Underwater camera or underwater camera case?
Underwater photos or shots from the water is a must for any travel vacations involving water. Your vacation will be more memorable if you have photos while snorkeling in the water or just plain goofing at the pool.
I still rarely see casual photos taken from the water and it’s something that people who likes being close to the water should consider.
The question is this, would you rather buy an underwater camera or just an underwater camera case? I already tried using both in different occasions and here’s my take on the issue.
What’s nice about underwater cameras is that they are portable and you can easily shoot in and out of the water without having to deal with a case. They are usually built ruggedly so dropping it from a table won’t scare you.
Major disadvantage is the price. They’re quite expensive especially those that can shoot well which is important for underwater scenes. I also heard that a certain brand of underwater camera typically breaks down after a year just when the warranty is over. Screws or panels loosen up and next thing you know you will be getting water bubbles inside.
No matter how rugged or how waterproof a camera gets, it won’t stay that way over time especially if you use it underwater a lot. Better purchase extended warranty if you can.
Underwater cases can be as cheap as your snorkeling gear (Dicapac cases) or as expensive as the camera itself. But those expensive ones are really built to protect the camera and are perfect for diving photography. Unlike underwater cameras, you can use a really fine-shooting camera for your shots.
A big disadvantage is the size. Sony lent me MPK-WD marine pack and it’s really bulky and heavier than the camera inside. Lugging it around can be cumbersome but the protection it offers to your camera is worth it I guess.
It’s also quite a hassle to remove the case from your camera in case you want to use it on land or if you need to charge it. Good thing we have a separate camera for land shots.
If you’re wondering just how well-protected a camera can be inside those expensive marine packs, check out this story where a camera inside an underwater case traveled from Aruba to Florida. (Thanks Li for the link)
Whether you have an underwater camera or underwater case, the most important thing is still how good the camera takes photos. I used the Olympus 1050SW during our whitewater rafting adventure and the lack of image stabilization only allowed me to take mediocre shots.
It’s hard to keep steady when shooting underwater so use cameras with real image stabilization (optical not digital).
The marine pack was much better during our Coron trip because the Cybershot W300 inside already takes decent pictures. Here are some underwater shots using the Sony Cybershot with a marine pack:
So which do you prefer? I say go for anything that fits your budget. People without means to shoot from the water will be envious of you on your next snorkeling trip.