Cameras

Underwater Photography with the Sony RX100 V

Under the sea in Maldives!

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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.

My dive buddy exploring the beautiful table corals, 12 meters deep!

One of our more experienced divers and underwater photographers

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.

Safety stop time means photoshoot time. Making the most of our 10-minute stops before we surface from a dive!

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.

Extremely impressed with the macro quality and speed of the camera!

Obviously, I was also quite obsessed with the Maldives clownfish and anemones

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:

A school of Oriental Sweetlips are a sight to see!

These beautiful stingrays can get pretty close, but don’t usually attack

Reef sharks were such sights to behold

Occasionally, they’d pose for the camera

Remoras are rarely seen without a host (a shark or large fish), much more in a school, so this was quite a strange occurrence — one of my favorite photos from the trip!

Moray eels are very calm creatures, usually hanging out in corals with their heads peeked out

Eagle ray sightings!

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

Accessories

Sony products are discounted this Christmas

Discounts and cashback for the holidays

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While Sony keeps struggling in the smartphone market, it still remains one of the top products for digital imaging. Its line of mirrorless cameras is one of the best in business. Plus, Sony is doing well in home and personal entertainment, with its line of TVs, speakers and headphones remaining the best in their category.

Sony Singapore is offering discounts and cashback for select cameras, TVs, speakers, and headphones. Here are the discounted products:

Cameras

TV

  • A9G (55″ 4K TV)  — SG$ 5,799 after SG$ 2,200 cashback

Headphones and earbuds

Speakers

The promo runs from November 1, 2019 to January 5, 2020. The discounts are available on all Sony stores across Singapore. For more information about the promo, visit Sony’s website.

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Cameras

Select ASUS laptops come with free Instax cameras

Get a free Instax Mini 9, SQ6 or Mini LiPlay

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Christmas season is the time for creating memories. What better way to capture these memories than with an instant camera?

Instax partnered with ASUS this Christmas to give away free Instax cameras for every purchase of select ASUS laptops. Buyers also get to enjoy bundled freebies along with their free cameras. 

Bundled Instax cameras are the Instax Mini 9 worth PhP 3,999; Square SQ6 worth PhP 7,999; and Mini LiPlay worth PhP 9,999. The Instax Mini 9 is one of the best-selling products in the lineup, while the Instax Square SQ6 is the first analog camera that uses a square film format. Meanwhile, the Instax LiPlay is can convert recorded sounds into a QR code for sharing. They are available with these ASUS laptops:

Zenbook laptops

  • Duo / Pro Duo — Instax Mini LiPlay + ASUS 30th premium freebies + Nereus bag
  • Pro 14/15 — Instax Mini LiPlay + Nereus bag
  • S — Instax Square SQ6 + laptop sleeve
  • Flip 13 / 14 / 15 — Instax Square SQ6 + laptop sleeve
  • 13 / 14 / 15 — Instax Square SQ6 + laptop sleeve

VivoBook laptops

  • S13/ S14/ S15 — Instax Mini 9 + Nereus bag
  • Flip 14 / 14 / 15 — Instax Mini 9 + Nereus bag
  • 14 / 15 — Instax Mini 9 + Nereus bag

Others

  • X series (Intel Core models) — Instax Mini 9 + Nereus bag

To claim the Instax camera and the freebies, buyers must log on to ASUS’ promo redemption site and provide the necessary information. After confirmation, they must pick the freebies at ASUS Philippines headquarters.

Promo runs from November 18 to December 31. It is applicable to all participating ASUS concept stores nationwide and via the official ASUS Philippines digital store. For more information, visit their website or their Facebook page.

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Cameras

EZVIZ S2 Action Camera: A road trip companion

Dashcam and action camera in one!

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Nowadays, it’s hard to choose an action camera to accompany you on your adventures. Everyone’s top-of-mind is the popular GoPro Hero series and DJI’s new Osmo Action. However, I find these two cameras too much, both for me and my wallet.

On top of it, I’m not a professional adventurer nor a sports enthusiast who would need a high-end action camera. All I need is something I can take with me on my water activities to capture moments occasionally while I’m living in the moment. In search of an affordable action camera that would fit anyone’s budget, I found the EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera, which also doubles as a dash camera.

Lightweight and small, this camera is easy to bring wherever you go.

It has a 2-inch IPS LCD touchscreen panel.

You can find an uncovered mini HDMI and micro USB port.

On the other side is the power and settings button which lets you navigate the camera and access different modes.

Found on top are its speaker grilles and shutter button…

… while the bottom sports the battery, micro sd slot, and a hole for the mounts.

While driving to the Bicol region in the Philippines, my friends and I used this camera momentarily to test its capabilities. Thankfully, this camera comes with mounts and accessories like a waterproof case in its box. However, it’s difficult to navigate it as a dash camera since you need to place it inside the case before you can mount it on your windscreen.

Furthermore, the case’s buttons need to be pressed hard. It felt like a marketing ploy since this camera could be better if sold as just an action camera.

But if you look at it on a different perspective, a 2-in-1 camera like this would be nice to have on road trips. Imagine finding a serene spot in the middle of nowhere, and you grab your dash camera. Instantly, you have an action camera to immortalize your precious moments.

Capture your adventures

Then again, if its capability as an action camera we’re talking about, the EZVIZ S2 is enough. Sure, we always want the best of the best. However, in some cases, we don’t really need an expensive camera.

For instance, most people don’t care about the camera you’ve used to take a photo. No matter how wonderful it is, they’ll care about the place, the way you took your photo or the story behind the moment you’ve captured.

This is the reason why it’s perfectly okay to use a cheaper action camera like the EZVIZ S2, in case you have doubts. The samples I took has good color reproduction, average white balance processing, and noticeable grains. Due to my incredibly high standards, I find it difficult to like the camera’s outputs — but my friends did. As I asked around, I find that most people have no qualms about the image quality.

The photo mode has three shooting options for you to choose from — Single shot, Burst, and Timelapse. The mode also gives you the option to shoot in different sizes: 2MP, 4MP, and 8MP. There’s a professional mode, too, in case you want to experiment with your shots. You can customize the white balance, adjust the ISO and exposure value, and even apply filters.

Better for videos

The EZVIZ S2 focuses on video recording. It has a dashcam mode with an emergency recording feature, which prevents the footage from being deleted. This is useful as a piece of evidence, especially during crucial and unforeseen accidents.

There’s also a video mode where you can record at 1080p in 50 fps. The camera can handle three different shooting modes such as video, video+photo, and timelapse. If 1080p is too much, there’s a 720p recording, too, which can cap off at 120fps for slo-mo recording. Additionally, there’s a pro mode for you to adjust your settings the way you like it.

Here are some stills that were taken from the video clips I shot. As long as there’s sufficient light, you can capture photos and videos without any worries.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The EZVIZ S2 2-in-1 Action Camera is perfect as a travel companion, especially for those who love taking road trips. You get an action camera and a dashcam in one for only PhP 4,299 (US$ 84), complete with mounts and accessories. You can choose between black, orange, yellow, and blue for the unit. For this price range, it’s a sweet deal. This is being distributed by VST-ECS Philippines.

This camera is also helpful for starters pursuing underwater and adventure photography; a stepping stone before they upgrade to more professional gear.

Moreover, the EZVIZ S2 is helpful when documenting your adventures every now and then. During my stint with this device, I realized that sometimes, we don’t really need the best. All we need is something that’s enough to capture precious moments while we live our lives to the fullest.

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