As an amateur hobby-level photographer I have always wanted to get some surf shots of my friends from the water. It seems like everyone’s got pictures from land, but getting that in-the-lineup perspective makes for some fresh and fun photos. Previously my attempts at in-water photography were limited to those disposable Kodak cameras that came in the waterproof plastic cases. I bought one in Hawaii and promptly lost it out at Ala Moana bowls. However the second one I shot with offered up some fun shots. It was limiting, however, since I only had 26 precious shots. With the advent of affordable digital cameras you can take as many photos as you want. This can be a good or bad thing, but if you’re in the water taking pictures it’s most assuredly a good thing.
Enter the Fuji XP 10, a waterproof camera that’s small enough to tuck into your wetsuit when you’re not using it.
The first time I took it out I had to get used to timing my shots and getting my perspective right. I was surfing at the same time, so it was tough to get a good perspective. This changed when I took the camera out to a rock reef point break this summer back home, and was able to get some great shots from the shoulder. Having a nice predictable takeoff spot makes in-water photography that much easier. This past weekend I finally took my fins out and swam around in the lineup taking shots of my friends. I’m no professional, but I found that with a little practice the camera can take some pretty darn good shots.
Here are some shots I took this past weekend. I still have a long way to go, but I figured I’d show you what the camera is capable of so far.
I suggest tying a string around the strap loop and putting the whole thing around your neck before tucking it into your wetsuit, or looping it around your wrist a few times. If you drop this camera it’s going to sink like a stone. There are floatation devices for sale, or I’m sure you could rig up a homemade one.
The camera takes decent video, but it’s not HD. However, it can still be a great way to have fun and also help improve your surfing – nothing helps more than seeing what you’re doing on video.
This isn’t a GoPro, but I find it to be pretty portable. Like I said, you can tuck it in your wetsuit either at the top of your chest or behind your shoulder somewhere and still surf. So if you’re on vacation somewhere you don’t have to be stuck not surfing if you want to take photos as well.
The only drawbacks to the camera are that it sometimes takes a moment to focus after you’ve pressed the shutter as the autofocus is working. You have to try to press the shutter halfway to get it to focus and prepare for the shot, so you might lose a few last second shots. The other thing is that the camera makes the waves look a little flat, depending on your location in the lineup. The colors are sometimes a little washed out, and a little Photoshop or other color correctional program such as Gimp can go a long way.
This camera is a great way to cut your teeth and see if you actually like shooting from the water. Personally I think it’s fun and exciting, and I don’t mind giving up part of a session to get a few good photos. Even if they don’t all come out as candidates for a cover of Surfer, my friends have all been absolutely stoked on the results.
You can buy the Fuji XP 10 online from Amazon.com
or at your local camera store.