The Nauticam NA-60D is an anodized aluminum housing, infused with the latest innovations Nauticam. The housing has access to almost all the individual controls on the camera, with the exceptions of the LCD panel illumination (unneeded since there’s no window for the top LCD panel), Depth of Field and the Flash button (which turned out to be somewhat important!). That’s as fully loaded as they come!
The new housing lock system replaced the finger snapping locks of the 7D, the last Nauticam housing I’d used. I’d always found it odd that there were 3 snap locks on the NA-7D housing, since I’ve yet to meet anyone with 3 arms. This new system design has a red button that releases the locking levers, which turn outwards to the side, to unlock the housing. Very nifty.
Right front of the NA-60D. The Port Lock lever is red for safety differentiation.
With so many buttons, the placement these controls are surprisingly as it is on the camera. For example, the top panel controls are AF mode, DRIVE, ISO and Metering. The ISO button has been prioritized as a lever instead of buttons like the rest of the controls, so there’s a gap where the ISO button is. The AF Mode button is actually squeezed into the side of the front bulge of the housing. The Mode dials and power ON/OFF switch complete the controls on the top of the housing.
The ISO lever is right between the AF-ON lever and Shutter lever, on the right (shutter) side of the NA-60D along with Live View/REC, Main (shutter) and Quick Control (back) dials. This is a smart design by Nauticam to keep the key functions in the “operating hotzone” of the right hand controls. The AF-ON pushes forward for actuation, while the ISO button pushes down. Live View/REC (video mode) also pushes forward to actuate but has no spring to push the lever back. The shutter trigger lever sits high and has an indent bulge for better control and feel.
The back of the NA-60D.
On the back of the NA-60D, all controls are there including the INFO, Quick Control, AF point selection/Magnify, INFO, MENU, U/D/L/R directions and SET with the Multi Controller, Playback and Trash buttons. The Quick Control Dial is right above the housing locking system.
On the left side is the Zoom/Focus gear and Lens release.In the front, the port lock system features a red lever with a silver release button, so it is highly distinguishable from the other controls.The NA-60D has 2 optical ports on the top of the housing and only 1 spare hole for sync cable connections (the housing I tested did not have sync cable connectors).The camera mount system uses a sliding lockable tray mount.
Front half (internal) of the NA-60D
The front half of the housing is very deep, so the SD card down cannot be opened to change cards without first pulling the camera out a bit. This isn’t an issue since with 32GB, one can shoot up to 1300 shots, which is about near the battery capacity (more on this later).
The port mount diameter is the biggest in the market at about 120mm (possibly learning from the mistakes of other manufacturers like Subal, which had issues with the newer fatter lenses with the Type 3 fitting, necessitating a larger Type 4 mount).
Due to the advent of built-in flash and the resulting light corruption with the firing strobe inside the housing, Nauticam built a rubber ring that blocks the light from the on board flash from escaping through the front port hole and causing reflections.
The metal ring plate that holds the nylon rope handle and other accessories.
Another nice feature is the multiple ring mount and the nylon rope handle for the housing. Nauticam is the only housing that included one for any review test. The handle is basically a knotted up nylon rope attached to bow shackles which are attached to the ring plate on the handles. Bow shackles use a pin to lock and isn’t easy to remove, unlike a G-clip which is what I use for my handle so I can tie the housing to me. Regardless, it is a nice touch and a first among manufacturers to include it.
One can sense that Nauticam put a lot of effort in learning from the limitations of the more established competitors and improving upon them in their own design philosophy. Things like the colored buttons and levers to distinguish function and the almost total availability of all buttons on the camera to give the user full choice of how to use the camera. It’s no wonder Nauticam is so popular.
First of all, I must say the Nauticam manual that came with the housing had very precise and detailed instructions on how to set up the housing. Diagrams and step by step instructions made it simple to follow. Not that the NA-60D needed detailed instructions. It was pretty easy to set up for the camera. First just lock the camera to the tray, which has the lens release mechanism built-in, then slide into the tray mount on the housing and lock by flipping the lock switch.
The left front side with Lens Release control and Zoom/Focus dial.
The zoom gear design is a bit surprising. According to the installation instructions for the 10-17 zoom gear, I had to remove the rubber ring on the lens and replace it with the zoom gear’s slightly thicker and line ridged one. Since this one was borrowed, I couldn’t do that. Frankly I’m surprised anyone would design a zoom gear like that, when others like Seacam etc are simple slide on and tighten screws style. Even Ikelite’s plastic ring with springs that work very well. I am probably not unique in thinking that removing the rubber ring and finding the thin double sided tape necessary to give it that “factory fresh” look isn’t very palatable. Alex Mustard said he didn’t think it was a big deal, but he’s a die hard Nikon user whereas I will shift between brands. If my lenses don’t look good, they’d be worth less in the 2nd hand market.
To workaround that requirement, I simply used thick rubber bands that wrapped round the rubber ring, until it was the correct thickness for the zoom gear to fit. I never had an issue with the zoom gears using this workaround during the test. With such a large port hole, one can easily have the lens on while mounting the camera. The only thing to watch for is the gear teeth alignment. The tray does take a bit of effort to push in and out. Otherwise, mounting the camera was a relatively simple process.
After the camera installation, one very important step is to remember to press the Flash up button when using optical sync. Unfortunately, the housing isn’t tall enough to mount the camera in with the built-in flash standing. Through out the test, I’d forgotten to flip it up a few times.
To mount a port, make sure the dots align with the housing dot and push in. Using an extension ring, there is a 10° twist but that locks as well.
Mounting a port is very easy yet a bit awkward. To mount, simply align the dot on the port with the one on the housing, push in and then lock the port. Yet aligning the dots on the big dome port means one has to rest the housing down and use 2 hands to push in the port to make sure it’s evenly inserted while avoiding touching the glass dome. Once the check for protruding o-rings is done, then it’s a simple flip of the locking lever, which is clearly colored red.
Using extension rings require more work with the locking system. The locking mechanism is a sliding pin that locks the front port from moving. To unlock, a tool is needed to lift the sliding pin to allow it to be pulled back. When using an extension ring, the port uses a bayonet mount with a 10° twist before it locks. Thus it is very important to remember to lock the extension rings!
The extension ring locking pin. To unlock, one just flips the pin.
The NA-60D I tested did not have wired flash built-in, so I had to rely on my Z240 to be fired with fiberoptic cables. The housing isn’t tall enough that one can install the 60D with the flash popped up. The only 2 ways to do it is to either install the camera, then turn on the camera, and hit the flash button in the front or preset one of the modes (eg Creative Auto Mode) to always fire flash, take a shot in that mode when the camera is inside and it’ll pop up. Being a non-built-in flash camera user, I’d forgotten to do pop the flash up before going on the dive. I don’t usually take test shots once I have the housing set up where I just change lenses, batteries and memory cards. It was completely my own incompetence, but it was annoying nonetheless.
Another way to activate the flash underwater is to change the mode to Full Auto and cover the port with the port cover, then the flash will pop up to deal with the dark conditions. Obviously do not use the No-Flash Mode to do that! Once that’s done, it’s off to the water.
Next Up: Wide Angle