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Red filter for my housing not available, need to rig something up

Discussion in 'Tips & Techniques' started by Kaliber35, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Kaliber35

    Kaliber35 Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: South Florida
    Are all red filters used for U/W the same?
    What should I be looking for when buying a generic one?
    My plan is to cut one the size of my housings lens hole and somehow attach it to the inside of the housing. Any ideas?

  2. herman

    herman Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh,North Carolina
    The question I have is why use one in the first place? The filters do add back red to the photos....or more correctly limit all the rest of the colors giving the illusion of more reds. You lose the total amount of light available to the camera which will reguire your camera to either use a lower F-stop or a longer shutter speed. Plus, no one size red filter works for all situations, the level of red addition has to increase as depth increases otherwise you are right back in the same place, just a little less so. A much better way of accomplishing the same thing with no add on filters is to learn to use manual white balance on your camera. If you are using a strobe or internal flash then it is not adviseable to use either because your photos will come out with excessively red. For very limited conditions filters work well but for the most part they are not worth the effort for UW use.
  3. ronscuba

    ronscuba Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: NYC
    You can order a 2 ft x 2ft square gel sheet from Lee Filters, color "bastard pink". Costs about $6. Cutout the size you need, then have to come up with some kind of way to put it in front of your port. I'm sure if you went to Home Depot, you could find some kind of rubber gasket or something that you could modify to work. I would make it removeable underwater.

    As far as why use a filter, all I can say is for underwater video, a filter is the standard way to get colors into the shot. The camcorder auto settings adjusts white balance and exposure itself as the depth changes. Not sure if the same applies to photo, but for $6 a 2ft x 2ft sheet, it's very cheap to experiment with.
  4. Kaliber35

    Kaliber35 Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: South Florida
    I worry about the red filter because it seems very logical and is recommended by just about every site I read. I understand the point of adjusting white balance, but I do not have much manual control with my camera. I would imagine that adding a red colored filter would help a lot on my shallow beach dives. I wouldnt think it would help much during deeper dives below 40'.

    Anyway, at $6 its worth some testing to see.
  5. libra89

    libra89 Registered

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: DFW, Texas
    I had taken some shots in Cozumel on Punta Dalila at about (I think) 50 ft or so. Due to some tray issues, I had taken the strobe off my camera before the dive. I used a tiny square from a Blue Water Magic Filter taped to the front of my camera lens, then put the camera in the housing. Now, the colors were great, but the comments about light loss are spot on. I used this filter along with manual white balance at depth, and from there the biggest challenge was that my fully automatic point and shoot was shooting at a very slow shutter speed. I was able to stablilize enough for acceptable shots, but they aren't razor sharp. Unfortunately this will probably be your issue too, unless you are at 30 ft or shallower. At those depths, you may find you don't need any filter at all.

    I have since upgraded to a Canon S90 that gives me full manual control, and I'm certain with the ability to force the camera into different aperture/shutter speed combos, I can now get some really good natural light shots. Undecided if the Magic Filter would still get used, because this camera also shoots RAW, which kind of makes white balance a moot point. You can rebalance in post processing with just a click or two. Easier than remembering to manually white balance every time you change depth by more than a couple feet.

    If you don't like the idea of post processing to white balance correct, or your camera can't do RAW (most basic p&s can't), then you might think about the AutoMagic Filter. The post process rebalance doesn't work as well (you can do it, but not to as good a result) with cameras that only output JPEG, so with those you are better off to try to get it closer to correct to start with. This is where a filter might make sense, but it does bring in a whole different set of challenges.

    If your camera gives you no white balance control, or you don't want to bother to mess with it, consider the AutoMagic Filter. It's like the Blue Water Magic Filter, but somehow works better with your camera's automatic white balancing features. Does your camera allow you to pick different preset white balance settings (like daylight, cloudy, underwater?), or at least allow you to manually white balance? My Canon SD600 was so automatic to be frustrating, but for some odd reason it gave me control over white balance. Go figure. Using these might allow you to avoid the need for red filtration too.

    Here's a link to my pics from my recent cozumel trip. All photos were taken by my Canon SD600. The El Presidente Shore Dive were all natural light, no filter, but very shallow depth, and I had to color correct somewhat in Lightroom. Everything else until you get to Punta Dalila was with a strobe, and Punta Dalila was with the filter and natural light like I describe. All photos got some post processing, so for the sake of honesty, none of them came out of the camera with stunning color. It's a lot to ask of a camera that you can't control, for sure!

    YouTube - Diving in Cozumel, Mexico, Summer 2010

    To anyone else viewing these.....please be kind. I've been into photography for a long long time, but only underwater for a few weeks now. This was my first ocean photoshoot (I've done some in the local lakes), with a camera that I had little control over, and was using a strobe for the first time. All in all, not too bad, but definitely room to grow.

    Hope this info helps the OP! By the way, the Magic filters are not cheap, be forewarned. But my limited experience with them was good. They come in a 2"x2" sheet that you can cut, so you can really make that $$ investment go a long way. I just cut a piece big enough to cover the opening when the camera is on. Use a couple small pieces of scotch tape on the outer edges to keep it pinned to the lens bezel, and pop it in the housing. As long as you handle it carefully, it can be reused. Just don't fingerprint them, or get them wet. I tape mine to the inside of my housing where it isn't in the way of any buttons when I'm not using it.
  6. libra89

    libra89 Registered

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: DFW, Texas
    Oh, and I did manually white balance as well, since I'd been taught that you should. So I did :)

    I also had an Inon UFL-165AD mounted on the front of my housing, so it was a little tricked out, but I still couldn't choose my shutter or aperture if I wanted to! And the natural light Punta Dalila photos are as "straight from the camera" as can be defined I suppose, because I wasn't using the FE lens either. Only additional control was the use of the Blue Water Magic and manual white balance followed up with some tweaking in Lightroom.

    Last but not least, the Magic Filter gets mounted inside the housing. It's acetate, and neither that nor gel filters would hold up very well exposed to water I don't think. So....another downside is that once it's in there, you're stuck with it. Interestingly enough though, the topside sunset pics I took by re-whitebalancing against a white part of the dive boat. So the filter stayed in place, I white balanced for both topside and underwater photos, and colors were fairly accurate.
  7. bvanant

    bvanant Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Los Angeles (more or less)
    If you are using a strobe of course, then the redfilter is not necessary but even for those of us with DSLRs and tons of gear, shooting natural light is often great fun. Check out magic filters to get a taste. I would go to Kodak and get a 20 CC red filter and tape it or rubber band it to the outside of my camera. Works great.
  8. Bora_Horza

    Bora_Horza Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sweden
    Hi, I've used the 'auto magic filters' on a recent trip to Indonesia - not for photos, just for underwater video for my Canon A570 IS camera (as the video feature has no manual white balance options, and my previous videos were rather blue).

    I knocked up a home-made external 'push on - pull off' filter using some bits of plastic (from an SDHC card's packaging) as the magic filter holder, the lid of some cotton earbuds as the lens adapter bit, stitched together using dental floss (holes in plastic pierced using wire heated by a lighter). I wove some garden wire in and out the rim of the earbuds lid to provide a 'key' for the bathroom silicon sealent which made the seal that fitted onto the lens port of my housing. I stretched some clingfilm over the lens port before moulding on the silicon sealent in my adapter. See below for a pic of the final result:


    Note that as its just dangling on some fishing line attached to the housing, you have to hold it out the way when taking photos. I also had to be careful not to scratch the red filter, as it's totally exposed and can be easily damaged.

    I was very happy with my video results, the filter works well in clear water in the depth range 5-15 meters or so. Too shallow and everything is a bit red, and too deep you start to get a grey/green look to the video. Here's the youtube film I put together from the clips I took. I'm particularly happy with the footage around 4.49 min of all the colourful little reef fish :)


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