BRINGING A COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT to the marketplace can be fraught with problems. Its always a sounder business proposition to improve on someone elses idea. Henry Royce said this, and produced a very conventional car that for generations was considered to be the best.
The guys from Persides have admitted to me that they were a little naïve when it came to producing their VEEcam.
The idea was to produce an imaging system that was both comprehensive and compact, and could be taken into the harshest conditions. Afghanistan was a case in point.
They hadnt reckoned that the British diver could be a more difficult customer than the British squaddie, and the original VEEcam proved to be too complex and therefore too unreliable in our hands.

I TOOK AN EARLY ONE WITH ME WHEN I WAS shore-based in Egypt, and I had to explain that although my singular lack of success with it was without doubt down to user-error, when youve bumped out to sea for an hour in an open boat and then kitted up to dive in cramped conditions, you cant be blamed for hitting the wrong buttons on what is after all only a piece of peripheral equipment. At these moments you have other things to think about.
One of the salesmen protested that a high-speed motorcycling school had no problems with the VEEcam mounted on its students bikes. I pointed out that they always had the option to stop and reconfigure the kit.
Because the buttons of the VEEcam are inoperable under water, we have to get it right at once and then put up with the settings for the whole dive. It can be very frustrating.
With this in mind, the simplified VEEcam Lite has been introduced to record a video of your dive. The little camera is attached to your mask-strap, and its view is your view.
The recorder unit is conveniently placed in the BC pocket, or dangled from a D-ring. You dont need to access it during the dive, nor would there be any point, because there are no adjustments you can make while submerged.
One problem I encountered was that the video display was almost impossible to see in bright sunlight and, because the control buttons are multi-functional, you need to refer to the display to be able to use them.
The text used in the LCD is also very small, but by employing a young person and some deep shade, we were able to confirm that the unit was recording before I submerged.
At the same time, the VEEcam Lite appears to require plenty of light in which to operate, so while it will work well in the clear Red Sea, if you plan to go deep in gloomy home waters and get sound images youll need a good even-spread lamp to use with it, rather than something with a narrow beam.
After the dive, it was again a matter of finding sufficient shade to be able to operate the multi-function buttons. Even my young assistant admitted that these buttons were not very intuitive, but at least we got some images to look at.

RECORDINGS ARE DOWNLOADED VIA A USB2 connection to your PC. I was disappointed to find that Persides used a bit of old USB technology for this, and I couldnt download directly to my Mac. It delivers a Quicktime file.
Its important to move your head in a steady and considered way if you want to get anything approaching viewability from the camera attached to it. The image is of very high quality but, of course, it inevitably suffers from poor camera-handling.
Under water, the angle of view becomes quite narrow, and this is less than useful if you need to get close to your subject to see it through turbid water.
There seems to be no way of viewing the image youre getting live while diving, so even when I held the camera in my hand in my most skilful and selective way, I was disappointed that I had sometimes misframed the subject. It needs a lens with a wider angle of view.
Naturally, youll record what happens immediately before and following your dive too.
Its about managing expectations. Having read comments from users on Internet diving forums, there seems to be a misunderstanding about what the VEEcam is meant to be.
It is not a replacement for a video camera for those attempting to make programmes. Dont expect to get a blockbuster movie from it.
Neither is it a substitute for a conventional video camera set-up. For a start, youd need powerful and very even video lighting and a proper viewing screen for that - and a script!
The real intention is to obtain useful material that will assist when debriefing after a dive. Youll be able to discuss with other divers what you actually saw, rather than bore your neighbours by showing them your feats of daring, and endless shots of blue fish.
It might prove very useful to instructors who have their hands full during a dive, but want to go over what happened with students later.
I guess it will be most useful for wreck-divers.
I remember during my early days of diving wrecks in the UK that often I hadnt understood what part of the ship I had been looking at.
A VEEcam image of what Id seen would have helped immensely with explanations from more experienced divers present, back on the boat.
Cave-divers can also record where they have been for the benefit of those who come after.
It would be bad taste to suggest that it would be useful on a deep CCR dive to tell the world what happened before your scrubber gave out.
That said, to the ordinary diver, it does have an immediate appeal. My wife saw the results taken in Wraysbury Lake, and immediately asked if she could take the VeeCam Lite on her diving holiday to the Maldives.

SPECS
PRICE £750
DEPTH RATING 100m
WEIGHT 300g
LCD DISPLAY 2.4in
VIDEO RECORDING CAPACITY 4hr
CONNECTIVITY PC via USB2
BATTERY Rechargeable 1.8Ah lithium
BATTERY LIFE 6-9hr
SOFTWARE UPDATES User-installed from Internet
CONTACT www.vee-cam.com
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%