Subject: Photography: UW video summary. (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 07:21:44 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 03:59:30 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: UW video summary.

From: Scott Steven Spitz <>

Dear Marmamers,

Thanks to all who replied to my posting requesting information and advice
on video cameras and underwater housings.  I received over 20 responses
from researchers and professional videographers.  I am sorry that this
summary has been delayed, but the humpbacks have been occupying much of my
time.  A summary of the advice that I received follows.


The general consensus was that the Sony VX-1000 is the best video
camera available.  The 3 chip design yields superior color, especially in
higher light conditions.  This is where things get interesting.  Depending
on the amount of light available in your underwater environment, a 1 chip
camera such as the Sony TR7 will be equivalent or maybe superior in image
quality.  We decided to purchace TR7's because they are smaller and less
expensive and the image quality will be very similar to the 3 chip camera.

I believe Canon has now made their competing 3 chip camera available, but
I heard it would be expensive ($5000).  I do not know if that price
estimate is accurate as it was given to me before the cameras actualy went
on sale.  I did see a detailed brochure of the camera, and it has all the
options one could imagine.  It looked larger than the Sony 3 chip, which
is a serious consideration if one is going to put it in a housing or use
it for extended periods of time.

Panasonic also makes 1 chip cameras, but I don't think they produce a 3
chip.  I did not hear much about their cameras.

These cameras are digital which are superior to Hi8 in virtually every


I received many comments on several brands of housings.  Many people had
completely different experiences with the same brands, so I hesitate to
make broad generalizations.

Gates:  several people commented that they had problems with these
housings flooding, because they use manual controls that extend through
the casing.  These types of controls are at greater risk of flooding, but
less risk to malfunction.

Amphibico:  several people discouraged Amphibico due to electrical
problems.  Their housings use electronic controls which resist flooding,
but can have other problems.  Our experience with Amphibico has been very
good.  Our Hi8 housing has survived 3 seasons of research without a
problem.  I have also received excellent technical support from the people
at Amphibico.  Their housings look nice, but are expensive.

Sea & Sea:  I didn't receive any negative comments here.  This may be the
best housing available, but it is also extremely expensive.

Quest:  This was our runner up, but the weighting system sounded
confusing, so we chose another brand.

Jaymar:  Most people probably haven't heard of this brand, but we know
several research groups that have used their housings for many years.  All
advice was very good.  The manufacturer seems very nice and supportive of
his products down the road if one needs assistance.  The housings are good
quality and well-designed.  The price is also good, and we heard raves
about the housing's hydrophone.

We have received our Sony TR7 cameras but haven't used them yet.  We
should be receiving the housings next week.  Please feel free to contact
me in April to get an update on our experience with the Sony 1 chip
digital and the Jaymar housing.  Thanks again to all of the people who
readily offered information to help us to purchase the best products for
our research.

Good luck to prospective digital buyers.


Scott Spitz
Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Lab
Honolulu, HI

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