Underwater Shooting Notes
It was easy to adjust to using the Nauticam underwater and it is a credit to its design and ergonomics that I was able to produce pleasing images from the first dive. Several of the images in this review, including the TTL test (next page), were shot on my first dive with the housing.
The comments in this section are based around issues I encountered. The system was excellent most of the time, but when everything goes swimmingly there is not much to say. So if this section reads predominantly negatively, I should restate that my overall impression of the Nauticam was hugely positive. The reason so many people read Wetpixel reviews is that we look at products objectively and do not shy away from discussing areas for improvement.
I mainly used the system for macro as dictated by the diving around Sydney and Melbourne, were visibility is often limited. These are temperate waters so it was drysuit diving throughout, sometimes with gloves. All the previous Nauticam tests have been in the tropics, so it was good to get it out of its comfort zone.
The primary controls on an underwater housing are the shutter release, aperture and shutter speed. These are the ones we use the most and therefore the most important. Despite this most housings do not get them 100% right.
The shutter and aperture are very well positioned and make operating the housing very easy. For example when shooting the pot-bellied seahorse (below) I initially found the background too distracting. The Nauticam made it simple to open the aperture and blur the background, reducing this distraction. Good ergonomics like this make you more inclined to make these changes that make a real difference to your images.
The aperture and shutter speed knobs on the Nauticam are small compared to many other housings. This makes no difference when diving with warm fingers in the tropics, but with cold fingers and/or thick gloves I would prefer larger dials, with deeper indentations. There is no problem using the housing as it is, but it would be easier with larger, more indented knobs. I believe that it is worth making things as easy as possible underwater. An easy solution would be for Nauticam to offer alternative knobs for users who plan to dive their housing in cold waters.
I feel that the only significant ergonomic shortfall of the Nauticam D700 is the shutter speed knob. Put the housing on a table and it is easy to reach the shutter with your thumb, but underwater with your fingers on the shutter lever and aperture knob, none of us could reach and turn the shutter speed knob easily. Ideally a housing should allow you to do this with you eye on the viewfinder (many do not). You can test this yourself on land, by balancing the housing on the edge of the table and seeing how easily you can adjust them.
The issue could be overcome easily by making the shutter speed knob longer and larger, with deeper indentations. There is plenty of room. Without thinking, I found I was resorting to taking my hand from the handle and turning the shutter speed dial with my thumb and finger. I am interested to hear from other Nauticam users on this one. Also note that I believe the Canon Nauticam’s have this knob in a different position, although I don’t know if this improves matters.
It is also important to note that whether stretching your thumb to the shutter speed or using both finger and thumb you are forced to hold the housing with both hands. Most of the time this is of little consequence, but if your left hand is holding on in a current, it is problematic. It is a small gripe, but an important one. Reader’s should note that many housings have issues with their primary controls and that actually Nauticam’s are better than many as they are, although there is room for improvement.