera and the index finger easily sleeps on the lens leaving fingerprints. The lens is really a fingerprint magnet. The way you have to hold the camera is quite uncomfortable. The body comes in 5 colors, blue, green orange, silver, and black.The zoom is very fast and the zoom switch is very good. The motor makes quite a lot of noise bit it’s not such a problem. It can be an annoyance while recording video since it is amplified by the microphone.

The feature Fujifilm is advertising the most is it’s integrated GPS unit. It attaches latitude and longitude coordinates to a picture. In playback you can see the coordinates of the picture and how far from you location it has been taken. The GPS receiving strength is pretty poor. It takes some minutes to acquire a signal on a nice day. It also chews a lot of battery life. Fujifilm also makes the XP20 which is a GPS-less variant of the XP30. The price difference is about 50€ which compared to the price of the XP30 model is not a lot but bare in mind that GPS does not work underwater so it is useless for your underwater pictures.

With waterproofing to a depth of 5 meters the camera can be easily used to take photos during your snorkeling. In the menu we find three underwater shooting modes. There is the standard underwater shooting mode; a wide angle shooting mode which compensates for the distortion that happens with taking pictures under water and a macro mode. Fujifilm recommend a good cleaning and rinsing in fresh water after use in sea water and recommends replacing the camera’s rubber seals annually.

The picture quality fails the camera a bit it does not compare to the non rugged compact cameras. The noise and the  chromatic aberrations can be a pain. But with the conditions underwater it is barely noticeable.

Sample image taken with the camera

The price is very kind and overall is a nice little camera.

The camera features:

  • 14 Mpixel resolution
  • Waterproof up to 5m
  • GPS geotag
  • Image stabilization with sensor shift
  • 5x magnification (28mm-104mm, F3,9-4F,8
  • Shockproof to 1,5m
  • Freezproof to -10°C
  • Dustproof and sandproof
  • Motion panorama
  • 2,7 in LCS with 230,000 pixels
  • HD(720p) movie clips
  • SD memory slot