Camera Fantasea Line - WetnWild
It grieved me to have to spend thousands of pounds on a replacement underwater photography outfit, just because my previous one had begun to wear out. It was especially annoying with everyone around me saying that digital cameras were the thing to have. Most of them certainly seem a lot cheaper and a lot less cumbersome. They give instant gratification and the shots taken look great on your computer screen.
     However, to get the continued quality of result that you see reproduced in the pages of this magazine, it seems we are still locked into the use of wet-processed film. So at the moment its digital for personal use and wet-processed film for the professional. The businesses which will suffer in this digital revolution seem to be the endless mini-labs that litter every high street. Who will want cheap enprints in the future
     Well, one company thinks there is still a future for the traditional photographic colour snap. Thats Fantasea Line, which has just sent me its Wet n Wild 35 underwater camera to try.
     The Wet n Wild 35 is a very basic camera, equivalent to the original Box Brownie or basic Instamatic. It is a simple fixed-focus point-and-shoot job that relies on the conditions being right rather than on settings. It uses any 35mm colour-print film and has a built-in power-wind (two AA batteries not supplied). The film is automatically rewound after use.
     There is a built-in flash which can either be activated before you put the camera into its purpose-made waterproof housing or will be automatically activated by a pressure switch when you get below 5m.
     Once you have clamped the little camera shut inside its clear plastic watertight box, sealed by one O-ring, there is only the sprung-loaded shutter release to operate.
     Dont take it deeper than 25m (it was formerly rated only to 15m) or disaster might strike in the form of a leak.
     The Wet n Wild 35s wide-angle lens allows you to get quite close to your subject, but there is no way to control the focus. I found that it worked well only for head-and-shoulders portraits of people at around 1.5m distant, otherwise things were out of focus or out-of-range for the flash. The fold-up frame viewfinder was not very precise when it came to lining up the shots. Fast 400ASA film is recommended.
     This camera is not for those who want to flash off lots of pictures. The flash takes about six seconds before it is ready for another go, and that can seem an inordinate amount of time when you are in a hurry.
     This camera is intended only for those taking their initial steps in the sea. Its cheap and the closeness of the flash to the axis of the lens demands the clearest possible water, of the type you might come across at Eilat in the winter.
     Dont hold your breath if you are expecting top-quality results, and remember that you will need to find a mini-lab afterwards to get your pictures processed.
     In these days of digital revolution, I fear that such outlets might start to get rather thin on the ground.
Expect to find the Wet n Wild 35 selling for around £30 in dive shops.
  • Cameras Underwater 08700 660384, www.camerasunderwater.co.uk

  • Divernet
    + Cheap and basic

    - No settings for conditions
    - Slow flash
    - You need to find a mini-lab afterwards