We had the opportunity to try out the DC 1400 Sea Dragon Pro Duo recently, and were heartened to find that SeaLife has made some big improvements to its cameras and accessories, taking it a giant leap forward from the SeaLife 600 camera we purchased many years ago. The setup we tried includes the DC 1400 SeaLife Camera with underwater housing, the Sea Dragon Flash with diffuser, Sea Dragon 2000 lumen light head, Two Flex-Connect Grips (plus we got an additional extension arm) and the Flex-connect tray. SeaLife Cameras is a division of Pioneer Research.
The camera specs:
- 14 megapixel camera, 4288×3216, 4:3 aspect ratio
- built-in image stabilization
- 26mm -130mm lens, F2.8-F6.5
- 720p HD video
- 1/2.33″ CCD sensor, about 2/3rds the area of a Canon S95/G12 sensor
- 3 inch LCD
- uses SD memory cards
What we liked:
The camera sits in a very rugged and durable underwater housing with easy to use “piano keys” for setup, and big shutter and zooming controls. Since we dive and test gear in the cooler waters of the Pacific Northwest, we typically wear bulky gloves (commonly referred to as “gumby gloves”). We could easily press the piano keys and flip through the menu with our bulky gloves. This element, combined with a great price point, are the camera’s two best features.
The camera has 6 Underwater Modes. When set properly, they did their own color corrections, making skin tone look reasonably natural, and underwater colors pop.
The Powerful 2000 lumen LED light using the latest LED technology was perhaps our favorite feature. Diving in the Pacific Northwest often means diving with limited visibility. The light illuminated the desired images nicely. We want to offer some praise and comment about the lumen ratings. Our research has shown that only a small percentage of the dive industries stated lumen ratings hold up to independent testing. We did ask for and receive a lumen testing sheet for this light and the tests show SeaLife’s claims are are on the mark with the ratings for both of their new lights. We applaud them for having the testing done.
The snap on/snap off Flex Arms. It’s a breeze to snap these arms off and on, even while underwater.
The video capability of the camera produced some great little videos – sharp and clear.
What we didn’t like:
The tray is a big improvement over past trays, but even though you could slide the camera back and forth, pressing the shutter was a challenge with gumby gloves – there wasn’t enough space between the arm and the camera.
Focusing was iffy. We were told by a technician at SeaLife that focusing is done by pressing the shutter halfway until a little green rectangle appears. Add that to the shutter delay and sadly, your desired subject has already swum away while you’re preparing to take his photo.
A better quality camera would have made the setup far more practical. Topside, the shutter button is so tiny I had to press it with my fingernail at times to take a picture. With a few more dollars, SeaLife could have added a better camera to the mix.
The camera only has 2 levels for aperture. This may only be a minor issue as we found most recreational underwater photographers either do not pay attention to aperture or only use the top and bottom ends of the aperture spectrum for adjusting depth of field.
A good entry level camera
SeaLife states their pledge to “support the dive industry through the development of products and programs that encourage underwater discovery and awareness of the world’s oceans.” In that light we agree that this camera is designed to meet that pledge. Overall, our impression of the DC 1400 Sea Life Dragon camera setup is that it is a good entry level camera. Other reviewers also agree with this assessment. Ratings on Amazon and other sites with star ratings seem to fall into the the 3.5 stars rating. You can get your camera chops down using the easy setup and piano key interface. Take some great videos. I’m sure, in the tropics, where the vis is high, taking good photos could be easily mastered with the DC 1400. Perhaps, with more time and practice, I could have taken some better photos in the Pacific Northwest.