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S.U.P.E.R. Part 3: Fujifilm XQ1 Compact Camera

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The Fujifilm XQ1 is one of a recent batch of “super” compact cameras, with advanced features, bigger sensors, ability to use higher ISO and yet is still small enough to fit in your jeans pocket. It looks really good – with a retro feel that oozes quality. Fuji make an underwater housing for this camera that is waterproof to 40m and the best news about this new housing is that all the manual controls can be accessed whilst you are underwater. Put all this together and you have a serious contender in the compact camera market for underwater photographers.

We took the XQ1 into Capernwray to do some testing and to see how good it really is for underwater photographers. For this initial test, in addition to the camera and underwater housing, we fixed the system to a tray, added an INON Z-240 strobe and also the INON mount base to allow us to trial the camera with various wet lenses. We had the camera set to Manual Mode so that we could control the ISO, aperture and shutter speed manually whilst diving. The water temperature was only 6 degrees and so thick gloves were the order of the day. I have to admit that whilst kitting up, I did wonder how I was going to access all the controls on such a small system with cumbersome thick gloves on – but I had need not worry. The XQ1 is really very easy to use, and the one button press to switch between f-stop and shutter speed, then altered via a simple dial, was simple. With the menu button already set to access ISO setting, again there was no problem – even when my fingers were starting to get cold – in making the setting changes that I needed to.

super 4

Another huge plus with the Fuji XQ1 is that is has virtually no shutter lag and the autofocus is extremely quick, so gone are the days where you miss a shot underwater simply because your compact system is too slow. The screen on the back of the camera is really clear, again making it easy to use even in relatively tough diving conditions. One thing you do need to remember is to pop up the flash before you put it into the housing and go diving, as once in, this cannot be done underwater. Whilst we have only completed a couple of dives with this setup, we are impressed so far.

We had the most fun when using this camera with the INON Micro Fisheye lens. Not all compact cameras can work well with this lens, but the XQ1 certainly does. The tiny wide angle lens allows you to get really close to a small subject and yet still get a lovely wide angle shot. We cannot wait to get this combination into water with live critters rather than our plastic models.

super 3

This 12 megapixel camera, with a larger sensor than most of its rivals, combined with the ability to use higher ISO settings that many cannot compete with, is a serious contender for underwater photographers who want to keep their systems small and light. The image quality is really very impressive and so is the price, with camera and housing (that comes with a useful canvass carry bag and 8GB card) coming in at under £450.

super 2

The FujiFilm XQ2 has just arrived with us and so we will be testing this newer model over the next few weeks. Incredibly, it uses the same housing as its predecessor. We will be adding macro and wide angle lenses to the test, doing some video and pushing the various settings and white balance function to the limit to test out the performance – so watch this space…

www.frogfishphotography.com

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Get moving with the new RAID DPV training programs

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The thrill of speeding through the water behind a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) is an experience that really gets the blood racing. Using a DPV provides divers both immense fun and the means to achieve goals that would be impossible without their use.

RAID is proud to announce the new two-tier DPV training program with certifications for DPV and Advanced DPV.

Why DPV and why now?
Recreational and technical divers are using DPVs to access sites that would be difficult to reach and explore using traditional propulsion methods; to help propel large amounts of heavy equipment; to increase the safety of dives in areas of strong current; or just for the pure exhilaration of shooting through the water at speed and performing underwater acrobatics.

By extending your capabilities and extending your range, using a DPV opens new vistas for exploration and fun.

DPV
This certification option is aimed at the recreational diver who wishes to learn how to use a DPV to enhance their diving by using mainly natural navigation.

Advanced DPV
This certification option is available to anyone who is familiar with longhose configuration, has logged a minimum of 20 dives and is certified as Navigation specialty divers.

This certification option is aimed at the slightly more experienced diver with preexisting navigational training and diving on a single, twin or sidemount setup with a longhose. Although this level is slightly more challenging, the more advanced navigation exercises provide an important base for more complex types of DPV diving within a team.

PREREQUISITES
You must:

  • Be a minimum of 12 years old.
  • Be certified as RAID Open Water 20, Junior Open Water or equivalent.

Just visit www.diveRAID.com to put some extra dash into your dives.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Beers raise cash for ocean clean-up

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The Driftwood Spars Brewery, a pioneering microbrewery based on the North Cornwall coast, is donating a percentage of all profits from its Cove range of beers to Fathoms Free, a certified charity which actively cleans the ocean around the Cornish peninsula.

Each purchase of the small-batch, craft beers – there are four different canned beers in the Cove range – will help generate funds to purchase a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and fund retrieval dives; every brew will raise the equivalent cost of a fully-funded dive. 

Fathoms Free is a Cornwall-based charity whose day-to-day mission involves dives from their fast-response specialist vessel to recover ghost fishing gear; abandoned nets, pots, angling equipment and other plastic causes severe damage to the marine environment and the death of countless seabirds, seals, dolphins and other sea life.

The campaign to raise funds for an ROV is a new initiative which will take the clean-up work to a new level; the highly manoeuvrable underwater vehicle will be used to scour the seabed, harbours and remote parts of the coastline for abandoned fishing gear and other marine litter.

Project Manager Natallia Paliakova from Fathoms Free said: “Apart from helping us locate ghost gear underwater, the ROV will also be capable of recording underwater video which is always great for raising awareness about marine pollution issues.”

She added: “We are really excited to be partnering with The Driftwood Spars Brewery and appreciate the proactive support of Mike and his team in bringing the purchase of an ROV a step closer to reality.”

Head Brewer Mike Mason personally approached the charity after their work was featured on the BBC 2 documentary, ‘Cornwall with Simon Reeve’.    

He said: “As a keen surfer I am only too aware of the problem of marine litter and had heard about Fathoms Free, but seeing them in action prompted me to find a way of contributing. The scale of the challenge is scary, but the determination of organisations like Fathoms Free is inspiring.”

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

The Driftwood Spars Brewery was founded in 2000 in Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes; the microbrewery is just a few steps away from it’s co-joined brewpub, The Driftwood Spars; both pub and brewery are well-regarded far beyond the Cornish cove they call home. 

You can hear the waves and taste the salt on the air from the door of both brewery and pub, and the rough seas along the rugged North coast often throw up discarded nets and other detritus; Louise Treseder, Landlady of The Driftwood Spars and a keen sea swimmer, often collects washed up ghost gear on her daily beach excursions.     

Louise commented: “This is a great partnership to support a cause close to our hearts – I know the money we raise will have a positive and lasting impact. The Cove range was inspired by our unique surroundings and the artwork – by local artist Jago Silver – reflects that. Now donations from each purchase will contribute towards the vital ocean clean-up taking place right on our doorstep.”

The Cove range can currently be purchased online here, and is available in good independent bottle shops in Cornwall.

To find out more about Fathoms Free visit their website here.

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