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Karin Brussaard : April 11th 2008 - 10:25 CET

Underwater photography with the Sea&Sea 860G

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Sea & SeaUnderwater photography with the Sea&Sea 860G : Sea&Sea is a leader in the world of underwater photography for many years now. Numerous underwater photographers have started with Sea&Sea cameras like the MMII and the MX10. At the time digital photography made its appearance Sea&Sea launched a new analogue camera in the market, the MMIII. This camera unfortunately never had the chance to prove itself. Shortly after this introduction the first underwater housing for a digital camera from Ricoh got introduced. Nowadays Sea&Sea produce their own cameras. The Sea&Sea 860G is a compact and light weighted 6.2 Megapixel digital camera with a 2.5-inch LCD monitor. I have tested the Sea&Sea 860G camera together with the DX860G underwater housing during a dive in The Netherlands.
Sea&Sea 860G

Sea & Sea 860G digital camera
The monitor is bright and clear and the settings are rendered very well so people with a lesser sight will also be able to read the settings underwater effortlessly. The camera is equipped with a 3x optical zoom with a range of 35-105mm (equivalent of a 35mm camera). The macro mode is available from 5cm and the pictures are astonishingly sharp. The white balance offers manual adjustment and it is also possible to select one of the preset white balance settings such as Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Tungsten and Sunset. ISO values are available from 100 up and including 400 ISO.

Sea&Sea digital camera

Making underwater videos with the Sea&Sea digital camera
Besides that the camera offers a video function. Movies with a resolution of 640x480 pixels (VGA) are available with 24 frames per second. The camera does not offer too many settings. The advantage of the limited amount is that you do not have to worry about settings when photographing underwater. On the other hand it might be a disadvantage for the photographer who likes to play with a lot of different settings. It is a piece of cake to operate the Sea&Sea 860G digital camera and it strikes me that the photos are of extremely good quality despite of the limited setting possibilities.

Sea&Sea DX860G

Sea&Sea DX860G underwater housing
The Sea & Sea DX860G underwater housing has been made of polycarbonate and is waterproof up to a depth of 45 meters. The housing is equipped with a mount for a wide angle lens that offers an angle of view similar to a 20mm lens and a close-up lens that enables focusing as close as 5cm from the camera and at the same time enlarges the object. I had both lenses at my disposal while testing and they both worked fine. It is possible to change them underwater thus enabling shooting flabellinas and landscapes in one dive. No vignetting was visible. The lenses are also suitable for photography on land but then vignetting is apparent.

Sea&Sea underwater housing

Sea&Sea underwater housing
Besides the mount the camera features a connection for an optical cable to connect a Sea&Sea external flash to the camera. A built-in diffuser is available for soft pictures with less dirt when using the internal flash. I found out that when using an external flash the latter is insufficient to block the light and it is necessary to block the flash. Finally a hot shoe is available for attaching a guide light to the housing. All buttons needed underwater can be operated on the underwater housing. The shutter release button of the housing works perfect. Some cameras let you take a picture when you are not even aware of taking it because it is not easy to regulate the release button. Luckely, this is not the case with the Sea&Sea 860G. Focusing is easy by pressing the shutter release button half-way down, deciding your composition and then pressing the button completely down.

YS27DX underwater flash

YS27DX digital underwater flash
The Sea&Sea YS27DX digital underwater flash came with the test set. This flash has a guide number of 20 (on land with ISO set to 100) and an angle of view of 105x84 degrees. It is waterproof up to a depth of 60 meters. The flash functions well with this set, and also works well with the close-up lens, the wide angle lens and without lens adapter converter. The flash can be adjusted in 9 steps enabling the photographer to adjust the right amount of light. It is easy to operate this button even when wearing thick gloves. Four AA batteries have to be inserted in the YS27DX and the flash is recharged within 2 seconds (NiMH batteries) and ready to take the next picture. The flash has to be attached to the housing by means of a light arm. This offers the possibility of positioning the flash on different spots, above or alongside the camera, depending on the object and the amount of dust in the water.

Underwater photography

Underwater photography with the Sea&Sea 860G
I must admit that I am very impressed by this set. Certainly because of its relatively cheap price. It is compact and light weighted and easy to use for the scuba diver who does not require too many settings on his camera. The pictures are sharp and well exposed. Using lens adapter converters the camera is suitable for all sorts of objects and the lens does not have to be selected in advance because lenses can be changed underwater.

Underwater housing

Sea&Sea 860G review conclusion
++ Excellent price/quality ratio
++ Easy to operate
++ Sharp pictures
++ Compact en light weighted

-- Limited amount of setting possibilities

Sea&Sea 860G Underwater photos


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