Taking pictures is an important part of any trip, and when you go on dives, you will eventually want to be able to capture the images you see underwater. There are a few different types of cameras that you might want to consider:
1) Amphibious Camera. Also known as submersible compact viewfinder cameras, amphibious cameras offer clear pictures and plenty of features, making them very popular with snorkelers and divers. They are easier to carry than housed cameras and they are small and compact, so that they do not get in the way. They are more expensive than housed camera models, however.
2) Digital underwater cameras. Just as digital cameras are very popular on shore, they are becoming increasingly popular underwater with divers, especially as the technology improves. Digital cameras offer high resolution, crisp colors, and the ability to easily upload, delete, and edit images on your computer. Plus, digital underwater cameras are becoming more affordable all the time.
3) Film underwater cameras. Although not as popular as digital cameras, film underwater cameras are still popular with serious photographers who enjoy the process of developing film. Film offers a unique appearance and flexibility that some photo enthusiasts claim cannot be captured with digital cameras.
4) Disposable underwater cameras. These cameras are the least expensive of all options, although the quality of the images will not be as high as it would be with other underwater cameras. Many underwater disposable cameras are very sturdy and will float when dropped, making them ideal for the non-professional or the diver who simply wants to try underwater photography without investing in expensive equipment.
5) Housed underwater cameras. Housed cameras consist of polycarbonate plastic or aluminum boxes. The cameras are placed in a thick plastic bag with a clear glass port for the camera lens. Some housed cameras also include a flash which can be used underwater. Housed cameras are more complex and larger than sleeker digital models. Scientists who want to study and collect images of underwater ecology tend to use housed underwater cameras.
No matter what type of camera you will use, there are a few things you will want to look for when buying your underwater camera:
1) Comfort of use. It is a good idea to test your camera underwater to make sure that it is easy to use and to ensure that it is correctly weighted. Your camera should have a neutral buoyancy and should be comfortable and easy to use, even underwater. If you dive in cold water, the camera should be easy to use with diving gloves. Also, before every dive, you will want to make sure that your lens port does not have any bubbles, as these affect image quality.
2) Long battery life. Underwater cameras do not allow you to change batteries underwater, so once your batteries run out on a dive, that is it. It is important, therefore, to look for a camera with a long battery life and one that does not deplete batteries too quickly. As well, you will want to have spare, fresh batteries on hand for every dive.
3) Image quality. Depending on your needs, you may just want some basic pictures or you may want high-quality and high-resolution photos. Compare image crispness, color brightness, and zoom on different camera models to find the best image quality you can find on your budget. Some digital cameras allow you to take moving pictures as well as photos, which can be a nice feature to have.
4) Depth. Different cameras are designed to work at different depths. You will want a camera that will work well and withstand the pressure at all the depths you dive. Consider your average dive but consider that your needs may change in a few years. Look for a camera that will be able to accompany you on deeper dives than you normally take now.
Once you have a camera for underwater photography, you will want to protect your investment. This means that you will also need a good camera case for your camera. A case for an underwater camera obviously needs to be waterproof, but it is important to look for a case that is resistant to solvents, pests, rust, fuels, and oil as well. You never know what you may encounter on a dive, and it is good to be prepared. Also, look for a case that is resistant to ultraviolet rays. If your case is left on a boat and exposed to sun, you don’t want it to become inelastic or damaged. A case with high-density foam is nice, as it protects your camera from jolts. Another great feature in a camera case is a pressure release purge valve. Look for one that creates a good seal with the “O ring.” This way, the valve will automatically activate when you close the case.