Looking at the SeaLife DC1200 series underwater camera? Trying to decide between the standard, elite, maxx and maxx duo versions?
The question of which camera set you should start out with really depends on two things: cost and starting point. By starting point I mean the point at which you see yourself taking photos before becoming more than just an beginner (aka upgrading your camera equipment).
Since the DC1200 Maxx and Maxx Duo versions can run between $1350 – $1500 they can easily be out of a persons price range for a beginner’s camera set. It’s true, SeaLife’s cameras are geared more towards beginner / amateur underwater photo enthusiasts because they offer affordable, easy to use cameras. You literally only need to change 2 or 3 settings before you are ready to shoot. The DC1200 Elite runs between $650-$750 which makes it a perfect jumping in point for a camera with a strobe, housing and lens. I’d recommend against buying the standard, which I’ll get to in a few minutes.
If you are prepared to spend $1500 on a camera set then consider the Maxx Duo which includes a Strobe and Photo-Video light, camera, housing, lens, and hard case. The big things to look at here are the strobe which you absolutely need for clear, brilliant pictures and then Photo-Video light for night pictures. Believe me it’s a pain in the ass to hold up your dive light and angle the camera while maintaining buoyancy at night. This will be everything you could possibly want in a camera set before stepping up and dropping serious money. The Maxx version replaces the Photo-Video light with another strobe, which is good for close up / macro shots but doesn’t offer the flexibility to take photos at night without balancing your own dive light. Even if you don’t do night dives, having the ability to shoot in low light / low visibility environments is extremely nice.
If the Maxx Duo is out of your price range then I’d recommend the Elite. It offers the camera, housing, strobe, lens and soft case for a very reasonable price. Like I mention with the Duo you really need a strobe for colorful photos. You can still do night dives with this unit but you’ll have to balance your dive light and/or rig something up. I’ve done it and it’s not fun.
I don’t recommend getting the basic DC1200 camera and housing because you are spending $400 for a point and shoot camera and housing. A disposable camera will do the same thing. Besides you’re talking about a few hundred dollars more for a strobe, lens, case, etc. and these accessories can be more expensive after the fact – get them all together and start the right way. A $400 point and shoot will get you low quality pictures, which will probably disappoint you and make you question why you spent that much money. If you get the strobe, lens, etc. you’ll be much more satisfied with the quality of the pictures and probably use it more often.