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“Wet” shots

25th July 2016

A “must-have” for the pool owner

For nearly thirty years my wife has been after me to build a swimming pool in our yard. Finally, I sort of succumbed to her pressure two years ago. But instead of building one, we found another home that already had a built-in pool.

I have to admit that the swimming pool has been a great addition for the family, especially for the grandkids who drop in regularly to cool off. This being our second summer as pool owners, we’ve hosted many ad hoc combination swim/BBQ dinners. This in turn has given me lots of opportunities to photograph the kids in action.

Late in 2013 I added a neat camera to my growing collection of equipment. The Nikon 1 AW1 had just been introduced as the first rugged mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera. The feature that won me over was the AW1’s underwater capability. Without having to use a bulky and expensive housing this compact unit is usable down to 49 feet. Additionally, it is shockproof from falls up to 6 feet and can operate in temperatures as low as 15 degrees F. Along with the camera, I opted for two lenses: a zoom 11-27.5mm (30-74mm equivalent) and a fixed 10mm (27mm equivalent).

For extra protection, I ordered two accessories: the orange silicone protective jacket and the convenient hand strap.


Here’s a sampling of how I use the AW1:


teaching one of the young ones to swim

a very cold and wet whitewater trip


underwater action

a pair of grandkids


lounging on top

half submerged, half above water



As an old school shooter, I’m both comfortable and used to messing around with the camera settings. However with the AW1, I’ve come to use it almost as a point-and-shoot camera. Of course the overwhelming number of images that I’ve shot have been in and around the pool, usually with lots of sun. Although I’ve haven’t changed the ISO, white balance, aperture nor shutter speed on the AW1, the photos have turned out well.

For those occasions when the natural light is low, pop up the built-in flash which works underwater too. Press the red-dotted button and you’re shooting movies – either above water or below water. And of course I can change lenses from the zoom to the fixed wide-angle.


All in all, I have found the AW1 great not only in and around the water, but it performs well on dry land too.


Written by: Arnie Lee



For Movies on the Move

For several years now, GoPro has demonstrated the overwhelming popularity of action videos. They have built an empire of a business around its brand.

Sony’s HDR-AS100V and newer, yet slightly smaller HDR-AZ1 cameras are the center of their video system for recording action in the field. Both units pack lots of features into a very compact space: 1080p with image stabilization, stereo sound, high speed recording, 170-degree view, interval recoding, and WiFi and NFC equipped and GPS (AS100V only).

They are ruggedized and are waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof without having to purchase additional accessories.

This AZ1 which is 2/3 the size of the AS100V, is mounted on a drone. Using an optional Live-View Remote (RM-LVR2V) which straps to your wrist you can control the AZ1, change settings and view the playback from afar.

The included Action Cam Movie Creator software lets edit your footage into complete, quality movies using the special recording features e.g. high speed recording, merging multiple clips into a single clip, etc.

There are a whole host of accessories for the Action Cam system including various camera mounts and straps for bicycling, surfing, boating, diving, snow sports and skateboarding.

List price for AS100V is $279 and for the AZ1 is $249. For more information, see the Sony ActionCam webpage.
Written by: Arnie Lee


The Backorder Has Arrived

This past October, I was in NYC to cover PhotoExpo 2013. It’s a large trade show for the photographic industry where new equipment, accessories, services and the like are on display.

One of the nicest things about trade shows is that you can have some hands-on time using the new hardware and ask in- depth questions that the reps are able to field.

I was interested in a few new pieces of equipment including Nikon’s newly announced AW1. It’s based on the one year-old Nikon 1 series. These are compact, mirrorless models that have interchangeable lenses. They are small and lightweight but deliver high quality images.

But the kicker here is that the AW1 is also waterproof to 49 feet, temperature resistant to 14F degrees and shockproof to about 6 feet. I was attracted to this camera because of its ruggedness.

I spent about 30 minutes of touchie-feelie time with the AW1 at the Nikon booth. I also peppered Brian – the Nikon rep – with dozens of questions about the camera.

In the end, I came away satisfied that this new piece of equipment needed to become part of my arsenal.

When I returned home from New York, I placed an order for the AW1 with two waterproof lenses. Although the AW1 has been available for sale for about six weeks, the two lens kit was just made available.

However, due to the usual holiday confusion, I have yet to open the carton. In the next few days, I hope to try it out. Since it’s 10 degrees outdoors here in Grand Rapids, I think the underwater testing will have to wait unless I decide to try it out in the bathtub.

But with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) right around the corner (next week), I just might take it with me to Las Vegas and jump into one of the pools. I’ll fill you in when I have more to report.



Written by: Arnie Lee







Sports Camera with Interchangeable Lens

I’ve owned three or four different sports cameras in the past 10 years. These were all point-and-shoot varieties built well enough to survive if they were dropped, withstand the inclement weather and capture photos underwater.

My main reason for buying a sports camera was to use it at the sandy beach, in and around the swimming pool and at the ocean for underwater photography. All of the cameras produce decent photos above water but picture quality underwater is just passible from the earlier cameras and average from the more recent models.

For highest quality, serious picture takers usually rely on an underwater housing matched to a specific DSLR. The best housing often costs more than the camera itself. Add an underwater flash and you’re talking real money.

It’s with this high cost in mind that my ears perked up a few weeks ago after hearing an announcement about an interchangeable lens sports camera from Nikon. I made it a point that the Nikon 1 AW1 was a “must-see” at PhotoPlus Expo.

The AW1 is based on Nikon’s mirrorless interchangeable lens “1” series.

It has a 14 MP sensor, fast hybrid autofocus and also takes HD video.

In addition to the waterproof body, there are two lenses specifically for underwater use: 10mm f/2.8 and 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6

Accessories include a rubberized jacket for the camera body and the lens. These make the AW1 easier to handle underwater.

With the lens removed and with no mirror, you can see the sensor and the light blue O-ring which keeps the water out at depths to 50 feet.

As the Nikon rep Brian is demonstrating the the use of the AW1, you can’t help but notice the compact size of the equipment. In addition to its underwater performance, the AW1 is shockproof to withstand a 6 ft. drop and operates at temperature as low as 14 degrees. The built-in flash is also waterproof.

The AW1 with 11-27.5mm lens sells for $795. The AW1 with both a 11-27.5mm and 10mm lens sells for $995. It’s available in black, white and silver.

Brian mentioned that there are 7 other Series 1 lenses that are compatible with the AW1, although they are not for underwater use.

To be honest, I’m quite interested in this innovative camera. Currently, it’s available only with the 11-27.5mm lens. But when the dual lens kit (with 10mm f/2.8) is available, I think I’m going to jump in to buy one. If so, I’ll have a review in an upcoming article.



Written by Arnie Lee