Cutting-costs in Underwater Photography

Underwater Photography can be fascinating, and a very expensive affair as well. For enthusiasts, few articles talk about how one can reduce costs when dabbling in an activity as rewarding (and at times, frustrating!) as photographing under water. Most will resources over the web will tell you which camera and housing to choose and stop at that.

A complex yet accessible activity, it can demand a great level of investment. However, if you’re looking at cutting costs and making it a relatively cheater act, here’s how you could go ahead with it:

  1. Rent: – NOT Buy: That’s perhaps the smartest way for cost-cutting. At least until you’re very sure you want to convert it from a pastime to a full-time profession and eventually even begin selling some prints. From renting equipment such as lenses, strobe, cords, underwater lights to renting the boat you’ll be taking out to the waterfront, think rent in a big way – unless you wish to be bombarded with expensive repair bills!
  2. Location: Begin photographing in your friend’s own swimming pool, there’s so much exploration to do without shelling out much. Unless your travel expenses are being paid for, or you’re anyway planning to holiday somewhere close to a water body, it doesn’t make sense to go out all the way to a place.
  3. Research Well if Purchasing: While GoPro, Olympus and Nikon offer both high-end options as well as ones that are relatively affordable. Here are a few options to begin on the cheap. An important consideration would be to choose between a compact or a DSLR. If instant results and less fussiness is your high on your agenda, I suggest go with the compact. Look for ones with good housing deals also.
  4. DIY Accessories: For those willing to take the risk of their shiny new toys getting damaged, there are plenty of options available. A very popular protective DIY tip would be to mask your camera into a condom, besides more options like waterproof bags and smaller DIY tanks to hold your camera in place underwater.

When to Invest More?

I’d say begin cheap and low-profile, particularly if you’re a novice. A decent digital camera with cheap housing that can focus down to macro should do the trick for you. A simple point and shoot can give satisfactory results in the beginning.

However, after you’ve picked up the dos’ and don’ts, understood full manual controls including the fundamentals of photography, it might be problematic to use a simple point and shoot with no manual controls. It’s then that you can make the switch and begin in investing equipment if higher calibre, and quality. You might even begin to require more equipment as you understand this field of photography better. Nowadays, with the changes in digital cameras going as fast as they do, you probably will want to do more research. Renting can be kept to minimum, and buying can become a serious option.

A lot also depends on your underwater experience and how good are you as a diver. Taking a sagging bulk of equipment without even knowing how to maintain sturdiness will be a rather silly thing to do.


Hence, shooting underwater more than twice or thrice gives you sufficient experience in what your needs ultimately are. Investing a few $30-$60 weekends can make a great impact on your decisions. Alternatively, if traveling out, it’ll be worthwhile to inquire about renting underwater photography gear at a dive shop nearby. You can see how chasing fish with a camera feels like!


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