One of the observations of my recent dive trip was “You don’t buy the right dive kit first time ... it’s always the second one that’s right” I started with a 2002 vintage Pentax optio 430RS – which was 18 months old and made redundant by my purchase of a DSLR. I bought a housing and put it to use underwater. Not a great experience.
I went to cameras underwater’s web site and the only compacts I could find which ticked all the boxes were Canons (Pentax no longer do housings, Sony, Fuji, Olympus use daft memory, Casio batteries are proprietary, some Nikons use AAs but, it seems, not the ones with housings); with the 570IS looking the best with 7MP, 4x zoom, image stabilization and an underwater mode. (I got mine from AJ Electronics – who are currently quoting £114, for UK sourced product – when I bought ,it was £140 shipped, with £50 back from Canon)
The housing I imported from a company called Aiko trading for $199 US. I don’t shoot many Macros and the Canon focuses closer than Pentax did anyhow. I’d seen the Inon fish eye converter and wanted that to solve the wide angle issue – it promises huge depth of field and very close focusing too. I went with Aiko because they could supply the lens ($359) and the mounting kit for it ($75) as well as Canon’s housing. With shipping and import duty the extra bits cost about £370 (dwarfing the £90 the camera cost).
A purpose designed alternative would be Sealife’s DC600, but it’s less convenient out of the water, doesn’t support SDHC (high capacity) and costs more than the Canon + housing. It has a cheaper (though not as wide) wide angle converter but no Inon mounting kit. The Dive operator I was with last week rents out the Sealife, which suggests it’s reliable and easy to get on with (its buttons are easier to work with “fat fingers”)
I was worried that I had joined the “all the gear and no idea” brigade with all these bits, but the proof is in the pictures. They do need some tweaking afterwards (for contrast, and white balance - I’m going to try a magic filter at some stage). None of these pictures (or the one I posted earlier) would have been possible with my old set-up. So I’m happy. Not that I'd recommend other people buy the same - your mileage (or depth) WILL vary, but for anyone trying choose a camera that should give and idea of criteria to consider.
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