Doubtless there are many opinions...so what uw camera would you recommend, and why? Primary use of the camera would be for submerged victim search/drowning recovery.
Any specifics to consider when buying?
Simply collecting many thoughts at this point. Your help is appreciated.
JW Fishers, hands down. We currently have their TOV-1 towed camera system (for about 12 years) and their DHC-1 handheld camera. We also have their side scan sonar unit with two different fish for defining the search area better. We have had great luck with the stuff from Fishers but we have made some mods to make them more usable. We started out with just the TOV-1 to search for victims of drowning in a large 10,000 acre lake that varies from 3 feet to 140 feet deep, with lots of debris and rocks below. We fashioned a cage of sorts over the camera dome to protect it from scratches and cracks. We also have become pros at changing the bulbs in the camera pods. They are cooled by water and will not last very long at all in the dry. By design they also are susceptible to hitting items on the bottom and causing a bulb to blow. All that aside, it is a very good unit and well built. JW Fishers has been great to work with and we have a 12 year history with their products. There are some finer points to running the camera system as well. Always run parallel to the bank. This lets the operators (guys holding on to the rope) run more steady rather than perpendicular where you have depth changes that require MUSCLE to raise and lower the camera. Get a trolling motor or jack plate on your boat because you need to be barely moving for the camera to "fly" correctly and for your observer to see what they need to see, which is a LOT of beer cans and fish.
We have performed dozens of recoveries and evidence searches across the state with this camera system and it has been a great asset for our volunteer squad. In hindsight and if money was no object, I think we probably would have started with a side scan system first because it covers way more territory at a time. The TOV only sees about 18-24" in a pass, while the SSS will cover 130 feet on either side of the boat, depending on the frequency and altitude of the fish. We have both assets loaded on a 24' Carolina Skiff that we have built up to a full scale "survey" boat. We have a monitor for the SSS for both the driver and the operator. The SSS is also connected to a GPS plotter that gives the coverage pattern so that you know without a doubt you are covering the whole search area. We also got a winch system for the SSS so that the operator can adjust the altitude accordingly without muscle power.
Hope all this helps. if you have any more questions, I would be happy to try and answer them.
Thanks for the response. I'd like to learn more of your operation and eqt. I did purchase the J W Fishers camera which is a good unit. Please send me a direct email, email@example.com