Underwater Eye Candy – the Canon G10 Again

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The fun just keeps on rolling with the new Canon G10 and it’s buddy, the WP-DC28 underwater housing. Certain types of shots seem to come out better, and I’m at a loss to find a technical explanation. All I can say is, “It just works.”

Here’s an example:

Sea Squirts (Oxycorynia fascicularis)

The above are a kind of Sea Squirt, specifically, Oxycorynia fascicularis,  as if you care. I’m sure that somebody cares, but he or she is probably not reading this. In the past, when I’d try photographing these, the green sea squirts would come out very flat looking and lifeless and no amount of post-processing with Photoshop would revive them. Now they seem more lifelike. I’ve had this same problem with certain flowers which are very monochromatic – one colour, and very saturated. The only thing that I can imagine is that the G10 has more dynamic range for each colour in the middle range of luminosity.

This starfish (Fromia milleporella)  is a good example:

Starfish (Fromia milleporella)

The gradations in the red shade spectrum are much more discernible than I’ve been able to get before.

Okay, enough technobabble. It’s probably just magic, anyway. Here is another example. The polyps on this solitary coral (Heliofungia actiniformis)  are much clearer and more three dimensional than I’ve been able to achieve before:

Solitary coral polyps (Heliofungia actiniformis)

Clicking any of the above will give more detail. I wish I could provide higher resolution shots for you to view. My standard size is 1600 pixels maximum dimension, but when I have to compress the files to get them down to around 200K a lot of detail is swallowed up by the JPG compression, so the enlarged versions don’t look nearly as good as my originals. If you ever want high-res versions, just email me and I’ll put them up or make them available to you.  Maybe someday, I’ll start a high-res page where I can put my best shots.

This is an example of a shot where no amount of camera foolery will improve the view:

Decorated Goby [possible] (Istigobius decoratus)

It is, I think, a Decorated Goby (Istigobius decoratus).  There are more Goby species than just about any other fish. My book only has about 200, a fraction of the total number. You can’t do anything to make it more visible because it’s supposed to be nearly invisible.  Taking shots of highly camouflaged critters is always a losing proposition.

Getting back to easy, reliable shots, the Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)  never disappoints:

Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)

The shot above, taken with flash, required almost no post-processing. It was a little on the green side, so I corrected for that and cleaned up the backscatter from the flash. Other than that, it is pretty much the way in came from the camera.

This shot of a Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii)  on the attack is a different story:

Clark's Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii)

The water was full of particulate matter, which I had to clean up. It was also very aqua coloured instead of blue. That’s probably a problem with white balance. Since I’m shooting in the RAW mode, I don’t have any. That’s why it’s a problem. In this case, there was quite a bit of work to do on the colours. You can see some fakey traces of it in the fins of the fish.

It’s not perfect, but It makes me grin anyway.

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10 Responses to “Underwater Eye Candy – the Canon G10 Again”

  1. More Canon G10 Underwater Goodness | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    […] showed some Sea Squirts the other day. Here is another shot of Didemnum […]

  2. sgazzetti Says:

    Gorgeous pictures! I am envious of the range of stuff and clarity of water you have to photograph where you are.

    We just got the WP-DC28 housing a few weeks ago and have been playing with it in the surf and lakes of New England, whose waters are not nearly as conducive to great pictures as your location. Still, we have been using our G-10 more and more as a replacement for our SLRs and the more we use it the more we love what it’s capable of. We especially love that with the housing on we don’t mind taking the camera on a small boat or into fine sand with little kids.

    Thanks for posting the pictures — beautiful work.

  3. MadDog Says:

    Thanks for your comment and praise. Come to Madang sometime and I’ll let you exercise your G10 out on Faded Glory. I’m a big promoter of the G10. I think it’s the Rolls-Royce of point-and-shoots. If you can live with the limited zoom range, it’s the absolute best. It’s also tough as nails. You wouldn’t believe what my G9 looks like, and it still works. I told a friend the other day that it doubles as a weapon. You could club someone unconscious with it and then take his picture! I never leave the house without my G9. I keep my G10 more or less pristine for use in the housing.

    Thanks for reading. Send my link to your friends. I’m trying to get famous.


  4. Niv Says:

    Just got the G10 and UW casing. Your photos and comments are a great reference to understand the capabilities. Got to learn quickly – going to Palau next month 🙂

    You wrote above – “…cleaned up the backscatter from the flash…”

    How did you do this?


  5. MadDog Says:

    Well, I avoid flash whenever possible and shoot in the RAW mode and then use the Adobe Camera RAW filter (download from Adobe – current version is 5.5 i think) to load the file from Bridge. Then you can adjust the tint and colour temperature and a bunch of other stuff before loading into Photoshop. This way, there is usually not so much stuff to clean up and the colours are more natural.

    If using flash, then you can clean up manually using the clone stamp tool and the spot healing tools. The noise filter “dust and scratches” might also help. At http://www.underwaterphotography.com there is a Photoshop action available for download that cleans up a lot of it. You can find it at: http://www.underwaterphotography.com/Underwater-Photoshop/default.aspx#top

    On that same site there is a complete underwater photography course.

    Any more questions? Just ask.

  6. Adam Says:

    Hey mate! Your photos are so good!
    I’m looking at getting a G10 with the housing – What else are you doing to make them look so good? I’d really appreciate it if you could give me some tips 🙂

  7. MadDog Says:

    I’d suggest that you go with the G11 instead. Though it has fewer megapixels, it has superior noise and dynamic range characteristics.

    My short list of tips for underwater shooting are:

    1. Shoot only in the RAW mode.
    2. Use Photoshop CS4, the latest Adobe Camera RAW filter, and open the folder in Adobe bridge so that you can preview the images. When you double-click an image in Bridge it will automatically open the image in the Camera RAW filter before opening it in Photoshop. In Camera RAW you can to the absolutely criticl adjustments of Tint and Colour Temperature. There are dozens of more adjustments that you can make at this stage. You want the image to look as good as possible BEFORE you get it opened in Photoshop.
    3. If you have sufficient light to shoot at a decent ISO and shutter speed, never use the flash on the camera, especially for macro shots. My best shots almost always come from available light.
    4. The Golden Rule of underwater shooting – Closer is ALWAYS Better. The less water between your lens and the subject, the better.

    That’s pretty much it, aside from a jillion little details that you can mostly work out for yourself. When you get a camera and have some shots, get back to me with specific questions and I’ll tell you what I do. There’s also a tonne of stuff on the web about the RAW mode and underwater photography.

    Good luck.

  8. Adam Says:

    The G11? Hmm, I was thinking I wouldn’t get it because I don’t want to go above ISO 100-200 if I can help it and I was under the impression that the G10 is just as good as the G11 at low ISOs!!!
    I think I’ll only ever shoot in RAW mode and I see what you mean – Closer is better! I definitely want to get nice and upclose to every marine creature I can find – Are you a marine ecologist or something? (You know the binomials of most species 😉
    I’ve only recently started getting into photography and I’m going diving in Taveuni for a Marine Ecology trip next year and from then on, a *lot* of travelling so yeah!
    Thanks a lot for your help mate

  9. MadDog Says:

    It’s true that the G10 and G11 are close in noise at low ISOs. I haven’t seen any definitive tests (let me know if you have some links), but I understand that the dynamic range of the G11 is quite a bit wider because of the larger pixels (the same thing that improves the noise situation at higher ISOs). If the dynamic range is superior, as they claim, that might be enough reason to go with the G11. The reason for this is, though I usually shoot at ISO 80 if I can get away with it, the dynamic range of the G10 is a big problem. Blocked blacks and blown-out whites are a constant problem. I’m hoping that the G11 (going to get one soon, I hope) is going to sort this out a bit.

    I work for a Bible Translation mission as an IT Manager. I’ve been a life-long serious amateur photographer. I’m now starting a new career combining writing and photography. I publish in three magazines regularly and am looking for more.

    I had a couple of dives when I was in Fiji – it was COLD!

  10. Adam Says:

    Cold.. in…Fiji?
    Haha, I do admit the water in Kiribati when I was there this yes was a lot warmer than Fiji 🙂
    What do you mean exactly by dynamic range? Is it like contrast ratio for LCD TVs?
    What kind of shots do you think I could get first time with a G10/11 in just the OEM housing with good light and a basic understanding of lighting underwater and getting up close to the marine life? 🙂