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It’s best to start with the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—How to Introduce Yourself to Underwater Photography. It will help you decide if you want to try underwater photography, and recommends that, for your first time, you purchase a single-use, waterproof compact camera to learn the basics and keep the cost low. If you’ve experienced underwater photography a few times and think you’re ready to spend money on equipment, then this article will help you make a wise decision.
Essentially, you have two primary options for underwater digital photography: shoot with a camera made to be submerged in water or use the standard compact or DSLR camera you already own in a waterproof housing.
Option #1: Underwater Digital Cameras
Since underwater photography is such a specialty, the camera manufacturers consider it a minor portion of their business. This means most underwater digital cameras don’t have all the features or as much resolution as the popular models that are the major portion of manufacturers’ business. There has been progress, however, as there are a number of underwater digital point-and-shoot cameras.
Option #2: Underwater Housings
You’ve probably seen underwater photographers and filmmakers on TV, holding a glass-and-metal container in which their camera is sealed and protected from the water. You can use the same method with your digital camera. You may be leery about exposing your digital camera (regardless of what you paid for it) to water, especially seawater, even inside a housing. The pros have been relying on these housings for decades and bringing home spectacular underwater footage from distant and remote places; so don’t worry.
If you decide to purchase an underwater camera housing, then, in most cases, you’ll have to buy the housing that is specifically made for your camera model. Ikelite is one company that offers a large selection of housings for specific cameras. It is also the maker of an underwater camera, flash units and accessories. Nikon film and digital cameras and lenses and Olympus' digital cameras can be protected underwater with aluminum housings from Nexus; while Nikon, Canon and Fuji DSLR cameras fit in Subal housings.
Most underwater housings are rigid structures, but Ewa-Marine has developed a protector that looks more like a plastic bag. Once your camera is inside, you simply attach the bag’s glass filter to your lens. Its advantages are flexibility and cost, as Ewa-Marine products tend to be less expensive than glass-and-metal housings. You must also match these “plastic bag” housings to your camera model.
The final option to consider is to rent any of this underwater digital camera equipment before you buy it. Even though the rental option will cost you some money, it will be cheaper than buying expensive equipment that becomes underutilized because you quickly lost interest in underwater digital photography.