There’s nothing in the world that replicates the experience of an open water dive. You can witness the spectacular wildlife, unimaginable colours and surprising sounds of our planet’s underwater habitats. Of course, when an experience is this mind-blowing many people want to make a record of it. And that means cameras. But what product should you choose, should you buy or rent and how do you get the best shots to record your dive?
Are You a Buyer?
Perhaps you are a keen and frequent diver or snorkeler. So you know that you’ll use your underwater camera on repeated occasions. Perhaps you want to take your diving to a new level and seek to record your experiences and love of the sport. Or you may want to make the most of a family diving holiday and enjoy the flexibility of use that purchasing your own kit can bring.
If you have a higher budget for your underwater camera purchase, take a look at the Olympus Tough! TG-5 with waterproof housing. Paired together, this will set you back about £620 but is waterproof to 45 metres. The camera is super tough and durable, with great noise control and colour processing.
With a purchase cost of around £390, the Nikon Coolpix W300 is waterproof without housing up to 30 metres. With its high-resolution monitor and wide zoom range, you’ll come away with some great shots. Indeed, we love it so much that this is one of our rental choices!
At just £99, the Fujifilm FinePix XP130 is a comparative bargain of an option. If you’re diving as a family or looking to enjoy the flexibility of your own piece of kit without the price tag, this is ideal. It’s simple to use and waterproof to 20 metres. Don’t expect prize-winning clarity of image, but instead use it for fun documentation and making memories.
All of the cameras above can shoot video as well as still images. However, the trend for action camera film has exploded in recent years. So if this is your bag, the GoPro Hero 7 at around £349 is a great buy. Although it is only waterproof to 10m, this is great for capturing your experience in real-time.
Are You a Renter?
Perhaps you want to try underwater photography for the first time. Or you plan to take our PADI Digital Underwater Photography course to lay the groundwork of your photographer skills. Or perhaps you prefer to travel without too much kit and would like to avoid the bother of digital photo processing. In these cases, a camera rental arrangement is ideal and carries many benefits.
Why Renting is Great
Renting is low maintenance. If you rent an underwater camera, you’re buying service as well as kit. With our camera rental package at Borneo Dream, we open up the camera housing, upload all the images to a Google Drive folder and share the link directly to you! This means all you need to worry about is clicking on the link and reliving your dive!
When to Rent
If you’re relatively new to diving and unsure how much you want to take underwater photographs or if you’re still deciding what spec you would look for in a camera, then renting is best. This way you can learn the ropes and work out what your ideal wish list is for a camera without the initial outlay.
At Borneo Dream, we ensure that our rental underwater camera kit is good quality and intuitive to use. You can choose between two camera models: the Canon G16 with housing or Nikon W300. Both of these handheld cameras take good quality, sharp images and nicely capture colour. All vital things to record your underwater memories!
Once you’ve bought or rented your camera, how do you ensure that you capture the best and most memorable moments of your dive? A piece of kit can only perform as well as its operator. Especially if you are an infrequent diver, documenting your experience is precious. So it’s worth taking time to refine your photography technique.
It’s key to practise both diving and photography to optimise your images. To be able to focus on your subject and image framing, you must be confident in your buoyancy skill. In this way, if you take our PADI Digital Underwater Photography course as a diver, you must be PADI Open Water Diver qualified. The photography course can also be undertaken as a snorkeler without this qualification.
At shallower depths, natural light is sufficient to illuminate great images. Morning light tends to provide the greatest clarity. In these circumstances it’s key to get as close as possible to your subject without disturbing it. Deepwater images will benefit from flash or strobe from different angles. Although do be conscientious of the surrounding habitat and others taking photographs.
Correct use of light will hugely benefit how well your images capture colour. Look for a camera model which includes a white balance feature. This will regulate blue hues to your underwater images so is ideal for those capturing images at depth. Using ultra-wide lenses and low aperture will capture the details of both your subject and the surrounding habitat. This means that you can focus on colour as part of your editing process.
Understanding your camera kit is vital once you’re in an underwater situation. This is why practice is so key. If you have purchased an underwater camera, practice framing wildlife photos out of the water first so that you are familiar with the equipment settings. Experiment with shooting with a medium shutter speed but high ISO as this will minimise blur.
A lot can be achieved through the editing process nowadays. Images can be sharpened, colours enhanced, scenes cropped. After the completion of our Level 2 PADI Digital Underwater Photography course, we will send you all your photographs! Keen photographers may then wish to spend more time on those small details to help lift your images into the truly sublime!
Great underwater photography is a balance of the kit and the user. Taking our PADI Underwater Photography course is a fantastic start. But there’s no substitution for practice, so once you’ve got the basic skills under your belt, take your camera and dive, dive, dive again!