My DSLR Camera for Underwater Photography
Second part of the Underwater Photography Gear series.
After having used the legendary Nikonos V underwater film camera for many years, the digital revolution finally pushed me to replace my old equipment with pixel makers which would make my life much easier.
In the past it was expensive, time consuming and frustrating to have to wait after a diving trip to see the results – bad or good – and think how I could improve the shots during my next travel.
No doubt the digital era has completely transformed photographers’ lives for only the cost of gigabytes, enabling us to save and edit results immediately.
I was not with the early birds going digital. I preferred to buy a DSLR because the “point and shoot” digital cameras were frustrating: they were really slow in their early releases, there was limitation with the lens (not interchangeable), they could not produce RAW files, and the results were not impressive. DSLR cameras were quite expensive then, and I waited patiently until a good quality camera at an affordable price came on the market. By the end of 2004 I discovered the Nikon D70 and made the switch to digital.
All my underwater photography equipment was chosen specifically, and for reasons perhaps not readily apparent to the weekend hobbyist. I didn’t necessarily go for the most expensive equipment, opting instead for evidence of excellent performance for my needs: reliable equipment that produces high quality image files and high quality digital files.
Over time I replaced my Nikon D70 with the Nikon D200. Then the Nikon D300 hit the market, a version heads and shoulders above the D200. Because the two cameras were physically similar and I found an affordable housing transformation kit, I moved to the D300. I’m still using it today as my main camera. The equivalent to the D300 model today is the Nikon D500. This model has the video in supplement, but it’s also at the end of its career.
Today I’m waiting warmly for the new Nikon D500 to come out next March 2015.
I think the cropped sensor in DX format cameras, has a nice advantage to full frame cameras for underwater photographers. When shooting macro, you get 1.5 times the subject size, which is usually a quite tiny target.
Whatever DSLR camera you choose, it’s important to get one you are comfortable working with for many years, as the housing is the most expensive part of your camera and will fit for one single model.
Make sure to check which housing is available for the camera you’d like to have, before buying the camera, as it might be that you won’t find a convenient housing for the specific model you’d like to acquire.
To conclude, I’m very happy with my DSLR as it’s a high end model always ready for hard work, with a solid aluminium body. I still can use it even after a few years, with no need to upgrade it with any new model. It’s a great Return On Investment camera!
Here under, respectively, the Nikon D300s and Nikon D500 specifications
Nikon D300s specs
|Effective pixels||12.3 million|
|Image sensor||CMOS sensor, 23.6 x 15.8 mm; total pixels: 13.1 million; Nikon DX format|
|Image size (pixels)||4,288 x 2,848 [L], 3,216 x 2,136 [M], 2,144 x 1,424 [S]|
|Sensitivity||ISO 200 to 3200 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV; can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 100 equivalent) below ISO 200 or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 6400 equivalent) above ISO 3200|
|Storage media||Type I CompactFlash memory cards (UDMA compliant); SD memory cards, SDHC compliant|
|Monitor||3-in., approx. 920k-dot (VGA), low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with 170° viewing angle, approx. 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment|
|Exposure metering||3D color matrix metering II, center-weighted and spot metering|
|Exposure modes||Programmed Auto with flexible program (P); Shutter-Priority Auto (S); Aperture-Priority Auto (A); Manual (M)|
|Power sources||One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||Approx. 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.)|
|Weight||Approx. 840 g (1 lb. 14 oz.) without battery, memory card, body cap or monitor cover|
Nikon D500 Specs
|Lens Mount||Nikon F|
|Camera Format||DX / (1.5x Crop Factor)|
|Pixels||Actual: 21.51 Megapixel
Effective: 20.9 Megapixel
|Max Resolution||5568 x 3712|
|Sensor Type / Size||CMOS, 23.5 x 15.7 mm|
|File Formats||Still Images: JPEG, RAW, TIFF
Movies: MOV, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Audio: Linear PCM (Stereo)
|Dust Reduction System||Yes|
|Memory Card Type||SD
|Focus Type||Auto & Manual|
|Focus Mode||Continuous-servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M), Single-servo AF (S)|
|Autofocus Points||Phase Detection:153, 99 cross-type|
|Continuous Shooting||Up to 10 fps|
|Self Timer||20 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 seconds, 2 seconds|
|Connectivity||1/8″ Headphone, 1/8″ Microphone, HDMI C (Mini), Micro-USB, NIkon 10-Pin, USB 3.0|
|Battery||1x EN-EL15 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Pack, 7 VDC, 1900 mAh|
|AC Power Adapter||EH-5b (Optional)|
32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C)
Humidity: 85 – 0%
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2″ / 147.0 x 115.0 x 81.0 mm|
|Weight||1.89 lb / 860 g with battery and memory card|
Read also the next part of the Underwater Photography Gear series, about my DSLR Housing