Can a premium compact meet the challenges of dive photography? Brent Durand puts the G7X II to the test
posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 6:12 PM EDT
We're partnering with Underwater Photography Guide, an excellent resource for all things dive-photography, in order to bring those of you interested in learning more about dive photography a closer look at this exciting and decidedly different photographic frontier. I got to meet their editor, Brent Durand, on a dive photography trip last year in Key Largo, and was thoroughly amazed by not only how exciting dive photography can be, but also what an incredibly different challenge it poses to photographers.
The Canon G7X Mark II has been the single most popular camera on our website this year, so we thought it would make a good centerpiece for our first installment of this dive photography series from Brent. Can a camera with such a small form factor bring you quality images from the deep dark depths? If Brent has anything to say about it, the answer is decidedly "Yes." The images certainly serve to back his confidence in this small-in-stature camera that can deliver larger-than-life images of life below the surface.
Canon G7X Mark II In Focus Underwater
by Brent Durand for Underwater Photography Guide
The Canon G7 X Mk II is one of the top choices for compact camera shooters, whether new photographers or experienced pros looking for performance in a small package. Underwater photographers have gravitated to the G7X II due to some very specific camera features and shooting characteristics: image quality, color, minimum focus distance, manual white balance and size. Let’s take a quick look at why the G7 X II excels in each of these areas.
G7X II: 1-inch Sensor
Sensor size matters. While there are various pros and cons to APS-C vs. Full Frame sensors on DSLRs, larger sensors are always preferred in compact cameras. The 1-inch sensor in the Canon G7 X II delivers some of the highest-in-class image quality and dynamic range. This is really important when shooting high-contrast scenes with lots of detail underwater.
Great Canon Color
Canon has a reputation for color, and the G7 X II creates beautiful color even when put to the test underwater. As divers descend deeper the water absorbs color, starting with the red channel. Because of this, underwater photographers generally use strobes or constant lighting to bring the colors back into the scene.
Close Minimum Focus Distance
Underwater photography is like shooting in a dense fog bank, making it difficult to produce sharp images from far away. Because of this, underwater shooters need to get the camera as close as possible to the subject. The Canon G7 X II has a 5cm (2 inch) minimum focus distance (at 24mm), which means that you can get the front of the u/w housing lens port very close to the subject while still achieving sharp focus. The benefit is less water and particulate in front of the subject, resulting in a crisper image of a small subject that really fills the frame.
Canon G7X II: Manual White Balance
Manual white balance is very important for underwater video shooters. Because of the loss of color as divers descend deeper in the water, video shooters will often manually white balance in order to recreate a more accurate color rendition of the scene. And while the Canon G7 X II doesn’t have a convenient one-touch white balance, it does a nice job white balancing at deep depths. Many other compact cameras have challenges achieving a proper white balance below 20m (60ft), unable to determine the right kelvin temperature from a white or neutral gray slate.
Compact Size for 1” Sensor
The Canon G7 X II delivers a lot of features in a small package. This is really important for traveling photographers who want to beat airline weight restrictions. Underwater photographers will also be traveling with a housing, various macro and wide-angle wet lenses, strobe flashes, focus light and many accessories, which all add up quick. The power of the Canon G7 X II delivers images suitable for most hobby photographers without the unnecessary bulk and weight of a mirrorless or DSLR system.
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[Visit the Underwater Photography Guide to view hundreds of photo tutorials, gear reviews, marine life photo essays, dive travel tips, the best dive photo destinations, guided photo workshops and much more.]