Blog I live under water
Underwater photography - part. 3

Underwater photography? It’s easy! Part 3

As promised in our previous guide, today we will be sharing a few words about underwater camera housings.

Housings are available for every type of camera including compact cameras, mirrorless cameras, and DSLRs. For compact cameras, there is rarely much to wonder about, because the best choice in housing for any particular model is most often what the camera’s manufacturer offers for it. But when it comes to mirrorless cameras, there is a much wider range to choose from, as a lot of aftermarket housings are available in addition to original manufacturer’s — the same applies to DSLRs. Before we go any further, it is important to take note that every camera housing is built specifically for, and only fits a single model of camera. Also, not every camera has a waterproof housing available for it — so before you buy a camera, make sure that a housing that meets your needs is available for it.

What is important when choosing a housing? Above all, the depth to which it can take your camera — usually housings are tested to about 40m. More advanced enclosures, not to mention more expensive ones, will allow you to take your camera to depths of even 100 meters. Also look at what functions on your camera you can still operate while the housing is in place. Not all housings always give you access to all the buttons and switches on your camera, although often times they do. Another important thing to take notice of is what kind of lens port the housing has: it can be flat or domed. You need to choose the correct lens port for the type of lens that you would like to use.

If you already have a camera and housing, the last, but not least important, thing you need is a light. We could talk about this topic forever, because at its core: photography is all about light. This is why a good light is an extremely important — if not the most important — part of your equipment. This is not to say that you cannot take photos without a camera light — after all, you take pictures all the time on land without any kind of special light, just taking advantage of light from the sun. Similarly, you may not need any special lighting when taking photos of a dive site that is only a few meters underwater. That said, having the option to use additional light will never hurt — it can even come in handy at a small depth.

The deeper you dive, though, the more and more natural light disappears. If you know that you will need an external light source, or if you want to buy one just to play it safe, then again you are met with a whole range of possible solutions, among them are 2 major categories: momentary flashes and permanent lights. Usually in deeper dives you will already have a source of light with you, but it is not recommended to use this for photography — these lights are often high-powered and focused in a small area, and may overexpose your images.

Before going on any dive, you should always take into consideration your diving skill and knowledge. Buoyancy, BCD or drysuit control, and control of measuring instruments are very important issues because after all, our safety depends on them. It is also important to discuss your plans with your diving partner. It’s good that they know that you will be taking pictures underwater and it is worth discussing your plans with them when setting up the dive. Your partner can be your watchman, but they certainly will not operate your tools for you.

Before you go underwater, check how your camera works – the user manual can be quite helpful, especially since the camera likely has a lot of functions. You had to learn how to use your diving equipment, and now you get to start all over again with your camera.

Before you rush into the Red Sea or another interesting dive site with your brand new camera equipment, be sure to first test your housing in freshwater. Check that is is properly closed and not allowing any water to seep inside and onto the precious camera. You do not want to flood your camera, and especially not with saltwater. After diving, always rinse the housing well in with clean, freshwater and dry it thoroughly before opening it.

Grzegorz Stemler

I’ve been diving since 2012 when I got my first OWD certificate. From the very beginning I would take my camera underwater to get used to its presence. The photos I took back then were not intended for publication, although I happened to do a photo show for my fellow divers, e.g. from the trips to Egypt or Macedonia. The photography has been with me for a very long time, when I got my first camera. I mainly took photos related to travelling, landscapes, people, sometimes events. Mostly photos to be ‘put in the drawer’. Qualifications: OWSI PADI diving instructor,  underwater photography instructor.

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