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A Great Skiing, Underwater, and All-Around Camera
on May 11, 2001
I have many cameras from full-featured SLR's (Nikon) with a variety of lenses to wide-angle point-and-shoots (Olympus) which I use for different occasions.
But when the going gets wet -- from either water or snow -- then I use my Canon Sure Shot A-1. It's water-resistant, goes underwater (down to 11 feet), it's simple to use, and it takes great pictures. It also has what I consider to be the most important feature -- daytime fill flash (which is activated by simply switching to flash mode) which helps to make foreground colors pop. (My friends are always amazed at the color and clarity of my photos. My secret is using fill-flash, which all of my cameras have.) The flash also works underwater, which again helps to make colors come alive and compensates for the bluish cast which happens to photos taken even when below the surface only a few feet.
Getting an underwater camera with flash, incidentally, is normally an expensive proposition. And many underwater cameras aren't really made to use on-land. The Canon, by contrast, is relatively inexpensive, and it works well both above and below the water. And since the Canon uses 35mm film (and not APS film), there's more detail in the photos which makes them more satisfying. (With 400 speed film, the flash range underwater extends out to 22 feet, which is also very impressive).
I've taken my Canon A-1 to the mountains when I taught my kids to ski for the first time. And I took it snorkeling in Hawaii where the photos I shot were fun and colorful. And since the Canon works both above and below the waves, I have photos of my kids and my wife both on deck and swimming with the fish, which everyone in the family loves.
I've also taken my Canon A-1 on less exotic vacations. When the kids retire to the pool (which they always insist upon), I would formerly put my camera away and read a book. With my Canon A-1, I can now keep shooting -- from inside the pool. I have fun photos of my kids playing underwater (which are among their favorites from our vacations) -- and many great shots of other people teaching their kids -- and their babies -- to swim. (People actually love to have their pictures taken while in the pool.)
With its extra large viewfinder, the camera is easy to use underwater -- and on land. (All cameras should have a viewfinder this large.) And underwater photos are also point-and-shoot easy (and much better than any I've ever gotten from underwater disposable cameras).
I've even used my Canon A-1 at the Los Angeles Auto Show where it took great images of everything from Porsches to auto show booths, to the outside of the Staples Center at night (bracing the camera on a pole for a long exposure). The shots came out great using either flash or available light. The semi-wide angle 32mm lens was also good for taking in enough of the scene, especially of the cars up close.
This camera must be good. I do wish, though, that Canon made a zoom version of the A-1. And the camera is sometimes fooled by the lighting on overcast days, as are many point-and-shoot cameras. In these instances, I simply shoot close to my subject -- with fill flash -- and keep the amount of sky in my composition to a minimum. (On overcast days, the sky is often times brighter than objects on land causing the camera to mistakenly under-expose the photos. On sunny days, by contrast, the sky and land are actually of similar brightness.)
The Canon Sure Shot A-1 is an amazing camera -- at an equally astounding price (especially when compared to other underwater cameras). If ever I go back to Hawaii, I plan to take three A-1's with me -- so I won't need to reload film while snorkeling.
Don't let water or snow dissuade you from taking pictures -- get a Canon Sure Shot A-1.