Underwater Photography Article Center

i-Torch with their sub-brands Venom and FishLite, has been making lights for many years now. Located in Hong Kong and distributed through i-Torch Canada, owner Kelvin Lee has produced innovatively designed lights that are a good value with their quality design, output and beam strength.

This year they brought out the I-Torch v25 FishLite. At first we thought it was an update to their older and popular V24 light, but in actuality if was a new product somewhere between their more expensive Pro6+ light and the V24. With the same 2800 lumen output, and adjustable white and red output, it also has the same size as the Pro6+, only lacking the purple color used for fluorescence photos. Most divers don’t miss this and they don’t miss the higher $450 price of the Pro6+ either.
Long a major manufacturer of high-quality underwater strobes, Sea & Sea turned the world on it’s ear a few years ago with the introduction of the YS-D1 underwater strobe. Small, very powerful and adjustable, it's become a standard for many photographers. Recently Sea & Sea released a revised YS-D2 strobe model.
Underwater housings do several things besides the obvious of keeping the water away from your precious camera. They also protect from pressure, allow you to use camera controls, allow for different lens ports and gearing, and also hold other accessories like lighting in a complete system that you can swim with in an underwater environment. It is important to remember that they are only a part of that overall system and you need to take a holistic system approach when shopping for one.
Deciding on an underwater photography system to buy doesn’t have to be a bewildering experience. Cameras come in many different shapes and sizes, some are great for underwater use, some are not. Knowing the basic characteristics and classes of cameras and housings can help organize your choices. Then your personal preferences and budget can help narrow it down further to your best options.
The new Olympus MZ ED 7-14 f/2.8 PRO and MZ ED 8mm FE PRO lenses are very popular. They are sharp, fast, well-made and open up new abilities to shoot underwater in low light (see our reviews here and here). There are a number of ways to house these new lenses depending on how you shoot, or what dome ports and parts you might already own.
Last year I shot the Sony A7 in a Nauticam housing (review here). It seemed like it might be the future realized: a full-frame sensor, mirrorless camera, full of the latest technological advances. There was a huge buzz and it looked like it really might be the advanced photographer’s dream system; powerful, small and light with all the quality, sharpness, low-light and dynamic range (shades of color, particularly in the highlights and shadows) capabilities that a full-frame camera brings to the table.
In short, the 10Bar snoot with laser pointer is a big winner. It was so popular on my trip that another guest bought it from me to use for the rest of her vacation, and I ordered a replacement as soon as I returned home.

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?

Although I had a lot of high-priced cameras along on my Solomon Islands trip, I also decided to take along the less expensive and friendly Canon G7X compact and the Fantasea G7X housing. The Canon G7X has had a lot of play in photo news sources as a “G16 replacement” and answer to the popular Sony RX-100.

The Canon G7X sports the same sort of 24mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8 lens, and large 1” sensor that should give it the image quality of m4/3rds cameras, and a competitor to the the Panasonic LX-100 and other similar high-end compact cameras. I wanted to get a feel for how it stacked up.

Then I tried a Panasonic LX-100 out. I was impressed by it’s super sharp and fast Leica f/1.7 lens and large 1 inch sensor. The camera has direct controls for ISO, notably lacking in the Sony RX100, and a unique and intelligent way you can switch into auto aperture or shutter speed simply by moving their dials to the end of the settings. No mode dial necessary.

The Olympus TG-4/TG-3 Cameras have a robust selection of flash modes. Generally all you have to do is put the camera in auto/forced flash mode, but on some strobes TTL won’t sync with these settings. Fortunately Olympus has provided an alternative sync mode that does seem to work. To access it you must first enable it, then select it from the flash settings. It is best used in Program or Aperture camera modes. Here's how to set it up...

One Camera, One Lens -
An Ascent from Desperation.

I’m just back from a 10 day live aboard dive trip to the Solomon Islands. I had packed 5 different cameras and systems to do a round table of testing and comparing in order to write some practical reviews.

As usual, I spent time going over each camera system making sure I had packed all the necessary batteries, chargers, lenses and attachments. All was reasonably packed into two cases. One was carried aboard and my Seahorse hard case and dive bag/clothes checked. With everything spread out the day before, I tried to balance their weights, airline requirements for lith-ion batteries, etc. What I didn’t do was to make sure that essential chargers, batteries and mounts were all packed together with each camera. Oops.

I recently had the opportunity to dive the latest revise of the venerable Olympus Tough TG line up, the TG-4. This camera is nearly identical to last year’s TG-3, with the addition of capturing RAW files, an additional underwater HDR scene mode and a few software tweaks.
I had brought it along on a whim with a raft of much more powerful cameras. But most of them were delayed when I had to make a fast transfer of flights. So for the first few days of my Solomon Islands trip I relied on it and the Olympus E-M1 I had in my carry on.