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Thread: Searching for a digital camera and housing....Help!!!

 


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    fins's Avatar
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    Searching for a digital camera and housing....Help!!!

    I've just begun the process of searching for a digital camera and housing.
    My initial budget is around $600 - $800. So far I have been looking at the following combinations:

    1. Nikon Coolpix 4300 with Fantasea CP4 Pro housing
    2. Canon S400 with DC800 housing
    3. Olympus C750 with PT-018 housing

    My goals for this purchase:

    1. Find a solid digital camera that I can use on land and be happy with the scope of features. (I am a sometimes serious amatuer photographer. Current gear includes a Minolta 7xi with a myriad of lenses)

    2. Find a digital camera and housing that would allow me to start the underwater photography adventure without the need to purchase external strobes etc.

    3. Find a digital camera and housing that would allow me to add external strobes etc. as I get more serious about underwater photography

    Any help you could provide, suggestions for other hardware, hardware to stay away from etc. would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

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    So far so good

    I know the CoolPix is a great camera in & out of the water. I am sure the other two are just as good as well.
    The one thing is you will probably want to get a strobe as I know for me in the colder green waters once I get down 30 ft, my pics have very little light and I need a strobe...

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    RiverRat's Avatar
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    I've been looking into the Oympus C5050 (5 mp) and PT-015 case.
    You can get the camera on Ebay for around $400.00 - $500.00 as a refurb with warranty and the case for about $150.00 About $550.00 - $650.00 to get started.
    Seems like a popular combo, gonna do more research on this myself.
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    Sealife Digital DC310 PRO w/Strobe

    I have a Sealife DC310 Pro unit and love it. Has all the features I want except a wide angle lens (Will be available soon) & takes great pictures below & above the water. Waterproof to 200' & the o-rings a permanantly mounted to the camera and don't require lube. Cost for the entire unit is in the $600 to $750 range depending on the accessories such as macro lenses. Here is a picture I took this weekend while diving with the Manatees in Florida. Picture was reduced from 1024 X 768
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    Have you ruled out the Oly C-5050? I don't know about the flexibility of the others but the 5050 will fit everything you're looking for.

    1. Find a solid digital camera that I can use on land and be happy with the scope of features. (I am a sometimes serious amatuer photographer. Current gear includes a Minolta 7xi with a myriad of lenses)
    The 5050 has some amazing features. You can use them or not. It's easy to use in Program mode and the transition to full manual control is smooth. It can handle anything you need it for.

    2. Find a digital camera and housing that would allow me to start the underwater photography adventure without the need to purchase external strobes etc.
    Again, I have no personal experience with the others but the Oly cameras have a very intense internal flash, making great photos possible without an external strobe. To see what I mean, look at Gilligan's photos.

    3. Find a digital camera and housing that would allow me to add external strobes etc. as I get more serious about underwater photography
    5050 again! There are a couple different ways to add strobes to the PT-15. I much prefer a manual strobe with fiber optic connection. Simple and dependable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dee
    5050 again! There are a couple different ways to add strobes to the PT-15. I much prefer a manual strobe with fiber optic connection. Simple and dependable.

    Dee -
    Is there someplace that describes the various other options for connecting a strobe to the PT-15 and/or highlights the advantages/disadvantages of each approach? One of the nice things about having a birthday in February is that I don't have to wait long before accessorizing my Christmas presents!!

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    <snip>
    "Find a solid digital camera that I can use on land and be happy with the scope of features. (I am a sometimes serious amatuer photographer. Current gear includes a Minolta 7xi with a myriad of lenses)"

    I have a couple of comments.
    First...there are plenty of "solid" digital cameras available in your price range..and you proabaly won't go wrong with any of them. Just check the housing availability and reliability prior to making your choice.

    Second...if you remotely consider yourself a "serious amateur photgrapher" (even if it is only sometimes ) you will NEVER EVER EVER come close to the capabilites and flexibility of your 35mm SLR.....especially on the surface....at least in the realm of the point & shoots that are in your stated price range. I say that because when you factor in shutter response (i.e. shutter lag), limited aperture (f8 is the best I can get? You gotta be sh*tting me!!)...etc...etc...I could go on for hours! But I won't.

    The way I look at it is I shoot my surface stuff using my SLR (Canon EOS ELAN 7E if you care) and purpose-bought a digital point&shoot (OLY 5050z) for mainly U/W use. Most of the stuff you will shoot U/W will be close range...very close range. On the surface you (or at least I) generally shoot from close to infinite (I like street photography...but feel I am at my best with landscape or action) which require specific lenses and a lot more aperture/shutter capability than the 5050 (or other models you are considering) will ever dream of handling.

    Having said that...if you are feeling flush the outstanding new digital Rebel and the pro versions of the Canon SLR digital range are KILLER (Nikons ain't bad either) and a worthy consideration for replacing your Minolta 35mm system...or my Canon for that matter. BUT...and a big BUT....your budget would only buy you about two-thirds of a DSLR body...let alone any lenses!

    Ok...my brief post turned into a rant! Sorry about the hijack! My summary opinion is that whatever you buy for U/W use should do the job in your price range...just don't expect Ansel Adams surface results. Although...it is the photographer...not the tool!

    Here a a couple of surface shots with my 5050. Note that even with the compression the quality is MUCH better close up...IMHO. If you look at the distance shots you will note the softness the further out towards infinity. Mid-apertures like f8 will do just fine for close range DOF....but the falloff in landscape is terrible. BTW...the blurring of the tram was on purpose.
    I hope something out of this run-on is helpful to you!
    Ted
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    Dee -
    Is there someplace that describes the various other options for connecting a strobe to the PT-15 and/or highlights the advantages/disadvantages of each approach?
    I don't think so, at least I've never seen one. What I had in mind was:

    the simple fiber optic system like my S&S uses....a fiber optic cable attached to a collar ring on the strobe on one end and to a velcro patch that holds it in place over the internal flash while at the same time blocking the Int. flash to avoid backscatter on the other end. The Inon also uses this system with no velcro patch but a new system that blocks the internal flash and holds the FO cable in place. Gilligan can explain this better as it's what he's now using.
    Pro's - it's a simple, uncomplicated system. If I decide during the dive I want to use the internal flash, all I need to do is remove the hook side of the velcro patch.
    Con's - Although I have never had the problem, some have reported that the velcro patch occasionaly comes lose.

    Then there's the Ikelite system that doesn't use a fiber optic cable but a seperate sync cord and sensor that is aimed at the internal flash. The strobe also requires a controller and the whole system is a bit more involved than the other two. TedJ or others could explain this system better than I can. Pro's - a secure sync cord connection with the possibility of TTL exposures.
    Cons' - from what I've read, the aiming sensor isn't always stable enough to stay in place. The necessary arms system to hold it and the controller make the rig more complicated to set up. To be fair, I don't have an Ikelite strobe system and those I have used have already been set-up for me.

    Basically that's the two options most of us use. I'm not sure if all three of these can be used on all housings or not, especially the Ikelite. But again, someone who uses the system can explain it.

    edited to add pro's and con's
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    I think Dee has given a good explanation of the alternatives. I also use the fiber optic cable with the S&S YS90DX. I don't care for the velcro patch approach but that's what we're stuck with. INON's attachment system is substantially better and given that the YS90DX may be discontinued the INON strobes probably offer a better alternative at this time, IMHO. There are also other reasons for favoring them as described elsewhere in these threads. Do a search over the last month or so and you'll find quite a few.
    TEdJ
    Nikon D70, Subal Housing, INON Z240s, shoot mostly 10.5 fisheye, recently acquired Canon HF20 video rig.


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    Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who responded to my questions.

    I looked into the 5050 as many of you recommended and am I glad I posted here before making a purchase. After reading the specs and additional reviews of the 5050 and the pt-015 I went ahead and ordered both today.

    I think I'll wait a few months before ordering the strobe. If I tried buying that now my wife would probably beat me over the head with it

    Anyway...thanks again for all your help

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