We needed an affordable underwater housing for the Hawaii Fusion Trip, and although I considered purchasing a point-and-shoot underwater camera to accomplish this goal I wanted better quality video and more control over the photos I'd be taking. Shooting underwater will degrade the quality of what you are doing already... first of all because of debris and light-loss... but also because it is mainly blue light that is allowed to travel through water... blocking out the rest of the visible spectrum quickly as you get further from your subject. We wanted to have the highest quality capture possible, so we went with the full housing. The Ewa-marine is actually the most affordable by far, yet it still performs very well within its own limitations.
One of the biggest benefits of the Ewa-marine housing over others, besides the price tag (just $269!), is the fact that you can use it on multiple cameras. Especially if you don't use it much... the housing will likely outlast the camera model you have... and all the hard plastic housings ($1,000 and up) are made with specific buttons to fit each individual camera model. The Ewa-marine is essentially a plastic bag, so as long as your new camera fits in it... you have full use of all the functions.
Pressing the buttons inside the bag proved to be a bit difficult, but with practice it ended up being just slightly slower than usual. Practice definitely improves your performance with this thing... and quickly. Underwater photography is difficult for a host of reasons, which I found out later during a snorkeling trip, but results can be amazing, especially when you have a fantastic video DSLR.
We made a few mistakes our first time out, and there are a few things to note:
- You need googles if you plan on seeing the screen AT ALL. This might seem obvious... but I totally forgot to buy a pair.
- Water magnifies everything... so if you have a plan to use a certain focal length, keep in mind that it will be "zoomed in" about 30%.
- Keep the lens as CLOSE to the front glass of the housing as possible, or you can get reflections in your images of the lettering on the lens. Blacking this out with tape can definitely help.
- If you have sunscreen on your face and chest... it's going to get on the bag, and will make it really hard to see through it, because it won't wipe off easily.
- Light bends all over in water... mainly when coming through the surface of it, so direct sunlight will turn into lots of streamy bands of light all over.
- Focusing isn't easy to do, and isn't easy to verify... but with practice autofocus still does a pretty good job if you can stay still long enough to lock
- People like to breathe, and breathing causes bubbles, so coach your model in not exhaling while shooting, because bubbles coming out of their nose isn't attractive, unless you're going for that.
All-in-all I was extremely pleased with the initial results of the housing, and have a great full shoot to share with you soon!
Shortly after tweeting about the housing, where I actually mentioned the full name "ewa-marine underwater housing", I got a reply message from a gentleman from Germany (I think) with the Twitter name @ewa_marine. It was a small exchange but very welcome and it shows that the company is looking at what people are doing and saying about their product, which is awesome. He even asked for me to send over a link to examples when I have them. How 'bout that?
NOTE: in the video I mentioned that I didn't find the manual... it was actually in the front pocket of the case. I forgot to mention that I had found it!
You can purchase an Ewa-marine housing through the following links, the first is for smaller SLRs (fits Canon Rebel series or Nikon D40 or D90) and the second is for larger bodies (up to the 5DmkII size). If you buy it through this link I get a nice little 4%, and will love you for it.
This post is part of the Hawaii Fusion Trip 2009.