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Why I Love My Liquid Image Scuba Camera Mask
The idea of embedding a tiny camera inside a scuba mask is genius. Sheer genius. And the good folks at Liquid Image are my heroes for making that brilliant invention a reality in the Liquid Image XSC 318 scuba camera mask.
I got interested in both photography and scuba diving while I was in high school. Back in those days, people still used an "ancient" technique called film (you youngsters will have to go look it up in the dictionary), and underwater photography was only for people with a big wallet and a willingness to surface after every 36 images to install a new roll of film. In other words, taking pictures under the ocean wasn't possible for everyone.
I temporarily lost my passion for scuba diving after freezing my tail too many times in the 57-degree (14 C) waters of Monterey Bay. But I never lost my passion for photography. So when I recently decided to get re-certified to dive, one of my first goals was to get an underwater camera for scuba diving. Well, if truth be told, I already HAD an underwater camera, but it was only waterproof to 40 feet. That made it great for our swimming pool, snorkeling or the local water park, but it couldn't help me when diving to the 60 foot (18m) limit of a new PADI-certified Open Water Diver.
Then I discovered the Liquid Image wide angle scuba mask. What immediately attracted me to this mask was its price (much more affordable than an underwater housing!) and its functionality - it's something you wear. After I don a wetsuit and a BCD with hoses and straps everywhere and a big steel tank attached to my back, I feel like a clunky robot. Carrying an extra object isn't something I look forward to. The nice thing about the Liquid Image scuba camera mask is that it's not an extra piece of equipment; it's an essential piece of equipment. That means you won't have the usual fears of dropping it on the ocean bottom or forgetting it in the boat. It's right on your face when you go in the water!
I got my mask in the spring and finally got a chance to use it in Cozumel a few months later. From the time we jumped in the ocean until we ended our dives several hours later, I was happily snapping pictures and shooting video underwater. The mask is incredibly easy to use. It basically has just one lever to control all the camera functions. When you press it one way, it serves as the on/off switch or the toggle between video and still photo mode. A red or blue light indicates when you've switched modes. Press the lever the other way and it's the shutter.
With this one simple lever, you can shoot 12 MP still images or 720p HD video. The camera's 136-degree wide angle lens captures an amazingly wide field of view in front of you, so there's no need to focus, zoom or play with any controls. You pretty much get what you see in front of you. You simply reach up, click the lever and the camera does the rest.
The camera comes with a 4 GB micro SD card that can hold 2 hours of video or about 2800 photos, so if you're not sure you got the shot the first time, you can just take another. Of course, as with any underwater camera, you're going to need external lighting if you want to get the best color underwater. (Check out the sample video and photos below from our trip to Cozumel to see what type of images you can expect without additional lighting.)
I'm extremely happy with the results. This camera helped me capture photos and videos of my 12-year-old son's first dive since he got his certification, and I was able to do it without spending a fortune or having to carry extra equipment. To me, that makes this camera an essential part of my dive gear from now on.
Highlights of the Liquid Image Wide Angle Scuba Mask
- Waterproof to 130 feet (40m)
- Records 720p HD video at 30 fps
- Shoots 12 MP interpolated still images
- Includes a 4 GB micro SDHC card and lithium batteries
Liquid Image also offers accessories to go along with the mask, including filters that can improve the color when you're shooting underwater without lights.
You can shoot both still photos and videos with the Liquid Image camera mask. Here are some samples from our trip to Cozumel.