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Dive Photo Guide


Underwater Photography Point & Shoot Checklist
 May 20, 2009 @ 09:21 AM (EST)
by John Ares

Missing one small piece of equipment on a trip can stop a photographer cold.  Like a battery charger…or a sync cord for you strobe…or a USB cable.

Add to that the unfamiliarity of the TSA with out equipment, the clueless and unsympathetic personnel of the airlines, the biology of our aching backs, and the Underwater Sea&Sea cameralaws of physics that says what we do (taking a camera into salt water) is an unnatural act.  We are privileged and obsessed to record what others cannot do.  Here is a guide to help make it less a burden.  In reality, Underwater Photographers do not go on vacations.  We go on Expeditions, and need to adopt that mentality.  It takes a lot to get ready for a trip that brings home the bacon.
There's a fantastic checklist at the bottom of this page, you can download a travel version for your next trip.
Backup equipment is recommended for everything.  You first learn something doesn’t work when you are USING it.  It depends on your budget, insistence on perfection, and personal neuroses for how you handle this.  Respectfully, you may be going to places where electricity is novel.  Digital photography is electricity intensive.

Digital Backup Capacity

Memory Card ReaderImportant considerations for not running short on memory or losing your images

Think about how much you will shoot, and plan to have enough memory cards and hard drive capacity to last the entire trip...then multiply that by two…then add 20%.  It is not hard now to shoot 8 – 16 GB per day even with point and shoot cameras and movie files.  Do the math and plan accordingly. Plan on saving files on two devices or two types of media. This redundant backup of your files provides a margin of safety to ensure that the images come back home with you one way or another. 

Epson p6000Examples:
  • One copy on your laptop and one copy on DVD’s
  • Two copies on separate hard drives or image viewers (which are basically hard drives)
  • One copy on an image viewer and one copy on DVD’s. 
Relying on just one copy of your images is risky. All media, hard drives, CD’s, DVD’s will fail at some point. It is not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.

Ancillary items that complement the checklist:
  • Logbook & C-card
  • Current DAN insurance card
  • Travel insurance (this is optional of course)
  • Equipment serial number list for customs and insurance.  One for passport wallet, one in each major piece of luggage
  • Handheld camping scale to balance out luggage (ensure over a 50 pound capacity)

One month prior to the trip, all equipment has been dive tested and serviced and is ready to go.  No new equipment should be added at the last minute.  This is a prescription for failure.  The one-month timeframe allows for panic fixes if there are problems.

Personalize The Checklist
ADD / DELETE / MODIFY items as they apply to your current set up.
  • Point and shoot Camera
  • Backup camera (if possible)
  • Housing and tray mounting screws
  • Spare O-ring for housing
  • Strobe mounting tray
  • Accessory Wide angle or macro port or lens (if needed)
  • Accessory port adapter (if needed)
  • Camera batteries (2 minimum)
  • Camera battery chargers
  • Filters (if needed)
  • Camera Manual

  • Sea&Sea O-Ring GreaseStrobe batteries and spares
  • Sync cord(s)
  • Back up sync cord(s)
  • Spare O-rings for strobe
  • Strobe charger(s)
  • Strobe arm(s)
  • Diffuser(s)
  • Strobe Manual

  • O-ring grease recommended by the housing / strobe Manufacturers
  • Lens paper and/or microfiber cloth
  • Screwdriver with multiple tips
  • Jeweler’s screwdrivers (look inside your housing at the controls to see when might need to be tightened after vibrating loose during the flight.)
  • Small Allen wrenches (look at your external housing controls to see when might need to be tightened after vibrating loose during the flight.)
  • O-ring tool, or a smooth pick / toothpick for removing o-rings (NO SHARP EDGES!)
  • Duct tape, maybe three feet rolled up as a neat roll (just standard procedure- improvisation)
  • Cable ties (just standard procedure - improvisation)
  • Multi-tool like a leatherman or small vice grip
  • SCUBA Tool or similar


OPTION A:  Laptop + Hard Drive
**Best option**
  • Laptop
  • Card reader + USB cable
  • Laptop charger
  • Voltage adapters
  • Portable hard drive(s) + USB cables
  • Power strip / surge protector 
  • Three prong grounding adapter.
  • Laptop bag (carry on in camera bag like Lowepro, MicroTrekker, Think Tank, Crumpler)
OPTION B: Viewer + DVD Burner
  • Portable viewer with sufficient disc space (example: Epson p6000)
  • Portable DVD burner (not reliable)
  • USB cables
  • Blank disks & container for burned discs
  • Viewer charger
  • Burner charger
  • Voltage adapters
  • Power strip / surge protector 
  • Three prong grounding adapter
Feel free to any items that you think we left out in the comments below!


klarad lanowy
Sep 8, 2019 11:23 AM
klarad lanowy wrote:
woww That is really amazing
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