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10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

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10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#1  Postby Nazir Amin » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:56 pm

Image


Taken from Scuba Diving Magazine - 2008 Guide to Underwater Imaging : Expert tips from the PROS.
The article talk about tips on shooting Compact Camera, dSLR Camera and video. I found it interesting guideline for underwater photographer.
Full PDF article can be downloaded at www.scubadiving.com.


10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera
Text by Stephen Frink

I’m on a boat as I write this article, this time coming home from Guadalupe Island in Mexico where I was photographing great white sharks. My 60-pound hard case is stuffed with underwater housing and strobes, polecam and electronic monitor, plus I’ve got another 45-pound case of topside cameras and various lenses. Quite a commitment in terms of expense and a very significant travel obstacle, as my receipts for overweight charges will attest. Yet, I am not the only underwater photographer on board. During the boat briefing on the first night the captain asked, “Who is a photographer here?” and 19 other hands went up in the air along with mine.

Curiously, only a few of these 19 had large digital SLR systems. Most had compact camera systems that in the past were somewhat dismissively called “point-and-shoot.” Some were conventional cameras by Canon or Sony or Nikon or Olympus, each with their own OEM (original equipment manufacturer) housing. Typically these are $250-ish polycarbonate housings, good to about 120 feet deep, and you access all of the controls on the camera by means of pushbuttons or dials. Other photographers had camera-plus-housing combinations made by either Sea & Sea or SeaLife, where a specific camera is housed in a far more ergonomic and elegant housing that integrates a reliable means to fire an external strobe via fiber optic and a threaded port to accommodate an accessory wide-angle or macro optic that can be taken on and off underwater. None of these camera systems took up more space than an attaché case, and I doubt any of them weighed even 10 pounds. As much hassle as travel has become lately, smaller and lighter definitely has its advantages.

The third option I saw on board was a housing by Ikelite, clearly the manufacturer that provides the most housings for the most variety of cameras, both digital SLR and compact. Video too, for that matter. The Ikelite housing is very robust and ergonomic as well, and is able to trigger an external flash by means of a hardwire strobe bulkhead (if the camera itself allows a hotshoe or PC connection) or slave strobe.

Whatever the tool, this was a very passionate group of photographers. For the most part, their compact cameras had reenergized their diving hobby and motivated them to jump on this boat for the 20-hour steam to a remote island in the Pacific. Their personal bucket list goal was to get a picture of a great white shark. Here are a few tips for that shot, and for other underwater images with a compact camera:


Know Your Camera
This is the biggest issue with digital photography underwater, whether point-and-shoot or D-SLR. Things happen quickly in the underwater world, and while most housings offer controls that access the most significant buttons and levers on the camera, unless you know what button or dial does what (through the housing), you’ll never be able to react in time to capture peak action.

Get the Biggest/Fastest Memory Card You Can
Memory media is cheap these days. I bought a two-pack of 2GB Sandisk Secure Digital media cards for our family’s compact camera last week for $39. For two 2GB cards! There is no excuse to not have plenty of memory

capacity in a camera now, but “write” speed is also important to the UW shooter. Not all cards are created equal, and the best ones will optimize the camera’s ability to get the digitized information from the camera’s processor, through the buffer, to the accessory memory card. For current and comprehensive test data on the write speed of various cards, go to robgalbraith.com. It’s interesting to note how significant the variability in processing speed can be.

Choose Your Format
Shoot in RAW is the mantra for most D-SLR enthusiasts, but RAW capability—the file format that contains all the information from the camera’s computer without in-camera processing or compression—may be extraordinarily slow with some compact cameras. Some shoot only in JPG, so in those cases, shoot the highest quality JPG possible (usually called “fine” or “large”), but for those cameras that do capture in RAW, assume that the write speed to memory will be substantially slower than in JPG capture. For example, on this trip one of the shooters tried to capture in RAW, but discovered it was taking more than 20 seconds to write to the card and clear the buffer.

Meanwhile, they could not take another photo until the process was completed. Twenty seconds may not seem long, but it’s an eternity when you see a white shark begin an aggressive pass toward the bait. In this case, the choice between shooting in the higher quality RAW and missing the shot, or capturing in JPG and getting the shot was a no-brainer

Use External Strobe
A fundamental premise of underwater photography is that an external strobe is necessary to provide the color that comes from skillful use of artificial light, and to avoid the excessive backscatter that comes from using the camera’s integrated flash, which is typically located directly adjacent to the lens. A simple slave strobe is not a solution because it will trigger at the initial preflash, and won’t be recycled in time for the primary strobe synchronization. Plus, in high ambient light, the slave is difficult to trigger. The best housings are those that consider external strobe use in their design.

The beauty of the camera systems from SeaLife, Sea & Sea and Ikelite is that their strobes account for the preflash that compact cameras use to determine TTL strobe values, and cleverly mount either fiber optics cords or hard wire synch cords in a way to reliably trigger an external flash. To grow as an underwater photographer, reliable and consistent external strobe is absolutely necessary. If considering a housing that can’t integrate external flash, either OEM or by an accessory manufacturer, keep shopping.

Choose an ISO(Other than Automatic)
The automatic ISO function is fine for many above-water applications, but underwater there are so many variables that can change the amount of ambient light striking a scene (which is the primary determinant of the ISO automatically chosen by the camera). A cloud passing overhead or shooting beneath a ledge can boost the ISO from 200 to 800 in mere moments, and when the strobe power is a constant, changing ISO can massively affect exposure. Unpredictably so.
Seekor anak kera bertanya ke ibunya, “Bu, knapa ya wajah kita begitu jelek?”
Jawab ibunya, “Bersyukurlah nak, sebab wajah kita gak sejelek orang yang baca tulisan ini…”
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#2  Postby Nazir Amin » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:56 pm

Part 2

Minimize Digital Lag
Digital lag, the delay between the time the shutter release is pressed and the time the camera actually records the image, is the most frustrating aspect of compact camera use. Newer cameras have less obvious issues with digital lag, but the D-SLR shooters are at a definite advantage here. Pressing the shutter button halfway to achieve preliminary auto-
2008 guideideide toto underderderwaterterter imimaging_7focus helps significantly, for the AF task is then done and all the camera has left to do is fire the shutter. Also, some underwater settings provided by some cameras will increase digital lag. It’s as if any additional processing task the camera is asked to do slows the process. With some cameras you can never eliminate digital lag, and the best you may do is to anticipate peak action and fire the camera accordingly.

Understand Possibilities of Zoom Control
While it might be tempting to use the camera’s telephoto function to capture skittish creatures from a distance, remember that you are shooting through a medium 800 times denser than air, often with a minimally powered strobe. Getting close is tremendously important, actually qualifying for the No. 1 tip. But, that’s the case for any kind of UW photography, so no need to overstate the obvious. The telephoto function of these cameras is great for unique compositions or for capturing reef minutia, but lousy for working at a distance.

Use Build-In Macro Mode
Compact cameras have amazing macro capabilities typically built into them. The universal symbol for macro mode is the flower, and entering that functionality opens a fascinating world to the underwater photographer. The problem may be that the camera is now so close to the subject it is difficult to not overexpose, given that the minimum aperture with most of these cameras is only f/8 or so. An external flash with the ability to dial the power setting way down is a must for macro work. Also advantageous is the neutral density setting so cameras offer. Study that owner’s manual to see if your camera has an ND (or equivalent) setting.

Consider Accessory Optic
Compact cameras are great for fish photography and macro in their native form, but wide-angle shots present a challenge. The camera’s lens isn’t normally that wide anyway (the widest typically being a 28mm equivalent), and since the housing port is flat, the refraction will make the widest zoom setting equal to a 45-55mm lens. The best housings will have a thread or bayonet mount to accept an accessory wide-angle supplementary lens, thereby significantly enhancing the system’s versatility.

Embrace Video
The latest-generation compacts offer very high-quality video, and will shoot for as long as the memory card allows. These can be very large files, but you may be surprised at the quality. Plus, they can purposely be shot at lower resolution suitable for e-mail, directly out of the camera. Some of our marine subjects are best captured in a frozen moment, but others rely on motion for their evocative power. It’s nice to be able to do both.

Bonus Tip
Visit the camera manufacturer’s web site and see if you can download your owner’s manual as a PDF onto your travel laptop. Paper manuals can get torn, soaked, or simply misplaced. It is nice to have an electronic version with you at all times.

ABOUT STEPHEN FRINK
Photography Director Stephen Frink, one of the world’s most published underwater photographers. You can learn more from Steve at scubadiving.com/uwimaging and stephenfrink.com.

Enjoy! — ;)

** Cuttlefish photo taken by Nikon Coolpix P5100 with Single Inon D2000 SubStrobe.
Seekor anak kera bertanya ke ibunya, “Bu, knapa ya wajah kita begitu jelek?”
Jawab ibunya, “Bersyukurlah nak, sebab wajah kita gak sejelek orang yang baca tulisan ini…”
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#3  Postby HoleMaster » Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:50 pm

Wah thanks Nazir for sharing. After this i need to get a strobe [-(
Rilek la bai...agak2 la diving. Kang tersekat kat lubang susah plak
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#4  Postby Ketam » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:30 pm

Thanks for sharing Sifu...
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#5  Postby 40bar » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:17 am

thanks bro
www.snradventure.com
The foremost outdoor, event consultant & training developments
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#6  Postby POYIE » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:52 pm

What is the best option to use compact camera for the night diving?
If we use it manually, how should I adjust the best focus for the view
because if I use the torchlight to focus, when I shoot the photo,
there are too much light resulted on the picture.
How should I set up focus manually for the night view while I'm diving?

Nazir, I would like to learn more from you when I see you
Manado on April.

Thanks
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#7  Postby Ketam » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:23 am

Poyie, ketam is by no way an expert but for night diving the best way for ketam was either to use the modeling light of the strobe such as the Sea&sea YS110 or use a focus light (fantasea and such). Both of these will turn of for a few seconds when the flash fires.

The other way ketam tried was to set to a fixed f-stop. Take the pic with your lights on and after reviewing the pic adjust your shutter speed. Heard that using LED is a no-no as the white light will spoil the colours.
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#8  Postby POYIE » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:12 am

thanks, Ketam for u info, can u give me price the torchlight what do you say, how big aperture and speed is good for under water night dive, Ketam

tq
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#9  Postby Ketam » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:14 am

Poyie you can check out at Scuba symphony site...

http://scubasymphony.com/shop/index.php ... th=358_140

do scout around. A bit difficult about settings because there is many factors such as strobe power, vis and subject. But the settings for these night shots are; (not the better shots, Ketam also newbie and practicing, but just grabbed two hehehe)

Image
Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125)

Aperture: f/5.6

Canon G10

Image

Exposure Time: 0.025 s (1/40)

Aperture: f/5.6

Sony T200

Good Luck!!!
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#10  Postby Nazir Amin » Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:47 pm

POYIE wrote:What is the best option to use compact camera for the night diving?
If we use it manually, how should I adjust the best focus for the view
because if I use the torchlight to focus, when I shoot the photo,
there are too much light resulted on the picture.
How should I set up focus manually for the night view while I'm diving?

Nazir, I would like to learn more from you when I see you
Manado on April.

Thanks


maybe you can consider using focus light. It will auto off when the flash light is trigger. I have fantase focus light. Good for night dive useless during day dive.

or

If shoot manual mode... try to adjust shutter speed and aperture to get the best exposure.
Seekor anak kera bertanya ke ibunya, “Bu, knapa ya wajah kita begitu jelek?”
Jawab ibunya, “Bersyukurlah nak, sebab wajah kita gak sejelek orang yang baca tulisan ini…”
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Re: 10 Tips for Getting Great Shots : How to use your compact camera

Post Number:#11  Postby POYIE » Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:09 pm

thank you Mr Nazir
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