Electronics and water don’t mix, so choosing the right protection for your camera while diving is essential and you need to find the best underwater camera housing. These can range from simple bag type housings costing relatively little to ones machined out of solid aluminum blocks costing thousands of dollars, but which is the right one for you?

Many of the considerations have been outlined in our guide to the best diving cameras, but here we will examine these in more depth. If you are looking to house a camera that you already own then the choice of the best housing will necessarily be restricted to those available for your camera. By letting you know they key features to look for we can guide you in your choice. If you are buying your camera and underwater housing together then you have many more options.

 

THE BEST UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING – QUICK ANSWER

  1. Ikelite Action G7X II
  2. Nauticam NA G7X11
  3. Olympus PT-EP13
  4. Ikelite EM5 MkII
  5. Nauticam NA-EM5II
  6. Ikelite D7200
  7. Aquatica AD7200
  8. Ikelite Nikon D810
  9. Nauticam NA-D810

 

 

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING

PICTURE
HOUSING
CAMERA MODEL
BEST FOR
MATERIAL
DEPTH RATING
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
HOUSING
CAMERA MODEL
BEST FOR
MATERIAL
DEPTH RATING
PRICE
RATING
Ikelite Action G7X II
Canon G7X II
Compact
Polycarbonate
200ft
$
4.2
Nauticam NA G7X11
Canon G7X II
Compact
Aluminum
330ft
$$$
5
Olympus PT-EP13
Olympus EM5 MKII
Mirrorless
Polycarbonate
150ft
$
4.4
Ikelite EM5 MkII
Olympus EM5 MKII
Mirrorless
Polycarbonate
200f
$$
4.5
Nauticam NA-EM5II
Olympus EM5 MKII
Mirrorless
Aluminum
330ft
$$$
4.8
Ikelite D7200
Nikon D7200
APSC DSLR
Polycarbonate
200ft
$$
4.7
Aquatica AD7200
Nikon D7200
APSC DSLR
Aluminum
330ft
$$$
5
Ikelite Nikon D810
Nikon D810
Full Frame DSLR
Polycarbonate
200ft
$
4.5
Nauticam NA-D810
Nikon D810
Full Frame DSLR
Aluminum
330ft
$$$
5

 

 

UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSINGS 101

 

7 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING

 

1. BUDGET

If you are buying a new housing and camera it makes sense to consider your budget. You need to decide how much of this you need to spend on the housing. As a general rule the larger the camera, the more expensive the housing will be.

For smaller cameras, such a compact cameras you should expect to pay at least as much on the housing as on the camera. For medium sized cameras, such as micro 4/3rds, then you can expect to pay more for the housing than the camera. For larger cameras, such as DSLRs then you can pay at least double, or even more, than the price of the camera.

This often means that the housing is the single most expensive part of an underwater camera rig.

 

2. AVAILABILITY

For many cameras the only housings available are those offered by the manufacturer. It is possible that no third party alternative is available. So it makes sense to see what housings are available before you buy a camera.

 

3. ACCESS TO CONTROLS

Some housings won’t give you access to all the camera controls. The omission of a control may be cost cutting by the housing manufacturer. Sometimes though it could be that it is because the control is in a place that is difficult to reach.

It doesn’t matter why access to a control is missing if it makes it impossible to do what you want.

If the housing you are considering has been out for a while it is worth checking reviews from other users. There are specialist underwater photography websites such as Wetpixel where you can do this.

 

4. ERGONOMICS

By this I am referring to how well the various buttons fall to hand and how easy they are to operate. If you are going to be doing any diving where you have to wear thick gloves then this is very important. Large, prominent and well spaced buttons will be easier to operate than if they are small and cramped.

The shutter button is probably the most important. This is because pressing the button half way locks the focus and evaluates the scene. Pressing the button all the way then activates the shutter. So you need to be able to get the half press/full press technique mastered in the housing. A long lever makes this easier than one that moves straight up and down.

This beginners guide has more great tips.

 

5. DEPTH RATING

The depth rating of the housing should be at least equal to the maximum depth to which you plan to take you camera. Slightly exceeding this depth may not result in the housing leaking or cracking. However, it is likely that the springs behind the buttons will not cope with the added pressure. This will result in the buttons getting stuck in the pressed position and the camera jamming up.

 

6. HOUSING MATERIAL

Housings are usually made from polycarbonate (a very tough plastic) or from aluminum.

Polycarbonate housings are generally cheaper than an aluminum housings for the same camera. They will also be lighter in weight and more buoyant underwater. However they are usually rated to a shallower depth than an aluminum housing, typically 100 – 130 ft (30 – 40 meters). Aluminum housings are often rated to 300ft or more (100m).

Polycarbonate housings have a tendency for the port to fog unless properly prepared. This is due to the glass rapidly becoming the coldest object in the housing when you enter the water. This leads to condensation on the inside of the glass. Any spectacle wearers will be familiar with this. Aluminum housings are much tougher. This means that they are better at taking the knocks you get on a dive boat.

 

7. EXPANDABILITY

Whatever type of camera you are looking to house there may come a time when you want to add other things. Add ons like wet lenses or strobes are popular.

Many of these add ons can be moved from one setup to another. If you are starting out your choice of housing will determine the range of add ons available to you. If you are upgrading your system then the add ons that you already own may influence your choice of housing.

Add ons break down into three main types:

 

1. STROBES

If you wish to bring out the full color of the underwater realm then you need to take your own light source. Underwater flash units are called strobes. These are better than constant light sources as they can be much brighter.

These are triggered by the camera in one of two ways. The most common is to use an optical link (optical fiber). This detects the on camera flash and uses this to trigger the strobe. This system has limitations. It relies on the camera’s own flash unit. This drains the battery faster and builds up heat in the housing. It also means that you need to wait for the flash to recharge before you can take another shot.

Because of this many higher end systems use an electronic link. This uses the hotshoe on the camera to fire the strobes. So the choice of housing will influence the choice of strobe or vice versa.

 

2. WET LENSES

Wet lenses are ones that can be attached while underwater to the outside of the housing. The most common type use a 67mm thread and can be either wide angle or macro. Wide angle lenses will have a multiplier less than 1 e.g. x 0.56. Macro lenses will have a multiplier greater than 1 e.g. x10.

Less common now are housings that use a bayonet type fitting. There are also flip up lens holders which makes using them even easier.

 

3. TRAYS AND ARMS

If you are looking at a strobe then you may also need a tray and arm to join the strobe to the camera. The tray fits underneath the camera. The arm is attached to the tray and is flexible. This allows the strobe to be put into the best position for the shot.

Some housings come with built in handles that you can attach the arms without using a tray. Some manufacturers use non-standard attachments so that you have to use their tray.

 

The Adventure Xperience

 

 

 

UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING REVIEWS

 

1. UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING FOR COMPACT CAMERA (CANON G7X II)

IKELITE ACTION G7X II

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackscatter

BEST FOR: Divers on a limited budget

MATERIAL: Polycarbonate

DEPTH RATING: 200ft / 60m

PROS: Affordable, 67mm thread allows wide range of wet lenses, great access to important camera functions, lightweight (1lb 2oz.)

CONS: Built in flash cannot be used with this housing (this means that you cannot use external strobes with this housing and are restricted to constant light sources such as torches or video lights that aren’t as bright), cannot access all camera functions, slight positive buoyancy

 

 

 

NAUTICAM NA G7X11

Check out the latest price on:
Backscatter

BEST FOR: Divers wanting a small setup that has the potential to add strobes

MATERIAL: Aluminium

DEPTH RATING: 330ft /100m

PROS: Rated to 330ft, 67mm thread port allows a range of wet lenses, easy change port system allows the user to change ports quickly and easily, comes as standard with a vacuum check and leak alarm system (vacuum pump extra), fibre optic strobe connection.

CONS: As expensive as some housings for higher range cameras

 

 

 

 

2. UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING FOR MIRRORLESS CAMERA (OLYMPUS EM5 MKII)

OLYMPUS PT-EP13

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackscatter

BEST FOR: Divers not wishing to exceed the depth rating of 150ft

MATERIAL: Polycarbonate

DEPTH RATING: 150ft/45m

PROS: Access to all camera functions, range of accessories, including 67mm threaded port adaptor to allow use of wet lenses, included port is suitable for use with a range of lenses, fibre optic strobe connection

CONS: Shallowest depth rating of any of the housings reviewed

 

 

 

IKELITE EM5 MKII

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackscatter

BEST FOR: Divers wishing to go beyond 150ft but no deeper than 200 ft

MATERIAL: Polycarbonate

DEPTH RATING: 200ft/60m

PROS: Uses Ikelite TTL system for strobes, uses the camera’s hot shoe rather than an accessory flash unit, (thus reducing shutter lag and extending battery life), includes tray and handle with quick release function, clear polycarbonate construction enables you to check easily for leaks

CONS: Does not include a port (you need to purchase a port suitable for the lens you wish to use), depth rating of 200ft

 

 

 

NAUTICAM NA-EM5II

Check out the latest price on:
Backscatter

BEST FOR: Divers wishing to go beyond 200ft

MATERIAL: Aluminum

DEPTH RATING: 330ft/100m

PROS: Depth rating to 330ft, access to all camera functions, wide range of accessories available, comes as standard with a vacuum check and leak alarm system (vacuum pump extra), fibre optic strobe connection.

CONS: Does not include a port (you need to purchase a port suitable for the lens you wish to use)

 

 

 

 

3. UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING FOR APSC DSLR CAMERA (NIKON D7200)

IKELITE D7200

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackscatter

BEST FOR: Divers on a budget or not wanting to exceed 200ft

MATERIAL: Polycarbonate

DEPTH RATING: 200ft/60m

PROS: Access to all important camera functions, capable of electrical TTL strobe exposure, comfortable rubber grips, clear polycarbonate construction enables you to check easily for leaks. Includes tray and handles

CONS: Only rated to 200ft, cannot access some control buttons, you need to purchase a port suitable for the lens you wish to use

 

 

 

AQUATICA AD7200

Check out the latest price on:
Backscatter

BEST FOR: Divers wanting a professional grade system and/ or divers wishing to go beyond 200ft

MATERIAL: Aluminum

DEPTH RATING: 330ft/100m (upgradeable on request to 425ft/130m)

PROS: Excellent ergonomics, access to Fn button, interchangeable strobe connectors, fits both the D7100 and D7200, molded grips fit directly to the housing removing the need for a separate tray

CONS: Heavy (6lb), may need to add flotation arms to achieve the desired buoyancy underwater, you need to purchase a port suitable for the lens you wish to use

 

 

 

 

4. UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING FOR FULL FRAME DSLR CAMERA (NIKON D810)

IKELITE NIKON D810

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackscatter

BEST FOR: Divers on a budget or not wanting to exceed 200ft

MATERIAL: Polycarbonate

DEPTH RATING: 200ft/60m

PROS: Access to all important camera functions, capable of electrical TTL strobe exposure, comfortable rubber grips, clear polycarbonate construction enables you to check easily for leaks, includes tray and handles

CONS: Only rated to 200ft, cannot access some control buttons, you need to purchase a port suitable for the lens you wish to use

 

 

 

NAUTICAM NA-D810

Check out the latest price on:
Backscatter

BEST FOR: Divers on a budget or not wanting to exceed 200ft

MATERIAL: Polycarbonate

DEPTH RATING: 200ft/60m

PROS: Access to all important camera functions, capable of electrical TTL strobe exposure, comfortable rubber grips, clear polycarbonate construction enables you to check easily for leaks. Includes tray and handles

CONS: Only rated to 200ft, cannot access some control buttons, you need to purchase a port suitable for the lens you wish to use

10 Best Underwater Camera Housings of 2017 – Underwater  Photography Tips - Scuba Diving Gear and Equipment Posts – Dive Products and Accessories
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