Waterproof Cameras & Moving Water

-- Last Updated: Nov-06-09 11:55 AM EST --

I'm just getting my first waterproof camera (Panasonic TS1) and wondering if you have some hints on how to use it safely.

Having a float + thether to it is of course going to be done. However, I would like to do some short video clips for my own feedback/education in situations where I play in white water or rough water where I often roll in a strong current or have to punch through an oncoming wave.

The problem with the above is that pressure on the camera from moving water or a dumping wave can exceed the waterproof rating on the camera. Are there simple things to do to mitigate these dynamic conditions while still actually using the camera?

I was thinking of getting a cheap-ish ($140) Hero camera that is fairly sturdy compared to the other waterproof compact digicams. It can take up to an hour video but it seems it eats batteries like there is no tomorrow. And then it is not really good for anything else but low-end web-quality clips. I want to have a decent waterproof camera with me for good quality photos + decent video when needed - and the Hero aint it...

So, two things. How do you attach it so you get a good view of yourself (for stroke feedback) or of the conditions where you paddle? Also, how to make a cam such as this on more sturdy? Have you used things like a rubber housing or a carved foam piece or what not to minimize the exposed area? Any other tips?

Lastly, are there any reasonably priced warranty/insurance options that would actually cover water damage? Aftermarket extended warranties I've seen pretty much exclude water damage...


Iffin’ yer lookin’ fer video cameras

– Last Updated: Nov-06-09 12:51 PM EST –

Sanyo's gots a few OK HD and SD cameras dat be waterproof from 5' to 10'.

(copy and Paste entire string into yer URL line)


Ah' gots a older Sanyo VPC-E1 good to 5' - dat gives decent H.264 (mpeg4) footage. Nuttin' like me JVC HD GY100's quality...


but then a'gin' which is zoytainly not waterproof an' some o' de time it be a bit hard ta take in me canoo...



I doubt that rolling, slamming through
a wave, or anything like that would threaten any of the waterproof cameras now available. Their depth ratings may be conservative. I haven’t heard of anyone’s waterproof failing after surfing, etc.

What does threaten these cameras is that they have a bunch of seals that can age and fail. How long the seals last is open to question. Usually it costs less to buy a newer waterproof than to have a technician service the seals.

Like Eric Nyre, I use a Canon in a waterproof dive case. These cases are a bit bulky, but one advantage is that the seals can be pre-checked occasionally by submerging the closed case without the camera inside. The main seal is replaceable, and the seals around the controls are much larger than those around the controls of waterproof cameras. Larger seals will probably age better and last longer.

Cases …
… are certainly an option and I would end-up with a higher quality image most likely but they are too bulky and I think I’ll be leaving that at home more often than not. I already have a case for one of my cameras and don’t use it mostly because of the extra hassle and size the case presents. Admittedly, that particular case is especially unwieldy to use (but cheap) and probably the Canon’s or equivalent would be better…

I’ll admit that, unless you’re an open
boater, a camera in a waterproof case might be a hassle. I think some of the newest waterproof cameras are delivering real quality (Canon has one also), but there are some things I could get only in a non-waterproof Canon Elph, like wide angle (28mm equivalent), f2.8 lens, optical stabilization.


– Last Updated: Nov-06-09 5:22 PM EST –

Here is a review I did of an Oregon Scientific ATC-2K (which has been replaced with 3K and 4K since I did the review):

Here is a review I did of the GoPro Hero:

Both are cheap (the older Oregon Scientific can be found for like $50-75 new now) and should be plenty waterproof for what you want.

On installing, I used the new version of the Hero (borrowed it - I only own the older one) on my deck for a weekend at Mendocino earlier this year. Attached it with the helmet mount straps wrapped around the deck bungees, and added a safety leash just in case. The current GoPros are wide angle. For putting on your deck to get shoots of you, that would be fine. But not so great at catching stuff far away. In the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_CB5_eMeWk, the tunnel (time 0:11) and "more pour overs" (time 0:38) were both with the GoPro. I was only about 2 boat lengths from the pour over, yet he looks so much father away.

I also used the ATC-2K at 2nd trip to Mendo, also attached to the deck. This time used the bike mount, after fabricating a simple T out of PVC pipe and strapping that under the bungees (once again with a leash as backup). Not wide angle, so shows distance better. Not as good in lower light situations. In the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTFTmvHL2fo, the deck shots are all with this camera. Tunnel at 0:09, blow hole at 0:47, and running the pour over at 1:00. Tunnel in the two videos were different, but the big pour over is the same between the two.

I have done the ATC-2K on my deck, facing me, during roll practice a few years back. Evening, and not well lit above water, but had lots of underwater lights in the pool. Made for an interesting effect:

I know of people who use a product called Sticky Pods, and love them - http://www.stickypod.com/. But it seems you would pay as much for a cheap camera as the pods are, so I haven't tried them.

Be Careful
Be very careful with the TS-1. I got one of the very first ones for my trip up the Inside Passage and it lasted less than 30 days. You can read about it on my blog, at www.gteadventureblog.com. Briefly, I believe the issue with this camera is condensation on the inside that turns to destructive moisture. Mine was never submersed, yet was totally destroyed. I have met one other person who experienced the exact same thing. Mine is getting shipped back to Panasonic this week. Good luck!


Don’t worry about water infiltration
Unless the camera is defective, you will have lost it long before bad seals become an issue. I have several sitting on the bottom of local rivers. I currently have a Pentax Optio W60. It stays in my PFD pocket and gets a fair amount of abuse. I’ve never had a problem.

In terms of mounting a camera to the boat, MountainWayfarer has done some pretty neat stuff - interval shooting, video, etc. I haven’t seen him post much lately, but his does have some info on his website


Here’s an example of an OC1 slalom racer with the camera mounted in the back of the boat – gives you a pretty good perspective on strokes.


I have also put the camera on a rock on the bank, turned it on and paddled in front of it. Works fine for playing around on rivers, and its a lot easier than FatElmo’s set-up. Probably not an option if you are a sea kayaker.


Good luck and have fun with your new camera.

Go Pro
Hey, thanks for the info. The link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_CB5_eMeWk , is that with the “Wide” or the regular Hero?

My new TS1 is for sale, btw
Check the classifieds if anyone is interested.

Cold and ATC
This is timely I’m in the market for a waterproof video camera.

I saw in one of your review of the ATC that it shut off whenever the temps were in the 50. Did you figure out how to avoide that from happening?

Also, do you think there is a way to mount the hero on your helmet for biking? I race cross and would love to mount it on my bike. Do you think you could mount it on top of a whitewater helmet (one without drain plugs)?

Thanks and I enjoyed reading your reviews.


GoPro be a’comin’ out wit an HD version

– Last Updated: Nov-10-09 3:01 PM EST –

near de end o' de month at $300 list. Supposed 1080P an' 720P, in H.264 (mpeg4). Waterproof ta 180' but... hey wait a cotton pickin' minute - ah' dun't see a dag-blamed viewfinder! They got's an ooptional add-on LCD viewfinder that snaps inta de back inside de housing. So it's more than $300 bucks.

Gon'na take a gander at dat one me'self.



Thanks for the link. The video from that definitely looks better than the current version.

These guys are brave jumping from them rocks and planing like bat-squirrels -:wink:http://www.goprocamera.com/hdheropreview