Canon G9X

  • Disappointments of an Underwater Camera Salesman

    Ocean Leisure Cameras specializes in underwater photography equipment. We try to match products to each customer’s needs.

    Recently, a young lady came in to buy an underwater camera. She professed to be a professional writer intending to supply articles to diving magazines. She wanted a camera that was very straightforward to use.

    olympus_epl7_packageA friend had previously lent her an Olympus EPL7 camera in a housing so she naturally asked for that. It’s a system compact with interchangeable lenses that can be matched to suitable lens ports. The salesman (an award-winning underwater photographer himself) would have been happy to take her money but once he got into explaining to her the intricacies of using it, it became clear that she just wanted to get into the water, press a button and get usable pictures. She also blanched at the price, even though the EPL7 in an Olympus proprietary housing represented remarkably good value.

    So the sales assistant then suggested she might be happier with a more basic compact camera instead. She was with him for about five hours, during which time he told her virtually everything he knew about successful underwater photography.fantaseag9x_camera_package_1

    She ended up purchasing a Canon G9X in a Fantasea FG9X housing that gave access to all the camera functions and with the possibility to add additional wet lenses later, when she felt she could afford them. It was a good choice. He also sold her an underwater strobe (a Sea & Sea YS03) with which he explained how she could get perfectly exposed TTL strobe-lit pictures. It appeared to be the perfect solution and within her limited budget although she was advised to buy a wide-angle or fisheye wet lens if she could have afforded it. She couldn’t. Both the EPL7 and G9X outfits are becoming difficult to obtain since they are coming to the end of their production runs. We hope that something else as good value comes on to the market.

    ys03_package_idas_1The company was surprised only a few days later to get an email from the customer, by now in the Caribbean, accusing it of selling her equipment that was totally unsuitable for underwater photography. She stated that she was not sold the camera she asked for (the Olympus EPL7) and that it was not possible to adjust the white-balance with the Canon she had.

    The G9X can be set up to provide a one-button manual white-balance setting – something she had been demonstrated during the hours of consultation in the shop. It can also be used to shoot RAW files, which is the professional way of shooting since many settings such as white-balance, contrast (and even exposure to a degree) can be decided on long after getting out of the water. Not only that, but the feature, properly used, should take care of a lot of the contrast and colour decisions.

    Sadly, this is a case of someone neither managing their expectations nor bothering to read the manual!idas_uwl04_1

    Famous underwater photographers like David Doubilet must despair when they hear stories like this. The years that he has devoted to learning his craft are dismissed by a new generation who think they can simply buy an item of equipment and immediately become endowed with talent such as his.

    I got my first job with a diving magazine (the very same one she intended to provide material for) because I could reliably take pictures that were correctly exposed, in-focus and nicely lit – a skill that was quite rare in the days of wet-processed film. Today, digital photography with its instant feedback from the camera’s LCD display means that it is possible to learn (by your mistakes) incredibly quickly, but learn you must. I worked as an underwater photographer for more than two decades and although I never considered I was a master of the art, I got results that were frequently published. Even so, I used a camera outfit that cost ten times as much as the budget this young lady decided she had.

    I contacted the editor of the diving magazine that this particular young lady said to which she was intending to contribute her work. He told me she was a good writer but that he’d told her she needed to be able to support her writing with good photography. He told her to buy a camera.

    It was disappointing that the editor of a magazine could think that merely buying a camera makes someone into an underwater photographer! Have the standards of magazine publishing dropped so low?

    Magazines pay extremely poorly nowadays. Not many make a living supplying original material anymore. Most take pictures for their own pleasure and are knocked out if they see their work in print. If they can get a few hundred pounds in contributor’s payment as well, that’s a bonus. For this young woman to make any return on her investment in the most basic underwater photography kit will take a great many pages published.

    Most Ocean Leisure Cameras’ customers take pictures underwater purely for their own pleasure. Digital photography has made getting good results easier than it ever has been. However, it does demand a degree of dedication in that one should be totally familiar with your camera’s functions and operation long before entering the water. Don’t buy underwater photography kit on your way to the airport and expect to come back with masterpieces in light and shade. As is so often said, “RTFM!”

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    If you're really set on wanting to be a competent underwater photographer and don’t have the time or inclination to take up an apprenticeship with a master, give us a call and we’ll try and put you in touch with someone who runs underwater photography courses.

  • Fantasea Line - a bit of diving history

    Howard Rosenstein was a Red Sea pioneer. He set up one of the first dive centres at Sharm el Sheikh and was responsible for promoting the Red Sea as a popular diving destination.  He even had a hand in the discovery of the wreck of the Dunraven at Beacon Rock. You can read that remarkable story in a chapter of Amazing Diving Stories.

    Next, he managed one of the first liveaboards in the area, Fantasea II. It was a top-end vessel aimed mainly at the rich American market so few British divers ever enjoyed her facilities but they often looked across the water enviously at her from the other somewhat primitive liveaboards that operated there back in the 'eighties. When Americans stopped going to that area thanks to political upheavals, he moved the vessel down to the Seychelles where he offered trips to the idyllic atoll of Aldabra. Just to give you an idea of the standard of quality of that vessel, the Duke of Westminster once chartered it as a private yacht for his family’s vacation. Eventually, Fantasea II got sold, renamed as Pelagian and continues to operate out of Wakatobi in Indonesia.

    Fantasea for Canon G7x mk2 Fantasea line for Canon G7x mk2

    But the Fantasea name lives on in a different venture started by Howard Rosenstein - Fantasea Line camera housings. Originally, Howard concentrated on supplying housings for compact Nikon cameras, cameras that did not prove so popular with divers in the UK. Now Fantasea Line produces a range of housings that suit the Sony RX range of cameras and some Canon compacts, and very good they are too. This includes an interesting option for the Canon G7X mk2.

    Fantasea for Sony RX100 mkIII and IV Fantasea line for Sony RX100 mkIII and IV

    They are robustly made and offer full access to all the controls of the cameras, plus they accept any accessory wet-lenses, both wide-angle and macro, with a 67mm mount. At a time when the falling pound is making some Far Eastern alternatives very expensive, the Fantasea Line housings make a welcome addition to the range of housings for compact cameras available at Ocean Leisure Cameras, and at the moment they cost less than £500.

    Naturally, they allow for full synchronisation with up to two strobes (flashguns) via fibre-optic cables.  One thing that becomes quickly obvious is Howard Rosenstein’s long history with the diving industry because, unlike some housings designed by people who are not actually divers themselves, all the features have been well thought-out from the point-of-view of using them underwater. Howard is a diver and it shows!

    Especially interesting is the Fantasea Line housing for the Canon G9X. This is because this camera still provides the one-touch white-balance feature that made Canon compact cameras so popular with underwater photographers in the past. Alas, Canon has chosen to omit the simplicity of this feature on later models (although white-balancing is still available but less intuitive than it was).

    Although the Canon G9X is not the most recent compact camera to join Canon’s product line-up, we believe it to be one of the most useful entry-level cameras available for aspiring underwater photographers. You can find all the information about the housing for it by clicking here.

    If you are intending to upgrade or replace an older compact camera housing that might have seen better days, it’s comforting to know that your accessories such as strobes, mounting arms and lenses have a high degree of certainty of interfacing easily with a new Fantasea Line housing

    Fantasea for Canon G9X Fantasea for Canon G9X

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