Underwater Camera Advice

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by EASmithV, Mar 8, 2009.

  1. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Hey, I'm planning on learning to SCUBA in the not-that-distant future, and naturally I will need a camera to function in aquatic environments. A Google search lead me to the Nikonos series of cameras, and I'm thinking about getting a Nikonos V and loading it with some sort of Fujichrome.

    Those of you who have experience with these things, are there important things to know about quirks in the camera's design, suggested setups, or am I wasting my time and should be looking at something else?
     
  2. mudman

    mudman Member

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    Depending on how deep your photographing, you're going to need to get the dedicated flash to go with it.
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    How much are you intending to use it?
    It would probably be cheaper to rent the outfit for a once or twice a year outing than buying it.
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Shoot color negative for more flexibility. Chromes underwater are great, but demand the most technical skill.

    As suggested, rent first to make sure this is the rig you really want.
     
  5. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I'll disagree with the rent first advice, simply because even a Nikonos V is pretty cheap these days. Be careful when selecting a flash, some are huge.
     
  6. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    FWIW, I bought a slightly less expensive fixed-lens underwater camera for snorkeling use, and found myself wishing I'd spent the extra money for a Nikonos. Scale focussing underwater is just not a winning proposal.

    The scuba folks generally recommend that you get quite a lot of diving experience before taking a camera down with you, by the way. There are a lot of fiddly details to keep track of, some of them of life-and-death importance, and you don't want any additional distractions until all that stuff has become second nature.

    -NT
     
  7. DBP

    DBP Member

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    The Nikonos is scale focusing too, and not too hard once you get the hang of it.
     
  8. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I stand corrected. I had always thought the later Nikonoi were SLRs.

    Well, in that case, I don't wish I'd sprung for the Nikonos, I just think estimating distances in the water is a big pain in the butt. Also, the @#)&$ fish move! :smile:

    -NT
     
  9. thommac

    thommac Member

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    I do quite a bit of diving and can only recommend that you get a lot of experience diving before you start serious underwater photography.
    Even when diving with an experienced "buddy" you need to have a great deal of situational awareness, which can be diluted by photography.

    Get the experience diving first, do a photography course, most scuba training organisations provide them, learn the camera above water and then take to the water in the knowledge that you're prepared.


    And always remember
    Plan the dive and dive the plan
     
  10. mudman

    mudman Member

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    DBP - I thought the Nikonos was a rangefinder? They did release the RS for a short period of time which was an AF version.
     
  11. mudman

    mudman Member

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    bump to find out if the Nikonos V is a rangefinder or Scale focus.
     
  12. lonelyboy

    lonelyboy Member

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    Hi, I am using a Nikonos V for the past 8 years. You need to estimate the focus base on your experience.

    The best book about Nikonos V is from Jim Church. You can search through internet.

    You can come to my website below and all underwater photos are taken by Nikonos with Ektachrome.
     
  13. Galah

    Galah Member

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    Why not try a disposable?

    With reference to underwater photography, I noticed at our local Woolworths store, Fuji disposable underwater cameras for sale (with built in flash) available for about Aus$10-00, warranted for up to 10 meters.

    I imagine these would have simple "fixed focus" lenses (say, 1 meter to infinity), so focus isn't a problem.

    Its not a Hasselblad, so what? At least you get an idea of the parameters involved in underwater shooting and it costs practically nothing to try!:smile:
     
  14. manfishmatt

    manfishmatt Member

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    Underwater advice

    The Nikonos line are great cameras. The Nikonos V, with a Nikonos 15mm lens, and 15mm viewfinder attachment (the Nikonos V is a range finder camera), and a u/w strobe is an excellent set up. There are a few things to be aware of with the Nikonos cameras. One is that it is possible to twist off the lens underwater which will totally flood the camera. So you want to be careful not to let the camera get bumped around or be grabbed by the lens. They are also nice for beginning divers because they are small and you can lanyard it to your wrist leaving your hands free.

    That being said you can probably pick up a relatively inexpensive housing for several different cameras, some of which are very compact. I have two Nikonos III's (earlier version of the V) that I use free diving but I often use my Nikon N90 in an Aquatica housing with a Nikon 20mm lens, and a strobe. There are several different lenses that can be used with the housing and only require different port extensions to allow proper focusing (unless you want to shoot macro then there is a flat port option). I recommend using a housing made of aluminum. Manufactures such as Aqautica, Sea and Sea, SeaCam, and Subal all make/made quality housings from aluminum.

    Whatever you use you will want light, ie a strobe (or two). Natural light gets filtered very quickly by water. Within the first 15ft most of the red spectrum is gone and you will need an artificial light source to bring back the "natural" color of things. You brain does a pretty good job of compensating for the loss of the red part of the spectrum so without additional light your images will not look as you see them.

    Above all being a good diver will allow you to be a better underwater photographer. I hesitate to recommend when you should start bringing a camera during your dives. Some people are very comfortable and good in the water and can begin shooting right away while others may need to get a few more dives under their belt first. It is all dependent on your skills.

    I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, ask away.

    Cheers

    Matt