In today’s age of Smartphone cameras in every pocket, you have to ask yourself how many phones have been damaged by water while the owner attempts to take a picture. I have seen it many times, $600+ smart phones being used to take selfies in some potentially damaging environments. Many people forget how delicate a Smartphone really is – most manufacturers strongly recommend not even exposing their phones to moisture let alone even a small amount of water.
On vacation you never know when you’ll have a photo opportunity. For this reason, I have always preferred a compact point-and-shoot pocket-sized camera to any phone. These purpose-built cameras offer so many features over a Smartphone camera:
- Improved image quality
- More storage
- Longer battery life
- Macro (extreme close up) shots
- HD Video
- Zoom lenses
- Image stabilization
- On camera editing
To this list, I would go a few better and add these features that are not commonly found on all point-and-shoot cameras:
- Dust/sand proof
- Shockproof (you can drop the camera and still expect it to work)
Sounds to go to be true? Well it’s not. I have been traveling with a compact underwater camera for years and I have never worried about damaging it. It started many years ago with the Canon D10 Underwater Camera.
This unit was expensive ($700+) and was a little bulky. The optics were also a little rough in places so the pictures looked blurry in the corners. This was only a minor problem and it was offset by how useful the camera was in and out of the water. The biggest downfall of the D10 was the odd shape and weight. It was an odd shape – not quite square and a little heavy. None the less, I still own this camera and it stills works as well as it did when I first bought it. Family and friends have bought other brand underwater cameras and they died a watery death after only a year or two. I think that this camera is still around and working thanks to a few simple precautions that I always took before, during and after using it. (See the tips section below)
The Canon PowerShot D30 Underwater Camera
Canon replaced the PowerShot D10 with the D20 in 2012 but I was not tempted away from the D10 until they released the updated PowerShot D30 in 2014. At about half the price, the D30 offers way more than its predecessor. It is submersible in water up to 25 meters (82 feet), shockproof to 2 meters (6 feet), has an operating temperature range of -10° to 40°C, a low-light sensitive 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor (3200 ISO), has a 5x Zoom Lens (35mm Equiv: 28-140mm), 3-inch TFT view screen, built-in flash, shoots 1080p Full HD video or 720p HD video or Apple® iFrame format and has GPS image tagging.
This camera also has a bunch of other features that make it very easy to use – especially if you are underwater or wearing gloves. Changing settings is quick and easy. I shoot a lot of video so I really like that the video record button is separate from the shutter button.
Auto, P, Movie Digest, Portrait, Smart Shutter, Handheld Night Scene, Low Light, Fisheye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Colour Accent, Colour Swap, Underwater, Underwater Macro, Snow, Fireworks, Long Shutter, Stich Assist, iFrame Movie and Super Slow Motion Movie
My Colours Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin, Darker Skin, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red and Custom Colour
SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card and SDXC Memory Card
Dimensions (W x H x D)
4.31 x 2.68 x 1.08 in. / 109.4 x 68.0 x 27.5mm
6.84 oz. / 194g (Body only)
Sample Images from the PowerShot D30
Here are some examples of pictures that my wife and I have taken with the PowerShot D30:
Underwater Camera Preservation Tips
- Always soak your camera in fresh water after using it. 30 minutes soaking in a bathroom sink will add years to your camera by removing salt from the sensitive seals on openings and covers.
- Always use a float when taking pictures in the water. Accidents happen, if you lose your grip on your camera it will sink. A simple float can prevent such disasters.
- Regularly clean the seals on the access hatches. Use a clean, damp cloth to remove an buildup that could allow water inside the camera housing.
- Do not open the sealed covers anywhere near the water. Wait until you are in a safe place to avoid getting any water inside of your camera.
- Know how deep your camera can safely go – and do not exceed this depth.
Underwater Camera Photography Tips
- Try to shoot only on sunny days and near the surface so you have as much light on your subject as is possible.
- Try to keep the sun at your back – again, to make sure that you have as much light on your subject as is possible.
- Get as close to your subject as is possible. The closer, the better.
- When you switch to above-the-water mode, be sure to clean and dry your lens.
- Try using image filters (like Photoshop auto-levels) to improve faded images. This can really brighten up underwater pictures