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butterfly fish

Minolta Dimage X and Marine Case

All images on this page were taken using the Minolta Dimage X digital camera & marine case.   No external strobe or lighting was used.   On the Wadi Lahami holiday the default settings for compression (Normal) & white balance (Auto) were used.  For the Dahab trip the white balance was changed to Cloudy and gave better results.
 

dimage x dimage x
Pictures of the camera are taken from marine-cameras.com

As I could not find any underwater pictures taken with this camera and housing I have created this page to show what a fist time user can expect.

I bought this digital camera and housing for £500 at the 2002 Birmingham dive show, where many retailers sold out due to it's popularity.  It is very small and easily fits into a bcd pocket, allowing it to be taken on every dive.  This fair price and small size opens up digital underwater photography to many divers.  I must point out that I am not a photographer  above or below water, I simply take holiday snap shots.  I have used basic 35 mm underwater cameras before with mediocre results, but none were as rewarding or easy to use as the Minolta.  After a week of diving Fury Shoal in southern Egypt these are my first results and opinions.  I upgraded to a 64mb memory card which stored approx. 200 pictures.  The pictures here are the better results,  there were many more that were washed out with very little colour or disappointing in other ways....

PLEASE ENSURE THAT  YOU DO NOT GET CARRIED AWAY AND DAMAGE MARINE LIFE IN YOUR SEARCH FOR THE BEST PICTURE.  YOU SHOULD HAVE EXCELLENT BUOYANCY CONTROL AND STAY AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AT ALL TIMES.  IF YOU DON'T HAVE GOOD BUOYANCY CONTROL PLEASE LEAVE CAMERAS ON THE SURFACE!



surgeon fish

The digital screen allows the camera to be used at arms length, so you can still be aware of what is going on around you.  Your photograph will be exactly what is on the easily visible screen....almost.  One annoying aspect of this camera is the delay between pressing the shutter and the photo being captured.  To start with it is very easy to record a lot of fish tails.  Simply delete them from memory and try again.  With a little practice it is sometimes possible to pre-guess the fishes movements and shoot before the fish swims into frame.
Cropped & resized only 
Click for full size, original image
  Approx. depth 8m


barracuda
Taking photos of large groups rather than individuals is another way to avoid the shutter delay problem.  You must get close or else the final picture may be faded. 

There are software options available to enhance your photos such as After Shot from Jasc Software.

barracuda
Resized only 
Click for larger images
  Approx. depth 22m
Resized & After Shot software
Click for larger images


coral trout
For me, one of the design faults with the dimage x is that every time the camera is switched off the flash reverts to auto mode.  In Auto mode there are some instance that the camera has enough light and so the flash does not fire.  Underwater the flash is needed almost every time, to restore lost colours.  You must remember to switch to fill flash every time the camera is switched on.  Another common problem is not allowing the flash to recharge between shots, preventing it from firing.  No flash will result in blue, washed out pictures.
Flash failed to fire
Click for larger images
  Approx. depth 16m


soft corals.
Stationary objects are the easiest to photograph.  Choose a subject that has as much sunlight as possible, the shallower the better.  Check that your position does not block this natural light, make sure the fill flash is on, get as close as possible without damaging anything and shoot.
Cropped & resized only
Click for larger images
  Approx. 6m


octopus
This octopus photo was taken at the same time as another photographer was snapping and is the best quality image that I captured.  I assume that by luck I benefited from his sea&sea strobe.  To get good quality pictures a strobe is a must, but they are expensive and prevent the camera from fitting into a bcd pocket.  Maybe a good dive torch would be a compromise?  Some Sea & Sea strobes (YS25 DX & YS90 DX) can be fitted to the Minolta housing via the tripod screw, they are fired with the cameras internal flash, linked to the strobe via an external fibre optic cable.  Again the camera must be set to fill flash or sometimes the strobe will not fire.
Cropped & resized only
Click for larger images
  Approx. depth 14m


nudibranch
The Dimage X will take close up pictures such as these nudibranch.  However it is difficult to avoid camera shake, resulting in a slight blurring.   A tripod or resting the hosing on a rock could be a great help.  If resting on a rock (never coral) ensure that you are not damaging anything living and that you will not damage the housing on sharp edges. 

When I bought the camera I was informed that an adapter would become available enabling Sea & Sea lenses / filters to be fitted to the housing.  Maybe a macro lens would improve things? 

Cropped, resized & After Shot software
Click for larger images
  Approx. depth 10m


sting ray Have a look in diving books and magazines to find out what pictures capture your eye.  I thought Helmut Debelius had an interesting photo of a blue spotted ray and so I copied his idea.
Resized only 
Click for larger image
  Approx. depth 16m


cheat If you have tried your best and still have nothing to show your friends, simply pick a good fish guide and take your photos from there!! 
(Pick a bright day and avoid using the flash for better results...........!?!!?...)

  In the bar......

CONCLUSION

Overall I am very pleased with this equipment, even allowing for its short fallings with the shutter delay and the auto flash.  It added something new to the diving experience and could easily be the first step into an expensive hobby....  A strobe costs £400 and upwards, a conversion adapter for sea & sea lenses is now available for approx. £50, macro lens £100, wide angle £200.

As it was built by Minolta to fit into a Minolta housing maybe they could have included underwater settings to filter the colours and ensure flash.  Some other manufacturers also include a macro setting.

Since taking these pictures I have found the online Canon Guide To Digital Underwater Photography.  This has many tips for getting better digital pictures.

dimage flash Sea&Sea Accessories dimage x lens






e-mail: S. Free
 
 

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