Monthly Archives: October 2016

  • 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
  • Basic Rules for Underwater Photography

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    Some Basic Rules for Underwater Photography

    Make sure your camera is protected from the water, in a submarine housing, if it is not an amphibious camera like an Olympus TG4.

    Get Close - Then Get Closer Still!

    Water also upsets the sharpness of your pictures because it is never optically clear. Reduce the amount of water between you and what you are photographing to a minimum by getting as close as you can. This means using a wide-angle or fish-eye lens or an extreme close-up macro lens for sharper clearer pictures.

    Water absorbs light selectively. Red light is absorbed first, followed by green and then blue light. This means, the deeper you are the more the daylight is filtered blue by the water.

    You can counteract this in different ways.

    • Stay very shallow.
    • Stay shallow and use a filter to remove the excess blue light.
    • Adjust the colour sensitivity of your camera’s sensor by ‘white-balancing’ subject to there being enough red light penetrating to the depth you are at.
    • Take some independent white light of your own.

    Portable white light comes in two forms:

    Video Lights provide a continuous light source. The brightest video lights can also be used for close-up still photography. They have the advantage that you can see immediately the effect they produce. They have to produce a perfectly even daylight-colour light and their output is rated in LUX.

    Electronic Flash (called strobe in America) can produce a far greater amount of light but only in a very short burst. This has the advantage of freezing the action for very sharp pictures but it takes practice to anticipate the effect. You need to synchronise the flas so that it can be triggered by the on-board flash of your camera but at the same time you need to be sure that light from the on-board flash does not leak out and spoil your pictures.

    Backscatter occurs when the detritus in the water in front of your camera is lit up by either your video light or flash. To avoid that, position your light a long way from the optical axis of your camera lens. The most convenient way to do this is to mount it on an arm that is fitted to your camera tray. The wider the angle-of-view of your lens, the further the light should be from the lens or the longer the arm needs to be. Avoid positioning a light ahead of a wide-angle lens.

    Balance the foreground light that will be in full colour with the background lighting to obtain a natural effect. The shutter speed only affects the constant light whereas the f/stop setting and ISO setting affect the overall exposure. Don’t be afraid to practise. Shoot RAW files that can be adjusted in your home computer afterwards.

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