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Monday, October 1, 2007

Gadget Bag: Reaching New Lows!


Underwater photography is entering a golden age, thanks to excellent compact digital cameras and inexpensive housings that enable anyone to get the shots

Reaching New Lows!
Olympus has made a significant commitment to providing snorkelers and scuba divers with options for taking digital images underwater with its cameras. Nearly every digital camera in its current line has an optional housing designed specifically for that model. Olympus even offers a camera that can be taken in the water down to 33 feet without the need for a housing! The unique Olympus Stylus 770 SW isn’t only waterproof, but also shockproof for drops up to five feet! Now, I don’t recommend you make a habit of dropping your digital camera, but the rugged 770 SW is certainly a bonus around the wet and slippery world of snorkeling and diving. Complete with three underwater scene modes (wide-angle with flash, wide-angle without flash and macro modes), Olympus has created a camera perfect for snorkeling. But what if scuba divers want to take the camera deeper than 33 feet? No problem! With the optional PT-035 housing, the 770 SW can safely operate at depths of up to 120 feet. Estimated Street Price: $379 (770 SW); $299 (PT-035).

 

reaching new lows!Recently, Olympus introduced the wide-zoom camera featuring an amazing 28mm lens that zooms to 504mm (35mm equivalent). Getting close to your subject is important in reducing light loss underwater, and this 28mm lens helps to accomplish that. In addition to this 18x zoom lens, the 7.1-megapixel Olympus SP-550UZ features include 30 shooting modes, including three underwater scene modes, an electronic viewfinder, dual IS image stabilization, RAW shooting mode and a fast aperture range of ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/4.5. In fact, the SP-550UZ has many features you’d expect to find only on a digital SLR. These features, combined with the Olympus PT-037 underwater case, make a reasonably priced system that provides near-SLR capabilities in the water while maintaining the size of an unhoused SLR. Estimated Street Price: $499 (SP-550UZ); $379 (PT-037).

reaching new lows!Sea&Sea has been producing underwater camera systems for quite a few years and has developed a line of digital cameras that's both rugged and stylish. An example of its experience is the soon-to-be-released DX-1G. The DX-1G camera and housing package ue 24-72mm zoom (35mm equivalent). This lens will allow snorkelers and divers to work close to their underwater subjects for better color and better lighting control. It also includes macro capability to a 1/2-inch subject distance, RAW shooting mode and manual-focusing capability for critical, low-light focusing.Other unique features are a fast power-up time of 1.1 seconds with a one-second recycle time. Add to this the fast 0.1-second shutter time, and you have a camera that's more than capable of handling the needs of the underwater photographer. The DX-1G uses both SD and SDHC high-capacity memory cards. Estimated Street Price: $1,049 (full system).

 

reaching new lows!Another veteran in the world of underwater camera systems is SeaLife. While producing a complete line of water sports and underwater cameras, the most unique has to be the ECOshot. Billed as an extreme water-sports camera, the 6-megapixel ECOshot is depth-rated to 75 feet, shock-tested to six feet and has Land and Sea shooting modes. The camera is pocket-sized and operates on two AA batteries. Perhaps the most interesting feature is one SeaLife calls the SPY Mode. This mode allows the camera to take continuous pictures at set time intervals from five seconds to five minutes. The camera will continue to take pictures at your set time interval until the SD card is full or you depress the shutter-release button again. Put the ECOshot on a small tripod like the Gorillapod, and you can capture images of underwater creatures that are too timid to capture otherwise. Estimated Street Price: $279.


reaching new lows!Olympus EVOLT E-410

While outside the point-and-shoot classification, the new Olympus EVOLT E-410, with its interchangeable lenses and SLR functionality, along with the companion underwater housing, the PT-EO3, are uniquely qualified for underwater photography. The E-410 features a 10-megapixel sensor, a dust-reduction system, RAW-format capability, a dual memory-card slot (CompactFlash Type I/II and xD-Picture Cards) and a 2.5-inch, bright LCD. Most unique is the Olympus Live View LCD, which allows the use of the LCD to frame images, a real plus when wearing a dive mask. Its compact size and molded, form-fitting underwater housing make it a very portable and easy-to-handle system in the water.

Resources

Canon USA
(800) OK-CANON
www.usa.canon.com
Fantasea Line
(989) 785-0540
www.fantasea.com
Nikon USA
(800) 645-6689
www.nikondigital.com
Olympus
(800) 622-6372
www.olympusamerica.com
PADI
(800) 729-7234
www.padi.com
SeaLife
(800) 257-7742
www.sealife-cameras.com
Sea&Sea
www.seaandsea.com; www.tusa.com


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