Waterproofed Photography

Discussion in 'Paddling Photography' started by Tootsall, May 19, 2009.

  1. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    I've been concerned about waterproofing a camera for years now. I like to have the extra reach of a good zoom but I'm always worried about a dunking wrecking the hardware. My recent acquisition of a Panasonic FZ28 is allowing me to get more creative but is a real concern for canoeing (and now, kayaking). I am thinking that I should pick up a Pelican P1120 for it. My wife and I are also planning a trip to Curacao in Feb. and I know I'm going to want to get underwater pictures so I'm going to need a waterproof point-n-shoot.

    So far I'm thinking that the Pentax W60 looks like a pretty good bet but I also have read the reports on the Olympus 1030 SW. One thing I notice is that some of the makers recommend that you have the waterproof gasket replaced by a dealer every year: do any of you actually follow that recommendation? cost?

    Has anybody done a direct comparison between those two cameras? I don't want to spend more than about $300 on something that will see secondary use only. Oh... and it must use SD, enhanced SD or micro SD media (I like to have all of the gadgets including the GPS using interchangeable cards).

    Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?
     
  2. Johan

    Johan Paddler

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    The Olympus waterproof cameras have a new generation out now!

    It's called the Olympus Mju Tough series and has two models: the Tough 6000 and 8000. I recently bought the 8000 and am very pleased with both the camera and the quality of pictures and video it shoots!

    [​IMG]

    All the details and specs can be found here:
    http://www.olympuscanada.com/cpg_sectio ... tal_sw.asp

    Big difference with the 1030/50/70 series is the new Dual Image Stabilisation (both sensor shift and digital). I have yet to shoot a blurry image! Many of the settings can be changed by tapping the body of the camera, rather than wrestling little buttons. How cool is that!?

    Best of all, it produces sharp, focussed and well-lit images under practically all circumstances and lighting conditions I have tried so far, including underwater and macro shots. Only drawback I've been able to detect: the battery doesn't like the cold. When held underwater for long periods or while sitting on the deck in spray, wind and cold temperatures, the metal body will get really cold and next the battery warning light will start to blink. This corrects itself as soon as you allow the camera to warm back up, for instance by putting it in your PFD pocket.

    The camera works with either Olympus' proprietary xD-Picture Cardâ„¢ or with microSD cards. To use the Panorama shooting menu you need to have an xD card, besides that the two cards work the same.

    Very happy with this camera - would recommend it to anyone!
     
  3. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    Were your photos of the Ladysmith weekend taken on the 8000? Very nice if so. A bit costlier than the 6000 for the extra 20' submersion capability: did you evaluate/compare the photograph results between the two models?

    ps: Rider is still waiting for that little envelope containing snapshots of his licence plate to arrive in the mail. :D
     
  4. Johan

    Johan Paddler

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    Yes - they were.
    I actually batch-processed those from the massive 12mp originals (3,968 x 2,976 pixels) to a smaller size, which reduced the quality of color and added some noise. The originals are much sharper still!

    When comparing the specs for the 6000 and 8000, I do not see anything which would drastically affect the image quality between the two models. The image sensor for the 6000 is 10 megapixel instead of 12, but all the important specs for the lens, zoom, aperture, shutter speed, focus range, iso range, etc seem to be the same.

    When looking at the models in the store, I remember noticing how very little difference there seemed to be. I went with the 8000 purely for the higher shock- and waterproof ratings.

    My guess is that the image quality of the 6000 would be very comparable, if not almost identical, to the 8000.
     
  5. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    Another question: does anyone have any experience with those "waterproof" bags that are sold c/w telescoping lens hoods (Nikon, Canon et al) for DSLR? The FZ could work with one of those but....I dunno.... bag your camera and take it overboard? (And note that the "bag" makers will only guarantee the bag, not the contents!)
     
  6. Johan

    Johan Paddler

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    I trust those bags with my 60 dollar cell phone.

    With a 1500 dollar DSLR - not so much :roll:

    They're just one or two steps up the ladder from a Ziploc...
     
  7. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    You have a point.
     
  8. cattail

    cattail Paddler

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    Johan, How is the wind noise and glare on the video shot with your Olympus? I just got the stylus 550 WP with 10 mp and waterproof to
    10' for less than $200 usd I think it's ideal for kayaking stills. My video not the best with glare and howling wind noise
    pointed in some directions I know a lot of video cameras have trouble with.
    A friend has the gopro he says the audio is almost nonexistant in the waterproof housing but the video is great with a wide
    angle lens and image stabilzation for under $200 also.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. gnarlydog

    gnarlydog Paddler

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    I have been taking pictures for some years now with waterproof cameras and while they can't be compared to a good DSRL they give you the abilty to take pictures that DSLR can't.
    A waterproof housing is bulky and such camera will probably be stored in a non accessible place while paddling (I sea kayak).
    Having my Olympus in my PFD pocket allows me to take action shots.
    I have tried the waterproof bag system. One word: ghetto.
    Water droplets continuously ruining just about every shot.
    The Olympus has a special coating that prevents most droplets.
    I started with a SW720 and while the manuf recommends changing the seals every year I did not.
    After 3 yrs the camera started to leak.
    Bugger. So I enquired on the cost of replacing the seals: 1/3 of the cost of the camera. Hmmm... if I spent 1/3 every year in 3 years it would have paid for the camera... I broke even.
    Bought two (yes two) new SW1030 and will do the same.
    After 3 years the camera starts to corrode on the outside and technology advances. That's the cost of taking pix on the (salt) water.
    While the Olympus might not be as good as my Hasselblad it gives me pix that I could not get with a bulky camera.
    For pix of sea kayaking with Olympus: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gnarlydog/sets/72157600524255302/
     
  10. Johan

    Johan Paddler

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    I took a peek at your kayaking set on Flickr, and WOW!
    Reeeaaallyyy great shots: beautiful landscapes and cool action scenes. You have a great eye for composition and detail.

    Any critics of small point-and-shoot digitals shall now forever hold their peace!

    Now, given the quality of this set and you mentioning your Hasselblad, are you a professional photographer? :wink: :wink:

    By the looks of it, you are blessed with a very stunning place to paddle and a great group of people to do it with. I look forward to seeing some trip reports with photo's from you on this site! Most of us are in the Pacific Northwest, so it's nice to see paddling action in some more exotic locales :D
     
  11. Johan

    Johan Paddler

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    @ Cattail

    I have not yet experienced any glare while shooting video with this camera, even on very sunny days. Truth be told I have only shot about 6-7 videos to date, though :wink:

    What I did notice: when quickly panning from a dark to a bright area there is a temporary moment of white-out due to overexposure - while the sensor figures out what just happened.

    I haven't yet shot any video in high winds, since I'm still working on a tripod install on my foredeck. So I can't say anything useful about the wind noise. As soon as I have the tripod set up I'll take it for a spin when it's blowing out, and post the results right here for you!

    In general the sound quality seems to be quite good. It picks up speech very well, even from a couple of boat lengths away. I primarily bought it to shoot stills, but it's nice to now discover it does video so well too!

    With a 2 GB card, it will shoot 1.5 hrs of qVGA (320x240) or about 37 mins of VGA (640x480), both at 15 frames per second. You can pump it up to 30 frames per second, effectively cutting those times in half. I've found the 15 fps works just fine on the water.

    Geesh - I'm such a camera geek :lol:
     
  12. gnarlydog

    gnarlydog Paddler

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    Johan, thank you for your comments.
    Admittedly I have formal schooling in photography but that necessarily did not teach me how to take well composed images. Most of the 3 years in college was dedicated to the technical aspect of printing and studio work.
    All my composition skill is self tought by observing other's work (flickr is a great sorce).
    The cameras are way too advanced today to bother with manual manipulations; I let the camera do the thinking for the exposure while I dedicate myslef fully to capture the moment composing it correctly.
    I used to shoot professionally (architecture) but these days I just do it for fun.
     
  13. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    I contacted Underwater Kenetics and just received following email: those who followed Dan's thread on his Broken Island Group trip will know that this is what he uses. There is a special price on some cases/colours for clearance but you have to contact them directly for that. (Placing my order today). If you don't pack the same lense or sun hoods that Dan uses there is obviously room for a cell phone, watch/wallet, insulin kit, car remote FOB, or whatever else you need to store that has to be kept dry.

     
  14. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Not to deflate your excitement but I really would much prefer to have a smaller box for my camera. If you don't need a box that big, get a smaller one -- it's much better as it doesn't take up so much deck space (and height) and it's much safer.

    *****
     
  15. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    The case came in and I've got it about 3/4 set up. I realize that it's larger than what is required for the camera but I also carry a Zoom H2 sound recorder with me when I'm "out and about" (allows me to create my own "background" sounds for the office....whether a bird singing it's head off or a rippling brook or the waves against a shoreline). http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h2/
    That also means I carry a second, external stereo mic, ear buds, cable, and batteries (I can get up to 17 hours of recording on a single 2gig SD card).

    I'll also pack a spare battery for the camera (I just wish that the Panasonic camera didn't use a dedicated battery but so far it has a working life far in excess of the rechargeable NiMH AA's that my older Kodak used.) and I suspect I'll be putting the car keys in there too.

    So really the case isn't too big for my "needs".

    Dan, if you don't mind, how did you attach the rings or loops on the sides of yours? I'm loathe to punch holes in the case and I don't think that those two bosses on the sides (for "stacking" cases?) are large enough to allow sufficient thread depth for secure engagement.
     
  16. lance_randy

    lance_randy Paddler

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    That zoom recorder looked interesting, so I took a look at it. My god....there is a whole new world out there! I had a stereo mic hooked up to a minidisc back in the day, that was really the cats ass back then....but this....WOW.
     
  17. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    They are pretty handy all right. I'd been reading about them for a couple of months and while I was at the International trumpet conference in Banff last June decided to take the plunge. Long & McQuade were selling them for about $220. The first thing I did was record a 20 minute solo piece by Sergei Nakariakov and it came out just great (because it was all trumpet players we were encouraged to record whatever we wanted by the host, Jens Lindemann...so the "copyright police" can just go back into hiding).

    Since then I convinced our Community Band to buy a couple (one for each of the bands) and we record all of our concerts and then burn CDs for those band members who want them. As I said earlier I also record some nature stuff; that recorder has an incredible dynamic range from a whisper to a roar. Combine that with Audacity (a freeware sound editing program) and you can convert MP3 to WAV or back, edit out pops and crackles, clip, cut & paste, adjust tempo without affecting frequency...or vice-versa... essentially it becomes a sound recording studio "in your pocket".)
     
  18. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I glued a lash tab to each side of the waterproof box. I used a commercial welding glue but some epoxy should work just as well (after sanding both surfaces):

    [​IMG]

    *****
     
  19. Tootsall

    Tootsall Paddler

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    Thanks Dan, that's precisely the info I was looking for.
     
  20. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    JB Weld should do the job. there is very little that it won't glue.