But, I want to take my camera.
There are many things that a person needs to know or understand before they take a camera with them scuba diving. Here are a few of the things that you should consider before taking a camera with you under the waves.
Cameras and their housings are mechanical devices, they will fail. If a housing can flood, it will flood, it’s just a matter of time until it happens. Whether it be due to operator error, or material failure sooner or later a camera in a housing is going to get wet. Remember when deciding to take a camera with you underwater, if you can’t afford to replace it, don’t take it underwater.
Around the shop, we hear a lot of people ask, when should I take a camera with me on a dive? We normally tell people that they need to have at least 50 dives before they take a camera on a dive. Then we usually hear, 50 dives!? Why so many? There many reasons why we recommend that someone should have at least 50 dives before they take a camera with them underwater.
The biggest reasons are water comfort, buoyancy control, gear comfort, and air management. All of these reasons directly impact your safety and well being on a dive. Conversely, these issues will directly impact your ability to get good underwater photos and videos. All these issues are also interrelated, in that a change in one will affect the others.
How can taking a camera on a dive, effect so many facets of diving?
There are several reasons. First, when you take a camera with you, you are no longer just an observer of the underwater world, but you are trying to record or capture that world. This change from a passive observer, to actively trying to compose or get a shot, changes the way a person dives, in almost every way.
If you’ve ever tried to catch up or keep up with a fish while scuba diving, you know that if the fish doesn’t want you to, you won’t. You don’t stand a chance of out swimming a fish. You will find that you get your best results when you are totally comfortable in the water and acting natural.
When you have water comfort, you become just another creature under water and the other creatures will act naturally and will let you get closer for that photo.
Could you imagine trying to take a picture of someone that kept moving up and down about three feet several times a minute? This is what happens if you don’t have good buoyancy control when trying to take pictures or shoot video underwater. If you don’t have good buoyancy control every breath you take will cause you to sink and float. Before you started the dive did you take the buoyancy of your camera into consideration and adjust your weight accordingly? You don’t want to be trying to do your safety stop and find out you really need an extra two pounds in order stay down.
How well do you know your scuba gear?
Do you know where all the dump valves are on your BC and know how to use them? Where are all the d-rings to attach gear to? What type of clip are you using to attach that gear? How does that SMB inflate? Do you adjust your 2nd stage regulator during your dive? How does it adjust? How well do you know your fins? Are they good for maneuvering in tight spaces or for covering a lot of area? Do they float or sink? It can make a difference. How are you going to secure your camera while diving? You really need to know your gear and how to use it. It usually takes around five dives to get used to new gear and how it will affect your diving.
How well do you know the controls of your camera? How and when does it turn on? Does it need to be in underwater mode? How about the housing, is it securely closed? Is it locked? Is the battery fully charged? How did the o-rings look? Did they need to be lubed? Do you have spares? These are just a few of the things that you might need to know.
How much air do you normally use on a dive like this? When your air gets down to what pressure do you end the dive? When we changed from a passive observer underwater, to actively shooting video, and taking pictures, we change the rate at which we use air. We will use more air in less time because we’re more active. We must take this into consideration when planning our dives.
All of these issues will impact your ability to get good underwater photos or video. All these issues will impact your safety during a dive. Last but, not least, all of these issues will greatly impact your how you interact with the underwater environment. Remember we want to take only pictures, and leave only bubbles. Just because you are taking pictures or video does not get you a free pass to harm the underwater environment.