POV action cameras have taken over the world! Whatever you are doing, whether it be jumping off a high building wearing nothing but a string vest to break your fall, wing-suiting down canyons in the Alps, sky-diving, flying an aerobatic aeroplane, kayaking over waterfalls, mountain biking through breath-taking terrain, parkouring in the city, skate-boarding, motorcycling, merely taking your life in your hands by riding a bike among city traffic, or merely making an omelette, an action camera can be there to record it. Of all the action cameras available, the GoPro range has to be the most popular. In fact it's a phenomenon. This is not only because of the inherent reliability of the cameras (not so guaranteed with cheaper copy-cat products) but because of the immense range of accessories available. GoPro gives you the option to mount a camera almost anywhere! The range is extensive from the basic Hero, the Hero + with its built-in touch-screen LCD display, the Hero 4 Silver edition, the Hero 4 Black edition and the latest mini Session. Of all of these the Hero 4 Silver edition has proved most popular with scuba divers. This is because at standard HD 1080p settings it can record at up to 60 frames per second at 1080p and it includes a built-in LCD viewfinder so that the user can aim it precisely at the subject. All GoPro cameras except the Session come ready for use under water up to 40m deep but if that's not enough there's a 60m-deep rated housing and for technical divers Ocean Leisure can offer an aluminium housing rated to 150m deep. (This even comes with an ancillary battery pack to increase recording times.) Water absorbs light selectively so that it appears to get more blue as you head away from the surface. In the shallows, good colour images can be obtained with the right red filter but the user must make a judgement by viewing the LCD screen. You don't want you pictures to look red! You can buy a range of filters that will make the right adjustment from about 20-metres deep to close to the surface. We recommend the Backscatter Flip 3.1 Filter system because you can choose to take two filters permanently attached to the camera and flip the appropriate one in front of the camera lens as and when you need it. It also avoids putting unwanted filters in a BC pocket and thereby scratching or even losing them. If you are shooting in temperate water that might be green, you'll need a magenta filter and these are equally available. If you want to shoot extreme close-ups of macro subjects, you can even opt to add a 10x macro lens instead of one filter. An less expensive alternative is to go for the Switchblade 2 that offers you a red filter or 10x close-up lens or both and these slide in and out in front of the lens as required. For really good macro results or for going deeper than 20-metres, we suggest taking some video lights. These start from around £150 each for 1000-lumen lights but they need to be mounted to the camera but well away from the lens axis so as not to light up detritus immediately in front of the lens. A good rig like the SRP tray will place your hands well behind the camera and allow you to mount lamps on top of the handles via additional 1" balls. Not only that but it gives you an easy grip that will allow you to hold the GoPro steady and as you'll probably appreciate, good video is usually where the subject moves and the camera does not. The one place you do not want to mount your GoPro whilst scuba diving is on your head, not unless you wish to record a lot of exhaled bubbles! The refraction of light passing through water and then into air tends to make things look closer that they really are. The ramification for the GoPro is that you lose a lot of the extreme wide-angle effect. You can restore this and obtain remarkably sharp pictures by using the Inon wide-angle lens. This must be used in conjunction with the Inon SD Mount Cage but because of the price few GoPro users have yet to adopt it. You could be at the forefront as an early adopter and everyone will marvel at the resolution of your results simply because the set-up has allowed you to move closer to your subject and excluded as much unwanted water from the optical path of your image as is possible. If you want better pictures, photograph through better quality water! Whatever you use your GoPro for, Ocean Leisure Cameras have the right accessories, even if you want to simply mount a GoPro on your dog, we can help. (We're not joking about the dog!)
The oceans are full of the wreckage of vessels that have either come to grief through wars, storms or simply bad navigation and more and more unwanted vessels long past their sell-by-date are being scuttled to provide artificial reefs that form habitats for young fish thereby helping the world’s fishing industry or simply to protect an otherwise unprotected coastline from storm surge.In all parts of the world where we go diving you will find examples of such wrecks and although you may not be fascinated simply by rusty metal, the marine life can itself be interesting enough. On the other hand, underwater photographers find the structures useful in getting interesting compositions because they usually offer vertical shapes, features that can otherwise be few and far between in the natural undersea landscape. You don’t need to go all the way to Truk Lagoon in far off Micronesia although it is famous among wreck divers because a Japanese merchant fleet was sunk there by the American USAAF in 1944. Nor do you need to travel all the way to Bikini Atol where a fleet of war-surpus vessels was sunk by an atomic bomb in 1946. You don’t need to include a view of the whole of the wrecked vessel in your picture although this makes for a great image if the visibility is good enough. Photographing such a large vessel means that the sort of lighting equipment the leisure diver has available will be inadequate so this means you'll need to use colour-correcting filters or shoot in RAW mode and correct for good colour later. Instead concentrate on smaller features and if your diving buddy is prepared to hang around to model for you, so much the better. A diver in the picture lends scale and if they are equipped with a lamp that they can point in the general direction of your lens, that will offer a point of interest that otherwise might be missing. Once the rusty metal is lit up by your underwater flashgun or strobe-light or even your video light, you'll be amazed at the colours of the sponges and hydroids that now cling to it and if you look closely you'll see all manner of minutia of marine life. Don't forget that it is often the cargo of a wreck that can be the key point of such a wreck dive. The wreck of the Italian liner the ss.Umbria has three Italian cars that were destined for Abyssinia before the vessels was apprehended by the Royal Navy at the beginning of World War II and the crew scuttled her on a reef in Port Sudan harbour. They have become among the most photographs artifacts on any wreck save for the war materiel (correct spelling!) that was carried on the ss.Thistlegorm sunk in Sha-ab Ali in the Egyptian part of the Red Sea. You'll need a good diver's light with a broad beam if you want to see everything. However, if you go off looking for the remains of these cars within the depths of the hull of the ship that now lies in a disorienting way on its side, be sure to take with you a winder reel and lay a line so that you can find your way out again. Divers have got lost inside this wreck and although nobody has lost their lives (yet) it can be a very unpleasant experience. Remember, you don't need to venture inside wrecks to get good pictures. If the wreck is in the open ocean rather than within a harbour or sunk in a lagoon, there will be plenty of marine life that has made it its home. All you need is good lighting in the form of strobes or a video light plus a little patience to get good pictures. Wrecks represent more than simply rusting metal.
Every day, people come through the doors of the Ocean Leisure store on the Embankment in London’s West-End with the intention of equipping themselves for a dive trip to somewhere exotic. They buy masks and fins, wetsuits, dive computers, reef-hooks, regulators and all manner of paraphernalia that will enhance their trip. Some step into Ocean Leisure Cameras, a store within the store, and buy underwater cameras or accessories for cameras they might already own. One of the questions that the staff inevitably asks them is where they are intending using the things they buy. It helps the diving experts that work at Ocean Leisure to advise customers properly. For example you’d feel a little chilly in a 3mm shortie wetsuit if you intended diving in Egypt’s Red Sea during the early part of the year. This year they enjoyed a fall of snow! It never ceases to amaze me that people baulk at the cost of some essentials. For example there was the gentleman who wanted an inexpensive red filter for his GoPro camera. When he told me he was off to Truk Lagoon in Micronesia I asked him if he had any lights and was very much surprised when he answered in the negative. Truk Lagoon is unique in that it is a place where the American forces bombed and sank a stupendous number of Japanese supply ships during World War II. Today it is a mecca for wreck divers.Although I suppose you could spend a trip simply swimming round the outside of them, the joy of diving at Truk is to enter the stricken vessels and see their cargoes and to swim around their engine rooms. I told this gentleman that if he didn’t take a diving lamp he was going to bang his head a lot. As for recording video footage on his GoPro, he certainly needed some video lights. These start from around £400 and quite frankly he did not want to spend that sort of money. On the other hand, I asked him how often he intended going to Truk Lagoon. He was not young and admitted he’d probably only go the once. He was off on a trip-of-a-lifetime involving four long flights to get there and that was costing him around four-and-a-half thousand pounds. He soon realised that to go without the right stuff would be folly. I asked him to come back and show us his footage from his trip. Another person was off to Socorro, Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos, high voltage dive sites in the Pacific of the coast of Central and South America. We at Ocean Leisure and Ocean Leisure Cameras take it as a personal responsibility that people arrive at these distant places with the appropriate equipment. On the other hand, besides those taking trips to somewhere enviable with the required huge travel costs spent, we get those people on much more modest budgets come in to the Ocean Leisure store and it’s our task to find solutions that match the funds they have available. If someone asks if it’s worth buying a diving computer rather than always needing to hire one at their chosen dive resort, we are happy to guide them towards the basic instrument that is probably all they need. If they want a gas-switching all-singing all-dancing device, we’re happy to help them in that direction too. When it comes to camera kit, it’s very easy for underwater self-styled underwater photography gurus to advise people to fork out for a high quality DSLR with tailor-made housing and two top quality flashguns at around £8000 but some people just want to take a few snaps of their buddies having fun underwater and a £300 amphibious camera that goes to 25-metres deep might fill the bill. Of course, if we sense that someone will possibly get hooked on the pastime of underwater photography, we’ll direct towards something that can evolve along with their ambitions and accept an ancillary flashgun and additional lenses later when they are ready for that. We always ask where you are going. If it’s the Lembeh Strait in North Suluwesi we know you’ll need the ability to photograph exceedingly small things whereas if you are visiting the Bahamas to dive with the sharks, for example, or you want to photograph mantas in the Maldives, you’ll certainly need a wide-angle capability with your camera. People often spend hours discussing their needs. That’s what we are there for. We want our customers to come back with a smile on their faces and triumphantly show us the pictures from their trip. We like the tiniest forms of marine life like pigmy seahorses as much as we like the big animals. Buying equipment for underwater photography can be daunting at times but we do our best to demystify it and send you away equipped for one hundred percent success in your endeavours and and the combined expertise of the staff at Ocean Leisure and Ocean Leisure Cameras is at your disposal. Please visit our store, handily positioned near to Waterloo and Charing Cross main line stations and over the Embankment Underground station on the District Line.
What a marvellous piece of kit the GoPro Hero range of action cameras is. They have an application for almost any activity and especially suitable for anything with any appreciable amount of risk that might destroy a more conventional camera. It doesn't matter whether you are skiing, riding a bike, taking selfies as a tourist or jumping off a tall building with nothing more than a wing-suit. No wonder they have proved to be the most popular Christmas present of 2014. Naturally, at Ocean Leisure Cameras we maintain a large stock of accessories and it goes without saying that many of our customers want to take their GoPro Hero 4 with them when snorkelling or scuba diving. The standard housing is good for 40m deep and if you want to go deeper there's a tougher diving housing available too. It's simple to bolt a GoPro Hero 4 to a bike but once you go under water, the characteristics of light conspire to make it more difficult to get good footage. It matters little whether you use a GoPro Hero 4 or a Red Epic camera that costs many thousands of pound, the physics remain the same. Firstly, you need to keep your camera steady if your material is going to be watchable. We thoroughly recommend some sort of handle and one that can be made neutrally buoyant will be best. You neither want your precious Go Pro Hero 4 to float off nor to drop away to great depths. If you are doing some dare-devil activity, you'll be happy with whatever you record but underwater you'll want to be very much more selective. An LCD screen that shows what the camera sees is essential. The Silver Edition of the GoPro Hero 4 comes already equipped but in order to keep the retail price as attractive as possible, the much higher quality Hero 4 Black Edition (it will shoot 4k video and also will run at a higher frame-rate to smooth out the action) does not. However, an economically priced LCD screen is available for the Black Edition that plugs straight into the camera and it comes with the fatter back door for the housing to accommodate it. Water absorbs light but it does it selectively. The warmer wavelengths of light, the reds and the yellows, get filtered out first so that as you go deeper, everything starts to look very blue. You can make the most of the red and yellow light that penetrates the water in the first 15-metres by filtering out some of the blue. The GoPro Hero 4 has such a wide-angle lens that, although a flat red filter will work, a domed filter will be more effective over the whole width of the image and sharpness won't suffer at the edges. If you want decent colour when you go deeper, there's no escaping the fact that you will need to take some white light with you in the form of some lamps. The same applies whatever camera you shoot with. Still cameras can use flash but for live action you need a constant source of light. A diving torch will not give light that is even enough. It will be patchy but not only that, the GoPro Hero 4 will try to look into the shadows leaving the lit parts burn-out. You need video lights. Ocean Leisure Cameras has a selection available at a range of prices. Check that part of this web-site for more details. What else do you need? A spare battery and charger will come in useful. That battery can be charging while you are under water with your GoPro Hero 4 and be ready for the following dip under water.