Photo: On the road to Pindaya.

Cameras and travel photography forum

disposable waterproof camera, pros and cons?

Posted by Tomhamish on 19/2/2011 at 01:21

Im heading to SEA with my girlfriend for 3 months from the 10th of july. she is taking her small point and shoot cannon, and i'm taking my compact DSLR sony NEX-5.

However neither of these cameras are waterproof, and i want to be able to take photos while snorkelling. I could borrow a waterproof olympus off a friend but that would mean 3 cameras between 2 people + chargers etc... seems a bit much!

does anyone have any experience with disposable waterproof cameras? would this be a good alternative?

Thanks

#1 Tomhamish has been a member since 19/4/2010. Posts: 21

Posted by goonistik on 19/2/2011 at 13:50

Will a pouch like this work for you?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/400205-REG/Aquapac_AQUA_414_Waterproof_Case_for_Compact.html

They make another one for DSLR cameras. I am presuming that you are not going deep sea photography and are just looking for something to use at the beach. While these pouchess are rated for 15 feet-try not to go to that limit.

#2 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by goonistik on 19/2/2011 at 13:50

Will a pouch like this work for you?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/400205-REG/Aquapac_AQUA_414_Waterproof_Case_for_Compact.html

They make another one for DSLR cameras. I am presuming that you are not going deep sea photography and are just looking for something to use at the beach. While these pouchess are rated for 15 feet-try not to go to that limit.

#3 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by busylizzy on 19/2/2011 at 17:31

I bought one of those pouches for my small point and shoot, and whilst it's great for waterproofing the camera when out kayaking, at the beach, etc it doesn't work all that well for underwater photography. When you take it underwater (even when snorkelling) the bag fills with air like a balloon, which means the camera 'floats' inside the bag. I find it hard to get the camera to focus properly, and most of my shots were a waste of time. Also, even though I made a special pouch for the bag, and wrapped it in microfibre when not in use, it's difficult to keep the plastic in pristine conditiion. Again, the makes it difficult to get good quality photos through the bag.

So.... my view/experience is that it's great for waterproofing your camera, but not so good for taking photos under water. Some will come out OK, but most are throw-aways.

Also if you do buy one, ALWAYS double-check the seals when you close it up with your camera inside. I had a situation where it didn't close properly and it allowed a couple of drops of water into the bag, and my camera stopped working for the day.

Disposable underwater cameras - I am assuming you mean the film-type rather than digital? No, I don't think they are worth it either.

#4 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by Tomhamish on 20/2/2011 at 06:56

thanks guys, yer i think your right busylizzy, the pouch doesn't look like a good alternative.

Are the digital disposable waterproof cameras no good either then? looks like im going to have to consider some other options

#5 Tomhamish has been a member since 19/4/2010. Posts: 21

Posted by busylizzy on 20/2/2011 at 09:37

It really depends on how fussy you are about your pics. I'm only a 'amateur' but I'm picky about my photos. I used an underwater film camera years ago and didn't think the results were worth keeping. (In fact, I think the waterproof bag idea is just as good if not better). Disposables only have the simplest of technologies, and it's very hard to see what you are trying to focus on when you are moving with currents, etc underwater.

Maybe consider getting your girlfriend to swap cameras for the duration of the trip by getting her to borrow your friend's camera as an alternative thereby meaning you are still only taking two. Alternatively, look into waterproof housing for your DSLR. ( Not sure about results with those though).

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by goonistik on 20/2/2011 at 12:07

Hi!

Waterproof housing for a DSLR is a serious investment. The Aquatica Housing for a Sony NEX5 costs more than US$ 1,000.

Waterproof housing for a point-and-shoot ranges from around $150 to $500, if one is available for your camera model.

And that is just for the housing. Serious underwater photographers also invest in lighting.

I don't think it is worth the trouble to get a disposable digicam as availability is limited and you are limited to a depth of 3 meters. Which is about the same performance from the pouches.
http://www.slipperybrick.com/2008/08/eco-digi-mode-waterproof-disposable-camera/

The pouch should be ok, provided you remember to stay above its limit. When you snorkel, you usually go to about 12-15 feet at the most. So I'd say a pouch with a 3 meter limit should be good enough.

The same caveats that lizzy mentions about pouches will also hold true for a waterproof housing. You need to check the seals and you need to close it properly so that water doesn't seep into the housing. I don't see the need to buy a waterproof housing if you are not going seriously into underwater photography.

#7 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by busylizzy on 20/2/2011 at 16:18

Wow - I had no idea waterproof housing cost so much, goonistik! ...Hmm, Tom, borrow a waterproof camera or go with the pouch.

#8 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by goonistik on 20/2/2011 at 19:03

Hi!

Check out Ewa-Marine and see if their pouches are any good. Pouches are a bit clumsy to use as lizzy noted.

Underwater housings offer access to all the controls but cost lots more money.

#9 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by Tomhamish on 21/2/2011 at 21:26

thanks for all your help guys!

im going to do some research on waterproof housing, failing that I'm just going to borrow a waterproof camera.

thanks again

#10 Tomhamish has been a member since 19/4/2010. Posts: 21

Posted by goonistik on 22/2/2011 at 09:39

Hi!

If you are in the US, bhphoto.com is a good place to start.
Aside from EWA-marine, check out Ikelite as well.
Some camera manufacturers offer OEM underwater housings.

There are stores that specialize in selling Underwater photo gear. They should have more specialist knowledge to guide you. Unfortunately, I don't do underwater photography so I hope you can find somebody with more knowledge and experience to help you.

#11 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 562
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Posted by booney on 7/4/2011 at 07:08

Hi there, yeah I did experience using one; although I only borrowed it from a friend its a cool thing actually. I don't think it's a good idea to borrow one in that situation.

#12 booney has been a member since 6/4/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by SBE on 7/4/2011 at 11:04

I wouldn't bother borrowing the friend's Olympus, you might have to replace it. I bought an Olympus mju (the so called "tough" series) few years ago. It leaked the first time I put it in the water and all three replacements I've had under 2 year guarantee have also leaked. I tried 3 different models in all and until they do something about the seals on that thing rather than messing about with megapixels etc it's going to keep on leaking.

This trip I've been using a canon D10...what a difference! The underwater image quality is also vastly superior and there have been no leaks in 7 months of pretty intensive use.

The Canon D10 also takes very decent pictures out of the water though the optical zoom is only x3. If I were you I'd take the DSLR and a Canon D10 as a point and shoot for underwater or for use when it's raining etc.

Tip: I use thick electrical tape to seal the battery and USB compartments as an added precaution.It helped keep the last Olympus model I had alive 3 whole months though that one eventually leaked too.

#13 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
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