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Question:

Have digital cameras in underwater housings replaced Nikonos cameras and other film cameras in housings?

 

 

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Questions and Answers (Q & A's)

From Alan Broder (Dated February 2003)

Answer:

This question has been needed to be asked almost monthly. Several years ago, when digital imaging was just starting to grab a significant part of the terrestrial market and moving toward the 1 megapixel mark, this question began to be asked on an ever increasingly frequent basis. Manufacturers of consumer cameras bragged that they could produce a print almost as good as film could. At this time, this statement was more helpful to the manufacturer than it was to the end user. Even 3 by 5 prints were severely pixelated. A decent photolab print off a throwaway film camera produced a far superior result.

The vaunted kodak-nikon pro digital camera, with it 2-plus digital image---the first "megapixel" digital camera----cost megabucks! Great for news paper photogs, however, the serious underwater photographer vaunted no part of it.

Underwater still photographers pretty much sort out into basically two types---snap shotters and fine art photographers. They are either very casual grabshotmeisters or they are going to do a slide show for their club or hang 8 X 10—or better yet—--11 x 14 or 16 x 20 prints on the walls of their homes or businesses. Even more better, publication—--sales (Skin Diver magazine would be OK, unless National Geographic....) money! fame! romance!

Up until a couple of years ago, digital just wasn't cutting it for the underwater folk. The cheap digital cameras, quality at about 1 to 2 megapixels, could make a decent 4 x 6 and push hard on making a not-too-gawdawful 5 x 7, but required a reasonably formidable knowledge of computer technology to pull it off. Way too much trouble for the average diver (with some notable exceptions)! Very little interest on the part of housing manufacturers was afoot.

When the "threes" came out a couple of years ago, Nikon Coolpix 900 and 950 as well as Olympus 3000 3-plus megapixel series, with Canon and others entering the frey, 8 x 10 prints of a pretty respectable quality level came within the reach of the now-burgeoning multitudes of digital camera users. At this point, underwater housing manufacturers became interested. Underwater still photography has been going digital ever since.

Five megapixel cameras, such as the Nikon Coolpix 5000 and Coolpix 5700 are producing nice 11x14 prints -—and just about all the rest of the camera manufacturers have 5 meggers and many are being housed. And not just housed! The new housings for these digital cameras are becoming slicker, tricker and quicker than ever. Film camera housings, typically with 5 or 6 controls at most, until very recently, have evolved in the last couple of years to the point that virtually everything on the camera is controllable with up to 20 or more buttons, knobs and levers on a housing. Digital housings started here and went forward. If an accordian would fit inside, you could play it.

The last holdouts for film as a serious group have been the professional photographers-- magazine, advertising, commercial, glamor, and such. We just got a call from one of the most major of them all. She wants to house her new digital canon at about 11 megapixels for a big magazine assignment. She went bonkers over hearing about the coming Oceanhaus housing for the new Hasselblad H1 with Kodak digital back. This will be the new high-end pro standard at 22 megapixels, and will get better with time.

Has digital caught up with film? It has caught up with, and seriously passed 35mm film and seems to even have outstrided medium format as a "by-the way".

Our love affair with film is over. As with most affairs, some of us will remain in denial. Some have grieved. Some have moved on-- easily dropping the old and enthusiastically embracing the new. Some will never love again and will will go on in a limbo-- in a state of concocted denial, grief and self delusion. Their cry will be "it just doesn't have the "look" film had!" "Boo-hoo!" "It has no soul!" "Wah! Wah!"

Do these people really know the difference? You bet! If you showed them 2 prints —side by side, one off film and one digital, Iwould be willing to bet the farm that a full 51-----even 52% of them would get it right--- at least half the time!!!!

I know this because I am one of these people, having forever given my heart and soul to film.
I will keep my favorite film camera! But don't be too surprised if you see me in Fiji jumping into the sea with the latest 11 megapixel digital model, though.
Hey--it's hot!!

Hubba hubba, you all!!!

 

 

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