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Choose first camera and setup

Discussion in 'Underwater Photography' started by Dreamer17, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. Dreamer17

    Dreamer17 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Morehead City, NC
    35
    1
    8
    Hi everyone! In December I will be going with Jim Abernethy's Scuba adventure for a week to Tiger beach to see some tiger sharks and great hammerheads. As is it a rare experience I really want to capture every moment of it but I think my simple Gopro hero 7 big is not going to suffice. I was thinking of getting a photocamera set to actually get the most of that experience. Would you have any advice on what camera to get and how to set it up? I wouldn't need something extremely professional But want something that will give me great results without spending excessive amount of money.
    Someone told me about the Olympus TG-5 or 6 or the Sony a6000.
    Any suggestions for the camera and strobes?
     
  2. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    2,892
    2,205
    113
    You could always use a GoPro with some video lights or filters as an option to keep it simple. Press record and go. I guess my question is how comfortable and aware are you in the water of your buoyancy, air consumption, etc. A camera adds an extra dimension of task load and I would recommend you be comfortable with those things before going down the path of a rig with strobes, wet lenses, arms/ball mounts/floats, etc.

    With that said, I think a TG5 or 6 is a great first camera that has some growth opportunities without breaking the bank. Should you get a flood and have issues with the o-ring as a first time underwater camera owner, you are not SOL.

    I would suggest the brightest strobes you can afford (higher guide number) that also has a manual option and not just TTL (“automatic”), especially for a camera like the TG which does not have full manual. It will leave you with more creative options, control, and happiness in the long run. Additionally, you will likely have the hardware and strobes even if you upgrade your camera so it doesn’t hurt to futureproof yourself anyway.
     
    Soloist likes this.
  3. FezUSA

    FezUSA Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Hiram, OH, USA
    168
    83
    28
    I have the TG-4, now combined with 2 x Inon S2000's. It is a good system, especially for getting into UW photography. I started with the TG-4 and YS-03 single light package. If going the single light route I would suggest one S2000, then can add a second one later.

    I also have the GPH7 Black that my wife primarily uses. I've done a little video with it and some photo's. Video is definitely its strength, although the pictures with a red flip filter are OK, as long as the subject is more than a foot or so away (it has a WA lens and close focus under a foot is not good). It does better with a 1000 lumen light if the subject is 1-4 feet away. More than 4 feet you'll need more light or adjust post process.
     
  4. Barmaglot

    Barmaglot Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Israel
    631
    241
    43
    Is the "0-24 dives" in your profile accurate? Because if it is, I would caution against building a handled rig for swimming with sharks when you're at <25 dives - if nothing else, it will be highly frustrating as your attention is split between keeping buoyancy, maintaining proper breathing, keeping track of the reef and other divers, and the large camera on top of that. An action camera such as a GoPro, on a small handle or a telescoping stick is really the best choice for a beginner - and as you feel more comfortable in the water, you can put it on a handled tray, add a light or two, and improve your results significantly.

    The Olympus TG-6 is a great macro camera, especially when paired with small strobes such as Inon S-2000, but the wide-angle capabilities of such a setup are somewhat lacking - and shooting large, fast-moving sharks is a scenario that plays to TG-6's weaknesses rather than its strengths.

    Sony A6100 (the replacement of A6000) is a great camera, but consider the cost. Body alone will cost you $750, 10-18mm wide-angle lens $900, pair of Inon Z-330 strobes with ball mounts and batteries about $1400, tray with arms and clamps ~$300-500, SeaFrogs housing with 6" dome $500, vacuum system $120, miscellaneous accessories (memory card, spare batteries, chargers, lanyards, etc), at least another $100-200 - you're looking at over $4k in initial expenditure, plus somewhere in the neighborhood of 10kg of packed weight. If you want to add macro capability to such a setup, you'll need to spend $550 on a Sony 50mm macro lens or $1100 on a Sony 90mm G macro lens, plus another hundred for a port, plus floats to get the rig neutral, plus possibly another $300-500 on a close-up lens for supermacro. If you want a nicer housing than SeaFrogs (I use one and I'm happy with it, but tastes vary), a Fantasea will be in $2-3k range with ports, and Nauticam will easily push $5k+ by itself if you go with a glass dome.

    An additional point to consider is that if you dive with a large rig, your entire dive is all about the camera - it is pretty much the center of your attention. Whereas with an action camera, you can hang it off your wrist, or clip to a BCD D-ring, or stuff into a pocket, then retrieve if you see something interesting, a handled rig with a large dome and strobes will not give you such options. While you're diving, the way you perceive the environment is through a mental filter of photo opportunities - not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but something to keep in mind if as you're considering making the commitment. You will also need to spend an appreciable amount of surface time, before and after the dive, taking care of the camera rig, and your luggage - particularly if you're also hauling your own dive gear - just balloons. I came back from a three week trip to the Philippines last week, and a I had a 32kg checked bag plus a 15kg carry-on.
     
    Soloist, FezUSA, Lewis88 and 2 others like this.
  5. JackConnick

    JackConnick Optical Ocean Sales ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    1,773
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    I think the above comments by Bargmalot are right on the money for the most part. With only 25 dives you should be very careful not to get task loaded.

    I think you could make something like a TG6 + housing +wide angle lens work - maybe just should video with it. Do manual white balance and wait on getting a lighting package.
     
    FezUSA likes this.
  6. Dreamer17

    Dreamer17 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Morehead City, NC
    35
    1
    8
    I see what you mean. I have to update, it’s just over 25 so not much. My diving experience started from the military and my buoyancy is pretty at check even with a low count on my shoulders. I dive in NC with sand tigers and usually bring my gopro rig composed of a big blue tray with arms and a dual light system.
    the interest in getting camera is mainly due to the fact that with my hero 7 I can’t get clear frames thatbi would use as pictures per se
     
  7. Dreamer17

    Dreamer17 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Morehead City, NC
    35
    1
    8
    Yeah that’s what I was looking at, TG-6 with wide angle air lens
     
  8. FezUSA

    FezUSA Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Hiram, OH, USA
    168
    83
    28
    If you've already got experience with the GP, tray and lights but want better pictures then the TG-6 is a good choice to step up to, but not the only choice. Depending on the lights etc you have, you may be able to use them with it. While looking at the TG-6 I would also consider some of the larger sensor compacts. Each has strengths and weaknesses, you just need to work with @JackConnick or Backscatter folks etc. to see which one best fits what you're trying to capture now and down the road. The Oly TG-6, Sony RX series, Panny LX 10/100 series each have a lot to offer, but each also has its drawbacks so there's not an easy overall 'winner' until you mix in your specific usage.
     
  9. Dreamer17

    Dreamer17 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Morehead City, NC
    35
    1
    8
    What would you say are the specific uses and pros/cons of each?
     
  10. JackConnick

    JackConnick Optical Ocean Sales ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    1,773
    305
    83
    FezUSA likes this.

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