Maui is my favorite place for Humpback whale photography anywhere in the world. Every winter, thousands of Humpback whales migrate from the cold waters of Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii to mate or give birth. Read my whale watching article to understand why.
I have been a professional wildlife photographer for over twenty years. Every year I go to Maui for a photo shoot and earlier this winter I was there again and went out with my usual whale watching company. The waters of Hawaii are part of a Marine Mammal Sanctuary and although the Humpback whales are very friendly, active and curious, coming right up to my zodiac, no one is allowed to go in the water unless they have a government issued research permit. This year I brought along the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 point and shoot camera. This versatile camera is waterproof and quite rugged. Visit the Equipment section on my website to see the complete specifications. I have used the Panasonic TS3 before and found it to be a competent point-and-shoot camera but this time I want to use it to shoot videos of the Humpback whales when they come up to my zodiac.
The Panasonic DMC-TS4 has a 12.1 MP CCS sensor and a 2.7 inch LCD screen. It shoots full HD videos (1920 x 1080), comes with GPS, compass, altimeter and is water resistant to about 40 feet. The camera comes with a Leica DC lens with a 4.6X optical zoom from 28mm, equivalent to a 28-128mm zoom. When I go snorkeling, I enclosed the camera in the factory housing, DMW- MCFT3, which will protect the camera down to about 120 feet.
I came across this female Humpback whale. She was pursued by 3 males who want to mate with her. She was not too responsive to their advances and used my zodiac as a buffer to put some distance between herself and her suitors. The male Humpbacks were not deterred and kept pursuing her by circling my small boat. This gave me the perfect opportunity to try out the Panasonic DMC-TS4's underwater video capability. I set the lens at 28mm, leaned over the zodiac and dipped the camera about 12 inches into the water. At times, the whales were less than 10 feet from me. The boat was rocking violently from the waves generated by these 30+ tons giants but I was able to steady the camera enough to take some decent HD videos. I am impressed by the Panasonic TS4. It is a compact, competent, point-n-shoot camera. I take it along when I do not want to bring my camera bag with me on outings. It also takes very good photos and videos on land as well. Take a look at the movie below and visit my website MichaelDanielHo.com to see many more photos and videos of other whales and wildlife.