Sealife DC2000 Review

Started Aug 20, 2017 | Discussions
RussellP Senior Member • Posts: 2,409
Sealife DC2000 Review
15

Introduction

This is a partial review of the Sealife DC2000 camera only. I have not been able to test it underwater and won’t do so until October when I head off to the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia for a week. I have used information from various web reviews and the manual to complement my observations and will include links to those reviews were appropriate. I will update in October.

My requirement was for a “rugged” camera to complement my Nikon Cooplix A and Nikon V1 and lenses. I have 4MP canon A520 and underwater housing that I have owned since 2004 which is what I have been using to date. However a 1.8” screen coupled with deteriorating vision and the overall bulk led me to deciding on a new camera that did not require a housing and was suitable for snorkelling, boating, occasional kayaking and hiking and of course had a bigger screen.

Prior to discovering the existence of the DC2000 I was looking at getting the Olympus TG-5 but was hesitant due to the small sensor. The DC2000 is normally bundled with the 40m housing for divers. The “inner” camera only is waterproof to 18m which is plenty for me. The price of the bundle at $US699 was too high for me and I couldn’t find any way to purchase just the camera. An email to Sealife clarified that the camera could in fact be bought by itself as spare parts. This is not obvious so for anyone interested here is a link.

http://www.sealifepartsdirect.com/list.php?action=accessoryPage&model=DC2000

The camera itself is $US398 less than the TG-5 although you will need to buy battery and usb cable. To all intents it is about the same price.

Interestingly it looks like you can purchase almost the complete $699 bundle for $549 as spare parts including the housing.

The Camera

The DC2000 is a small compact camera with a 20MP sony CMOS 1” sensor and a fixed 31mm equiv f1.8 lens 7 elements multi-coated aspheric with mechanical 7 leaf shutter. You can get all the detailed specs at Sealife. The body is mostly metal and rated shockproof to 5ft or 1.5m. Its temperature rated from -18deg C to 50deg C. its every bit a modern rugged camera.

http://www.sealife-cameras.com/cameras/dc2000

The lens apertures go to f11 in 1/3 increments. PC Mag Australia did a review and tested lens sharpness. The lens looks suitably sharp from f1.8 to f8 but dropping substantially at f11. F2.8 is the sharpest stop. You can check that review here.

http://au.pcmag.com/consumer-electronics-reviews-ratings/48256/review/sealife-dc2000

The camera has the full array of PASM settings plus 4 underwater modes and 3 built in underwater correction filters. There are also auto scene and manual scene modes as well as panorama. The PASM dial is quite firm and it would be very difficult to accidently change it. When you select the underwater mode on the dial the last underwater settings you used are selected. Snorkel scene mode automatically sets the shallow water filter and max ISO of 800. The camera can focus to 4” or 10cm in macro mode and there is a useful infinity focus setting that focus’s from 3ft (1m) to infinity.

Other features are: Shoots jpg and RAW(.dng), Mechanical shutter 15 sec to 1/2000, Exposure compensation, Timelapse, Continuous and burst shooting (in jpg), 3” 920k LCD, Wifi, GIF capture, Geotagging, Micro SD storage up to 64gb, CCD shift OIS (video), Exposure bracketing, 1080p 60fps video, Battery life rated at 200+ or 2hrs+ video one site said 292 pictures.

In the Hand

The camera is small and compact and very well made. It’s not overtly heavy but has a solid heft to it. The grip is ideal and the camera is easy to hold. The thumb sits nicely around the PASM dial which as previously noted is quite still so won’t move unless you want it to (The sealife image of the camera can be deceptive but there is definitely a nice grip there).

The shutter button and the navigation control have a touch more travel in them than normal (for underwater use no doubt) but it’s easy to get used to it. The other buttons have a nice firm click to them.

The strap connector is solid and provides the opportunity to attach any number of clips or straps to it. I would say you could attach a lanyard with clip to hang around your neck or clips to attach to pack straps or a belt.

The battery is quite small and slips in easily. It’s a bit trickier to get out as it doesn’t pop that far out when released. However even with my stubby fingers I managed. The micro SD card is also fiddly to get in and out but not overly so. I found it easier to plug the camera in to my laptop rather than remove the micro sd card, insert it into its sd holder and then re-insert into the camera once I had downloaded the pictures.

The camera has in built usb charging. You can buy an external charger. As a camera primarily to take on holidays and outdoors the in camera charging means one less charger to take so I don’t mind it.

The door to the battery/card door has 2 buttons to release it. This can be done one handed but you couldn’t do it accidentally. It’s a firm push and click of the top button to re-lock.

The camera seems to turn on quickly, no doubt helped by not having the lens already in place.

I could fit the camera in my jeans pocket quite easily although there is a slight bulge from the lens. The camera is not super slim but it’s not super think either.

In use

Focus- The camera focuses quite quickly. Sealife says its 0.1s and one review says 0.25s. Some reviews say it’s slow. When I half depressed the shutter focus was locked in less time than I could say “one” so that was quick enough for me. There are the usual 3 focus options (and exposure), multi, centre weighted and spot. I left it in multi but will try the others. There is a macro mode and an infinity mode which seems to be some sort of hyperfocal thing were its in focus from 1m to infinity. I tried this and it seems to work fine.

RAW-JPG settings – There aren’t many! You can set the camera to jpg normal, fine or superfine or you can set it to RAW + jpg. RAW files are 40mb dng files. One review says the write time is 6s. I did a quick (and rough) check with my iphone stopwatch and some poor coordination with camera in one hand and phone in the other. I got a rough 7s so I think the 6s is right. It doesn’t seem that long in real life. Continuous shooting only works in jpg. Note there are no other jpg settings. You can’t adjust the default jpg settings other than compression. No vivid, no sharpen etc.

ISO – ISO starts at 125 and goes up in the usual increments to some ridiculous number. There is an auto ISO and you can set the maximum ISO at any of the usual levels. There is NO minimum shutter speed setting for auto ISO. This will affect how you use the camera. The OK button can be set for a number of shortcut options. I set the OK button to ISO so it’s very quick and easy to push the ok button and change the ISO manually.

LCD Screen – The screen is a 3” 920k LCD screen. I took it out on a bright winter’s day and had no problem seeing the screen. There are 3 display setting and found the middle one quite adequate. Shutter speed, aperture and ISO are displayed. The 3 option which is the most complex has a histogram.

Menus – menus are straight forward and fairly basic. They are simple to use.

Shooting Modes – I usually use aperture priority (A) and leave the camera set on the sharpest aperture unless I need to change it. When A is set you give the OK button a short press and then use the up down buttons to adjust. I found that in A the camera will drop the shutter speed down to low levels rather than increase ISO. It does display a “shaky hand” symbol but will still use a slow shutter speed rather than bump up the ISO to any more than 200 or 400. Possibly it’s set for predominantly landscape photography but a minimum shutter speed setting in the ISO would have helped a lot here. As long as you see what the shutter speed is you can deal with this by manually adjusting the ISO. This is quite quick if you set the Ok button to ISO shortcut. When in Aperture, Shutter and manual modes the Ok button serves two purposes. There is a short button push to adjust aperture (and shutter in shutter priority and both in manual) and a long button push to engage the shortcut ISO menu. Shutter priority (S) works the same as A except the up down buttons change the shutter. In manual mode you change the aperture, then push OK again to adjust the shutter. The EV is shown in white if you are within 2EV of the right exposure or red if you are more than 2 EV out. In S the camera will drop the aperture down to 1.8 before going up above ISO 400 to whatever maximum you have set. My conclusion is that as long as it’s a reasonably bright day the A is fine but if it’s a bit dark it would be best to switch to S or M.

There is also a Program mode which is more like an Auto mode with the ability to set EV adjustments and ISO. The camera picks the shutter speed and aperture but you can’t adjust them like you can on some cameras.

While I haven’t had the camera underwater (other than in the sink to test it worked) I have had a look at the underwater modes. When I first turned it to underwater mode on the dial it was set to Dive which had a strong red cast on the LCD, I switched it to snorkel and the cast decreased. This is the inbuilt filters. In snorkel mode exposure is automatic and the shutter only went down to 1/40 while pushing ISO up to the maximum of 800 so it works a bit better than A mode. Note that when the camera is turned off then back on it keeps previous settings. This includes scene modes, ISO setting, EV and underwater settings. So the camera is now set to snorkel mode. I like this but you do have to remember to change things back if you change something for a particular shot.

There are a bunch of scene modes that I haven’t really looked at yet. HDR, Panorama and time lapse look like they may be worth further exploration. Otherwise there is the usual suspects. There is an intelligent scene mode that selects the scene for you. I haven’t tried this yet.

Overall First Impression

Having only used the camera for a couple of days my first impressions are positive. I like the camera, it sits well in the hand, takes very good pictures and is straight forward to use. The fixed lens is what it is. It’s a nice lens and I don’t mind a fixed prime. 31mm is a nice compromise between 28 and 35. If you prefer a zoom get something else.

I quite like the jpg’s produced. They work up ok and while I use RAW on my Nikon V1 I think I will tend to use jpgs most of the time and just use RAW when the light requires it.

The lack of a minimum shutter speed setting for A mode is disappointing but easily worked around. Definitely something that could be fixed in the future.

I am pleased with my purchase. In terms of IQ for a small compact rugged waterproof camera there is nothing better (other than the Leica X-U). All the other rugged cameras have tiny sensors and the Nikon Aw1 is quite bulky and has some issues. For snorkelers, kayakers, hikers, sailors etc who want a compact rugged camera that will produce images better than the small sensor options this is a really your only option. But it’s not just its rugged capabilities, its fine on dry land and I would be happy to take this away for a holiday to the South Pacific or Caribbean as my only camera.

I will update further after my trip to New Caledonia.

More DC2000 Reviews & Manual

Here are reviews with underwater samples of the camera with its full diving setup.

http://www.divephotoguide.com/underwater-photography-special-features/article/review-sealife-dc2000-underwater-camera/

Also one with some comparisons with Sony RX100 MkIV

http://deepshots.co.uk/blog/2017/02/quick-review-sealife-dc2000-underwater-camera/

Some samples taken in an aquarium

http://www.scubadiving.com/scuba-diving-with-new-sealife-dc-2000-underwater-camera#page-16

A short review with samples

http://www.sportdiver.com/scuba-diving-with-sealifes-new-dc2000-underwater-camera-in-central-florida

A good hands on review with samples

https://alexribeiro.co/2017/03/03/958/

You can download the Manual here

http://www.sealife-cameras.com/sites/sealife/files/products/manuals/DC2000-EN.pdf

Samples

RAW vs JPG this one is the jpg. I have just done some quick auto enhance and brightness and colour slider adjustments maybe 20 seconds work to all images. Comments refer to image below.

This is the RAW version exported to jpg

This is the same scene at f1.8 and using infinity focus mode.

This is an indoor shot at ISO1600. The first is OOC and the 2nd one is heavily processed to see how the shadows behave. Its on jpg and I should have shot in RAW also but didn't.

Processed

And these are some samples on my winter walk at various f-stops

cheers

russell

-- hide signature --
 RussellP's gear list:RussellP's gear list
Nikon Coolpix A SeaLife DC2000 Sony RX100 VI Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 +1 more
Nikon 1 AW1 Olympus TG-5 Sony RX100
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
purpwaltz
purpwaltz Regular Member • Posts: 409
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review

Excellent review, Russell! Got a good sense of what the camera is about after reading it. Do you know if this is the same sensor as on the J5?

 purpwaltz's gear list:purpwaltz's gear list
Sony RX100 III Leica Q Leica D-Lux 7 Leica M Typ 240 Fujifilm X-T3 +7 more
OP RussellP Senior Member • Posts: 2,409
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review
1

I don't know for sure but Sony aren't releasing their latest sensors and this one appears to have the same specs as the J5. I would expect its the same 1" 20MP sensor Sony are selling to various camera companies.

cheers

-- hide signature --
 RussellP's gear list:RussellP's gear list
Nikon Coolpix A SeaLife DC2000 Sony RX100 VI Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 +1 more
wolfie
wolfie Veteran Member • Posts: 3,939
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review

Thanks for your vey useful review of the camera - looking forward to your further results and thoughts.

-- hide signature --

Shoot the Light fantastic
https://aucklandswoffer.wordpress.com

 wolfie's gear list:wolfie's gear list
Canon G7 X II Nikon 1 AW1 Olympus E-M5 II Olympus E-M1 II Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro +2 more
yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 13,800
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review

Very useful and interesting review. I just found out about this camera today and am giving serious thought to getting one. It is certainly an attractive alternative to the Olympus TG series for those of us who prefer a prime to a zoom.

I'd be very interested in hearing more about your experiences with the DC2000, in the water or on dry land, and of course any comments from anybody else who is using the camera.

 yardcoyote's gear list:yardcoyote's gear list
Fujifilm X10 Fujifilm X100T Fujifilm X-Pro1 Pentax K-5 IIs Fujifilm X-M1 +18 more
OP RussellP Senior Member • Posts: 2,409
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review
1

Thanks, I have used it a bit more and enjoy it. I think with some subjects the jpgs are a little bit over sharpened but it depends on the image and its easily fixed. Overall I am still happy with the jpg output.

I have tried the video shooting some 1080p 30fps. Just a bit of the cat indoors. I am not a video guy but it looks pretty good to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4UeLd_Omh8&t=17s

Otherwise mid October I'm off to the Isle of pines and looking forward to some snorkelling to give it a good try out underwater. I intend to try both jpg and Raw so will upload some pictures and comments at the end of October.

cheers

-- hide signature --
 RussellP's gear list:RussellP's gear list
Nikon Coolpix A SeaLife DC2000 Sony RX100 VI Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 +1 more
OP RussellP Senior Member • Posts: 2,409
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review
1
 RussellP's gear list:RussellP's gear list
Nikon Coolpix A SeaLife DC2000 Sony RX100 VI Nikon 1 V1 Nikon 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 +1 more
Adam Palmer Contributing Member • Posts: 700
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review

If that had 3 fps raw I would be sold.  Just the form factor sensor combo that I like

-- hide signature --
 Adam Palmer's gear list:Adam Palmer's gear list
Sony RX100 Sony a6000 Sony a7 II Sony a7R III Sony a7R IV +17 more
eonderdi New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review

After reading the reviews from RussellP I did buy a bare DC2000 in The Netherlands (Europe). I did not import it myself but Fotobooms.nl in Amsterdam did deliver it in a few days for €539,-. Other companies like kamera-express.nl did deliver a battery and a charger. RussellP's reviews are honest & complete, thanks RussellP.

 eonderdi's gear list:eonderdi's gear list
Canon IXUS 310 HS
eonderdi New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Sealife DC2000 Review

And indeed with firmware 1.08 the "Infinity" focus setting also applies to recording video. So sharp from 1 meter and more.
This together with the present AE-Lock both do mean no disruptions in the video regarding video quality and no strange sounds due to focus or aperture change. 
Pretty good from SeaLife to bring out new firmware after a few years.

 eonderdi's gear list:eonderdi's gear list
Canon IXUS 310 HS
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads