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Thread: Newbie Underwater Shooter

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Deep Deep in the sea

    Default Newbie Underwater Shooter

    hi hi,

    well i just started diving and is very interested in underwater photography.

    but im a total idiot when coming to buying camera.

    been surfin lately for a suitable camera which have a original or compatible underwater housing.

    Can anyone recommend any good camera that is suitable for underwater shooting? most will be close up shots as landscaping shots underwater will have very blurr effect.


  2. #2


    hi, you can follow/post at this thread....a group of CS members into underwater photography.

  3. #3


    Well, if you're just starting out, it would'nt be a good idea to load yourself with too much tasks underwater.

    Hence, it would be better to start with something that is easily handled - something small - probably no external strobes for the moment.

    I've used Olympus, seen Sony, heard about Canon.

    These 3 are by far the most popular because the underwater casings are cheap comparatively - in the range of $300 +- $50.

    I used a C3030 and switched to a C40 - because of size. Both have produced really nice photos.

    Some of my friends use Sony and their photos are not too bad either.

    The Canon A80 would be one of the best options. IMHO.

    Olympus - If you were to go for the 50x0 series, it's gonna be rather huge. One handed operation is not really that easy.

    Olympus housings also utilise a diffuser to soften the harsh flash. They also have a counter weight included to make the housing (with camera) more neutrally bouyant. (I'm not too sure about other housings)

    I'm using the C40 which is really petite and I love it. But I don't think they sell it anymore. Some features are missing in the C50. C40 uses the Smartmedia which is becoming obselete. So, this won't be a suggested pick.

    Sony uses the memory stick which is one of the most expensive memory format.

    Canon uses the Compact Flash which is great - cheap, huge capacities available, common, etc. The A80 is really impressive. Rotating LCD, AA, CF1, Budget Priced, Housing up to 40m, 4Mega. You should look this one up. If my c40 were to die on me, this might be my next choice.

    If you wish to upgrade to external strobes, you can simply purchase the Sea & Sea strobes and arms. Some are designed to suit digital camera use. But they do cost a lot - about $1K. These can be used with any of the camera and their casings mentioned above.

    The casing from the original manufacturers usually lets you go down to about 30 to 40m max. If you need something deeper, the Olympus range (C50x0), being more popular with underwater divers - has a whole range of 3rd party housings from Light & Motion and Ikelite. These let you go really deep.

    Some advise I had from Experts:
    - Shoot upwards (photos will not be so flat)
    - If you think you're near enough, get even closer.
    - Improve your buoyancy control - Save the Reef.
    - Stop eating shark fin and turtle soup :-) I've yet to see a shark and turtles are sometimes hard to spot :-)

    Read this site for Good Underwater Photography Tips

    It's hard to get a good dive buddy. It's even harder to find a good dive buddy who also takes underwater photography. (Yet to find one)

    So chances of finding some here are relatively high. As pointed out, try the thread to see if you can find a kaki.

    If you're looking for a good dive shop, I can recommend my friend @ Trekkers.
    Trekkers Website

    They are a great bunch of guys and gals. Very outdoor kind. If you like, you can give them a try or just drop by the shop for a peek.
    Last edited by pit; 31st October 2003 at 02:13 PM.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by lovells19

    hi hi,

    well i just started diving and is very interested in underwater photography.

    but im a total idiot when coming to buying camera.

    been surfin lately for a suitable camera which have a original or compatible underwater housing.

    Can anyone recommend any good camera that is suitable for underwater shooting? most will be close up shots as landscaping shots underwater will have very blurr effect.

    I wld recommend either the Canon A80/A70 or the Oly 5050. The oly has more "pro" functions, a fast (f2.0?) lens and very good macro capability - sufficient to take nudibranch, hermit crabs, cleaner shrimp etc - without needing to add on a macro lens & attachment. The canons are quite a bit cheaper, lower noise and smaller. However, the macro capability is not half as good.

    One impt factor for u/w usage is long battery life cos you don't want to keep opening the housing in between dives to change batteries and risk compromising the o-ring seals. The above canons and oly 5050 use 4xAA and can easily last 3 whole dives. Stay away from the sonys and the canon S45/S50- the battery life is quite pathetic.

    The canon housings for A70 and A80 are rated to 40m and have diffusers, so they are pretty much on par with the oly housing. If you have about $1.5k to spare, go for the Oly, otherwise $800 can get you the A70 and housing.

    Underwater wide angle shots are difficult - for one, you need strobe(s) and you usually have fast moving animals which are hard to capture.

    Don't forget good bouyancy and diving skills. For safety sake, it is advisable for new divers to clock up more dives and gain more experience before bringing an u/w cam along.

    For me, i have found that taking photos has really improved my knowledge of the sea creatures - compare pix with photos in fish book to identify the species!!

  5. #5


    alternatively, do a search and see the photos taken by various digital cams (DC). If anything, at least they can provide some inspiration. For great C5050 pics, goto

    As for whether to buy 3mp, 4 , 5 or even 6 mp, i think it is not so much a consideration becos we seldom blow our pics bigger than 8R. go with your budget. There are some cheap second hand avail at CS. Also, U ought to consider the accessories available for each housing and DCs, like macro and wide angel lens; on top of battery life and storage medium. Personally, I agree with the suggestion of getting a rig that uses compact flash.

    As far as it goes, the C-5050 is really the "undisputed" non-DSLR DC for underwater photography.

    For real entry level , get the canon A70. If can afford, get the C-5050.

    PS: If you are getting the C-5050, buy the C-5050 second hand here because I see a lot of sellers out there.

    If I were to buy a DC for underwater use now, I would seriously consider either Olympus C-5050 or the C-750 (becos of the 10X optical zoom). The 10X zoom will be extremely useful for land shots too!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Deep Deep in the sea


    Woah thanks for the advice!

    I used to be using a Sony P1. but the Quality was so so.. and the upgrading on sony is really too ex..

    I did some research.. but i couldn't decide on Canon or Olympus. Oly has always been my choice.. canon is abit too pro and abit over my budget.

    those that are experience underwater photographer, would you get oly c750?
    as from my little experiences i notice that only pictures of close up or in shallow waters are better without needs of alternation.

    10x optical zoom may seem abit too much.. but it'll be great out of water.


  7. #7


    hi there

    some pics taken from C-5050 to drool off

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Kitten's Den

    Default About the Olympus C-5050

    There is no question about the C5050 being very popular for diving.

    A good set of manual control, fast f/1.8 lens, good battery life, and a relatively cheap casing are its strong areas. There is also a good range of add ons like wide angle lens and external strobes available for the C-5050. There are a lot of mention of the good things by the others, so I won't repeat those. I'll highlight the not so good things, and less heard about things instead :

    1) The response of the camera is quite slow, it is a problem underwater, and gets quite bad on land. Try to shoot an cat (or dog) at play, review the picture, go back to shooting mode, shoot again, and then review. You'll soon get the idea. It is the biggest problem I have with it, and the figures posted on web didn't really highlight this issue. Of course, there are ways to work within these limits, but this one really bugs me.

    2) The size of the underwater housing is rather large, so you should be quite comfortable underwater to use it, and you'll need to put some serious attention to storage and protection while travelling with it.

    3) The lens adaptor blocks out the viewfinder and the flash partially so the viewfinder is pretty much useless. For underwater use, this is not that much of a problem, as you'll be using the LCD exclusively, and without the lens adaptor mounted.

    4) It is quite an expensive camera, so if you flood it, it is much more of an heartache. It is also a substancial investment to start with.

    5) If you are not very serious into underwater photography, and don't intend to buy all those strobes etc, additional accessory available is not going to be very useful. The ton of controls on the camera might put you off too........

    So am I saying that this is a camera that you should give a miss?

    No, it depends on what you need. If you are serious about uw water photography, has good bouyancy control, and intend to have a camera almost dedicated to uw photography, this is a great camera.

    If you are an occasional diver, or just intend to catch some shots underwater, or need a camera for both land and water use, do seriously consider other alternatives.

    IMO, if you are not sure of the level of involvement in uw photography you'll be in, and if you happen to already own a camera that has a uw housing available, go get that casing for your camera and try with that first. That will give you an opportunity to evaluate what you really need for a underwater camera, including what you need and what limitation a camera has. At the same time, take a look at what others has, what complains they have about their camera, what they like about it etc.

    BTW, 5060 is already available in Singapore. Do take a look at that one too.

  9. #9


    Oh yes, I was gonna get to the C5060.

    In my opinion, if you are on a budget, pick the A80. If you can afford it or will use it quite often, you should take a look at the c5060.

    The most exciting part about the c5060 is the housing for the external flash.

    They will be coming out with a housing just for the flash and it lets you take pictures using TTL. This is gonna take out a lot of the guessing work with flash power settings on the Sea & Seas.

    It is also more cost effective. The flash + housing would most likely be very much cheaper than a digital strobe rig. In addition, you can use the flash on land as well.

    I' ve been thinking - why haven't they done anything like that...and now they did. Whoa !

    To add to everything, there's also a wide angle adapter for the wide angle lens - this you can also use on land. Thats' really dual purpose and value for money.

    Here's some pics:

    PT-020 - Camera Housing

    PFL-01 - FL20 Flash Housing

    PPO-02 - CLA-7 Wide Angle Lens Housing


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