If you’ve tried cheap waterproof cameras and want better quality, it is time to step up to a premium camera like Sealife DC 1200 Underwater/Land Camera. This camera was built from scratch to be an underwater champion.
[easyazon-image-link asin=”B003H4QNU2″ alt=”Sealife 12 Megapixel 5X Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD screen Underwater/Land Camera” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41q4B9R074L.jpg” align=”center” width=”500″ height=”390″] But what if you have not purchased a true dive camera before–what criteria should you look for? Here are some features to consider:
The lower you dive, the thinner the light gets. You want to get as close as possible to the subject and as a result a wide angle lens is a true benefit.
Because of the low light, a flash becomes more important for a dive camera than the inexpensive consumer models made for shallower depths.
The flash will also help with the “bluization” that plagues images as you go deeper. You also need good shutter response to capture the image as soon as possible after pressing the shutter button.
Battery life becomes important especially if you are firing the flash a lot.
Sealife DC 1200 Camera Review
So how do Sealife cameras, in particular the Sealife DC 1200, stack up? Most importantly, Sealife has underwater photography in their DNA: Pioneer Research designed SeaLife cameras from the very beginning as “affordable underwater cameras for the dive industry.” Founded by Wolgang Harns 25 years ago, Sealife started with 35 mm film cameras. In 2000 they introduced digital models like the DC 1200 and continue to lead the field. Here is something unique for a camera company–and saves you money in the long run–strobes and lenses are can be used interchangeably with any other Sealife product like the DC 1200.
The Sealife DC 1200 is a 12 megapixel work horse with 5x optical zoom (6x digital). Although a small company, Pioneer Research is continually innovating. Based on feedback from divers, they got rid of the small, hard to operate buttons on earlier models.
The DC 1200 looks like a regular digital camera when used on land. To go underwater, you place it in a housing unit. The housing unit has no tiny buttons. Rather, it has 5 large “piano key” style menu controls that are easy to operate. The shutter button and zooming lever are also oversized. This is especially helpful if you have diving gloves on. The 3 inch screen is big and bright–great for older divers.
“Easy Set-up” is a on-screen guide that make it simple to get the right settings.
Just push the shutter button and, like a well trained butler, the DC 1200 will ask if you are underwater or on land. If you designate “underwater” it will ask if you want flash or camera only. You can even tell it if you are going to be snorkeling at 25 feet or less or diving at 25 feet or more. It will automatically adjust the F-stop, shutter and color correct for depth. No more “bluey” or “greeney” photos!
But only Aquaman is underwater all the time. On land (and divested of the underwater housing) Sealife cameras are slim and trim- the Sealife DC 1200 will fit in your shirt pocket. In addition to the four underwater shooting modes (sea, snorkel, External Flash auto, External Flash manual), there are 12 different land shooting modes: auto, sports, landscape, sunset, sunrise, snow, beach, panorama, night scene, fireworks, splash water, flow water.
The Sealife DC 1200 has good shock protection- the housing is fully covered in fully armored rubber. There is a 1-year warranty that covers both the camera and housing.
One hassle of cheaper cameras is slow shutter response. Some reviewers report waiting up to six seconds! By the time you get a picture of your kids jumping through the surf they’ve left the beach and gone to Chuck E. Cheese. With the Sealife DC 1200, you get quick shutter response.
Underwater photography is a challenge partly because of the low light but also because everything is moving. Very few fish are just hanging out waiting for a pizza. The DC 1200’s autofocus (4 inches to infinity) is fast and does not rely on slow shutter speeds to make up for low light.
Using a flash in deep water will burn up a battery quick. The Sealife DC 1200 has a re-chargable lithium battery which will last about 2 hours in the murky depths. Combine that with a 16GB SD card and you’ll be able to capture up to 7,000 high res images (or close to 2 hours of video). Video mode is now one-touch, a huge improvement over earlier models that required going through 5 menu levels!
Someone at Pioneer Research thinks they are James Bond–the DC 1200 has what they call “spy mode”–which is really the time lapse feature. Choose a time setting from 60 minutes down to 10 seconds. The camera will keep firing until the card gets filled or the battery dies.
The strobe unit is fully automatic with true rheostat setting adjustments on the back. Is the subject too washed out? Make the adjustment immediately. And unlike most cameras, you can tune it to specific numbers rather than the limited settings of 100%, 75%, etc. For example, you could dial in 62% if need be. Or you can activate the light sensor on the front of the unit that will determine the reflectivity of the subject and apply the right amount of flash.
The camera and strobe unit are not hard true “through the lens” units (meaning they are not hard-wired to each other). You can employ the diffuser feature which will help filter shadows and hot spots. The Sealife DC 1200 also makes it extremely easy to mount double strobes.
The standard lens is about 35 mm and the wide angle lens option is 28mm. That effectively increases the field of vision by 50 percent. But where do you put the other lens when it is not in use? No problem—just attach it to the convenient mounting disk on the bottom of the strobe bar. It also comes with a small leash which can attach to your wrist lanyard giving you an extra layer of protection.
What Are People Saying about the Sealife DC 1200?
We found a lot people giving a positive Sealife DC 1200 review. Some of the highlights include:
“…on land it is small and handy for use anywhere.”
“…piano keys on housing work great.”
“Very good picture quality.”
“..took over 15 minutes of video of a fish (two feet away). Clarity and quality is excellent.”
“…it meets all my expectations for one in this price range.”
“No leakage to 120ft. Great quality.”
“Used it in Caribbean…easy to use and takes great pictures and videos.”
Some people mentioned short battery life:
“battery only lasted a dive and a half.”
To which one commenter simply suggested carrying extra batteries:
“urge you to have two batteries. I tended to use one per boat dive and one shore dive.”
The Sealife DC 1200 was born to dive. Pioneer Research has a 25 year tradition of developing products for the diving industry. Innovations like piano keys control buttons and oversized shutter controls sets Sealife camera in a league of their own. With a depth rating of 200 feet, a tough housing unit covered in an armor of rubber, laughably easy set-up guides, and a sleek and slim profile on land, the Sealife DC 1200 is an easy choice for a high quality dive camera system.
Here’s a great resource we found that will help improve your Sealife adventure. Just right click on the link below and save to your hard drive. Great Pictures Made Easy Online Guide.