Until recently our choices have been limited to cheap disposable, splash proof cameras and camera/housing sets that are not designed for use much deeper than a local swimming pool or choose to invest in full blown cameras with housings designed primarily for scuba divers and packed with all the features and conveniences one would need 60m underwater to capture that perfect professional memory with amateur skills. It seems like there was never much for the person who not only did a little light diving and snorkeling, but also spent time enjoying a variety of other activities. Thanks to Sealife it would appear that has all changed.
The initial reaction to the Sealife Reefmaster Mini II Dive & Sport Camera is “Finally! A decent quality, moderately priced snorkel camera”. While a true assessment, it turns out this camera is actually quite more! At first glance I noticed this is a self contained underwater camera. Simplicity is a bonus for the active, on-the-go types. The next thing I noticed was the size of the camera. It is designed to fit easily into a pocket. It is covered with a rubberized coating that gives it a sturdy feel which, according to Sealife, makes the camera shockproof up to a 2m drop! This coating also serves as to add a slip resistant grip when its wet. Convenience and ease of use were at the forefront of Sealife’s thoughts when designing this camera. Before turning on the power I noticed how it is designed for one-hand operation with the front being slightly raised giving an idea where my fingers would stop to prevent them from accidently being in front of the lens, and the back of the camera having a dimple where my thumb will be positioned. When being held like this the buttons to operate the camera are very conveniently located.
Upon powering up the camera the Easy Setup on-screen guide quickly walks you though the steps to correctly set your camera up for land or underwater photography giving any user the best possible set up for the conditions. The process is very simple quick. During use, the large, 3-button layout makes changing between settings a quick and easy process. One very interesting feature I was surprised to find is Spy Mode. In Spy Mode the camera is set to take pictures automatically at set intervals. This allows the user to set the camera on a tripod or some other stable surface and walk/swim away from the camera. If your subject is a small wary critter hiding due to your presence or maybe a subject that is going to change colors or possibly positions over the course of a brief time period, this setting will allow you to get the perfect shots as close as 60cm.
The next feature I discovered was video mode. The camera will shoot video with sound at 30frames per second which is on-par with some of the more common economical digital cameras on the market today. With the 6cm TFT color, LCD display screen the user can easily keep an eye on their subject matter while recording or shooting photos. Playback of your images or recordings is also quite simple so I could see there, on the spot, the quality of the work I’d done. The Auto-Focus lens takes much of the worry out of the user’s hands allowing the camera to be simply pointed at the subject and its image captured, and with a 9 megapixel processor sharp, high resolution images are the norm.
Priced at $299, Sealife makes this little gem one of the best bargains around! Sealife engineered the Mini II to be as versatile as it is easy to use. It will accept the Sealife Wide Angle Lens giving the user the opportunity to create a more panoramic shot by increasing the shooting angle by 33% and focus as close as 30cm. It also offers a standard tri-pod mount on the bottom giving the option to add either the new Sealife L.E.D. Video light or the Sealife Pro Flash allowing for optimum lighting and/or color correcting of every shot.
All in all it seems Sealife has offered us that perfect camera designed around the on-the-go type person. Whether you are going to grab your dive and snorkeling gear, hiking or camping equipment, your board, boat, bike or kayak, this rugged little camera is ready for any activity in a moment’s notice!