“You have your phone in that housing?”
Over the last two weeks of testing out the iPhone in the i-Pix housing in beautiful Grand Cayman, this is probably the most common reaction when people find out what exactly I am shooting with. After all, it might seem a bit strange to take a touch screen smartphone underwater not to make phone calls, listen to music, text or check emails—but just use the camera.
While DPG will be giving a full review on using the iPhone and i-Pix housing in the coming weeks, I thought I’d share a few more photos and tips for using your own cell phone for an underwater camera.
1. Take Advantage of Filters: Let’s face it, Apple didn’t exactly have underwater photography in mind when designing the iPhone. While you might not have full manual exposure or white balance control, using a filter threaded specifically for the i-Pix housing can bring back a lot more color.
2. Watch the Battery: While the battery life of the iPhone continues to improve, having the screen constantly on underwater can drain the battery. To add to this, the phone has a mandatory 20 percent battery warning that cannot be closed when in the housing—so even fully charged, the iPhone is only 80 percent full. The i-Pix housing comes with an App that – among other features – allows the user to put the phone in a sleep mode to preserve battery.
3. Make Space: While most photographers are used to downloading and backing up their images, our phones tend to be a little less organized. A few movies, music and emails can add up pretty quickly. There’s nothing worse than reaching the iPhone’s storage limit when a pair of eagle rays come flying bye (trust me).
4. Underwater Panoramas: In underwater photography, having a wide-angle lens is especially important to get close to subjects and limit the dim blue light. Unfortunately, the iPhone’s roughly 30 mm lens doesn’t make shooting bigger subjects up close an easy task. Instead, try taking multiple images of stationary subjects and stitching them together in any number or iPhone apps for an impromptu fisheye substitute.
5. No, Siri Is Not Available: Surprisingly, 100 feet underwater you can’t ask Siri for directions back to the boat or to use her spare regulator.
Canon 15mm f2.8 Fisheye
Canon 5D Mark III
Sea & Sea YS-D1