June 2021 // The Children Edition




Before we talk about lenses, we need to discuss ports, which are the glass or acrylic windows in your housing that allow the lens to shoot through. There are two types: flat or dome. Flat ports are just like a lens filter in that they are flat and fit the end of your lens allowing the camera to see out. They are low profile and fairly cheap, but they do magnify your lens focal length by about 25% due to the refraction of water. If you’re using a flat port, make sure you know that your lens will automatically be zoomed in by about 1/4 once you’re under the water. Dome ports on the other hand are spherical, kind of like a half globe, that fit onto your housing and allow your lens to shoot through. They actually correct for the refraction of water, meaning that your lens’ focal length stays the same above and below the surface. They also push the water away from the lens, allowing you to take shots both above and below simultaneously which can be very cool. Dome ports are much more expensive than flat ports, but the investment is worthwhile. So, back to lenses! Most rules of dry photography apply here in terms of lens choice. If you’re shooting full body then you want a wider lens and if you’re shooting headshots, a longer lens is preferable. But—and this is a big but—when shooting underwater we need to take the water quality into account, which is to say that if the water is not very clear you need to be closer to the subject to get a crisper image. It’s like shooting in a smoky room, and the closer you get to the subject the less smoke there is between you. Sometimes we need a wider lens so we can move closer to the subject, which is not something you’d do on land. With this in mind, I prefer to shoot with a 16-35mm lens with a dome port (no magnification) as it gives me a nice wide focal length for full body or to push in closer if the water is dirty, and it gives me a wonderful headshot focal length for those closer and more intimate shots.

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