Underwater Photography Equipment that I Currently Use (2017)
This article is mostly geared toward the gearheads that most photographers are! When photographers meet, guess what, 90% of the discussions revolve around shooting gear: cameras, lenses, strobes, ... You cannot imagine the heated debates we have had over the years over tripods, for example.
The heart of the photographic equipment is a camera system. I have switched to Sony from Canon few years ago for weight and size considerations. My current system revolves around a full-frame 43 megapixels Sony A7rII body. I am satisfied with the image quality, the shooting speed and the body size and weight.
Next is a combination of underwater housing, extension, dome and lens. These have to be compatible. Very few lenses are well adapted for underwater use with existing housing. I have narrowed my housing choice to an Ikelite dedicated to the Sony A7rII body. The fully transparent back provides me with extra comfort of knowing what is going on inside the housing at all time. I currently use a Sony-Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 wide angle zoom. I connect a 8" dome through an extension. The package looks bulky and heavy, but underwater, it is well balanced.
For lighting, I use two Sea&Sea strobes, the YS-D2, combined with the natural light. If I change my strobes, I would go with Ikelite strobes, to ensure underwater through-the-lens exposure. For now, and since the distance from the model to my camera is almost always constant, I set the lighting ratio between the strobes and the natural light manually.
Night shoots are tricky. For safety reasons, I don't want to get ANY electrical component anywhere near the pool. Absolutely not!
I use battery powered strobes. One of the challenges was to reliably connect the camera underwater to two two underwater strobes and the umbrella strobe above water. I built a custom 25 foot optical cable using a TosLink cable, and, surprisingly, it carries the flash pulse reliably from one of the Sea&Sea YS-D2 strobe to the optical trigger on the Umbrella Strobe.
Here is a night photograph of Irina, compared to a day picture. Different styles, for sure. It depends on the desired effect and the availability of the model.