Viewing Angles

Water is much denser than air and light diffuses quickly resulting in soft hazy images over distance. To overcome this you need to reduce the column of water between subject and camera by moving in as close as possible. For example when photographing a Manta Ray overhead you may be close enough to get a sharp image but will only manage to frame a portion of its underbelly. You will need to move further away from the Manta to include its whole body, but then you are shooting through more water and the Manta will appear soft. A supplementary lens with a wide angle of view is required to get close and keep the subject in the frame. Contrast and sharpness will increase the closer you get with the wide angle lens.

FIG. 2.7 Canon WPDC 27 housing front view. Courtesy of Cameras Underwater.

FIG. 2.6 Ikelite & Epoque DCL20 wide angle.

FIG. 2.6 Ikelite & Epoque DCL20 wide angle.

FIG. 2.8 Canon WPDC 27 back view. FIG. 2.9 Canon WPDC 27 housing set.

Most digital compacts, 35 mm wide and 28 mm wide, have a maximum viewing angle of 44 and 53 degrees in air respectively. Upon entering the water you loose 25% of that viewing angle as a result of refraction. Hence, 44 degrees becomes 33 degrees and 53 degrees becomes 40 degrees. Wide angle must be exactly that, which is anywhere between 100 to 180 degrees underwater!

Wide angle lenses can be attached using a bayonet mount or filter thread depending on the housing and lens of choice. Even though a housing may

FIG. 2.10 Canon Ixus 980 and Inon system.

FIG. 2.10 Canon Ixus 980 and Inon system.

have a filter thread, not all wide angle lenses are optically compatible with the housing.

Incompatibly results in vignetting or softening around the edges. Always make sure the lens has been bench tested against a particular housing. Some lenses can push fit onto the housing — make sure that the lens cannot easily fall or be knocked off.

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