Canon G1x and Ikelite underwater housing
When the G1x was released I posed a question on this forum about whether it would give me the same image quality as my housed Olympus DSLR for underwater photography. As the camera was just released there was little practical experience, but the consensus was that it should.
The idea of a fixed lens compact that didn't need separate ports and gears for each lens was appealing. The two housings I considered were the Canon DC-WP44 and the Ikelite housing.
The Canon housing is less expensive and smaller. The Ikelite allows for wired sync on external strobes and has the WD-4 external dome, to provide wider angle underwater. Due to the underwater 1.3 index of refraction, the G1x lens has an effective field of view 37mm behind a flat port. The WD-4 restores the field of view to 28mm
As I already have two Ikelite strobes, I paid the price for the Ikelite housing plus the WD-4 dome. I already owed a +6 diopter from an older system and an adapter that fit the Ikelite port.
I finally got to try all this out in Bonaire this past November
The first few dives were devoted to learning the housing controls and finding work arounds for some controls that did not work properly at depth, though on the surface were fine. I finally was able to get the housing to work predictably on the third dive with the camera set at 28mm (equivalent) and the wide angle dome. Camera set on aperture priority.
I had no success with the close up lens. I had to move so close to subjects before the image on the screen was defined enough to compose a shot, that I scared away pretty much everything I tried to approach. Even Christmas tree worms. Perhaps with practice I could do better, but I have been shooting macro underwater for several years with a DSLR and 105mm macro lens with no problems.
Another issue with the G1x is the lag when using external flash. The camera flash is pretty much instant, but when using an external flash there is nearly a 1 second lag after the shutter is triggered before the flash fires. I can live with the lack of TTL when using manual exposure, but that lag was a surprise, and makes no sense to me on such a sophisticated camera.
Though not the fault of the camera , I discovered you cannot use high shutter speed coupled with a small apertures (1/250 + f11) Underwater this is done to allow only the flash to expose the subject while the background goes dark. The problem is the LCD also goes dark and you can’t see. (This is normally done on macro shots which I couldn't do anyway)
I still like the G1x for everyday ( dry ) photography.
Though its great travel camera with DSLR image quality, the flash lag and lack of useful macro (even with a +6 lens) makes the G1x a poor tool,at least for me, for underwater photography.
If anyone has any work arounds or suggestions to solve these problems I would appreciate hearing about them. Otherwise, its back to a DSLR and all the gears and ports for my next trip.
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