First underwater experience with Canon G9 and Ikelite housing

My underwater photography to date was done with a point and shoot Sony DSC-P200. I used to set the film speed to ISO100, the exposure correction to about -0.7eV, focus to center and metering mode to center weighed average. This worked quite well, and the internal flash did a reasonable job in the Ikelite housing for macro photography and shots at a distance of up to about 1.5m (Examples, photo dates before 24 May 2008, (Edit: I put together a sample picture gallery)).
The Canon G9 offers much more possibilities. Browsing through underwater photo forums the suggested settings are slow film speed and high f stop. For the first few test shots on Saturday I preset the film speed to ISO80 and took pictures with aperture priority setting the aperture to f/8.0 and forcing the internal flash. There was not enough light available for this sort of setting though, I ended up with shutter speeds of 1/15 – 1/40, which is too slow to hold still for me under water, and too slow for fast moving objects as well. I tried some shots in program mode as well, still fixing ISO80. The combinations arising were usually in the order of f/2.8-4.0 and 1/125-1/60, all of these for scenery shots under water (schools of fish..). I would like to have combinations like f/8.0 and 1/125 or the like. One possibility to get closer to this is to raise the film speed. The other and better way is to get more light. Which is what I am about to do. I just ordered an INON Z240 external strobe…

The main advantages of the external strobe are the following:

– more natural colours. Natural light loses a lot of its colour components with increasing diving depth, virtually leaving only the colours with the shortest wavelength, blue. The internal flash of the camera is good enough to get the colours right with a macro shot, not so subjects a bit further away.
– avoiding backscattering because the strobe is placed away from the lens and is not illuminating the water between the camera and the subject (if placed correctly…). Backscattering is clearly visible in the picture I posted in my description of the last Oak park dive (see here)
– more light on the subject and allowing for faster shutter speeds and/or smaller aperture (higher f-stop)
– the current camera setup I have with the G9 and the Ikelite housing produces a shadow at the right bottom corner in macro shots (example). This is because the lens port is blocking part of the light from the internal flash. An external strobe will overcome this problem.

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2 Responses to “First underwater experience with Canon G9 and Ikelite housing”

  1. Oak Park (#259, 9.5m, 60′) « Just another Swiss in Australia Says:

    […] The dive along the main wall of Oak park was nice and easy, the visibility quite good (>10m). The drawback of the good viz was the fact that one could see all the other divers in the water, and there were many of them! We dived 20 minutes out, not quite reaching the second reef. On the way back I took it a bit slower, looking out for opportunities for macro shots on the way back, unsuccessfully though. The usual marine live was around without anything special. The students were amazed by the friendly blue gropers though. All in all a nice relaxing dive assuring me that the housing is doing fine and giving me some comfort with handling this “monster” – it is far nicer to deal with underwater… Comments on the camera setup can be found here. […]

  2. Leap to the Steps drift dive (#260, 21.3m, 51′) « Just another Swiss in Australia Says:

    […] – diving, good food & wine, hiking… « Oak Park (#259, 9.5m, 60′) First underwater experience with Canon G9 and Ikelite housing […]

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