Underwater photography by Andy Kirkland

Compact or DSLR ?

I drafted this back in March, but didn’t get around to publishing it. I’m including it here now for completeness

The first choice to make is whether you should choose a Digital SLR (“DSLR“) camera or a Digital Compact (“DCC“).

A year or two ago, this was an easy choice, as DLSRs cost over £1,000 and the housings cost about the same.
Different lenses for DSLRs will cost £200-300, and each may need a “port” for the housing.
Nowadays, however, the camera cost has dropped dramatically, so the main investment is in the housing.
But remember that the housing will probably only fit one camera model, so if you buy one of these cameras, make sure you get a spare before the range is discontinued …

If you’re starting out, then a DCC is much more straightforward and costs much less when it needs replacing.
While you’re learning, it’s probably best to minimise task loading and start out with something easy. The best of these cameras will let you start out in “point and shoot”, but will give you the flexibility to use the more advanced functionality as you gain experience.

However, the manufacturers are now building these down to a price, and leaving out some functionality which is pretty key to underwater photography – some would say that this is to encourage DSLR sales – so the “prosumer” market of 2 – 4 years ago barely exists now. We’re probably seeing the last few cameras which meet these requirements being produced now.

I’ve only worked with DCCs up until now, so that’s what these pages will address.

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