Nauticam’s first housing offering for the D7000 was reviewed here on 25 October 2011. At DEMA in November 2011, the company released a new version, the NA-D7000V.
Although I am not sure of the housing’s genesis, it is likely that the new version was released in response to the release of the NA-DP4 housing for the SmallHD monitor. This necessitated the addition of a large enough hole for a bulkhead that could accommodate an HDMI cable in some form, as well as sufficient internal space to accommodate the cable and plug that connects the bulkhead to the camera.
Certainly, the “V” nomenclature definitely relates to a “video” version of the housing, as opposed to the “stills” version that preceded it.
The NA-D7000V was submitted to the Red Dot design competition and was awarded the “red dot award: product design 2012”. As an aside, the Nauticam white balance port was also a recipient of the award.
The NA-D7000V is immediately recognizable as a Nauticam housing, constructed of machined and black anodized aluminum and with the now ubiquitous Nauticam textured rubberized handles. However, it is a physically large housing and the control layout has undergone a major revision, with the company utilizing laser-cut control arms to space and re-position the controls on the housing. This is particularly evident in the position of the multi-selector, which has been moved out onto the right hand rear of the housing.
The housing now features stainless steel “bridging brackets” that connect the tops of the handles to the threaded strobe attachment points on the housing body itself. These have been added to minimize flex in the handles, especially when using heavy strobes or video lights connected to the handles. As mentioned in the review of the previous version, when wearing heavy gloves (or for those with big hands) the handle spacers that are available are a necessity. Unfortunately, this means that the bridging plates will not fit. Nauticam do offer an extended plate to cater for this.
On the left hand side of the housing is the zoom/focus knob, which now has a raise/lower lever attached to it. Activating this lever lifts the internal gear away from the lens zoom gear, making it easier to insert “fatter” lenses with attached zoom gears. This is the only substantial change from its predecessor on this side.
Standard controls are available for lens release, focus and AF mode selectors, flash mode selection and Nauticam has chosen to retain the lever that activates image/video review. Lastly, there is the standard Nauticam “push button and turn” housing latch. Moving on to the left hand top of the housing, there are two controls for the release mode and mode dials, as well as a button to activate the release mode lock. These are all unchanged from the NA-D7000.
Similarly, the left hand rear buttons, which access the menu, image quality and white balance, along with the delete button are unchanged in position or performance. The LCD screen and viewfinder are likewise unaffected. The housing can still be fitted with magnifying viewfinders.
However, on the right hand rear, there are significant alterations. All the buttons have moved towards the right hand edge of the housing, and the buttons have been spaced out. The record on/off “piano key” has moved up the housing, and the sub command dial is now situated horizontally on the top of the housing.
The “OK” and “Info” buttons have been re-colored red, and now have concave top surfaces to differentiate them from the other buttons. The re-positioning of the buttons is a result of the addition of laser cut control arms within the housing that transmit the user’s pushes through to the camera controls.
The right hand side of the housing is also significantly changed. The Live View lever control now sticks up and is in a very prominent position. The Exposure/Focus lock lever is on the same “axle” but points down.
Moving forward again, the shutter release, main command dial and EV value control are in the same position as the previous model. Forward again, and the port lock lever, with its press and turn configuration, fits in onto the front right hand of the housing. The port lock on the original NA-D7000 was made of aluminum, whilst the new one is made of nylon.
The top of the housing features the on/off switch in the same position and two fiber optic ports. There is also a lever to raise/lower the camera’s flash and a push button to adjust the camera’s metering mode.
Internally, the NA-D7000V has a new camera tray design, which features a metal sheet that supports the nylon saddle.
This housing may suffer somewhat from its designation as a “video” housing. The D7000 produces acceptable video, but is not considered in the same league as the Canon 5D Mark II/III or, I suspect, the new Nikon D4 and D800. If this housings adaptation enhanced only its capabilities for shooting video, I think the majority of people would be disappointed.
Saying that, the housing, especially when used in conjunction with an external monitor does do a really good job of shooting video. It is well balanced, and the re-positioning of the sub command dial, record on/off and Live View lever means that the housing can sit below the operator, at a very natural and easy angle. For video specific use with the D7000, I think the image/video review lever would be better served if it adjusted the ISO. The D7000 has limited manual exposure control options in Live View or video modes, namely ISO or shutter speed. In order to adjust the aperture, the user must exit live view mode, adjust the aperture and then re-enter Live View. I find that it is often simpler to simply increase or decrease the ISO to adjust exposure whilst filming. The existing push button is adequate as long as it is combined with setting f7 in the camera’s custom setting menu (which allows one handed adjustment) however, and I think that for stills the review function is better on this lever.
All the major camera controls are accessible from the hand grip with the NA-D7000V. The spacing means that adjustments can be made without removing the eye from the viewfinder. It should be mentioned that the down side is significant extra complexity in the control arms. To date however, every button has functioned flawlessly, bar the time that I did not secure the camera on its tray. This misaligned the controls.
The re-positioned Live View and AF/E lock levers are both shaped and curved and allow for easy activation. The shutter release is also unchanged and features a well shaped lever, together with a geared release that copes with the D7000’S tweaky shutter release.
I was initially skeptical of the new position for the sub command dial. Ergonomically, I feel that it is crucial that the key exposure adjustments can be performed without needing to remove the eye from the viewfinder. This was certainly possible with the “old” version of the housing, as the sub command dial could be adjusted by running the edge of the thumb across it. I was concerned that the new position would raise the dial too high to allow this to happen, particularly for this with small hands. However, the new position is actually further forward and can be easily controlled by rubbing the thumb along its exposed surface. I have tested this with people with small hands, and many actually felt that the exposed edge allowed them better control than the previous horizontally mounted dial.
The new and repositioned multi selector and info buttons also significantly improve the ergonomics of this housing. The spacing, position and shapes all increase the operability of the camera, even when very thick hand coverings are worn. The testing took place in 4-6°C water, so the tester were all wearing thick wetsuit gloves/mitts or dry gloves. No one reported any issues with accessing any housing controls.
The NA-D7000V is physically bigger then the NA-D7000, as it needs additional internal space for an HDMI connection. Nauticam quotes the sizes as:
Dimensions (with handles mounted): 329mm x H184mm x D138mm (13” x 7.2” x 5.4”).
As opposed to the NA-D7000 which is:
Dimensions (with handles mounted): 326mm x 171mm x 126mm (12.8” x 6.7” x 5”).
Both versions weigh the same (2.7kg 6lb) so the newer housing is a little more buoyant. I found that using 3 Stix floats each side (a total of 6) was enough the make the camera neutral with 2 x Inon Z240 strobes, 12’ Nauticam arms and a 230mm (9”) Zen glass dome.
The NA-D7000V represents a further improvement in housing performance for Nauticam. In my preamble to the D7000 review, I suggested that all the housings reviewed had significant improvements from what had gone before. The NA-D7000V has produced an inline improvement. The use of laser cut parts has opened the way for Nauticam to re-position controls, and I expect that this new (to them) technique will be carried though into future housing models.
FTC Disclosure:The NA-D7000V was supplied by Nauticam via their UK distributer Underwater Visions. Many thanks to Edward Lai and Alex Tattersall for all their assistance. The review housing was supplied as an upgrade from the reviewers previously purchased NA-D7000.
With thanks to David Kneale, Brett Thorpe and Paul Norgate for their help with this review.