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Shark’s-eye view

Wouldn’t it be cool to have an inexpensive camera that takes pictures underwater? Why, yes it would. So, here you go.

Aren’t you tired of all those beach shots of dripping ice cream and sunburned tykes? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do something a little different, like capture images of friends and family frolicking in the water, instead of at the water’s edge? That time has come.

The Aqua 350 (priced at $79.99) is a handy little toy that will make you the envy of the sunbathing set. Underwater digital photography has been around for awhile, but it usually involves expensive equipment that’s carted around by scuba divers. For the average Joe and Jane, taking pictures beneath the sea is what happens when you put the camera too close to the edge of the dock. But with the Aqua 350, go ahead and let the kids throw the camera in the lake. In fact, for once in your life, you can even encourage it.

The camera is tricked out with all the usual digital camera features, and it takes pretty decent photos. With a choice between high-res and low-res images, you can decide whether to take 26 really good pictures, or 107 moderately nice pictures. It can be taken down to 10 meters below the surface, but it’s up to you whether you can stand the burn of chlorine at that depth in a swimming pool, or suffer the murk of lake water.

Ideally, this is perfect for scuba divers who want to find Nemo and e-mail the results. As this magazine is based in Minnesota, land of cold but clear lakes, the product review was conducted far from coral reefs and angelfish, but the results were cool nonetheless. After capturing the sandy, pebbled bottom of Lake Calhoun, I downloaded the images onto my iMac and made it my wallpaper. Of course, I had to ignore the shouts of people who thought I was about to drop my camera in the lake. Such are the trials of the digital camera pioneer.

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