[Coral-List] The best small digital cameras for underwater survey and monitoring

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Mon Jan 19 09:32:57 EST 2015

Hi Adam:

If you interest is small and inexpensive, your best option is likely the
GoPro cameras. As ca $300 with split capabilities between hi-resolution
still and movie, there is no other comparable option. This past summer, I
decided to not drag along my large SLR housing/strobe combination for
stills and my Gates housing and camera for video - for the very reasons
that you outlined. While the result was not universally ideal, it was
generally acceptable. I have been told that GoPro has camera-specific
software to remove distortion related to camera optics, akin to
orthographic corrections of air photos to be used in GIS.

Clearly, there is no perfect answer. The GoPro does not do as well in low
light and I have yet to find a good lighting system that matches the
convenience of the camera and provides sufficient flood-lighting. In many
ways, the situation reminds me of what we all faced 30 years ago when
deciding between bulky housings and the more convenient Nikonos. As the
latter evolved, it became an increasingly better option for those of us who
needed ta camera that didn't involve large and bulky housings and all the
care and feeding that they required - while still providing predictable
quality. Many of us still lament the lack of a digital option. But, in the
meantime, the GoPro seems like a great compromise. It is compact - so much
so that I had to put a handle on it because it was actually too small to be
practical. I ultimately painted the handle bright orange because it was so
easy to sit the camera down and not be able to find it quickly. You need to
be careful with lighting conditions, but it still seems to be the best
compromise unless you want to drag out a larger option - which I still do
when I don't have primary scientific goals to distract me.


On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 5:35 AM, adam porter <ap3489 at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Coral Listers,I am currently working on an article for Reef Encounter
> reviewing the different types and models of the new generation of SMALL
> DIGITAL cameras and housings now available for underwater use and suitable
> for the  collection of marine biological data. The intention is not to
> consider large cameras with ancillary attachments (such as flash guns) that
> are used primarily by divers interested in obtaining top quality portraits
> of marine life suitable for publication. Rather I plan to focus on small
> cameras that many diving biologists may prefer to use because typically, at
> the same time, they need to carry a selection of other survey gear.The
> article will be primarily concerned with the equipment rather than
> methodologies, although the preferred kit may vary with the application. I
> hope to consider cameras suitable for still and video photo-transect work,
> and for use in fish studies including for attachment to BRUVS used to
> assess abundance of shark and other lar
>  ge predators. Obviously a primary concern will be the trade-off between
> the need to obtain high-definition imagery and the cost involved.Thus I
> would very much appreciate hearing from anyone in the community with strong
> views on, or relevant experience of the use of DIGITAL cameras in marine
> field work. Reports of problems or bad experiences with particular kit
> would as as valuable as strong recommendations regarding the best
> models.Please reply to list or to me directly, as you prefer. I will in any
> case send a draft of the final article to anyone who kindly responds.
> Obviously it would be helpful to mention the model(s) you use and the
> particular application.With thanks,Adam Porter
> _________________________
> Adam Porter PhD Student
> University of Exeter Biosciences
> Geoffery Pope Lab 201
> Stocker Road
> Exeter
> EX4 4QD
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> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Dennis Hubbard
Chair, Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
(440) 775-8346

* "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
 Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"

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