Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Underwater Video Camera Housing

I am planning to get a video camera abd housing for filming underwater action. I was in contact with Stuart Donkin who makes custom housing for cameras - you send him the camera and he make the housing to fit and can include a wide angle lense.
This route seems most promising to me as the housing is small, relatively inexpensive compared to imported ones. I need it to be small for deeper dives to 30 m plus. In addition Stuart can put on a speargun handle to give a one hand grip.
I have some questions for those with more experience than myself:
a. Has anyone used one of these type of housing? Tell me what you thought of it?
b. What about cameras? I want a small one that that can take good quality videos. I am admittedly a dummy in this regard and would like to know more.
c. There are CCD (charge-coupled device) and CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor)sensors inside the cameras - which is best? These devices have to convert light into electrons. I have dug up some comparative data on these devices:
1. CCD sensors, as mentioned above, create high-quality, low-noise images. CMOS sensors, traditionally, are more susceptible to noise.
2. Because each pixel on a CMOS sensor has several transistors located next to it, the light sensitivity of a CMOS chip tends to be lower. Many of the photons hitting the chip hit the transistors instead of the photodiode.
3. MOS traditionally consumes little power. Implementing a sensor in CMOS yields a low-power sensor.
4. CCDs use a process that consumes lots of power. CCDs consume as much as 100 times more power than an equivalent CMOS sensor.
5. CMOS chips can be fabricated on just about any standard silicon production line, so they tend to be extremely inexpensive compared to CCD sensors.
6. CCD sensors have been mass produced for a longer period of time, so they are more mature. They tend to have higher quality and more pixels.
7. Based on these differences, you can see that CCDs tend to be used in cameras that focus on high-quality images with lots of pixels and excellent light sensitivity.
8. CMOS sensors traditionally have lower quality, lower resolution and lower sensitivity. CMOS sensors are just now improving to the point where they reach near parity with CCD devices in some applications. CMOS cameras are usually less expensive and have great battery life.

I would much appreciate any commentary from more experienced cameramen out there.

Either comment on this post or mail me at freedive@freedive.co.za

8 comments:

Lary Stucker said...

I would recommend Epic Camera Housings. They test them to 30-40 feet but I have taken them down much farther, they are inexpensive and will work with a bunch of cameras and wide angle lens configurations.

EpicCam Video Housings

-Lary

Anonymous said...

I BOUGHT AN EPIC HOUSING - WHAT A MISTAKE. IT WAS A PIECE OF GARBAGE AND THE COMPANY WOULD NOT STAND BEHIND IT AT ALL. I NOTE THAT EPIC NO LONGER SAYS THE HOUSING IS FOR TAKING BELOW WATER, ONLY FOR SPLASHES,,, ALL I CAN SAY IS DO NOT BUY EPIC

Lary Stucker said...

Hey "Anonymous", I just checked their website...http://www.epiccam.com and they still say they are recommended for shallow dives.

Anonymous said...

Well, perhaps they have changed it yet again, it was a few weeks ago I looked. When I bought my housing the website said it was good to 30 feet. A few weeks later they had taken this off the site. Even to get the housing to be neutrally buoyant, I had to add almost 30 lbs of weights. There is no place to add weights inside the case so I had to strap them on the outside. Then, once the housing was under only a few feet of water the rubber end cap through which you're suppose to control your camera had collapsed totally inward.

Lary Stucker said...

30lbs! holy cow, which housing were you using? I used the Epic Elite, Had a 5 lbs weight on it and was down around 40 feet. I know what you mean about the rubber endcap, but that makes sense. The extra pressure is obviously going to push in on the rubber, but it was fine with the elite. I kept the camera paused and allowed the pressure to turn it on as I dove. Most of the time I'm shooting surf videos with it but when I have taken it on shallow dives it has been great.

Anonymous said...

I had the Epic Pro. Sounds like you have a nifty though mathematically complex trick adjusting your rod for the on/off switch to nicely turn the camera on at just the depth you wanted. The rubber cab on my housing depressed about 3-4 inches under the water pressure driving the adjustment rod into the back of my camera. Incidentally
Epic told me over the telephone that since I (and from the sounds of it, you) tied weights on the exterior of the housing, that this constituted a modification and violated my warranty.

Lary Stucker said...

No mathematical formulas, just backed the button off farther than normal. The button rod is only 2-3 inches in length on the Elite. The Epic Elite and Sport are smaller, so there is less rubber and it probably doesn't flex as much as the Pro. I think that is why you can take them deeper

Those Epic Pros are pretty big and I don't think I would try to take them down.

Anonymous said...

Exactly - they are marketed for taking underwater, but useless for this. When I complained to the company they were not interested at all.