My previous blog outlined the steps that I took initially when I started shooting underwater. I was able to get some pretty remarkable results using a very modest investment in equipment. For a few years now, this camera...
...has served me well. I know, I know... It's basically just a point and shoot camera that one can take to the beach, do some snorkeling with, etc. It's worked great to not only capture some family moments around the pool, but also to create a body of artwork that I would not have had the opportunity to create otherwise.
Photographers are sometimes gear junkies. The latest, fastest, best, most advanced thing grabs our attention and we just can't live without it. For whatever reason, we forget that we were creating images before it and could be creating more images still without it. We convince ourselves that our photos will be better, our life will be easier, whatever, to justify the leap to a new thing.
Now in defense of the gear junkie within me, there are times when we reach a point where our equipment does begin to limit us. This is how I was starting to feel about my underwater gear.
The benefits of the my Lumix camera were that it was a sealed camera and I could use it underwater without an expensive housing. It also had a burst mode (I could shoot in short bursts, but fire off MANY frames), allowing for a much higher hit rate for small variables underwater.
The drawback of the Lumix camera was that it did not shoot in RAW. I never shoot in .jpg format for what I do. RAW allows for greater control of colour and tonality after the fact. Because my pool liner is a dark blue, I get colour shifts and casts that have to be corrected out. Because I often shoot in bright sunlight, I get streams of light and also very deep shadows that have a huge dynamic range. I don't want to blow out highlights or lose shadow detail. It's all about control and having the best possible content from which to work. After having the luxury of using a fairly high megapixel camera with my Nikon gear, the file sizes on this camera were much smaller and while they make great small to medium sized prints, they can only be magnified so much without beginning to fall apart.
At the end of 2014, I was seeing that I had gone as far as I could with this small camera and began to look into other options.
I saw a camera review on this camera, the Sony a6000...
...and was very intrigued. I wasn't thinking about underwater at that time, but was looking at a backup system/small system for different styles of shooting for when I didn't have to lug around the heavy Nikon DSLR. The more I learned about the camera, the more I was intrigued. But when I learned that the housing for underwater use was also relatively inexpensive, I was sold.
So you can imagine how happy I was when this arrived in my mailbox.
This housing with the Sony a6000 will satisfy the issues that I couldn't solve with the Lumix. I can now shoot in RAW and will have a much larger file size. The Sony a6000, while small and relatively affordable, is also a wonderful little camera. I've tested it on dry land and it's very impressive. A great size/weight, a high frame per second shooting rate that will rock underwater, sharp lenses... It looks like I've found a great solution for my underwater work.
I can't wait to to take the plunge and begin testing and creating new work with this system. Only 3 more months until the pool opening...