Best settings when shooting underwater

MattAdamson wrote on 8/5/2011, 3:10 PM

I have Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D camera and have purchased a water proof case from aquapac specifically this one

There isn't enough room to add the 3D attachment so I'm simply using it in 2D mode.

I'm going to the Maldives in a few days and would love to take some underwater video whilst snorkelling. Are there any special settings I should adjust on camera to get the absolute best video? Should I use the 1080 50p setting as I may see fast moving sharks!! Should I change the white balance e.t.c.

I'm not taking a laptop to edit on holiday so won't be able to try lots of different settings and preview whilst their hence why I'd like to set up before I go.

Many thanks



Kimberly wrote on 8/5/2011, 10:12 PM
Hi Matt:

I'm not familiar your model of housing, but I have a few recommendations that may help:

Be very careful when you set-up your housing so that you avoid getting any hair, fibers, sand, etc. on your seal. Otherwise you may have a flood underwater.

Watch out for big changes in humidity when taking the camera from indoors (air conditioned) to outdoors (hot and humid). I always set-up my camera and housing in an intermediate area to avoid the dreaded "moisture present" warning.

After your housing is set-up, test it first in the fresh water rinse tank. That way if you have a minor flood, you might be able to salvage your camera. If you have a salt water flood, your camera is likely ruined beyond repair.

You should be able to pick-up color to a depth of about 15 feet, although it may not register as vibrantly on the camera as you see it in person. This is because red is the first color to disappear underwater. Below about 10 feet, your footage will start to have a blue or green cast unless the sun is very bright or you have a red filter.

White balancing under water behaves a bit differently than at the surface. Up here if we white balance, we are pretty good for a long distance away. Under water you are good for as long as you can see the red, which isn't very far or very deep. So white balance for your macro shots under water. Don't stress about it when that shark or ray swims by. Just shoot!

Are you sure you don't want to take your computer to review your footage? That way you will have instant feedback on what looks good and what doesn't.

Good luck with your housing. Here's hoping you have a wonderful trip and lots of fun with the camera!

craftech wrote on 8/6/2011, 3:13 AM

srode wrote on 8/6/2011, 4:39 AM
Take some of those silica packs to absorb moisture in the housing - keep them sealed until you put the camera in it then open and put them in the housing before closing it. That will help keep the lens from fogging.

The housing will cool some in the water condensing any moisture inside it - best to put camera in the housing in a cool dry place to keep the humid air out of it - like in AC IMHO.
Kimberly wrote on 8/6/2011, 8:05 AM
Another thing I neglected to mention . . . once you have your housing set-up, take some test topside shots with the housing. Does the camera work? Is the lens cap off? That sort of thing. Easier to fix that above water than below : )
MattAdamson wrote on 9/23/2011, 3:09 PM

Thanks for your responses and tips. I came back from our long holiday and here is the finished video. It's far from perfect but most is reasonably clear.

The housing worked really well from aquac pac

It never let a drop of water into my panasonic 3d full hd camera. Unfortunately I couldn't add the 3d attachment underwater as it made it too long for the housing. I don't think 3d would have worked very well in the water anyway. Except of course if the shark was trying to eat the camera!

One trick whilst filming I learnt towards the end is to keep the camera steady as much as possible. i.e. don't try and film whilst moving yourself which makes for very jerky movement.
Former user wrote on 9/23/2011, 3:15 PM
I can't view your video.

I get an error "This video contains content from EMI who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."

I'm in the US if that makes a difference.
kairosmatt wrote on 9/23/2011, 3:42 PM
Can't watch it in the Bahamas either. No surprise-we get everything blocked (except maybe Netflix next year!!!)

Anyways, doesn't sound like you had much fogging problems. If you do, keep the housing out of direct sunlight at all non-filming times-especially a clear housing like that.

One of the advantages of the bulky heavy housings (like Gates and Equinox) is that underwater you can get smooth steadicam shots even when you are moving. Equinox inevitably makes a housing for that camera, but the controls are going to be a lot tougher.

rs170a wrote on 9/23/2011, 4:04 PM
I get the same error message in Canada.