Nauticam’s port locking system is excellent: a true market leading innovation. You simply line up and push on the port and then close the lever on the bottom left of the front of the housing to lock it securely. It is simple to use and inspires confidence. I have seen quite a few housings flood (not mine) with ports being knocked loose or rotated. This is a valuable feature. However, it should be noted that if you continue to use ports from your existing housing then the Nauticam port adaptor will be locked securely in place, but you old port will be mounted on to it with the same issues as on your old housing. Hardly Nauticam’s fault!
The Subal port adaptor I used positioned my Subal ports exactly as they are on my housing relative to the lens, meaning that optics remain correctly aligned. However, the Nauticam port adaptor would not fit directly on my, or my buddy Shannon’s, Subal FE dome port. Subal users, at least, thinking of switching should double check their FE port works with the Nauticam. It would be an expensive mistake if it does not. Please note, all the other Subal ports and port extension rings worked perfectly.
The Nauticam is fitted with a leak detector with a visible and audible alarm. Not that I tested it properly! The housing design is certainly confidence inspiring. The o-ring track is smooth, with no fussy details than can cause o-rings to pop out unnoticed when the housing is open.
The housing is sealed with three snappy latches. I am not a fan of snappy latches. First, three is one more than I have hands, meaning the third always snags when you don’t want it to! Also there is just the right amount of room between the locks and the handles to trap my fingers every time I opened the housing. But despite my bias, importantly they provide a secure seal (unless you have a Wilk moment, Keri’s Nauticam housing was opened underwater by Indonesian kids right in front of his face).
The Nauticam is designed to run optical synched strobes, and, in standard configuration, does not come with an electronic flash synch socket (although there is a blanked off hole, where one, but only one, can be easily fitted). Optical synched strobes are a neat solution providing un-floodable fibre-optic synch cables and the ability to shoot TTL with newer strobes, driven by the camera’s own built in flash. On the negative side, not all strobes can be fired using optical cables (notably some of the best for clear water wide angle) and at small apertures shooting TTL, you are sometimes cannot shoot until the internal flash has recharged, which tends to be slower than your strobes. I’ll discuss some positives and negatives of the flash system I encountered shooting in Australia, below.
The Nauticam has a button to pop up the flash when underwater (should you forget) and also a leaver to lower it, which provides a very swift solution for switching to shooting without flash (close the flash and your external strobes will not fire, saving you turning them both off). The Nauticam bristles with innovative solutions: another feature that drew praise was the large M-S-C, which enables you to focus and then switch to manual without removing your eye from the viewfinder. This is a handy benefit for supermacro. The housing also has a well-placed lever (under your right thumb) for AF-On, if you prefer this method of assisted focus. Manual focus gears are also available, but I did not test them.