What I shoot at the moment:
- Nikon D60 DSLR
- 18-55 mm Nikkor VR
- 55-200 mm Nikkor VR
- 18-270 mm Tamron aspherical (bought specifically for a dusty safari trip when I didn’t want to be switching lenses)
- Canon G12 Powershot
- Recsea G12 aluminium housing
- I-DIVE wide angle lens with dome (0.42 x)
- I-DIVE +8 macro lens
- 2x Sea & Sea YS-01 strobes
- I-Torch Video Pro 6+ (2800 lumens) focus light
I’ve had a series of other cameras that I’ve used over time, so some of the photos will be from those. At times, I took multiple cameras with me. In my own stupidity, when I took my first underwater camera out for its first dive, I hadn’t checked the o-rings properly. Housing flooded and ruined the camera. Now I don’t travel anywhere without a backup – I have two G12 bodies. These old setups all came and went in fairly rapid succession. They were all pretty basic point and shoots, and offered very little manual control. When you’re diving, you come to realise very quickly just how important it is to have that manual control. I kept trying to convince myself that I didn’t need it, because it was too expensive. But all that ended up happening was that I ended up with half a dozen cameras, ultimately none of which did what I wanted. For all the money I spent on them combined, I could have just bought the G10 and a FIX housing (as both were on the market at the time).
I’ve owned other SLR’s for topside photography – both film and digital – and I’ve owned other lenses. However I inevitably found that I had a lot of expensive gear and only used it once in a blue moon, so it just sat packed away in boxes in cupboards gathering dust. In a fit of common sense, I divested myself of the excess lenses and bodies. It’s hard to justify owning that kind of gear when you don’t actually use it. However, at the end of the day I’m not a professional photographer, and the money I got back from offloading that gear helped fund some of my travels. Some things seem like a good idea at the time – you live, you learn.
With regards to the underwater photography, obviously I’m well aware that I could outfit my existing DSLR (or even buy a new one) and shoot with that. I’m aware that I’d have more flexibility. But here’s the thing – it’s a pain in the ass to travel with. I’ve seen the size of the housings, ports, and lighting kits that are required to set up an SLR for underwater photography – they’re big and bulky. I do not want to have to carry that around with me. Not to mention, I like something small that I can just clip on to my BCD and forget about if I decide part-way through a dive to forego the photography, whether that be due to a diving mishap that needs dealing with, bad current, or just deciding I don’t feel like taking photos. It’s a little less flexible if you’ve got a big rig underwater with you. And at the end of the day, the G12 allows a pretty high degree of flexibility anyway – I can change ISO, I can mess with shutter speed, I can set white balance, it shoots RAW…And I have the full Adobe CS suite on my computer – so I can do post-processing just the same as I could from an SLR.
I think one thing I’ve learned about photography in general over time is that you don’t actually need the DSLR setup anymore. The high end point and shoots are fantastic – as long as they allow you to shoot RAW. It’s all about getting the right settings for the conditions and the mastering the subsequent composition. I’ve seen fantastic shots from some fairly simple setups, and some absolute shockers from people with too much money and super expensive advanced equipment who know nothing about how to use it.