The Seacam Nikon D100 is the 3rd manufacturer's SLR housing I've owned, having used housed cameras for over 9 years. I had been very comfortable with another company's analog SLR housings for the past 7 years, and w I bought my D100 Nikon, I upgraded to this same company's housing. After all, they worked for me before and I already owned the ports. But they had changed from aluminum to a high-grade plastic material for the construction, and its operation and underwater ergonomics left me extremely dissatisfied. Hence, my decision to buy the Seacam D100 housing.
The Seacam D100 housing is built from machined aluminum. The external housing is finished via a unique electroplating process. This is significant in that this particular surface is incredibly resilient. This surface is so tough that some users have reported that the external surface could be dragged across reef rock without scratching, not that I recommend such a practice! My previous housings, which would chip, pit, and show corrosion with use. But my new Seacam housing's external surface looked like the day it came out of the box after 10 days of 4 to 5 times a day diving. I probably had 90 dives on this housing on this one trip alone and it remained pristine. This was a pleasant surprise.
Internally the Seacam D100 housing has a black flocked material coating the inside to reduce light reflection and hold droplets of water. It can trap small amounts of water intrusion to prevent damage the camera. It also contains a moisture alarm, giving a shrill audible signal, as well as a bright red LED visual cue if you should have a breach. The D100 camera mounts easily and quickly with a thumbscrew to the front of the housing. Out of water, this made for easy camera battery change when required, as well as access to the compact flash card chamber. There are only 2 snaps for closure of the front to the back of the housing. One has to be careful when unsnapping not to get your fingers caught between the handles and the snaps. After a few times using the snaps you learn how to open and close the snaps correctly.
The Seacam D100 design places gears, shafts and levers at your fingertips so you do not have to take your fingers off the handles. Depending on the type of lens utilized, the following controls are at you fingertips:
I used the D100 camera and Seacam housing with the 10.5mm, 12-24mm zoom, 60mm and 105mm Micro-Nikkor lenses. The lens specific g ears were easy to assemble but required precise location on the lens to ensure their complete meshing with gears on the housing. I had the chance to use the flat port, the wide dome port, fisheye dome port, and Superdome with the appropriate extensions if required.
I used 2 different strobes mounted to the housing's accessory shoes via Ultralight arms. The unit felt well balanced underwater with all different port combinations. All buttons and gears were accessible and fully functional at all sport diving depths.
Interestingly, the camera's focus light in low light situations was able to be utilized on all the dome ports. Though it also transmitted the AF-assist light through the flat ports, it did not appear to be as effective with focus as compared to the domes.
The ports utilize a combination of threaded and bayonet type mount on each. There are no gears on the ports, making their change a simple matter. Lens changes on the other hand required a tool to press the lens release button with most of the lenses due the gears obscuring access. Ultralight offers a handy little lever perfect for reaching those recessed buttons past the lens gears and should be a handy piece of gear for any Seacam shooter's tool kit.
The viewfinder can be interchanged to use either the Pro viewfinder, the S-180 viewfinder, or the S-45. The latter 2 viewfinders give a big bright 100% view but, due to their size, partially obscure the LCD screen on the D100. This was not an issue on the other Seacam D1X and EOS1s housings I saw aboard the boat this trip, but is so with the D100. As such, I preferred the Pro viewfinder to have the ability to review the complete composition of the picture and other information available on the LCD screen. Plus, my eyes are good enough that the magnified view was not necessary for me to assure accurate focus or read the camera LED.
Without a doubt, this is the finest housing I ever owned. The construction and quality are superb. The balance and underwater ergonomics are almost perfect. The Seacam housings are truly for those who demand the very best.