So, you’ve done the bare minimum of documenting your underwater adventures (a.k.a. using your smartphone or a GoPro) and now want to ramp up the quality of your photos? Professional underwater photographers use DSLR cameras, heavy-duty housing, and numerous accessories and apparel, and it can get very overwhelming.
Even if you’re familiar with DSLRs and are a pro at composition, understand that underwater photography is a different game altogether. On top of familiarizing yourself with the new tools of underwater photography, the terrain in which you operate in is also new and often unpredictable. If you’re not used to carrying bulky items (or anything at all) during a dive, then it’s important you take things slow.
Fortunately, taking things slow in underwater photography does not mean compromising quality nowadays. Today’s point-and-shoot cameras have become quite versatile and have upped the ante in quality. Point-and-shoot cameras available in the market, dare I say, are giving DSLRs a run for their money. And now, they even come with accessories fit for extreme shooting conditions.
A clear example? The Sony RX100 V and the Sony Underwater Housing.
Much has been said about the Sony RX100 series. Its key upgrades for Mark V (versus its predecessor) are a better sensor, faster image processing speed, a 24fps RAW burst with autofocus tracking for up to 150 shots, and a new AF-A mode to switch between single and continuous AF (a function usually found on DSLR systems). Bigger, better quality photos at faster rates? All these improvements are music to my ears when working in unpredictable conditions.
It operates on a 24-70mm lens with a maximum aperture of up to f/1.8. Despite having a considerably smaller zoom range compared to other compact cameras of its caliber, its aperture stops at f/2.8 as soon as it reaches 35mm. In underwater conditions that required me to zoom in, I had to raise ISO significantly to avoid blur from camera movements which I had no control of given strong current.
At the beginning, there will be struggles in getting the white balance right. The deeper you go underwater, the more you lose sight of color, so what may look right for you onscreen underwater may not translate the same way when you’re back on the surface.
Looking back, carrying a white slate would have been ideal for me to correct color easier in post. I resorted to using the underwater housing’s white diffuser as reference. Color correcting is vital in underwater photography, and therefore, the availability of RAW and the speed of the image processing and burst come in handy. Compact cameras with these features — in this case, the Sony RX100 V — are the best stepping stones as you step up your underwater photography game.
I road tested (or should I say, water tested) the Sony RX100 V and its underwater housing in the beautiful deep south of Maldives. Diving in this region is most challenging due to its unpredictable conditions in terms of water current and the marine life you’ll be discovering. The expedition allowed us to dive up until a maximum depth of 30 meters (nearly 100 ft.) due to Maldivian laws.
The Sony Underwater Housing is fit for up to 40 meters depth — shallow compared to the maximum depths allowed by its more prime competitors, which go up to 60 meters. But (as a newbie), why would you do that, anyway? Sony’s housing is also considerably cheaper versus its alternatives, but does not negotiate on quality and still allows you to perfectly capture the detail and dynamic range that the Sony RX100 V boasts.
Here are even more photo snippets from our expedition using the Sony RX100 V and Sony Underwater Housing:
My overall experience with the Sony RX100 V with its underwater housing felt like an easy transition (and wonderful upgrade) from working with both a GoPro and my iPhone (in a Nauticam housing). Simple and easy to carry around, I had it lugged in a simple rig for ease of handling and stability, and equipped it with a basic scuba torch.
Is this the match for a budding underwater photographer like you? This perfect underwater pair comes highly recommended.
Note: All photos were shot with the Sony RX100 V
4 reasons the new Instax Mini LiPlay is perfect for any occasion
Small but packed with features
Fujifilm recently announced their new hybrid instant camera, the Instax Mini LiPlay. It’s the newest addition to the company’s lineup of Instax instant cameras and by far the smallest and most lightweight in its series.
Despite being small, it’s packed with features that every girl would love to have in different situations. Here are the reasons why:
1. You get to celebrate occasions in a special way
The Instax Mini LiPlay is not your typical instant camera. It comes with an LCD so you can review photos you’ve captured, and choose which one to print.
It also has a “Sound” button which is capable of recording up to ten seconds of audio. The Instax Mini LiPlay then converts the audio’s data into a QR code and adds it to the photo printed. Users can play and replay for at least a year by scanning the QR code. This function is perfect for adding greetings, songs, and other messages you’d love to share through the printed photo.
2. Definitely a travel companion
This hybrid instant camera is different compared to Fujifilm’s instant cameras. Its promise of being the smallest and most lightweight makes it an easy-to-carry travel-sized camera (that won’t take too much space in your bag).
In addition, solo and group travelers can enjoy the remote shooting feature, which remotely takes a photo and print it on the spot using your smartphone. Furthermore, it has a direct print feature so you can transfer your photos from your smartphone and print it using the instant camera’s film. Whatever device you use, the Instax Mini LiPlay is a travel companion you’ll love to bring anywhere you go.
3. For the times when you want to express yourself
If you love shooting flat lays or OOTDs, the Instax Mini LiPlay may be useful as a prop or as an accessory. It has a stylish design that matches your aesthetic, and it comes in three beautiful colors: Stone White, Elegant Black, and Blush Gold.
Moreover, it has an array of design frames. The camera comes with ten pre-installed frames, which you can select during or after taking a photo. When you download the free Instax Mini LiPlay app, you get to enjoy 20 additional design frames.
4. Enjoy taking photos wherever you go
Say goodbye to AA batteries that make you feel like you’re using a device from the early 2000s. The Instax Mini LiPlay uses micro-USB for charging and takes two to three hours to fully charge the device. Its battery can last up to 100 printed photos. Photos are also saved onto a microSD card so you can keep on shooting until your memory card is full!
The Instax Mini LiPlay is priced at PhP 9,999 and will be available around late June to early July in the Philippines.
DJI debuts the Osmo Action, their first action camera
This is DJI’s direct answer to GoPro
When DJI released the Osmo Pocket months ago, everyone went crazy because it’s the only stabilized camera that can fit in anyone’s pocket. Now, DJI has announced another camera creation, the Osmo Action.
Focusing on the camera, it can shoot videos of up to 4K resolution at 60fps. The lens is composed of three aspherical layers which reduce glare and distortion. It even has an anti-fingerprint coating that also repels water, oil, and other smudges while shooting. In harsh light conditions, it can shoot with enhanced HDR. You can attach a neutral-density (ND) filter on it as well.
So done with gimbals? The Osmo’s action camera has RockSteady technology that combines electronic image stabilization with other complex algorithms in order to achieve shake-free footage. The camera can survive the extremes — up to 11m (or 36ft) in the deep waters, and as cold as negative 10 degrees Celsius when shooting with the device.
The camera features various creative shooting modes like 8x slow motion and the Custom Exposure Mode that can shoot as long as 120 seconds — great for capturing the dazzling night sky. A Timelapse Mode is present, as well as a Timed Shooting Mode with support for shooting RAW file format.
The device is equipped with dual screens: one at the back for controlling the device and another in the front for framing yourself. With DJI’s custom ActionOS, you can use voice control to power up and operate the device. It has a Custom Mode which lets you choose your frequently used shooting modes, while a QuickSwitch button (labeled as QS) is present to let you switch modes in an instant.
The Osmo Action is priced at US$ 349, which is about the same price as the GoPro Hero 7 Black today.
Samsung announces the world’s first 64-megapixel phone camera
Better cameras are coming!
For a while now, the smartphone photography business has hovered around 48-megapixel cameras. Last year, the market released the first 48-megapixel smartphone cameras. Since then, more smartphones have adopted the new standard. Of course, progress never stops.
Already, Qualcomm is anticipating even greater heights for smartphone photography this year. Fulfilling the prophecy, Samsung has announced the first 64-megapixel camera sensor. The brand is expanding its 0.8μm lineup, adding the 64-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL Bright GW1.
Much like other 48-megapixel sensors today, Samsung’s new shooter uses the contemporary pixel-merging Tetracell technology. Further, the sensor will improve HDR shooting capabilities. The GW1 supports an HDR of up to 100dB. According to Samsung, the current industry standard goes up to only 60dB. (The human eye can detect up to 120dB.) Samsung’s HDR images should look more realistic compared to other market offerings.
Similarly, the GW1 optimizes collected light. Basically, the sensor should have fewer problems in low-light conditions. Image sharpness is supposedly sharper as well.
For video taking, the GW1 supports Full HD recording, shooting at up to 480 frames-per-second. The new feature is a huge improvement for slow-motion videos.
Besides the 64-megapixel GW1 sensor, Samsung is also releasing a new 48-megapixel ISOCELL Bright GM2. Though lower, the 48-megapixel sensor also offers the same capabilities as the GW1.
Currently, Samsung is sampling the new sensors for the market. The brand expects to proceed with mass production in the second half of the year. Unfortunately, Samsung has not revealed which smartphones or brands are on the market. Regardless, the new development is a huge and speedy step for smartphone photography. If Qualcomm’s other predictions ring true, we’ll see 100-megapixel cameras soon, too.
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