DC1400 Underwater Camera
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- Digital Camera (SL72001) with lanyard Camera Pouch (SL70090) Underwater housing (SL114) with lanyard (SL72070) User manual (SL72025) & Quick Guide (SL72024) USB cable (SL18130) AV cable (SL18130) AC power adapter (SL72032) International plug adapter (SL19003) Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (SL7014) Flash link optical cable adapter (SL72052) Flash Diffuser (SL72071) with lanyard (SL95010) Moisture Muncher / 2-pack sample (SL2522) Cleaning Brush (SL256) & lens cloth (SL25210)
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SL720 Features: -Product Type:Flash. Dimensions: -Overall Height - Top to Bottom:37 -Overall Width - Side to Side:5.3 -Overall Depth - Front to Back:2.8 -Overall Product Weight:1.5
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1.) Use your current digital camera inside a GOOD underwater housing, like Ikelite. The problem with
this technique is that your current "land" digital camera probably doesn't have underwater settings.
You will most definitely need filters for underwater photography, whether it is for snorkeling or
diving. You must filter out the blue so that the exposure is long enough to capture some of the red.
You can't just use photoshop to subtract the blue and add the red; without filters, there is no red
to add. The photo is all blue. The Sealife has 4 digital filters; blue water snorkel and dive, and
green water snorkel and dive. I have never used the "green" settings. Snorkel subtracts a little
blue, dive subtracts a lot of blue. Advantage: Great camera. Disadvantage: No underwater settings.
2.) Buy a "rugged" camera. All the big name manufacturers are coming out with waterproof cameras, some
good to 40 feet or so. These cameras produce excellent pictures; Canon for example is legendary for
photo quality of its digital cameras. Problem is, these manufacturers have NO experience with
underwater cameras. Read the reviews; they flood constantly. The o-rings are flimsy, access doors
are too easy to accidently open underwater, the reviews are just horror stories of cameras flooding.
Having a camera that produces great images is not good if it floods. Advantage: Great camera.
Disadvantage: numerous case failures (read reviews).
3.) Buy an underwater camera from someone that knows how to do it! This is my 3rd Sealife; I've had the
reefmaster, the DC1200 and now the DC1400. I've taken thousands of underwater photos and have never
had one drop of water inside the case. Advantage: Great case, camera designed for underwater work.
Disadvantages: Not the best image quality.
But, make sure you know what you're getting into when you start underwater photgraphy. It's not like land photography, where the image that comes out of the camera is probably perfect and doesn't need much if any touch up. My experience with underwater photography is that every single image requires manual processing on my part. For every image, I need to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, and red/green/blue balance. You don't need to be a photoshop pro...I use ThumbsPlus for my editting. Every one of these adjustments is trivial with ThumbsPlus.
This need to adjust every image isn't the fault of the camera; there are just too many variables underwater. The red "dive" filter for example, is good from 25 feet to 50 feet. In reality, it's only good for exactly one depth. Say it's perfect at 40 feet...then at 30 feet the image is going to be too red, and at 50 feet the image is going to be too blue. You are going to have to adjust the balance. Same with visibility; the camera doesn't know (and you can't tell it) how much sand is suspended in the water. Lots of sand in the water scatters more blue so you need to block more blue; exceptionally clear water let's more red through, so you need less blue filtering. So even if you are at the exact depth where the filter is perfect, transparency will still require that you manually adjust every image. All the data is in the image; you just need to massage it to bring it out.
The DC1400 (and all the Sealifes I've had) has incredibly long shutter lag. At least a second. If your target is exactly where you want it to be when you press the shutter, well, it better be there for another second or so because that's how long it's going to take to image your target. AND, that's in the "Quick Shot" setting, which does NO autofocus...it is locked on infinity. If you use autofocus, plan on another second, plus the time it takes you to find the amount of shutter pressure required to be "halfway depressed." There is no positive feedback when the shutter is halfway down; you'll ruin a lot of shots because you'll overshoot the halfway point and take the picture before it was focused. So leave it in "Quick Shot"; that is good from 2 feet to infinity. If you want to get closer than 2 feet, odds are your target is not moving anyway and you'll have time for the autofocus to do it's thing.
I can get 2 dives out of a battery charge. I keep the LCD brightness level at "Standard" rather than "Bright" so that may help. Of course, the LCD is difficult to see in bright water, so I usually just assume I got my target. I also keep "image stabilization" on.
Image quality is fair to good. It certainly isn't a Canon or Nikon, but again, it's got a great case that doesn't leak. HD video (720p) is good, but you're going to be buying a video editor (and maybe a faster computer to drive it) if you want to really make your videos look great. Again, for every video, I have to adjust brightness, contrast, and RGB depending on depth. I use Cyberlink's Power Director.
So, I would definitely buy the camera again. With post-processing effort on your part, you'll be very happy with images and video from a very challenging enviornment.
Here's a sample underwater HD video: [...]
Images are noisy and not very sharp. The housing is great, but the camera they put inside is cheap- not high quality at all.
Their older DC800 took much better pictures. Very disappointed in Sealife.