Final photo submissions were due for the Red Sea Underwater Shoot-Out on Thursday morning at 10:00am. I submitted one of my nudibranch photos to the macro category and the three pitcures below to the Amateur Portfolio category.
My own contribution to the competition was subject to a particularly serious monkey wrench when my camera flooded on a dive Tuesday morning. I can't blame the engineers at Pentax for this one because I did, in fact, take it down about eight meters past the depth limit of the camera. As soon as the camera started to flood I got back to the surface as soon as I could but even letting the camera sit in a bag of rice for 24hrs didn't stop the inevitable. I was lucky, however, that I got a full day of shooting in before the accident and the photos I took on that fateful dive were still intact as was the SD card holding them.
This was a serious bummer but it did present a unique opportunity. With one camera out of commission, I took the opportunity to borrow a GoPro camera and take it on a handful of dives testing both its video and photo capabilities. Even though I was using the Silver edition (not the Black edition with 4K and 2.7K resolutions) I was really, really impressed by how it functioned underwater. The primary problem with underwater photo and video is that water absorbs a great deal of light. Further more, it filters out a great deal of red light. Water that is more than five meters deep will trash your contrast and destroy your white balance. The GoPro did an impressive job of compensating for the low light without bringing a great deal of digital noise into the image. The movement was also impressive smooth which is a big plus for action video. Again, I wish I could have tested out a Black Edition to see how the high speed and high res functions worked out, but that's life.
Finally, I realized I had really been spoiled by the macro and super macro capabilities of the Pentax WG-3. Neither of the cameras I used during the remainder of the competition could even remotely match the short focal length of the WG-2, which is a good indicator that Pentax will get some repeat business from me. The new member of that camera's family is the WG-3 which is more of less the same in terms of functionality, except that it has been upgraded to a 14m depth rating, offers in-camera HDR, has a significantly wider aperture (f/2.0 vs f/3.5) and has a sensor-shift image stabilizer. Both the WG-2 and the WG-3 come in a basic version and a GPS-enabled version featuring a front LCD displaying time, GPS coordinates, altitude and depth (under water). A year after buying the WG-2 I think I could certainly utilize a handful of those funtions, at least enough to justify the difference in price.
In any case, I had a great time in Eilat and managed to log 13 dives in the four days I was there. I met a lot of cool people and got to rub shoulders with some fun creative professionals for a few days. As a fun little bonus, I've added a video shot on the GoPro Hero 3 (Silver Edition) of the Satil Wreck, less than 50m out from the Marina Divers shop in Eilat (next to The Last Refuge restaurant). I went to this wreck twice during the day and twice at night. So cool.