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Acceptance testing on a waterproof camera enclosure…

July 5, 2014, 9:33 PM

First of all, I had fun at the Outer Banks.  I’m going to leave it at that for now, though, because the whole trip is going to become a photo set for Life and Times, and so it’s going to come out, but the “extended Journal entry” treatment in Life and Times is what will do it the most justice.

That said, in preparation for the trip, I bought a waterproof camera enclosure, with the intention of taking photos in the water.  The idea behind the waterproof camera enclosure was to get Duckie, my Vivitar ViviCam 6200W, out of the picture.  Duckie, to put it nicely, has a very limited operating envelope.  It’s because the ISO is too low, as 200 is as high as it goes.  That means that when you take that camera underwater, you have to hold the camera very still to get clear pictures, unless you want to use the flash (which I don’t always want to do).  It became quite frustrating, and led to a lot of bad photos.  Basically, submerged handheld photos were a no-go under the vast majority of conditions.  It worked well enough outdoors and in daylight on land, but the pictures taken under those conditions have a slight red tinge to them, which is a pain to try to correct.  Plus it has no optical zoom, and the buttons were a bit stiff, with the latter’s making the camera’s use somewhat cumbersome.

Thus I got this to replace Duckie:

The new waterproof camera enclosure with my point-and-shoot camera inside.

This is my small point-and-shoot camera that’s housed inside the enclosure.  That’s a Canon PowerShot A800, which I bought back in 2011.  It’s always done great work on those occasions when I’ve used it, but it’s always been the odd man out as far as its usage goes.  Its intended use, i.e. quality photography in an everyday setting, has been taken over by my cell phone, as cell phone cameras have improved over the years, plus I often already have the phone in my hand anyway (so why reach for another device?).  Using this as the water camera with an enclosure seemed to be a good fit, as I have become increasingly dissatisfied with what I’ve been getting out of Duckie as my own techniques have improved over the years, and underwater photography is an area that I want to explore.  This is also a camera that I wouldn’t be too upset about if I accidentally destroyed it in the water.  Not like when I almost had a meltdown over Big Mavica’s unexpected demise back in 2008.  Back then, Big Mavica (a Sony Mavica CD400) was my only camera, aside from a flip phone that took very low quality pictures (but which was typical for its day).  This is one of three cameras (four if you count Duckie) that I regularly carry around.  My main camera is a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS.  I don’t believe that anyone made an enclosure that will fit it, and even so, I’m not apt to dunk my main camera.  My third camera is my cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.  Enclosing that and dunking it was always out of the question, since I rely on it far too much for too many things.

So the point-and-shoot was it.  And being a compact camera, enclosures were easy enough to find.  I did four tests on it: a fit test, testing to make sure that the camera fit the enclosure properly and was able to be locked in, an empty wet test, to verify the waterproof qualities of the enclosure, a dry test to verify the quality of the photography and how the camera handles in the enclosure, and finally a wet test to verify the same underwater, where my goal was to sink the enclosure in the bathroom sink and then let it sit for a while.  The photos of the empty wet test amused me a bit, though, as I had some trouble making that enclosure sink:

First I packed a box of Altoids mints in there along with a strip of paper with writing on it in ink that would smear if water hit it.  It floated.
First I packed a box of Altoids mints in there along with a strip of paper with writing on it in ink that would smear if water hit it.  It floated.

Next I took a full bottle of shampoo and placed that on top of the camera.  It sank the enclosure, but it had too small of a base to be stable.  It fell over shortly after I took this picture, and the enclosure floated back up to the top.
Next I took a full bottle of shampoo and placed that on top of the camera.  It sank the enclosure, but it had too small of a base to be stable.  It fell over shortly after I took this picture, and the enclosure floated back up to the top.


A full bottle of body wash finally did the trick.  That sank it and held it there.  I left to do other things, and came back in three hours.

Three hours later, after the test, checking the Altoids.  Still curiously strong and crunchy, just like Altoids ought to be.
Three hours later, after the test, checking the Altoids.  Still curiously strong and crunchy, just like Altoids ought to be.  The paper was dry, too.

Then the dry test went well enough.  The photos looked fine, but the flash was a no-go, because it sits halfway in the section for the lens, and halfway out of it.  Thus when I fired the flash, it reflected off of the enclosure, fuzzing any photos used with it.  I don’t consider that to be too big of a loss, though, since I’m not a big flash user to begin with.

And then the final test was the wet test, i.e. camera enclosed and getting dunked.  For that, I took it with me to the pool, and after my friend Suzie and I had finished our workout, we took the camera for a spin.  First, Suzie took some pictures:

Selfie!
Selfie!

Swimming next the bulkhead.
Swimming next the bulkhead.

Now at the other end of the pool.
Now at the other end of the pool.

Making a pose like Suzie asked me to.
Making a pose like Suzie asked me to.

Then we switched, and I gave the enclosed camera a spin in the water:

Suzie does a handstand on the bottom of the pool.
Suzie does a handstand on the bottom of the pool.

Swimming down the lane.
Swimming down the lane.

Striking a pose on the bottom of the pool.
Striking a pose on the bottom of the pool.

I went for a half-in-half-out thing with this photo.  It's an interesting effect, I suppose, but I don't know how useful it will be in real life.
I went for a half-in-half-out thing with this photo.  It’s an interesting effect, I suppose, but I don’t know how useful it will be in real life.

And then we got photos of each other over in the hot tub:

Posing with my "Suck it up, cupcake" swim cap.
Posing with my “Suck it up, cupcake” swim cap.

Suzie strikes a pose as well.
Suzie strikes a pose as well.

By the way, if you want to get one of the “Suck it up, cupcake” swim caps like Suzie and I were wearing, they’re made and sold by Aardvark Swim & Sport.

And that was the acceptance testing.  It’s funny, though: after all of the acceptance testing that Suzie and I did, Pete and I never used the camera or the enclosure at the Outer Banks.  But no worries – there’s lots more summer still to come, and plenty of opportunities to take it out for a spin.  I would love to film a few water slides, for one thing…

Categories: Cameras, Friends, Swimming