If you want to dive down a little farther, the Panasonic Lumix TS4 has a depth rating of 40 feet. In addition to a manual shooting mode that gives you full control over aperture and shutter speed, there’s a Time Lapse Shot mode, which you operate by setting the start time, interval and number of photos to shoot. A nifty LED light helps brighten up those shadowy underwater environments. The light automatically turns on when ambient light becomes dim. List Price: $399.
Also capable of going down to 40 feet is the Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS, which has a 16-megapixel sensor, higher than the 12-megapixel Olympus and Pentax models. The camera features a three-inch LCD with 460,000-dot resolution and full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps. In Digital Microscope mode, six LED macro lights around the lens barrel provide brighter light for shooting close-ups. The lights also deliver a clear, magnified view of the LCD screen. List Price: $399.
INTO THE DEEP
For scuba divers who are planning to really test their camera’s sea legs, a custom waterproof housing is what’s needed for doing serious work beneath the waves. Custom housings allow you full control of the camera, and they’re waterproof to hundreds of feet below the surface. Sync terminals let you use an underwater flash system, and you should consider using a cover for the lens port, as it’s the most fragile part of the housing.
Aquatica produces aluminum housings for select Canon, Nikon and Sony models. Top features include a standard depth rating of more than 300 feet, full and easy access to all camera controls, as well as an ergonomic design for comfortable handling. An internal flip lever controls the camera’s built-in flash so you can quickly alternate between working with it and with the natural light. For the Nikon D7000 housing, the lens release was designed as a single multifunction lever for easy locking and unlocking of the port. Another helpful shooting feature is the Aqua View Finder, which offers the kind of precise viewing needed for sharp focus and exacting composition. Estimated Street Price: $2,940 (Canon EOS 7D); $2,939 (Nikon D7000).
Sea&Sea makes DSLR housings for Canon and Nikon bodies. Each model in the MDX series is precision-machined from an aluminum block and then black-anodized for corrosion protection. A snug design keeps the housing compact and lightweight for better maneuvering and ease of use. The main dial and quick control dial are easy to access, while shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted without removing your hand from the grip. A built-in leak sensor alerts you to any water leakage. For the Canon EOS 7D, the shutter lever was redesigned to let you push from the top or pull from the front, as well as offering a smooth option for adjusting the autofocus by pressing the button halfway down. This allows you to take quick shots and avoid motion blur. Estimated Street Price: $3,799 (Canon EOS 7D); $2,999 (Nikon D7000).
Another higher-end option worth considering is Ikelite, which makes clear polycarbonate housings rated to a depth of 200 feet. The durable, corrosion-free cases are shaped to fit the camera, with controls provided through the housing for nearly all functions. The Ikelite housing for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III delivers built-in, hard-wired true Canon eTTL2 metering with an underwater strobe. The camera’s built-in flash doesn’t need to fire, providing extended battery life and no lag between exposures. When using Ikelite’s DS Substrobes, exposure can be adjusted through the back of the housing with two push buttons. Settings are clearly illuminated with LED lights. List Price: $1,600 (Canon EOS 5D Mark III).