Review and Field Notes: Subal ND4

Other notes, problems and conclusion.


The housing has a viewing window for top screen, which I find very useful for quickly checking settings (its why Nikon put it there) and a port lock, which has little relevance for me because my vacuum seal holds makes my port immoveable.

I love the direct connection of Subal’s shutter release. I don’t know how they do it, but it gives such intimate feedback that you can feel the camera focusing back through the lever. This is great when shooting at arms length with the fisheye as you can feel the camera focus.

The aperture gear is faultless. The shutter speed is a little bit more of a stretch than on my previous Subals, but still falls under my thumb. Those with larger hands would have no such problems.

The D4 shoots video. This is not of particular interest to me. Below are some clips I shot in a toned monochrome shooting mode of the stingrays and waves in Grand Cayman.

A monochrome/selenium toned video clip from the D4.


The Subal ND4 is a fine housing, with Subal’s long established strengths in ergonomics and build quality. So far nothing has gone wrong. The only control that annoys me is dial for changing shooting modes (single shot, continuous low, continuous high etc), which required two hands to move (one to press the lock button and one to turn the knob). Switching is something you do between shots, not seamlessly while shooting.

There is no way to fire optically synched strobes with the ND4 (the camera lacks a pop-up flash), except by using INON’s electrical to optical converter in one of the synch sockets.

The leak alarm on the ND4 went off on one of my dives in Lembeh. After about 40 minutes of the dive, just as I was lining up on a hairy frogfish! The housing was bone dry, but I aborted the dive, returning the camera to the boat and continuing with my Olympus OM-D and fisheye lens. There was not a single drop in the housing so I can only guess that humidity caused the false alarm.


I am very happy with the ND4. The housing also feels strong, reliable and not unnecessarily complex. It is a showcase of Subal engineering at its best, combing their traditional build quality with a handful of innovative features that are either new to Subal or new to any underwater housing. The ISO lever (first seen on Nauticam’s D4 housing) for my left thumb is exactly what photographers need, and is so good I am annoyed by shooting the camera out of the housing. While the flash-off control under my right index finger is my personal favorite feature of the ND4 and a great example of a housing enhancing my options and capability as a photographer underwater.

In short, the ND4 is one of the finest housings on the market for any camera. I can’t help feel that while all housing manufacturers make housings for cameras, I use a ND4 because I believe Subal make housings for photographers.