There are a few different kind of systems to choose from when taking UW photos, most common are:
-DSLR - Digital Single Lens Reflex
-Compact Digital Camera
-Action camera, GoPro or similar. DSLR - Digital Single Lens Reflex This is the choice for professionals and photo nerds, there are some obvious pros with this kind of system but there are also some heavy cons.
Canon, Nikon & Sony are pretty dominant for the DSLR but they don’t make housings for their DSLR cameras. Housings can be bought from Aquatica, Sea & Sea, Nauticam, Ikelite and more. Olympus have some nice housings for their mirrorless cameras. Pros:
Image quality.
Great low light abilities, especially with a full format sensor.
Great for wide angle photos.
Great for Macro.
Great flexibility for different lenses.
Powerful lightning, often essential when going deeper.
Ability to expand system and put on different strobes, lights and other stuff.
Wired connection to strobes for good control. Cons:
Very heavy, problems when getting on a flight.
Bulky, can be hard to handle on small boats.
Not possible to change lens under water.
A lot of maintenance for o-rings and more.
It can be hard to get close to objects in cracks and similar, camera is too big. Compact Digital Camera Canon have their own housings for a lot of their compacts, Olympus as well. For Sony and the other you will have to get a third party housing from Ikelite or Nauticam for example, this is more expensive. Top of the line in compacts today (2016) are Sonys RX series or Canons G series.
The compact systems can often be expanded with wet lenses, Inon makes adapters and lenses for Canon housings. Wet lenses are good for getting wider angles or better macro photos. External strobes are also common for compacts, usually connected via an optical cable. Pros:
Not as expensive as DSLR with housing.
Easy to expand with strobes and wet lenses.
Possible to change wet lenses underwater.
Easy and lightweight, good for travel.
OK for low light, not great.
Easy to get close in a tight space.
Proper image quality. Cons
Low light not as good as DSLR.
No superwide angle.
No electrical connection to strobes, not as good control.
Battery life can be poor. Action camera, Gopro or similar. Action cameras are very easy to use and they are not too expensive, underwater housing is often included for 40-60m. Many divers carry one of these today. Get a red filter of you want to use it for diving. Pros
Super small, super light.
Good for video.
You can put it on a stick to get close to things you don’t like. Cons
Terrible in low light conditions, sensors are very small.
Photo quality is not very good even with the latest GoPro 4 black.
White balance can’t be customized, get red filter or a video light to fix this.
No viewfinder, LCD back can be added.
Poor battery life, even poorer with LCD back
Fix focus, no macro mode.
Settings can’t be changed very much.
Ola & Maria are full time workers and part time adventurers, follow for photos around the world, over and under water. © sixweeks 2018
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