In our ongoing series S.U.P.E.R. (Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Equipment Reviews), Scubaverse.com’s underwater photography editors Nick and Caroline Robertson Brown review new underwater photography equipment, general diving equipment, and some older favourites too.
For the fifteenth instalment of S.U.P.E.R., Nick and Caroline take a look at the FG9X Housing from Fantasea.
The Canon G9X in the Fantasea housing is an excellent package at a truly affordable price. This latest addition to the canon range is one of the few cameras on the market with the so-called one-inch super sensor. The sensor is a 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, offering an ISO range between 125 and 12800 and your images can be recorded in both JPEG and raw formats. The zoom facility is reasonable, offering a 28 to 84 mm equivalent, which makes it a versatile set up, allowing both macro and wide-angle photography on an underwater outing. The camera also shoots 1080 video, and whilst this is no longer regarded as stunning quality, it is quite hard to see any significant difference when shooting under water.
When paired with the Fantasea housing, the system works really well. The G9X was designed primarily as a touchscreen camera, but all the exposure controls can be operated by a single knurled knob on the front of the housing. This operates a dial on the front of the camera and by continuous cycling of the function button (one of only four buttons on the back of the camera), the aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting are all very easy to change if you are using the camera in manual mode. I like to test all housings with 5mm gloves on, to check out how easy it will be to use in the winter in the UK (even though there was no need to wear gloves on this dive), and found no issues with changing settings and controls. The camera is very light and small, and this, therefore, allows the housing to be small and easy to take away on your foreign dive trips.
The lens on the Fantasea housing has a 67 mm thread which allows it to be able to take wet lenses. When I took it underwater, I had two macro lenses with me, the AOI ULC – 05 +6 close-up lens M67 and the AOI ULC – 06 +12. It is great that so many housings for compact cameras now have this option to add wet lenses whilst underwater to give the user more creative options. There is a huge array of lenses that are compatible with the 67mm screw thread on the front of the housing. I got some nice shots of the Capernwray Sturgeon with the macro lenses removed and despite being regularly bombarded by divers under training, the results from a compact camera under these conditions were very impressive.
The housing is depth rated to 60m, and is clearly marked so that if you are not familiar with the controls, you can still find your way around whilst underwater. It has connections for two fibre optic cables, a cold shoe mount for accessories, moisture detector and alarm. So it is not short of desirable features.
My overall opinion of the Canon 9 GX in the Fantasea housing was that this is a great package at a great price. The cameras are priced at around £350 and the housing runs out at just over £400. This setup is a great way for beginners in underwater photography to get into the water and capture good quality images. With easy access to all the camera’s functions and the ability to add wet lenses, strobes and lights, this really is a terrific starter pack at approx. £750.
Fantasea is distributed in the UK by www.blue-orb.uk.
For more from Nick and Caroline, visit www.frogfishphotography.com.
Diver Discovering Whale Skeletons Beneath Ice Judged World’s Best Underwater Photograph
An emotive photograph showing a freediver examining the aftermath of whaling sees
Alex Dawson from Sweden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. Dawson’s
photograph ‘Whale Bones’ triumphed over 6500 underwater pictures entered by underwater
photographers from around the world.
“Whale Bones was photographed in the toughest conditions,” explains chair of judging
panel Alex Mustard, “as a breath-hold diver descends below the Greenland ice sheet to bear
witness to the carcasses. The composition invites us to consider our impact on the great
creatures of this planet. Since the rise of humans, wild animals have declined by 85%. Today,
just 4% of mammals are wildlife, the remaining 96% are humans and our livestock. Our way
needs to change to find a balance with nature.”
Whales dominated the winning pictures this year with Spanish photographer Rafael
Fernandez Caballero winning two categories with his revealing photos of these ocean giants:
a close up of a grey whale’s eye and an action shot of a Bryde’s whale engulfing an entire bait
ball, both taken in Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico. Fernandez Caballero took ‘Grey
Whale Connection’ while drifting in a small boat, holding his camera over the side in the water
to photograph the curious whale. ‘The End Of A Baitball’ required Fernandez Caballero to dive
down and be in exactly the right place at the moment the whale lunged. “The photo shows
the high speed attack,” he said, “with the whale engulfing hundreds of kilograms of sardines
in one bite — simply unforgettable to see predation on such a scale.”
Lisa Stengel from the United States was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image of a mahi-mahi catching a sardine, in Mexico. Stengel used both a very fast shutter speed and her hearing to catch the moment. “If you listen there’s an enormous amount of sound in the ocean,” she explained. “The action was too fast to see, so I honed in on the sound of the attacks with my camera to capture this special moment.”
“It is such an exciting time in underwater photography because photographers are capturing such amazing new images, by visiting new locations and using the latest cameras,”
commented judge Alex Mustard. “Until this year I’d hardly ever see a photo of a mahi mahi,
now Lisa has photographed one hunting, action that plays out in the blink of an eye.”
The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest is based in the UK, and Jenny Stock,
was named as British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image “Star
Attraction”, which finds beauty in species of British wildlife that are often overlooked.
Exploring the west coast of Scotland, Stock explained “in the dark green depths my torch
picked out the vivid colours of a living carpet of thousands of brittle stars, each with a
different pattern. I was happily snapping away, when I spotted this purple sea urchin and I
got really excited.”
In the same contest, Portuguese photographer, Nuno Sá, was named ‘Save Our Seas
Foundation’ Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2024, with his photo ‘Saving
Goliath’, taken in Portugal. Sá’s photo shows beachgoers trying to save a stranded sperm
whale. The picture gives us hope that people do care and want to help the oceans, but also
warns us that bigger changes are needed. “The whale had been struck by a ship and its fate
was sealed,” explains Sá. “An estimated 20,000 whales are killed every year, and many more
injured, after being struck by ships-and few people even realise that it happens.”
More winning images can be found at www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com.
About Underwater Photographer of the Year
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools, and attracts entries from all around the world. The contest has 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as four categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The winners were announced in an award ceremony in Mayfair, London, hosted by The Crown Estate. This year’s UPY judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Tobias Friedrich and Dr Alexander Mustard MBE.
Header image: Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 winner Alex Dawson
World’s Best Underwater Photographers Unveil Breathtaking Images at World Shootout 2023
The winners of the prestigious World Shootout 2023 underwater photography competition were announced at this year’s BOOT Show, captivating audiences at the world’s largest diving and water sports exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany. Hundreds of photographers from 54 countries competed across nine categories, pushing the boundaries of creativity and technical skill.
Grand Prize Winners
- Picture of the Year: Spanish photographer Eduardo Acevedo “secured” the top Honor with the prestigious prize the “boot Dusseldorf Director’s Prize, earning an Andromeda statuette and a €2,000 cash prize.
- Best 5 Images Portfolio: Luc Rooman from Belgium triumphed in this category, winning a dream 4-week diving trip for two to Papua New Guinea, valued at $18,900.
- Amateur Photographer: Alexandra Ceurvorst from the USA impressed the judges with her talent, taking home the 1,000 € cash prize award.
Celebrating Diversity and Innovation
This year’s competition saw 11,680 entries from 964 photographers, showcasing a remarkable spectrum of skills and perspectives. From the intricate wonders of Macro photography to the beauty of “Black Water”, the “Underwater Fashion” category added a touch of artistry and innovation, while the ever-important ” Environmental & Conservation” category served as a powerful reminder of the need to protect these fragile ecosystems.
Looking Ahead: AI and Ocean Conservation
World Shootout founder and producer David Pilosof unveiled an exciting addition for the 2024 competition: this year the Environmental category will be focusing on the impact of plastic on our oceans and future.
This category will embrace the potential of AI or other editing software as a tool to amplify the conservation message.
Entrants will submit campaigns of three original underwater photographs dealing with plastic pollution, along with their final AI assistance processing. This innovative approach encourages artistic expression while raising awareness about a critical environmental issue.
Explore the Stunning Collection
Discover the complete album of competition entries by clicking here.
For Low-resolution photos of finalist entries in eight categories, click here.
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