Dive4Photos Official Dealers

Magic Filters were designed by Dr. Alex Mustard & Peter Rowlands, specifically for digital cameras and have revolutionised how available light photos are taken underwater. Simply, Magic Filters allow you to produce colourful photos or videos without having to use strobes, flash or lights.

The original Magic is designed for digital SLR cameras, shooting available light stills or video, although can be used successfully on compacts and video cameras. This filter is designed to work with the adjustable manual white balance of the camera, and give high image quality while working over a wide depth range and without causing too much loss of light.

The Auto-Magic filter is designed to produce colourful underwater photos with digital compact cameras without the need for flash. They work equally well for shooting still images or video. The principle of this filter is similar to a standard red filter. However, a Magic Filter is a more complex recipe, not just a single colour. The unique formula was refined simply by Alex & Peter testing different filter recipes by taking real underwater photos with digital cameras underwater. The Magic Filter recipes are not available off the shelf and other filters sold for underwater photography do not use it. The original Magic filter looks orangey and the Auto-Magic filter looks orangey-red, but there is much more to it than the colour.
Do I Really Need A Filter?
The main advantages of using a filter, as opposed to white balance alone, are more subtle variations of foreground colour, and probably most noticeable, you get these colours with a richer blue background. Many photos taken with manual white balance are characterised with a completely washed out background water colour. Filters produce a much richer blue. A strong blue background is an important aesthetic element in an underwater photograph.

Filters do much of the work of correcting the colour balance, so the camera's electronics don't have to push and pull the colours so much. This means that small differences in colours are recorded in the foreground. Also filters attenuate (block) blue light. This makes the background water appear much a darker and richer blue than in non-filtered shots. At deeper depths, a photo taken with manual white balance and no-filter will often have grey water.

Filters are also a benefit if you do not want the hassle of using manual white balance at all. The Auto Magic filter has been designed to be point and shoot simple. In shallow water there is no need to use manual white balance at all. Just fit the filter and take colourful shots with full automation. The Auto-Magic can also be used with manual white balance for fractionally more accurate colour reproduction, especially when diving deeper.

The final problem with making large manual white balance adjustments is that they introduce electronic noise and reduce the dynamic range shown in the shot (with highlights more liable to blow out). Using a filter is better because it does most of the work and the electronic processing in the camera does less, so you get less noise. (Note: DSLR cameras control noise much more than digital compacts)

Alex Mustard took the two images below on the same dive with a Canon S90 compact camera with AUTO white balance. The image on the left is taken without a filter; the image on the right was taken with the addition of an external mounting Auto Magic filter. There were no other changes:

The photo with the filter has much more neutral and correct colours on the reef. The blue water is also slightly richer.

Strobe or Filter?
The choice between using strobes or filters depend on the subject matter, the type of shot you want and the conditions. Filters excel at shooting large scenes that are too big to light with strobe. Reef scenery, schooling fish, large pelagic creatures and wrecks are classic filters subjects.

Recommended depth range
The Auto-Magic works best between 3-12m (9-40ft) on Auto-WB (depending on your camera) and can be extended down to 18m (60ft) with the use of manual white balance (if your camera has this feature).

The original Magic Filter is designed to produce great results over as wide a depth range as possible. It will produce vibrantly coloured images from the surface down to 15m (50ft), and then subtler, more muted tones there after, which are still an improvement on reality. That said the filter is designed to work best for available light shooting, in clear blue water, on bright sunny days between 3 and 13m, but users keep sending in great images taken down to 20m or more (the propeller in the video, below, is at 20m).
Dive4Photos currently stock both the Auto-Magic & Original Magic as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ 50x50mm sheet. You then cut this filter so it fits your camera’s lens. We also have a small stock in 85x85mm sheet to accommodate lenses with a larger diameter, like the Nikon 10-24mm & Canon 16-35mm, as well as some pre-cut to fit the Nikon 10.5mm & Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lenses.

Depending on your camera you may be able to get up to 4-filters out of the 50x50mm sheet. Auto-Magic comes complete with detailed fitting instructions and the Magic Filters website has a Fitting Filters page with both photos and video.
The definition of soft light is: “Light that tends to “wrap” around objects, casting diffuse shadows with soft edges. Soft light is when a light source is large relative to the subject.” This is how ambient light appears underwater, so if we can match this with the strobe lighting they will blend together much better.

Light Dome diffusers produce a very wide and soft edged light beam that extends softly around the strobe. The total surface area of a Light Dome diffuser is about 315 cm2, while the standard diffuser of, for instance a Sea&Sea YS-D2 strobe is only 55 cm2.
Larger Surface = Softer Light
This enormous increase in emitting surface combined with the shape and material of the Light Dome diffusers produces a nice even light with extremely soft edges which make edge-lighting much easier. The distance from the dome port to the subject at which you can get good light is decreased considerably, even in murky conditions, resulting in less backscatter and stunning wide angle compositions.

Topside (land) photographers have many resources to soften light by diffusing light through large surfaces or bouncing light off of walls or ceilings, while underwater photographers have been limited with a forward blast of light coming out from a small source which favours sharp shadows and increases backscatter. Not anymore!
Wide and Macro
The Light Dome diffusers work great for Wide Angle as well as Macro. The soft edge allows extreme side lighting at "touching-distance" from the dome port, reducing backscatter dramatically.

With softer and diffuse shadows, those macro shy subjects that like to hide behind coral branches are easier to illuminate. Strobe positioning for extreme macro is not as critical, even when using additional high magnification lenses.

Light loss at the centre of the beam is about 2/3 of f-stop compared to a standard diffusers, but the gain at the edge is so much that in most real world conditions, using the common edge lighting technique, you would use a smaller aperture or a lower power setting, obtaining greater depth of field or faster recycling times.
No More Undesirable Reflections
Many silvery fish cause distracting reflections, especially when they form schools, because it becomes virtually impossible to control the light angle for each individual fish at the same time. But the nice soft light of the Light Dome diffusers makes this task much easier, preventing harsh reflection throughout the frame.

Ideal for One Strobe Systems too
If you like to keep your photo gear simple using a single strobe without compromising good lighting across the frame, the Light Dome diffusers are a perfect option for you.
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Dive4Photos accept credit/debit cards from MasterCard & VISA for the purchase of camera equipment and dive gear.
Dive4Photos accept credit/debit cards from MasterCard & VISA for the purchase of camera and dive equipment.
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Dive4Photos accept credit/debit cards from MasterCard & VISA for the purchase of camera equipment and dive gear.
Dive4Photos accept credit/debit cards from MasterCard & VISA for the purchase of camera and dive equipment.
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To purchase any of the above items, please Contact Dive4Photos
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To purchase any of the above items, please Contact Dive4Photos
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To purchase any of the above items, please Contact Dive4Photos

Dive4Photos, 9/16 Moo 2, Koh Tao, Surat Thani 84360, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)908 718734