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Old 04-13-2016, 11:03 PM   #16
jtobin
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

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Originally Posted by jfjf View Post
I think it has a lot to do with the wide angle features of the camera. UW photographers have known for a long time that wide angle makes the water look clearer.

With a wide angle, objects appear farther away than they are.. This illusion is what makes the water appear clearer. A diver can be 5 feet away, but it looks like 10 ft maybe..so it is easy to understand the effect...
A wide angle lens will definitely make the visibility look better. I have shot quite a few underwater still photos in very dirty water and the wide angle lens always makes the visibility look better than it was for the reasons described above.
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Old 04-14-2016, 12:15 PM   #17
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

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Arice - that article was very helpful... the section on lighting makes alot of sense.

I too have used amber lenses, and liked them. I currently own a mask with tinted/polarized lenses, and like it; however, also feel like it cuts out some light, which likely contributes to the fact that the GoPro footage looks better than what im seeing.
I don't dig the tinted, but polarized would be cool. Polarized amber would be sweet.
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Old 04-14-2016, 12:17 PM   #18
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

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Originally Posted by CDMdeepbreather View Post
Arice - that article was very helpful... the section on lighting makes alot of sense.

I too have used amber lenses, and liked them. I currently own a mask with tinted/polarized lenses, and like it; however, also feel like it cuts out some light, which likely contributes to the fact that the GoPro footage looks better than what im seeing.
Yeah, I have two tinted masks. A red one that's great for scuba diving at depth because it restores the natural color of things. The amber one is my halibut killer. Amazing the things you can see in the sand with the added contrast.

I can't see the benefit in a polarized mask underwater. The whole point is that it cuts out reflections and scatter. But there's not a lot of reflections UNDER the water.
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Old 04-14-2016, 02:49 PM   #19
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

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Yeah, I have two tinted masks. A red one that's great for scuba diving at depth because it restores the natural color of things. The amber one is my halibut killer. Amazing the things you can see in the sand with the added contrast.

I can't see the benefit in a polarized mask underwater. The whole point is that it cuts out reflections and scatter. But there's not a lot of reflections UNDER the water.
You don't think it would help when the light is beaming down on the particles in the water? It gives sort of a glare and I know my polarized sunglasses cut that glare out. You may be right, but I'd have to try it out to be convinced it wouldn't have an impact.
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:46 PM   #20
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

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You don't think it would help when the light is beaming down on the particles in the water? It gives sort of a glare and I know my polarized sunglasses cut that glare out. You may be right, but I'd have to try it out to be convinced it wouldn't have an impact.
When I got back into diving ~4yrs ago, I was using a clear lense mask. I had a handfull of experiences where after a few 2+ hr dives on a really sunny day, my eyes would got really sunburned (im talking visibly red afterwards). This is what motivated me to look for a protective lense. The polarized/tinted lense has solved that issue, but again, on cloudy/murky days, I can become a hindrance as light is already scarce.
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:54 PM   #21
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

I imagine a tinted mask would be garbage when looking for grouper and other holed up fish.

I'll take all the visible light I can get whilst diving.

The only exception where I could ever see me wearing a tinted mask is if I was hunting super spooky med fish that don't want to see your eyes.


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Old 04-14-2016, 06:33 PM   #22
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

I will never touch tinted again. It's amber day and clear night. If they had a polarized amber I would give that a shot.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:44 PM   #23
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

que? Le el Manuel.
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:37 PM   #24
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Re: Why does GoPro always make the viz look better?

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Originally Posted by jtobin View Post
A wide angle lens will definitely make the visibility look better. I have shot quite a few underwater still photos in very dirty water and the wide angle lens always makes the visibility look better than it was for the reasons described above.
To better explain it:

Wide angle makes objects look farther away than they actually are. So for the example of the cabezon picture I attached, it looks like the camera is about a foot or so from the fish, but the camera is actually about half that, the dome is almost touching the urchin. So the lens is about 6" from the fish, but looks 12".

This means there is 6" worth of junk in the water, but your eye sees it as 6" worth of sediment spread out over 12" worth of distance. So you think the visibility is twice as good as it is.

What also contributes in this case is that all of that sediment is out of focus. This means that it will instead create a slight reduction in contrast rather than distinct blobs floating around like our eye would see (since our eye has greater depth of field in this case). However, this loss of contract can be edited out by simply increasing the contrast digitally. Your GoPro will do this automatically, since it is very much intended as a "press this button and get results" type of camera, so they put lots of brains back into that little camera to try to get the best results without any manual settings required.

When you go to play your video back, you don't see the raw video, only the video with the filters already added to it, so you are impressed with how it makes the visibility look better than it is, both from the trick of objects looking farther away, as well as the flotsam in the water being out of focus and the contrast and color already corrected in-camera. This works really well in most situations.


But, as some people have pointed out, sometimes the camera makes things look worse. The wide angle lens combined with the small sensor in the gopro also means that the depth of field (range of what is in-focus) greatly increases compared to a long lens and/or large sensor size. This means that as the distance between the camera and the object increases, you end up with lots of the intervening water being in focus.

If there are visible particles in the water, those particles are now in-focus just as much as your desired object. Your GoPro's brains suddenly backfire as it tries to increase the contrast of that stuff in the water, rather than the object you actually want to film/photograph. This "stuff" if illuminated from a flash or flashlight looks even worse. See the anemone picture I attached. To my eye, these were easily seen. But the camera really emphasized the crud in the water, making the visibility look worse than it was.

Likewise, look at the failed attempt at a picture of a blue rockfish that I attached. The camera got "distracted" by the intervening plankton. The automatic contrast adjustment added to the picture by the camera actually makes the apparent visibility of worse, rather than better.

I also uploaded a version where I manually adjusted contrast and brightness and color (all things your camera does automatically to some extent). It is also going to be a terrible picture, but you can see how kelp in the background starts to be noticeable, etc. The visibility goes from looking like 5 or 6 feet to looking like 8 or 9 feet between these two pictures.

Then look at the picture of the stringer hanging from my float. Again, not a great picture, but it shows you how the visibility doesn't look that bad, because the angle of the sun light compared to the angle of the picture no longer is illuminating the stuff in the water, so the camera doesn't "see" that as much. It also lights the fish in a way that they have lots of contrast and are well lit, so the fish look comparatively clear.

Anyway, maybe that sheds some light into how a GoPro (or any wide angle automatic camera) can change how visibility appears to be. Although all of these pictures were taken on the same day, the visibility appears significantly different in some shots compared to others.
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