|| Minolta Vectis Weathermatic is more
compact than most competing cameras, a result of using the smaller
Advanced Photo System (APS) format instead of 35mm. It is ideal for
snorkelling or shallow scuba use.
I used the Vectis for two weeks
as a typical tourist camera. I took the usual people and scenic
shots, but where the Vectis scored was for those between-dive shots,
on the boat or on the shoreline, where most cameras are either too
bulky or vulnerable to water to be useful. I also took it day and
night (a built in illuminator lights the subject to help the camera
focus in dim and dark conditions) snorkelling to 10m without any
problems. If you want to shoot deeper you’ll need to look
Land pictures are excellent. Underwater the camera, like all underwater
cameras with in-built flashguns, is best suited to clear water.
The Vectis is an excellent partner for the traveller who wants to
take quality photographs in snow, rain or surf and wants to keep
a camera on the dive boat.
The viewfinder provides direct vision and has a flip switch to
change the picture area between the three APS formats. This allows
you to select the shape that best suits your subject. It is large
enough for viewing with a mask on and the camera can easily be fired
and zoomed single handed.
Waterproof to 10m. It has a 30mm – 50mm power zoom lens.This
is equivalent to 38mm – 63mm on 35mm. In air the lens is autofocus
from 0.4m to infinity. Underwater the lens’s minimum focusing
distance alters to 0.53m – infinity. The Vectis can be used
with shutter speeds as low as 1/4 second and has a tripod socket
and a low-light, flash fill-in feature. This helps it to handle
creative night time photography. Exposure is automatic.
It is bright yellow and floats, so if you drop it it won’t
plummet into the depths and shouldn’t be to hard to relocate.
Maintenance is no more complicated than ensuring the seals are clean
(no grease required) and a freshwater soak.
The long lens mount helps avoid fingers blocking the lens, though
care should be taken not to obscure the flash.
- Backscatter is a problem if there are any particles in the water.
It must be used within its limitations. Turning off the flash
will eliminate backscatter and is perfectly acceptable in shallow,
brightly lit conditions.
- It lacks a non-slip rubber pad on the viewfinder eyepiece.
- If you only need an underwater camera for shallow-water use,
several more suitable cameras are offered by traditional camera
dial on top of the camera turns it on or off. With the same button
you can choose automatic flash, select red eye reduction and operate
the self-timer. The camera has a date imprinter.
The zoom can be controlled underwater via a rocker switch that
sits neatly under your right thumb, and is easily turned. Uniquely,
the Vectis remains an autofocus camera underwater. Previously the
only underwater camera to have this feature was the now discontinued
£3,000 Nikon RS. If the camera cannot focus it locks the shutter
to prevent a poor result. The combination of zoom and APS format
options makes for a very versatile choice when composing each shot.
Using the Advanced Photo System, film loading is foolproof. Just
drop in the cassette, close the door, and the Vectis winds on to
the first frame. Film speed is set automatically.