Camera upgradation and new equipment give better quality images to underwater photographers.
Underwater photography is now an extension to scuba diving. The new full frame mirrorless and GoPro cameras have features that allow underwater photography to be practiced more. These mirrorless cameras have higher frame rates and ISO and allow 4K and 8K video recording.
Mirrorless cameras are used in low light photography and do not make any sound while clicking. Moreover, the mirrorless cameras are much lighter in weight, give more shutter speed and has better video quality. These features are very useful for wildlife, especially underwater photographer.
Lucy Ray, a freelance underwater photographer and photojournalist from Sheffield said, “The cameras we use are Single Lens Reflex (SLRs) and Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLRs) with waterproof housing so the improvement in cameras is that they have gone mirrorless and now we have improved focusing and frames rates.” She added that cameras are now smaller and lighter. It allows her to take more shots and capture the image she was hoping to achieve.
SLR and DSLR cameras have wide range of interchangeable lenses, and a viewfinder. These mirrorless cameras also have limited selections of lenses. Such cameras just have digital screens and no viewfinder, and low battery life.
Sumer Verma, a professional underwater photographer said, “Underwater photography can be done with any camera but the new mirrorless cameras and DSLRs have given photographers an opportunity to produce better quality images. There are no separate cameras for underwater photography. We use the usual SLRs,DSLRs, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot- with a cover case called housing.”
“Before GoPros and mirrorless cameras, we used point and shoot cameras, SLR cameras and basic movie cameras.”
A camera housing or case is a transparent covering for the cameras which prevent water and pressure from entering into the camera and lenses.
“Though underwater photography is not a new concept, the recent years have seen a hike in this industry. Earlier, people were not interested in the marine life, only a few were aware about this genre of photography. However, people are now more interested in the marine life as compared to previous years. This interest has caused an increase in the participation of underwater photography,” said Sumer.
Anup J Kat, cinematographer said, “A good camera housing is almost as expensive as a camera. Underwater photography is more expensive than other genres of photography. Firstly, we have to invest money in the equipment and later, you have to pay around Rs. 5000 per dive. Underwater photography not just involves photographing but also scuba diving so it becomes more expensive.”
He added that underwater photography is a common activity internationally but for India, this field is still emerging. The market is still picking up.“Underwater photography needs the knowledge of swimming. One can’t do underwater photography carrying oxygen tanks on their backs.” Diving duration is short but for photographing corals, marine life or any fashion shoot, and photographers need time. Kat added that beginners can do photography inside a shallow pool using a GoPro or a mobile phone or a having Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 68.
Prathamesh Vedpathak, a photography student, said that he has just started underwater photography and wants to explore more in this field. “I used GoPro 5 when I first tried underwater photography. I did not need camera housing because the GoPro was waterproof and it works well even if we take it deep into the water. The housings are expensive and for a student it is difficult to afford.”
He added, “GoPro cameras do not require housing but is has a very small screen so I find difficulty in taking shots.” But the quality of the pictures from GoPro is almost same as that of a DSLR camera. Mirrorless cameras are more upgraded and might give better quality of images, added Vedpathak Anup added, “There are no certified courses in India for underwater photography. We divers and a few photographers only teach the interested people.”