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Subal vs. Ikelite housing


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#1 Msorougi

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 10:42 AM

I am considering upgrading my gear to Nikon D850. And i always circle back to the same question, should I get the Subal housing or just stick with Ikelite? I like the ergonomics of the Subal, but that is almost double the cost of Ikelite. Is there more to Subal that justifies this investment? I have had ikelite the past four years, and funtionally it doesnt appear to be inferior to Subal.
Any ideas/advice?
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#2 TimG

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 11:42 AM

Hey Mustafa

 

I guess if you are content with Ikelite and one of their housings has worked well for you, why change?

 

But, having said that, presumably you weren't using an Ikelite with the D850? What were you using?

 

I guess I'm a bit biased: I had an Ikelite back in the early days of digital for my Kodak DCsomethingorother. At the time I loved it. But moving to a Subal for the Coolpix 5000 was a night and day experience in terms of control and housing build quality. Yeah, ok, there was a world of different in the camera too! I've then gone through D100, D200, D300, D800 and D500 - all with Subal. They are just brilliant. The build quality is superb, they have real "feel" in terms of touch on the control, you can access and change every control and they just work perfectly. I've never had a problem with any of mine. 

 

I can't help but feel a camera like the D850 should be in a top quality housing so that you can take advantage of every control easily and smoothly. But maybe i have just been seduced and there's nothing wrong at all with using an Ikelite. I think though if I was getting a new housing for a D850 and I was chosing between chalk and cheese, I'd want to try out the camera in both before making a final decision......   Nice creamy Brie, anyone?


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#3 Msorougi

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 12:17 PM

Hahaha! I do have a weakness for cheese
I am currently using a Canon 6D. And in all honesty have not tried a Subal before, but have seen others use it, and i will concede it did look very solid in terms of build quality
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#4 AndyBarker

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 12:36 PM

Good evening perhaps the question to be asked is how do the the Ikelite D850 users find it, as it is not just the housing to change over its the ports as well, I would say both housings have their pluses & minuses as I don't think their is a perfect solution, If you are happy with what you know why change.

Only my views,

regards,

Andy


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#5 TimG

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 12:52 PM

Hahaha! I do have a weakness for cheese
I am currently using a Canon 6D. And in all honesty have not tried a Subal before, but have seen others use it, and i will concede it did look very solid in terms of build quality


If you’ve not tried a Subal I’d suggest it’s definitely worth having a go. If you’re anywhere near Reef Photo in FL or Backscatter I’m sure they’d help.

Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#6 pbalves

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 03:37 PM

I never had a Subal housing.
I had an Ikelite, and then changed to Aquatica. And then another Aquatica.
I noticed a big difference in ergonomics for better. And less bulkier underwater. It helped to improve the way I photograph.
But to be truthful, the change at they time was not only change of brand of housing, it was also a change from a Canon 350d to a Canon 40d, that it was also on itself an improvement in focus capability and also in working mode of the camera itself (from common command for aperture and speed to dedicated command for aperture and dedicated comand for speed, both with direct access without taking the hands from the handle of the housing).
Besides that, I made also an upgrade on the lens I was using underwater.
On that change, I got a better housing, a better camera, more appropriate lens, and also a big improvement in my own mindset.
I have several friends that use Ikelite and produce amazing pictures.
At the end, the chose of a new housing, it is always a matter of individual preference and rationalization.

#7 okuma

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 09:10 AM

Having dove with both Ikelite and Subal housings, I would offer the following.

 

Compare a VW to a MBZ: both will get you to the destination, it just depends on how you want to travel!


Underwater Photography:
If it is so easy every one would be doing it!

Nikon D 500, Subal Housing, Inon Z 240 strobes.


#8 TimG

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 09:28 AM

Having dove with both Ikelite and Subal housings, I would offer the following.

 

Compare a VW to a MBZ: both will get you to the destination, it just depends on how you want to travel!

 

Quite

 

Is an MBZ like a BMW? 


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#9 echo2600

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 09:37 AM

 
Quite
 
Is an MBZ like a BMW? 


I think that youve now moved into Subal vs. Nauticam territory...

#10 TimG

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 09:43 AM

I think that youve now moved into Subal vs. Nauticam territory...

 

Crikey, complicated stuff....  :crazy:


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#11 trimix125

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 11:16 AM

Hi,
i had a lot of housings from different companies....
Started with an old ikelite Nikon F2 housing for my FE2 in film times...
My girl friend got a Canon G9 and Ikelite housing to start uw fotography from me.
What is in my eyes against Ikelite, is the long time usability.
You can buy it new, and it works great. But after some years, i haved seen and worked on it, the buttons are a problem.
 Housing is ok, but the brass buttons, they are only nickel plated, get a rought surface, and you wont get that water ressistant any more...
Only once poorly washed, a little cut in the surface and the sea salt will eat the brass...
Thats the only think i dont like on Ikelite housings. The price for using stainless steel parts for that, is minimal....

And here in europe, you get no parts.
I am not willing to ship my housing for a high price to the states, just to change the buttons.
And pay a high shipping price back...

And if you want to sell your gear some years later, Subal will get you a lot higher rate.

Regards,
Wolfgang



#12 Kraken de Mabini

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 12:55 PM

I have owned both Ikelite & Subal housings, and most definitely prefer Subal.

 

Given the ease of having a leak, let alone a flood, all housings should have a vacuum leak detector, such as the Vivid Leak Sentinel V5 which is small, easy to install and easy to use. 

 

I have used  Subal Type 3 and Type 4 ports, both work well; the Type 4's accept the

new Nikkor VR macro lenses, which are bulkier around the waist. 

For the older Nikkor lenses, Type 3 ports and extensions work fine and cost less (I first shop on eBay).

 

For flotation you might consider two Inon Type S balloon ports, and some flotation, such as carbon fiber or similar foam for the strobes.   

 

After acquiring these expensive housings, I have learned that it saves me time and money to do my own maintenance, which is easy, as it just requires a few basic tools (such as a 5.5 mm hex socket, metric hex wrenches and a set of jewelers screwdrivers) and a good assortment of metric O rings which I get from The O-Ring Store.  For spare Subal parts I shop at ReefPhoto. 

 

Good luck!


Edited by Kraken de Mabini, 12 November 2018 - 01:27 PM.


#13 bvanant

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 02:03 PM

Why isn't the question Ikelite/Plastic vs. Aluminum (Subal, Nauticam, S&S, Aquatica, etc.)  If you have Aquatica ports, why not Aquatica.  Ikelite make nice enough housings but ergonomically they are not quite up there with the Al guys. They are however a lot less money. Although I don't think there are too many people who "if money were no object" would prefer the Ikelite.  In any case, I suspect that there are very few photos that you could get with the Subal that would be hard to get with the Ike and versa vice. 

Bill


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#14 okuma

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 07:59 PM

 

Quite

 

Is an MBZ like a BMW? 

Only if you believe Austria is part of Germany!


Underwater Photography:
If it is so easy every one would be doing it!

Nikon D 500, Subal Housing, Inon Z 240 strobes.


#15 TimG

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 10:51 PM

Only if you believe Austria is part of Germany!

 

 

At the risk of hijacking this thread - apologies, Mustafa - I'd honestly never heard of "MBZ" and only now found out it's Mercedes Benz when I looked up "MBZ Austria". It must be a cultural thing. Or perhaps I grew up in the wrong neighbourhood.  I even looked up MBZ and, interestingly got "Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan" of Abu Dhabi or the code for an airport in Brazil! 

 

Hey ho.

 

Anyway, more importantly, Bill makes a good point. Perhaps the discussion should be between aluminium housings (or to avoid another hijacking aluminum/aluminium) and polycarbonate ones......

 

Back to you, Mustafa..... 

 

:mocking:


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#16 guyharrisonphoto

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 02:36 PM

Really, the basic choice is easy--budget v. luxury.  You will not "miss" shots with an Ike, nor will you "get" more shots with a Subal (in fact possibly the opposite, see below).  Many pros for many years consistently turn out award winning images with both. 

 

Ikelite for budget.  It is a good quality housing with adequate but not great controls.  It is far cheaper in terms of both housing and port costs.  It is durable but might a little more regular maintenance.  The polycarbonate housing will last as long as aluminum (no corrosion issues, for example).  AND It does have an excellent high-tech feature, not found in other housings, of full TTL flash exposure with Nikon cameras if you are using Ikelite flashes.  That, in itself, is a feature that might make the difference in getting shots that even Subal cannot match.  Also, for the money you save, you could spend a week shooting at some exotic destination.  Finally, if you plan to change cameras in the future (mirrorless in particular is evolving rapidly), then the cost factor is compounded every time you switch cameras which pretty decisively favors the Ikelite housings.

 

But, if the D850 will be your "last camera ever" then something like the Subal is worth considering.  As you have seen and others have said, it is either close to or on top of the heap for quality and control ergonomics.  You will notice the difference, but it costs accordingly, both the housing and the ports.  But, no full electronic TTL flash unless they have added something recently, and if so it is probably an expensive piece of electronics for what is already included in the Ikelite housing.

 

But, and this is a big but, once you decide you are content to be at that price level, there are other housings out there every bit as competitive as the Subal, notably Nauticam and Aquatica.  These latter brands will also save you some money over Subal (especially Aquatica) and give basically  the same level of quality, (but the money the save won't be nearly what an Ikelite saves you).  As an example, I was at Reef and looked at Subal and Nauticam housings for the Olympus EM-1 Mk II, and I actually clearly preferred the Nauticam for its control layout. 

 

Don't shortchange yourself by fixating on one brand.  IF you are going to spend about $4k just for  a housing, then you should lgo to a store that will let you put your hands on a display housing with the camera inside.  Reef does this, as I am sure Backscatter does and maybe others as well.

 

Forgot to add, location might make a difference as well.  If you are in the USA, then Subal which is made in Europe might be a little harder to get serviced or parts for.  Ike, Nauticam, and Aquatica will be much easier as these are very commonly sold in the U.S.  In Europe, it might be the opposite.  Since the OP is in the US, that is a factor to consider.


Edited by guyharrisonphoto, 13 November 2018 - 02:42 PM.


#17 Msorougi

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 07:21 PM

Bam! You got me at for the money you save, you could spend a week shooting at some exotic destination!
I dont think that any of us got into uwphotography with an expectation that this would be a cheap endeavor; between chasing great dive locations and great photo gear, money was a lost cause from the get go.
That said, as much I would love to get my hands on the MBZ of housings (and boy do I!), i am pretty content with a reliable and affordable VW!
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#18 TimG

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 02:29 AM

Guy makes some very good and fair points.

 

A couple of additional thoughts I'd like to add.

 

In my time working in the Lembeh Straits I did see people have more problems with polycarbonate housings than I ever did with aluminium ones. These largely resulted from slight variations in the position of the camera in the housing when increased water pressure was applied - and unwanted pressures then being applied to camera controls preventing the camera from working correctly. Of course this can happen too on aluminium housings but, as I say, I just saw this much more frequently on polycarbonate ones.

 

And then there is the pleasure v regrets issue. Buying a housing system is horribly expensive whether polycarbonate or aluminium. I always think it's important that at the end of the deliberations, the agonies, the unpacking and the setup that you feel REALLY pleased with what you have - and not, at the back of your mind, maybe regretting not getting that pricer (but maybe attainable) one. The luxury one as Guy describes it.

 

So, Guy and others make a good point: do all you can to go and have a play with both. You'll soon tell whether you are happy with polycarbonate with all the advantages and disadvantages that we have all described; or whether you are always going to hanker after the luxury option and feel. VW v MBZ (thanks, okuma!) Enjoy what you have and take pleasure in using it..... No regrets.

 

:pardon:


Tim
(PADI IDC Staff Instructor and former Dive Manager, KBR Lembeh Straits)
Nikon D500, Nikkors 105mm and 8-15mm, Tokina 10-17mm,  Subal housing

http://www.timsimages.uk
Latest images: http://www.shutterst...lery_id=1940957


#19 eyu

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Posted 21 November 2018 - 05:20 PM

To me the most important features about a housing are its ergonomics, how it feels in my hands and how the shutter actuation works.

i want to feel the half shutter through the actuation lever, have access to f stop, aperture controls and function buttons without taking my eye off of the viewfinder.  I have used Aquatica, Sea & Sea, Nauticam and Subal housings.  i like Tim am quite pleased with my Subal housings.  Beside the ergonomics of its fit in my hands i particularly like ( and require ) the half shutter feel through the shutter lever.  I prefer driving a BMW M4.

 

Elmer


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