On most of trips years ago, I’d get an underwater disposable camera for when I was snorkeling (yes, kids, the old lady used film) and then use the results to help me sketch the fish later with a charcoal pencil in my sketchbook. I would call them “reminders” more than actual photographs.
But two years ago, I went to the Dominican Republic to swim with the humpbacks and felt that I needed a step up from that. But the idea of putting my big SLR in the water gave me pause. There was a wide variety of solutions for that ranging from glorified oversized ziplock bag for $100 to $20,000 enclosures that looked like you needed a degree in mechanical engineering to get them put together. So, I spent a couple hundred dollars on a little 10 MP point and shoot from a company called Sealife. It was light-weight and uncomplicated. The waterproof case was great, it was idiot-proof. This thing was *not* going to leak. But the camera itself was only adequate.
And I used it again for my trip to the Galapagos.
But it was time to upgrade. On the list for this year are the manatees in Florida, the whales in Mexico, and the narwhals in the Arctic. So, I went from the $300 solution to the $1000 solution because I’m still not ready to put my very expensive SLR into the drink. And I think the SLR is overkill for me because I don’t have time / control / focus that I do on land because I’m bobbing around in the water. What I got was a Canon G12 and an Ikelite enclosure. Canon had an underwater enclosure that was half the price, but it looked fragile and people complained about leaks. Now when you get to this level of equipment, it’s not idiot-proof, and if you don’t treat it like bomb delusion, well, your results may vary. So, probably most of the complaints were just people who just weren’t methodical about it. But my first rule of camera equipment is, well, I’m clumsy and it will be dropped. Any camera I’m carrying will go over the side with me.
Last weekend was the trip to Florida. The shakedown cruise for the new camera rig. And I’m pleased to report that, while I didn’t get nearly enough time with the manatee and the weather was overcast and rainy (which affected the amount of light), I am very pleased with the results. It’s not SLR quality, but it’s a distinct step up.