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Full Article: Deep Visions 2018 by ScubaShooters

Press Release

Scubashooters.net and its team are proud to announce that entries for the contest are open.

The competition will be hosted on the scubashooters.net website 

40 sponsors, each one a worldwide leader in the diving industry, will support an extremely rich prize pane of over $60000 USD total value!

Entries will be accepted from March 1st through April 22nd, and after competition ends, the scubashooters.net international jury will take the charge of the hard decision on the winning photos.

Mr. Henry Jager (head of the jury) from Switzerland, Mrs. Beth Watson from USA, Mrs. Isabella Maffei from Italy, Mrs. Ivana Orlovic from Serbia, Mr. Davide Lopresti from Italy, Mr. Roland Bach from Spain and Mr. Fabio Iardino from Italy are the members of the Jury and they will have the hard task to decide the winning shots. Mr Jager. recommends two very important things: read the rules and avoid uploading watermarked photos.

The judging system is entirely web based and programmed so that the members of the jury will not be able to determine the authors of the photos; it is then of extreme importance to enter the contest with watermark free photos as those not respecting this simple request will be disqualified.

Visit www.scubashooters.net and enter the contest!


ScubaShooters Past Winners:


Photo by Tanya Houppermans

Photo by Alex Rush

Photo by Yatwaiso

Full Article: Sony RX100 V Review

The Sony RX100 line of cameras is one of the most popular compact camera options for underwater shooters. A large image sensor, great feature list, and variety of underwater housing options have kept the RX100 cameras a top choice in the compact camera field.

There are a number of significant improvements to this camera including 24 fps burst shooting, double the time shooting at 960 frames per second (very slow motion video) and 4K video with 5K oversampling, for even better quality. Are the improvements to this camera significant enough to consider upgrading your compact rig? How does it compare to other compact options? Read on to find out.

We asked some users of the RX100 V in the Underwater Photography Guide community to contribute their best shots and advice for this camera. These photos really show the sensor's dynamic range, crisp and quick auto-focus, and great overall image quality. 

Jump to section:

Sony RX100 V Specs   |  Underwater Photography Features   |   Wide Angle Shooting

Macro Shooting   |   Underwater Videography Features   |   Limitations and Downsides

   Underwater Housing Options  |   To Buy or Not To Buy?   |   Conclusion



Key Upgrades from RX100 IV

  • New 20.1-megapixel 1-inch Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
  • New BIONZ X image processor and front-end LSi (faster camera operation and image processing speed)
  • 315-point phase detection autofocus system
  • Anti Distortion Shutter dramatically reduces rolling shutter effect when recording video 
  • 24 fps RAW burst with AF tracking for up to 150 photos. Wow!
  • New AF-A mode allows camera to switch between single and continuous AF (usually found on DSLR AF systems)

Sony RX100 V Complete Specs

  • 20.1-megapixel 1-inch Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor
  • 315-point phase detection autofocus system: focuses in 0.05-sec
  • AF-A autofocus mode in addition to AF-S and AF-C
  • New BIONZ X image processor and front-end LSi (faster camera operation and image processing speed)
  • ISO range 125 - 12800
  • 24 fps RAW burst with AF tracking for up to 150 photos. Wow!
  • Anti Distortion Shutter dramatically reduces rolling shutter effect when recording video 
  • ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar® T* 24-70mm, f/1.8 - 2.8 Lens with 10 elements in 9 groups and a 0.17 ft (5 cm) minimum focusing distance
  • Adjustable LCD screen - 2.95 inches (3.0type) (4:3) / 1,228,800 dots
  • 100% coverage viewfinder
  • WiFI and NFC connectivity
  • Dimensions: 4 x 2 3/8 × 1 5/8 inch (101.6 x 58.1 x 41.0 mm)
  • Weight: Approx. 10.5 oz (299 g) (Battery and Memory Stick Duo are included) / Approx. 9.6 oz (272 g) (Body Only)

It’s clear that Sony’s focus with this camera was adding technical capabilities, and they have made some impressive additions to the spec list. The high-speed shooting mode can now do 24 fps burst shooting in jpeg and RAW, with full autofocus and autoexposure. The autofocus is incredibly quick; 0.05-seconds with 315 AF points. This is a vast improvement over the RX100 IV. And the 4K video quality has been amped up several notches, with oversampling from 5K footage, reduction in rolling shutter, and the option to shoot extended super slow motion at 960 fps for twice as long as with the RX100 IV.

Underwater Photography Features


The 24-70mm F1.8/2.8 lens is the same as used in the RX100 IV. It is faster (F2.8) at 70mm than the lens on the RX100 / RX100 II, which is beneficial for low-light and indoor shooting. However, for underwater photography, I don't normally shoot with a wide open aperture, especially at the longer range of 70mm. Overall I would prefer the 100mm reach of the RX100 and RX100 II over the RX100 V's speed, as that allows for better photos of shy subjects and better macro shooting. 


The completely redesigned, 315-point phase detection autofocus (AF) system is lightning fast. By combining high-speed phase-detection AF with extremely accurate contrast-detection AF, this hybrid system allows the camera to lock onto and capture moving subjects in merely 0.05 seconds. This improvement is most noticeable when shooting in Continuous AF mode. Note that phase detection autofocus systems are typically found on dSLRs and higher-end mirrorless cameras, but not on compacts (until now).

Sensor and Photo Quality

The DxoMark sensor rating of the Sony RX100 V is 70, very good for a compact camera. The sensor is rated the same as the RX100 IV, slightly better than the RX100 II & III (both got 67), and about equal to the Canon G7X (got a 71). The sensor rating takes color depth, dynamic range, and low-light ISO performance into account. The image quality of this camera is rated by DPReview to be almost identical to that of the RX100 IV. That is to say, the images and video are outstanding; professional level photos and video can be taken with this camera.

Strobes, Flash and TTL Capability

Strobes are external flashes for use underwater. They help make your photos sharper, and more importantly, restore true colors to marine life. (When lit only by ambient light, subjects lose color through all the water between them and the surface, and between them and your lens). Check out this article about strobes for more information.

Through-the-lens (TTL) is a strobe setting where your camera controls your strobe power based on its own light metering. The internal flash trigger is transmitted to your strobes via fiber optic cables, and your strobes fire with a corresponding strength. You can get optical TTL when using fiber optic cables with the Sea & Sea YS-03, YS-01, YS-D1, and YS-D2 strobes. You can also use the Inon Z240, Z330, S2000, or D2000 strobes. TTL works in all modes - P, A, Tv, and manual mode.

One notable downside is that if you are using a strobe, you'll have to wait 1 - 4 seconds for the internal flash to recycle, as there is no way to turn down the internal flash power like the Canon compact cameras have. This may limit you in situations where you want to take multiple exposures quickly. One of our users found that they would have internal flash delays at the tail-end of dives after taking almost 200 photos.  

White Balance Capability

Although the Sony RX100 V does not have "1-touch" custom white balance, the custom white balance is like that of the RX100 IV; good and easy to use. The custom white balance function uses a small circle in the center of the photo to evaluate the white balance, instead of using the entire screen, which is very nice. You can store the white balance setting in 3 different banks. You can't set the white balance in video mode, but you can start and stop video in any of the camera modes so that is not really a big deal in our opinion. 

Wide Angle Shooting

As with all compact cameras, the RX100 V's lens covers somewhat wide-to-mid-range focal lengths. The capabilities can be greatly improved for wide angle shooting by using wet lenses, which connect to the outside of the camera housing and increase the angle of view.

RX100 V Wide-Angle Wet Lenses

A wide-angle wet lens increases the field of view, which means that for shooting a given subject at a certain size in your photo, you have to be quite a bit closer to it. Although this can be a hassle with a skittish subject, what it does mean is that you get less water between the camera and your subject. And less water means a clearer subject, as well as better lighting from video light, photo light or strobe, which means much better colors. A wider angle also allows for more dramatic shots, especially with large subjects like oil rigs, kelp forests and wrecks.

Macro Shooting

The 70mm max focal length of the native lens of the RX100 V does not provide as good reach for macro shooting as the 100mm length of the RX100 and RX100 II. A wet macro lens increases the magnification of the camera lens, allowing you to shoot macro images of much smaller subjects than with just the camera alone.

RX100 V Macro Lenses

The RX-100 at 100mm can take a photo 3 inches across, while the RX-100 V at 70mm can take a photo 4 inches across. When using the Bluewater +7 macro lens, you can take a photo 1.37 inches wide at maximum magnification with the RX-100. With the RX-100 V, you can take a photo 1.78 inches across, and you also have a little less working distance with the RX-100 V. So while you can still get good macro shots, you get more magnification with the first two RX-100 versions than with the later versions.

Underwater Videography Features

The RX100V takes extremely high quality video, which rivals that of significantly more expensive cameras, including those dedicated for video. It has SLog2 gamma and focus peaking, and takes very high quality 1080p HD video (without even getting into the even higher resolution 4K option). Here is a great video taken in the Galapagos by Juan Quinteros, with the RX100 V in HD video mode.

4K Video

If you have the right memory card, the RX100 V can shoot in 4K, at a 100Mbps bit rate. It actually collects about 1.7 times as much information as required for basic 4K movie output, and this oversampling effect results in even higher quality 4K video than that of the RX100 IV. Improvements have also been made to drastically reduce the "rolling shutter" effect from that of the RX100 IV.

Photo Capture function lets you select a moment from a 4K movie in playback and save it in the form of a highly detailed still image file of over 8 megapixels. Likewise, you can create a 2-megapixel still image file from a Full HD movie that has been recorded.

Slow Motion

In slow motion mode, the camera can take ~4 seconds of 960fps footage in quality priority mode (which we recommend, or ~7 seconds in regular mode), that will take 64 seconds to replay at 60fps. A neat feature is that there are two recording modes for slow motion: start trigger and end trigger. Say that you have a sea lion swimming around you and blowing bubbles, and you want to capture in slow motion the moment it opens its mouth and starts letting bubbles out. If you use start trigger, you have to anticipate the action, and hit the MOVIE button before the sea lion opens its mouth. But if you use end trigger, you can keep the sea lion in view while the camera writes to the buffer, and then hit the MOVIE button after the sea lion has blown its bubbles. The camera will then record slow motion video of the 4-6 seconds prior to hitting the MOVIE button, thus capturing in slow motion the exact moment the sea lion first opened its mouth!

Here is a sample slow-motion video taken with the RX100 IV. The slow motion video capabilities of the RX100 V are identical to those of the IV, except for the ability to take slow motion videos that are twice as long.

Filmed by Scott Gietler and Tommy Stylski of Bluewater Photo at 960fps.

Limitations and Downsides

Battery Life

The CIPA rating of 220 shots is a significant reduction from the RX-100 IV (280) and from the competition (265 for the Canon G7X mark II). That’s not to say that you can only get 220 shots from one battery in this camera – testing is done with high flash usage and the LCD screen remaining on after each shot. Especially when shooting in burst mode, you can get quite a few more shots on one battery; the point is that this camera will not get as far on one battery as its predecessor or as its competition. What this means from the standpoint of shooting underwater, and as shared by a couple of users from the community, is that you may want to swap out your battery between each dive to make sure you don't run out of juice underwater (or at least once every second dive). And this could have larger ramifications for those who take lots of underwater video.

Limited 4K Video Shooting Length

There is a 5 minute recording limit when shooting in 4K video mode, to prevent overheating (same as with the RX100 IV).


The RX100 V is the same dimensions as the RX-100 IV, but both are 10% larger and 15% heavier than the original RX-100. So although it is still a small camera, it is best classified as "semi-pocketable" instead of slim and truly pocketable.


The RX100V is more costly than all the other RX100 models, and significantly costlier than the Canon G7X II. 

Shooting Limitations

As mentioned above, the limited reach of the 24-70mm lens makes it more difficult to take photos of macro subjects or shy subjects. The flash recycle time of 1-4 seconds reduces the ability to take multiple shots quickly while using strobes.

Sony RX100 V Underwater Housings

Since the RX100 V has the same dimensions as the RX100 IV, all housings for the RX100 IV except for the Nauticam version fit the RX100 V. There are six underwater housings available for the Sony RX100 V. Each have different pros and cons, most importantly around pricing and ergonomics, and all offer a wide range of accessories available through Bluewater Photo.

Nauticam RX100 V Underwater Housing

The Nauticam RX100 V housing is milled from a block of solid aluminum, then hard anodized. The result is a rugged and reliable piece of gear that will stand up to saltwater and the daily rigors of diving. Since the housing accesses all of the camera controls, including the front control ring, the user can take advantage of the enhanced programmability in the RX100 V. The housing also has a 67mm port and can support multiple wet wide angle lens options, including the Nauticam WWL-1.

Purchase the Nauticam RX100 V Housing

Recsea RX100 IV, V Underwater Housing

As always Recsea housings are made of high quality machined aluminum with excellent controls and full camera functionality. The Recsea housings fit the camera like a glove, offering the smallest housing on the market without losing any functionality. Easy to use, adaptable with many different wet wide angle and macro lenses, and including strobe connections, the Recsea housing is the perfect tool for taking your Sony RX-100 IV or V underwater.

Purchase the Recsea RX100 IV, V Housing

Recsea RX100 IV, V CW Underwater Housing

Recsea offers a high quality polycarbonate housing for the Sony RX100 IV, which is compatible with the RX100 V. Designed with the same precision engineering as the high quality aluminum RX100 IV Housing the new CW housing comes at a much lower price, great if you are on a budget. The new CW housings come with 67mm threads built in which means you can attach some lenses without an adapter.

Purchase the Recsea RX100 IV, V CW Housing

Acquapazza RX100 IV, V Underwater Housing

Acquapazza is a high quality aluminum housing made in Japan. Small and easy to use, it allows for full access to the camera features, with split out button and dial controls. Built in 67mm threads allow for easy attachment of wet lenses. Acquapazza housings are available in a number of different anodized colors.

Purchase the Acquapazza RX100 IV, V Housing

Fantasea RX100 III, IV, V Underwater Housing

The Fantasea Sony RX100 IV housing is made of tough plastic, creating a lightweight and sturdy housing. Controls are easy to access and very clearly labeled. The housing is also compatible with flash accessories, plus wide-angle and macro wet lenses and other gear. A cold shoe mount makes it easy to attach a focus light, video light, a GoPro or other accessory. If you are looking for a lower priced housing, this is an excellent choice.

Purchase the Fantasea RX100 IV Housing

To Buy or Not To Buy?

The RX100 V is clearly an excellent option for compact shooters, and will allow you to get awesome photos. The question though is whether it's worth the higher price tag than its competitors. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the key comparisons between the RX100V, the RX100IV and the Canon G7X II.


RX100 V


RX100 IV







Sensor Rating





Lens specs








315-point phase detection (much better)

Contrast detection

Contrast detection

Flash recycle time









Video modes

4K/30p with 5K oversampling and reduced rolling shutter





Slow motion video

960 fps for 4-7 seconds

960 fps for 2-4 seconds


Battery Life (CIPA)





Burst Shooting


24 fps

16 fps

8 fps


The camera you should choose ultimately depends on what you are looking for and how much you have to spend. 

Consider the RX100 V if:

  • You want the faster autofocus
  • You want the highest quality 4K video possible
  • You want to shoot long slow motion clips 
  • You want to shoot extremely fast bursts
  • You are OK with swapping your battery out more often (potentially every one or two dives, especially if taking lots of video)

Consider the RX100 IV if:

  • You want to shoot 4K video and you are OK with some rolling shutter effect and missing the 5K oversampling
  • You want to shoot slow motion clips and 2-4 seconds is enough for you
  • You want to shoot fast bursts
  • You want a bit longer battery life
  • You want to save some money 

Consider the G7X II if:

  • You want to save a significant amount of money
  • You are fine shooting 1080/60p video without 4K or slow motion
  • You want the extra range of the 100mm lens instead of 70mm for macro or shy subjects
  • You want a faster flash recycle time to use your strobes more quickly on consecutive shots
  • You want more battery life than the RX100 V
  • You are good with having a burst shooting mode of 8 fps

If you already have the RX100 IV, then the only reason to spend the money to upgrade is if you are really wanting the very best 4K video, you have problems with autofocus, or you want to take longer slow motion video clips. The good news if you do decide to upgrade is that most housings for the RX100 IV are fully compatible with the RX100 V.

Remember that whichever compact camera you choose, adding strobes and wet lenses will allow you to make significant improvements in your potential for taking high quality images. And if your choice is between upgrading compact camera or adding a strobe or a wet lens, your money may be better spent adding one of those to your current setup.

You can read our full review of the Canon G7X II here and our full review of the RX100 IV here.


The Sony RX100 V boasts fantastic image quality, amazing 4K video quality, and the ability to take phenomenal slow motion video. A wide array of underwater housings and lenses provide a lot of options that cover multiple budgets and intended uses. All of this makes the Sony RX100 V one of the best choices for underwater photographers looking to get the maximum photography and videography options from a compact rig. The specs are so good on this camera that a competent photographer with the right gear can take photos that challenge the quality of those from more expensive and bulkier mirrorless rigs, as can be seen from the sample photos provided from our community throughout this article. The question is not whether this camera is worth the price tag, but whether it is the best way to spend limited money that could potentially be spent elsewhere.

Additional Reading

Additional User Photos




Full Article: Diving with Volcanoes


Whether active, dormant, or extinct, volcanoes are a fascinating and occasionally volatile feature of nature. One country stands out as having the most active volcanoes on the planet, and coincidently some of the best diving – Indonesia.  Indonesia’s far northern archipelago gives divers opportunities to dive in close proximity to volcanos.

The Sangihe Islands are a rare trifecta of dives; a lucky individual can dive on an active underwater volcano, the base of an active volcano and an extinct volcano with its series of old lava flows that extend down to well below recreational diving depths.

Each dive is different, unique, and a little intimidating. Volcanoes can be a challenge to dive, let alone photograph.  

Mahengetang Active Underwater Volcano

The Mahengetang Active Underwater Volcano is the most difficult of the 3 to dive and photograph – mainly due to its remote location and in-water conditions. Despite being relatively close to a small island which offers some shelter to wind and swell, the currents are strong in the area and the pinnacle must be dived on the slack tide.

It’s interesting to note that a prior scientific expedition had reported that the peak was 5m/16ft below the surface. During our dives there 4 years later, the rocky peak had risen and had broken through the surface.

All around the peak are hundreds of cracks in the rocks allowing the sulphur bubbles to escape and float upwards. The smell of sulphur at the dive site is very strong, and the water temperature around the volcano is an average of around 35°C or 95°F.  

This excess heat is a little uncomfortable even without a wetsuit but a lightweight exposure suit is still recommended. The upside of the excess heat is the incredible, unusually shaped soft corals and sponges.

What makes the dive frustrating to photograph are the extreme thermoclines at depths ranging from the surface down to at least 35m/115ft. In addition to massive temperature differences, the heated layers create swirling bands of haze that make it difficult to see and impossible for the camera to focus. With all of the layers overhead, available light is also greatly reduced to about half that of a standard dive.

This has wide angle photographers constantly adjusting ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds to compensate for the inconsistent and ever-changing lighting. With models wearing black, the exposures were especially difficult. For subsequent dives, brighter colours were used giving some added safety.

During surface intervals, you can walk around and get a glimpse of life on the small island by watching the locals repairing fishing nets or building large timber fishing boats with chainsaws and basic tools. Although they don’t speak English, they are welcoming and the smiling children will happily follow you everywhere you go.


Ruang Volcano and Lava Flows

Travelling by boat around the Ruang Volcano is stunning.  It’s a single volcano with all sides running down to the water’s edge creating a near circular island with deep water all around. The caldera can be clearly seen and is partially destroyed from the last eruption.

But what is most fascinating are the two large lava flows that start at the peak and expand down the hillside and into the water. The rock is black, rough and very porous making it ideal for hosting corals when underwater.

Like the nearby Mahengetang Volcano, this area also has strong currents but with the lava flows being so wide, it is perfect for drift diving.  The variety of coral is incredible with equal amounts of hard and soft corals as well as ample sponges, sea whips and fans. It’s some of the most diverse coral gardens we have ever seen.

Interspaced between the lava rocks and coral is black sand making for ideal macro photography as well as wide angle.


Karengetang Active Volcano

Karengetang is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. From a distance, the constant plume of dense white smoke can be seen rising high into the sky and occasionally, the sight of lava spewing vertically into the air is visible as well.

At night the peak has a constant red glow and is fascinating to watch while anchored in the harbour below during both the day and night.  It does erupt regularly and erupted just 6 months prior and also 9 months after we had visited the area.  The volcano is in the Sitaro Province and the township of Siau is nestled on the water’s edge at the base of this 1870m/6200ft tall volcano.


There are many dives all around the volcano’s base from large coral walls, points teeming with fish, coral, and even a wreck – all of which are on the west coast.

But for us, the highlights were the black sand muck dives on the east coast of the island, in the harbour directly below the volcano.  The macro diving here is superb and in our opinion  surpasses the Lembeh Straights, located around 100 miles south of Siau. The big difference from Lembeh being the lack of crowds, and the deep rumblings of the volcano that regularly vibrate right though you whilst underwater.

More detail and images on Siau’s diving can be found in our “Dispatch from Siau” article.

Volcano Hike

The volcano experience can be topped off on the last “no dive” day with a hike up Karengetang.  The 3 am start is at the discretion of the local volcanologist, and is just the first step of a very physical 15 hour climb that requires an experienced guide, very good footwear, and a high level of fitness. After a beautiful sunrise, walking up through the clouds in the middle of the day, and the views overlooking the bay are well worth the effort.

The area can be accessed from Manado by light plane to Siau, fast ferry, or the occasional dive liveaboard with exploratory charters of the area.

For divers travelling from Manado to the Lembeh Straights or the Bunaken Marine Park, it’s a great way to tack an extra few days diving onto the trip and with the right weather, get a little volcanic diversity to your dive holiday.

Full Article: One Shark Diver's Perspective: Caged vs Open Water Shark Diving

As most people are aware, there are a myriad of current and on-going debates about shark diving in general. Does diving with sharks alter their behavior? Does baiting sharks alter their behavior? Should divers be hand-feeding sharks? As you might expect, there are always two sides to every debate and, certainly, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Depending on which side of the fence (or cage) you find yourself, this article is not intended to change anyone’s opinion on shark diving in general. Rather, the purpose of this article is to illustrate one shark diver’s perspective on some of the thought processes and differences in preparation and execution that an underwater photographer might encounter diving with sharks either inside or outside a shark cage.

I live in South Florida, which means I have the opportunity to dive with sharks any time I want to. This diving is typically done in open water, without cages. I have had encounters with many shark species in these waters, and most of my shark diving experience has been without a cage. However, I have also gone cage diving, as that’s the only good way to get up close and personal with great white sharks in a safe and controlled environment. Fortunately, there happens to be a world-class great white shark location quite close to the US; Guadalupe, Mexico.

Guadalupe Great White Shark Close-up

Inside the Cage

I have been on a few exclusively caged shark diving trips in Guadalupe, Mexico with the Nautilus fleet. When compared to open water shark diving, diving in a shark cage has its own unique set of thought processes and differences in preparation for the dives. First of all, diving in Guadalupe is based upon a hookah system, where divers breathe surface-supplied air. In the cages, divers wear a harness laden with lead, which is supplied by the boat and is crucial to keep them firmly planted on the cage floor. As such, divers are only required to bring their own mask, wetsuit, hood gloves and booties, so packing is much easier with regard to scuba gear.

Packing underwater camera gear, however, can present more of a challenge when preparing for a caged trip. How close will the sharks be? How clear will the water be? Should I use a fisheye or rectilinear lens? Do I bring my 4”, 6” or 8” dome port? How far apart are the bars of the cages? I found that divers tend to bring a lot of camera gear with them but wind up using one lens and dome port. My personal choice for the caged diving I did was a Panasonic 7-14/F 4.0 lens and a Zen 6” glass dome port – large enough to capture the action yet small enough to stay of other photographers' photos. 

Guadalupe Great White Shark

Being submerged in a cage brings its own challenges as well. Most cages hold around 3-4 divers.  While that does not sound like a lot of people, think about 3-4 divers with their respective camera rigs, and everyone trying to move around to jockey for the best photo opportunities. It can get very crowded in the cages and it is best to remember to practice good underwater photographer niceties. The cage bars can also hold some pitfalls, in that you are having to compose your shots either through the bars or, if possible, between the bars. And visibility can sometimes become less-than-stellar, rendering photos nearly impossible.

On the flip side, however, there are some wonderful positives about cage diving with sharks. It is generally much safer diving within the confines of a shark cage rather than in open water. It is a much more closely controlled environment with respect to dive times and depth, and there is usually a dive guide or DM present. With cage diving, there is typically a dive schedule on which you can count, so you can be assured of getting the bottom time you want. You can also choose which depth of cage you want to enter, either surface or 30’-40’, which allows you to plan for more consistent images with respect to depth/water column color.  

Guadalupe Great White Shark


Join us for an opportunity to experience cage diving with Great White sharks!

Great White Sharks Photo Workshop in Guadalupe 2018

September 11-16, 2018


Triple Occupancy $2,935

Stateroom $3,250

Superior Suite $3,775

Premium Suite $4,405

Single Occupancy $4,062

Open Water Shark Diving

As I mentioned before, those of us living in South Florida have the opportunity to dive with sharks at any time, primarily in open water and without cages. On a moment’s notice anyone can jump onto a dive boat that heads out to the international waters of the Atlantic, where they can interact with a number of different shark species, depending on the time of year. Common encounters include hammerheads, tigers, lemons, bulls, nurse, reef, duskies, sandbars, silkies, and sometimes we get lucky and an occasional great white, whale shark or oceanic white tip swims by.

A typical day on one of these charters goes something like this: after all your initial preparation for the dive day, you arrive at the boat and get your scuba gear set up and find a spot for your camera rig. Initially there’s lots of controlled chaos where gear is strewn about, but eventually everything finds its own place. Once the dive gear is set, there is usually a very detailed boat briefing by the captain/mate as to the boat, safety, events of the day, etc. Then there is usually a dive briefing as to the dive site and the type of sharks we might expect to see. There is usually a list of “do’s and don’ts” that is reviewed each time with shark diving – no bright colors, no white tanks, no exposed skin, hoods/gloves mandatory, etc. In South Florida, trips to the dive site can be lengthy so there is ample time to tweak your camera and/or scuba gear on the ride out. This also provides time to plan your dive as well as anticipating the images you might like to capture.  

My rig consists of an Olympus OM-D EM-1 MKII, Nauticam housing, Zen 6” glass dome port and dual Inon Z240s. When doing open water shark diving, I vacillate between my Panasonic 7-14mm and Panasonic 8mm fisheye. I sometimes look ahead at the NOAA forecast to see what weather conditions are going to be for that day, then decide if I want to chance using the 8mm. When using the 8mm lens, the sharks have to come in close to get decent images, but when they do come in close, the 8mm far outperforms the 7-14mm, in my opinion. Typically, though, I go with the 7-14mm to be safe. 

Lemon Shark

Factors for Success

There are quite a lot of factors to consider when going on an open water shark dive without a cage. First of all, things like weather, current, visibility, seasickness, buoyancy control, the number/experience level of the divers, the number/experience level of underwater photographers, the number/experience level of underwater videographers, and number and species of sharks can all play a role as to whether or not you have a successful day with images.   

For example, if you are on a dive with divers who do not have a lot of experience diving with sharks, it can be frustrating when you get set up for a gorgeous incoming tiger shark face portrait straight on, and a newer, less experienced diver shoves his/her GoPro in front of your dome port to catch the action (and of course the reverse is true as well.) Another not-so-fun scenario is this: the dive is on a wreck in the sand, and all divers are kneeling in the sand waiting for the sharks to arrive. However, there is a ripping current pushing all the divers everywhere thereby kicking up the sand making photos nearly impossible. Or the worst scenario of all: no sharks show up that day! Each of these factors plays a role in getting the images you want, and some of them are not entirely within your control.

Tiger Shark

…and more challenges...

However, while I think that diving with sharks in open water affords us more leeway and freedoms, it can also present more challenges.  As mentioned earlier, having that tiger shark follow you through the water column to the surface, you have to be cognizant of the need to change camera settings in an instant as you turn 360 degree circles in the water following the movements of the shark(s). Now, for that sunburst shot you have been planning all dive long, the ISO, f/stop and shutter speeds are completely different than that taken for a shot in the blue. Additionally, not only do you need to change the camera settings, but the strobe settings and position as well.   

Therefore, an open water shark diver has to be keen on the ever-changing environment of having one’s head on a proverbial swivel and being able to make the necessary changes in body position/buoyancy, camera settings, strobe settings/position and being mindful of the shark’s position. Another challenge with open water shark diving is that it is so exhilarating diving with sharks that sometimes it is difficult to remember to watch your bottom time and manage your no deco limits with all the nonstop action around you.  There is one thing for sure that every shark diver can agree - it certainly is a dynamic process diving with sharks in open water, and one needs to be skillful at a multitude of tasks.

Hammerhead Shark

The Verdict

To summarize, I am definitely a shark diving advocate, both in open water and in a cage. There are pitfalls and positives for both, as most divers will attest, and one is not better than the other – they are just different. There are different underwater photo opportunities to be gleaned from diving in open water with sharks than in cages, but this also brings more inherent risks. Diving with sharks either inside or outside of a cage takes differing degrees of preparation, both topside and at depth.  

Every diver knows that when we enter the underwater realm, we are in an environment in which we are a visitor. We take chances simply by breathing underwater and when diving with sharks, we compound that risk significantly. Sharks are one of the underwater apex predators and deserve our respect and admiration. They also deserve our help in presenting them in a much softer light in our underwater images and videos, which will help to dispel the evil media-driven myths about sharks. 

Upcoming Trips with Exciting Shark Photo Opportunities

Additional Reading

Full Article: Ice and Altitude Diving (with bonus crayfish)

I think there is a lot of benefit to diving the same sites over and over. However, to grow as a photographer and keep the creative process flowing, it's important to mix things up!


So when the crazy idea to learn how to dive under the ice crept into my head, I went for it. I shot a quick Facebook message to a friend and the next thing I know, I'm gearing up at over 7600 feet of elevation looking at the edge of a scenic lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains less than two weeks later.

The Location


The first set of dives were at Silver Lake, near the Ansel Adams Wilderness. It was truly unique to start and end my dives with a backdrop like this. With that said though, you definitely notice the altitude gearing up!


For the ice diving portion of the trip, we headed even further up the mountains to find ice. Due to warmer temperatures, most of the lakes the group normally dives were completely free of ice; something my instructor has only seen a few times in the last 30 years. After gearing up for safety, and a short run of the chainsaw later, we had a hole cut out and were ready to dive!



About the Diving

For normal diving destinations, there is a lot of planning and research done ahead of time to get a feel for what subjects you'll see and what sort of images you want to shoot. Here, not so much. With the compressed timeframe there was almost no research (or planning) and as a result, I stumbled upon something completely unexpected, a croc-adile fish!



Get it!? Because... ok, ok... bad puns aside, crayfish!  



These high mountain lakes are home to an abundance of signal crayfish, a species introduced to California, possibly as early as 1898. Since then, they've continued to spread through a number of watersheds and as a result, made some pretty unique subjects when I finished with my training dives.



About the Shots

Photography in these conditions can be challenging. With frigid 38-40F temps, time in the water is limited. Extremely silty bottoms with no water movement leave little room erratic fin kicks, and bulky drysuit and thick gloves limit mobility and dexterity, making simple changes to camera settings difficult. When shooting the Tokina 10-17, a mini dome was essential to getting up close to these crayfish, and due to the dark, murky water, a focus light such as the Kraken Hydra 1k was crucial as well.


Slowing down the shutter speed and bumping the ISO will add a little background color and careful strobe positioning to light the foreground will give you a good starting point to capturing these unique critters. There is definitely room for improvement, but no regrets going out of my comfort zone trying something new!




Full Article: Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Light Review

In recent years, Kraken Sports has established itself at the forefront of underwater lighting. Catering to divers from all walks of life and all sides of the hobby, Kraken produces lights for underwater videographers, photographers, blackwater divers, macro divers, wide-angle divers, and anyone in between. Though marketed as a “macro” light, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is as versatile as its manufacturer. 

Top side photo of Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Video Light


  • Lumens: 2500 Flood  / 4000 Burst

  • CRI: 80 @ 5500K

  • Beam Angle: 100 Degrees Underwater

  • Burn Time: 55 minutes @ 100% flood

  • Modes: Flood, Red, Blue and Red+Blue

  • Switch: Dual push button on/off intensity adjustment with battery level indicator

  • Modes: Flood 100%/75%/50%/25% Spot 100%/50%/25%

  • Depth Rating: 330ft/100m 

  • Weight: 490g on land 240g underwater (including battery)

  • Dimensions: 55.2x137mm (2.17"x5.39")

  • Charge time: two hours from zero power


Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Light Package

What’s Included:

  • Light, battery, and charger

  • YS mount, ball mount, and GoPro mount

  • Lanyard

  • Carry Case

The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Compact and Dependable

The sleek and compact design of the Hydra series is reflected in the Hydra 2500 Macro. At 2.17” by 5.39” and 490 grams, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is relatively small and lightweight for its output. Additionally, the head of the light is water resistant. Therefore, in the event of a flood, the expensive light elements in the head will be protected (although the battery will still need to be replaced). This feature saves the user from expensive repairs and replacements. 

Water resistant light elements

So Many Colors!

The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro retains many of the same functions as other lights in the Hydra series. Similar to others in the Hydra Series, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro has flood, red, blue, and red+blue (pink) modes. The flood light is intense, at 2500 lumens, and the color is natural at 5500K and a color rendering index (CRI) of 80. Thankfully, flood light intensity can be adjusted. A dimmer flood light is useful for maintaining battery life through the dive as well as focusing for photos. The red light is excellent for approaching animals that cannot see red light. The blue light can be used to see underwater fluorescence, especially when you use a yellow filter on your mask or camera to visualize it (for more information on this, check out our article on fluorescent photography). In my personal opinion, the blue light can add a calm and ethereal feel to night dives. Sometimes I like to do a whole dive without taking photos or video, just watching subjects through the blue light. The pink light is a funky color to have underwater – a good paintbrush for artistic photos and videos. 

Top view of Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Light

Why Macro?

True to its name, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is the perfect light for avid macro photographers and videographers. Two features in particular yield excellent macro photos and video.

The first feature is perhaps one of the most innovative in modern video lighting; the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro has a “burst” mode that enables the light to function as a strobe. The light is placed in burst mode by holding the right button when the light is on. A port on the underside of the light can be connected to a Sea & Sea style fiber optic cable. If connected to a camera via the fiber optic cable, when the flash is triggered, the Hydra 2500 will output 4000 lumens – enough to properly expose a macro photo. Personally, I find that the burst light is soft and even with a natural color. However, it can be a little dim compared to a traditional strobe; to compensate for this, photos should be shot at a slightly lower shutter speed or wider aperture. Overall, it is an ingenious solution for photographers and videographers looking for a cheap way to light their macro photos with strobe-quality lighting. 

Sea & Sea style fiber optic cable port

Sarcastic Fringehead with Kraken Hydra 2500 burst mode

Target Shrimp and squid eggs lit up by Kraken Hydra 2500

The second feature for macro is an optical condensing lens that reduces the beam to 20 degrees. Although the original 100 degree beam on the light is great for wide-angle video, it can be a little too soft for macro subjects. Especially when there is a lot of silt in the water, a 100 degree beam can be likened to having high beams on in dense fog. The light bounces everywhere, creating a hazy light and soft image. The optical condensing lens is great for producing a narrow, high-powered beam that brings out every detail of small, close-to-the-lens subjects.


The thing that sets Hydra lights apart is their versatility. The Hydra 2500 is no exception. The light is just as good for wide-angle as it is for macro. With just a single light, I captured excellent wide-angle photos and videos of mating squid on a night dive at Redondo Beach, California. The 100 degree beam and 2500 lumens is wide enough to fill the frame for most wide angle images and video. 

For best results change the Youtube video quality settings to 4K (2160p)! See my recent article about Sony A7R III 4K Underwater Video for more details about my experience.

Squid lit up by Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro on 100% flood

Squid lit up by Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro on 100% flood


  • The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro’s compact size is great for traveling. It is easy to manipulate and move underwater, especially with an arm. 

  • Combined with the burst function, this light could be a great solution for taking photos of macro subjects in hard-to-get places.

  • The 100 degree beam is great for wide-angle video and photos, while the ability to change it to 20 degrees is great for macro. 

  • Overall, the color is natural and 2500 lumens is plenty powerful for taking nice video.

  • The Hydra 2500’s multiple color outputs have the potential for many uses and many types of dives (my personal favorite being the blue light).

  • The burst mode is perfect for videographers that want to take some photos but don’t want to go out of their way to buy expensive strobes. It is also good for photographers wishing to switch to video, but not wanting to give up taking photos. 


  • Because of its small size, the Kraken Hydra 2500 has a small battery pack and a short battery life. At 55 minutes on 100% flood, the light is usually only good for one dive. If you intend to do more than one dive at a time, I would definitely consider purchasing extra battery packs.

  • The wide, bright beam on the flood light can be overpowering if you’re looking to use this light as a focus light. If you only want a dedicated focus light, the Kraken 1000+ can automatically turn off and on when taking a photo.

  • Although the burst function produces a nice 4000 lumen light, it is still less powerful than a dedicated strobe. For serious photographers that need the ability to fine tune their light output, I recommend using a dedicated strobe. 


  • If you’re on a night dive, make sure you have a back up light – especially if you go for a long dive.

  • Carry an extra battery pack on boat dives.

  • Before going for a dive, make sure you know how to operate the dual button system. The dual buttons are an ingenious way to incorporate a lot of functions. It is a good idea to memorize all the functions and buttons before you go on a dive – you never know what function you might need!

  • Attaching the light to an arm (like a strobe) will give you much more artistic control than attaching it to a simple cold shoe mount. Photographers should treat this light more like a strobe than a focus light. Kraken has multiple options for this, including a single handle tray and a dual handle tray.

  • Be sure to experiment with back lighting, side lighting, and the different colors for artistic effect.

  • Don’t forget to grease the o-rings and clean the threads before each day of diving! 

Additional Reading

The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Full Article: An Immersion into Evolution: Galapagos Photo Essay

The Galapagos – A Painting of Evolution and the Circle of Life…

A trip to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is on the bucket list of virtually every nature enthusiast, for good reason. The Galapagos are an immersion into evolution with an abundance of creatures – many endemic – each riding the train of natural selection. They are a geological wonder with a shallow, seismic hot spot under the Nazca tectonic plate spitting out islands at a rapid rate – at least on a geological timescale.

The islands themselves are a lesson on the circle of life.  Barren lava heaps slowly become dense with vegetation as organic matter saturates the soil. But in the end, harsh winds and seas erode land back below the surface.  The engine behind the incredible biodiversity of the Galapagos islands is the convergence of the plankton-rich Humboldt and Cromwell currents – which produce one of the world’s most dramatic food chains. 

 Darwin Island, Where the Big Animals Roam

Our exciting Bluewater Travel journey on the Galapagos Master began with an overnight passage to Darwin Island – the remote northern outlier of this island chain.   The introductory advice from our experienced guides was to keep our mouths closed while on the observation deck. At first it was amusing, but it soon felt very sensible as we found ourselves beneath countless soaring cormorants, frigate birds, and blue-footed boobies.

It is not possible to grow habituated to the presence of hammerhead sharks, but this would be the place to try.  Every dive was not so much a question of whether we would see hammerheads, but rather how many – with schools of thirty or more sometimes cruising past.  Very large schools of jacks, tuna, and barracuda were complemented by plentiful free-swimming giant morays and tranquil green turtles.

The "wows" on this trip never stopped – from leaping mobula rays to dolphins that stuck around long enough for us to jump in for a look.  Silky sharks lazily surrounded the boat, while Galapagos sharks circled below, and a pod of orcas passed by at a distance.  We were even treated to what seemed like the biggest whale shark ever, most likely pregnant, on one of the safety stops.

In the Heart of the Galapagos

After several amazing days at Darwin and Wolf islands, we headed back south, into the heart of the Galapagos Archipelago.   While hammerhead sightings tailed off, they were more than adequately replaced by encounters with playful sea lions, eagle rays, fur seals, and massive schools of fish.  Dives at islands such as Fernandina and Isabela had their own magical gems.  From pre-historic red-lipped bat fish, to marine iguanas feeding underwater, and giant Southern Ocean sunfish (Mola ramsayi), to countless breeding sea hares, to Galapagos penguins – every dive had something special to offer.

Top-Side Expeditions

This trip also provided some shore-based exploration opportunities – for closer looks at the sea lions, iguanas and nesting sea birds.  Of course a trip to the Galapagos would not be complete without seeing Darwin’s finches along with a face-to-face encounter with the Giant Tortoises, whose saddle shaped shells gave the island chain its name.  Several guests started or ended their time on the boat with an extra day or two in pleasant San Cristobal – where sitting on a park bench might first require convincing a sun-bathing sea lion to move on.  Respecting the two-meter distance rule in these well-protected islands is not always easy – particularly when the animals approach you.    

If the Galapagos Islands are not on your bucket list, it is probably time to review your priorities.  This is a unique and magical place – and what better way to see it than with BlueWater Travel aboard the Galapagos Master.

Join us for our upcoming trips!

 2018 Galapagos Islands Group Trip

Led by Katie Yonker of Bluewater Travel

May 21 - 31, 2018

Special Bluewater pricing, lower than published price:

Lower Cabin $7,075 $6,600 per person

Upper Cabin $7,225 $6,750 per person

2019 Galapagos Islands Underwater Photo Workshop

May 13-23, 2019

Lower Cabin - $7,075
 Upper Cabin - $7,225
 * Rates are based in USD


Full Article: Inon Z330 Strobe - a Photographer's Review

Out with the old, in with the new

If you’re anything like me, you cried when you heard that Inon had discontinued its flagship strobe, the Z-240. For me, Z-240 was the most reliable strobe in my arsenal. Although my YS-250’s are my preferred strobe of choice for big, fast animal action, they are bigger and heavier than the Z-240.

Fortunately, I am lucky enough to have several sets of the old Inon Z-240’s, so I didn’t find myself in a bind for a new strobe. I looked at Retra flash, read all the reviews, and thought about buying a pair due to their super sleek look, although the price is higher than my Z240's were.

Then fast forward a few months and I wake up to the news we Inon lovers wanted to hear:  Inon was releasing the all-new Inon Z-330.

Strobe Specifications

The Inon Z-330 was officially released on December 24, 2017.  One of the major highlights of the Z-330 is the intelligent beam design. Making use of a dome lens on the front of the strobe and Inon’s T-shape twin flash, the 110 degree beam does not need a conventional translucent diffuser which would normally sacrifice output. This strobe is 110 degrees at full output!  

Tip: The light dome is easy to bang up and scratch; you must take care in handling and packing. The diffuser protects it on dives from getting scratched when banged around in a wreck or rinse tank. 

Key features of the Z-330:

Built-in light shade that rotates 360 degrees to reduce ghosting, flare, and backscatter

Radiation system that releases built-up heat inside the strobe

220 lumen shutter-linked auto-off focus light for macro critters

Phosphorescent back panel which helps improve visibility of the main control panel

More intuitive control dials

Larger dials for use with thick gloves

S-TTL / 13-Step Manual Flash Mode with 1/2 EV increments

Wide variety of dome filters and bayonet system for filters

Optical/Electrical triggering supported (Nikonos Type 5 pin sync connector and slave sensor to trigger optically)

Guide number of 33

110 degree beam

The Inon Z330 is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Preparing to put the Z-330s to the test

When I received the Z-330 in the mail three weeks ago, I felt like a kid at Christmas – eyes-wide and excited to get in the water to test them out. 

Two days later I was on a flight to Dumaguete, Philippines for two weeks of shooting at Atlantis Dive Resort. 

On this assignment, I used –and always use– either the Canon 5D Mark III or Canon 5D Mark IV, both in Aquatica housings with either a macro port or 9.5-inch glass mega dome. All of my lenses are Canon L series USM lenses, including: 100mm, 16-35 USMIII, 11-24mm, 8-14mm and 14mm USM II. I shoot strictly on manual, and Aquatica custom designs all four of my housings with Nikonos connectors straight to hot shoe without a board.

Recycle Rate

With visibility at 50 feet, diving in Apo Island was the only time on the trip I used the strobes at full power. Eneloop-pro batteries are great for getting the best possible recycle rate with at full power. Even at full power, the recycle time at least as good as my previous Z-240.  We are never going to see recycle times that compare with the Sea & Sea YS-250 – which I why I hold onto the 4 pairs I have as if they are made of gold – but the new Z-330s recycle faster than my Retras. The Retra battery extension enables it to charge 3/10ths of a second faster. However, the price point ends up being higher than the Z330.

Strobe Power – Upgraded from the Z-240

The flash is so powerful that I rarely needed a full burst of power. With Eneloop-Pro batteries I got 4 dives with over 750 shots without a battery change. In the photo below I captured mating mandarin fish.  Shooting with a Canon 5D MKIV with 100mm at approximately one meter from my subject, I shot at 1/200, f/11, ISO 200 with my strobe set too manual at -3.

Now at that same dive site, same scenario, same settings with the old Z-240 the strobe was set to manual at -1.  Both were captured using the soft diffuser.


The power of this strobe is simply incredible. Every diffuser we have seen hit the market in the last few years has been domed in shape to give you even, soft white light without the burn spot. Instead, Inon has created a strobe whose flash is domed to achieve incredible, soft, even light, even without the use of one if its three diffusers.  The theory not only makes perfect sense, it works incredibly well.

The Z-330s have many new, common-sense features that make them a vast improvement from the already incredible Z-240’s. In addition to the design of the strobe itself, the bayonet style attachment for diffusers is genius. I am sure it will end up creating a buffet of aftermarket snoots and accessories. Taking the diffuser on and off with just one hand very useful.

Controls for any conditions

The controls are easy to read, easy to use, and for those of us with big fingers – no more buying extensions! They are easy to grab and sensibly designed with a few special features. The first being the “M” or manual switch position is exactly where it should have always been, far right, with full burst being one click left. This way, when you’re in the dark you can simply operate by touch. The new phosphorescence back panel is a great addition under optimal circumstances and conditions. However, it’s not always as readable as we’d like, so making it easy to find your correct setting blind is a great addition. Also new is the updated power switch that no longer turns 360 degrees. It now stops at -6 and -.5 to allow you to easily set the power without actually having to see the controls.

Strobe Light Shade 

The strobe light shade is a new feature intended to block part of the beam that shines towards the camera in order to suppress ghost or flare. The shade rotates 360 degrees. While I like this feature, I have some reservations. First, it is extremely tricky to remove underwater, and slightly cumbersome. The plastic thread is not always very smooth. Once you remove the shades, you must have some place to put them; I found that clipping them to my BCD was the best option. However, they do perform as advertised – with some exceptions. A clear line in the beam can form if a subject is closer than 2 meters to your port. This means that if you’re shooting close-focus wide-angle or there are any objects in the immediate foreground, you have to remove the shade. Otherwise you will end up with a very clear line of unlit image where light has been blocked. I found that unless I am shooting an 8-15mm, 11-24mm (on the 11 side) or in a rare case my 14mm, the shade is useless and does more harm than good to my photo.

Heatsink for improved heat tolerance and efficiency 

The Z-330 strobe is equipped with a circular metal heatsink linked to an inner circuit component that releases heat from strobe usage effectively. This has led to an improved heat efficiency as the strobe does not need to stop working in order to cool down. It also lowers the risk of a blown bulb. 

Improved S-TTL, Manual Exposure Control, and Slave Sensor

The Z-330 comes with an enhanced S-TTL auto exposure system. Additionally, the slave sensor had been updated to react to even a faint or somewhat damaged fiber optic cable. Exposure control is in 13 steps in 1/2 EV increments.  


When shooting on a Mandarin dive with my strobe power set to manual at -3, shooting F.11 at 1/200th, I could fire the strobes none stop 7-10 burst with minimal recycle time and no detectable heat build up.

A new era for my underwater lighting

As for me, these strobes will undoubtedly be my new workhorse. When you’re traveling six months a year, logging 400-plus dives a year with your camera, this is the type of strobe my work demands.

All in all, this is a great strobe at a price point of only $650.00. Inon strobes have always been reliable, compact, lightweight, and easy to travel with.  If the strobe needs service, it is readily available around the world.  This is the next generation of Inon strobes - welcome to the era of the Z-330.  

Sample Images



The Inon Z330 is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Full Article: Sony A7R III 4K Underwater Video

Sony placed itself at the forefront of photographic technology with the introduction of the A7, A7R, and A7s series featuring full frame, 35 mm sensor mirrorless cameras. The release of the Sony A7R III 4K has made new strides in the realm of videography as well. The A7RII boasts 4K video (3840x2160 pixels) with multiple frame rates up to 30 fps and a bitrate of up to 100 mbps. Full HD can be shot up to 120 fps. Upgraded from the A7R II, the A7R III also features a hybrid log gamma profile, 15-stops of dynamic range, and 2.2x the battery life of the A7R II. Without a doubt, underwater videographers, whether professional or amateur, will not be disappointed!


For best results change the Youtube video quality settings to 4K (2160p)!

Story Behind the Video

During most California winters, California market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) congregate on the shallow continental shelf in numbers reaching millions in order to mate, lay eggs, and die. It is a spectacular event to witness where mating squid become so thick in the water column, you can’t see two feet in front of you. Then, after a few wild nights, all that’s left is a desolate moonscape of incubating eggs. Although, I missed the initial squid run this year, a small secondary run occurred at Redondo Beach in the middle of January, 2018. I took the opportunity to film the squid with the new Sony A7R III and Sony 28 mm lens in a Nauticam housing. I also simultaneously tested the Kraken Hydra 2500 macro video light, the Kraken KRL-01 wet wide-angle lens. No color adjustments were made in post-production in order to showcase the white balance of the A7R III and the color of the Kraken Hydra 2500 video light. Overall this combination of equipment is an excellent choice for anyone wishing to shoot wide-angle and close-focus wide-angle underwater video.

The opening shot of the video features a pair of mating squid. The male sees the female, chases it, and latches on. Then, in a brief moment, the male places a sperm sack into the female’s mantel. Due to the speed of the mating process, I had to slow down the video to 50% in post-production. The squid appear out of focus as they get close to the lens only because I didn’t have enough time to adjust my focal point and refocus. The video also depicts a juvenile horn shark, a juvenile bat ray, and a female squid laying its egg sack and promptly passing away.

Underwater Video Gear Used

Nauticam Housing for the Sony A7R III

The Nauticam A7R III housing is ergonomic, safe, and astutely designed for the Sony A7R III. Video is very simple. Pushing the bottom right lever easily turns the video function on and off. Adjusting aperture and shutter speed is the same as when shooting photographs – there are two rotating dials placed within finger distance from the grips. The auto focus point can be moved and refocused when shooting video. The housing includes a moisture alarm and can be modified to include a vacuum seal as double insurance against a flood.

Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Video Light

Top side photo of Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Video Light

Although touted for being a macro video light, the Kraken Hydra 2500 is very versatile. The beam angle of 100 degrees was wide enough for my wide-angle video shot with a single light. The color temperature of this light ranges from 5000-5500 K. At full power, I found the color of the white light to be very accurate. The light also features red and blue light options and a strobe mode for underwater photographers. The Kraken 2500 is rated to 100 m/330 ft with 55 minutes of burn time at 2500 lumens. Check out my review of the Kraken 2500 for more information.

Kraken KRL-01 Wet Wide-Angle Lens

The Kraken KRL-01 is an ultrawide wet conversion lens that is screwed onto the front of housings with a 67 mm thread. It is perfect for compact and mirrorless videographers wishing to produce high-quality, detailed video of wide-angle and close-focus wide-angle scenes. The lens is made with high-quality optical glass and coated with multi-layer BBAR coating for anti-reflection and optical clarity. Combined with the Sony 28 mm lens, I was able to take excellent video with almost no minimum focusing distance and a 118.6 degree field of view. The field of view can increase even further if used with a recommended 24 mm lens. 

Full Article: Jason Ching: Remote Photography in Remote Alaska

A Note from the Editor

I had the pleasure of meeting Jason Ching (http://www.jasonsching.com/) in Aleknagik, Alaska, while participating in scientific research on salmon. Aleknagik is in Bristol Bay – the heart of wild Alaskan salmon. The summer we were there was a record run, with millions of fish passing by our eyes and lenses. Jason’s photography instantly struck me as being unique – he managed to take striking and professional photos while completely removed from the location of his subjects. Through motion-sensor camera traps and remote triggers, Jason has taken away the “scare factor” that human presence has on wildlife. We are left with spectacular and dreamlike images that are windows into the private life of wild Alaska. – Nirupam Nigam (Editor)

Wild Alaska

Alaska is well deserved in its reputation for being large, remote, and wild. Yet contrary to popular belief, Alaska is not always a theme park with large animals around every corner. Most of the time it is cold, wet, quiet, and expensive. This can introduce many challenges to the wildlife photographer. Animals can be far and few between – accessible only by air, boat, or other eccentric methods of transportation. Budgets can be wiped out in mere days of searching for the right shot. There are two things a photographer can do to remedy the situation – 1. Find the food. 2. Don’t search at all. Wait for the animals to come to you. 

Jason does both. Alaska’s annual salmon run attracts copious amounts of birds and mammals to feed in salmon flooded streams – plenty of photo opportunities. During these runs, Jason finds locations with predictable wildlife and sets ups motion-sensor camera traps to wait for the opportune moment.  

Camera Traps

A Brief History 

I would like to begin by recognizing Jonny Armstrong (jonnyarmstrong.com) as the master of camera trapping, and the person who really introduced me to it. Together we dialed things down, but he was the one who had the original idea and figured everything out.

I started camera trapping in 2012 with Jonny in Bristol Bay, Alaska while I was working as a research technician, and he was a graduate student in the Alaska Salmon Program. It took us another 2 years or so to really figure things out. Even now it seems that our methods can be plagued with issues. 

Go Wide or Go Home

I think what I like most about camera trapping is the ability to use a DSLR and wide angle lens. You get a perspective of wildlife that you just don’t see anywhere else. While the majority of wildlife photos are taken with long telephoto lenses from dozens of yards away, camera traps provide a wide angle, close-up perspective. This to me is more personal and awe-inspiring. Add a couple of external flashes at creative angles, and the shot really crosses into a different territory altogether. Strobes are helpful in balancing exposure throughout the day (and night). But rather than just placing a light behind the camera, I can really get creative and essentially build a glamour studio in the middle of the woods. 

Luck, Patience…

After setting things up, the rest is up to patience and luck. In order to get a semblance of a photo, the animal has to come into the frame and not be spooked away by the camera in a big box and two strobes. If by chance it is bold enough, I still can’t count on the animal composing itself in the right way. 

…..And Equipment 

Everything is dependent on whether or not your gear is actually working. It’s not uncommon for a motion sensor to misfire on leaves or branches blowing in the wind and fill up an entire memory card in a few hours. I’ve also had it go the other way when a pack of wolves came into my set (picked up on a trail camera pointed at my camera trap set), but the motion sensor never tripped my camera’s shutter. 

Size Matters

You also have to be mindful of what size of critter you’re trying to capture. You might set up for a big grizzly bear to come into a frame, only to have a much smaller red fox wander in and look tiny in the wide angle perspective. Alternatively, a moose might trot through and all you get are its ankles. 


Sometimes critters get a little too involved – I’ve now lost two DSLR rigs to brown bears trampling them into streams. I’ve also lost another rig to a flood. 

It’s a major investment to both create a setup and run the camera trap itself. Losing a camera or strobe can be heartbreaking and damaging to your bank account, but the rewards can be mind-blowing. 

The Thrill 

There is a special thrill in hiking out to a spot that has promising signs of wildlife and a good balance of foreground and background elements; envision what critters might come though; and bring what is in my head into the composition. Letting a camera trap soak in a spot for up to a month and returning is like I’m hiking to a treasure chest. Often times I get nothing from either hardware failure or a lack of wildlife. Sometimes I get a critter but maybe it didn’t do exactly what I wanted so I reposition and try again. Occasionally I get that amazing shot where everything just comes together. It’s addicting to get that perspective that really captures people’s attention. I love the reactions I get, especially from folks that think that I was there hand-holding a camera 3ft away from a grizzly bear. Sometimes people joke that I must carry around stuffed animals. That’s how I know it’s working.

Remote Underwater Photography

What to do if your fish has anxiety

Salmon swim upstream for one purpose only – to reproduce. At this particular life history stage, they have no extra desire for curiosity or even food. Moreover, assassinations are constantly attempted by their vast list of predators. These factors result in the some pretty anxious fish. Fish that want nothing to do with you. 

Photographing salmonids in streams can be much harder than taking photos of reef fish on scuba. It is more difficult to move, and there is a constant current. The water can often be too shallow or too deep. But most importantly, the fish will move to the opposite end of the stream if they see a mere body part. Sometimes the only remedy for this is to stick a camera in the water, and use a remote camera trigger to take the photo while you stand on the bank of the stream or float away from the fish.

A Brief History

I bought my first underwater setup in 2010 – a Canon SD960 point and shoot. Later in 2013 I moved to an underwater housing for my Canon 5D Mark II, and I stepped up to a Canon 5D Mark III in 2014. Now I shoot a Sony A7R II in an Ikelite housing. 

My snorkel buddy, Morgan Bond (www.morganhbond.com), and I both use remote triggers (made by Retra) in about 50% of the stream photography we do. Unsurprisingly we have found that fish seem less afraid of the housing by itself than if we were to hand-hold, allowing us to get close shots of our subjects. Remote triggers are also especially useful in certain locations where the stream depth might be too great to snorkel in while hand-holding a housing to the bottom. There might be no other option to us than to use a remote trigger. 

The Struggle

While there are clear advantages to using a remote they aren’t without their set of disadvantages. Obviously once I set up the camera, it is necessary to stick with the angle and position or risk chasing the fish away again to manage the housing.

Just a few weeks ago I was photographing spawning redband trout in the Klamath Basin, and a female seemed to stay just outside of the frame of my camera no matter how many times I adjusted the angle and position of my housing. When she did finally spawn I just barely missed having both the male and the female in the frame. It would have been great to be able to hand-hold. However, in this particular spot the water was about 5 ft deep and it would’ve been too difficult to both hold position in the stream and hold my camera deep enough to get any shot. Sometimes remote triggering might not be the most ideal solution but a necessary one, and sometimes it’s the best solution resulting in amazing keepers.