Point and shoot cameras have come a long way in the last few years, offering more
controls, less shutter lag, bigger sensors, and a variety of zoom lenses (note: the photos shown here were taken with
a Canon G11 point-and-shoot in a Canon housing with no external strobe).
Before choosing an underwater camera and
housing, it is best to try and understand the limitations of each before you purchase. Most people buy their camera
first, then look for a housing, and in the end, it may not be suitable for your purposes. It is best to buy both at
Most cameras will suffice for underwater, but look at the controls. Can you access them easily,
and does the housing allow you to change them? Make sure the camera fits comfortably in your hand, the menu is easy to read,
and you can add an external strobe. Look for an exposure compensation (+/-) feature - not all cameras have that.
You also want to be able to access manual controls. Using Program Mode may be easy, but you will not achieve the best results.
Can you use a faster shutter speed with the strobe like 1/500 second? Does the camera allow you to shoot RAW?
I like to be able to see the histogram on the screen. Underwater, it is very difficult to see your exposures properly.
What may appear to be correct, may well be overexposed. Can you add wide angle lenses to the housing? Do you have TTL
capability with the strobe? Now that many of the cameras shoot HD video, you might want to investigate the new combination strobe
units that offer both a strobe for stills, and lighting for video in one package. Check the depth capability of the housing -
insuring it's not just for snorkeling, swimming and boating. Even if they are rated for 130 feet, some housing controls may
jam up and be inoperable long before it reaches those depths.
For their size, features, and ease of use, the newer digital point and shoots offer a lot of bang for the buck,
and many photographers are willing to overlook some of their limitations. And in this day of airline restrictions,
size does make a difference.
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