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Help with DC500 - Dark pictures

Discussion in 'Underwater Photography' started by Crimson Ghost, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. Crimson Ghost

    Crimson Ghost Nassau Grouper

    I have a few questions on my camera – but first a small introduction. I have been lurking on this web site the past couple of months and this is my first post. I am currently taking a NAUI course and I took my written test last night. Next weekend will be the first of my OW tests.

    Anyway, my instructor let me bring my camera into the pool last night. The first thing I realized was that I need weights on it – I can’t deal with it floating. I had the camera set to auto flash and had my strobe turned on. Every picture I took of my classmates came out dark – unless they were directly in front of me at a distance of around 4 feet. But all the shots of greater than 4 feet came out very dark and rather unacceptable. Now, I was thinking is just because I was in a pool and perhaps the white concrete was reflecting the light. But one of the instructors was also taking pictures in that class and all his came out nice….real nice too. What went wrong with my camera? I don’t think I bought a junkie camera so I am sure its me.

    Oh, my wife confirmed that the strobe was working. I'll see if I can attach a sample of one of my pictures.
  2. cjames

    cjames Photographer

    # of Dives:
    Location: Austin, Tx.
    Welcome to the fun filled world of underwater photography! You should check the settings on the camera and make sure they were set for low light photography. That said, one of things you find out is strobes don't go very far underwater.

    My recommendation, bail now before you get hooked like the rest of us junkies (all I need is ONE more picture of that pinnate batfish, that's it and I'm good, oh and harlequin shrimp eating starfish, oh and .....you get the idea) but should you persevere, there is a lot of good beginner stuff on this forum as well as digitaldiver.net and wetpixel.com
  3. trigfunctions

    trigfunctions Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    I have a DC500 and I haven't figured out how to get good pictures with the strobe yet either. Try using it with the onboard flash for a while first. You can get pretty good shots that way. Once you figure that out, start trying to add the strobe.

    You are right about needing a weight - the strobe is very bouyant. Even with the weight on it, it is still very obnoxious becuase the strobe is at the top of the rig and the weight is at the bottom, so the the camera tries to twist upright while you are holding it.

    I e-mailed Sealife with a question once and they answered my question. You might try contacting them for help.
  4. SeaYoda

    SeaYoda Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida Panhandle
    I know nothing about your camera (disclaimer :D) but it sounds like aperture and or shutter speed settings are not right. Does your camera have a manual mode and are you shooting in it? Maybe it has an external strobe "on" setting somewhere. Just guessing at this point - HTH.
  5. Gilligan

    Gilligan Great White

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hawaii & Philippines

    I'm gonna give you my two cents worth so please don't be offended by it.
    Lose the camera for now.
    If I read your post correctly you are not even certified yet. There are many aspects of scuba diving that you are learning and now is not the time for a camera.
    The camera may even be a safety hazard for you.
    I am disappointed with your Instructor for allowing you to have one.
  6. Cecil

    Cecil Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Raymond, NH
    Got to agree with Gilligan there, wait on the camera.

    The problem with your pictures probably was the subjects were out of range. If they were 4' away that is to far without a lot of natural light. You really have to get close, then closer.
  7. MarkH

    MarkH Solo Diver

    Yeah, I'd say you were too far away for the internal strobe. During my open water course, I used a disposeable camera in a ziplock bag. Compared to those pictures, yours must be National Geographic quality.
  8. Dee

    Dee ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: near Houston, Texas
    I must agree....leave the camera out of the mix for now. Concentrate on your diving skills first, your fellow divers and dive buddies will thank you for it! All that stuff will still be there when you do.
  9. Diver Dennis

    Diver Dennis Solo Diver

    I agree too. When you start diving there are too many other safety related things to worry about besides taking pictures. Give it time.
  10. Bbarnes

    Bbarnes Nassau Grouper

    While I have to agree that now is the time to work on diving skills, underwater photography is what keeps me diving. Get a few dives under your belt and then start adding your camera equiptment a little at a time.
    Here are a couple of thoughts about your DC500. I just got back from the Keys last night and got some great pictures with mine. I bought the elite set that includes the digital strobe and the wide angle lens. If you have your camera, housing, wide angle lens and dock, along with the SeaLife weight, your system will be complete and will actually be very close to neutrally buoyant in salt water. When shooting underwater you will need to try to stay 4 foot or less away from your subject in order to get any color in your photos. Do you have the digital or the regular (yellow) strobe? If you have the digital one, try upping your output by turning the dial to the left. I used my diffuser with my older DC310 and regular strobe but found it to cause problems with my digital strobe. I was getting little color and lots of "burn out" in the very top and bottom of the frames. I left the diffuser on the boat, adjusted my strobe level and got great color without much backscatter at all. I would highly recommend getting the sync cord so that your strobe fires at any angle. The best piece of advice for shooting underwater is always, get close and then get closer!!!
    Two other things to check/try. Make sure that if you have a digital strobe that it is set on "0" (inside the strobe head). You could also try setting the camera to cloudy or adjusting the EV settings. Good luck!!

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