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Scuba and Snorkeling in Fiji with the venerable GF2

Discussion in 'Nature' started by paddy567, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. paddy567

    paddy567 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 31, 2013
    I just got back from a week in Fiji, where I got my scuba certificate. Underwater photography can be so satisfying but also quite frustrating at times - I've shared some pics and a few thoughts below. Note, this is not anywhere near the level of Hypilein's astonishing Lembeh straits pics.

    Thoughts: I bought an old GF2 and case for about $200 four and a bit years ago. I was, until this trip, only a recreational snorkeler and couldn't justify more. I've been very happy with this kit, for the price I paid.

    From a technology perspective, the biggest limitations of the old GF2 in order would be janky focusing, noise, limited dynamic range and metering. I have to work the photos pretty hard in DXO - especially for diving as I have no flash currently. The GF2 does *not* take kindly to cropping or pulling up exposure in post.

    From a user-perspective, what I struggle most with re underwater photography is composition, for sure. Fish are fast and what can look like poetry when in motion can be surprisingly pedestrian in stills. This is compounded by the largeish case for the gf2 - many shots I took are ruined because I'm not pointing the lens exactly where I think I am (gf2 screen is so dim underwater, it's largely unusable. I got amazingly close to a small moray eel only to discover afterwards that only 1 of the 10 shots I took actually had the eel mostly in frame! Framing is the number one issue. Backscatter/crud in the water also ruined a few shots, but that one is largely out of my control.

    All this leads one to a bit of a spray and pray approach. I also missed a macro lens, close focusing would have been a boon with smaller fish.

    White balance when diving is an interesting one. Whilst it's easy to remove a blue cast entirely, I find that "balanced"pics often have a pinkish hue which is not very nice, you actually need some blue to convey the sense of being underwater.

    The scuba certificate and the fact the GF2 is older than my kids now has made me feel an upgrade is justified, including a flash. Now I just have to decide on what to get. This is an exciting learning journey to be on.

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    It's me! (you can really see the noise issues at depth, esp in photos where I've pulled the exposure up a little). This was at ISO 800, and with hindsight I could have gone down to 400, my shutter speed in A would have been okay. It's all part of the learning experience!)
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    • Like Like x 9
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  2. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    Those are (million) miles ahead of my snorkeling pictures taken with the TG-5 a month ago in Thailand. Well done!
    I wish my shark photos looked as good as yours... :( 
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  3. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Considering that these are done without a strobe you‘ve done a great job! Still, adding a strobe will probably do a lot more for you than upgrading the camera. As you have more light the ISO performance will be much less important.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Looking good!

    Based on personal experience, I would reccomend focusing on learning to master your buoyancy and become a better diver before upgrading to anything more - when you start out you need more mental energy to focus on your position in the water, and avoid touching the reef as you try to get that shot. Less so for wide angle but definitely the case for macro. I started taking photos underwater after about 20 dives, and I probably should have waited until I had 30 or so under my belt. A strobe adds a whole other layer of complexity which I’m only now sort of getting to grips with (100 dives later...)

    Simple upgrade could be a red filter for better white balance.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. paddy567

    paddy567 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 31, 2013
    Oh I completely agree! This was more an opportunity for me to gauge whether it was something I wanted to continue with or not, and to get more of an insight of, if I did, what the best upgrade path would be.

    The dive master's bouyancy control was incredible. I was doing okay by the end, I was initially a little underweighted and was constantly having to swim downwards with an empty BCD. One extra weight was all it took to even me up, and it was so much easier!

    Yes that will definitely be my next step, especially in terms of bang-for-buck upgrades. One frustration with the GF2 is that flash control is relatively limited; there was no way to switch it off in A, and once the metering felt I needed flash, the pop-up would over-expose everything. When you have a flash linked with optical cable, is light bleed from the pop-up an issue in your experience? Or is it simply overpowered by the "real" strobe?
  6. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    I think light bleeding depends on the housing. In my Nauticam housing there is a little window for the pop up flash (and an accessory diffuser). The ports for the fiber optic cables get screwed onto the window so that no light escapes except where you want it to. Both on and off camera strobes are set to manual exposure .On camera is set to the lowest possible setting that still sets of the strobe. Off camera is set depending on the scene, although as I'm using a fairly weak strobe it is mostly set to full power or slightly below.
    • Informative Informative x 1
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