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Aquatica D100 Housing


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#1 jimbo1946

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 09:00 AM

My wife Deborah and I just returned from Little Cayman, where I was shooting my D100 in the new Aquatica housing. The bottom line: the Aquatica housing is superb! I was also using a Subal SN80-D Strobecase with a Nikon SB80-DX strobe. Bottom line: I had some serious problems with the Subal, but fortunately, I was able to fix the problems with some creative (i.e., duct tape) engineering - I'll save this for another post.

The Aquatica housing is, as others have noted, very well made and very easy to use. The minor annoyances of my Aquatica N90 housing are gone now, and Aquatica clearly put a lot of thought into this housing. Because of the baggage weight limits on Island Air, I did not take my 14mm and 20mm lenses and dome port. I did all shooting with the 60mm and 105mm Micro Nikkor lenses. Small fish ID and macro photography are really my passions, and I got some terrific shots. All of those near-impossible shots with the Nikonos V are almost too easy now.

Okay, back to the Aquatica. I hate to sound like a missionary, but this housing is just plain fun to use. Loading the D100 is very easy, all the controls worked perfectly (There is a minor design flaw with the ON-OFF switch that interferes with the shutter release, but there is a simple solution - after turning the D100 on, just back off a little on the ON-OFF switch to allow the shutter release control to work. Aquatica says that this will be corrected soon. In any case, it's not a problem once you know what to do). Amazingly, I think that virtually every control on the D100 is accessible underwater, either through the mechanical housing controls or through the digital menu - the depth-of-field button is about the only thing that's not accessible, and who uses that underwater?

The D100 was also superb. I shot RAW format, with aperture priority, and in a few cases, manual. On the strobe, I used TTL, manually zooming the strobe beam coverage to about half the focal length of the lens that I was using. The guide number on the SB80-DX is high enough to do that, and I was covered even if I didn't have the strobe aimed correctly. Exposures varied, but typically they were about 1/3-1/2 stop below what I considered correct. This was easily adjusted using the Nikon RAW plug-in with Photoshop Elements 2.0. I'm confident enough about the exposures that I may consider using JPG instead of RAW on the next dive trip.

What more can I say? The Aquatica/D100 combination is just downright fun to use underwater. I knew if the shot was good immediately, and if it wasn't, it got deleted to free up space on the 512 MB card that I had in the D100. I followed the advice of an earlier post to keep the histogram displayed with the image. The histogram was a much better indication of exposure than the image displayed on the LCD.

If I had to say anything negative about Aquatica housings, it's the use of hex-nuts to attach the brackets and handles to the housing. I HATE hex-nuts. If you lose the right hex wrench, you're out of luck. Also, the stupid things have a bad tendency to get rounded, and then the wrench won't work. I plan to try to find equivalent screws with screwdriver heads to replace the hex nuts. In any case, this is a minor complaint.

Next stop: a return trip to Fiji late this year, where I will definitely have the wide angle lenses and dome port.
Jim Chambers
Tucker, Georgia

Nikon D300 in Aquatica housing with housed SB800 flash.

#2 scorpio_fish

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 01:40 PM

Sounds much like the review I wrote.

By the way, Aquatica is readying an SB80DX strobe case for release this summer.
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#3 jimbo1946

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 03:58 PM

Ouch, don't tell me that about an Aquatica strobecase! I paid $600 for the Subal version, and it has serious problems (i.e., poorly engineered piece of crap). It took me hours of reverse engineering to figure how to work around it, and luckily, I always carry a roll of packing tape. Subal will definitely be getting an earful from me.

Thanks for the comments!
Jim Chambers
Tucker, Georgia

Nikon D300 in Aquatica housing with housed SB800 flash.

#4 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 11:27 PM

Can't believe you found space for the wife and left behind the 14 and 20mm. Ha ha.

Its great to hear that you trip was a success and useful comments about the Subal Strobe Case.

Hope we'll be seeing some more images soon,

Alex

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Nikon D4 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (waiting for housing).


#5 jimbo1946

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:50 AM

Well, the lenses and ports don't complain or whack you when you least expect it! (HA HA HA)

I've already written to the Subal dealer about the Strobecase. Before I unload on them in the forum, I want to see how they respond. I did finally get the Strobecase to perform very well, but only after a lot of sweat and tears. For $600, I shouldn't have to do their quality control for them.
Jim Chambers
Tucker, Georgia

Nikon D300 in Aquatica housing with housed SB800 flash.

#6 jimbo1946

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 06:57 AM

Okay, I created a Yahoo account and uploaded some of the photos.

They're located at:

http://photos.yahoo.com/jimbo_limited


Please be kind - I'm a relative novice with Photoshop Elements, and I'm still learning to edit digital images.

Hope you enjoy these!
Jim Chambers
Tucker, Georgia

Nikon D300 in Aquatica housing with housed SB800 flash.

#7 jimbo1946

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 07:01 AM

Just to be clear on the Yahoo address, there's an underscore between "jimbo" and "limited."

It's http://photos.yahoo.com/jimbo_limited
Jim Chambers
Tucker, Georgia

Nikon D300 in Aquatica housing with housed SB800 flash.