Batee Tolong. Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia, March 2010.

HD underwater, it's beautiful

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the strange sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here

  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

I had to play a bit with the video mode of Canon 7D under water.

The video

I did that at Batee Tokong, one of the dive sites accessible from Pulau Weh. And the picture quality ... wouhaou! ! ! It's something else than I could get with my little compact from before.

So dive without getting wet, with this underwater mini-film. In HD (high definition), please.

Under water

Well, to tell the truth, I had a little trouble. Underwater, first. There is this damn white balance to do.

Absorption of colors under water. (Source: mini-courses: under water, we lose the colors. They are absorbed one by one, starting with red, from 5 meters, then orange at 10 meters, yellow at 20 meters, etc.

The more you go down, the more everything turns blue ...

(The diagram on the right comes from the site

A little parenthesis: I will always remember my astonishment as a novice, a few years ago, when, having flayed a finger on the coral, I saw a dark green liquid coming out of the small cut on my skin ... Very weird .

I thought, at the time, that I had to sting myself to something unclear, which had left me a venom or a sticky deposit on the wound. It was not painful, so I did not worry more than that. It was only once on the surface that I understood.

Underwater, the bright red of the blood becomes ... green!


So, in photo sub, it is necessary to indicate to the digital camera what shade of "blue" under the water is equivalent to white, so that it readjusts everything accordingly and restores the disappeared colors.

During this dive at Batee Tokong, I make an image of the sand on the bottom. Here. It has a bluish gray shade, but it's supposed to be what roughly corresponds to the underwater white. The images that I will then take, having as a white mark this "blue-gray", will thus find their reds and yellows. Long live the magic of digital!

Except that ... When the device goes back to sleep, I have to go back, in the many pictures taken in the meantime, to tell him again what is the image chosen for the white balance when I want to go back to video. (Friends non-divers and non-photographers, do you still follow?)

I only realize that once under water, of course. I did not take the time to check, dry, how to record this kind of setting ...


This is to tell you the number of scenes that I can miss ... It must react quickly, trigger immediately. I'm still drunk to have let the swirling swims of a pretty leopard moray, which passed right under my nose. Time to reactivate my settings, she had spun!

In the future, I'll have to set the camera to always memorize the white balance for the video. Or, I may opt for an orange filter (good old technique before the digital) to place quickly in front of the lens when needed. That those who already have experience in video sub do not hesitate to give me their advice.

Other than that, Batee TokongIt's a little Murènes City ... It's everywhere. (And not one on my video, grrr ...): -x

A nice moray, who agreed to show me his teeth for the photo ... (Pulau Weh, Gapang Beach).

On the computer

Well, it's not all about making pretty cool pictures in super definition. After, you have to find the right settings on the computer to encode them properly, just to have an equivalent rendering for the broadcast on the internet.

I chose HD mode 1280 × 720 on the 7D. Once my small sequences stored on the computer, then imported and mounted on Final Cut Express, comes the delicate moment of export. As long as I was in low definition with the videos of my little compact, it was not too much trouble. In most settings to choose, the rendering was consistent with the original.

There, for HD, it's more complicated. I did a lot of tests, in recent days, to find the right compromise between image quality and file weight. As you can see, an MP4 export, with the H264 codec, speed set at 5120 Kbs or 6144 Kbs, original frequency, original size, it does it about ... (Non-geek friends and non-videographers, you follow always ?)

Afterwards, you have to balance all that on the web. To simplify my life, I use the platform Vimeo, which I find much superior to Youtube and DailyMotion, although these last two also offer HD now.

Only, Vimeo encode and compress my file, already encoded and compressed by my little hands. Result: we start to distinguish the pixels in the passages where blue dominates and we lose fluidity. In short, not easy to restore, online, the beautiful image of origin.

Good. It's not too bad either, huh. It's just for a webcast, just to share my bubbles with you ... (But what a job!)

: roll:

  Indonesia: Pulau Weh [Sumatra] - March 2010

  1. I'm your blog for a few weeks and I fell in love immediately ...

    For the white balance, even if it's not worth a saved setting, I saw divers with a white plastic plate on their wrists. That way you always have a white surface to make your balance ...

  2. Superb this video! Frankly, it makes you feel good. And thank you for all these technical explanations, very very useful for me who discovered this world of the picture under water ... I realized that under the water everything was turning blue, but I had not pushed the reflection much further 😉

    If you shoot in raw, you could free yourself from the white balance for the photo? I have never done so far, but I think it can be useful in this case. Or else set the temperature manually, as suggested by a reader above.

    What is ultimately strange is that the photos / video do not really represent what you saw, but rather the "real" colors?

  3. Hello,
    it's the videos, but it gives even more desire to go diving! Congratulations for the pictures, for editing ... and as in an ad for Fingers, just a small note, we could not have a little longer? 😈
    And thanks for the technical explanations, I'm going back to look at my own little camera and see if I, too, just in photo, I can adjust the white balance. 😕

  4. @PhilippeB: Yes, you should put yourself in it. But it's like the photo, once we start, we let ourselves snap!
    Of course, I could try to play on the adjustment of the color temperature, but the problem is that on the same dive, we do not stay all the time at the same depth, and therefore, the light varies: we do not It does not have the same absorption of colors at 5 m or at 20 m ... The white balance, we can readjust it by doing it again each time we change depth. However, it is obvious to zap on the right color temperature, I think, every time we go back a few meters. And then, the rendering is not as fair as with a white balance.

    @ Mariedu13: Thank you!

    @Fabien: Yes, absolutely: the tip of white plastic that you keep with yourself (tablet or other) is very convenient to redo its white balance during the dive (because we change regularly depth, and therefore absorption of colors, in short, see my word to PhilippeB above). Otherwise, the gray bottles we have on our backs work well too. There, I had nothing on hand (but I have what it takes for the next ploufs). The sand of light color, it works well too, in order to stay then at about the same depth.

    @Richard: Merki, merki!

    @Laurent: Try again ... Sometimes Vimeo is on the road, but in general it does not last long.

    @Thib: Oh, there, no, for photos, I do not shoot (still) in Raw ... I never have time to take care of the post-treatment. Too much work ... For my practice of photography, JPEGs are enough for now.
    Same, for video, I like to spare me the post-processing, so the white balance or the orange filter at the time of registration are good to have colors about right from the start.
    Finally, yes, the colors of my video are "better" than what we actually see under water: for the eye, the reds are rather brown-green in the 20 meters, but become warmer, more orange towards 5-8 meters ... That said, as long as the vision is good and the sunlight is good, we have almost bright colors in the small depths near the surface.
    Finally, I use the white balance only for video, but I should do it for background photos without flash. However, as soon as you use the flash, it restores the colors.
    Since you start diving, I strongly advise you to buy a small waterproof lamp. You'll see, it's fascinating to discover the richness of the colors in the beam of light that you walk on the dark parts of the reef.

    @Laurence: Thank you !!! No, I was surprised, very few slugs, and nothing new, at least for me, around Pulau Weh. Surprising.

    @auxBulles: Oh, there, yes ... Indonesian waters, there is nothing better! Me too, I want more (but it will still have to wait a little, until the next vacation).

    @Malene: Thanks thanks ! I am deliberately short, not more than a minute or two, in general, because beyond that, it may eat the non-divers. And then, on the internet, people are rarely taped on videos that exceed 1 minute 30 ...
    On my compact camera before, there was the white balance, which I used very little, in fact, because I was often disappointed: the rendering was often a little ugly, with odd colors. But I tell myself that I should have taken the time to do it more often for my videos sub at the time. It's just a challenge to do and do again during a dive. And when the turtle and the shark arise, you do not always have the time ... so you film without having done it, and then, here it is, it's still nice to look after, even if it's very blue.

  5. Wow, class! The dream of having a device like yours 😉 In any case it really makes you want to bubble. I love and adhere ... We want others. Come back quickly!

  6. @Charly: I love my 7D. I love him, I cherish him. I want to go under water with him ... Oh, there, I too want others !!! I can not wait for the vacation…
    @PBGalerie: Many thanks !

  7. Hello,

    Beautiful blog!

    I was looking for information about Koh-Lipe and I came across some of my research on the net ... on your article about it (! 😉

    Good ... my 2 cent as we say:, this new Firmware allows to solve a problem of white balance in burst mode. Unfortunately, I think this will not solve your problem in video mode. 😕

    Gôm 🙂

  8. @ GOM: Thank you! You will find several other articles on Koh-Lipe in the section devoted to this trip to Thailand in February 2009:

    In fact, I do not really have a "white balance problem" in video, it is doing well, the white balance. It's just that I have to find a way to keep it active or recover it quickly without having to go back into the menus. I have to study it more closely, there must be way to memorize the setting, anyway ... And I'll see if I have to update or not my firmware (for the uninitiated: the "firmware", c is the software inside the digital box, which displays the menus, adjusts the settings and all and everything). Thank you for the link !

  9. @V: Yes, I already knew this "gadget", which had done quite a lot to dive on the dive sites, such as ... It's probably very good to have fun snorkeling (palms-mask-snorkel), to make images nice family, but not really to make quality video underwater. This camera mask is waterproof only up to 5 meters.

  10. @ GOM: I finally managed by pre-recording settings, including the white balance for the video, including one of three possible shortcuts on the wheel. But when I want to change the white balance, it becomes tedious ...
    That said, yes, I would have to update the firmware anyway. Thank you for the link !

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