Cameras for Aquarium Photography
One good thing about cameras suitable for aquarium photography is that you really don’t need anything special or overly elaborate as far as cameras go. Any half decent digital camera produced today will do the job quite well. The one exception could be some of the really cheap point-and-shoot cameras.
As with anything digital, digital camera technology is continually changing and new camera models are being introduced to the market frequently which makes giving specific advice on camera models and features impossible. What I’ll do is just cover the basic camera functions and features and let you do the research as to which current camera models have the functions you want.
There are essentially two major categories of cameras that are suitable for photographing aquariums, fish and other aquatic subjects, point-and-shoot cameras and digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera bodies.
Point-and-shoot cameras (sometimes called Compact Automatic Cameras) have come a long way since the advent of digital photography. Prior to digital photography, point-and-shoot cameras were generally unsuitable for aquarium photography because the scene the photographer saw through the camera’s viewfinder was created by a separate lens and wasn’t necessarily showing the the image that was being focused and exposed to the film. Today separate viewfinders are pretty-much a thing of the past and with most digital point-and-shoot cameras you compose your image on a LCD screen on the back of the camera. The image on this LCD screen is being created by the same lens which is responsible for creating the image that will be captured in your final photograph.
Digital point-and-shoot cameras are available in a really wide range of quality, performance and capabilities. For casual aquarium photographers, almost any mid to high range point-and-shoot camera will be adequate for general aquarium photography.
Point-and-shoot cameras have built-in lenses. Although this is convenient, the optic quality of these lenses varies along with the quality of the overall camera. Generally, the better quality the camera, the sharper the lens will be.
Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera Bodies (DSLR)
Digital single lens reflex camera bodies (DSLR) are the best choice for anybody seriously interested in creating high quality photographs of their aquarium. Seperate lenses are attached to the DSLR camera body via a bayonet mount and there are a vast array of lenses available which leads the DSLR camera system to be extraordinarily versatile. For DSLR cameras there is a lens available for pretty-much any conceivable photographic situation. We’ll be taking a more in-depth look at lenses later.
Important Camera Features For Photographing Aquariums
No matter what style of camera you are using, here is a list of some of the features that I find useful for photographing aquariums and fish are…
- Full control over camera modes. Aperture & shutter priority modes, full automatic and full manual. (more on these using these modes later)
- Control over the camera’s ISO (the sensor’s sensitivity to light) setting (100 to at least 1600 ISO).
- Off camera electronic flash sync (if you have a flash unit [highly recommended]). Either…
- A hot shoe or flash sync socket for the use of off-camera electronic flash.
- or, The ability to use an external electronic, off-camera flash either wirelessly.
- The ability to turn the camera’s built in flash off. And, still be able to use an external flash, if desired.
- The ability to focus manually.
- Control over color and white balance.
- No or very little shutter-lag. Your camera should capture the photo the instant you press the shutter.
- The ability to capture images in raw file formats (Almost all cameras do nowadays).
- High ISO & slow shutter Noise Reduction.
- Macro function/mode/capability. (if using a DSLR camera system this functionality will most likely be integrated into the lens instead of the camera itself.
- A remote control, cable release or some means of firing the camera’s shutter without having to touch the camera.