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Old 01-04-2006, 10:34 AM   #1
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Are underwater "one time use" cameras commonly available in Thailand? They're commonly available around here for about $8. Are they the same price there? I would buy them here, but most are loaded with 800 ISO film, and I'd prefer not taking them through X-rays at the airport. Also, most of my snorkeling is the 2nd half of my trip, so I'd rather not take too much extra gear the rest of the time. It'd be nice to know if I can take as many pictures as I want, too (I'll probably have the photos developed there).
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Old 01-04-2006, 10:45 AM   #2
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Honestly I would say to buy a few and take them with you. I know that when I was traveling in the Dominican, they sold them there for $20 USD each. That is pretty expensive considering you can buy them at any Wal-Mart in the States for less than half that price. It may be a pain to have them in your pack the whole time though. But I don't know if they will be readily available in Thailand, except through the company you will be snorkeling with and I can guarantee that they will be selling them at a BIG price mark up! The x-rays at the airport have never done anything to my cameras that I take to other countries, I don't think you should worry too much about that!
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Old 01-04-2006, 11:35 AM   #3
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All the newer X-ray equipment at airports - even third-world countries - don't do any damage to film anymore. It used to be you had to pass any 400+ film around, but it's totally unnecessary now.

I'd advise against getting disposable underwater cameras - at an average (worldwide) of $20 a pop for 24 crappy shots, they're pretty much a rip-off. Many diving/scuba outfits - including those in Thailand - offer a better camera for a bit more - basically a cheap point-and-shoot in a waterproof case, with the benefit that they're reusable and you can load them with your own film. I got one in Australia for about $40 pre-loaded with 27 frames of 800-speed film and my scuba pictures came out far better than the craptacular Kodak disposables I've used in the past. The flash is also far stronger in these full-time cameras, which makes a world of difference.

If you're really serious about getting good underwater photos and you already have a digital camera, see if they make a waterproof case for it. These are usually pretty expensive new ($100-200), but you can find them for waaaaaaay less on eBay from people who bought it for one vacation and don't need it any longer. I think this is what I'm going to go for from now on.
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Old 01-04-2006, 11:48 AM   #4
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If you don't follow Omi's advice, then I suggest Benna's. In Tarragona, Spain, we did a lot of swimming. I wanted a waterproof disposable, even if the pictures were shit, just to capture it, but I could NOT find them anywhere - not the quicky marts, not Carrefour, not even the shop next to the beach.
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Old 01-04-2006, 12:42 PM   #5
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I think any type of camera would be available in Thailand, it is one of the capitals for technology. I'm sure if you spent a day shopping around Bangkok you'd be able to find what you want. However, I'm not 100% sure that you can find what you want there so maybe you should play it safe and take your own. I think i would go the waterproof case option if i was you, they seem to work pretty well and you can take as many photos as you want.
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Old 01-04-2006, 01:54 PM   #6
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The waterproof case would be the ideal solution. I have a Canon S400 and SD500, both of which have cases available. The only reason I hadn't considered that option is because they go for about $150-$200 (for a glorified Pelican case!), and I'd only use it a few times per year. If I could find a used one on ebay that'd be ideal though- I'll keep an eye out. If anyone knows where I could find a good deal on something like this please let me know.

Another thing I could do, which I just remembered, is get a cheap underwater camera available at Big 5. It is only about $15- basically, it is about like a disposable camera in quality, but you can reload it. Does anybody have any experience with these? That would save on space a bit, and cost about the same as bringing two or three disposables (after film). A slightly bigger, bulkier, and more expensive one (~$25) has a flash, but I'd like to keep it compact. Besides- I think a flash usually won't help much underwater, as you'll just get a picture of the miniscule pieces of debris and bubbles in the water, at least on a compact camrea where the flash is near the lens. That is probably why when you see a "serious" underwater camera it has the big flash on a boom a foot away.

Also, all X-rays will affect film to some degree, causing a slight hazing and washing out of the photo. The more sensitive the film, and the more times it is X-rayed, the greater the effect. The X-rays sometimes used for checked baggage are very powerful and will certainly ruin your film if used.
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Old 01-04-2006, 02:07 PM   #7
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Eek, yes, don't put film in your checked baggage - those buggers can taint your film. But in general, I haven't had trouble with the stuff used for hand baggage anywhere... If worst comes to worst, find a lab before you leave the country and get negatives made. At least they'll be flat and compact, that way.

I bought one with the reusable case and I found the flash to make a world of difference. For long-distance shot, you're absolutely right - you get a dark area with a bright group of plankton in the middle. But for stuff shot within a meter or two (passing fish, coral reefs, etc.) the flash is great. The only thing I didn't like about it was the bulk, but again, I didn't buy it until the day of the diving trip, as they seemed to be widely available. In retrospect, I should've just sold it to the next person whom I knew was diving so I wouldn't have to lug it around after that.

Here's an ebay search for "canon" and "underwater" that should get you started. There seem to be a handful of used ones out there, but I don't know which fit either of your cameras.
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Old 01-04-2006, 02:51 PM   #8
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I have gone scuba diving in Thailand several times. The dive shops always have the underwater disposables available (at least in Phuket). Like Omi said...they are shit...but hey - try 'em out if you want, it can't hurt other than the $20 or so. The dive shops will also likely have various rental options available, from the option Omi mentioned, up to the rental of a high quality digital underwater camera. That will cost more (I am not sure how much) and you would probably have to leave a deposit. Enjoy!
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Old 01-04-2006, 06:55 PM   #9
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Looks like those waterproof cases are a hot item on ebay- the cheapest one I saw sold for $142!

I suppose I can dig out my old Minolta Weathermatic 110 waterproof camera. That'd be the cheapest option. I hate 110 film though- so grainy. Do they even make that stuff anymore?
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