View Full Version : Advice on equipment?

01-02-2007, 01:19 AM
Hi Everyone,

I am thinking of getting into underwater photography but want to do it right. ("DIR?" lol.)

I am leaning in the direction of a Nikon D200 because it seems to be the best value for the $1500 price without lens. I know Canon makes some really good equipment with a higher megapixel count, but they're a fortune.

As to lenses, can any one make recommendations? I like macro, but is there a lens that can do both macro and decent wide angle shots?

How about housings? I see some of these housings that have flip down macro with real high magnification powers.

Diver Dennis
01-02-2007, 02:19 AM
Hi iDiveChick. I use a Canon Rebel XT or 350D which is only 8MP. The new Rebel XTi has 10MP. I haven't posted any photos here but I do have a lot on another board you could take a look at. Rebels are relatively cheap, it's the housings and strobes that are expensive. The D200 is very nice but a lot more $$$.

As far as lenses, I've never seen flip down macro. I use a 10-22mm wide angle and a 100mm macro. I do have a Woody. Woody's diopter that is, it is a wet mount lens that I use shooting macro. Inexpensive and it works well. I'll post some photos here later.

Mike V
01-02-2007, 02:28 AM
D200 is a great camera, you will definitely be happy with it.

Lenses, i would start with the 60mm for macro and fish portrait type photos. Then add a WA zoom for some flexibility, say the Sigma 10-22. Or if you want one "do it all" lens i would suggest the Sigma 17-70mm, it has a macro setting so that is good.

The flip down macro is something similar to what Dennis is referring to, a Woody Diopter that fits on the front of the flat port and can be taken on and off underwater. But i wouldn't worry about that quite yet. Start with two lenses and go from there, one macro and one wide.

I would suggest the Inon 240 or Ikelite DS125 for strobe.

Housing: what sort of budget and where do you live? Recommendations will differ if you are in Europe or N. America

And of course... you should really enroll in a photo class so you can learn to use it all! Your local dive shop might have one or you can go on location to any number of places, many pros offer on location workshops in prime areas.

01-02-2007, 02:34 AM
I'm in Southern California. I want a high quality housing as they should last.

Diver Dennis
01-02-2007, 02:37 AM
Hi Mike! Mike taught me how to take photos in Nov. 2005 in Yap. I also went to his terrific photo workshop in Bali last November. It was so good, we signed up again for October this year. Great course, wonderful location.

A good photo course is what I would recommend to anyone starting out in U/W photography and Mike is one of the best.

Mike V
01-02-2007, 03:11 AM
being in the US i would contact Ryan Canon at www.reefphoto.com he can put a great package together for you. He is in Florida

I would suggest Aquatica, Sea and Sea, or Nexus as high quality products that are not over the top in price.

You can also look at www.backscatter.com in Monterey or www.h2ophotopros.com in LA. If you are close to LA i highly suggest going to someplace like h2o and getting your hands on some of these housings. Different sized hands and the balance of rigs etc is pretty important. They will let you try out several housings on a rental/try out basis.

Best thing with a dedicated shop is you have help right there when you need it

01-02-2007, 01:52 PM
you want beers to go with the advice? :D

01-03-2007, 01:16 AM
Hi Everyone,

I am thinking of getting into underwater photography but want to do it right. ("DIR?" lol.)

I am leaning in the direction of a Nikon D200 because it seems to be the best value for the $1500 price without lens. I know Canon makes some really good equipment with a higher megapixel count, but they're a fortune.

As to lenses, can any one make recommendations? I like macro, but is there a lens that can do both macro and decent wide angle shots?

How about housings? I see some of these housings that have flip down macro with real high magnification powers.

The D200 is a nice setup - that's my primary setup. I have also a D70, which is also a great setup. D200 allows me a bit more latitude in cropping with the slightly higher resolution.

Remember also that megapixel count is definitely not the be-all or end-all of looking for a good camera. I think sometimes people focus a little too much on megapixels - but it is a major marketing point, though. Remember to double your resolution you need 4 times the number of megapixels, so the difference between an 8 mpix and 10 mpix camera from a resolution standpoint is negligible. I'd rather have better dynamic range than a few more megapixels.

There are a number of great housings available. Ikelite makes a great housing for the D200 - I have an Ike housing for my D70. I went with the Aquatica housing for the D200 - one of the reasons was that it was the only one I found that was rated to 300 ft. Plus it was nicely designed too :).

For lenses, I would say the 60mm micro would be a good first macro lens, like Mike mentions. The 12-24mm is a decent wide zoom, affording some flexibility in the focal length. With a mid-range zoom I tend to think you do tend to sacrifice something to "have it all", ironically. Not that it's necessarily bad, but my personal preference is to go with a specific lens for a specific job.

01-03-2007, 03:00 AM
That banded coral shrimp photo on your website was really nice! What lens did you use?

01-03-2007, 01:13 PM
That banded coral shrimp photo on yoru website was really nice! What lens did you use?

Thanks. That was the one in Roatan last January. It was with the Nikkor 60mm micro (macro lens) on my Ike/D70 setup.

Al Mialkovsky
01-04-2007, 05:34 PM
As I have learned, no matter how good the camera or how good the housing something that is equally as important is flood insurance.

01-11-2007, 04:55 AM
Personally, I wouldn't take a D200 underwater unless you have had years of underwater photography experience. It's the cost, the equipment and the challenge of handling complex dslr equipments under water, etc etc that makes it really challenging and if it's a D200 setup, chance of loosing that setup because of flooding is very high due to being a beginer.

Having said that, a good point and shoot with an excellent single strobe (like an Inon or Ikelite) might be a choice of learning underwater photography. They can take outstanding quality pictures.

I have recently switched to shoot dSLR after my beloved Olympus C5050 point and shoot and so far I have achived no pictures from my Nikon D80 that is any better then shot with the Olympus. I think by the end of this year, things should change but meanwhile, it's a learning curve.

01-28-2007, 04:27 AM
Great work Warren - how much after processing do you do and what do you use Photoshop, etc?

02-23-2007, 11:04 AM
D200 is a great camera, I'm waiting for my sea&sea housing for my d200. Currently I use F5 and d70, all with sea&sea housing. Most housing manufacturer make the underwater housing for d200. I use 4 main lenses for my work, 10,5mm and 12-24mm for wide angle (17-35mm for F5), 60mm macro and 105mm for macro. All the housing are equiped with their corresponding port for each lenses. I use YS 350 for the wide angle shooting..it's a monster, and dual ys 30 for macro. Any one has any experience with inon z240?

to see the result of the d70, http://ciptoag.multiply.com

02-23-2007, 02:54 PM
Chip, your photo here (http://ciptoag.multiply.com/photos/hi-res/5/29?xurl=%2Fphotos%2Fphoto%2F5%2F29) is gorgeous! The baby lionfish is cute too!

You can upload any photos you have into the Gallery here if you wish and they will randomly appear on the front page under "Random Images".


10-17-2007, 08:30 PM
As a dive shop owner I have seen lots of different set ups.... I would liken owning your first UW camera to owning your first car. Would you recommend a newly qualified driver to buy a Porsche?

I started UW photography with a very basic setup, and flooded the damn thing on it's first outing! It was an expensive camera with an inexpensive housing!

I then did some home work and decided on the Sea and Sea DX8000. This camera and housing has subsequently been discontinued, but the replacement is still a great all round camera / housing. (The new one offers 10 mega pixels - the picture quality is great!). All of the pictures on my web site indigodive.com and in my galleries were taken with this camera.

The camera has an automatic setting, so that you can get some great shots pretty much as soon as you get started, and it has a manual mode so that you can play with F stops, white balance so on and so forth.

The other thing that I like with the camera is that it is small enough to fit in your pocket when you are top side, and still takes great shots.

The housing is compact enough that you travel with it in your hand luggage, and you access to all the functionality of the housing when you are underwater.

The DX8000 can take great macro shots, and it also has a wet lens that you can slide on during the dive to take wide angle shots - which you can't do with the larger SLR housings.

My only frustration with this camera is the cycle time between shots when using the flash - but digital technology will rectify this over time I guess!

Lastly, the DX8000 set up also has a very handy video capability - very handy when you see something that just will only work as a moving picture!

By the way - I am not a Sea and Sea employee - just really like base model cameras. I have been using mine for about 18 months now, and my original set up has about 700 dives. I am now ready to move on to something a little more sophisticated, so am trying to get my husband to agree that I should be allowed to spend a few grand on my new set-up! :)

The new Sea and Sea camera (10 mega pixel) with housing and flash will cost approx US$1000 give or take - or you can buy the camera and housing and buy accessories via fantasea.com - they make some really good stuff and the prices and very reasonable. I especially like their LED lights.

Hope that this helps.

Kay Wilson,
Indigo Dive,
St. Vincent.

10-17-2007, 11:39 PM
Hi iDiveChick,
I am the proud owner of a Nikon D200. Great Camera, I love it I bought it Feb. 2006. If I were in the market for a Digital SLR setup that I could use both under & Topside, I would get a D300. Why buy a D200 when in 2 - 3 weeks the d300 will hit the shelf. In this business of DSL photography, I would want to have the latest technology. The D300 is only a couple hundred more ( $1,799.00) . And for that you get a state of the art revolutionary camera. The LCD has 920,000 dots (640 x 480 x 3 [RGB]), much more than the 320 x 240 x 3 = 230,000 dot screens of the D40, D40x, D80, D200, Canon Rebel XTi, Canon 40D, $4,500 Canon 1D Mk III or $8,000 Canon 1Ds Mk III. This LCD "ROCKS" and will set precedence in the DSL market in the future. It also has "Live view" a feature that will sure come in handy watching that large 3" super sharp LCD screen instead of straining through the eyepiece. The D300 has 12Mp instead of 10 ( useful for creative cropping ) Iso 200-3200 - Better low light performance will enhance your Natural light or Wreck photos, I could go on & on. It just makes sense to wait a couple months and get the D300 you wont be sorry you did. I'll sell you my D200 if you want a good deal on a soon to be an outdated camera. Look just a few years ago (2002) people paid $4000.00 for a Nikon D1h .Today it's pretty much worthless. I'm drooling over the D300

10-18-2007, 04:57 AM
Hi idivechick,

I agree with the postings suggesting point and shoot.........try that out for a year and by the time you get comfortable enough with it you will be ready to move up and the technology will have advanced as well as the prices more than likely having dropped .(Check ebay there are always some p&s listed by upgrades)
One important thing you will need is at LEAST one strobe.......if you don't have a good strobe you will be very disappointed with your pics and may be turned off photography underwater. If your do your homework you will get a strobe that you can then port over to your SLR when you decide to go that route.( Amphibico make some really excellent housings)

p.s. like Dennis "I do have a Woody.":eek: ....just, not for my camera ;) ...sure hope that's your pic in the avatar (dream on MdDuff)
Also if you should ever come up her in the great white north for some premium wreck diving.....I model for free.
Best regards


02-19-2008, 12:21 AM
I used a Canon Digital Rebel XT in an Ikelite housing with a DS125 strobe and the kit lens 18-55mm to take the Bahamas 2007 pictures in the gallery section of my site. Very happy with both, I've been using Canon cameras for a while now. Just picked up the Canon 10-22mm wide angle and a new port. Takes great pictures on land, can't wait to try it underwater.

02-19-2008, 08:32 PM

Beware!! You may end up with a camera case that looks like this!


Once you start, you may have trouble stopping.

02-20-2008, 01:34 PM
That's not even counting the camera you took the picture with! ;)