Underwater Housing Discussion

GarethGareth Posts: 159Member
edited February 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
I like taking photos of school swimming sports and would like to get in the water with them. I will need a housing for this, but I'm not diving, so what is cheap but effective?

What cases and housings have people tried, were they good or bad and why, and can you really trust those $20 bags on ebay?


  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The bags are really only good for surf and spray, and rain. Perhaps if you kept it on the surface of the pool, but even then I would only trust a $20 bag with a $40 camera.

    Prepare to spend at least half and no more than double what you spent on your camera if you want something that is truly effective. Even then you need to exercise extreme "anal retentiveness" when opening, drying, cleaning, closing the housing, as the smallest grain of sand or debris will cause a leak. Then you need to leak test the rig every time. No doubt some of the pro diver/photogs will ring in on this.
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    cheapest way to achieve a decent underwater snaps is to get dedicated underwater cams or gopro. anything with even 1" sensor will cost You at least $1500.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    I guess I will mention my ewa-marine U-BF100. This fits a D4, good for about 30 feet of depth. $400.
    Msmoto, mod
  • GarethGareth Posts: 159Member
    do you really trust your D4 in there msmoto?
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    I have been in the surf and had huge waves hit the housing, no doubt very high pressure levels, not a drop inside. The Ewe Marine is very well constructed, and one places into the housing some desiccants, just incase a drop pr two should enter. The fitting holds the lens up against an optically clear glass, which I have demonstrated the sharpness on a close up:
    and the full size:
    and the big splash

    So, as far as I am concerned, I would not hesitate to go snorkeling with this unit. If I are a lot younger and went SCUBA diving, I would get a full scale housing. But, for hanging around the surf, allowing the waves to splash on you and camera...this is what I would recommend..
    Msmoto, mod
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    @Msmoto - that is EXACTLY what I have been looking for! I don't need a full underwater/aqua rig but I want to not worry when I am on the boat, or a tube, shooting wake surfers or wakeboarding. The price is very reasonable too.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    Go Pro Black 3 units are very effective underwater. But that is a video rig. I have shot about everything underwater from view cameras in living stream units (where the unit was dry as possible and used as a huge housing) to Nikon 35mm film. Of all of them the Go Pro at about $400 is taking over. One warning though, water leaks are a pervasive problem in UW photography and other cameras including "sports" P&S Nikon and Canon are getting returns in fairly high proportion.
  • INaINa Posts: 8Member
    For this kind of activity (shooting in the pool, snorkeling, surfing etc.) the Outex is a better solution then a bags and more cheaper than real underwater housing. And you can use a flash… Check on outex.com…
    I don’t have it, but I’m planning to get one, just waiting how will look the new variant presented on Kickstarter.
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    @INa: Let us know how you make out. I have never even heard of Outex before this. Go Pro Black 3 is the current practical field UW unit. What cameras are you putting in the Outex?? How deep are you shooting? I personally have very little interest below 33ft. Pressure and colors below that just aren't what I want to deal with.
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 522Member
    I think one of the ideas behind this forum is to communicate the experiences with the products, so here is my experience: I shot with the EWA-Marine Housing that MSMOTO described. I had 4 dives with it.
    The bag is absolutely tight and there was not a single drop in the bag. fogging is prevented by the drying bags that come with the product and that you can also find in electronic parts shipments.
    The lens is held in place with a ring on the front glass. The ring delivered by default screws onto a 77mm filter thread and then clicks into the glass front of the bag. The 24-70mm lens is pretty much the maximum length the bag can handle. Any movement on the lens of that length is not taken well if everything is packaged and closed, so my suggestion is to use an IF lens and therefore does not change the length. Zooming is difficult for the same reason.
    All knobs can be used quite well, but dials and small knobs are difficult to handle. I preset all settings prior to closing the bag and then just focused and shot. Settings were ISO 400, f/5, A-mode, single shot S. up to a depth of 10 feet you have very fast shutter speeds with sunny skies (no flash).
    The bag can handle a SB910 on top of the camera, which brings out colors much better.
    Critical factors to the quality of the shot are the degree of clearness of the water and the light (no surprise here)
    I will post some pictures when I have them all downloaded and processed.
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 522Member
    here is the promised sample.
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    @Benji2505: As a aquatic scientist I was impressed with this image. I would ask for clarification as to what the two large creatures are. Where was the photo taken? Nice clear water. Salt or fresh?
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator

    Good choice…. love the image …….maybe I need to get out with mine again….
    Msmoto, mod
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    My best UW shots in ALaska were shot with a Ewa Marine bag. That though was before Go Pros and the new Nikon AW 1 which I would vastly prefer. I lost my Nikon from that bag completely finally.....not just a leak. It is a sad story and I would only say that real housings are more dependable but there are in my mind WAy better ways to go for now FOR ME! I also refuse to pay NOW $3,200 for a housing that doesn't take any better a video to my eye than a Go Pro or the lovely Nikon AW 1. We have UTube videos that were entirely produced with the AW 1.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    the Outex is a better solution then a bags and more cheaper than real underwater housing. And you can use a flash… Check on outex.com…
    I don’t have it, but I’m planning to get one, just waiting

    I am also looking at an Outex any one used one?

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    The Outex looks nice, but it is fairly expensive…. the one for a D4 with flash kit was over USD $500. Without the flash kit over USD $400.
    Msmoto, mod
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 522Member
    edited March 2014

    sorry to take a little longer. Yes, these are Manatees. they were shot during their annual retreat in Crystal River, FL. they are resting in the springs since the spring water is warmer than the ocean by the time. Hypothermia is one of their most serious dangers.
    They are still accessible in the moment, but restrictions are looming. A big Manatee tourism economy is established now, but the Manatees are taking it easier than the rangers.
    During my trip NatGeo was down there as well filming and photographing, so one should expect a story in that publication shortly.

    here is another:
    Post edited by Benji2505 on
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    edited April 2014
    VERY GOOD QUALITY MANATEE SHOT! We have shot them in a number of Florida rivers but none this clear. Clear water is indeed one of the most important aspects and even our Jet Boat is named the Clearwater Marauder ( a variant of a famous privateer boat of the sailing days). That boat is set up with hookah pumps and all kinds of gear for free diving. In fact for a number of our trips we cannot use that boat and have to deal with rentals. I want to try one of these bags with a D7100 or one of those. From what msmoto writes a D4 would be awesome in this application.
    Post edited by DaveyJ on
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 522Member
    The water is so clear that there is no need for excessive low light capacity. All shot were taken with ISO 400.
    Snorkeling is pretty much your only diving option in Kings Bay, FL, things are regulated and they are on the verge of being more restricted.

    Manatee calf
  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 1,090Member
    This last Manatee shot you posted is really one of the better ones I have ever seen. My youngest grandson is in Key West right now ( 6.5 ft tall) and he is seeing manatees fairly often in the Keys but the water is not that clear. Also he is set up with a D90 (not UW capable) and a Go Pro. So his work would have to be done on Go Pro. That might make a nice UW video but not as good a still as yours! THANKS FOR THIS POST!
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