Liquid Image have upgraded its video mask to HD - Mask £329.99, Torch £79.99
The last few years have seen a plethora of new and ingenious imaging products flooding onto the market from top-of-the-range DSLR cameras sporting state-of-the-art sensors, which produce top-notch stills and broadcast-quality HD video, to miniaturised extreme sports cameras, not much larger than a matchbox.
There’s barely a month goes by without yet another of these devices popping up to keep harassed kit reviewers on their toes.
Such a product recently arrived at the DIVE Test Centre in the shape of Liquid Image Cameras’ new 1080p HD video camera mask.
Surprisingly compact in its design, the mask’s soft silicon skirt fits comfortably to the face and despite its 360g weight, doesn’t feel too different to a conventional mask thanks to its well-conceived and finely balanced layout.
Featuring a 135 degree, f3.2 fixed-focus lens fixed directly atop the mask’s frame, the camera’s power is derived from two AAA battery compartments that are cleverly integrated into the strap fixings.
Shutter/select and power/mode controls are accessed by a seesaw lever to the mask's upper right and access to the Micro SD compartment is via a screw-down cap on the opposite side.
Operation is straightforward – a rubber ‘bung’ which prevents accidental activation is pushed to one side and toggling the lever to the left switches the device into 720p video mode. Toggle right to begin recording and once again to stop. Switching between modes is relatively straightforward and assisted by an audible bleep and a series of colour-coded LEDs to distinguish between 720p (blue), 1080p (green), 12MP stills (red) and when using an optional accessory strobe for photographs, purple.
In bright sunlight however, the LED display can often prove difficult to see and listening to the bleeps may in such instances prove a more successful method of switching between modes.
Filming underwater via a mask camera is quite a different proposition from the usual hand-held experience and if you’re checking computer, gauges, compass bearings and the whereabouts of your buddy – while also looking for a suitable subject – the eventual results can appear somewhat jerky and haphazard.
However, by following a few simple ‘fixes’ one’s initial attempts can be improved quite considerably.
The first fix is to imagine your entire head is the camera – once you’ve identified your subject keep your head perfectly still and make any required panning or any other movements very slowly as and when required.
If you do need to look at what’s going on around you use your eyes only and if diving in any form of current, always swim into it to avoid your exhaled bubbles from encroaching into shot.
As with all underwater photography once you’re deeper than a few metres, artificial lighting becomes essential and a handy threaded mount incorporated into the battery compartment allows the attachment of choice of Liquid Image’s 343 or 345 LED dive lights.
Both versions use the same adjustable mounting system that allows them to pivot away from the mask for wider coverage, with the more powerful 343 higher-output version featuring a 5.5 watt, 300 lumen, 60 degree angle beam and a burn time of approximately three hours.
Although a pair of such lights adds considerably to the weight of the set-up at the surface, there’s little difference once you’re in the water. And they also add a hi-tec, futuristic sci-fi look to your dive gear!
The camera also features a built-in microphone, comes complete with four rechargeable AAA batteries, battery charger, USB and AV cables plus a 4gb Micro SD card upgradable to a maximum of 32gb – the equivalent of around 350 minutes