Ocean Photography

Digital Cameras

  Here is a summary of my experiences with digital photography so far. I hope this information is helpful to you. There is further discussion of Underwater Photography at the following page - Underwater Photography Tips

My Camera - Canon IXUS v3

I have been using a Canon IXUS V3 which is I purchased at the end of 2002 so I have been using it for a number of years now. Here are some pictures of the camera -


And here are some photographs of the camera's waterproof case which is the main reason I purchased this camera -


And here are the most important camera specifications -

[ Camera Effective Pixels ]
Approx. 3.2 million
[ Lens ]
5.4 (W) - 10.8 (T) mm (35 mm film equivalent: 35 - 70 mm), F2.8 (W) - 4 (T)
[ Auto-focus ]
TTL 9-point AiAF / TTL 1-point center AF, Focus lock possible
[ Focusing Range ]
Normal: 47 cm (1.5 ft.) - infinity
Macro AF: 10 - 47 cm (3.9 in. - 1.5 ft.) (W), 27 - 47 cm (10.6 in. - 1.5 ft.) (T)
[ Shutter Speed ]
15 - 1/1500 sec.
1 - 1/6 sec. possible at flash-off or slow-synchro in manual mode
15 - 1 sec. possible in long shutter mode
Noise reduction processing on speeds between 15 - 1.3 sec.
[ Light Metering System ]
Evaluative metering (linked to focusing point) / Spot metering
[ Sensitivity ]
ISO 50 / 100 / 200 / 400 equivalent and Auto (in Auto mode, camera automatically adjusts sensitivity in the range of ISO 50 to ISO 150 equivalent)
[ White Balance ]
TTL auto / preset (daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H) or custom white balance
[ Flash ]
Red-eye reduction auto / auto / on / off / slow-synchro
[ Flash Shooting Range ]
Normal mode: 47 cm - 3.0 m (1.5 - 9.8 ft.) (W), 47 cm - 2.0 m (1.5 - 6.6 ft.) (T)
Macro mode: 27 - 47 cm (10.6 in. - 1.5 ft.) (W / T)
[ Shooting Modes ]
Auto / manual / stitch assist / movie
[ Continuous Shooting ]
Approx. 2 images/sec. (Large / Fine mode, LCD monitor off)
[ Self-timer ]
Shoots after approx. 10 sec. or approx. 2 sec.
[ Recording Media ]
Compact Flash card (Type I)
[ Image Recording Format ]
Still images: JPEG [Exif 2.2]
Movies: AVI (Image data: Motion JPEG, Audio data WAVE: [monaural])
[ Number of Recording Pixels ]
<Still images>
Large 2048 x 1536 pixels
Medium 1 1600 x 1200 pixels
Medium 2 1024 x 768 pixels
Small 640 x 480 pixels
640 x 480 pixels (Approx. 30 sec.)
320 x 240 pixels (Approx. 3 min.)
160 x 120 pixels (Approx. 3 min.)
Approx. 15 frames/sec.
The data in parentheses refer to the maximum movie length per clip.
[ Power Source ]
Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery (type: NB-1LH / NB-1L), AC Adapter Kit ACK500, Car Battery Charger CBC-NB1
(W) wide angle, (T) telephoto

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Why did I choose this digital camera?

The main reasons I selected this camera are listed below -

1. Firstly, it was one of the few cameras which had an optional waterproof case. The waterproof camera case cost me approx AUS $300 which was pricey but certainly more affordable than the professional underwater camera cases on the market which often cost thousands of dollars.

2. Second, I had seen samples of photos taken with this digital camera on the Canon (Japan) website. I was very impressed with the quality of the sample images.

3. The Canon (Japan) website also had a lot of detailed information about using the Canon digital cameras for underwater photography.

4. The camera was capable of making short videos at a resolution of 640 by 480 (i.e. 640 pixels wide and 480 pixels high) which was a very high resolution compared to other digital camera on the market at the time.
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My results - Still photos

I have taken some photos with this camera that I am very happy with. Here is a few sample photos -

Alpine Flowers, Mount Buffalo, VIC Brown Trout, New Zealand Fanworm, Rye Pier, VIC Fresh Yams - Sign, NZ Graffiti Van, NZ Ligntning, Melbourne, VIC Snakes Warning - Sign, Jells Park, VIC

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My results - Videos

I have included some screen captures of the video when shot at the highest resolution of 640 by 480 -

Jellyfish Puffer fish Pike school School of squid Turtle

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What I have learned about using digital cameras

  • Macro functions are essential - I don't know how I ever got along without this function on a camera.
  • Digital Camera and Red Eye - Small camera such as the IXUS v3 will generally give you red eye problems when you use the flash in dark environments such as weddings, parties, and late night fishing trips. This occurs, whether or not the red eye reduction feature is turned on. If you ever plan to take photos at an important engagement such as a wedding, then this camera is not suitable.
  • Shutter Lag Time - Perhaps newer digital cameras do not have this problem to the same extent, but I find that there is a definite lag time between pushing the "shoot" button and the firing of the shutter. This can lead to missed opportunities and increases the likelihood of camera shake in my opinion. If you are buying a digital camera then buy one with a fast processor!
  • Small cameras and camera shake - The small size of this camera seemed to be a great feature but can also be a hindrance because small cameras are harder to hold steady while taking photographs. The use of a tripod can overcome this of course. And this camera does have a tripod thread in its base.
  • Movie formats - The movie features of digital camera may seem attractive but they are not compatible with video standards used by common media such as DVD movies and VCD (Video CDs). My IXUS v3 shoots film at 640 by 480 resolution but this is not the same resolution used by the DVD/VCD formats. If you decide that you want to place your own family videos on DVD, then you will have to crop your video to make it fit to the DVD format. Furthermore, the frame rate of video recording will not be standard. In my case, the frame rate is 15 frames per second. The PAL and NTSC standard have much higher frame rates and so you will be forced to use a conversion program to "add frames" into the movie to make it comply with either the PAL or NTSC standard. The end result of these two incompatibilities (i.e. wrong resolution and wrong frame rate) is that your movies will deteriorate in quality by the time you transfer them onto DVD or VCD. My advice to anyone buying a new camera would be to get a camera that generates movies that comply with the DVD standard. It will save you a lot of hassle and disappointment.
  • Memory Cards - The memory cards that come with most digital cameras are just too small. Do yourself a favour and go and buy one of at least 512 mb. They have fallen in price considerably and you can often pick one up cheaply in a computer store. My experience has been that camera stores charge a higher price for camera memory cards.
  • Spare batteries - I believe a spare battery is a great idea. However, do not get burned like me. When I bought my camera I negotiated/bargained for a free spare battery to be included. The store did give me a spare battery but it was a 3rd party brand (mistake number 1) and it did not supply the same amount of milli amps hours (mAh) as the original battery (mistake no 2). The battery was very poor quality and it only lasted for 20% of the time of the original.
  • Let it rain (quietly) - If you have a waterproof case this can be very reassuring, especially if you spend a lot of time near the water (e.g. while fishing). You never have to worry about your precious camera from getting water damage. However, one problem I always seem to have is that if I film any action (e.g. catching a fish), then the waterproof case will prevent your camera microphone from picking up the sound. The best you can do (as the photographer) is to talk loudly because your voice will be recorded since you are so close to the camera. But that is about all you will hear.
  • Sunshine Artifacts - You will notice in the screen shot of the turtle movie above, that there are some vertical pink lines in the image. These vertical lines are due to glare from the fun and can ruin an otherwise great movie. It seems to be unavoidable when filming in a direction where there is heavy sun glare. Similar problems can be caused by bright artificial lights.

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What features would I be looking for in a new camera?

Here are some of the features I would be looking for in a new digital camera -
  • Faster Processor - I would want a camera that has a very fast processor so that there was no lag time
  • Bigger Camera - I would buy a larger camera since my hands are a bit shaky (too much coffee perhaps?) and I find camera shake to be a problem for me.
  • More Megapixels - I would get a camera with at least 5 megapixels. My current 3 megapixel camera can only be used to provide high quality prints up to 8 by 10 inches in my opinion. I would like to be able to make larger prints.
  • Filter Attachments - Being able to use filters such as polarizing filters is very important. This especially important for fisherman because glare on the water's surface can really detract from a quality photo.
  • SLR - I would be tempted to buy a digital SLR camera because I often found that the auto-focus function on my camera was not completely reliable. This was particularly true when using the camera in an underwater environment.
  • Flash intensity adjustment - I would buy a camera where you can adjust the intensity of the flash. This would come in very handy.

Copyright Notice: The videos and images displayed on this page are protected by copyright.

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Last Modified: 21 May 2005