Which filter should I use on my underwater camcorder and when (what depth)?

Without a filter or lights on your underwater camcorder all your video will look washed out and blue or green in color.

In blue water a UR-Pro red filter is used. This filter works well from about 20 to 60 feet. There is no magic depth. I use mine all the time except very close to the surface or on the surface or when using lights. There is no solution for depth except using lights with no filter or correcting for color and contrast when you are editing your video on your computer. Many editing software have color correction.

Arrow Crab

Frequently Asked Questions
About Underwater Video and Equipment

Do you have questions? Then read on....

Clownfish

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE...will give you great underwater Video.

Got a question about video? Send questions to
Sheryl Brakey at
sjbproductions@sjbproductions.com.
We will try to answer them or give another opinion.

Should I buy a housing with a view finder or a LCD screen?

The answer to this depends on how much money you have to spend. If you need some correction for your eyes, the viewfinder does have a magnifier and works pretty well with no other correction in your mask (unless you need a lot of correction). The view is small and you have to have the housing closer to your mask.

The LCD screen is a bigger view, but there is no magnifier and unless you have a shade for it (some housings come with one- like the Light and Motion housings), it is hard to see in sunlight (just like on land). A LCD screen cost a lot more money too. For more information on this topic....

Sea Fan

I have a Canon ZR70 mini dv camcorder and can't find a housing for it. Most housings are made for Sony camcorder, what can I do?

You are right, most underwater housings seem to be for Sony Camcorders. The choice of housings for other brands of camcorders depends on how much money you want to spend on either manual or electronic housings.

Ikelite is a good place to start. They can custom build a housing for most camcorders. It is one of the least expensive housing and has manual controls. For an explanation of the difference in housings and controls click here.

Other manufacturers may be able to custom fit your camcorder too. You need to decide first which features are important to you.

How much wattage do I need in my underwater lights?

If you are using your lights for night, macro, close-ups and dark recesses, then you don't need a lot of wattage. The halogen lights available for many housings are from 20 to 100 watts. I use two 20 watt halogen lights for night, macro and close-ups. This works fine and there are number of options. See my article on Underwater lights for more information.

What are the new high density lights?

The new high density lights give off a lot of light with little wattage or power. But they are expensive. A good inexpensive solution is the Underwater Kinetics Canon 100 light. There is more information on this in my article on Underwater lights.

I have a Panasonic GS400 Camcorder and am looking at three housings: Equinox Pro-Pak 6, Sealux DS40 and Ocean Images GS400. How important is electronic controls versus manual and how important is white balance control on the housing?

First of all, on my website, I talk about manual vs. electronic controls. It comes down to budget and convenience of use. I started with manual controls housing before switching to an electronic controlled housing. With electronic controls, more things can go wrong, such as leaking around controls. You have to carry extra batteries for the control handles on your dive trips.

As to White Balance. Your camera has three modes, indoor-outdoor-manual. I talk about when white balance matters in using colored filters. In blue water with a UR Pro filter (which is a must to have--you will film with this on almost always) the automatic white balance works fine. In green water (which sometimes you encounter) you have two options. Change the white balance to indoor which should give a blue cast and use your UR Pro Filter which then gives a magenta cast. This corrects for green water. Or you can do everything the same as blue water and correct in editing in color correction by adding blue. I do both. So white balance control is not as important because there are ways around it.

What you need to consider on the three housings is whether you can turn off the automatic focus and lock the focus. This feature usually comes with the manual focus controls. The reason you want this is when in murky water or low light water, especially when trying to capture video of larger animals which aren't close, your automatic focus may go in and out of focus. I usually point at something close to me that is in focus--like my fin if I I am away from the reef and lock the focus. Then I point at the animal and continue to shoot.

This article gives you a general idea of what you need to edit video and where to start. There are a number of manufacturers with editing equipment and software available. If you have more questions on where to start with editing your own video or have a problem with editing that I may be able to answer, send your emails to sjbproductions@sjbproducitons.com.

I wear glasses, what works underwater?

The best solution for glasses underwater is a Sea Vision Mask corrected to your eye prescription. You can get just for distance or with bifocals. Sea Vision is noted for their color corrected mask but they do an excellent job with clear glass too. They take into consideration water magnification.

But there are other problems with filters like the color of the water. The UR-Pro red filter is designed for blue water. For more information on this topic....

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