Tips for Getting Ready & Shooting Underwater Video

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You're spending some decent cash to get underwater, so it makes sense to ensure your gear is going to survive & get you some good footage while you're down there. Special water-proof cases for normal cameras and cheap mobile phones with built in cameras have made these tasks easier. However, you'll need additional precautions to successfully use these gadgets underwater. I've learned from experience that a good set up process minimizes lens fogging & camera case leaking, which is death to cameras, especially in salt water! I've killed cameras & ended up with many foggy images & videos, so here are my tricks for minimizing experiencing anything from mild disappointment all the way up to anger, anguish & financial pain when things go awry.

When you get a new case, check it out in a sink, bathtub or swimming pool before risking the camera.

1. Remove & check the 'O' ring, smear the supplied lubricant on it & after checking & removing, dust specs, animal / human hair, insert it into the case, close it up & hold it at least 12" (30 cm) under water for about a minute). Press all the buttons several times.

2. Dry the outside off & see if you can see any sign of water on the inside.

3. Open the case up carefully, ensure that the latch or strap doesn't deposit water inside the case & check the insides, paying close attention to the areas near the knobs, buttons & the O ring for any sign of water. If there is, you have a problem which likely won't get better with more depth. Don't risk your camera!

Getting Ready to Dive

I added a couple more tips after flooding my camera in Cancun recently. With salt water, once a camera's flooded, it's highly unlikely it'll work again, even with disassembly & cleaning, so I suggest being rigorous & thorough with all these steps. Also note that travel insurance will cover this type of loss (at least Travelex appears willing to consider it).

When you're getting ready to set up, make sure you have the case, camera, dessicant pack & lubricating gel handy. Ensure the camera battery is fully charged as video uses more battery than still shots. I recommend closing the camera inside the case at least 2 hours before the dive to give the dessicant enough time to remove the water vapor.

1. Find the coldest room possible &/ or turn on the AC. The reason for the AC is that cold air holds less moisture, reducing the likelihood of fogging. This is especially important in high humidity environments, if your dessicant pack is suspect (or you went against my advice & didn't get one!) or if you're diving cold water. Position yourself near to the AC system but keep out of the fan's air blast

2. Remove & check the 'O' ring getting rid of any dust/ hair, add the lubricant & after visually ensuring that there is no dust, animal or human hair, insert it into the case. If you're in any doubt or feel any roughness on the O ring, reclean the O ring & the O ring groove thoroughly or it's likely to leak.

3. Add the camera & at least one (as many as will fit) dessicant packs making sure you don't block the lens or interfere with the control buttons. You might consider (though I haven't tried this yet) adding some absorbant material in the spaces in case a small amount of water gets in.

4. Close up the case & make SURE it is locked properly. Attach the underwater filter if you have one. Test it in fresh water (a bathtub, swimming pool will do) to see if it leaks before exposing it to salt water.

5. I recommend doing this at least a couple of hours before the dive. I often do it the night before. You should be ready to go, knowing that you've done the maximum possible to protect your gear & get the shots you want.

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