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Great Camera Accessories for Underwater Photography

ScubaLab reviews underwater imaging accessories.
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Great Camera Accessories for Underwater Photography

In this issue we evaluated an assortment of underwater imaging equipment, ranging from small accessories to full camera systems with housings and lenses. Unlike a typical ScubaLab review, the products here weren’t subjected to head-to-head testing but were dived by staff at Alexander Springs in central Florida to evaluate their effectiveness at making underwater shooting easier and more convenient. The reviews here relay our divers’ observations about how the gear performed, including how intuitive they are to use and the ergonomics of their designs.

Accessories

1 | SeaLife SportDiver Smartphone Housing

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SportDiver Smartphone Housing

Courtesy: SeaLife

MSRP $299.95 Contact

This Bluetooth-enabled smartphone housing allows you to harness the imaging power of your iOS or Android device for underwater photography. The lightweight, compact system makes for easy traveling, especially since you won’t need to pack a bulky camera. The housing is rated to 130 feet and features a vacuum seal with dual leak alarms for additional security underwater. The free app provides access to most of your phone’s usual camera functionality, and saves media directly to the device’s camera roll. A large grip and ergonomic controls make for easy handheld shooting, but the SportDiver can also be used on a tripod or tray. The housing has a special compartment designed to hold SeaLife’s color-changing Moisture Muncher desiccant packs. A red color filter is included.

2 | Backscatter 
FLIP9 Pro Package

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Backscatter 
FLIP9 Pro Package

Courtesy: Backscatter

MSRP $199 Contact

Compatible with GoPro Hero5, Hero6, Hero7, Hero8 and Hero9 cameras, this simple-to-use system allows you to quickly and effortlessly swap between any two Flip filters on a single dive. The Pro Package includes a shallow filter for depths between 10 and 25 feet, a dive filter for use between 25 and 80 feet, and a +15 macro lens for getting up close to tiny subjects. The system can be outfitted with additional filters designed to suit a variety of conditions and situations, including green water and fluorescence diving. Constructed out of aircraft-grade aluminum with virtually unbreakable filter optics, the Flip9 is built to last. A GoPro or Isotta housing is required to use the Flip9.

3 | Backscatter 
Mini Flash MF-1

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Backscatter 
Mini Flash MF-1

Courtesy: Backscatter

MSRP $399 (mini flash), $598 (mini flash with optical snoot and color filter bundle) Contact

This low-profile, lightweight strobe makes an ideal companion for compact shooters, allowing them to keep their rig small and streamlined. It provides plenty of illumination for general photography, but was tailor-made for macro. It features a tightly controlled beam for spotlighting subjects, a compact design for getting into narrow spaces, and an integrated LED focus light for easy aiming. Choose between six manual settings and a battery-saving standby mode. The light was designed from the ground up to work with Backscatter’s optical snoot and color filter system, which allow for additional creativity and control of the beam.

4 | Inon 
Z-330 Underwater Strobe Type 2

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Inon 
Z-330 Underwater Strobe Type 2

Courtesy: InonZ

MSRP $650 Contact

Using a specialized dome lens and Inon’s T-shape twin flash, this strobe offers divers powerful illumination with 110 degrees of coverage and a guide number of 33. The Z-330 has 13 manual steps for precise exposure control and an S-TTL auto mode. It provides a full-power flash even at 1/1000 shutter speed and has a 220-lumen shutter-linked focus light. A built-in rotating shade helps reduce ghosting and flaring. The strobe uses a bayonet mounting system to attach a wide variety of dome filters. Controls are large and easy to access, and the control panel is treated with phosphorescence for improved visibility. The strobe is compatible with optical and electrical trigger systems.

5 | PolarPro 
Divemaster GoPro HERO9 Black Filter Kit


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PolarPro 
Divemaster GoPro HERO9 Black Filter Kit


Courtesy: PolarPro

MSRP $49.99 Contact

Engineered specifically for the GoPro Hero9 Black Protector housing and Super Suit housing, these rugged, high-quality color filters offer an easy way to add vibrant, natural color back into your underwater footage. The filters use a push-on design that stays securely in place while diving, and makes it easy to add or remove them quickly. Tethers are provided for additional security. Crafted with an optical polycarbonate lens, the filters are as durable as the GoPro itself. The DiveMaster kit comes with three filters: a red filter for blue water, magenta filter for green water, and snorkel filter for shallow water. It also includes a hard-shell protective case.

6 | SeaLife
 Mini Gear Retractor

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SeaLife Mini Gear Retractor

Courtesy: SeaLife

MSRP $24.95 Contact

This retractor is handy for carrying small accessories like compact cameras or dive lights—we found it especially useful for carrying SeaLife’s ReefMaster RM-4K action camera outfitted with an accessory lens. It extends up to 32 inches and has a 9-ounce retraction force. The retracting cord has a 60-pound breaking strength and features a pinch-to-release quick disconnect for easy removal of the accessory or camera. The large carabiner allows it to clip just about anywhere you can think of, and the thin, stiff cord is easy to thread through even the smallest anchor points. A self-flushing design means the retractor requires only a thorough freshwater rinse after use.

7 | SeaLife
 Micro 3.0


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SeaLife Micro 3.0

Courtesy: SeaLife

MSRP $599.95 Contact

Compact and user-friendly, the Micro 3.0 makes it easy to get 4K video footage above and below the water. Ergonomic piano-key controls and an intuitive operation make it simple to use, while the 24-inch high-resolution LCD display makes it easy to frame shots and review footage. The camera is permanently sealed, making it completely leak-proof. It has a three-hour battery life and a built-in 64-gigabyte memory. The camera has preset color correction filters for diving and a manual white balance. It supports 4K video and RAW image capture. The camera’s wide-angle lens accepts all Micro-series wet lenses, allowing for macro imaging capabilities.

8 | Ultralight Control Systems 
AC-LHC2


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Ultralight Control Systems AC-LHC2

Courtesy: Ultralight Control Systems

MSRP $29.95 (AC-LHC2), $28.95 (AC-LY20), $30.95 (AC-LY24) Contact

Simple and unobtrusive, the AC-LHC2 is a 316 stainless steel mounting plate that can be used to add an attachment point to any 1⁄4-inch clamp bolt. This allows it to be used with just about any system you can think of, as it is not dependent on a specific brand or model. Each order contains a pair of stainless-steel AC-LHC2 plates and associated hardware to attach them—1⁄4-inch clamps are sold separately. The AC- LHC2 can be used to attach Ultralight’s 20- and 24-inch lanyards, the AC-LY20 and AC- LY24, to your rig to create a convenient, easy-to-remove carry handle.

9 | Ultralight Control Systems
 AC-LYC

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Ultralight Control Systems AC-LYC

Courtesy: Ultralight Control Systems

MSRP $25.95 Contact

This clever lanyard provides peace of mind by securing your camera rig underwater, while keeping it easily accessible. Gear can be attached to the lanyard by either a 11⁄2- inch split ring or a sturdy nylon cord. When the heavy-duty quick-disconnect is released, the stainless spring coil stretches about 3 feet, giving shooters plenty of room to use their camera without having to unclip it from their BC. Simply reclip the buckle to hold the camera securely to your person and free up your hands. A large, rotating bolt snap is used to connect the lanyard to your BC, allowing you to easily unclip it and hand off your camera gear while exiting the water.

10 | Ultralight Control Systems
 Colored T-Knobs

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Ultralight Control Systems Colored Knobs

Courtesy: Ultralight Control Systems

MSRP $9.95 Contact

Compatible with all Ultralight Control Systems clamps, these colored knobs will make your photo and video gear instantly identifiable on even the most chaotic camera table, and they make it easy to personalize your equipment or color-code your camera rigs. Kelp Green, Splashy Red and Ultra Blue knobs can be purchased individually, or as part of a new ball clamp. Pink, purple and yellow knobs are currently available only for individual purchase. These colored knobs have Type 2 anodizing, providing them with the increased durability and corrosion resistance need- ed for underwater shooting. Knobs are available with either a 1⁄4-20 or 1⁄4-28 thread bolt.

11 | Ultralight Control Systems
 DB-CB10


MSRP $76.95 Contact

Made of anodized aluminum, this 10-inch flat crossbar features a ball mount on either end. Outfitted with one 1⁄4-inch through hole and six 1⁄4-inch threaded holes, it can be used to mount multiple accessories to your camera rig, such as action cameras, video lights, focus lights and lanyards. It can be mounted over the top of your camera using two Ultra-light Control Systems AC-TCS triple clamps, where it provides stability as well as a place for mounting accessories. The crossbar is very versatile, and can even be used as a miniature camera tray for super compact cameras like GoPro and other action cameras. GoPro mount is not included.

12 | Ultralight Control Systems 
Hot Shoe Mounts


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Ultralight Control Systems Hot Shoe Mounts

Courtesy: Ultralight Control Systems

MSRP $36.95 (AD-HS), $37.95 (AD-HSS), $26.95 (AD-HS-GP), $25.95 (AD-HS-YS) Contact

Cameras and housings sporting a hot or cold shoe can be outfitted with additional components using these shoe mounts. This can be useful when you need an extra spot to mount an accessory, or if you are trying to forgo larger arms to keep your system compact. Mounts are outfitted with an aluminum T-plate, thumbscrew and stainless-steel holding plate. Mounts are available with ball, GoPro and Y/S adapters to suit a variety of accessories. The AD-HSS features a ball mount with a stainless-steel T-plate and stainless holding plate. Each mount comes with a small lanyard for additional security.

13 | Ultralight Control Systems
 Tri-Tray


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Ultralight Control Systems Tri-Tray

Courtesy: Ultralight Control Systems

MSRP $64.95 (Tri-Tray), $36.96 (BA-MT and BA-TT adapters) Contact

The 6-by-4-inch Tri-Tray plate is large enough to mount even the largest camera systems to, and features five 1⁄4-inch slotted holes, four 3⁄8-inch threaded holes and 10 1⁄4-inch threaded holes for maximum versatility. It is compatible with the standard Ultralight BA-HB ball, but can also be rigged up with the new angled BA-MT ball mount or the BA-TT (pictured here), which sits flush with the top of the mounting plate. The tray can be used with any size Ultralight Control Systems arms. Mounting hardware is included with the Tri-Tray, but ball adapters, clamps and arms are sold separately.