BY ALEX MUSTARD
* Covers classic and cutting edge techniques
* Explains exactly how to do it, and points out the common mistakes
* Teaches from the perspective of light
* Detailed insight from someone totally immersed in this world
* Not just coral reefs, photography in all underwater conditions
* Presents a vision for how to think about your photography and your lighting
* Helps you select the best photographic equipment and accessories
* Promotes the fun and opportunities of being an underwater photographer
Excerpt from the introduction:
“In this inspiring underwater world, the challenge is rarely deciding what will make a great picture. Rather, it is capturing it. Few branches of photography are as technically demanding and unforgiving of poor technique. Just as Michelangelo needed to master the chisel before carving a marble block into the statue of David, underwater photographers need to learn photo techniques, particularly lighting, to truly express themselves artistically. The aim of this book is to arm you with the techniques that will allow you to produce outstanding images in the full range of underwater conditions. It will also introduce you to many creative techniques that will transform your underwater portfolio from your very next dive.”
S$ 50 NETT
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Light Review Part 1
For any serious scuba diver shooters of underwater photographs and videos one of the most essential equipment to bring along is a device that provides light. Underwater imaging after all is all about manipulation of light and shade. For digital photography usually a strobe or two will do and for video an adjustable diving light is more important. However divers now have a plethora of choices. Many totting camera that could do stills and video. Choices are simpler than before as well made lightweight dive lights are prevalent. For an underwater video guy such as myself it is a no-brainer to bring as much lighting down as possible for a shoot. I know cameras now a fairly light sensitive high ISO with dynamic the range to make wonderful images. I often use just daylight and sometimes with filters. I love ambient light wide angle shots but that is really for the shallows. However ideal conditions are rare. Go deeper and artificial light is a necessity. The warmer end of the spectrum will simply get swallow up by the column of water the deeper you go or further away from the subject. For night dives dive lights are the only choice.
The state of the industry
The dive lighting industry (let’s just call it as such) experienced a boom recently and well known brands of dive lights made in the US, Europe and Japan commanded premium prices. Now it is not enough just to be first in the market. Times are changing indeed. The number of new lights mushroomed in recent years. These are mainly from China. No surprise since China is the world’s biggest factory now for decades. Still is. Companies making Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), photo-electronics and other associated tech companies shifted their centre of production there long ago. Low cost of manufacturer, labour force highly skilled and know how to make things in vast numbers are there.
In my 15 years diving career I have seen three paradigms shift in UW lights. First is the Halogen bulb, then HID and lastly LEDs. A completely original product is a rare thing. When one does appear it is quickly imitated and re-engineered until something looks and feels similar but not quite like the original. This happens in the dive industry. Diving equipment like fins and masks goes through many cycles of change. Almost Darwinian in many ways. This constant change and redesigns made to later generations usually ends up with very robust products packed with features. LEDs for the past few years has completely replaced HID and Halogen bulb in UW lights. These still exist but their days are numbered. Looking at the market today it is incredible for a niche product made for scuba diving could attract so many variation of the same thing. Its only a dive light – right? Not quite. LED lights these days have many functions and features. Micro-processors built in. Some could even be firmware updated. LED light modules now could be purchased off the shelf, and less bulky than previous generations. Couple with swanky display and micro computers to control current and voltage in batteries these new lights have entered the hi-tech age. More is yet to come when battery technology catches up with a denser battery cell and faster charging time. Now that I got that out of the way here are the lights that I have been using in my recent dive trips.
I have been testing all type of LED lights for many years. I will leave out lights from an earlier epoch just LEDs. From simple 200- 500 lumen dive torches to 22000 lumen monsters that needed several powerful battery in a canister. In most cases the weight and bulk is cleverly kept in check and handy enough to be able to pack with the dive gears, cameras, housings etc. Small and powerful lights are now in vogue and we are spoilt for choice. Increasing competition meant prices has gone down too.
My rule is very simple when it comes to a new light- any that could survive three dive trips (20 dives per trip), light beam test, colour testing on several video cameras and the travel-ability deserves a second look. If corrosion occurs or flood caused by bad design then it is immediately disqualifies. Compactness of whole kit which includes criteria such as size, weight, chargers, spare battery, and protective case and so on were considered. Lastly I am looking for a manufacturer who could produce the best all rounded light or lights – the best bang for the buck so to speak.
From three months I narrow it down to one called Hi-Max. They have a range of lights for many type of usage. I naturally interested in the ones that suited for digital imaging.
Three lights really hit the spot for me. Here goes….
V11 (New Version)
V11 (new version)
Hi-Max Diving video/photo light V11 2400lumen
1pcs CREE XM-L2 U2 860 lumen
Wide beam 140degree&100%-50%-25% levels
4pcs CREE XM-L2 U2 2400Lumen
Red Light 140Degree&100%-50%-25% levels
2pcs CREE XP-E N3(red 620nm)
Diving depth 100 meters
Weight: 400g(with battery on land)
Glow in dark O-ring
32650 rechargeable battery 5800mah
Packaged with waterproof case ,coming with battery,charger,extra o-ring,and lanyard.
Type of UW light = Video/Photo/UV
Luminous Flux = 2300 Lumens
Angle of Light Beam = 120 degrees & Spot beam at 50degrees
LED Flood Array = 4 white (CREE) 6500k @ 2300 lumen, 3 levels
LED Red Array = 2 Red (CREE) 610-630 Nm, 3 levels
LED Spot = 1 (CREE) @ 1000 lumen, 3 levels
LED UV = 2 (CREE)UV LEDs
Burn Time = 1.0 hours @ Max brightness (manufacturer)
Switch Function = LED Status switch Toggles to High – Low, Red light, UV, Spot
Charger = 110 v – 230v & 5V USB input
Features = Strobe mode SOS
Depth Rating = 100m
32650 rechargeable battery 5800mah
Packaged with battery,charger,extra o-ring,and lanyard.
Type of UW light = Video/Photo
Luminous Flux = 2200 Lumens
Angle of Light Beam = 110 degrees
LED Flood Array = 4 white (CREE) 5000k @ 2200 lumen, 2 levels
Burn Time = 1.5 hours @ Max brightness (depends on battery)
Switch Function = LED Status switch Toggles to High – Low & SOS
Features = Anodized marine grade aluminium & double o-rings
Depth Rating = 100m
4 x AA Ni-MH (not included)
Tune in Part 2 for Video and digital still sample (soon)
Let me En-light-en you
Hi all. This has got to be my longest break from blogging – ever. Sorry for the radio silence all this while. Scubacam Store is well and busy as ever. I have been in the place all this time cooking up new stuff. New gadgets. The truth is I have started far too many things. I will let you know in good time one blog at a time.
First for April 2015. I decided to write about lights. In particular dive lights.
I believe all of you must have one time or another in the past year or two have had bought a dive light or a light for your underwater camera. There must be literally thousands of variant to the dive torch as shown here. Two years ago a 1000 lumen UW light could easily set you back 600 to 800 dollars. And 2000 lumen and above would be over a thousand dollars. Even then extra batteries and mounting gear will add to the total cost.
New in 2015 a 1000 lumen UW light could be had for under 100 dollars. Looks like something like Morse Law is at play. Quality is good and so is the workmanship. One common thing though all these new LED dive lights are from Chinese Companies. Its time for a thorough review of some of these products. Very soon in the next blog.
If you are wondering what I have here. Its a HiMax 1000 lumen dive light. Cost only Sing$ 90.00. Rechargeable battery and charger included.
Gates F55 Prototype Housing
Hello Scubacammers (or prospectus Scubacammers). Its has been a few weeks since ADEX 2013. How time flies in this industry. One or two housing I was supposed to try out took longer than expected because of difficulty in getting the cameras. These are really expensive Digital Cinema Cameras and there aren’t that many around. Luck would have it one of my friends has a few hours time slot before a shoot and he kindly sneaked one into my shop to do a dry fit …..
and viola the Sony PMW F55 CineAlta 4K Digital Cinema Camera
Before I go on I must note that this is a “preview” of the Gates F55 Prototype Housing not a full review. Gates will have a full working unit very soon even though this prototype is very nicely finished.
The Sony PMW F55.
This is a long anticipated 4K cinema camera offering from Sony that rivals RED and ARRI. Sony seems to have packed in all the recording options into one envelop. From 4K Raw, compressed raw, XAVC, 2K and Mpeg that records internally or external with optional modules. It is also first cinema camera of it type to feature a global shutter. This means zero motion skew and “rolling” shutter effect that blighted many cameras that records HD with CMOS sensors.
The camera and its modular system is extensively reviewed and debated in many web forums and cinema equipment blogs. I will leave it to you to Google for more info. The following is just a highlight of the specifications which I think is very relevant for factual documentary & underwater type work:
- Modularity of the design – means the camera could be striped down for lightweight run and gun shoots or perch on a gimbal of a RC helicopter or UW housing.
- Electronic Global Shutter – No more “Jello-cam”
- 8.9mp Super 35mm CMOS. 4K, 2K or somewhere in between. Cinematic look and no crop even for compressed video.
- DR at 14 stops and wide colour Gamut.
- Internal 4k/ 2k/HD recording.
- High frame rate using optional AXS-R5 unit for 240 fps.
- Optional 2k/4K RAW recorder – allows both compressed and uncompressed RAW recording. Allows fast workflow from Mpeg 2 Proxies.
- Records in SXS Pro + Media cards.
- Sony FZ mount – via the right adapter most lens could be slapped on it. Also PL mount of course.
- Built-in ND filters
I am probably over simplifying the specs but I am sure there are more goodies in this camera than my limited experience of it which is roughly just over two hours.
For topside shoots one expects that many of the existing accessories such as bottom rail brackets or top plates and top handles are available for this camera. Anyway here are some more pictures.
How does it fit into the Gates F55 housing?
This feature is probably the newest design change from Gates’s bottom saddle. Perhaps it allows for quick detachment of the camera or a safety feature. It was quite tricky to hold a fully kitted F55 and try to slide the dovetail to the bracket. I found it that it is easier to install this with the camera and the housing up side down. The weight of the camera helps to keep the dovetail firmly on housing bracket also less problem with the camera weight.
As I mentioned earlier the back end of the housing is intended for non-raw recorder module. Longer version in the full working housing unless there is a really thin battery around.
The Gates F55 is considerably smaller than the Red Epic/Scarlet housing. The camera seems to be quieter and less hot so volume of circulation air could be reduced. With smaller housing the port collar is a little snug for all the lens gear mechanism. My guess would be that Gates will provide some sawn down allen keys with the tool kit.
Same Gates Epic/Scarlet housing 8 inch SP80 dome and SP80 flat port could be used
In conclusion the Gates F55 housing is a very compact professional housing for the modular Sony Digital Cinema Camera. The follow focus, aperture and zoom gearing are the same high standard metal gears that just works and one come to expect from Gates. The level of refinement to the housing is very high. The ribbing internally of the housing is one example as this reduces the total weight but remains just as strong. Components are all mechanical and made of the highest standard. Easily fixable in the field. I would say even with just a prototype housing for a dry test I could see the finish version is going to be awesome piece of kit. I can’t wait.
Ciao and happy diving
ADEX ADEX ADEX 2013
ADEX 2013 came and went. 19th April to 21st at the Marina Bay Sands. The show was busier than ever. Indeed this year has been a bumper year for Scubacam, Singapore. We have added UW housings for many new cameras to our stock this year. It was hard to keep pace of technology these days. We also have expanded our professional cinema camera housing product and services. This does not mean we have neglect the ‘normal’ digital imagining stuff for UW shooters. Far from it, as Scubacam have ventured into producing our own in-house gadgets. One such product is our Sea-gadget Pro +10 diopre. Yes its like the Subsee +10 except ours is extra special. Well I have to say that don’t I? Plus our sea-gadget ball arms and tray were well received, in particular our ultra light weight foam grip handle. Come and check it out at Scubacam.
Other notable news to report is that Sanah is appointed as Director in charge of Sales, Customer Service and Operations. Mr G as Logistics and UW Cameraman. I will remain as ‘persona in absentia’ during opening hours and will magically appear in my workshop at night, muttering techno babble to pros who want gadgets made or customized. Yes I will remain as the chief R&D guy and the chief.
Now back to the ADEX 2013 show. If you did not know here is a link to remind you what it is and where it was held: http://www.uw3some.com/index.php?about-adex-2013
Scubacam also hosted Wetpixel and Scubazoo during the show at Booth C10-12. Wetpixel has just launched their Full frame feature in their web forum which is a promotional platform for professional and budding UW shooters alike: http://www.wetpixel.com/full_frame. Some of the photos in it is simply superb and attracted a small crowd around the display.
On the Friday night, 19th April. First day of the show Scubacam and Wetpixel held a party at the Verve Bar. It went well in a trade show party sort of way. This is the third one in a row so it is something of a tradition now at ADEX. Drew of Wetpixel has kindly compiled a photo report of the event. Click here and see what you have missed: http://www.wetpixel.com/articles/scubacam-wetpixel-adex-party-2013-photos
If you wanted to come but could not make it – there is always ADEX 2014.
Thank you all who contributed to the photos for the wall. Special thanks to Melvin Tan for his super macro shot using our new Pro +10 dioptre.
I hope you will enjoy these photos .
Myths and Optical Truths
I have reasons to believe that at some forums and some individuals are mis-informed about the Sea-Gadget UW +10 dioptre. So here is some clarification to those unbelievers.
Sea-Gadget Pro +10 (UW)underwater dioptre Let’s clear some myths:
– Sea-gadget Pro +10 is like other dioptres that works in air but no magnification UW. NOT TRUE!
– Sea-gadget Pro +10 works UW as well as in air. TRUE!
Sea-gadget Pro +10 is true 100% Achromatic. It is made from two element doublets and all surfaces AF coated. TRUE!
Sea-gadget Pro +10 is sealed like Subsee +10. True! Not only sealed but also Nitrogen purged.
Sea-gadget Pro +10 has the ability to allow the tele-zoom in most Point and Shoot Digi-cams. TRUE!
Sea-gadget provides one of the best working distances for a +10 wet-dioptre in the market. TRUE!
Sea-gadget is made in Scubacam Pte Ltd. True! So if you have any more doubts. Try it out in the Scubacam shop here:
Sea-gadget is lighter and more compact than other +10 UW dioptres. TRUE!
Sea-gadget is making even more UW lenses and gadget in the future. TRUE!
Hope this is clear as the lens now!
Frankly my dear I do give a damn…..”
Christmas came early at Scubacam! A new addition was added to the Scubacam Cinema Camera family. Finally the Red Epic has a sibling – a wee sister call SCARLET.
Luck would have it this Cinema Camera Module is exactly the same size as the Red Epic. So the Gates Epic housing would accommodate either camera.
Plus as rumor has it Nauticam is venturing into this area with a lighter and smaller housing……hmmm I just can’t resist but adapting a set of Nauticam easy handles onto the Scarlet. These works well and are very comfortable to hold. The camera weights a few KGs when it is fully kitted to shoot with a lens and battery. Save me a few bob buying side handles. Now I have to work out a way to attach a handle on the top.
Well for those of you unfamiliar with this RED “thing” here are some specs:
SENSOR: 14 MEGAPIXEL MYSTERIUM-X™
PIXEL ARRAY: 5120 (h) x 2700 (v)
DYNAMICRANGE: 13.5 stops, up to 18 stops with HDRx™
6 fps with 5K FF and HDRx on
12 fps with 4K HD and HDRx™ on
MAX IMAGE AREA: 5120 (h) x 2700 (v)
LENS COVERAGE: 27.7mm (h) x 14.6mm (v) = 31.4 mm (d)
LENS MOUNT: DSMC Lens Mount. Canon EF, Nikon, Leica and PL.
MAX DEPTH OF FIELD: Equivalent to S35mm (Motion) / APS-H (Still) lenses
ACQUISITION FORMATS: 5K FF REDCODE RAW (Full Frame)
4K HD REDCODE RAW
3K HD REDCODE RAW
1080p REDCODE RAW
1K REDCODE RAW
PROJECT FRAME RATES: 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 47.96, 48, 50, 59.97
MONITOR/PROGRAM OUTPUT: HD-SDI and HDMI with Frame Guides and Look Around or Clean Feed 1080p 4:2:2, 720p 4:2:2 SMPTE Timecode, HANC Metadata, 24-bit 48Khz Audio
DIGITAL MEDIA REDMAG (SSD) Module: (48, 64, 128, 256 and 512GB Media)
REDCODE™ 16-bit RAW Processing: Compression choices of 18:1 to 3:1
1-12 fps 5K FF
1-30 fps 4K HD
1-48 fps 3K HD
1-60 fps 1080p HD
1-120 fps 1K
AUDIO: 2 channel, uncompressed, 24 bit, 48KHz.
Optional 4 channel, and AES / EBU digital audio.
MONITORING: RED LCD 5″/9″ Touchscreen Display
REMOTE CONTROL: REDLINK Wireless, Ethernet, RS232, GPI Trigger
WEIGHT: 5lbs. Body only
CONSTRUCTION: Aluminum Alloy
COLOR: Battleship Gray Brain Body, DSMC Lens Mount (Black Aluminum/Silver Titanium) and Black Side SSD. All DSMC Modules Black
TEMPERATURERANGES: Operating Range: 0˚C to +40˚C (32˚F to 104˚F)
StorageRange: -20˚C to +50˚C (-4˚F to 122˚F)
CONCLUSION: No digital cinema camera I know or own elicit so much emotion and inspires one to go out and shoot…….
Hope to shoot some digital STILLS (yes stills!) 5K in 12FPS – slap on with some super-speed Nikon lens. Red Raw grain for skins and textures are great….I hope.
ALEXA Plus to be precise.
This is one heck of a cinema camera to behold! It is a much bigger beast than the Red Epic and heavier too. It is built like a tank. Works like a dream. I spend less than an hour with it and basically all the control are easy to understand and menu interface is very intuitive. It is fitted with a PL mount so should work well with my favorite Arri Ultra Primes.
I have considered housing this since late last year but work load did not open a window of time for me to design a casing. So I will do what I do best adapt an existing housing that could take PL mounted lenses and go from there. This will make a fantastic list of cinema equipment and housing for rental and also to shoot with.
More equipment porn coming up…
Here is a link to the Alexa Plus simulator: http://www.arri.com/camera/digital_cameras/tools/alexa_camera_simulator/alexa_plus.html
Well a housing will be ready fairly soon so I will update on this blog more extensively. I like what I see so far. I hope the producers who is funding this underwater shoot will be impressed too.
Welcome to Dave’s blog. Here is something static for something that captures very fast things:
Here is a link more on the how and why the Phantom Flex exists:
Here are some of the cool features:
– Up to 2,570 fps at 1920×1080 in Standard Mode
– 12-bit pixel depth
– ISO 1200
– HQ Mode provides ultimate in image stability under changing shooting conditions
– Phantom CineMag compatible, CineMag interface has field-replaceable pin array
– 2 x 4:2:2 HD-SDI video ports, can be configured as dual-link 4:4:4 video
– Global, electronic shutter to 1 μs
– Multi-cine capable via segmented memory
– Internal mechanical shutter for hands-free and remote
– On-camera controls for camera modes, settings, playback, edit & save
– Frame synchronization to external signal, allows multiple cameras to be synchronized – essential for stereo 3D recording
– Three 12VDC, 1.5A auxiliary power outputs for powering external devices (one is on the Viewfinder port), 4A maximum load
– External trigger signal on camera connector panel and both 12VDC power ports
– Genlock for synchronizing video playback – essential for 3D video workflows
This is a real kick-ass system for high speed HD video and yes a housing is being custom built for this baby! Once it is up and running I will go for a test dive. Watch this space.
Scubacam’s collection of cutting edge digital cinema equipment and cine lenses. I will reveal a fully working underwater housing and control systems soon in a future blog. All equipment and camera operator is available for hire for top side and underwater shoots.
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