Going Underwater – Revisited
A year ago I blogged about my project to find a underwater-capable camera to take pictures of our girl swimming. The state of affairs haven’t changed too much since that post. Basically, you either get:
A comparatively cheap vinyl case solution; or
A waterproof compact camera; or
An external polycarbonate housing camera casings.
I tried going with the first solution first, picking up a cheap case to try it out with the home guinea pig camera – Ling’s nearly 4 year old Panasonic LZ8. Nope she didn’t suspect that her beloved camera was going for a swim soon! The case arrived from eBay yesterday. I took a few minutes to assemble it together, and then the litmus test. Dunking it into water with a piece of paper supposedly sealed in to see if there’s leakage.
And yep there was – in just 5 minutes. Either I didn’t follow the instructions incorrectly, or the damn thing just doesn’t work. To be fair though; the second attempt seemed successful; the paper stayed dry this time. But this was after I turned the three sealing screws so hard I got finger blisters. And one failure is one too many.
Next solution. There are lots of water-friendly cameras around, with just about every major compact camera manufacturer having its own models. I was eyeing an Olympus TG-310, which rated as an inexpensive solution at around SGD200 that produced reasonably good images, until I read of the horror stories on Amazon about the camera not being waterproof. Nope.
The last solution – polycarbonate housings – seem to be the safest. Unfortunately, they can also be pretty expensive, with some of the DSLR housings routinely costing 1-2 times the DSLR itself. For instance, the comparatively cheaper Ikelite housing for my D7000 costs SGD2,500 – ouch!! And the better ones were going to cost SGD4,000. Sure, I wasn’t going for a DSLR water-capable solution, but still. Moreover, these housings are typically manufactured specific to camera models i.e. you can’t buy a housing for one camera and use it for another camera, unless the latter has the exact physical characteristics and button placements.
Interestingly though, there’s a third-party housing that goes with the one-size-fit-all. It’s reasonably affordable at SGD199, and it got fairly good reviews though the housing limits you to just taking stills with zero other functionality (i.e. no zooming, no tinkering around with buttons, no movie, no flash).
I would have gone for this solution right away – except that I really wanted to be able to take underwater movies of our girl swimming, and this housing would have made it pretty much impossible.
So, after a lot of hunting high and low, I finally found a solution that met all my project requirements: a first-party housing + for a pretty decent compact camera that supported full HD movie capture + fairly cheap too with a total cost of under SGD300. More in the next post!