Video Lights & Color Correction Filters: In reasonably clear water and moderate sunshine, video lights are of little use because natural sunlight provides all of the necessary illumination for most low-lux camcorders. Video lights are necessary for night diving and are useful for bringing out natural colors and detail to close-up shots (without the use of a filter), especially at depths below 80 feet (24m). However, for depths between 15 and 80 feet (4.6 to 24m), a color correction filter is the best and most economical way to restore the natural colors filtered-out by the water (primarily reds, oranges and yellows).
Auto Focus: Virtually all camcorders can be used in Auto Focus mode, especially if they have a common TTL (contrast-based) focusing system. Some very old camcorders have an IR (Infrared) focusing system which usually works fine for close subjects. Camcorders with a Manual Focus control can be manually preset by deactivating the Auto Focus system, zooming in on an object about 20 feet (7m) away, manually focusing the image, and zooming back out to full wide angle (not macro). This Manual Focus method conserves battery power by having the Auto Focus system deactivated.
Zoom - Wider is Better: Regarding zoom control, the best results are achieved when the zoom is set to full wide angle, because it allows a closer shooting distance with less water between the camera and the subject. The closer you are to your subject, the better the image will be - better light, clarity and color! You can occasionally zoom out of wide angle and even shoot telephoto as needed, but most shooting should be in full wide angle. Camcorder lenses typically provide ample wide angle coverage (40 - 50 degrees of horizontal field-of-view (FOV)) and are well suited for underwater shooting. If you desire to shoot wider than your camcorder lens, you can attach a wide angle adapter lens. We suggest using No wider than a 0.5 power lens, which will provide a maximum FOV of about 60 - 70 degrees, depending on the camcorder. Shooting too wide (over 70 degrees FOV) will produce a subtle optical distortion (lateral color fringing) around the edges of the image, which is due to refraction through the flat port.
Flat Ports and Dome Ports: The AquaCam EX video housings are equipped with Flat Ports. Flat ports are superior to dome ports above water, and perform extremely well underwater for telephoto, normal, and moderate wide angle shooting - up to about 70 degrees of horizontal field-of-view (FOV). Most camcorder lenses provide a 40 - 50 degree maximum FOV and perform exceptionally well through a flat port, even when used with a 0.5 power wide angle adapter lens (yielding about 70 degrees FOV). Dome ports, however, are used for extremely wide shooting angles (typically 90 degrees FOV), which are achieved with a super-wide angle adapter lens. Extremely wide shooting angles and dome ports are definately not necessary for quality results. Exceptional underwater video images can be captured through a flat port without the use of a super-wide angle adapter lens.
Viewing & Viewing Aids: Aside from periodically checking a status indicator or getting a frame reference, Continuous Viewing through the rear port/viewfinder is difficult with most camcorders and is an awkward position to shoot in. Note that many of the smaller, narrow camcorders can be elevated on a mounting adapter and positioned to allow the LCD monitor to be open sufficiently for viewing (typically 50-70 percent open). This is useful for limited viewing and framing, but is also an awkward shooting position. The preferred, comfortable approach for most shooting is to sight over the top of the housing in a "point and shoot" manner, especially if your are shooting in full wide angle. This method provides for accurate framing and following of the subject, and allows you to view the scene ahead and anticipate where to shoot next. With a little experience, you can get an accurate feel for the framing and coverage of the camcorder/housing. If you Must monitor what you are shooting and are unable to use the monitor on your camcorder, a small LCD color video monitor can be mounted at the rear port on the back end of the camera tray (if space permits). Small 2.5 inch LCD monitors by Ikan and Zate are available online. You can also search online for a used Citizen M329, or search for other small TFT LCD monitors with a small screen and battery power.
Last update: 06:37 PM Wednesday, June 18, 2008