Top Tips for Underwater Photographers in Dubai
Underwater photography is without a doubt one of the most exhilarating, satisfying & dynamic forms of creative videomaking. A niche discipline that only a minority of videographers truly understand how to properly approach and thus to perform well in and get the desired shots. Whilst underwater photography can be as simple as ‘point & shoot’, the inherent barriers to entry of this niche discipline (i.e. how to not get my camera wet) often deter would-be enthusiasts from pursuing this form of photography any further. When just starting out & getting into underwater photography the typical questions arise… which camera should I use? Which lens should I be using? And the most common question of all, which underwater housing is best? It is this last question which we are going to address in this article.
As you can see in the video above, we currently use the Outex underwater housing for all our underwater photography, whether we are in the pool or filming water sports & wildlife out in the open ocean. We have been using the Outex housing for about 3 years now and I have to say that, personally, I am super happy with the product. So, let’s delve a little deeper into the reasons why I initially chose to buy the Outex underwater housing and why I continue to use it to this day…
5 Reasons why I Use
It’s cheap, relatively speaking. Compared to its competitors, the Outex underwater housing is very affordable, costing approximately a third of what you would expect to pay on any traditional ‘hard-shell’ housings. It is great value for money, lightweight, easy to travel with & extremely durable, a much more convenient & affordable option when compared to most of the mega-expensive housings currently on the market.
It fits ANY camera
One of the major strengths of the Outex housing is that it is extremely ductile, meaning that it can house almost any camera body. This helps to ensure first-time buyers that they are opting for an underwater housing that they know will fit their current camera and almost any other camera, should they choose to change bodies in the future. I currently use the GH5 & initially I was really struggling to find a housing that was designed for this camera. There was (and still is) an entire fleet of hard-shell housings made for Sony, Nikon & Canon cameras, but almost none specifically engineered for the GH5. The Outex housing not only works perfectly with my GH5, but I know it is also compatible with all these other brands, should I choose to change body further down the line.
Its Easy Use
One of my first thoughts when I started to shop around for underwater housings was ‘damn, these things look like you need a degree to operate them’. Not only this, but they look super bulky & just generally difficult to use. I’m sure the hard-shell housings from the likes of Nauticam and Sea & Sea are relatively easy to use once you get the hang of them, but with the Outex housing it was just like using my camera out of the water, apart for the fact that I was getting soaked whilst my camera stayed bone dry. The Outex housing is easy to put on, straightforward to use, and I honestly get the desired results almost every time I use it.
It is Versatile
Whilst housings are typically used for underwater photography & filming, it is important here to point out that the Outex housing can be used in a host of different extreme environmental settings. I live in Dubai, for example, and I often have to shoot out in the desert with strong winds and the like. I often use the Outex housing to film car shoots, saving myself a lot of hassle from getting my camera covered in sand. Because it is lightweight and easy to travel with, it is a handy companion which can be used out of the water whenever you want to protect your camera from the elements.
The Results Speaks for Themselves
I am super happy with the shots & footage I have captured when using my Outex housing, particularly when shooting water sports. It is easy to use, and I can always jump back to the beach or to the side of the pool and fit another lens to mix it up. That’s what I like about this housing. It adapts to you, not the other way around. I can use my GH5 with any one of my lenses, and this not only makes life easier but also saves me money in the long run. I also like that the case floats, so I can sometimes rest it on the surface of the water, whilst I tread water, safe in the knowledge that it is not going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. That being said, it also is super easy to submerge and swim with. The only thing is that you can’t go any deeper than 33ft (10 metres) so yes, if I was looking for a housing to take my camera on deep dives with me then I would look for an alternative. But, deep dives aside, the Outex housing is without a doubt one of the most affordable, easy to use, and versatile underwater housings on the market today.
Our Top Ten Tips for when using your OUTEX underwater housing
- The OUTEX housings are extremely malleable & ductile, allowing you to change in-camera settings such as white balance, colour profile, frame rate, etc whilst in the water. However, it always helps you save time if you set your camera to the correct settings you want to shoot in before you put your camera in the housing. SIDENOTE: You can also use the touchscreen of your monitor through the housing, simply by pushing your finger onto the flexible housing and then onto the touchscreen. Quite a handy feature if you ask me!
- Make sure you have a fully charged battery inside your camera BEFORE putting it into the housing, and make sure you flip your camera monitor so that you can see what you are filming. A few times I have taken my time to put the case on perfectly, only to enter the water and realise I have forgotten to flip my monitor (on the GH5). Having to come out of the water to fix this simple problem wastes time that could have otherwise been spent shooting.
- Make sure your camera lens is clean, as well as your OUTEX lens adapter, before putting your camera in the housing. This will help to ensure you get clearer shots.
- Make sure your OUTEX housing is completely dry before using it. This will help to reduce the likelihood of fog or condensation occurring inside the housing and obstructing your view to your camera monitor.
- Don’t worry too much about the rubber housing ‘snapping’ whilst putting your camera inside. I have stretched the housing a lot when I have been in a rush to put the camera inside quickly and I can tell you, the housing is extremely ductile & strong. The Outex housing is made from some pretty sturdy stuff!
- Use Clarifii water repellent solution on your front lens adapter when filming as this will repel water on the surface of the adapter and reduce the likelihood of water droplets ruining your shot. This is particularly useful when filming in saltwater either at or above the surface, as droplets can form on the lens. Use a water repellent solution reduces the chance of this happening.
- When shooting in salt water and just before you are about to take your shot, sometimes it can be useful to dip the camera in the water and take a quick look at the lens to make sure there is no residual water left on it. I find this normally works, but if you have to then you can also aggressively blow a puff of air onto the front lens in order to disperse any additional water that is still resting on the front lens. This can become an issue if filming in saltwater particularly in hot weather, as the water can evaporate thus leaving salt crystals to form on the lens. Dipping the lens into the water and making sure you don’t hold the camera out the water for extended periods of time solves this problem easily.
- Use a wide angle lens and get close to the action! Remember – the closer you are, the better your color, contrast and sharpness will be. Try to “fill the frame” with your subject. I do a lot of kitesurfing shoots and I have typically used my 12-35mm Leica G lens on the GH5, filming in 4K at 60fps. I have actually just bought the 120mm dome with the 67mm adapter so that I can use my 8-18mm wide angle lens… I must say, I am really looking forward to using this set up!
- Sometimes I prefer to shot in 180 fps on the GH5, particularly if filming professional freestyle kitesurfers who are performing very quick & dynamic trick sin the air. The ability to slow these down in post is fantastic and makes for some epic footage. However, with the GH5 you cannot autofocus when filming in such a low frame rate. Whilst you can obviously manipulate your focal length through the Outex housing it is not super easy to do this really quickly as your hand can slip on the rubber casing, etc. As such, I would advise when filming in manual always ensure you have the correct focal length set up prior to the shot. I sometimes use a buoy or even the surface of the water to set focus to the desired distance, before recording the shot I’m looking to get.
- Remember that this housing is super versatile and is not just limited for using to capture underwater shots. I have also used the housing for desert shoots and in the rain, etc. If you don’t want your camera getting super dusty or sandy, wet or damaged in any way, then just stick it in the housing and off you go!
This article was written by Lew. He is an accomplished & internationally experienced underwater photographer, filming mostly water sports brands and athletes. He uses the Panasonic GH5 with the Outex Pro Kit, most often shooting with the 8-18mm Leica G lens.