Sea & Sea MDX-PRO Mark III underwater housing review

Sea & Sea MDX-PRO MKIII Underwater Housing for Canon 1D Mark III and 1Ds Mark III
Review by Eric Cheng and Don Kehoe

- design - ergonomics - INON viewfinder - testing/conclusion -

Eric Cheng at Crystal River with Sea & Sea underwater housing for 1D/1Ds Mark III


Ergonomics are greatly improved when compared with earlier generations of Sea & Sea housings. All control buttons are clearly labeled and were easy to use, even with gloved hands. All controls worked right out of the box with no adjustments necessary.

The zoom knob worked perfectly, and turned smoothly.

The shutter lever has a light, easy feel to it.

The focus lever is designed to depress the * button, which can be set to focus the camera by switching AF-ON and * functions in the camera's menu system. The focus lever is actuated by pushing up with the thumb, just like in earlier Sea & Sea SLR housings. However, the focus lever does not have a return spring, and it is hard to tell when the focus button is depressed and released. Note that this lever also doubles as the AF point select button, which can be actuated by pulling the lever out before pushing up with one's thumb. Because of this, it is difficult to change the focus point quickly. If you don't need to change focus points often, it shouldn't be a problem.

The shutter speed knob is a long reach even with large hands, and because the knob is partially covered by the shutter lever, it is possible to accidentally trip the shutter while making a shutter speed adjustment. I think this is something I will get used to avoiding as I use the housing more.

Sea & Sea 1D/1Ds Mark III housing. My hands (medium-sized) can just
reach the front dial, which is placed overlapping with the shutter lever

The aperture knob is a bit of a reach with hands on the handles, but it was still easily accessible. If you have small hands, you will probably have to let go of the handles just a bit for the reach.

Sea & Sea 1D/1Ds Mark III housing. My hands (medium-sized) can just
reach the back dial, which controls aperture and menu options

In the Water

With glass optical dome port and two Ikelite DS-125 strobes attached to the housing, the rig was slightly negative in the water. Although the dome did cause the housing to tilt up when released in the water, the rig was well-balanced and did not cause fatigue even after 6 hours of continuous use in the water.

Like all Sea & Seas housings I have used, ports were a bit difficult to remove after the rig was used in the water, even with will-greased o-rings.

After using the housing in the water, there appeared to be water between the o-ring and the acrylic back plate. The wet o-ring is visible in the photos of the back of the housing (lower left corner). However, upon close inspection, it was clear that there was no leak despite the wet o-ring.

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