The Jacques Cousteau Studio Camera

on July 26, 2016

As a person who does not swim, either regularly or well, and who has never taken a camera underwater at any time. I feel I am perfectly qualified to review the products from Nauticam.

They were shown at the recent photo Live Expo 2016, though not in their native element. To be fair, it would have been a bit much to expect the Novotel Langley Hotel to provide a 20 metre tank in their functions room, and even taking the cameras to the restrooms and plunging them into toilets would probably not go down well with the cleaning staff.

So in the end, they were displayed out on dry tables, with a variety of housings, lights, and accessories. The visual effect was stunning.

Now photographers are nearly all gadgeteers, and you don't get much gadget-ier than underwater photography. You need to insure that the camera and flash are sealed away from the water perfectly. You need to make sure that electricity can flow undisturbed. You need to keep the camera below the surface of the waves with enough weight to let it be neutral and not fight its way up or down. And on top of this you need to be able to operate tiny knobs and buttons while your own hands are encases in gloves or fighting off giant squid.

I know these things - I've seen the movies of Captain Nemo.

Witness, therefore the profusion of clips, handles, knobs, and struts on the Nautical equipment. Buried inside each of the large housings is a modern digital camera and surrounding it is O-rings, seals, pressure glands, and feeler arms. There is bound to be a way of doing nearly everything that a dry camera does, but it will be done with larger controls.

Note the twin lights on some models - it is dim down there and extra light is a must for any successful action filming. The modern-day LED light chip is as much an advance over tungsten bulbs as was the strobe light tube over flashbulb guns.

The modern performance cameras that run at ISO's over 1600 must be a boon to the underwater shooter. That and autofocus mechanisms that can be depended upon to cope with movement and tricky lighting situations. The fact that they can also cope with these things on ' dry ' land under rainy conditions is a bonus.

One odd thing - I remember in the dear old Minolta and Nikons days that many of the camera systems were coloured bright yellow or orange - presumably so that they could be seen in the dim blue underwater - not the Nauticam units - they are dark colours - perhaps they do not want to scare off the fish or submarines. Ah, but you do get to go bright if you use an iPhone 6...