Lighting for Better Underwater Video

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Adding More Light

The color filter that I've used works best at shallower depth; <40 ft or so and for well-lit subjects, like coral reefs. For shooting into strong shadows (e.g. on a wall), enclosed areas like caves, or caverns, or on deep dives, a filter will make no difference. With a camera's little lens, the light loss from any of these situations can affect video quality. Removing the filter will help, but you'll be back to the blue caste that's difficult to correct for, even with some of the better editing programs. If this is the case, it might be time to upgrade to a lighting system.

As with all underwater gear, adding lights comes with pros and cons. Here's my take so far:

First, the pluses:

1. External lighting will add brilliant colors to your dive; both visually and in your images and videos.
2. Regardless of depth; the light will compensate for any color changes (within the light's range, of course).
3. A good underwater light may replace an add-on flash/ strobe for a still camera too.

Now the minuses:

1. The gear can be expensive; approaching - or even exceeding - the cost of the camera and underwater case.
2. While smaller than a full video camera set up & LED lights have reduced the sizes considerably, the lights and brackets are still bulky, meaning more stuff to carry, both on the surface and underwater.
3. Depending on the brand, there may be another set of (different!) batteries to buy and charge

Choosing the gear

There are several manufacturers, and it's probably best to start with the one recommended for your particular camera. Also, some come with the adapter brackets, but others (e.g. my Sola) require a separate, not insignificant investment in the bracket, too.

Sony's underwater light & attachment bracket

Sony, Sea and Sea & Fisheye make underwater video lights, using powerful halogen bulbs, but I recommend checking out LED lights. I replaced my bulky Sony halogen light with a compact Sola 800 LED, which offers multiple intensities, spot & flood settings, allowing me to get decent video - and stills - up to 7 feet or so away from the subject.

Sola 800 with case attachment

Do check to ensure sufficient uniform coverage for the type of videography you intend to do: for close ups, a spotlight will be sufficient, but using spots on wider angle shots can cause white-outs in the center of the frame.

Happy shooting and feel free to email me with questions.

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