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Underwater Photography:
Stylus Tough 8000

Olympus Stylus Tough 8000

By Tony Griffitts

Underwater photography can be a costly hobby.  Olympus has made underwater photography within reach of anyone's grasp that is looking for new digital camera.  The new (out in 2009) Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 is a 12 mega pixel, waterproof camera down to 10 meters (33 feet).  It is perfect for the people that like to snorkel or SCUBA dive in shallow water and want to record their underwater safari.  It's compact size makes it easy to take on trips.  Available from most retailers for under $400US, it is a great camera for learning techniques of underwater photography.

Recently I purchased the camera before I left for a trip to the Philippines. In addition to the camera I also purchased an extra battery, international charger, 8 GB Micro SD memory card, and floatation strap.  I read the manual before I left for my trip, so I would know which settings were best for the scenes I was going to shoot.  The camera has several settings for underwater photography pre-programmed.  All you need to do is select the best setting for the scene and shoot.

Juvenile Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) in a Bubble Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) Siquijor, Philippines.

Juvenile Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) in a Bubble Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) off the island of Siquijor, Philippines.

It did not take long to get used to the camera.  A couple of things worth noting about using the camera underwater for the first time.  The lens for the camera is located in the upper right hand corner of the face.  I ended up taking a few photos of the side of my left index finger before I realized that I had to use a different location to grip the camera.  When taking the camera underwater you need to make sure you shake any bubbles off the lens before you start taking photos.  While snorkeling in areas of shallow water, oxygen bubbles are always rising from the sea floor from algae and plants, and they collect on the lens.   You will need to shake the camera from time to time thought out your adventure to clear the bubbles off lens.  Battery life is also an issue.  Make sure you turn "Power Save" on before you begin, this will give you a lot more photos on one charge.  When photographing underwater, the camera always uses the flash.  I highly recommend that you purchase at least one extra battery, two would be even better.

Maxima Giant Clam (Tridacna maxima) Siquijor, Philippines.

Maxima Giant Clam (Tridacna maxima) off the island of Siquijor, Philippines.

Most of the underwater photos I took with the camera were shot in the "Underwater Macro" mode.  The camera can also take underwater video but it is not as impressive as it's still shot capability.   The underwater video setting create a red hue to the video.  In shallow, very clear water, the red hue is very noticeable, but in deeper water it looked normal.

Underwater video shot with OLYMPUS Stylus Tough 8000 off the island of Siquijor, Philippines in October 2009.

Aquarist that like to take pictures of your fish in aquariums, this is not a camera to buy if that will also be your intent.  The position of the flash  to the lens makes if difficult to take macro photos of fish in the aquarium without getting flash back off the glass.  The camera is good for take pictures of scenes and family photos. 

Overall, I am happy with the performance of the camera for underwater photography, and I look forward to taking it on my next adventure.

For more photos click here!

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