In an effort to come up with a better way of viewing corals and clams from above, especially in photography, I came up with a box that keeps the camera & lens dry and gives the photographer the ability to bring out the vivid colors without the issues of wave motion or light reflections.
If you would like to purchase one, please visit my Reef Shop.
The top down photo box allows the lens to be submerged slightly, providing the opportunity for some lovely macro shots that bring out the pure color we usually can't see from the side viewing panels. After all, the lights shine downward and the color reflects upward, right?
Here are a few views of the box I built. The first image contains the extension tube and rubber boot from my camera. The camera is not available for the image because I needed it to take this picture. :)
The top edge of the box is shaped like a hook, allowing the user to stabilize the camera's bouyancy against the egdge of the tank.
The bottom lens is 3/8" AcryLite GP (Cast acrylic) and it is important to avoid scratching it when not in use. It is your viewing lens, after all.
The nylon screw is the same size as the tripod mounting threads in the base of most all cameras. On my Fuji, the screw lines up with the center of the barrel. I'm still able to reach all the buttons on the camera, and with the box being 6" deep, it is relatively easy to keep the camera dry at all times.
This is what it looks like from the reef's perspective. Not very intrusive, and the black walls avoid relections off the lens for the most part.
Here are a couple of shots of the earlier version, and you can see it with a camera installed. I decided later that this box was too shallow, and when I saw water moving across the viewing field, I quickly pulled the unit out of the tank.
Travis Staut of Reef-Life.com came over and tried out his Canon D-10 in my photo box, and felt that it was unfortunate to lose the ability for manual focus and manual zoom, but the trade off of getting such a great point of view made those losses acceptable. Here are a few images he took from my tank that night, all from above.
As you can see, the ability of your camera is enhanced by the closeness of the photobox to the object. DOF is easily controlled and incredible detail is available as never before. These images were taken with the pumps all on, and the light rack moved slightly out of the way as needed.
How to use a Topdown Photo Box:
Be sure not to set the box flat on a surface as the viewing panel can be scratched. If it does, you can polish out the damaged area to get a like-new viewing panel.
The box is good for photography or merely to look down at your reef tank from above, such as when viewing clams.
Be careful not to hit and damage corals with the box.
Using the hook at the top as a stabilizer against the edge of the tank can help steady your shots. You can shoot with the pumps on or off.
Be careful to make sure water doesn't pour into the box as your camera may be damaged by saltwater.
If you'd like to see more images, check out the Top Down Gallery.