Earlier this year, I flew to the Philippines and joined A.J Saito from RECSEA to test out their new RVH-BMPCC Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Housing. The Philippines is home to some of the best diving in the world, and I was happy to be returning for my third visit.
I've been shooting underwater with a RECSEA S95 housing for several years and absolutely love it. But ever since the BMPCC was released, I've dreamt of shooting underwater with a higher quality yet compact underwater camera setup.
During my two week trip, I had the opportunity dive in the spectacular waters of Anilao, Puerto Galera, and Dumaguete. I had a large array of lenses and ports available for my setup along with several of RECSEA's Mini 1000lm LED lights; most of the footage consists of Panasonic 45mm 2.8 Macro, Olympus 9-18mm 4-5.6, and Panasonic 8mm 3.5 Fisheye. Other lens were tested but not included in this video.
My first destination in the Philippines was Anilao, where I stayed and dived for four days with the fantastic crew at the Aiyanar Resort. This was my first time diving in Anilao and it definitely lived up to world-class reputation.
I moved on from Anilao to what feels like a second home to me, Puerto Galera, where I earned my PADI Divermaster certification during two-month internship a couple years ago.
Upon my arrival in Sabang, Puerto Galera, my good friend Ted Dunn arranged a trip to nearby Verde Island which is probably my favorite dive site of all-time. It's an advanced dive site with strong and varying currents, but it is absolutely rich with color, movement and underwater life.
After a couple days of diving and catching up with my friends in Puerto Galera, I jumped on a flight to Dumaguete. This was my first time diving in this area, and Apo and Simulon Island did not disappoint.
I updated the BMPCC to firmware 1.8.2 prior to this test. Firmware 1.9.3 was released just a few days after my trip which was too bad since that firmware release featured new functions which would of been a great benefit (histogram and time remaining!).
This video comprises of footage shot in every type of scenario I could put the camera and housing through, so there variance between shots. I shot in ProresLT , ProresHQ and RAW (CinemaDNG) (highly recommended for color correction!).
Usually a 64GB SD card would last at most for two dives, but if I was smart with my shooting, I could sometimes get three dives in.
Battery life was superb with the additional 12v battery pack that is included. The extra four 18650 batteries would easily give me more than enough battery power to last 3-4 dives (my SD card would fill up before the batteries would die).
After Anilao, I shot only with the Panasonic 8mm lens with no lighting so it was all 'wide' shooting from here on out. I was okay with this as I love shooting wide (but I do have a new fond love for the difficulty of shooting macro). I did NOT have a magic filter for my 8mm lens which I only found out about after my trip. This would be quite helpful with some of my color correction.
I rarely pushed the camera above ISO800. The deeper shots (ie: with shark and on the wreck; 30m) are quite blue, but I just wanted to include these shots to show what the camera could capture.
I know a majority of those out there prefer underwater footage to be shot at a nice crisp 30p/60p however I kept the camera on 23.976 for a majority of the time. My personal preference has always been to shoot at 23.976 as I prefer the more cinematic look of it. A few shots were done at 30fps and 29.97 then later slowed down respectively in post. I may release a short clip of just 30p footage which actually looks very good.
aiyanar.com Aiyanar Beach & Dive Resort
captngreggs.com Capt'n Gregg's Beach Resort and Dive Shop
liquiddumaguete.com Liquid Dumaguete
This trip definitely would not have been possible without A.J. Saito at Recsea. Thank you for the opportunity to test this new underwater housing and for making it happen, can't wait to get back in the blue with you!
Thank you to Jovic Santos for all your knowledge and chats during the stay in Anilao, and to Reggie Reyes for the late night editing sessions and profile photos! A big thanks to the crew at Ayinara Resort in Anilao. If you want to spoil yourself, THIS is the place to stay in Anilao.
Huge thanks to Ted Dunn over at the Capt Gregg's Resort in Sabang. The time there was much too short but I'm so glad we were able to meet up again and visit some of our favourite dive sites. David and Bill, stoked I got to meet you crazy guys!
Shout out to the team at Liquid Dumaguete, especially Jim Thompson and Michelle Lai. Thanks Jim for keeping the bubbles to a minimum ;) Next time I'm taking your CCR course! Thanks Michelle for the great tips for my layover in Taiwan.
Music Licensed by Ben Beiny, track: Think Big