On Similan Island # 8. I'm so happy: my camera is working ... for a few minutes, again.
On Similan Island # 8. I'm so happy: my camera is working ... for a few minutes, again.

Photocatastrophic Saga

  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

No camera, no underwater pictures... Back on my photographic setbacks with my Canon Powershot A95, in Thailand.

A real saga ...

Many of you are asking me this question, because I didn't tell the end of the story: my little compact camera did indeed give up the ghost in Thailand. But I found to replace it, in Koh Lipe, by another camera. The same model, a Canon Powershot A95, bought back from another diver.

That's the short version. In fact, this story about the camera is worthy of an episode of Mac Gyver...

On the left, the A95 that I bought in Koh Lipe. Right, my device with the screen disassembled. At the bottom, the box WP-DC50 to protect it under water.
On the left, the A95 I bought in Koh Lipe. On the right, my camera with the screen removed. In the background, the WP-DC50 housing to protect it underwater.

My camera started to fail in Koh Yao Noi, at the beginning of my stay. Apparently an internal electronic problem: no indication on the screen, which remained hopelessly black in the shooting mode. I tried to take pictures anyway: it took a black picture. In playback mode, on the other hand, everything worked fine: menus, viewing of already taken pictures, etc.

There must have been some kind of false contact somewhere.

Sometimes, I just had to turn it on and off several times in a row to bring it back to life. Or to switch from one mode to another. The screen would then deign to work in shooting mode again and would remain cooperative as long as I left it on.

Then, from day to day, he became more and more capricious. One shot he was walking, one more shot.

Death of the device in Similan

He definitely let me go at the end of the day, on April 4, on the boat of the diving cruise, after the visit of the Similan Island n°8.

On Similan Island # 8. I'm so happy: my camera is working ... for a few minutes, again.
On the Similan Island #8. I'm so happy: my camera works... for a few more minutes.

But I was lucky in my misfortune for the rest of the cruise: a dive-master kindly lent me her camera with a chamber.

Another Powershot, but less efficient and less convenient than mine: I didn't even have access to all the manual settings, the buttons of the housing not being designed for it; its batteries didn't last long and got very hot, so that I systematically had fogging at the end of the dive... I did my best in Tv mode (priority time) to shoot drinking pictures.

System D and solidarity in Koh Lipe

Once in Koh Lipe, I borrowed, on the first day, a small camera from Julien, a Belgian who was passing his Divemaster at Forra. I went around the beaches and shot a lot!

I also went around the stores of Koh Lipe, just in case. But all I found was an MP3 player capable of taking a few poor quality pictures, and... this tourist gadget:

In Koh Lipe, you can rent a camera mask for 750 baht.
In Koh Lipe, you can rent a camera mask for 750 baht.

The famous mask-camera released a few months ago, seen on all websites talking about diving... To rent for 750 baht per day. Not good. I gave up.

But but…

I was really lucky. For the underwater pictures, I simply managed to get my hands on another A95! Exactly the same model as mine, lent by Régis, an instructor who worked at Forra.

Except that... this second device also started to unblock! But it was less serious than mine. It was just the screen, not the internal electronics.

A spot of black pixels appeared. And it kept getting bigger and bigger after each dive. So when I was taking pictures underwater, I was focusing on the spot, because of course, the spot was right in the focus frame... A real curse, these A95.

Open heart surgery

But I had resolved for a while to disassemble my APN, after a failed attempt on the dive boat in the Similan. I managed to get a tiny screwdriver.

Regis then proceeded to an open-heart operation on our failing A95s. With both patients, we managed to tinker with a valid device. It was enough to graft my screen on its case.

We then lent each other the box from one day to the next, according to our respective dives. Like I spent the RescueI didn't take many underwater pictures on Koh Lipe. Régis, on the other hand, had to get another camera in Hat Yai, before flying to Australia. So, the day before his departure, he gave me his camera for a small fee.

I was able to continue taking pictures until the end of the vacations. But now I'm seriously thinking about buying a proper camera.

Four years of tropical climate and underwater humidity were fatal to my little Canon A95. I now have another one, a replacement, but nothing says that it will last much longer. It must be about the same age as mine.

My future gear?

So, inevitably, I start drooling on the reflexes and caissons that go well.

The Nikon D90 and the box that goes well ...
The Nikon D90 and the box that goes well ...

But hey. I'll probably have to wait a bit. These little things are expensive. Especially since I have to add the optics and the flashes. In the meantime, I visit the websites that sell these beautiful toys. Nothing forbids to dream...

Small update : by the way, the dream has come true beginning of 2010!!


  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

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  1. For photography, I'm sticking with my A620 until I find what I'm looking for: an "A620" with manual modes, macro at 1cm, a red filter, long-lasting batteries (I'm currently taking over 600 photos with flash), a small housing that doesn't hide the flash... and I'm waiting for the camera that will also offer better HD video quality and a wide angle lens... a future evolution of the G9 or G10????
    I'm interested in your search for a replacement...

  2. Your A95 simply suffered from the so-called "Sony CCD sensor disease". You could have it replaced free of charge by an after-sales service.
    View Canon info here:
    I had it done on my Ixus which had left me stranded in Raja Ampat 😡 and now works perfectly and is guaranteed for 2 years 👿
    All I have to do now is drown it in my bathtub to have a good reason to buy a G10 with a Seatool housing 😀
    Well, as usual, don't thank me, it's from the heart... 😛

  3. @Manta: Right now, I'm squinting hard at the new Nikon and Canon SLRs coming out in May, AND which also shoot video. Maybe we'll be able to test them for a few days at the newspaper next month... Suspense. I'm wary of press attachés who don't stand by what they say. The problem is that I'm far from being able to afford these beautiful toys, with all the optics and flashes and housing. I'll have to wait and put some money aside.

    @Alimata: I don't thank you, as usual 😀
    Your information is very interesting. Maybe I'll send my case back to them. It all depends on the deadline. (It has to be before June 29, I have a flight to Sipadan). Do you think you can get after-sales service on an out-of-date APN bought on the web?
    Apart from that, I don't like your snide tone, which subtly reminds me that I haven't yet dipped my flippers in Raja Ampat. Because, all the same, you could salute the feat of finding a replacement solution on the spot, in the middle of the Andaman Sea, to take pictures, right now, with the same camera... it's not the Canon after-sales service that would have helped me out on Koh Lipe! So I flatter myself, in all false modesty, that I've really got the job done. Even in Raja Ampat, I'm sure I'd have managed to find an Ixus.
    😛 😆

  4. I don't know. Mantas are totally overrated. I'm not interested. Don't care. In fact, I'm going back to taking pictures in my bathtub with my two spare APNs.

  5. Hello Corinne,

    At last we know the A95 epilogue. You've given us a real remake worthy of a Mc Gywer episode!
    As our former minister Jack would say
    "But what a genius that Corinne is" 😉
    I do have a Canon G7 for sale with a Canon manufacturer's housing, but I'm not offering it to you ( and certainly don't recommend it, even second-hand 🙂 )! Ironically (or ridiculously 👿 ), the manufacturer's housing doesn't allow you to access manual mode to set aperture and shutter speed 😡
    In the meantime, I've switched to the NikonP6000 (another compact) 13M and Raw format (which I highly recommend) and I'm finally beginning to master the beast in manual mode. I'll just have to... during the next vacations!

  6. @ N @ me-Alain: McGywer, that's my new nickname, in the Andaman Sea!!!! 😆
    On this trip, I had the opportunity to handle a few compact housings other than my own, to give advice, take photos for others... To my great surprise, I discovered that many of them don't give access to manual functions. Amazing! Manufacturers really do suck.

  7. Well, I'm starting my message again, the first having been lost in the nebula of the web due to a Gravatardian mishap. Anyway.... I sent you a message a few days ago about our upcoming trip to Indonesia where we'll be going (among other places) to Raja Ampat. Yesssss. In our luggage a G9 with Ikelite housing bought after the loss of our A95 during a dive on the Fury Shoals. It must be floating somewhere in the Red Sea, unless the currents make it drift to the Similans. Maybe you should go back and get it. The G9 with a macro ring and above all the fish eyes, it's true that it takes up space, but the results are of a different quality to those (which we were already very happy with) with the A95. Now, we're becoming more demanding, especially when it comes to color and light. The SLR may be the next step, but let's write off this equipment already. As our Sony W7 also fell into disrepair, we even went so far as to invest in a 2nd G9 with a Canon housing (less expensive, admittedly, before these were no longer on the market - even second-hand), as it seems to offer more possibilities than the G10.
    We'll be sending Indonesian news soon.
    Isa (and Marco)
    P.S - I've never seen a manta. I think they're a myth for narcotic divers.... until I see one.

  8. @Isa (and Marco): Decidedly, the A95 is destined to have many adventures... 😆

    The G9 has a very good reputation, as your experience would seem to confirm. I confess I almost gave in to temptation too, after that breakdown in Thailand. As for the G10, it seems to be rather disappointing, if I am to believe the information gleaned here and there on the web.

    Like you two, I'm starting to become more demanding. And then it gets annoying to imagine the pictures of mantas I could have taken, two weeks ago, in Sangalaki, with a SLR... 😀

    I'll let you in on a secret: mantas are like Santa Claus - you only see them if you really believe in them!

    Happy bubbles in Raja Ampat (lucky you!). Send me the link to your blog when it launches 🙂