Sealife DC800 Has EXTREMELY Poor Image Quality

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sabbath999

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Let me preface this by saying I am an extremely experienced land photographer (check out my website http://www.zoopictures.net to check this statement) who shoots everything from DSLR's to $100 Kodak point & shoots.

I recently bought a DC800 Maxx kit from ScubaToys, and it has been sort of a saga.

The first camera I received had obvious defects in the lens... It would not focus sharply throughout the zoom range, In fact in the mid-tele range (I would guess about 3X) the camera had half of the picture in focus (the right half) while the other half was badly out of focus. BTW I was testing it out in the parking lot of my business, not underwater.

I contacted ScubaToys (who are awesome by the way) and the very same day they shipped out a replacement at no charge. I received the unopened replacement, opened it up and noticed that it had a large dent in the front of it under the flash... it appears to be completely cosmetic. I called ScubaToys and they again shipped me at no charge out ANOTHER camera on the same day. Out of curiosity, I took the camera with the dent out to see if it was any better, and it did focus better than the first one... it was still pretty bad in the mid-level ranges, and again the upper left corner of the frame never came into focus at all at any focal length (or even close to it).

The third one arrived a couple days ago. I took it out, and it was better than the first two in that the middle and lower half of the frame are in focus at all focal lengths. However, it is still EXTREMELY blurry at all focal lengths in the upper left hand corner.

I am not expecting DSLR quality, but I am thinking that for the price of the camera, it should at least be able to take pictures as sharp as a $100 KODAK point & shoot. It doesn't even come close.

So... either I have received 3 defective cameras in a row, or the image quality of the DC800 is absolutely horrible.

I like almost everything else about the kit (the only exception is that I don't care for the frail looking plastic baseplates for the two flashes... those would be much better made out of aluminum) but the image quality has me a bit flummoxed.

I think I have about run ScubaToys (who, again, have been great) out of DC800's trying to find one that will focus correctly.

Look, I shoot point & shoots all the time, I understand they won't have the image quality of my D300 with a 105 Macro on it. I get that. All I am saying is I think it should at least be as sharp as the cruddy little camera in my cell phone.

I am open for suggestions, although I don't know of any technique that will make a flawed lens or flawed design any sharper.
 

deeper thoughts

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I am interested in what happens. I have the dc800 and have been happy with it but did question the sharpness sometimes
 

SeaLife Joe

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Sabbath999,

We have received your images and appreciate your concern on the focusing issues. I would like to ask if you can contact us to get an RA# and return the latest unit to us for inspection. We have not heard many complaints on focusing and take this as a sreious matter. As all three cameras were from Scubatoys, there is a possibility of an issue with the batch he has recieved. Therefore we would like to inspect them closely to see what is causing the issues. We in turn will test the camera we will return to you to assure that it does not have a focusing issue.

Thanks for bringing this up and we will take of this for you.

regards,
Joe
 

scubatoys

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Thanks for the kind words about how we've been trying to take care of you here. I know SeaLife Joe - are you getting scared that you are probably dealing with ScubaToys Joe, and now it's Sealife Joe? :wink:

Anyway, SeaLife Joe is a great guy - I know him well, and really stands behind their stuff and I'm sure will get this straightened out for you. If things are not handled to your liking, let us know and we will do whatever is necessary to take care of you.
 

Jim Ernst

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Sabbath999,

We have received your images and appreciate your concern on the focusing issues. I would like to ask if you can contact us to get an RA# and return the latest unit to us for inspection. We have not heard many complaints on focusing and take this as a sreious matter. As all three cameras were from Scubatoys, there is a possibility of an issue with the batch he has recieved. Therefore we would like to inspect them closely to see what is causing the issues. We in turn will test the camera we will return to you to assure that it does not have a focusing issue.

Thanks for bringing this up and we will take of this for you.

regards,
Joe

I can say I was never happy with my Reefmaster Pro kit!

But I will say, that Sealife customer Service was the Bomb/The very best I have ever dealt with, There is a long story behind this that I will spare all of you, But I can attest to the fact that Sealife customer Service is on top!
 

sabbath999

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UPDATE:

OK, I contacted Sealife via email to see what was up with my camera. It arrived a week ago, and the person answering the email told me "I should get to your return by next week".

I guess I may as well cancel the UW photography training class and dives I had scheduled next week.
 

sabbath999

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UPDATE:

When I contacted Sealife last Friday, the person I corresponded with asked me when the next time I was planning to use my camera was, and I told her that I was planning to use it in a class this monday (i.e. two days ago from when I type this). A series of emails popped back and forth. I basically told her that I was having to cancel my class. She said she pulled my camera and looked at it, and that she was going to send me out a new camera and that she could overnight it if that would help...

I asked her to please shoot a few shots and check the lens on the new one (after three bad ones in a row, I really don't want a foruth) and she said that the company also wanted to have another person who was not in the office that day check out the one coming to me... and that this person would be in the office Monday... after which she could overnight the camera to me if that would help.

I replied that while I appreciated the thought, since my class started Monday and the best case scenario got the camera to me Tuesday, there's no point in spending the money overnighting it. My goal here is to get a camera that takes sharp pictures, not put the hurt on Sealife financially.

I rescheduled my class for next month (not nearly as convenient for me since I have a BUNCH of other classes over the next two months, but it is what it is).

The Sealife rep contacted me again on Monday and said that they wanted to send me a DC1000 as a replacement, but that they wouldn't be available for another week, was it OK to wait until they were in.

Since I am a month away from when I need the camera now, I agreed... hopefully it will have either a better lens design or no lens defects like the DC800's I have been getting have had.

Back to the DC800.

I honestly can't figure out whether it is a design flaw or a defect in manufacturing. I would be absolutely amazed that any company would intentionally design a lens that doesn't focus across the focal plane at many or all focal lengths... sure, every zoom lens has its limitations, I understand that... every zoom is a compromise, and there's always a sweet spot to every lens design. The three DC800's that I had though all had multiple bad spots, and at different focal lengths they distorted in different ways. That would lead me more towards the manufacturing defect theory.

I admit I am not your typical Sealife customer... as somebody who takes 20-30K pictures annually with three different DSLR's, I am certainly not the typical point and shoot user. I do, however, really enjoy shooting point & shoots, because they have advantages on their own. My Kodak Z710 IS is my constant companion, and if I don't have that with me I have my $99 Canon 570IS.

I want to make it perfectly clear that when I was comparing image quality of the Sealife DC800 I was comparing it against the Kodak (which I bought for $99 with a coupon from Dell) and the Canon 570IS which I bought on sale at Staples. I was not comparing it to my D300 with the pristine 105 VR macro that I use for bugs, or the 70-200 VR that I use for wildlife and on my zoo trips.

To me, I think it is reasonable to expect a $250 (the price of the camera alone) point & shoot to have the same image quality as one that costs half its price.

End of updates until the DC1000 arrives.
 
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