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 photography tips for solo travelers
Take the best photos even when you’re alone!
Traveling solo is a therapeutic activity when you badly need a break. It’s also a good time to immerse yourself in a new place, learn its culture, and take wonderful photos of your adventures.
Most places aren’t safe for solo travelers. It’s even more difficult to take photos of places where there’s a possibility of dropping your camera or having it stolen. Reality check: These are common issues we deal with when we travel, and the risk is higher when you’re traveling solo.
Singapore and Taipei are cities with low crime rates, safe for solo travelers. But even during my travel in both cities, I still find it difficult to shoot and ask a local to take my portraits. I have this constant fear of trusting a stranger with my camera.
Fortunately, Sony Alpha photographer Charmaine Yap of TriPeaksImagery hosted a talk providing tips on taking the best photos during your solo travel. She was using Sony’s newest a6400 and the photos she presented were breathtaking.
Yap knows the struggle of every solo traveler, and more importantly, she’s a photographer. Here’s what I learned:
Bring only what you need
When you’re traveling solo, every pocket of space counts. Instead of bringing different cameras, plan your trip and decide what you need.
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Yap highlights the importance of having a flexible setup. As a photographer, it’s tempting to bring different lenses for different occasions, but you don’t really need all of them.
What you can do: Bring a mirrorless camera to remove excess weight in your baggage, and a lens ideal for the place you’ll visit.
Choose a camera that can be your travel companion
Yap took the Sony a6400 on her recent trip to Hanoi, Vietnam and she instantly fell in love with it. The a6400 is a lightweight camera with a flip screen for selfie-takers and vloggers. Its interval shoot function is perfect for time-lapses and taking travel photos of yourself without an additional remote control, as you can set the number of photos to be taken once you press the shutter button.
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Since you need to capture scenes quickly, you’ll need a fast camera. Yap’s advice is to make sure you set the autofocus mode to AF-C, expand the flexible spot, and set the drive mode to continuous shooting. Whenever your subject moves, your camera will track it and capture with accuracy.
Check out this video I took when I was in Singapore’s IT SHOW 2019 and see for yourself how incredible the a6400’s real-time eye AF and tracking are.
The new Sony a6400 has an improved eye tracking so you can capture your subject even when they move a lot. Say goodbye to motion blur!! @Sony @SonyAlpha #Sonya6400 #GadgetMatchLIVE pic.twitter.com/wh3BpeByLG
— The MJ Jucutan (@mj_jucutan) March 7, 2019
Go slow, but move fast
The best moments happen in the blink of an eye, but you won’t notice one if you’re quick to look away. You need to observe your surroundings the instant you step into a new place. Take cues and look around. If you’re always rushing from one place to another, you won’t be able to capture a place’s story. However, you need to shoot quickly because once the moment is done, you won’t have another chance.
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Have a list for uninspired days
Yap said, “People think photography should be spontaneous and emotional.” However, it’s not always the case. There are days when you can’t get up and bring yourself to express creatively. Take a break, think of the days ahead, write an uninspired list, and see how you can capture the stuff you want to shoot to the best of your abilities.
Remember that life is not a competition of who has the most spontaneous or most emotional photo; rather, it’s a collection of moments savored from your journey. So, where’s your next solo destination?
Insta360 EVO review: Give your vlogs a new perspective
And it folds, too!
Insta360’s newest camera is here and it folds. The Insta360 EVO not only has an interesting form factor, it also allows you to shoot in 360 and in 3D. How will that look and what exactly can you do with the footage? Is this US$ 420 camera worth it? Watch the video to find out.
Insta360 EVO is a folding 360 camera that can shoot 3D videos
Hands-on with this tiny camera that will fit your purse
They say it’s not the size, but the performance that matters. If camera manufacturer Insta360 had a say, I bet they’d agree. After all, they do make teeny cameras that see the big picture, literally — all 360 degrees.
It comes as no surprise that they just unveiled another incredibly small but power-packed camera. Meet the Insta360 EVO.
This small camera — and I mean tiny — fits in the palm of my tiny hands nicely.
It shoots 360-degree videos and photos in 5.7K. If capturing all angles of the scene in video format with one go isn’t something that excites you, know that there’s more to it than shooting 360 video.
Insta360 also has an amazing app that allows you, even editing novices such as I (in theory), to edit the 360 videos into normal 16:9 films with the luxury picking which point of view from the footage you’d prefer. Here’s sample footage from a previous Insta360 release:
But, that’s not even the best part: The Insta360 EVO unfolds.
And, it turns into this two-camera setup. Though I never thought I’d ever like the idea of a folding camera, the form factor weirdly works. It’s simple enough: You can fold by unlocking the hinge on the top and locking the hinge on the side, and vice versa. Plus, it doesn’t feel fragile with the locks which is a big plus.
With this dual shooter, the EVO can shoot 180-degree 3D video that you can watch on your Oculus Go or Samsung Gear VR. Just imagine: A whole new level of sharing your unique experiences!
In case you don’t have an Oculus Go or a Samsung Gear VR, Insta360’s got you. With their Foldable VR glasses and the Insta360 app, you’ll be able to watch 3D videos on your phone.
The camera works standalone, ala screenless GoPros of olden times. You can toggle between video mode or photo mode with a dedicated button up top. A single press of the second button, the bigger round one, records immediately.
By folding and unfolding the camera, you also automatically switch shooting modes from 360-degree content to 3D video. If you want visuals, you can easily connect to your phone via Wi-Fi and you’ll be able to see what your camera sees.
I’ve been shooting with the Insta 360 EVO for the past few days and it’s been fun and pretty interesting. Until I get a full review up (stay tuned!), enjoy this photo — my favorite from what I’ve shot so far:
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) March 13, 2019
The Insta360 EVO starts at US$ 419 and this basic bundle includes a tiny tripod (pictured in first photo) and the VR glasses.
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