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Author Topic: Waterproof cameras  (Read 4235 times)

JBernard

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Waterproof cameras
« on: August 11, 2008, 10:03:53 AM »

Hey there, I am looking to buy a waterproof p&s camera for kayaking and diving and have basically decided on the Olympus 1030 SW. (Waterproof to 33 ft, shock and crush proof, image stabilization, video, etc.) Does anyone have any experience with this or one of its earlier incarnations (770 SW)?  Any other recomendations? Thanks for your help.
Jim
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mkrabach

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Re: Waterproof cameras
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2008, 02:05:18 PM »

Yes, I have the 1030sw camera.  I have been using it about 3 weeks.  It is compact, feels heavy for its size.  The good points before the difficulties.  Using a 2 gig olympus SD card gets 400+ photos.  I have got  about  160 photos before seeing the getting low indicator.  Documentation says about 260 but I was turning it on and off and zooming alot.  Appears to have good waterproof seals, but the battery/memory compartment o-rings are delicate.  Takes decent photos, less purple fringing than my Fuji E510.  I have resolution compartison photos of the two cameras on my web site www.krabach.info.

Now the difficulties, not with the camera per se,but with using this camera in kayaks.  I use the silicone boot over the camera so I have a good grip on it in the kayak. It is clipped into my vest.  I have to fumble to get it out of my vest pocket which takes a couple seconds.  The boot makes it stick in the pocket, but I can hold the camera in my teeth between shots.  If I drop it on my skirt during a photo session, water can get on the lens when the camera is on.  The lens seems to have a good water repellant coating on it so you can blow salt water off.  But if any spray gets on the lens and the camera turns off, the lens cover drags the water beads back on the lens.  So I always turn the camera off, the lens cover comes up, after a photo or two.  The on/off button is close to the shoot button and is hard to feel quickly in a kayak with fingers, and will be impossible with gloves.  I have turned the camera off when I thought I took a photo, and vica versa.  The delay time for the camera to shoot is very short, but still I miss the exact moment I want,  like wave breaking in the background.  The camera is small so holding it, working the on/off, working the shoot and leveling the camera for a shot is tricky.  Then tuning it off, getting it back in your pocket, unless you want it flopping in your lap,  takes at least 5 seconds, usually more.  In choppy water, long enough to flip, if you tip toward your camera hand.  The paddle is in the other, for a semi-low brace, if needed.  Zooming is nice but you can not see the screen, (no viewfinder) in daylight, and if you wear glasses, (old age), it is even worse yet.  Alot of shots  in 3x zoom were not on the action (Sundays paddle) because I could not aim the camera correctly.  Difficult in calm water, much more difficult in choppy water.  Alignment of the horizon is tough,  I use the top of the camera as a level, not always successful. In a photo a tilt of 2 deg is noticeable. 

So while I find the camera is probably the best at this time for kayaking,  I think my old Nikonos I 35 mm film camera is best for action shots.  There is no delay when I pull the trigger, and you can shoot a wave exactly when you want.  Like a trigger on a gun.  It hangs from my neck on a standard camera strap, and I can remove the lens cover and grab the camera in one hand, get the shot centered in the viewfinder, trigger the shot lever,  it again to advance film, drop the camera and replace the lens cover,  all in less time that the Olympus takes.  And it works with gloves.  Of course I have to develop and scan the film for a photo, which is a pain I have lived  with for 6 years in the kayak.

I looked at underwater camera, real ones, which were either a generation behind the digital versions on land, or just too expensive.

For really rough action shots,  there is always my helmet cam.  However infamous it may be.  Buts that another story operating it.

Suggestion:buy the Olympus 1030sw if you need it NOW.  But Pentax is bringing out it newest waterproof version, the wp-60 this month.  Similar features, same pixels, etc.   A little cleaner looking.  May have a glass plate for a lens cover,  but not sure from pre-release photo.  Still has no viewfinder,  a single strap holder, and on/off and shoot buttons close together.  So operating it will be similar in a kayak for this camera too.
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Eric J.

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Re: Waterproof cameras
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2008, 04:47:24 PM »

The Olympus uses XD cards or micro-SD cards- not standard SD cards. The XD cards are specific to Olympus and significantly more expensive.

I've used a Pentax WP (before that I was using the Pentax WR33). It is a very functional camera. The buttons are easy to use and it fits easily in the pocket of my PFD. The pictures are decent, but not "pro" quality. I find it easy to use on the water. Some times it is hard to look through the screen, but the same was true when I used a camera with a view finder. It is not about the glare as much as it is getting into a position where you can take your eyes off the water and stare into the view-finder.
The Pentax is not quite as durable as the Olympus is rated to be. It is only rated to 10 feet, but I have used it for snorkeling. I did manage to break the screen doing rough water rescue practice. It looks like a bow came down hard on the view screen and it cracked. Other than the screen being useless, the camera works fine. The water-proofing still seems to be intact. I used it on vacation in Canada and got some nice shots.
Getting water drops on the lens can be a problem, but that would be true with any camera. It is easy enough to fix by dunking the camera in the water and using a cloth to wipe the drops off.
I'll likely purchase a wp60 as a replacement. They are listed as available on Amazon.
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mkrabach

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Re: Waterproof cameras
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2008, 08:39:22 AM »

Opps....yes the Olympus uses the XD style memory card.  But the cost of the memory is from $5 to $20 greater for a 2 gig card.  Not a deal breaker considering the overall cost of the gear.  Even less if you roll in the cost of the computer gear to manipulate and save/print the photos.  I will be anxious to see the new wp60.  I keep wondering why Nikon dropped the lead in underwater cameras when they manufactured the Nikonos line.  It was discontinued in 2003.
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JBernard

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Re: Waterproof cameras
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2008, 08:20:25 AM »

Guys, thanks very much for your responses. I guess I am going to get the 1030. I'll let you know how it goes, hopefully with some pics.
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Peter

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Re: Waterproof cameras
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2008, 02:34:48 PM »

I have the Pentax WR33 and the Olympus.

The WR33 was not an underwater camera - great for kayaking. Mine went through a lot on roughing up and went down to around 115 feet in one incedent.

The Olympus was an impulse purchase on the way to Mexico. I was at Newark airport and didn't have a camera with me. I would have bougt the newer Pentax but none of the airport stores had one.

The olympus is great around and under water. It takes better indoor shots than my old pPentax and has much higher resolution. The downside xD - I have several SD card for different stuff including thumb-drive, PDA and laptop slots. The bettery is propriotary and has to be removed to be chrgeed. The old Pentax ran forever on two AA batteries. The Olympus has no view findor - so to drawbacks - it's hard to see the LCD in brightsunlight - you cannot see the LCD with polariods in vertival orientation (portrait). The pentax had a viewfinder - I turned the LCD off for taking pictures.

Someone posted a link to some great shots taken at one of the pool sessions with a waterproof digital - worth checking out.
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