Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Watershot


Introduction:


No matter what level of scuba diving experience you have - the thrill never ends. This is largely due to the combination of forever varying dive experiences and the social activities associated with diving. Whether its a conversation during your first dive course, after each dive, at an information evening or between buddies you often hear of a dive experience that you would like to have. During such conversations it is common for divers, like myself, to show photos of each experience on their smart phones. This is because photographs are a fantastic way to capture memories and best illustrate your experience to a fellow diver.



So, the question that faces many is 'which underwater camera is right for me?'. As a diver who enjoys showing others his diving photos, I understand the complexity of this question. Watershot have created one of the more recent underwater camera options and it is one worth considering. Watershot have created an underwater housing to suit any iPhone 4, 4s and 5. Depending on the model you purchase Watershot's housing allows you to take your iPhone up to 60 meters deep and use it as a photo and video camera. But, in combination with this housing, how good is an iPhone as an underwater camera? I was determined to find out. 

The Watershot Range:


Watershot design and manufacture underwater housings for iPhones. Their range include iPhone 4, 4s and 5 housings, specialist lenses, filters, mounts and grips. Below are some housings from their extensive range. 


To view more of their range please visit: Online Shop

Below is an outline of our trial and what we thought of the product.

The Watershot Experience:

To use the Watershot housing, you need to download a custom-made iPhone application called 'Watershot'. This application customizes the phone's screen-layout so that it is compatible with the location of the housing's external buttons. This includes locating the Watershot application's icon on the far right of your iPhone's bottom tray. It is important to also disable the auto-locking function - to prevent the phone from locking its display underwater.



For this trial, I decided to test the cornerstone of Watershot's range the iPhone5 Pro. The product comes complete with the housing, super-wide angle lens, aspherical lens, moisture absorbents, wrist strap and instructions. I also decided to put the red and magenta filters to the test.

According to the instructions - I tested the product by placing tissue paper in the housing and submerging it for a number of minutes. Once I removed the product from the water and opened the housing the tissue paper was still dry, indicating that there are no leaks. I then inserted my iPhone5 to take some practice shots. The iPhone responded well to every button press indicating to me that the housing and iPhone work well together.

I decided to conduct the trial at one of my favorite local dive spots, 9 Mile. As we approached the dive site I prepped my iPhone by disabling the auto-lock and arranging the app icons. I placed the iPhone into the Watershot housing and clicked the housing's latch shut. I configured the iPhone's housing with a wide-angle lens and no filter. We all entered the water. 

I took a series of photos and videos switching between modes and trying to take photographs both from a distance and up-close. Below are some of the photos and videos taken on the day. 






As you can tell from these photos the quality is good. I make use of a number of underwater cameras for different applications. This is largely due to the specialization in each. I can demonstrate this by using my Sealife DC1400 camera as an example. The DC1400 camera takes great underwater macro photographs. The detail and quality is really good for a compact camera in an underwater housing - especially in its price bracket. However, the moment you use the DC1400 for video or long distance photographs the quality and performance drops right off. The DC1400 will focus on the first thing it can and continue to focus at this distance - this includes floating sediment in the water between you and the key subject. This is unknown to you as the camera man until you view the photographs or video on a computer screen. As you can see from these photos - the iPhone's camera does a good job at adjusting its focus to suit the main subject in the field of view. This is a fantastic feature for those with little experience in taking underwater photos. 





I was surprised at the ability of the iPhone as an underwater camera. Switching between playback, video and photo modes was quick and simple. The housing and application worked well together with no errors. However, the product trial was cut short. By the time I had reached the first dive site for the day I had already used 20% of my iPhone's battery power. Despite activating airplane mode it was only 40 minutes into the dive that my iPhone displayed a prompt, indicating that there was only 20% battery life left. Once this prompt was displayed I was unable to press the dismiss button. By the time we finished our dive and were ready for the next one my iPhone had used up its complete battery. 


Dive Flag App's Overall Review:


The product was easy to set up and use. The product is self explanatory and has simple settings. The underwater housing is exceptionally easy to maintain. I have outline a number of advantages and disadvantages to using the housing and iPhone as an underwater camera below.

Advantages of using the Watershot product:

  • The housing is affordable.
  • The housing is very robust and unlikely to break easily.
  • Lens attachments allows for increased flexibility and room to upgrade as you want to experience the various attachments.
  • Whilst the housings are rated to up-to 40 / 60 meters they are actually testing to between 5 or 10 meters further making them reliable. 
  • Watershot housings have a perfect track record with no failures. 
  • Watershot housing appear to receive outstanding ratings from users worldwide. 


Advantages to using the iPhone as an underwater camera:

  • Excellent auto focus
  • Reasonable auto colour correction at shallow depths
  • The fantastic ingenuity of the housing allows you to make use of the reverse camera for underwater selfies.
  • The camera looks passed most of the floating plankton and sediment to focus on the more interesting subjects
  • Taking the photos on your smart phone allows you to quickly upload your photos directly to Dive Flag App


Disadvantages to using the iPhone as an underwater camera:

  • The iPhone's camera is only 8MP
  • If you lose the unit underwater you will lose more than just your underwater camera
  • iPhones quite often have battery problems. If yours does, we recommend having the battery replaced to ensure you can enjoy your new underwater camera and housing for longer. 
  • A single button is used to switch between video and photo modes. You have to remember which mode it is in or you will continually need to check.
  • You cannot dismiss a 'low battery' prompt whilst the iPhone is within the housing.
  • You have to configure the iPhone properly before entering the water otherwise you may not be able to use the unit during your dive. 

Over score: 8.5/10

The Watershot and iPhone work very well together. The unit was very easy to set-up and intuitive to use. The unit allows you to easily capture fun and happy moments with the ability to quickly share them with your family and friends. We are ecstatic to be welcomed as distributors of the units and welcome you to view the product on our online shop.

If you would like more information regarding this experience or the product, please feel free to contact myself (info@diveflagapp.com). I would be more than willing to answer your questions. 


Frank Vorster
Owner

Dive Flag App
info@diveflagapp.com 

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