REALLY at the beginning - compact or dSLR?

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Postby Leejnd » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:49 pm

Hi,

I'm new...not to diving, and not to taking underwater photos, but new to this forum, and to actually taking underwater photography seriously.

I've been snapping underwater shots with a really old but perfectly functional Olympus C5000 for several years now, and it's been fun for capturing memories, but the shots are not all that great to look at. I've decided I would like to actually take this a little more seriously, get some decent equipment, and learn what I'm doing.

There is SUCH a huge amount of information to sort through, and I've been trying to absorb all I can through books, websites, and this awesome site...but I'm still befuddled and not sure where to begin. At this point I just want to stop weeding through all this reading material, get some advice on what to buy, and then get out there and start learning how to use it! And I don't want to waste my time reading stuff that really doesn't apply to me anyway.

So I guess my first question is -- should I even bother considering dSLR? My budget is about $600-700 tops...does that limit me to a compact? If so, that's fine...I'll go research compacts and see what I can find. But if I can go with dSLR in this price range, I'll do some more research on that and see if I can find something that I like, and can afford.

Any advice would be appreciated!

LeeAnne
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Postby smb2 » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:53 pm

I guess my first question would be, how much land photography do you do?
Do you own an SLR camera now?
Unless you can find an amazing used deal, 600-700 does not generally get you in to the housed DSLR game.

It may even be a stretch for a compact upgrade, again look at the used market.
If you are trying to improve your UW photography then that generally means an external
flash (or two), so that starts to add up quickly.
Lots of folks on this site may be able to help you pinch some dollars and hopefully they will chime in.
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Postby Leejnd » Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:42 pm

Okay...thanks for the feedback. I guess that pretty much answers my question...I'll focus my search on compacts. I'm fine with that - I've really not focused on photography on land, so super-duper equipment would probably be wasted on me anyway.

Thanks!
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Postby bvanant » Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:40 pm

LeeAnne: For $700 tops you will not be able to do too much at all with NEW gear. For example a new Canon G11 is about $450 and the housing is $169 and a reasonable strobe is $300 or so. That is about $900 or quite a bit over the $700 budget. BUT you can get a very nice used system for that. Keep your eyes open here and on the other boards, put a system wanted ad up here and you might come up with something a bit older but still capable of great pics.
Bill

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Technical Advisor to Bluewater Photo


http://www.blueviews.net

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Postby Leejnd » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:33 pm

OooKAY! Well now at least I'm getting a feel for what this is going to cost me! I'm not necessarily opposed to exceeding that budget - I would be willing to invest more if it's really doing to make a difference. I'd also be open to used gear. I just wasn't even sure where to begin!

I'll start reading more on compacts, and looking on ebay and other places. I'd like to get something within the next week - we're heading off on the 5th for a weeklong trip to the Channel Islands on our boat, doing at least a few dives, and it would be great to play with a new camera. But I'll see what I can find.

I've been reading that the Olympus 5050, while old, is still a good entry-level compact that takes excellent underwater photos. They seem pretty inexpensive, and I saw an underwater housing on ebay for less than $80. Perhaps I should start with that and learn what I'm doing before I start investing the big bucks. Comments?

Thanks again for the feedback!
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Postby Leejnd » Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:12 pm

Actually, scratch that - I'm looking at a Canon G9 and WP-DC21 housing. I'd like to be able to add external strobes, and that camera/housing seems to get good reviews, so I'm considering going that route.

LeeAnne
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Postby smb2 » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:36 pm

I think that if you are going to step up your images, an external strobe(s) is a must. Flash really makes a difference in going from vacation photos to potentially artistic images. I am not a good authority for compact gear, but the G9 seems to do a nice job, with many super images on the Boards.

http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/digit ... as#COMPACT
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Postby Leejnd » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:48 pm

Thanks! Yeah, I'm continuing to read and research, and that seems to be the best option for me for where I'm at right now. I defintely want to move beyond "personal memory" photos to something that I can be proud of, but I have a lot to learn. I'll learn it tho...that's me, when I decide dive into something, I always give it 200%, and stick with it. That's why I want to do this in stages - a good compact now where I can learn the basics and add accessories, and then I'll upgrade to something more exciting when I know what I'm doing.
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Postby James » Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:21 pm

Seven hundred dollars is not even enough to begin beyond a very simple P&S and OEM housing. A dSLR rig can easily run ten times that amount. I suggest you visit the website for Marine Camera, Reef Photo and Backscatter to get a feel for prices of equipment.

You should stick with an advanced compact like the G series or Canon S90 or the Oly ELP-1 and even there you are talking 3,000 dollars to get a top of the line, capable outfit.

This is not a cheap undertaking.

James
Swim down, swim around, swim back up

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Postby cyberon » Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:43 am

Also get a good strobe that meets your needs taking into consideration the weight of the unit etc as you will be travelling with it a lot. Remember that a good strobe will stay with you even when you upgrade your other gear.
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