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Tuesday, December 05, 2006 

Underwater Shooting Tips for Digicams

From questions I've gotten in my mail, here's some general tips for shooting with most digicams.
From my point of view the bigger the wreck, the more difficult it is to get a overall shot without strobe.
If there's a foreground object, light it and expose for the background with a slow shutter speed as you can hold (around 1/60th if you haven't had too much coffee). Except if you're trying to include a sunspot, then use a fast shutter speed, open up your aperture and silhouette your background, you can still light the foreground object with your strobe. For a long shot, don't bother with the strobe, it's like people trying to light the grand canyon from a train. If it's visible, pump up your ISO, use a slow shutter speed. Also shoot it in Camera RAW and correct exposure and white balance later. Or shoot with one of Alex Mustard's great Magic Filters.
btw are there general rules what settings you have to use when shooting? I could f.e. imagine that best macro setting would be the highest aperture (for the E900 i think it is 8) and as long exposure time as possible, isn't it?
With which settings you get these nice black backgrounds?
I shoot macro with the Inon lenses at f8 and 1/2000 sec. Very fast for sharpness with the strobe as close as possible to the subject for the best color saturation.
You always control the background with shutter speed. Want to open it up? Shoot slower. Want it blacker? Shoot faster. Can't get what you want? Adjust strobe power or position so you can work with it. Close in is where TTL usually shines and gives nice backgrounds too.

How is it with portraits and wideangle/fisheye shots? I would say an aperture somewhere in the middle (maybe 5.6?) and relative short exposure time?
Did you all your shots with ISO 100 or are you using also higher ISO value? I think higher ISO value means also more image noise, isn`t it?
Yes, actually on digicams at more moderate distances where you don't need the depth of field around f4.5 is the best sharpness, due to the very small actual apertures.

I shoot the lowest ISO I can. ISO 80-100. Gives the best detail and color. I always shoot in Camera RAW and post process the images, as you can 'save' many shots and or improve them greatly later.

Also use manual or shutter priority settings. Get close. If you think you are close, get closer. 2 to '4' away is where most digicams can shoot well without external lenses. You camera may well be able to get pretty close by switching to it's macro setting. Generally shoot up and use the available light to help light your backgrounds on wide angle.

Hey Jack

Thanks for the compact camera tips. This helps very much!



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  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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