underwater point-and-shoots summer 2008
May 22, 2008 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Anyone know of a good, cheap (< 300$) digital point and shoot with above average underwater shooting capabilities?
posted by johannahdeschanel to Shopping (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've been able to do the research I need to choose a camera at Digital Camera HQ. It has descriptions, specifications, and unbiased product reviews.
posted by netbros at 1:07 PM on May 22, 2008

The Olympus SW series. Shockproof and Waterproof. New ones are more than $300, but Olympus has an ebay store where they sell closeouts and refurbs.
posted by Gungho at 1:16 PM on May 22, 2008

dpreview is the site I see most often recommended for camera comparisons etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:20 PM on May 22, 2008

I haven't tried one, but I've been eying the Olympus Shockproof/Waterproof line.
posted by fings at 1:21 PM on May 22, 2008

I was kind of eying a SeaLife Mini for an upcoming trip to Fiji. They seem to be retailing for around $250 right now, and I've read a couple of good reviews.

I ended up cheaping out and getting an Intova IC500 for $86 from ebay. I don't expect much from it, especially after actually seeing the camera, but I guess I'll see what I get.
posted by natabat at 1:22 PM on May 22, 2008

One more quick thing -- the Olympus cameras are probably great, but they're only waterproof down to about 10 or 15 ft. That might be plenty for you, but I was looking for a camera to take scuba diving. Both the SeaLife and the Intova are waterproof to at least 100 ft.
posted by natabat at 1:25 PM on May 22, 2008

canon makes underwater housings for most of their (excellent) point and shoots; they're meant for divers specifically, so many of the cases are rated up to 130 feet. i'd rather spend a little more to get a great camera i can use everywhere + case.
posted by lia at 2:27 PM on May 22, 2008

The highest end Olympus (admittedly more than $300) seems to be waterproof to 10 meters which is pretty sweet. Has anyone seen a review of those things?
posted by The Bellman at 2:38 PM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: The "underwater housing + regular P&S" solution is more flexible, and can be had for your price range (P&S housings can be had new in the $150-180 range, try looking for an older Canon camera model, e.g something like an A100/200 or S400 ought to come in around $150 as well).

You should be aware that there is some overhead to dealing with a housing -- you need to maintain the O-ring that keeps it waterproof (cleaning & greasing it), make sure you avoid getting condensation inside the housing, rinsing the housing with fresh water etc. If you skimp on these steps or get them wrong, or just get unlucky, your housing will flood and you'll probably lose the camera.

The more affordable Olympus "waterproof" cameras avoid much of this overhead, but at the cost of not being able to go very deep. If you're just intending to use it for snorkeling, this probably isn't a big deal and may well be the better way to go for convenience reasons. If you are scuba diving, you will almost certainly want to step up to the housing (overhead notwithstanding).
posted by kanuck at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: When I was in Belize earlier this year I rented a Sealife Reefmaster Mini from a dive shop for $25US/day. It actually took great pictures underwater and I was much happier with the colors than the ones that came from a disposable film camera that I had also brought along. The reefmaster had all sorts of different color modes modes that were easy to change as the depth (and available light) changed and the video mode produced good results as well (with sound!)
posted by jeffmik at 3:32 PM on May 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the pointers!!

I would like to do a high fashion photo shoot underwater. It is just an idea for fun with friends this summer but all of your ideas seem appealing.

By the way, this is what enticed me:

posted by johannahdeschanel at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2008

We use waterproof cameras for work a lot. The Olympus SW 1030 is a pretty god-awful camera with no manual controls and, as far as I can tell, it is fixed aperture. It's really only good for macro. The older 700 series that we have is better, but still only OK. The Pentax W series take decent pictures, but are not quite as tough. The various low-end SeaLife, Ecoshot etc also lack manual control and the cheaper ones are often fixed focus.

Mostly we use Canon P&S (with manual control) with either plastic cases for diving or silicone skins for snorkeling. All can be found at B&H.

Finally, you can rent underwater cameras, incl really nice SLRs, pretty cheap. That might be the way to go for a one day thing. I think you will need good flash for what you want to do, unless it is in a lit pool.
posted by fshgrl at 7:25 PM on May 22, 2008

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