Types Of Underwater Cameras

The underwater cameras are almost similar to the cameras used on land. The only difference is their being waterproof. There are two types of underwater cameras, namely the housing system cameras and the amphibious cameras.

Housing system cameras are considered superior for their accuracy of composition and adaptability in most underwater situations. The features also include the variety and flexibility of the lenses. There is an SLR camera placed in the system for auto-focus and advanced exposure control. Housing systems are preferred for taking macro- shots. There are 35mm land cameras that are provided with an acrylic or aluminum watertight housing. It enables viewing through the lens more accurately and better composition control. It is generally more expensive and heavy to carry along. There are a variety of manufacturers producing underwater housings, mainly Canon and Nikon.

Amphibious Cameras are also designed to be waterproof. They work similar to other cameras. The Nikon is considered for taking wide-angle shots. Amphibious systems are small, compact and easy to transport, in comparison to housing systems. They are also called submersible viewfinder cameras. Photographers need to estimate the focus distance, since it causes difficulty in composing images. They are highly preferred by scientists, in their exploring expeditions. The cameras are designed to photograph and make available the proof and study of marine biology.

Fill-in Flash Photography

If you’re shooting a portrait or close up where the subject fills the frame completely and your shooting in bright sunlight where the person is partly back-lit, the answer is most definitely yes!

It will bring the image to life by making it stand out against the background, it will also light up the face helping to remove unwanted shadows and adding a sparkle to the eyes.

You see, when you are shooting pictures of people where the majority of the light is from behind or where the sun is reflected off water, without your flash turned on their face will be too dark .

The same applies when the sun is casting a shadow across the face but with the use of your flash, you can eliminate dark shadows from the eyes and nose and create a better result which will please the most discerning critic. In affect this also helps to soften the face and in some cases helping to hide wrinkles, but remember you cant please everyone.

Which reminds me of the story of the wrinkled old Woman that had her picture taken by the local portrait photographer and even after the photographer spent hours retouching her picture he still couldn’t remove all her wrinkles. When she saw the picture she complained saying to the photographer, “This picture doesn’t do me justice,” he said “Madam you don’t need justice you need mercy.”

Why then, does you camera take a dark picture when the subject is back-lit, you see the camera will be fooled by the bright back-lit surroundings and set the exposure to cope with the bright conditions only allowing the face to appear dark, but with your flash turned on you end up with the perfect picture every time, so much so that your friends will ask how you did it. Also remember to use flash when bright sunlight is casting shadows over the subjects face, even if the conditions are not back-lit, it will also add a sparkle to the eyes.

By using your flash or turning flash on, you will fill-in the shadow areas making your picture much more pleasing.

Photographers please note, the best time of the day to shoot people is about two hours before sunset or two hours after sunrise, when the shadows are long and the light is soft and warm in color, especially by the ocean. It’s no wonder that professional fashion photographers shoot around this time of day.

Consider the days when I started out studying to be a young photographer at the age 13/14, the camera was a medium format size roll film camera, image size 6x6cm. and the film size was 120 black and white negative.

There was NO built-in camera flash, in fact there was no electronic flash, period. I use to own a flash gun that used flash bulbs, which I attached to the camera with the flash sync cable plugged into the camera bulb flash socket. The flash bulb was like a light bulb in size which you screwed into the flash guns bulb holder directly in front of the large flash reflector. The bulb was filled with magnesium wire and when you fired the shutter the batteries in the flash gun would ignite the magnesium in the flash bulb and create a flash. The flash bulb was covered with a protective layer of plastic to prevent it from exploding and I seem to remember that most times it was successful in doing so, but on the odd occasion it would explode… quite an alarming experience. It was a good idea not to work too close to the subject!

Back in the early fifties, it was quite an undertaking to shoot any event. But I was busy studying photography at school and in my spare time and was learning the basics.

Soon the early electronic flash guns started to arrive on the market and I remember that they had huge power-packs that you carried on your shoulder via a shoulder strap. Also flash guns were starting to get popular with novice photographers, with smaller size flash bulbs and then later the smaller electronic flash guns.

What does this mean to you, very little I expect but it may be of some interest to those of who might be of the same age as I was then, to know how far we have advanced. Just think for a moment and supposing you are 14 years of age now, how far things would have advanced when you get to be my age…

But you know, the same conditions apply when shooting an image if your in a ‘professional mode’, I mean careful composition of you picture, correct exposure and lighting and although with the advance of digital cameras the technology has changed, the above mentioned facts apply and are still as relevant to day as they ever were, plus the added advantage of your computer and the ability of digital manipulation.

Light Readings Without a Light Meter

High Investment Trip

For over 12 months I’d planned and prepared for this wilderness landscape photography trip to outback South Australia. I’d driven about a third of the way across the continent to get to my home base at Roxby Downs, a mining town in the arid desert. I’d driven on pastoral station roads for 82 km to Bosworth Station Homestead where I left the car and trailer. I’d ridden on my ATV (that’s a four wheel motorbike) for two hours over the roughest and rockiest ground you could imagine and set up a base camp on Andamooka Island.

Light Meter Lost

I camped the first night and went photographing just on daylight. At the start of my afternoon photo session my light meter was missing. It must have fallen out of my coat pocket while I was riding. If you could see the million, trillion rocks strewn over the desert and where I’d been on the bike, you’d understand that it just wasn’t worth looking for the meter. Five days of photographing in front of me and no way of getting accurate light readings.

Applying the Sunny 16 Rule

The Sunny 16 Rule says that on a sunny day the exposure is the reciprocal of the film speed at f16. That’s 1/ISO @ f16 Here’s how I applied the rule, making notes and an exposure table in my notebook:

First of all, please understand that there are a number of things in life where too much is better than not enough. Among them are your breakfast, your pay and film exposure. I was using 160 ISO film and the nearest shutter speed was 1/125 so I added 1/3 stop to line up with the available shutter speeds. That gave me 1/125 @ f16.

Next, it was winter so I added another stop. That made it 1/60 @ f16. That was fine for the middle of the day.

Being winter, the angle of the sun was low all day so I was photographing for most of the time except for a while around noon when I went back to my camp for a feed.

The above film exposure wouldn’t do for the early and late shots as the light level was decreased. For the first and last half hour of the day I added another two stops making the exposure 1/15 @ f16. Then for the two hours on the noon side of that, I added one stop to the middle of the day reading, making the exposure 1/30 @ f16 for that time period.

Of course, when I used the polarizing filter I added another two stops. When using 400 ISO black and white film I made a new set of figures adding three stops for the red filter.

In order to manipulate depth of field I changed the exposure settings around, 1/8 @ f16 becoming 1/4 @ f22, using the polarizing filter in the early morning.

Checking the Figures

Well, a fair bit of looking at the light and checking the figures went on for the next five days. When I got back to Roxby Downs I used another meter to check my exposure calculations at various times of the day and began to feel more at ease.

Great Negatives

When I got home and processed the black and white film and in due corse got the colour negatives and CD back from the lab, I was relieved and delighted to find that my exposures were pretty close to correct with good detail through the full tonal range from shadows to highlights.

Memorize the Sunny 16 Rule

When I get a new meter I’ll keep it on a cord around my neck in such situations. I’ll also keep the Sunny 16 Rule in the back of my head in case I need it again one day. Remember: f16 @ 1/ISO.

Image Resolution

Image resolution explained: Photography resolution is a measurement of image quality, so you may define resolution by how much detail is in your print. If your print has sharp detail you may consider your image to be of good resolution. If detail is blur in your image you may consider your image to have poor resolution. Good resolution is a direct result of having a large number of pixels in an image.

Pixels explained: Digital images are made up of millions of small dots – each dot is called a pixel. Each dot contains a small piece of image information, and when added together with the other pixels you’ll get your final image.

Print resolution is measured in pixel per inch (ppi) or in dots per inch (dpi) – both hold the same value. 300ppi means that there are 300 pixels per inch or 90,000 pixels per a square inch.

What size can I print my images?

A digital image that’s 1500ppi wide will print a 15-inch wide print if the print resolution is 100ppi.
If you change the same image to a print resolution to 300ppi your final print size will become a
5-inch wide print.

If your image file is 3000ppi wide x 2400ppi high with a print resolution 300ppi, your final print size will be 10 x 8 inch. The same file with a print resolution of 150ppi will give you a final print of 20 x 16 inch.

Divide the print resolution into the pixel width or height of your image.

Higher resolution should not be taken to mean that your images would be of higher quality – your images would only be of high quality if you print to the correct format.
Example – if you print a 3000ppi x 2400ppi size file to a print size of 20 x 16 inch at 300ppi, the pixels may be visible resulting in a blur image. You need to print it at 600ppi to attain good quality.

What size resolution should I use?

At 600ppi (which is an extremely large resolution) your image will be supreme sharp. You will be restricted with print size.

Printing your images at 300ppi is the standard quality. Image sharpness doesn’t get much better. The only setback is that the maximum print size will be restricted – you might need to drop the resolution to get a larger image.

If you need a large print from a small file print your file at 150ppi – your print will lack detail and the pixels may be visible. You should not print an image any smaller than 150ppi.

72ppi is standard with your computer screen. Don’t print your images at this size – the pixels will be visible.

Resolution tips: Scan your images as large as possible; it’s easy to resize them later. If you scan an image to small you may have to re-scan at a later date to get a larger print.

If you need a print that’s twice the size of the original – scan it at 600ppi and print it at 300ppi.

Try to print your image at 300ppi.

If you use a tripod when taking an image you may be able to push the print resolution lower than the recommended 300ppi – this will enable you to get a larger print.

Other Tips: Be very careful when cropping an image, if you crop it too much you will reduce the print size.

Be careful not to confuse print resolution with printer resolution; printer resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi), but these values are a great deal higher- common printer resolutions are 2400dpi and 5760dpi – this is a measure of the amount of ink dropped onto your paper per inch.

Get that Candid

The lure of the chase and the unexpected images resulting from it will keep you amused for hours. But taking a successful picture can be a bit tricky. Follow these simple rules to enhance your rewards:

  • be prepared for anything:¬†things have a habit of happening just when you least expect it
  • have your camera with you always: without your equipment there will be no shot
  • watch people: their actions and expressions are what you are trying to capture
  • be bold: to get that shot you need to be there in the thick of things
  • be watchful: almost anyone can be the subject of candids
  • snap first, think later: the chance will pass you by if you let it
  • set a fast shutter: either your subject or you might be moving
  • use remote control if needed: this way, you can appear inconspicuous for some of your shots
  • act quickly: blink your eye and your moment is lost
  • use a long lens:¬†isolate you and your subject

Many photographers fail with candids through their shyness. Whilst it can be difficult to shoot candids, the more you try, the better it feels. Most subjects don’t mind you taking their photograph even if you are caught doing it.

Extreme Digital Photography

The old camera wasn’t bad, but there were certain situations where it was difficult to get good pictures with it. When taking pictures at my son’s basketball games, for example, the camera would slow the shutter down to try to improve the exposure, and this would cause the fast-moving players to just look like a blur. The flash was of no help, because it didn’t work well from that distance. All I could do was change the ISO sensitiviy, and that made the pictures grainy. Also, the camera was slow, so I’d often miss a good picture by about half a second. At football games, I had another problem; the players were just so far away that the camera’s zoom wasn’t enough.

For a while, I tried using my old Yashica 35 mm film camera. I even bought a fairly large telephoto lens off eBay and managed to get some really nice football pictures that way. Unfortunately, though, I found that I wasn’t saving any money by not buying a new digital as the photo processing was so expensive, especially by the time I added the extra cost of asking for cd’s. Also, the Yashica had a manual focus, which allowed maximum control, but sometimes I wasn’t quick enough with the focus and the shot was spoiled. Worst of all, since I couldn’t see the pictures until I’d paid for the processing, a couple of times I found that there were few if any good shots on an entire roll. With digital, I would have simply taken a lot more shots and deleted the bad ones.

So, finally I decided I needed a new digital, but I was spoiled by the control that the Yashica gave me. Simple point-and-shoot was not good enough. I wanted a camera with good optical zoom (digital zoom is just a marketing gimic) that would give me the ability to take control of more of the camera’s features. I also wanted a camera with a quality lens (an oft overlooked feature in consumer cameras), but I did not want to spend a lot of money. I finally settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 3MP Digital Camera with 12x Image Stabilized Optical Zoom.

Everybody looking at digital cameras seem to look mainly at MP (megapixels), but 3MP is good enough for photo quality 8X10’s if you don’t do a lot of cropping and enlarging. So, that’s a great area for potential cost savings. Personally, I’d rather spend my money on features that will actually help me take better pictures, not just bigger ones. And the Lumix is loaded with such features. Consider also that if you get a higher MP camera, you also need a bigger, more expensive memory card as well.

This camera is admittedly too large to be pocketable, which may be an issue for some people, and if you use the adapter for filters it makes it even more bulky. However, it’s pretty light weight (due largely to the battery type) and I like a camera that fits into the hand nicely instead of feeling like a toy. Also, there is a reason why professionals lug around those big cameras. It’s because they take better pictures… if you know how to use them properly. Most people don’t realize that a telephoto lens is not just for taking pictures of things far away. They are also great for portraits. And for taking pictures of my son’s football games, the more zoom the better.

One of the great thing about this camera for me is that my wife, who wants things to be simple, can use the camera in “simple mode”. So, she can take great pictures of kids birthday parties and such without having to learn all the features of the camera. I have also used the “simple mode” sometimes, but for basketball games and other extreme situations, I have the option of using shutter-priority or manual modes, and have been able to achieve better results. And with the 12X optical zoom, the camera is great for football games too.

I’ve seen postings on the internet where people who have bought digital cameras are wondering why they can’t seem to get good pictures in certain situations. The answer is simple. Most cameras are made for the average user who wants something small and simple. They aren’t made to work well in extreme situations.

In this article, I have described what my needs were when buying my camera. Your needs may be entirely different, and may also change over time (as mine have). However, if you carefully evaluate your individual needs and take into consideration the pros and cons of different cameras before you buy, you will surely avoid some annoying surprises.