Brunei is more likely to conjure images of oil fields and grand mosques, but the tiny sultanate is also home to some of Southeast Asia’s most surprising dive sites. Wreck lovers and macro enthusiasts have plenty to occupy them, with numerous shipwrecks and a plethora of tiny critters to choose from. On some deep dives in unfavourable visibility, it’s an ideal destination to put your camera’s autofocus and low-light capabilities to the test.
On my recent trip to the country to do some teaching at one of the local dive centres, I was given the opportunity to try out the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III. The first Canon zoom compact camera to boast a large APS-C size sensor, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III features 24.2-megapixel resolution, a useful 24–72mm (equivalent) built-in lens, and the Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus system found in Canon’s DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Partnered with the company’s dedicated underwater housing (WP-DC56), the camera seemed to have all the specifications needed to tackle Brunei’s challenging waters.
Depth-rated up to 40 metres (130 feet), compact, and comfortable to hold, Canon’s underwater housing puts the PowerShot G1 X Mark III’s important controls within easy reach of your right thumb, with your index finger easily accessing the zoom and shutter buttons. Adjusting for flash, macro shooting, and white balance are just one press away. I found I only had to move my hand when I wanted to adjust the aperture, by rotating the knob on the front right of the case.
During my dives, the visibility was rather challenging due to a recent full moon, and there were plenty of suspended particulates in the water, making photography more difficult. However, even with the tough diving conditions, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III was still able to produce some great shots of the macro life around the wrecks. Many of the wrecks are from wartime and have to be approached with care.
Making use of the camera’s macro mode, I was able to get in close to small animals like gobies and nudibranchs to nicely fill the frame, with the camera’s impressive autofocus system locking onto subjects with ease. With its large, high-resolution sensor, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III produced shots with a level of detail and dynamic range unlike other high-end compact cameras, and I was able to crop images without sacrificing quality.
Back on the boat, I loved the PowerShot G1 X Mark III’s ability to transfer photos via Wi-Fi to my laptop or phone, which made it a breeze to closely review images and share images with my fellow divers aboard. Encased in the WP-DC56 underwater housing, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III offers impressive performance and a wide range of features that make it ideally suited to the most difficult underwater scenarios – and proved to be more than capable of taking on Brunei’s tricky photo subjects.