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Choosing a Mask for Underwater Photography
By Joseph Tepper, October 15, 2013 @ 10:00 AM (EST)

By DPG Editorial Staff

For underwater photographers and videographers, choosing a mask is more than just finding one that doesn’t leak.  The most popular masks for pro and amateur-level underwater photographers have two main characteristics: Black skirt and low profile.

Black Skirt Masks

Remember those old images of a portrait photographer sticking his head underneath a black cloth to look through the viewfinder of a camera? Well that’s the same principal behind choosing a black skirt for your dive mask.

Black skirts limit the amount of light entering your field of view, increasing contrast and decreasing reflection in the lens. These qualities will help finding critical focus and also review photos in the LCD screen.

Keeping a Low Profile

Having a low profile mask is also a plus. Even when your camera is at your side, low profile masks provide a wider field-of-view to find potential subjects. More importantly, a low profile mask will also allow you to get the viewfinder as close to your eye as possible, making the frame larger and clearer. Four window and high profile masks will reduce the size of the frame through the viewfinder.

Needless to say, the overarching characteristic when looking for a good mask for underwater photography is that it must be a good fit! You can visit your local dive shop to try on a selection of masks—and because everyone has a differently shaped face, trying them on in person is the best way to find the right fit for you.


Other Factors for Choosing a Photography Mask

There are some other little details that many photographers prefer. Choosing tempered glass allows the photographer to burn away any residual chemicals that produce fog, and in general last longer. You might want to also consider looking for teardrop shaped masks, which will collect any leaking water at the bottom of a well. The last thing you want when trying to manually focus on a pygmy seahorse is saltwater burning your eyes.

Photography Mask Accessories

Seasoned photographers also properly accessorize their masks for the field. Adding a neoprene mask strap will make getting the mask on in a hurry much easier—you don’t want to miss that whale shark swimming by the boat. Finding the right defog is also a must—popular options include watered down baby shampoo (no tears), gel toothpaste, and commercial brand defog.


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