Don’t rush into buying a waterproof camera before first reading these tips, whether you are an amateur professional or an experienced who is looking at submersible cameras for the first time. Here are some things to think about:
1) First and foremost, the sealing. This is what differentiates your waterproof camera from normal ones, and if any sealing breaks you are just left with an expensive piece of junk. Check all sealing while buying or evaluating, and recheck it regularly, especially in places where it comes under stress, such as on the lens or on the battery opening.
2) Quality of the pictures: a decent resolution is a must for underwater photography, especially if you may want to zoom up details of shots once the shot has been taken. Five megapixel is good for compact waterproof cameras, and eight is adequate for SLR’s.
3) Looks and bulkiness. These are important, as you need to make sure that the device will fit your hand and your swimming or diving style. Some cameras come in bright colors to aid visibility, but not everyone likes them. If there is something that you miss, shop around some more and you may just find what you are seeking.
4) Enquire about the industry standard: This ensures that the waterproof camera has been professionally built and checked. For instance, JIS (Japan Industry Standard) 8 is good enough for a camera that you will only use in surface waters (3-4 meters maximum), while for a dive camera you will need it to conform to more exacting standards.
5) Characteristics: make sure that you have all the extra capabilities that you will need. Whether it’s a lens mount for filters, extra flash sockets, or simply different burst modes and automatic settings, check for them and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance at the shop.
6) You bought a waterproof camera? Great! Now clean it. Regularly. Be especially vigilant around dust, tar and sand, these will destroy your gaskets and water WILL leak into your device, rending it useless. Or your lens will jam. A well maintained camera is a long-lived camera.
7) Be aware of chemicals, they will also damage your camera’s waterproof junctions. And it’s not only nasty chemicals such as petrol. Chlorine will shorten the life if your camera, so keep it out of pools and only take it to natural freshwater or saltwater bodies. Use a cheap disposable waterproof “fun” camera to take pics of the kiddies in the pool.
8) Waterproof cameras have a maximum depth rating related to the pressure the delicate gaskets can bear, know about the one of your device and stick to it. Do not confuse waterproof with splash-proof either.
9) Learn about your waterproof camera and its performance gradually. Don’t take it take it to a dive right away, experiment with it in a shallow place first. Read the manual and try out the effect of different picture options, and you will soon be shooting like a pro.