Saturday, June 20, 2015

Gopro Diving Rig

After doing a few dives with the Gopro, it is clear that it needs help to do the sort of underwater photography I have been trying. Most important, there just isn't enough light, so it needs lights.

The bulk of options for lights consist of lights connected to a tray. Examples include the Ikelite Tray with Phantom Underwater GoPro Lighting & Flex Arms Light Kit, BigBlue Underwater 350 Lumen LED Light System, BigBlue 11,600 Lumen Underwater LED Video Light System, SeaLife Sea Dragon 1200 Photo-Video Light and Fotodiox GT-Wedge-Only GoTough Wedge Black Metal Camera Diving Tray. For video, there is no question that this is the way to go. The large tray avoids the wobble which makes much underwater video hard to watch. For photos, I am less than certain. The wedge seems like it would be bulky and hard to get into the desired position.

Next there are options which mount to a selfie stick. Examples include the Knog [qudos] Action Video Light, Light and Motion Sidekick Flood Light, and the SeaLife Sea Dragon Mini 600 Underwater LED Light which can be mounted to a SeaLife AquaPod Underwater Camera Monopod (also sold together). The selfie sticks seem like they are cheaper and would allow closer shots than the trays. However they take worse video and may suffer from more backscatter.

Other possible improvements are filters and macro lenses. I am not sold on the idea that filters are really needed. They reduce the amount of light the Gopro sees and color can be adjusted in software fairly quickly. However macro lenses are an interesting idea. There is a +10 filter and macro lens for the Flip 3.1 filter system which look like they would work well. Unfortunately the manufacturer recommends 1200 lumen lights with them in daylight, which is higher than will easily work on a selfie stick.

Lastly, there is the option of just stopping messing with the Gopro and getting a camera optimized for underwater still images. The Gopro is made for full sun video, it lags much of the competition for taking still images. In the same price range, the Olympus TG-4 is probably a better choice.  An upgrade to a Sony DSC-RX100M III with an underwater housing would also blow away the Gopro.

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