If you’re into video, the DC2000 offers full HD, 1920 x 1080 at 60fps, or you can shoot at a number of lower resolutions more suitable for sharing on social media, if that’s what you want. There’s a dedicated video button, so the camera is always video-ready and the rear screen is big and easy to use for stills or video.
Sealife DC2000 Camera information screen.
Pictures and video are saved to a micro-SD card, though you’ll need a decent card to shoot video. Use a slow card and the camera will refuse to record video until you put a faster one in, though at least it tells you it isn’t playing.
The battery provided plenty of life for a couple of hour-long dives, taking around three hours to fully charge using the USB charger supplied.
The camera itself is waterproof to 18m, but in the kit is a substantial 60m-rated housing that allows access to all the camera controls, but still isn’t huge.
I really like this combination of a waterproof camera in a proper housing. Sooner or later any housing will leak – it’s not if, it’s when –but if the inner camera itself is waterproof, the consequences aren’t likely to be costly.
Also in the kit is a lanyard and a nice case, plus an instruction book.
Sealife calls its wide-angle wet lens a fisheye.
Sealife DC2000 with wide-angle lens full-frame (top); and showing wide-angle lens edge sharpness.
It reduces the effective focal length of the camera lens to around 24mm, which is wide, but nowhere near fisheye-wide.
Nevertheless, it’s pretty much essential for any serious underwater photography, where getting close to eliminate as much water as possible is the name of the game.
The lens is supplied with a nice neoprene cover for front and back, and a handy dock that fits to the bottom of your camera tray to hold the lens when it’s not in use.
The lens push-fits to the front of the housing and snaps on and off smartly, although the unique fitting means that the more common screw-on lenses or other bayonet-fitting lenses won’t work. The lens comes with an attached lanyard and clip that proved useful more than once when the lens became detached as I entered the water.
The housed camera handles beautifully. It’s a perfect size to hold without being over-large, the controls all fall easily to hand and the buttons are large enough to press even when wearing thick gloves.
As usual with digital cameras there are multiple options and adjustments available, so some time spent in a comfy chair playing with camera and housing in one hand and instruction book in t’other will make life under water more productive and less frustrating. Ultimately, every camera function is accessible in the housing.
One feature I really liked was the ability to set a custom function, accessed with a long press of the OK button. I chose to have this set colour balance, though you might prefer something else.
As you’d expect from a camera using the 1in Sony sensor, the pictures the Sealife produces are bright, punchy and well-exposed direct from the camera, needing minimal tweaking in post-processing software to make them pop.
The pre-set colour-balance options worked well, but I found the manual option to be better, and with the custom function set to colour balance, that’s a one-button operation. I was able to get good colour down to 20m-plus in the Red Sea, and even managed to get some colour at 40m, which is remarkable.
Camera-lens sharpness was good across the frame, but adding the wide-conversion lens made the edges and corners soft, with some colour fringing in the corners, effects especially noticeable above water.
Which brings me to the major issue I have with this camera.
In low-contrast situations, it struggles to focus. You press the button and hear the mechanism whirring back and forth and see the picture on the screen come in and out of focus, and then it gives up and delivers a blur.
Giannis D stern at 20m using the manual white balance.
The only solution I found was to focus on something else with a half-press of the shutter button, then re-compose.
It’s not much of an issue when shooting stills, except that locking focus also locks exposure, so you might also need to go to manual-exposure mode. However, it makes shooting video a bit hit-and-miss.
When you press the dedicated video button there’s a second or two’s delay before the camera starts to record. It uses whatever white-balance settings you have selected, but it e-focuses, and the only way to check if the footage is in focus is to check the rear screen.
There were times when I had to try three or four times to get a video-clip in focus, and times when it simply wouldn’t achieve focus at all. Very frustrating, especially when it delivers such nice clean footage when it does work. I even tried setting the focus mode to infinity focus, but with no success when using the conversion lens.