Sooooo….I kind of bought a waterproof camera! With all research and reading I’d been doing about scuba diving and with my recently discovered love of snorkelling, the idea crept into my mind and wouldn’t let go.
I was really torn between a few options:
- Get an underwater housing for my current mirrorless compact Nikon 1 J2
- Look for a generic underwater housing for my old Samsung point-and-shoot (Samsung don’t make them)
- Get a new point-and-shoot and an underwater housing for it
- Buy a waterproof compact digital
Putting my good Nikon underwater, even in a Nikon-made housing really didn’t seem like an attractive prospect to me – I was really terrified that as soon as I put it underwater the housing would flood and I’d be left with a poor, lifeless camera! I know heaps of people have these and use them without issues, but I ruled that option out pretty much straight away. Also, the Nikon underwater housing
was quite a bit more than my budget would stretch to when I’m going overseas shortly .
The cheapest option seemed like to buy an underwater housing for my older Samsung point-and-shoot, which has pretty much sat in the cupboard since I bought my Nikon. It’s a good camera and takes nice clear pictures, but I just don’t use it that much anymore as I prefer the versatility of the Nikon. Samsung doesn’t make an underwater housing for this camera (I don’t actually know if they make them for any of their cameras), so I would have needed to go with something like a Seashell waterproof housing. It looks like Seashell make these cases to fit most cameras, which is a plus, and they’re not super expensive either. The downsides (and why I didn’t go with this option) are that once you put the camera in the housing you can pretty much only use the power and the shutter buttons (I like a bit more creative control over my photography), and it looks a little fiddly to get all set up for your camera with a heap of different cushions etc that you need to install.
So that left me tossing up between a waterproof camera and a new point and shoot with underwater housing. The advantage of going for an underwater housing, is that you can take the camera way deeper underwater which is a huge plus for scuba divers. Most of the waterproof cameras you can only take to a maximum of around 10m deep, so they are more suited to snorkelling and water sports. However a new point-and-shoot plus an underwater housing was going to cost me more than I wanted to spend at this stage. The other thing with underwater housings is that they can be quite bulky, and I’m trying to cut down on my baggage when I travel (I am a chronic overpacker!).
Image source: Nikon
So that left me looking at waterproof cameras. I read heaps and heaps of comparison articles online (I love researching stuff!), and ended up narrowing my choice down to a Canon Powershot D20 or a Nikon Coolpix AW120. I ended up going with the Nikon for a couple of reasons:
- You can take it down to a maximum depth of 18m, rather than just 10m for the D20 (and most waterproof cameras). This was a huge deciding factor for me, as the AW120 will not just be useful for snorkelling but also for when I get my PADI and start scuba diving. It should take me a while to outgrow it, as 18m is the maximum depth that you should dive with the Open Water certification that I’m hoping to do at some stage.
- I liked the shape of the AW120 better – it felt better in my hand, and I found the odd shape of the D20 a bit unwieldy.
- The AW120 has a higher batter life (around 350 shots vs 250 shots for the D20). Camera batteries running out is one of my pet hates, it always seems to happen at the most inopportune moments! While I always carry a spare battery with me since my camera battery ran out while I was touring the temples at Angkor Wat, you need to let a waterproof camera completely dry before opening the battery compartment so it’s more convenient to have a longer lasting battery.
- And basically, I’m a Nikon girl! I really like their cameras, and thought I’d be happier in the long run if I bought a Nikon rather than getting a different brand.
Ash and I took it down to the pool in our apartment block the day after I bought it to give it a try. It was super nerve-wracking putting it in the water for the first time – I must have checked to make sure the seals were clean a hundred times! Here’s a couple of unedited sample shots, I’m really happy with how clear they are!
Look out for some more underwater pics soon when I take it for an outing in Boracay and Krabi!
Do you own an underwater camera? Any underwater photography tips you’d like to share?