GoPro Hero 4

  • How to Get Clear Sharp Pictures Underwater

    VerdeIsland5191There are some basic rules to getting clear sharp pictures, whether it be video or stills, while under water because it is the water that ruins so many good photographic opportunities. Firstly, the clearest water is not clear. Well, it's not as clear as clear air might be. If you could eliminate the water, think how much clearer your pictures would be!

    How do we do that? Simply by getting as close to your subject as possible and thereby eliminating as much water as you can between your camera's lens and your subject. That's why inexperienced underwater photographers have most success initially photographing macro subjects. Because they are small, it's easy to get the camera up close and personal to them. You only need to enable the camera to focus on them. Those with top-of-the-range DSLR cameras can equip themselves with a macro lens specifically designed to focus very closely. The lens merely needs to be installed behind a flat lens port or 'macro' port. Those with cameras that have a fixed lens (such as most compact cameras) will need to fit and auxiliary macro lens to the outside of their housing. The same can be said for GoPro POV cameras._DSC5564

    But what about bigger subjects? That's where a wide-angle lens comes into play. Again, a DSLR user will need to fit such a lens and mount it on the camera behind a suitable dome port. Dome ports produce a virtual image just ahead of the camera so you must be sure your choice of lens will focus close enough on that. The advantage is that a dome port keeps the angle-of-view the same for the lens as it would be if used in air. Wide-angle lenses are not used to 'get more in' but to allow the photographer to move closer without 'cutting more out'.

    Again, compact camera users will need to fit an auxiliary wide-angle lens to the outside of their housing. There is a variety of choices but you should be advised by an expert as to which will suit the fixed lens of your camera if it is not to vignette the photographs. The advantage of fitting lenses to the outside of the housing is that these wet lenses, whether macro or wide-angle, can be interchanged at will, whilst submerged.

    Water has another property that makes the life of an underwater photographer a little complex. It absorbs light so that as you go deeper it gets darker, but it also absorbs light selectively. The longer wavelengths of light (red and green) get soaked up first so that very soon, at a depth of no more than a few metres, everything will look blue in your pictures. What can you do about that?_DSC8326

    One way to look at it is to see it as a surplus of blue light and if you can reduce the amount of blue light you will allow the camera to make the most of the red and green light that still penetrates the water to the depth you are at. Some cameras allow you to "White balance" and provided the software designer has provided enough range to account for the excess of blue light, this can be very effective. It's best to point your camera at something neutrally grey to do this. A piece of white Perspex is ideal but failing that, the palm of your hand underwater can usually be good enough. Canon compacts are especially good at white-balancing against an excess of blue. Sadly for underwater photographers most software designers are thinking in terms of white-balancing against incandescent light, which tends to have an excess of red and green but those who work for Canon seem to have it nailed.

    Of course, some cameras do not have the facility to white balance, so what then? A red filter will make the most of what red light is present but of course you will need different degrees of red according to the depth you are at. You can fit alternate filters to a GoPro camera or you can fit a Backscatter Flip Filter 3.1 system. This gives you the option to flip the appropriately coloured filter in front of the lens and make a judgement by looking at the image on the LCD screen. If you have a Hero 4 Black or an earlier GoPro 3 you can fit an LCD back available as an accessory.

    A better way to get good colour in your pictures is to take some white light with you. In the case of video a constant light source is necessary and can vary in price from a basic Big Blue rig to something more ambitious. You cannot have too much light but it needs to be of the right colour and exceedingly even in its spread, or your video camera will try to look into the shadows and the lit areas will burn out. You will need a lot of light to get good still photographs even for macro subjects when the light source is very close indeed. Even a high-output Keldan light has a limited range. For good still pictures there is no substitute for an underwater strobe or even a pair of them. They emit a quick burst of light but it is many times brighter for that short duration than any constant light source. These can vary in price from the Sea & Sea YS-03 and Inon S2000 to the bigger hitters like the Sea & Sea YS-D2._FFF7119

    Professional underwater photographers shoot RAW files and there is a very good reason why they do this. RAW files allow you to do a lot of adjustments to your pictures after you have been under water when there might have been time constraints. Many compact cameras can shoot RAW files but because these files can be very large it can mean a significant delay of a few seconds between taking pictures. DSLR cameras have buffers of varying size that allow users to shoot a lot of RAW files without this annoyance. Depending on what you are photographing, the delay between shots might be worthwhile. Next week we'll show you the advantages of adjusting files from a RAW original long after the event.

  • Hugyfot Camera Enclosures

    Plenty of bulkhead connections for everything you need including an HDMI connector. Plenty of bulkhead connections for everything you need including an HDMI connector.

    Way back in the early 'fifties when the pioneers of scuba diving were still making names for themselves, René Hugenschmidt decided that he wanted to make a career in the embryonic industry. A talented Swiss engineer, he produced an underwater housing for European cameras like the Hasselblad and Rollieflex, but as Japanese 35mm cameras began sweeping all before them in the market place he soon swapped over to accommodating 35mm Nikons. His housings were so beautifully engineered, they were the equivalent of an exotic German or Italian sports car. The only problem was that would-be owners had to join a waiting list that might be several years long. Hugyfot housings were in a class of their own.

    The DSLR camera fits snugly inside. The DSLR camera fits snugly inside on a sliding tray.

    Time moves on and René Hugenschmidt is no more but exactly fifty years after he first started, his brand and its reputation got taken over by an engineering company based in Belgium where Hugyfot housings are engineered today.

    As a long-time professional underwater photographer, I've owned housings but all of the top makes including Subal, Seacam, Aquatica, Nexus,and Sea & Sea. They are all good but when Hugyfot introduced its vacuum leak-test I was totally convinced that was the housing for me. The primary function of a submarine housing it to keep the camera inside it dry and functioning. Now all of the housings I mentioned can do that provided there is no user error. Alas, in more than 350 individual dive trips, I made that error a couple of times. The scars never heal. Not only do you lose your camera and lens but often it means a trip completed without any pictures. Although I always carried a duplicate spare camera with me in case of mishap, once you flood one, you are overly concerned you might flood the spare camera too.

    The Hugyfot vacuum leak-test checks with a pressure sensor that no air is leaking into a housing that has previously been pumped down to a negative pressure inside. A red light signals danger whilst a steadily pulsing green is good. Once I had equipped myself with a Hugyfot housing, I could travel with a single DSLR and the green pulsing light would enable me to sleep comfortably whereas a red would see me out of bed in a moment. No more jumping into the water, wondering if this was the last time that camera inside the housing was going to be serviceable. I never lost a camera in a Hugyfot housing and I never carried a spare from that day onwards.

    Hugycheck was the first vacuum leak test to be available. Hugycheck was the first vacuum leak test to be available as a standard fitting.

    Hugyfot housings are very robustly built, and their design is relatively simple. The controls are mainly push-buttons that pass directly through the bulkhead of the housing. This means that the position of the control buttons are dictated by the position of those controls on the camera. Nauticam housings are now much more sophisticated with offset controls for a better anatomical design but you must decide if the complications of that are too much of a liability if you are going to be shooting in a remote location. Sometimes there's merit in simplicity.

    The Hugyfot designer eschewed cam-catches and went for bolts. This means there is no risk of a Hugyfot housing being accidentally unlatched in the freshwater rinse tank and as a side effect of the vacuum leak-test, the housing is impossible to prise open while the green light is showing thanks to ambient water or air pressure. You might even need to tighten the bolts after vacuum sealing the housing since the vacuum pulls the two halves of the clamshell tightly together.

    Built to be unburstable! Built to be unburstable! The full set of controls are dictated by the original position on the camera

    The company has specialized so far in making housings solely for popular DSLR cameras, in particular those bearing the Nikon or Canon brands, with lens ports for the most popular lenses used underwater. However, the company now also makes a housing for a GoPro Hero 4 and  its immediate predecessors, and this is remarkable in that it has the option to mount a submersible housing for a monitor. It turns the GoPro into a really professional bit of kit.

    Hugyfot housing rig for the GoPro complete with external monitor. Hugyfot housing rig for the GoPro complete with external monitor.

    Pressure-rated to 200 metres, it allows a continuous operation of the GoPro for 6 hours instead of a more usual 40 minutes and in Pro Plus guise it bears a separate 4.3 inch external monitor mounted on its double-decker rig with standard one-inch balls for mounting additional lights. The GoPro housing can also take a red filter or macro lens that simply swings into position when you require. The Hugyfot accessories for the Gopro have redefined that little camera's role in making professional video recordings underwater.

    All Hugyfot housings have these standard mounting balls fitted and they can be used in conjunction with variable buoyancy arms that you can adjust to make your rig perfectly balanced in the water.

    Now here is the good news! Ocean Leisure is now able to supply you with Hugyfot products direct from the manufacturer in Belgium. This means that any product is available from stock to the UK within a couple of days. Ocean Leisure will be able to give after-sales-service on Hugyfot products that is second to none and better than most. Come in and compare what's available.

  • GoPro - a Phenomenon!

    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. gopro_herosessionOf 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. ipix_gopro_housing1-1 (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. backscatter_flipsetWe 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.polarpro_standard_magenta 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.FlamCuttle5079 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. srp_v_arm1Not 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! inon_sd_mount_cage_for_gopro 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 GoPro Hero 4 Underwater

    hero4What 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. e8601920-10fc-4e5f-abd8-bad79331f9f4POV Buoy (2) 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. gopro_touchscreen 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. gopro_SRP_filterThe 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. bigblue_dualsetupIf 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.  

  • Octoporn!

    _DSC3979The common octopus can be found throughout the temperate and tropical marine waters of the world and makes a good subject for your camera. It is an intelligent mollusc that has a complex eye mechanism that leads us to believe it can see very well. It can pass its boneless body through the tiniest of holes and it has the uncanny ability to change both its colour and texture at will by rotating tiny discs within the structure of its skin. This is used primarily as a strategy to avoid being detected by both prey and predator but is also a useful tool for communication and the expression of emotion. Never try to describe an octopus by its colour. This can range from a serene pale blue most often seen by divers at night, to an angry deep red with a white central stripe encountered by divers that try to interfere with one of these remarkable creatures. During the summer months the male octopus seeks out a female with which to mate and having done so begins a courtship ritual that encompasses all his flamboyant abilities to change his appearance. I was lucky enough to find two octopuses romancing together and photograph the whole forty-five minute sequence of events._DSC4093 The male stood erect, puffed up and demonstrating his ability to become dark and knobbly. She in turn will made herself smooth and silky, often embracing herself with her own tentacles as if to appreciate her own sensuality. Octopus have the ability to alter their size too. At this time the male was big and impressive while the female appeared small and demure. _DSC4107The male specially adapts one of his tentacles to become a sexual organ and it is this that is used to pass packets of sperm to the female. He proffered this tentatively, hoping to seduce her into accepting it. She coyly rejected him at first while he put on alternative displays of colour and texture in the hope of hitting upon a combination that pleased her. _DSC4138aThis game went on for a long period of time until he successfully persuaded her to accept his advances and penetration ensued. At this time she too changed from smooth and silky to be as knobbly as he was, and then back again. They took no notice of me, the camera-toting voyeur, even though I was extremely close to them. The male octopus pursues the female until she catches him! They stayed locked together for some time while his sperm was passed in special packages to her. They seemed to be enjoying it immensely and took little notice of the clatter of my camera or the pulses of light from my flash. _DSC4152Once the job was complete, she became impressively large while he looked very much deflated. She kept hold of his precious tentacle and dragged him off unwillingly. Was she taking him shopping? No, she’s looking for a suitable home. Does this story sound familiar? _DSC4150Once the female octopus finds a suitable place to lay her eggs she demonstrates what a dedicated mother she is. She stays will her eggs, oxygenating them regularly by blowing fresh water over them via her siphon. She stays until they are hatched, never leaving them to feed and consequently finally ending her life in the process. The male however escapes, usually leaving that specially adapted tentacle behind with her. He eventually grows a replacement but in the mean time he goes off looking for more action. You might see the occasional lucky male octopus with very few tentacles left while he cruises the reef, still looking optimistically for more action! You can get material like this on any underwater camera set-up, from GoPro, through compact cameras to the full nine-yards of a digital SLR. If you want to know how to get pictures as sharp and clear as this, check with the people at Ocean Leisure Cameras. If you need an octopus-rig for your regulator, the main store at Ocean Leisure has a selection to choose from. If you've enjoyed reading this blog, you will enjoy Amazing Diving Stories by the same author.

  • Making Movies That Don't Bore Your Neighbours

    Movies4187Back in the day when I made television commercials, my first movie was quite an undertaking. It was 1980. I used a huge Panavision 70 camera, involved a lot of people with specialist skills, it cost £250,000 and lasted only thirty seconds, yet a lot of people bought a certain brand of tea because of it. A decade later, video cameras made things more economic. I shot the first commercially available instructional video for scuba diving. It only cost £10,000 to post-produce. Things have moved on apace since then and costs have plummeted. Now everyone can afford to shoot video. Some of you will only use your cameras for video clips, the moving equivalent of a snapshot. Indeed, often these clips get no further than being viewed on the LCD of the camera, never to be seen again. Others want to produce something more ambitious, in the form of a viewable programme. Whether you shoot on a Red Epic camera, digital DSLR, a compact or a little POV mini action camera like a GoPro Hero 4, air-side or underwater, the rules of move-making are the same. Still pictures can stand-alone whereas movies rely on the shot shown before and the one after. It’s a sequence that forms an event that might not have actually happened but it’s got to be believable to work. So gather your shots to tell a story. Look for an opening shot that will grab your viewer’s attention, something dramatic and something that can be used to bring your sequence to an end. Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Think of each short shot as a brick that will go with others to form the architecture of your final result. Bear in mind that your viewers may not be as engaged with your subject matter as you are and consider twenty minutes as the longest time they’ll watch your completed production before they make their excuses and leave. Continuity is crucial. Underwater, we have to think in terms of continuity of lighting, mainly dictated by the time of day and if we feature divers in a sequence shot over more than one dive, they need to be wearing the same kit in exactly the same way. Inserting a shot from night into a broad daylight sequence will never look right. Gather the shots that will become useful when it comes to constructing your movie. Shoot a wide establishing shot, a middle-distance action shot and close-up of each subject. You’ll be amazed how useful the material so gained with be when it comes to assembling a production. The subject moves and the camera remains still. Often more easily said than done underwater, but professional film-makers go to extraordinary lengths to keep their cameras steady while the action goes on in front of it. Ironically, the latest generation of little action cameras are harder to keep steady whilst recording. Following an animal as it moves is seductive when you are actually there but don’t do it for too long. It gets boring to watch. Let the animal move into frame, follow it for a bit and then let it clear the frame. These will give you the moments to cut from a previous shot and cut to the next one. A cardinal rule on land it to imagine there is a line down the middle of the path your moving subject takes. Never cross that line with your camera or it will look as if your subject has changed direction and gone back the other way. Less crucial with underwater subjects, ‘crossing the line’ often gives the impression that there is more than one subject, and that can make the action busy. “Not another video of blue fish!” I can still hear the groans of my friends from my early days of underwater video-making now. Light underwater is filtered so that only the shorter blue wavelengths penetrate much more than a few metres from the surface so if you are shooting elsewhere than the shallows, when a colour-correction filter over the lens will work, you’ll need some independent lighting to give you a full spectrum of colour. Increasing the camera frame rate from the viewed 25 frames per second to, say, double the speed, gives a slow motion effect. This smoothes down the action and is especially useful with fast moving underwater subjects and avoids that juddery effect often encountered when panning the camera at a normal frame rate. Slow-motion is almost standard procedure with professional underwater wildlife films. A cut-away is a shot that allows the editor to cut away from the main action for a moment and comes in very useful when constructing awkward sequences. The effect is to imply that these animals so recorded are bystanders to the main action. Luckily, you can use almost any underwater subject as a cut-away but it’s important that the camera is steady if these shots are to be inserted in a moving camera sequence. Once you get to edit your material, be ruthless. The cutting room floor is as important as the retained material. Choose the essence of the action. Keep it brief. Keep your audience wanting more not less. When you’ve got a lot of footage, the cameraman can be too emotionally attached and that is why Hollywood movies are traditionally edited by people who were not present at the shooting stage.Hammerhead and Video On the other hand, you might be just as happy collecting video clips that are the moving equivalent of snapshots. The choice is yours.

6 Item(s)