25 Meter Underwater Camera
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Rear, Canon D30. bigger.
Top, Canon D30. bigger.
The Canon D30 underwater camera is a sturdy little waterproof camera.
This D30 is more delicate than the Nikon AW130, but this D30 is much easier to use.
The Olympus TG-4 costs more than this D30 and is about as delicate, but the TG4 is even easier to use and works much better if you plan to use it above water or with flash.
The TG-4 has more useful features like a programmable mode dial and an easy-to-recall clock/GPS/altimeter/depth gauge that lets you leave your watch at home. You can recall a clock on the D30 (hold FUNC/SET, or hold it and tap POWER if the power is off), but it doesn't have the simultaneous altimeter/depth gauge, compass and GPS display of the TG-4.
A problem with this D30 is that it still sells at full price, $300, and is not discounted. That puts it at a price disadvantage to the other underwater cameras.
An advantage of this D30 over the Nikon AW130 and Olympus TG-4 is that the D30 has very good autofocus while zoomed-in for videos, while the other two rarely focus properly when zoomed in while rolling video.
None of these underwater cameras is very sharp for use above water compared to a DSLR; an iPhone 6s is sharper, especially in the corners if you're splitting pixels; this is the price you pay for being able to work underwater.
Handy folding-plug charger with separate orange CHARGING and green DONE LEDs.
Bad or Missing
Doesn't charge via USB.
You only can check the time on the rear LCD. Other similar cameras easily let us check the date, GPS, compass, depth, barometer and pressure altitude on the back LCD.
Rated 82 feet or 25 meters static pressure for up to 60 minutes.
Rated IEC/JIS IP6X.
Per MIL 810F / 516.5; IV, which means as much as it seems: just about nothing.
Avoid dropping this camera.
12 MP (4,000 x 3,000 pixels) native.
Also M1 (6 MP, 2,816 x 2,112), M2 (2 MP, 1,600 x 1,200) and S (0.3 MP, VGA 640 x 480) modes.
5 ~ 25mm f/3.9 ~ 4.8.
Equivalent to about a 28 ~ 140mm lens on a full-frame or 35mm camera.
One Waterhouse stop for f/8 ~ f/10.
Folded optical path.
1 ~ 1/1,600 second
There's a trick mode that goes to 15 seconds
None, rear LCD only.
Not possible unless you mess with custom optical triggers.
MOV files containing MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video with linear PCM mono audio.
1920 and 1280 use 16:9 crops from the 4:3 sensor; 640 uses the full sensor.
Only three video choices:
640 / 29.97p.
1280 / 29.97p.
1920 / 23.976p.
Mono mic only.
48k/16 bit coding.
NMEA 0183 format log files.
Bottom Battery & Card Hatch, Canon D30. bigger.
One SD card slot.
Canon D30 connector cover, closed. bigger.
Connectors, Canon D30. bigger.
From left to right:
USB connector that also does mono analog audio or NTSC/PAL analog video.
Canon NB-6LH battery. bigger.
NB-6LH rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
3.7 V 1,060 mAh.
0 ~ 40ºC operating.
34.4 x 41.8 x 6.9mm (1.35 x 1.65 x 0.27").
0.78 oz. (22g).
Internal rechargeable battery runs the clock for three weeks after the main battery is inserted for four hours.
Battery life: about 300 complete charge/recharge cycles.
Rated 300 shots per charge
1 hour of video (1:40 for video if you just start it and let it run continuously)
6 hours of playback.
Canon CB-2LY charger. bigger.
Canon CB-2LY charger. bigger.
We get the CB-2LY folding-plug charger in the USA. Lesser countries may get the CB-2LYE that needs a cord.
Universal 100 ~ 240 VAC 50-60 cycles, 50 ~ 85 mA.
Rated 4.2VDC, 700 mA.
It has two LEDs: orange for charge, and green for done. Bravo!
0º ~ 40ºC operating.
Optional ACK-DC40 AC adapter.
4.31 x 2.68 x 1.08 inches.
109.4 x 68.0 x 27.5mm.
7.630 oz. (216.2 g) with battery and card, measured.
7.69 oz. (281 g) with battery and card, rated.
6.84 oz. (194 g) empty, rated.
Bottom, Canon D30. bigger.
Made in Japan.
-10 ~ +40ºC.
14 ~ 104ºF.
$300 from introduction in 2014 through today in April 2016; the price has never dropped.
Box, Canon D30. bigger.
Box Top, Canon D30. bigger.
The D30 is a ho-hum performer. The Olympus TG-4 doesn't cost much more and works better.
The D30 is a lackluster camera whose main attraction is working underwater and having great video autofocus.
Autofocus is great; it just finds faces or other subjects and focusses on them, still or video, and regardless of the zoom setting.
It handles well.
It works the same as other Canon Powershot cameras.
It's easy to figure out.
Image quality is about what we used to expect from a regular point-and-shoot 10 years ago, which is inferior to a modern iPhone 6s Plus can do — but an iPhone or DSLR won't work underwater.
If you split pixels, the D30 isn't that sharp, especially in the corners, but when's the last time you actually printed bigger than 12 x 18 inches?
It's easy to lose detail in the highlights if your lighting is harsh.
Colors are swell, but the Underwater mode (fish icon) will be too red if you're shooting right under the water snorkeling. It's certainly better than not using the Underwater mode when swimming or snorkeling; the regular mode would be way too blue, at least in a pool.
Even in the regular mode, you can focus extremely closely at the wide end of the zoom:
Regular mode at close focus distance, widest zoom setting. Camera-original image to explore on your computer.
Macro mode. It gets even closer than this, but you're already focussed so close there's no room to get the light on your subject! bigger.
Auto ISO is swell; it just works as it needs to.
The flash is tiny and doesn't do much.
It's plenty sharp, but if you split pixels, these underwater cameras are all about as sharp as point and shoots were ten years ago.
Movies have mono sound only.
640 uses 29.97p and motion looks fine.
1280 also shoots at 29.97p.
1920 shoots only at 23.976p, and in daylight it uses short exposure times, so motion looks horribly strobed.
ORIGINAL VIDEO FILE: Click to play! (Ryan and Katie boogie boarding in Maui, 10 April 2016, 2:48 PM, 18 MB 640 MOV).
ORIGINAL VIDEO FILE: Click to play! (Katie catches a wave and giggles as she passes Ryan, Maui, 10 April 2016, 2:54 PM, 20 MB 640 MOV).
ORIGINAL VIDEO FILE: Click to play! (Ryan and Katie catch the same wave and Katie thinks it's hillarious! Maui, 10 April 2016, 2:57 PM. 60 MB 1280 MOV).
ORIGINAL VIDEO FILE: Click to play! (Katie thinks the end of her ride is a hoot! 3:00 PM, Maui, 10 April 2016. 19 MB 1280 MOV).
The LCD is swell.
There's a daylight mode (just hold DISP for a few seconds) that brightens it for use outdoors.
Unlike your phone that's actually always on and receiving GPS data (even when in airplane mode), the D30, like most or all cameras, only turns on its GPS when you turn on the camera.
Therefore the first shot you take may not have GPS data attached; it takes the D30 some time to acquire its location each time.
If you just got off the plane in Tahiti it will take it a while to figure out where it is, while if it was active and you just turned it off a moment ago it locks-in very quickly.
Playback is typical for Canon's point and shoots.
It's very good. It's fast and has plenty of data options.
I set the clock to set itself to the GPS, in which case I never saw the clock vary by more than a few seconds.
Cards are titled CANON_DC.
Movie file names are prefixed MVI_, which makes sorting them a pain since still photos start with IMG_.
There are options to let the camera create a new folder each day or each month.
The battery's great; I never could run it down in a day of shooting.
Unlike 10 years ago, the D30 turns on and works as soon as you turn it on, and takes many pictures on a charge. It's not 2003 anymore.
I've been making comparisons throughout this review; see also Underwater Cameras Compared.
Be sure the covers are closed before you jump in.
Also be sure that you carefully removed any grit or dirt from the seals before you close the door; water spits right past gains of sand in the gaskets.
Be sure that both doors are closed.
When done, rinse the D30 in fresh water and put it on a towel to dry before you open it.
Open it after dinner, pull out the card to download and pop the battery in the charger.
Put everything back together the next morning for tomorrow's shooting.
You shouldn't open the door to charge or download right after you've left the water; you'll get water in the camera.
Be sure to charge fully before going out each day; don't expect to be able to recharge until the camera has thoroughly dried. You don't want to open a damp camera.
Canon D30 included wrist strap. bigger.
The system sinks if dropped in water; you might want to get a floating wrist strap.
Canon mentions an SJ-DC1 silicon (rubber) cover and an FT-DC1 floating strap, but I don't see them for sale in the USA.
This is a plastic camera. Ignore any "drop" ratings; those are rigged numbers that refer to at least some cameras working after being dropped onto plywood at that height. The cameras can become cracked and still pass that test, but when put in water again, they flood and short out.
If you drop this on stone or concrete, it will probably crack, and flood as soon as it gets wet, destroying the camera.
It's immune to water, but not to dropping.
It comes set in the AUTO mode, which locks out most settings.
I set it to P mode, which gives me full reign of all the settings.
To set the shooting mode, press the rear AUTO (up) button, then select up and down to P or whatever you want, like Underwater.
Canon hides many, many trick modes here. You find them by clicking left or right once you've clicked up or down to each set of related modes.
I set the Underwater mode when underwater. It's the icon that looks like a fish.
None of these underwater cameras are that sharp.
While they have 12 to 16 MP sensors, their lenses use folded optical paths and aren't as sharp as the sensors.
Therefore I set my D30 to its M1 mode (FUNC/SET > L > click right to select M1; 6 megapixels or 2,816 x 2,112 pixels) to keep file sizes small and card capacities and transfer speeds up without losing any real picture quality.
In contrasty outdoor light I usually set -2/3 exposure compensation (FUNC/SET > 0 > +2/3 > FUNC/SET).
I always shoot in Vivid (FUNC/SET > OFF > V > FUNC/SET) for nice colors which look great for people, for places and for things.
Putting your name and address on the Start-Up Screen
To make your name and address pop up for a moment every time the D30 turns on, see page 106 in Canon USA's D30 Owner's Manual.
What you do is:
Write your name on paper or your computer screen
Take a picture of it
Playback the image
Press MENU > Wrench > Start-up Image > FUNC/SET > 2 > FUNC/SET > OK > FUNC/SET.
Once set, there's no way to get back the original #2 image that Canon had there by default; it writes your image into that location. Just use a new image, use the #1 option or turn off the start up image (MENU > Wrench > Start-up Image > Off) if you get tired of it.
I don't know how to make the image hold there if someone needed to read your name and address; in the old days cameras took forever to wake up, but the D30 turns on immediately.
To make the LCD much brighter for use in daylight, simply hold the DISP button for a few seconds. It will stay in this mode even if you turn off the D30 until you hold DISP for a few seconds again.
I prefer to have my D30 create new folders each day. Press MENU > Wrench> Create Folder > Daily.
If you need GPS data for every shot, either use your iPhone or be sure to let the D30 be on for a long time before you first use it or move to a very different location.
Even if you haven't moved much, it always can take a short period of time with the power on to get a good fix again.
I haven't tried the TRACK or LOG option; it uses much more power since it keeps the camera on in the background receiving GPS signals. If you do this, you ought to have better data more often, but just as well you may find your battery dead.
That's why if I need to log a location, I just make a shot on my iPhone to be sure.
To see the clock, hold FUNC SET for several seconds. If the power is off, hold FUNC SET and tap POWER.
Just press [ > ] PLAY, even if the power is off.
Hold DISP for a few seconds for the extra-bright daylight mode.
When zoomed, hit SET to swap between the directional controls either scrolling around an image or swapping among other images.
Use an AVC-DC400 cord to play on an NTSC or PAL TV.
For the best results, shoot at 640 or 1280.
The frame rate at 1920 is very low (23.976p), and exposure times are short in decent light, so instead of getting a beautiful cinematic look for motion, 1920 usually gives a nasty strobing that looks like either a special effect or something horribly wrong.
In Hollywood we call this problem a very narrow shutter angle; it's nowhere near the standard 180º of motion picture cameras (a 1/48 second exposure each 1/24 of a second). It's more like 10º so instead of motion blurring naturally, you get what looks like stop action. The higher frame rates at 1280 or 640 minimize this.
The Nikon AW130 costs less and is much tougher, so for hazardous use where you're probably going to lose, drop, beat on or flood it, I'd get the AW130.
The main reason to get this D30 is for video; it holds focus as zoomed while the TG4 and AW130 usually go horribly out of focus as you zoom in for video.
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.
Thanks for helping me help you!
© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
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