The ECOShot Compact Digital Sports Camera was designed with us water-babies in mind. In fact their 2008 brochure displays a kayaker in free fall over turbulent drop in sharp hair-raising color. So it only seemed right that we should offer a review from a kayaker’s perspective. Of course cameras are like kayaks in that it takes time to get a good feel for how they actually perform. With that in mind SeaLife gave us three full months to put their ECOShot through its paces. Today I’m going to share a general overview of the ECOShot and show you a couple of the first pictures I took straight out of the box.
SeaLife has spent the last 28 years focused on underwater photography so one would think they should have a pretty good grasp of the issues that come up when shooting in a liquid environment. The ECOShot certainly looks the part. The camera is a tough looking rubber armored 6 megapixel digital. It is depth rated to 75 feet and shock tested to 6 feet. (The brochure makes the “tough” point by showing the poor little camera under the wheel of a 4X4.) Similar to other compact water cameras the ECOShot has no lens cover or viewfinder. Shots are taken and reviewed using a large 2 inch LCD on the back face. The ECO is a bit larger and heavier than either the Pentax Optio or the Olympus Stylus coming in at just over 10 ounces/295 grams (with batteries & card) but is still small enough to fit into a larger PFD pocket. Functions are controlled by six small buttons on the back face. The shutter button is on top of course and is certainly large enough to manage with gloves.
ECOShot with optional Wide Angle Lens
The ECOShot offers 6 standard modes for above water photography including; Auto, Sports, Night, Portrait, Backlight & Landscape. It also includes a Sea mode designed for optimal exposure and color correction under the surface. The camera is also capable of using an external flash. In addition the ECO offers video capability, shooting in AVI with sound.
One quickly obvious departure from other cameras in this market is that the ECOShot does not offer a zoom. Instead SeaLife went for an “instant focus” set up with a range from 2ft to infinity. While in some instances this may be a limitation, it may also be an advantage. By removing the zoom you also remove the focus lag that can often be a real hassle when shooting in the moving on water environment. I know I’ve wrestled with the auto focus features on other cameras before and my hope is that this feature (or lack of a feature) may actually mean getting some shots that are sometimes lost while waiting for a slow auto focus. One other unique option is a new “SPY” mode which allows the camera to take continuous pictures at set intervals. You can imagine setting the camera up this way to work with wildlife that may be a bit too shy to pose for a enthusiastic photographer. In SPY mode you just set the camera to take shots at intervals from 5 seconds to 5 minutes, hit the shutter button and walk away. The camera will continue to take shots until the memory card is full or until you again press the shutter button.
The SeaLife ECOShot operates on 2 standard double AA batteries or rechargeables and uses up to a 1 gig SD card for storing your images. There are 14mgs of on board memory for those times when you forget to put the card back in. (Keep in mind that a single high quality shot will take between 2-4megs of space.) The Camera also comes with USB cable, Photo Express, and Photo Explorer Software.
For my review Sealife sent along their new mini wide angle lens, a float control/wristband and hard shell case. Next week I’ll share with you some of my first impressions.
Below are a few of the first shots right out of the box. Keep in mind of course that images posted on the web may look nothing like they do in real life due to variances in monitors, resolutions and such. The images I post along the way are only to give you a general “feel” for the end results.
First photo right in the front yard.
Camera held just over the water
Sunlit paddle. The green is pretty representative of the lake’s color