Latest News. . .
scroll down to bottom for camera news and SLR lens recommendations.
Dec. 2012 -- I have been making images for my next book, and this one created quite a stir. Everyone wants to know how the image was created:
It all started with a photo from a series that I took of an arrow crab in a lovely purple sponge that was lit from behind.
While I loved the colors, the eyes were not in the brightest area and there was a conflict of subjects. So I chose a different crab image from the series and I started to play. First I just made it all abstract, then I added another crab. But this was definitely not good. I loved the color, I loved the bright area behind the eyes on this one, but there was too much brightness and the bent legs were weird and distracting. But the colors were compelling.
I went back to the original crab and realized that while the background was stunning, it needed a different subject. I looked through my entire file and Voila! I knew immediately that the red hermit crab was perfect! After many, many permutations I finally liked it a lot. I hope you do, too. I am sorry that I have to plaster my name across it, but until I get it on to a more secure web site, I have to do this.
I can't wait to see this image properly printed from the high resolution file!
April, 2012 -- Cathy produces world's largest airport underwater photo installation. Click here for the whole wall, 9 feet high and 146 feet long. (Correction from earlier length of 200 feet.)
Solomon Islands 2013 July 30 to August 13
We are going back to the Solomon Islands for our umpteenth trip (I think we are up to 14 or 18 trips??) on the MV Bilikiki. Check out this wonderful trip for 2013.
Sinking of the Kittiwake
Cathy & CJ had a front row seat for this exciting event one year ago -- and were in the first wave of people to dive it once it was down. Watch Tony's terrific video of the event. I know -- this is not exactly breaking news, but it is still exciting.
Cathy's US workshop in 2013 is scheduled for...
Beneath the Sea, March 24 and 25, 2012--Check the seminar page for all of the details.
Photo Centre Renovation Completed Aug, 2011
Now our downstairs store/gallery looks as spiffy as our upstairs store. Come and visit the basement of the Photo Centre to view Cathy's breathtaking images, take a class, shop for underwater camera systems and studio lighting. Take a peek We have also completely rebuilt our office and framing areas. The darkroom is gone.
Latest Cameras for Underwater, Dec, 2012
There are dozens of in-depth reviews on the web for every camera of interest. What I discuss here are those features that are important to housing a camera for underwater. We only use a few features underwater compared to the hundreds of features available, and it is all too common to choose a camera based on above-water ratings and end up with the wrong camera for underwater. For underwater, we need image sensors with a wide contrast range, such as the newest ones found in the Nikon D7000, D800 and D4. We need lenses for macro and wide, and we need easy access to exposure controls.
Olympus XZ-1 camera and housing with UFL2 or UFL1 strobe. (Sorry -- my review of this excellent camera seems to have disappeared!)
Olympus E-PL3 camera and housing. The EPL5 is here and the housing should be along in a few months.
SeaLife DC1400 -- still the most camera for the least money. Easy to use, albeit the strobe can be erratic until you learn what works best for your configurations.
Stylus TG620 and TG820 Olympus waterproof wonders with housing to 130 feet.
Nikon D4 and Nikon D800 -- the next generation of FX cameras is here!! They not only produce the highest quality yet, but they produce broadcast quality video. Read more about them. While the D800 a fantastic camera, you better be ready for storing a lot of large files.
The Nikon D7000 is a FANTASTIC DX camera, and at 16 MP, you can make terrific enlargements. It is FAST, has the usual wide range of Nikon DX lenses. Like all pro Nikon cameras, the f-stop and shutter speed are single controls, easily accessed through a housing. Changing the point of focus is also a single button control for fast changes. There are no disadvantages that I can think of to the D7000 except the size of the viewfinder when compared to the D3 and the lack of a true 60mm lens when compared to the FX cameras.
Advantages of Nikon cameras over most others
Lens choices for the D3 and D700
• Nikkor AF-S Zoom 14 - 24mm f/2.8G ED lens
Lens choices for the D300/D300s:
• Sigma 10 - 20mm for Nikon SLR - a fine alternative
• Tokina Fisheye zoom 10 - 17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107
• You can view the highlight warning while the photo is at full size. Many other cameras reduce the playback image to show the highlight warning and the histogram side by side, making it difficult to study your photos. The ability to study your photos is the whole key to taking advantage of shooting with digital. Without seeing your image clearly, you are more likely to miss flaws in your photo that you should correct and this slows your progress underwater while shooting.
• You can change your point of focus with a single touch of a navigation key. (It is often several steps with Canon.)
• You can change the f stop and shutter speed with a single step with independent controls.
• You can set shooting priorities from release to focus separately for Servo and Continuous focusing.
And so forth. Many of my Canon students prefer the Nikon options once they are aware of them. The photos are comparable with either system, but Nikon is just easier.
With these cameras we are back to the original film format lenses, so you will want the 60mm micro Nikkor for your closest photos and the Nikkor fisheye AF 16mm f/2.8D to get full 180° of coverage. For distant fish, use the 105mm micro Nikkor, and choose from a wide range of zoom lenses, such as the Nikkor AF-S Zoom 14 - 24mm f/2.8G ED lens with an angle of 114° to 84° for everything in between.
...remain the same that we have used for all previous digital DX models. The 60 and 105mm micro Nikkor lenses for macro photography, the 10.5 mm for extreme wide angle, the Tokina 10 - 17 mm for extreme wide/zoom and there are lots of choices for the zoom range in between, including the Sigma 10 - 20 mm (not available for Sea and Sea housings), the Nikkor 12 - 24 mm and Nikkor 10 - 24 mm and many more narrower ones. Check to see which lenses are supported by the housing of your choice as the zoom gears are proprietary to the housing.
Adding an external strobe to any compact digital camera in a clear housing
An external slave strobe can be mounted with any compact camera with a built-in strobe behind a clear plastic port. You can usually attach a fiber optic cable in front of the camera's strobe. When the strobe fires through the clear housing, the signal is carried through the fiber optic cord to the slave sensor of the external strobe. A proper combination of camera and strobe will provide full TTL strobe exposure control. Some cameras, such as the Canon S and G series will NOT TTL when you are using manual exposure control. Since most underwater photographers need manual control for the better exposures, the loss of TTL is a major set back. I would much prefer the cameras that provide manual exposure control while still providing the wonderful advantage of TTL strobe control. For most underwater photographers, the added help of TTL greatly increases their number of good exposures, and we all need all the help we can get.
Those of you who have our Heinrichs Weikamp TTL converter in the Subal housings, don't forget to check your converter battery and carry spares on your dive trip. Uncover the circuit board, and watch the tiny lights blink several times fast, then three times slower to indicate that the battery is good when you first install it.
Revised Dec. 11, 2012