Here’s a video Damien put together from some footage and stills taken from the Hideaway Island trip over New Year’s.
St George Underwater Centre is now an agent for GoPro Cameras.
GoPro make a range of what can be best described as Sports Video Cameras. They are very small, lightweight, capable of shooting high definition video (up to 1080p) and come with a housing that is waterproof to 60 metres. They can also take photos up to a resolution of 11MP (depending on the model).
These cameras are great for diving because they are so small and light. The can be mounted on your mask, worn on your hood or wrist or simply carried for shooting whatever you may encounter.
There are two main models (at least in the interest of divers):
- HD Hero Original
- HD Hero2 Professional
Both shoot video in 1080p, 960p, 720p and WVGA. The original is limited to a wide field of view (127º for 1080p and 170º for the other modes) where as the Hero2 allows the video to be shot in on of three different fields (170º, 127º and 90º) of view in all video modes. A field of view of 170º is almost as wide as a 10mm fisheye lens on a digital SLR camera – that’s a very wide angle of view. A FOV of 90º is still quite wide but closer to a 17mm lens on a DSLR.
Both cameras have a battery life of around 2.5 hours when shooting in 720p/60 fps mode. i.e. you could easily record a whole dive.
For a more detailed comparison, see: Product Comparison: HD HERO2 & HD Hero Cameras
The cameras don’t come with a screen but you can buy them as an optional accessory. The screen fits onto the back of the camera making it marginally fatter and also includes a replacement rear door for the housing. Unless you plan on wearing the camera on your mask or hood, a screen is a good idea for framing your shots.
With the screen attached and switched on the battery life is reduced however it will still record 720p/60 for up to 1.25 hours, more then long enough for a single dive.
Another recommended accessory is a corrective flat port on the front of the housing. By default the port on the front of housing is curved. This works fine out of the water but underwater can result in less than sharp footage. A few third party companies make an add-on port which does not compromise the seal on the housing. I have installed the BlurFix adapter on my GoPro and I now get very sharp footage. The added advantage of the BlurFix adapter is that it uses a standard lens filter as the port so a coloured filter can be used to correct for the loss of red light underwater when shooting with natural light.
The quality of the footage on these cameras is exceptional, especially when you consider how small and inexpensive it is. It is comparable to professionally shot footage.
Here’s some footage that was taken on the recent drive trip to Borneo. All expect the last sequence (leaving Kapalai) was shot with the original HD Hero. The last sequence was shot with a Nikon D7000 DSLR.
There are some more videos at St George Underwater’s Vimeo page.
Please call the centre for more information and pricing.
Our end of year trip just keeps getting better. I’m happy to announce that the underwater photography will be run by Damien Siviero, who many of you will know from around the shop. Damien is an award winning photographer, who has published images in magazines, marketing campaigns and all manner of stuff online. He’s typically found diving on a rebreather, shooting sharks or off on a cave/wreck expedition, but we have him on this trip! If you want to learn how to take photos underwater, here’s an opportunity to learn from one of the best.
I asked Damien the other day what the workshop would cover, here’s what he said:
“I think we can all fall victim to wanting/needing the newest camera model, more megapixels, higher ISO, etc… whilst that’s important, I want to take things back to basics and focus on light. It might sound simple, but that is what photography is all about. Subject, framing, shutter aperture – these are the key to a great image. Read More
For many of you a trip overseas is not always with a bunch of dive buddies but with family and friends who may not share your love of the underwater world. Well, a recent trip to Malaysia and especially an island of the east coast provided a bit of paradise for all. Paula, myself and six teenagers (what the hell were we thinking?) headed off to Malaysia for two weeks of sightseeing, eating, shopping and relaxation. The first week we set a cracker pace and saw all the main attractions. Whatever spare time we had was filled with sampling the local foods (Malay, Chinese & Indian) and stuffing the suit cases with bargains. Girls, Kuala Lumpur is full of megamalls.
After this onslaught we were ready for some R & R. A short flight over to Terengganu then a bus and boat ride had us reaching Redang Island. We stayed at Redang Kalong which is a very laid back, quiet resort. The staff friendly and the accommodation comfortable, basic and air-conditioned. It didn’t take long to slot into the relaxed lifestyle and I was starting the first of what ending up being ten dives on some of the prettiest unspoilt reefs I have seen. The resort has its own dive shop which was conveniently close to our beachside rooms.
Three boat dives are scheduled each day, two morning and one afternoon. All dive sites are no more than fifteen minutes from the jetty and you return to the resort in between dives to fuel up, rest or sort out camera gear. Diving is easy when the water is 27 -29 degrees and 30 metre plus visibility. Depths on average are around the 18 – 25 metre mark. Marine life consisted of various shrimp, blacktip reef sharks, turtles, stonefish, anglerfish, razorfish, barracuda, countless clownfish and the odd nudibranch or two. For the photographer there was plenty of macro opportunities but wide angle would be the standout.
For the non-divers two snorkelling trips are run daily and from all the reports from our group it was some of the best they had ever seen. Feeding time at the marine parks was frantic and you would be swamped with colourful fish trying to get that morsel of bread from you. The daily activities of eating, sleeping, reading and enjoying the surrounding underwater playground recharged our batteries but after a week we reluctantly had to leave our paradise. So if you were to visit Malaysia consider a stay on Redang Island you won’t be disappointed.
As part of our end of year Hideaway Island mega trip at the end of the year, Kel’s asked me to run a series of underwater photography workshops aimed at both getting people started and fostering existing talent. The question I have is what to cover, particularly on the intermediate to advanced side?
We’ll be in the tropics, so the bleeding obvious to me is macro and reefscape techniques. That said though, a few other, possibly more interesting ideas come to mind:
- Strobe Photography – to me this is quite key, as it’s often the single biggest difference between good and bad shots underwater. Point and shoot cameras do a poor job at lighting subjects, so I’d like to bring a few strobes and set them up on your point and shoot cameras – the difference will amaze you!
- Wreck Photography – there are two small wrecks at Hideway, as well as the Star of Russia, Semle Federesen and Konanda wrecks in Port Villa. All provide a great platform to run a structured wreck photography workshop on.
- Digital SLR Shooting – everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask; benefits, pitfalls, cost, technique, buying used equipment, etc
As we’re still in the planning stage, I’d like to hear from you! Please email me directly (damien “at” siviero.com.au) or comment on the blog. Tell us what would interest you and what you want to learn.
This trip is going to be awesome, so we’d better make the photos just as good.