questionsunderwater bag, housing, or camera?

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I am not an expert on this matter by any means but I really think, in this case, you get what you pay for. My friend is an underwater photographer and constantly takes dives and catches some amazing underwater photos. I have heard him say time and time again that when it comes to underwater housing cases, etc. it is better to pay for a quality one. This could be because he does it professionally - but to my way of thinking, it is better to pay a little more for quality than to have your camera ruined because of a cheaper cases "oops" moment.

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Depends on what you want. There are disposable film cameras that are waterproof (@$16). There are inexpensive digital cameras with integral waterproofing (Sea % Ski, Pannasonic, and Samsung)..these run from $180-ish up to $300. Then you have inexpensive POS (no...no...means "point and shoot") with waterproof clamshells (Canon, Sony, Nikon). These let you use it for underwater AND on land. They are usually better than the previously mentioned camera...a little more flexibility. Be prepared to pay a little more...cameras run $200-$400 and the clamshells add another $200-$300. These are retail...can probably find deals.

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If you want to waterproof a nice digital SLR I would reccomend getting an old Canon Rebel or something like that. The idea of putting my 5D in a rig makes me cringe. Not to mention the lens..which cost more than all the previous cameras added together. They do make EXCELLENT and EXPENSIVE clamshells for them...last time I looked they were $400 plus. I do NOT reccomend doing this unless you can score insurance or have a company you could write off the loss. Saltwater is one of the most corrosive non-acid fluids out there...just the mist can disolve that shiny metal parts pretty quick. YMMV...again...unless you are Jaques Custeau I do NOT reccomend a high end underwater setup...

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I took both approaches on my last cruise. We spent a lot of time it aquatic activities (snorkeling, cave tubing, swimmin' with the mammal-fishes at Chankanaab park. For myself I bought a Dicipac waterproof camera case.
http://tinyurl.com/6rr5wyo
I do most of my vacation shooting with a relatively expensive Canon G11, but I risked my inexpensive Kodak Easyshare to a watery grave in this thing and it worked great, day after day. The only bad thing I can say about it is that the camera was a bit small for the bag and a few shots have the edge obscured by the bag's lens housing. I was worried about water droplets on the front of the lens obscuring shots but it just didn't. Here are a couple of shots I took with a $60 Kodak in the $20 case:
http://tinyurl.com/6tkdtwp
http://tinyurl.com/7shun5c

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Cont'd.
I'd bought my BFF a camera for his previous birthday which he'd destroyed in only a couple of months. He likes to carry it around in his pocket and he does a lot of outdoor work. So for his last birthday I got him an Olympus Tough. I don't recall the model, not the newest, I paid about $150 for it on EBay, one of those "bought it and never used it" sellers. These are very rugged cameras, drop-resistant, waterproof. Canon Powershot D10 is supposed to be a much better "tough" camera at $200-225, but I have no personal experience with it. Bob's Olympus has survived a year in his pocket with hard and frequent use.
http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_digital.asp?section=tough

Here are a couple of wet pictures we took with that camera on the trip. The underwater shots would have had more color if he'd had on the flash. The last one's especially nice.:
http://tinyurl.com/86rr4ku
http://tinyurl.com/7rgk7dx
http://tinyurl.com/7a2x7n9
http://tinyurl.com/74lt6j4

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@moondrake: How easy was it to operate the camera in the waterproof bag?
The olympus looks promising.

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@lxzndr: Totally easy. It has a sort of rubbery texture that allows you to easily depress buttons. The only difficulty I had was the camera sliding around a bit as the bag fit somewhat loosely. I am thinking I should put a rag or some paper towels in with it next time to make it fit more tightly in the case. I am going to Costa Rica this fall and I need to test the case to make sure it is still water-tight. I live in an arid area and plastics became brittle very quickly here, so I don;t know how long the thing's shelf life is going to be. But I wouldn't hesitate to buy another if this one is defunct, I was completely satisfied with it. If you get the Olympus or another waterproof camera, you should consider getting a floating camera strap, so it won't sink if you drop it. The bag approach does this on it's own as there is enough air in the bag to keep the camera from sinking.