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Underwater Housings for Nikon D70s

Jeannie Keeter , Jul 03, 2006; 07:47 a.m.

I am considering purchasing an underwater housing unit for my Nikon D70s - and would greatly appreciate any personal feedback/experiences anyone may have had with either the Ikelite 6807.1, Fantasea, or other alternatives (waterproof bags?)

The objective is to protect my camera from water damage when I am spending time down at the beach or kayaking on a river.

Thanks!

Responses

Shun Cheung , Jul 03, 2006; 10:12 a.m.

This is not a direct answer to your question, but I suppose you are aware that the underwater housings are very expensive. Typically they cost more than the camera body. For example, the Ikelite is $1250: (link) If you actually shoot underwater, there is no other choice besides housings. Otherwise, that is a very expensive and cumbersome way to protect your D70s. Moreover, which lenses do you typically use? Longer lenses may not fit.

For kayaking, a lot of people use Pelican waterproof cases. You put your camera back inside as soon as you are done shooting. Perhaps use some plastic protection bag for water splash. Is that good enough in your situation?

Hopefully, photographers with a lot of Kayacking experience can provide additional ideas.

David H. Hartman , Jul 03, 2006; 05:02 p.m.

Jeannie,

Since U/W housings limit one’s view through the viewfinder, sometimes rather badly, I would buy one for the D200 (or D2X/D2H(s)). There are accessories (perhaps included) that help with viewing but they make the viewfinder image smaller.

U/W housings don’t weigh much under water but expect a penalty here when using the camera in air. The extra weight will be most unwelcome when kayaking particularly if white water is expected. Kayaking says action to me, perhaps not a feature of your kayaking, but I have to wonder about AF performance of the D70s and even the D200. Even if subject motion is low the motion of the Kayak and camera will stress the AF's abilities.

Sometimes there are different ports for various lenses. Be sure you consider this as the cost of additional ports will add to the cost of the housing which can be considerable to begin with. Also many lenses cannot be accommodated.

I’d think this over very carefully as underwater housings are expensive and specific to the camera model. I would expect a quality U/W housing to cost more than the D70s itself. A dunkable digital P&S might make a lot more sense.

You might consider a personal articles floater to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance that covers all losses. You might add this some kind of U/W bag though I dubious about U/W bags. My only experience with dunking a camera is the Nikonos V ;)

Best,

Dave Hartman.

PS: sorry to bring up so many possible problems. I'd hate to see you spend perhaps well over $1,000.00 and then find the system unworkable.

Len Stinn , Jul 03, 2006; 05:40 p.m.

If you are just using it for waterproofing and not for underwater then check out the Ewa-marine bags. A lot less expensive than a hard plastic case. I have one that I used on older manual focus cameras, for around water and beaches, also works for snorkeling. The plastic lens can be a problem with auto focus. http://www.ewa-marine.de

Colin Calder , Jul 05, 2006; 08:11 a.m.

Jeannie, I have a EWA-Marine U-A bag which I use with a D70, specifically for use sea kayaking. I purchased it here, where you might find some more info too: http://www.camerasunderwater.co.uk/ewa_marine/slr/housings.html.

Comments: This case is relatively inexpensive compared with hard cases and works well protecting the camera. With a dessicant bag in it I have no problems with condensation inside the case. However, while it works to protect the camera and allows use of the camera impossible without the case, it does have an impact on camera control and image capture. I'd be aware that the bag is bulky and camera controls are hard to impossible to to access, particularly the command dials and the AE-L button which I normally use for AF-ON. There is a softer insert over the shutter release, but it even looses its sensitivity to the extent that you aren't always aware of whether the shutter has opened or not (mirror slap noise is deadened by the bag too). While a two touch standard zoom could be controlled within limits, in practice the bag prevents it. The bag comes with an adjustable accessory which rigidly fixes the glass port in position in front of the lens - connecting the port to the tripod mount on the body, so zooming or lens changing tends move the front of the lens relative to the port - vignetting as the lens moves back from the port. Generally I therefore only use the case with my tokina 17mm lens, which is a natural fit in the housing and does not require the use of the rigid coupling. Finally, in a wet environment its hard to keep water splashes off the glass port, at which point your are very prone to flare and general splash induced image distrotion.

As a summary this case puts my d70 sensor places it wouldn't otherwise go, but the camera controls become too inconvenient for much other than Program mode, available light, fixed focal length shooting. A big bulky waterproof point and shoot. HTH cheers Colin

Mark Morgan , Jul 05, 2006; 08:44 a.m.

I have the Ikelite housing for my D70. It's big and bulky and heavy, but for true undwerwater work (i.e. scuba or freediving) it does the job very nicely and more cheaply than other true underwater housings. You're still looking at around GBP1000 though, and it's not really the kind of thing you'd want to bash around much.

Brian Y , Jul 11, 2006; 10:13 a.m.

I have used the EWA Marine bag for snorkeling and limited free diving to around 15 feet, several times with pretty good success. I end up taking a Lot of pictures though, just hoping for a few keepers. It's easier to see through the viewfinder above land, but underwater with a mask on it gets really tough. I just point and pray and snap away. The dials are a bit tough to move, but you can spin them in small increments, and I don't find the back buttons too problematic. If you're just going to set aperture or program mode and then not mess with the settings much (I can't imagine doing much more than shooting when trying to kayak), you may find it adequate. Some RainEx may help prevent splashes on the front window. Note that I also shoot with a fixed focal length like the person above. My gf has a canon p+s with the dedicated underwater housing. Much more elegant case for a much less capable camera. In the end, I get more keepers of fish with the D70 in the bag, mostly for the better AF performance, better ISO range, and faster lens. If you're just snapping on the beach, the p+s may be a good option.

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