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Under Water, Over Land
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Old November 30th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #1
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GL2 Underwater

Hi everyone,
I'm usually an XL2 user, but I'm considering buying a personal camcorder to use for different things. Here's my dilemma along with a few questions:
I really like the GL2 and I'm probably going to buy it next spring unless I find a better solution. Question: Is there a chance Canon will introduce a GL3 anytime soon and if so, what features do you think it will have? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the GL2, but it has been out for a long time (I think 3 years?) and I don't want a new version with features I would use to be released a week after I buy mine.
My second dilemma comes with the fact that I'd like to take it underwater and I can't afford to pay 3x the cost of the camera for a Gates housing. I'm looking at the Ikelite housing and really like it, except in their list of controls, they don't list manual iris control as being there. Is there a chance they just didn't list it, I don't see how a manufacturer can make a housing for a prosumer camera without it? Also, how much would Ikelite charge to add this control if it's possible for them to do so?
Is anyone using the GL2 in the Ikelite housing and if so, what are your opinions on it? Also, any opinions on other thoughts are welcome.
Thanks for your help
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Old December 2nd, 2005, 06:09 PM   #2
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Andrew,

I used my GL2 with an Ikelite housing this spring/summer while shooting a doc on a turtle restoration project in Mexico. Went with the Ikelite for the reason you mentioned, COST of anything better!

For this shoot, I wasn't using scuba, just a snorkle, mask and fins (to hard to get other gear to Mexico). Would have been WAY easier with Scuba. Those damn turtles are FAST in the water.

As far as the housing goes, I have to admit that it was basically point and shoot. Trying to use the magnifier behind the viewfinder was basically impossible while swimming my butt off trying to keep up. The water I was in had about 12 ft of decent visibility so I was always pretty close to get a shot anyway. Just kept the lens wide and hoped for the best.

As far as a manual iris, without accessing through the menu (which there are not controls to do) I don't know how you could adjust it underwater. I left the cam on auto and it worked well. We got plenty of good footage that will be in the doc.

Since the cam is in the housing, the audio picks up motor noise for the most part. Don't count on anything usable.

Glad to help if you have any other questions.

BTW, now that I've bought a housing, it's for rent to help offset the cost!
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Old December 15th, 2005, 07:36 PM   #3
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I actually contacted Ikelite to ask them why this is the only housing for a prosumer camera they make without a manual iris control and they said it was because you had to push the wheel in and then nudge it up and down. It's understandable, except all the other companies that make housings for this camera have one or can add one if I wanted for about 60 bucks (Equinox) - why can't Ikelite add it? The problem is I really want to try these housings when the time comes to buy one, and with Ikelite, there are more places that sell them so there's a chance I could get some of the retailers to get one for me to try, Equinox wants me to order direct from them, which is fine with me, but I would love to hold the housing in my hands before putting down that kind of money for something I've never seen.
My other option is to abandon the GL2 entirly and go with a Sony, something which I don't want to do for the simple reason that the GL2 meets my regular (land) shooting requirements a lot better and in my opinion, is a lot better and more user friendly than an equivalent Sony - maybe I'll wait for the GL3.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 03:20 PM   #4
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You might want to look up Epic Underwater Housing. http://epiccam.com/ecommerce/os/catalog/index.php. I believe its used for extreme sports but you could use it for other things probably. they have one for $369 for the gl1/gl2. I myself have not used it, i just know of it and plan on getting it sometime this spring for extreme sports. I dont know if this will help, but best of luck to you.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 03:39 PM   #5
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Hi Ryan,
the housing you speak of looks good for someone who wants to use the camera in auto mode, but I need the creative freedom of being able to manually control exposure via iris and in some cases, the focus and the only control this housing has is record start/stop.
Since I started the post, I looked at a company called Equinox and they said they could add custom controls to any of their housings and in the end, they are very reasonably priced.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 12:07 AM   #6
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Andrew & Ryan

Wow I leave for two months and my dream thread appears. I spent the better part of last summer doing a ton of research on this. I shoot fly fishing vids, so I opted for the Epic housing for my gl1 & 2, price being the main issue and typically shots are right at the surface. So here is my field report, it definitley is rugged and I got some great shots, trout seem to like divers who knew? All shots where in auto mode (sand and snow preset worked best) but it is nearly impossible to sink, its rated for 25 feet I inserted 10 pounds of weights and even tethered it to the bottom and it was a handfull, so really not practical for true underwater shooting. Also its impossilbe to use view finder, best solution was to turn LCD completely around shutting the LCD door completely and viewing from the side. Needless to say it was tough. I really wish I would have gotten the simple Ewa-Marine bag.

Andrew I would love to hear your results with the Equinox or Ikelite, I am planning on upgrading soon.

Thanks a ton guys
Rick
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Old January 6th, 2006, 04:45 AM   #7
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I'm agree with Rick : the GL2 camera is good enough to stay in auto mode when filming underwater.
I've used a GL1 in a Ewa Marine bag for snorkelling in Maldives. The bag is limber, so you can activate some of the biggest buttons on the camera if you need.
But the difficulty is to target and shoot. My arms were hold to be closer to the fish, so the targeting is approximative. Anyway, here you can see the result : http://ronanfc.free.fr/page6/page9/page9.html

Here is the bag I used : http://www.ewa-marine.de/english/camcorder/e-vxm2.htm (XM2 is the European name of the GL2, that's why the bag is named VXM2)

Concerning the GL3, YES, a Canon representative told me that a smaller HDV camera will follow the XL-H1, as what happened with the XL1 and GL1. So I'm pretty sure that an "HDV-GL-like camera" will be release this year.. But when ?
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Old January 6th, 2006, 07:52 AM   #8
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well, I haven't actually done any underwater work yet, but the reason I was looking for a housing was because I'm interested to do it after I buy the camera, so I wanted to make sure there were housing options after I got the camera. I will be shooting video while on scuba, so the housing will need to be rated to beyond 130 feet, which means I can't use the Ewa or Epic housings. There seem to be a couple of okay housings for the GL2, but it irritates me as to why there are so few compared to the many housings available for all the cameras from Sony.

In terms of Equinox and Ikelite, the only issue I have with any housing purchase is the fact that I don't know where I can try it out before I shell out all that money. Ikelite might be better in this regard because they're more widely distributed. Equinox ships it to you directly. This has also caused me to consider other camcorders such as the Sony VX2000 which is probably better for underwater work because of the low light capability (bigger sensors) and the fact that the Ikelite housing has a manual iris control. The problem is I won't be using it solely as an underwater camera, in fact, most of my use will be as a summer camp videographer on land, which makes the GL2 a better camera in terms of a few factors. I also looked at Gates and while it is a huge stretch on budget, the fact that their housings include so many controls and look so well made is very tempting.

The last reason I'm waiting is, as Ronan mentioned, the fact that the GL2 is probably going to be replaced soon. I'm actually hoping they release an updated SD version as well (like they did with the XL2) because I don't have a need for HD now and I'm concerned that if they make it HD, they'll price it out of my range.
Any thoughts on any of this? Once I get the camera and later the housing, I'll definitly post my opinions on the setup.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 07:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Khalil
well, I haven't actually done any underwater work yet, but the reason I was looking for a housing was because I'm interested to do it after I buy the camera, so I wanted to make sure there were housing options after I got the camera. I will be shooting video while on scuba, so the housing will need to be rated to beyond 130 feet, which means I can't use the Ewa or Epic housings. There seem to be a couple of okay housings for the GL2, but it irritates me as to why there are so few compared to the many housings available for all the cameras from Sony.

In terms of Equinox and Ikelite, the only issue I have with any housing purchase is the fact that I don't know where I can try it out before I shell out all that money. Ikelite might be better in this regard because they're more widely distributed. Equinox ships it to you directly. This has also caused me to consider other camcorders such as the Sony VX2000 which is probably better for underwater work because of the low light capability (bigger sensors) and the fact that the Ikelite housing has a manual iris control. The problem is I won't be using it solely as an underwater camera, in fact, most of my use will be as a summer camp videographer on land, which makes the GL2 a better camera in terms of a few factors. I also looked at Gates and while it is a huge stretch on budget, the fact that their housings include so many controls and look so well made is very tempting.

The last reason I'm waiting is, as Ronan mentioned, the fact that the GL2 is probably going to be replaced soon. I'm actually hoping they release an updated SD version as well (like they did with the XL2) because I don't have a need for HD now and I'm concerned that if they make it HD, they'll price it out of my range.
Any thoughts on any of this? Once I get the camera and later the housing, I'll definitly post my opinions on the setup.

Where are you located? There is a local dive shop here in Orange County, CA that rents and offers classes on underwater videography and they do feature Ikelite products. They're called Liburdi's scuba and their site is http://www.liburdisscuba.com/
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Old January 8th, 2006, 08:42 PM   #10
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I'm in Onatario, Canada, so I don't think there will be anyone that offers renting underwater housings around here, but if anyone knows of someone around Toronto that rents housings out, let me know.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 09:26 PM   #11
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This might be an add on to this thread, so here it goes. Does anyone here have, or used, and Equinox Pro Pak 8 housing? If so will a Firestore FS-4 fit in the housing as well? And is it better to go with a .5x wide angle lens over .7x wide angle

Thanks
Chris
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Old January 12th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #12
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The Pro Pak 8 housing is the one I have been looking at. Judging from the pictures, I think it may be possible to squeeze one in, but I've never held either a firestore or the hosuing, so don't take my word for much. I do plan to eventually get a firestore, so I'd be interested to find out if this is possible at well.
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Old January 13th, 2006, 02:07 AM   #13
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Andrew...

When I was starting to look at video housings I considered various options and, like you, wasn't tied to any particular camera.

I eventually chose to use a Sony PDX10 with an Undersea Video Housing.

http://www.usvh.com/index.html

The camera fits snugly into the housing and the whole package is quite compact and light: weighs about 10 pounds, depending on ballast used. My only complaint about a small, light camera is that it's definitely easier to get camera shake than a heavier, bulkier one.

The housing is well thought out and, because the controls are all electronic, I can adjust exposure, focus, etc. As for white balance, I use just the daylight balance. If I really want to compensate at shallow depths from 20 feet to 50 feet then I can use the color correction filter. Otherwise I'll just use a fixed white balance for the sake of consistency.

I just started using it last week to shoot Atlantis Submarines' operation in Maui for our TV show and the results were good -- all things considered.

I hadn't shot UW video for a while and had to get used to seeing the image through an LCD screen instead of an eyepiece. Even my old Ikelite housing used a magnified eyepiece and, with my inability to focus close w/o reading glasses, it wasn't simple to determine focus.

The recommended wide angle adapter is a 0.7x Sony. I'd recommend the 0.6x Sony instead. Personal preference. The 0.7x is supposed to be sharper but I'm used to shooting with a wider lens, especially underwater. I was shooting with the 0.7x but will try a 0.6x on the next dive. I found myself always having to backup when I thought I was in the right position to frame a shot.

Color was very good. The image looked better than what I saw in real life. Just have to be careful about overexposure and underexposure, just as you would with standard video.

With this combination you have the option of displaying the usual camera data onscreen. It will not display zebras but overexposure is easily detected when areas go a light pink color. Just dial back until the hot spots disappear.

The housing sports a flat port which allows for full zoom-though. I was able to get a relatively tight shot of a fish that is otherwise difficult to approach. The flat port didn't seem to compromise edge sharpness at all.

My first dive with it wasn't a disappointment. Didn't have much time to experiment as there were shots to get for the show and at the depth we were diving, there wasn't much bottom time.

I still have to set ballast in the housing to get just the right combination of buoyancy and balance. I liked the controls and the results, even though the initial lens wasn't quite wide enough for my tastes. Looking forward to trying some close-up work, too.

The housing is reasonably priced when compared to other options. The turnaround time is long, unfortunately, since they're all custom-made. But Warren, the guy who builds these things, is easy to talk to when you call him on the phone.
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Old January 13th, 2006, 07:38 AM   #14
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Hi Dean,
the PDX10 is actually in consideration. The only issue I have with it is the really short zoom range. I know it isn't useful underwater, but my primary use for the camera won't be underwater and for my topside work, I really need the zoom range. I also do a lot of shooting at lower angles, and I'd really miss having a handle on top of the camera with zoom and record buttons - they're just little differences, but I think those will be the only differences between all the cameras in this price range.
I am also considering the VX2100 which I really like for the larger CCDs, but has the same limited zoom range and other little things that sort of bug me, such as an iris that must be fully opened after which gain is adjusted - I'd like to be able to independantly control all parameters.
In the end, the GL2 (so far) just seems like the camera that best meets my needs - if only it had 1/3 inch CCDs, XLR audio and 24P, it would be perfect camera.
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Old January 13th, 2006, 07:49 AM   #15
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Quick question Dean: I notice the PDX10 can record in DVCAM and DV formats - do you notice a difference between the two?
From what I understand, it uses MiniDV tape for both formats?
Thanks
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