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SeaLife ReefMaster review: SeaLife ReefMaster

With the housing back on the camera, we needed a flash to obtain proper exposure and accurate color even at 12 feet underwater; however, the Auto flash setting didn't agree. Forcing the flash on helped, but after the camera automatically powered down, the setting returned to the default Auto--even though we had switched off Return To Default. The best solution is probably to purchase the external strobe offered by SeaLife, but it costs almost $200. The good news is that whether you're shooting underwater or on land, you'll barely notice the DC250's shutter lag, and its shot-to-shot time is a reasonable 4 seconds with or without the flash if you're not using the Quick Review mode.

When it comes to image quality, the DC250 delivers mediocre results. The automatic white balance handles optimal, sunny conditions well but produces color shifts underwater, indoors, and in the shade. We got better results with the white-balance presets, and using the flash underwater helped, too. However, in shallow water, the flash tended to blow out our subjects. Similarly, while our sunny outdoor shots were well exposed, pictures taken under less favorable lighting often suffered from blown-out highlights. Image detail and sharpness were middling for this camera's class, and we also saw some noticeable purple fringing in our shots.

Shooting underwater has never been inexpensive, and SeaLife certainly offers a reasonably priced option. But for a little bit more, you can buy a setup that delivers more flexibility and better image quality. If you already have a digital camera, you may be halfway there. Check your manufacturer's Web site for optional underwater housings, or take a look at what third-party vendors such as &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eikelite%2Ecom%2F" target="_blank">Ikelite offer.

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