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
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).
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).
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.
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