Photographic Equipment

The photographs on this website were taken using a mixture of housed compact cameras and Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras.

Digital SLRs (DSLR)

Nikon D300 DSLR

In 2008 I upgraded my DSLR equipment, switching manufacturer from Canon to Nikon. Following 3 years of shooting with the Canon 20D, I purchased the highly acclaimed Nikon D300 12.3 Mega-pixel DSLR. This decision was due to a number of perceived benefits including:

Subal ND30 Housing

Subal ND30 image courtesy of Subal

  • Ability to switch focus modes (including manual) from within a housing
  • Ability to zoom in/out and navigate round the image to verify subject focus
  • Low noise characteristics of the D300 at high ISO settings
  • The 3" LCD screen
  • 51 focus points
  • General trend among underwater photographers to use Nikon

I currently use the following lenses:

  • Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 G ED AF DX fish-eye
  • Tokina ATX 10-17mm f3.5-f4.5 DX fish-eye zoom
  • Nikon 12-24mm f/4 G AF-S DX
  • Nikon 17-55 mm f2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX
  • Nikon 60mm f/2.8 D AF Micro
  • Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR AF-S Micro (Vibration Reduction)
  • Kenko 1.4x Teleconverter

The camera is housed in a Subal ND30 body with the GS180 optical viewfinder. An 8" dome port (plus extension rings to cater for the different wide lenses) and flat port with dual Inon Z240 strobes and Sea & Sea strobe cables complete the setup.

Natural light shots are enhanced using the Magic Filter designed by Dr Alexander Mustard and Peter Rowlands. Appropriate filters support natural light photography in blue water and the temperate green waters of the UK.

The Subal housing, ports and strobes were supplied by Ocean Optics.

Top

Canon 20D in Ikelite Housing

Ikelite image courtesy of Cameras Underwater

Canon 20D DSLR

For approximately three years between 2006 and 2008, images were captured using a Canon 20D 8 megapixel Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. Wide angle shots used the 10-22mm Canon EF-S ultra wide angle lens, while the macro and close up shots are taken using the Canon 60mm EF-S and Canon 100mm EF-S macro lenses.

The camera was housed in an Ikelite housing. The Ikelite is a simple, relatively low cost polycarbonate housing rated to 60 metres. An 8" dome port was used for wide angle and flat macro ports for close-up amd macro subjects.

Lighting was provided by dual DS-125 Ikelite strobes; the strobe power settings could be either controlled manually, or automatically using TTL.

Top

Digital Compacts

Olympus 7070 in PT027 Housing

Olympus housing image
courtesy of Cameras Underwater

My earliest images were taken with a range of Olympus Camedia prosumer digital cameras (3040, 5060 and 7070) in Olympus Housings. In addition to fully automatic settings these cameras provide the photographer with creative control using aperture priority, shutter priority and manual settings. Additional settings such as white balance and ISO can be controlled, providing the same type of control typical of DSLR cameras.

When wishing to travel light, I now use a Canon S90 compact in the Canon housing, with one of my INON strobes for external lighting.

Inon D180 Strobe

Inon D180 image courtesy of
Cameras Underwater

I use dual Inon Z180 and Z220 strobes, triggered by the internal strobe of the camera using a fibre-optic cable to ensure consistent firing.

Wide angle shots are taken with an Epoque DCL-20 wide angle conversion lens while ultra close macro shots use a INON magnifying lens. Natural light shots are enhanced using a UR/PRO red filter.

The compact provides a high quality photographic tool in many ways comparable to the results from a DSLR. However the DSLR offers a number of distinct advantages to the photographer including more responsive auto-focus, neligible shutter lag, faster storage of RAW images and a range of inter-changeable lenses.

The compact underwater housings, strobes and accessories were supplied by Cameras Underwater.

Top

Storage

The cameras use a mixture of xD and Compactflash memory cards. The xD card supports the creation of panoramic images, with capacities ranging from 32MB to 512MB. The DSLR only supports Compactflash cards and I use a mixture of 8GB and 16GB cards. The 8GB cards store approximately 400 images at the highest resolution and quality.

When travelling I take a Macbook Pro allowing for image processing and storage. In addition to storing my images to the hard disk drive of the Mac, I also use a USB external hard drive to provide a level of redundancy.

Top

Image Processing

Image processing is supported using a number of software tools including:

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Entry level photo processing and cataloging software. This contains many of the features of the full Adobe CSx photo imaging software at a considerably reduced price, an ideal package for basic photo manipulation and processing.

Adobe Lightroom 4

Adobe Lightroom provides a comprehensive photo processing and cataloging software package, with support for RAW image handling from the main camera manufacturers. In addition to the photo cataloging and image manipulation, Lightroom provides integrated access to suites for printing images, creating web galleries and running slideshows.

Lightroom is my core image management software as its features support the main processing functions required to satisfactorily handle the majority of common image processing activities.

Adobe Photoshop CS5

Adobe Photoshop CS provides the full blown editing suite supporting advanced image manipulation and processing. However with the features of Lightroom I find I rarely use CS5 other than for advanced manipulation requiring features such as layers.

Nik Software

For pre-configured manipulation such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) or Black and White, I use the Nik Software product suite.

Top