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Aquatica Housing Review - Good, Bad and Ugly


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#1 gotgills

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:33 PM

I recently returned from a week long trip to Bonaire where I took my new Aquatica D7000 housing for itís inaugural dives. I had been very excited about this trip as it was the first chance for me to take an dSLR, rather than an advanced point and shoot, underwater. I wanted to provide some feedback on the Aquatica housing based on my experiences. For some quick background: while new to dSLRs, I am coming from advanced point and shoots and have 10 years of dive experience (along with being a PADI instructor). I have worked at major dive operations across the eastern United States and have received my photography mentorship from some highly published and well-known underwater and land-based photographers.

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My setup: Nikon D7000 in Aquatica housing, two Sea&Sea YS-110a strobes connected via fiber optics, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, Nikon 85mm Macro, Aquatica mini dome port, Aquatica macro port, and Sola LED focus light.

The Good
- Ergonomics: I purchased the housing due to the small size which I thought would work well with my small (woman) hands and for the ergonomics of button placement. Underwater I found the buttons were all easily within reach without having to take my hands off the controls. The shutter button gave enough pull to have a comfortable half-way focus and full pull for shutter fire. The grips with the carved finger holds were very comfortable underwater and gave me great control wielding the housing. I would make one recommendation on the buttons to Aquatica; it can be a little tricky to align the on/off switch just right with the camera switch. A small paint line or stopper to help align that switch would make loading the camera much easier!

- Hydrophone: I never attached the hydrophone to the camera, but in the housing the audio during videos was very good and Iím not sure the hydrophone would be much better Ė at most it might eliminate some of the focus noise heard when the camera focus motor turned.

- TTL/Optical Connectors: I didnít use the TTL, but the optical connectors were very reliable. I wasnít sure what to do with the extra TTL cable when I had the house closed Ė if I put it where the velco suggested then I couldnít pop the camera flash up. I ended up sliding the TTL connector cord just above the flash hot shoe in the gap created when the flash is popped up Ė this worked pretty well and also prevented me from accidentally closing the flash.

- Construction: Externally the housing seems to be constructed very well Ė the rough surface of the housings coating makes it very tactile and easy to hand hold if you take your hands off the grips. The ports also seemed to be built very solidly and I was very happy with the macro port. There are more comments on construction (including construction of the mini dome port) in the Ďbad and uglyí section so keep reading.

- Port Lock: This was one of my favorite features Ė despite being new to dSLRs I felt comfortable that if the port locked clicked, I had the port mounted properly. The only nerves came at the first few dives Ė even when properly locked the port can still ďwobbleĒ a little to make you think itís not secured properly. Iíd comment that Aquatica might want to mention that itís okay if the port does that in the instructions so that people like me arenít exceedingly paranoid about that!

- Moisture alarm: It worked. The camera flooded (more on that later) and it did chirp, but only after Iíd already identified the problem. Itís hard to gripe that it didnít work, but I think it might have chirped sooner if the wet contacts were a little closer to the bottom of the housing seal rather than a few centimeters up Ė I basically had to wait for that much water to flood the housing before it beeped!

The Bad (and Ugly)

- Overview: I have several major gripes with the housing. First, Iím very diligent and would take several test shots before ever leaving the hotel room. In my tests Iíd also test all of the major buttons like the two scroll wheels that adjust aperture/shutter, live view, shutter, image review, and info. On THREE separate occasions, despite having successful tests and pre-shots, upon getting in the water the camera was hosed as a result of the Aquatica housing and my dives concluded with no images taken Ė and the housing flooded on an additional fourth dive. Read moreÖ.

- Major housing failure #1 (User error?): In one instance, while shooting macro, none of the buttons worked, including the shutter. My best guess at the time was that something was ever so slightly off and wasnít noticed in my tests but was enough to fail the system when I got underwater. I suspect this was just a minor alignment issue on my part? This was the only dive that I had while shooting macro that I had an issue with button operability after I submerged (I had about 15 successful dives).

- Major housing failures #2 & #3 (Wide Angle Doesnít Work!!!): I donít know what happened during the second and third instance of housing Ďfailure.í In both instances I was shooting wide angle with the Tokina 10-17mm lens and small mini dome port. The first time this happened was at a dive site called Karpata; Iíd used the camera (in housing) to take some top side photos during a surface interval (I shot macro on the first dive and changed to wide angle for the second) and upon submerging it I got the Nikon screens to set language, time, date, etc on the camera. I once again assumed Iíd failed to align everything properly. On the second of these occasions I was diving at our house reef and spent awhile setting up the camera to ensure everything worked properly. When we got in the water I was able to take a few photos of my dive buddies and a photo of myself (to ensure strobes were firing properly) before the camera returned to the language set screen.

In both instances when the camera Ďlocked outí in the language set screen I was unable to resolve the problem underwater. When I reached 30 ft of depth myself and the divers around me would hear a very loud Ďthud.í I donít know what the source of the sound is and I never saw anything move on the housing, but from that point forward the camera would lock up. Although I could look in sidewise at the LCD window and see the buttons were making contact with the camera, it wouldnít allow me to proceed with the camera language set Ė thereby rendering the dive useless. When I would surface the camera would continue to be in Ďlockoutí until physically removed from the housing. Following the second instance I took the camera back to the room and filmed a short video before opening the housing. In the video you can see the language set screen and Iím pushing the buttons without success Ė once I open the housing everything starts to work (See Video: ). Note: Video was taken before the below note which probably explains problems. To this day I have no explanation for error on my part that could cause it to work on the surface and at depths shallower than 30 feet - and then once deeper than 30 feet (10 meters) later itís asking me to set the language. My best guess is something in the housing put pressure on buttons and Ďjammedí the whole setup. Either way, itís a complete failure and Iím extremely dissatisfied that despite spending almost $1,000USD to take wide angle photos, I wasnít able to capture one shot deeper than 30 feet. This alone, without any of the other issues I experienced, is enough for me to wish I could get a refund on the housing. I am extra frustrated as I was told that mini dome was built almost specifically for the Tokina lens! Unacceptable.

- Mini Dome Port & Tokina Lens Incompatible: Unfortunately, my gripes continue! I brought a macro setup (Nikon 85mm) and wide angle with the small Aquatica dome port (Tokina 10-17mm). The wide angle setup never worked as advertised; despite multiple attempts to get everything to line up in the compact space of the housing, there are issues with how the lens interacts with the front of that dome. Specifically, when zoomed, the front of the little lens hood hits the front of the dome, which pushes the camera backwards and unlatches the tray that holds the camera. At the same time, if you spin the zoom gear the contact with the lens on the front of the dome causes the gear to slide off and rattle around the dome. As best as I can tell the Tokina lens hood doesnít come off and I donít have any extra equipment that could be causing this chain reaction. I got one of the first mini-domes that came out of the factory and I wonder if itís slightly off spec Ė I canít imagine itís designed for the lens to actually come in contact with that little dome glass! This being said, on both occasions when the camera Ďlocked upí deeper than 30ft I had the lens zoomed in to the point where it was not in contact with the glass as I was troubleshooting that as a possibility for my earlier problems.

NOTE: I just looked at the lens chart for Aquatica and am extra annoyed. Apparently one needs an extension to use the dome port with the mini dome. Of course I purchased one of the very first ones made and I was explicitly told I didnít need an extension ring, which is why I should buy this versus another dome for that lens. Iím curious when it was updated that you needed the ring in addition to the port because it wasnít sold to me that way. I guess thatís what I get for buying the Ďnew great thing designed specifically for the 10-17mm lensí before all the kinks are worked out. This probably explains my problems, but is clearly very annoying since I was explicitly told that was a selling feature that I would NOT need that ring.

- Housing Construction & Camera Damage: My other major complaints stem from the construction of the housing Ė specifically how it contacts my camera and the main o-ring. Starting with the contact with the camera: After a week of diving the rubber pads on the end of some of the buttons, most notably the on/off switch, wore through so metal was in contact with the switch on my camera. This has left some fairly hefty damage to that button and Iím really peeved that the housing which should protect the camera from the water is also damaging the camera at the same time! Itíd be one thing if the $2,500USD housing was malfunctioning, but itís another when you start to damage my $1,400USD camera too! I have also had an issue where one of the little fingers that engages with the MF/AF switch fell off and started to rattle around the housing; thankfully thatís not a button I ever used so I left it off.

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You can see the rubber caps on the on/off switch have given way to metal. Next photo depicts the damage that did in one dive to my camera (I rotated the caps periodically to help protect it as much as possible during the trip).

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- O-Ring & Housing Flood: On the o-ringÖ. I think the design of the main seal in the back isnít tight enough for my liking and Iíd rather the housing overlapped the o-ring rather than just pressed against it. We did a shore dive towards the end of the vacation at a spot called Windsock Ė itís an easy walk in entry with a little bit of sand at the very edge of the water where the waves have kicked it up. Despite walking through this fairly quickly and making sure the camera wasnít subjected to any unnecessary roughness from the oncoming waves, enough sand was able to get into the o-ring to cause a major flood. We had a short surface swim and during that time, unknown to me, the camera was slowly filling with water from the sand in the o-ring. When we started our dive we were immediately greeted with an octopus and when I pulled the camera up to capture him I noticed water spilling down the LCD screen. I immediately aborted the dive, flipped the housing so the port was down and swam for shore. Had it not been for that octopus, I probably wouldnít have been able to quickly identify the problem and recover my camera gear. Unfortunately the water sensor didnít start to beep until I was nearing the surface. Iíve dove sites like this numerous times with Sea&Sea housings and have never had a flood Ė I think the O-ring design that lets sand freely flow into the two components is a major flaw, particularly when weíre not talking about a rough surf or large volumes of sand! Other o-rings, like the port ring, had no sand in them, which is probably because they are overlapping metal pieces with the o-ring between them. The strobe o-rings had almost no significant sand in them. Sorry I didnít take photos of the amount of sand (not much) that was required to break the integrity of the o-ring Ė I was a little preoccupied with saving the camera!

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This gap between the housing when sealed was large enough to let a little sand in and jam between the o-ring. Anyone who has been to Bonaire knows those dive sites aren't overly sandy either!

The Bottom Line:

All in all, I brought my camera back with some minor saltwater damage and minor cosmetic damage as a result of the housing, but I brought it back. (Damage to the housing from the flood canít be assessed as I have no means to test the TTL electronics and Iím not sure if the saltwater will corrode any of the metal internal components). I did capture some great images during the macro dives, but having 3 dives with wide angle lost due to the housing is completely unacceptable. I am overall very dissatisfied with how much I had to fight the camera during this trip and how much I paid for what I thought would be a superior product. I ran across some divers using D7000ís in Sea&Sea housings and their gripes were much less significant than mine (mostly involving pitting on the housing). When talking to those divers they seemed very shocked by my experiences which suggests I either have a major user error that I need help with or there are problems with this Aquatica housing.

If given the opportunity to re-buy my setup, I would probably look closer at some other housings before buying Aquatica again based on this experience. The reasons for selecting this housing over others were not outweighed by the debacle with the wide angle setup (especially since it now looks like one needs an extension ring, which is exactly opposite of what I was told when I purchased this portÖ and waited several extra weeks to get one of the first ones) and Iím very unhappy that the housing caused permanent damage to my cameraís on/off switch.

I do plan to contact Aquatica about my problems Ė at the very least I need to send the camera to Backscatter for service since it flooded to ensure no sand got into o-rings I canít access and to test if the electrical components (TTL specifically) that met saltwater are still functioning.

Comments and questions welcome Ė I have tried to be as objective and fair as possible and welcome any explanations for the multitude of issues Iíve encountered! I have attached some photos and videos and some of the Ďhighlight reelí are featured below.

- Kristen, www.thegotgills.com

PS: The Sola focus light is a must have Ė I love that thing! If nothing else it helps visualize the colors that youíll get when your strobes fire and assists with composition. I used the red LED during one night dive but not sure how effective it was. I also used two large and one small arm float on each ULCS arm and found that to be a really nice setup Ė just barely negative and easy to wield underwater.

PS #2: Donít be a doofus like me. I use the Nikon R1 Macro flash system with my camera above water and use the main flash on the camera as the commander for those strobe units. When you take it diving you have to reset the camera to TTL rather than commander or youíll spend half a dive wondering why the heck the strobe isnít synching at precisely the right time (the infrared communications flashes that are barely visible to the human eye are still enough to trigger the main strobes, creating a Ĺ second delay). Doh!

#2 gotgills

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

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#3 saga7

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 04:04 PM

Hi- I have the aquatica d40x housing. It is a great housing but when inserting camera you have to make sure some of the camera button arms inside the housing allow the camera to get all the way in and seat properly. I have one arm i never use i have to put into proper position or camera does not go all the way in. It would flood if i don't check that arm position. Maybe that is why it flooded as not enough pressure on oring to seal. Why use the on/off switch. Camera goes to sleep when not in use and wakes up when a button is touched. It uses almost no power when asleep and why play with buttons. On a five dive a day liveaboard i charge battery every three days of heavy use. My guess on why now aquatica recommends an extension is maybe feedback from customers over soft focus in corners and changed the recommend on using an extension.

#4 johnspierce

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 04:21 PM

Hi,

Sorry to hear about your problems.

I might be stating something obvious but I can't tell from the photos of the camera. You did remove the rubber eyecap from the d7000 viewfinder before installing the camera in the housing?

Cheers,
John

Edited by johnspierce, 04 March 2012 - 04:21 PM.

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#5 ratfish

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:45 PM

Hope this isn't stating the obvious - but when you inserted the camera was it and the housing turned on? The reason I ask is that I noticed on your photo some damage on the camera's on/off switch. I don't have this model housing but my other Aquaticas should be set up that way - and if the camera and housing is not turned on while the camera is inserted I can imagine that problems such as you are describing could occur - you can force the camera to turn on if it is inserted the wrong way but it does not seem to be a good thing to do as the forces are quite high and if the camera is not seated properly then constant pressure on the shutter release can cause a variety of issues.

Have never had a problem with the back o-ring (have had 6 Aquatica housings over the last 22 years with the same design) and never had a flood or anything like one, but I hate the port lock ...

Anyway, I hope you get the problems sorted - it must be very frustrating.

Regards

#6 gotgills

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:20 PM

Hope this isn't stating the obvious - but when you inserted the camera was it and the housing turned on? The reason I ask is that I noticed on your photo some damage on the camera's on/off switch. I don't have this model housing but my other Aquaticas should be set up that way - and if the camera and housing is not turned on while the camera is inserted I can imagine that problems such as you are describing could occur - you can force the camera to turn on if it is inserted the wrong way but it does not seem to be a good thing to do as the forces are quite high and if the camera is not seated properly then constant pressure on the shutter release can cause a variety of issues.


I would insert the camera turned off but before I put the backplate on I'd turn the switches to make sure the off/on/and info light buttons would turn on properly. I would turn the camera back to off and then close the housing. Like mentioned in my first post, I'd then seal everything and do a total system test. Once everything tests okay I would turn it off since I would sometimes be driving to dive sites and didn't want an accidental button press while driving to upset settings in the camera. Before I got in the water I'd turn the camera on and leave it on for the duration of the dive since it uses minimal power in standby. Either way, there shouldn't be a limit to the frequency with which I can operate the on/off switch before it damages the camera! ;-)

I might be stating something obvious but I can't tell from the photos of the camera. You did remove the rubber eyecap from the d7000 viewfinder before installing the camera in the housing?


Yep! The rubber cap around the viewfinder and the plastic LCD screen protector were both removed from the camera before installing it in the housing. In the youtube video I posted you can clearly see both have been removed prior to installation in the housing.

It is a great housing but when inserting camera you have to make sure some of the camera button arms inside the housing allow the camera to get all the way in and seat properly. I have one arm i never use i have to put into proper position or camera does not go all the way in. It would flood if i don't check that arm position. Maybe that is why it flooded as not enough pressure on oring to seal.


I only have to move any of those camera button arms when I insert the wide angle with the focus ring. The macro setup (which is when it flooded) doesn't require me to move any of those arms to install the camera as I use the lens autofocus so I don't think the flood could be tied to that. Good idea though! Based on the fact that sand was on both sides of the main o-ring and I was watching water drip down on the LCD screen I'm 99.9% positive the source of the flood was the main o-ring. Interestingly enough, and a point I forgot to mention earlier, that was the second dive of the day so the o-ring was obviously seated properly for it to survive the first dive. After the first dive I did go back to the room to download photos by removing the back cover but the camera wasn't removed from the housing and there was no sand in the o-ring after the first dive. What little sand did wedge it's way in came during the second dive.

Out of curiosity - anyone know why Aquatica would even design the mini dome port to require the extension ring? Unless I'm reading this wrong (possible since I was on the red eye home this morning) there are only 2 lenses that the mini dome works - one is the Tokina 10-17mm so why wouldn't you build it to be the right size??!! We're talking about needing mere millimeters of extra space to make it all fit properly, presumably for both lenses. This probably explains why I was told it wouldn't need it, who'd think a company would design a port that isn't the right size from the get-go? Am I reading this wrong?

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Edited by gotgills, 04 March 2012 - 06:22 PM.


#7 okuma

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:51 PM

Got gills:

I have a N7000, but a different housing. Some comments:

You wrote a good report. Too bad you had some problems, but some of it goes with the territority.

As a previous poster questioned, did you remove the rubber eye piece and also any plastic camera view screen covers. Form your photo of the on/off switch, it appears that maybe the camera was not seated full forward in the housing. Look at the wear marks on the plastic tips. Appear to be worn just off the end of the metal shafts.
When inserting a camera into a housing, you must check all of the camera levers/knobs ans the corresponding contact points in the housing to see if all are aligned. Some times a control, maybe one you never use, will be out of position and will prevent the camera from achieving a correct 'seating'.

Your comment about the main O ring and seating is not correct.
The gap in your photo looks correct to me. When properly closed, there should be a small gap as shown in your photo. This indicates that the housing is seated on the O ring and compressing it. When closing, after clamping, always look at this gap all around the camera befoer diving to insure it is uniform and the O ring has not slipped out. This will be very evident to you. Lastly, fine sand filtering into this gap will not force the O ring to leak or flood. BUT when opening the housing, be very careful to remove any sand that might have accumulated in this gap against the O rings as if not cleaned correctly, it will prevent correct sealing and you will have a leak. This is very critical when diving in areas with fine, black volcanic sand.

The lens extension is not a design problem; It is poor communication from your housing seller.

Finally, you have good equipment; stick with it and the bugs will get worked out.
If possible, get an experienced U/W SLR housing shooter to look over your shoulder the next few times you load it up.

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

Nikon D 7000, Subal Housing, Inon Z 240 strobes.

#8 gotgills

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:52 PM

Follow-up: I fished out the instructions for the mini dome.

"Note: an extension ring is meant to be inserted between the housing and the dome port to provide optical correction needed for some lenses"

That sound precisely along the lines of what you were saying Saga7 about the optical quality, not the functionality of the lens (and would make the statement I was told about not requiring an extension ring technically correct; it might not be optically superior but it will work). In light of this it sounds like the extension ring, or lack thereof, probably wasn't the contributor to the camera lock-up. Unfortunately the pressure pot at the dive shop I work for isn't big enough for me to put the camera in, otherwise I'd conduct a more scientific study of what happens at 30 feet that creates the loud thud and locks up the camera. One would think if it's pressure related that the problem would be alleviated by surfacing, but as seen in the video, surfacing did not solve the problem. Open to more ideas......

Kristen

#9 gotgills

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:00 PM

Your comment about the main O ring and seating is not correct.
The gap in your photo looks correct to me. When properly closed, there should be a small gap as shown in your photo. This indicates that the housing is seated on the O ring and compressing it. When closing, after clamping, always look at this gap all around the camera befoer diving to insure it is uniform and the O ring has not slipped out. This will be very evident to you. Lastly, fine sand filtering into this gap will not force the O ring to leak or flood. BUT when opening the housing, be very careful to remove any sand that might have accumulated in this gap against the O rings as if not cleaned correctly, it will prevent correct sealing and you will have a leak. This is very critical when diving in areas with fine, black volcanic sand.

The lens extension is not a design problem; It is poor communication from your housing seller.


Okuma,

Thanks for the feedback. I agree the gap in the photo is correct - my point, which may not have been clear, was that it's a rather large gap between the two housing pieces and is larger than the gap in other camera manufacturers, at least as far as I can tell looking at photos of Subal, Sea&Sea, Nauticam, and Ikelite housings. I suspect the sand entered this space as I walked into the water and then the water splashing over the camera during the surface swim helped to wedge it into the o-ring. It's really the only thing that makes sense since there was sand on both the outside and inside of the o-ring. In the roughly 10 minutes of entering/surface swim/diving/egress that I was in the water I only accumulated ~2 inches of water in the housing. If the o-ring wasn't seated properly or the housing wasn't latched properly the entire thing would probably have filled with water in 10 minutes.

I don't want to point fingers at the housing seller, but let's just say they should have known -- they are one of the biggest underwater photography specialty companies..... and if if the extension ring is just for optical clarity rather than function, what they told me could have been correct.

#10 KirkD

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:12 PM

I would insert the camera turned off but before I put the backplate on I'd turn the switches to make sure the off/on/and info light buttons would turn on properly. I would turn the camera back to off and then close the housing. Like mentioned in my first post, I'd then seal everything and do a total system test. Once everything tests okay I would turn it off since I would sometimes be driving to dive sites and didn't want an accidental button press while driving to upset settings in the camera. Before I got in the water I'd turn the camera on and leave it on for the duration of the dive since it uses minimal power in standby. Either way, there shouldn't be a limit to the frequency with which I can operate the on/off switch before it damages the camera! ;-)



Yep! The rubber cap around the viewfinder and the plastic LCD screen protector were both removed from the camera before installing it in the housing. In the youtube video I posted you can clearly see both have been removed prior to installation in the housing. Also, refer to page 7 of tbe manual. The camerashould be in the on position when you insert the camera.

I guess my next question would be wether or not you lockef the camera plate?




I only have to move any of those camera button arms when I insert the wide angle with the focus ring. The macro setup (which is when it flooded) doesn't require me to move any of those arms to install the camera as I use the lens autofocus so I don't think the flood could be tied to that. Good idea though! Based on the fact that sand was on both sides of the main o-ring and I was watching water drip down on the LCD screen I'm 99.9% positive the source of the flood was the main o-ring. Interestingly enough, and a point I forgot to mention earlier, that was the second dive of the day so the o-ring was obviously seated properly for it to survive the first dive. After the first dive I did go back to the room to download photos by removing the back cover but the camera wasn't removed from the housing and there was no sand in the o-ring after the first dive. What little sand did wedge it's way in came during the second dive.

Out of curiosity - anyone know why Aquatica would even design the mini dome port to require the extension ring? Unless I'm reading this wrong (possible since I was on the red eye home this morning) there are only 2 lenses that the mini dome works - one is the Tokina 10-17mm so why wouldn't you build it to be the right size??!! We're talking about needing mere millimeters of extra space to make it all fit properly, presumably for both lenses. This probably explains why I was told it wouldn't need it, who'd think a company would design a port that isn't the right size from the get-go? Am I reading this wrong?

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Yes, you are reading it wrong. You do not need extension for the nikon 10.5. I have the 4" dome and have always known that an extendion was required for the Tokina. Im guessing that sand on the oring happened when you pulled out your SD card between the 1st and 2nd dive.ousing. Also, refer to page 7 of tbe manual. The camerashould be in the on position when you insert the camera.

I guess my next question would be wether or not you lockef the camera plate?

Edited by KirkD, 04 March 2012 - 07:20 PM.


#11 blibecap

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:22 PM

The Aquticia chart is correct. The length of the lens is not important, the dome has to be matched to the nodal point of the lens. The nodal point of the Tokina is about 15mm further away from the camera as compared to the Nikon 10. The dome was designed short enough to work with the Nikon 10 and extensions are added to fit other lenses.
Bill Libecap
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#12 Aquapaul

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:26 PM

I have the same camera and housing as you and I love it. I did have some problems with it though, I have one of the early housings too. When I first bought it if I went below 30 feet it would lock up, some button somewhere was being pushed or something, not real sure. I sent it back to the dealer for an update and when it came back all seamed well, it worked down to 50 feet, that was as deep as I could get without a shovel where we were diving at the time. I went to Fiji and shot some wonderful images as long as I was above 75 feet or so, below that one of the scroll buttons would stay in if pushed and wouldn't come back out until I was above 30 feet.

I was contacted by Jean from Aquatica and he asked me to send it directly back to the factory for them to have a look at it. I was a little worried because we had another trip scheduled for Roatan and didn't think I would get it back in time but the turn around was really fast, I think I had it back in 6 days, and they paid for the FedEx shipping. I have had no troubles with it since and the buttons push noticeably harder so I think they put stiffer springs in it but not sure.

And yup, you need and extension for the mini dome, the same one for the 8" dome to I believe. I came from a Canon G10 and I have to say this rig is light years better then what I had. I have been shooting some ambient light stuff in the Great Lakes with Magic Filters and can't believe how well it does even at 1600 ISO.

After looking at your photos of your camera switch and the housing on off lever mechanism I am sure you didn't load your camera properly. Make sure when you load your camera that the on off switch is on when you load your camera, the switch has to slide in the mechanism with the housing lever in the on position and the camera switch on. That could be some of your flooding trouble right there. I would just about bet on it.

I hate to ask, you did get an owners manual with it right? My owners manual goes into detail about the on off switch and the possibility of a flood if you don't get it right.
I think all housings have got some thing you have to be extra careful about getting right and I think this issue is the housings watch for thing. I have two ports for fiber optic cables and no sync cords because I don't shoot TTL and I cut off the the hydophone cable because I didn't want to worry about it getting stuck in the way some where so I don't have quite as many things to watch close when loading but things go wrong still but I know what to look for now.

I would contact Jean at Aquatica if I were you and see if you have one of the housings they were having trouble with.

It really is too bad this has happened, this really is a good housing, Aquatica just dropped the ball on a few. I am very glad you didn't ruin your camera.
Paul Chase

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#13 gotgills

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:50 PM

I have the same camera and housing as you and I love it. I did have some problems with it though, I have one of the early housings too. When I first bought it if I went below 30 feet it would lock up, some button somewhere was being pushed or something, not real sure. I sent it back to the dealer for an update and when it came back all seamed well, it worked down to 50 feet, that was as deep as I could get without a shovel where we were diving at the time. I went to Fiji and shot some wonderful images as long as I was above 75 feet or so, below that one of the scroll buttons would stay in if pushed and wouldn't come back out until I was above 30 feet.

I was contacted by Jean from Aquatica and he asked me to send it directly back to the factory for them to have a look at it. I was a little worried because we had another trip scheduled for Roatan and didn't think I would get it back in time but the turn around was really fast, I think I had it back in 6 days, and they paid for the FedEx shipping. I have had no troubles with it since and the buttons push noticeably harder so I think they put stiffer springs in it but not sure.

And yup, you need and extension for the mini dome, the same one for the 8" dome to I believe. I came from a Canon G10 and I have to say this rig is light years better then what I had. I have been shooting some ambient light stuff in the Great Lakes with Magic Filters and can't believe how well it does even at 1600 ISO.

After looking at your photos of your camera switch and the housing on off lever mechanism I am sure you didn't load your camera properly. Make sure when you load your camera that the on off switch is on when you load your camera, the switch has to slide in the mechanism with the housing lever in the on position and the camera switch on. That could be some of your flooding trouble right there. I would just about bet on it.

I hate to ask, you did get an owners manual with it right? My owners manual goes into detail about the on off switch and the possibility of a flood if you don't get it right.
I think all housings have got some thing you have to be extra careful about getting right and I think this issue is the housings watch for thing. I have two ports for fiber optic cables and no sync cords because I don't shoot TTL and I cut off the the hydophone cable because I didn't want to worry about it getting stuck in the way some where so I don't have quite as many things to watch close when loading but things go wrong still but I know what to look for now.

I would contact Jean at Aquatica if I were you and see if you have one of the housings they were having trouble with.

It really is too bad this has happened, this really is a good housing, Aquatica just dropped the ball on a few. I am very glad you didn't ruin your camera.


Paul,

Thanks for the feedback and glad to know I'm not the only person with this most bizarre problem of camera lockup below 30 feet. Sadly when I took the camera for a test dive before the trip it was in a local lake and I didn't take it deeper than 30 feet at the time to identify the problem sooner. I did PM Jean earlier with a link to this thread and hopefully will have a chance to talk with them tomorrow.

Thanks for the info on the extension ring - what's interesting is that you don't need the extension ring to take pictures, but it might improve the optical quality. What I mean is that on the previously mentioned lake dives I took about 100 shots (albeit shallower than 30 ft) and didn't have an extension ring and I thought it performed beautifully. So either the lack of the extension ring was the cause of the camera lock-up deeper than 30 feet or the extension ring is just to improve optical clarity and I should have been able to take photos without it. I'm not sure we've established which of these two is correct?

I obviously didn't register the note about having the camera on when loading it into the housing, but what difference should that make? As long as I get the switch lined up properly in the off position it should work just as well as if I get it lined up in the on position?

Again, I'm 99.9% positive the flood occurred at the main o-ring. Like I mentioned previously, I had sand on the inside of the housing along that o-ring. If sand was able to penetrate into the camera housing then water obviously was too.

Re: camera plate being locked. Absolutely 100%. After the first dive when the camera went into lock-up I wanted to make sure I got a chance to really take the time to make sure everything was working properly and attached perfectly before getting in the water. I took several photos on the surface and upon entering the water. Because I was so paranoid that the camera lockup was my error after the first dive I wanted to make sure I was very diligent in the second dive. Unfortunately I got the same result - lock up at 30 feet following a loud thud sound. So once again, either the lack of extension ring causes the dome to not work deeper than 30 feet OR the extension ring just improves optical quality but shouldn't impact the ability to take photos deeper than 30 feet.

#14 johnjvv

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:03 AM

Just regarding your comment on sand getting through the gap and o-ring into your camera..I am quite sure that this is physically impossible. I use an Aquatica housing and regularly put the camera on the sandy bottom and no sand ever gets through (not touching wood here).

I appreciate that you have taken numerous courses however I agree with another comment above that it would be a good idea to go the through the loops with someone that knows this gear. I put my own setup together for my first dive and also had issues which I was able to resolve after doing it again with someone experienced.

Good luck with your problem and am sure if you approach either Aquatica or Backscatter with your issues, that they would help you whether it be user or equipment related.

#15 gotgills

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:58 AM

Just regarding your comment on sand getting through the gap and o-ring into your camera..I am quite sure that this is physically impossible. I use an Aquatica housing and regularly put the camera on the sandy bottom and no sand ever gets through (not touching wood here).


Hi,
Again I wish I'd taken photos but preservation of the camera was first and foremost. I have two dive buddies who saw the sand on both sides of the o-ring (externally and in the housing). The difference between sitting the camera on sand and what happened is the waves from the walk-in and surface swim helped to push the sand into the housing through the surge as I agree that it's physically impractical that sand will just creep in on it's own accord. To recap: I walk in and sand floating in the water gets caught in the gap between the two housing components. During long surface swim water surging over the housing from waves slowly pushes that sand into the gap and eventually through the o-ring seal. Had I not had a surface swim I'm not sure the sand would have gone through the o-ring. It was a very fine sand - not the large and corse material often seen on a sandy bottom - think fine beach sand.

If this helps - this is a crop of the shot I took right as I noticed water running down the LCD screen (mr. Octopus). Notice the fine sand caught in the wrinkles of his skin. That's the culprit.
Posted Image

Also, remember there was some sand in the o-rings and area around the strobe o-rings on both YS-110's. Neither strobe flooded, but the design of that cap is very different from how the o-ring on the housing seals. I have owned those strobes for years and they have hundreds of dives on them without flood.

Edited by gotgills, 05 March 2012 - 05:13 AM.


#16 Aquapaul

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 05:54 AM

I obviously didn't register the note about having the camera on when loading it into the housing, but what difference should that make? As long as I get the switch lined up properly in the off position it should work just as well as if I get it lined up in the on position?


Hey, it's because the switch and the on off lever don't mate properly. You can't possibly get the linkage lined up right that way, it's a bit like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. The lever linkage is piled up on top of the switch causing the gouges in your switch and the damage to the lever linkage and the camera isn't quite where it belongs and that's likely the reason the water and sand got by the main oring because it couldn't close quite right. when you move the switch lever the whole camera moves slightly. Don't ask me how I know this, I will deny all of it ;-} Just lucky I noticed it before I closed the housing.

I think the flood was user error and the camera lock up probably an equipment malfunction.
Paul Chase

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#17 yahsemtough

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 05:54 AM

Very sorry to hear your first experience with your set-up did not go as you had hoped.

I do not shoot the camera you mention so I cannot comment on the specifics as to why your set-up created the problems you experienced. I do however shoot an Aquatica housing and this one would be my fourth.

I have had only one time when water has got into the housing and that was user error and rushing the process. I was cleaning the housing for a soak at home after a trip and did not watch as I sealed the backplate onto the housing. The o-ring pinched. Fortunately no camera was in the housing and I learned from my mistake. User error.

I have hundreds of dives in Bonaire and am well versed with the sand on the o-ring. It is a fact of shore diving and the wash/surf that occurs in the shallows. But, it is impossible for the sand to get in and around your o-ring unless you have not seated the back plate and o-ring properly. I make a habit of continually checking my o-ring before replacing the back plate on the housing every time I open it. I do not necessarily remove the o-ring but check it for anything that may have been grabbed by the grease etc. I have also found sand on the outside edge of the o-ring with my Seatool housing and my Sea and Sea.

I do know that certain levers and, sometimes even the zoom gear can catch on another lever or arm when inserting the camera. (This can happen with any housing) I use the baseplate as a guide as to how well the camera is seated. If the baseplate does not slide easily and the rear locking mechanism fit perfectly without any pressure then I know the camera is seated as it was designed to be. The backplate should sit easily on the back before locking it down, then I know everything is insert properly. I then give it a quick check and fire a few shots and once in the water I always check the housing on first dip for bubbles and or water.

I should also mention I have subjected my housings to some of the most difficult conditions, the arctic, and while sand is not a concern ; ) I have had absolutely no problems with o-ring seating even in the harsh, cold conditions.

As for the extension ring it is unfortunate that the sales person did not properly explain the need for the extension ring. You did mention it was one of the first off the line so it is possible the salesperson was not aware of the need. I do not have the mini dome so I also can not speak from personal experience with that piece of gear.

Sorry to hear about the issues you experienced. I know we all hate to not be able to create images on dives but I am sure lots of us have made errors in housing set-up that have prevented us from shooting on dives. I remember pointing out the Nikon lens cap to a good buddy one dive a hundred feet down.

Cheers

Todd
Todd Mintz
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all photographs posted © Todd C Mintz

#18 Aquapaul

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 06:11 AM

Lens cap, that's a good one. Wish I didn't know what you were talking about..ha ha ha
Paul Chase

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#19 Ryan

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 07:26 AM

I am sure that Ryan at Reef Photo will have some good answers for you problems.


My company did not sell this housing package with the omitted extension ring, and we do not distribute Aquatica, so I have no comment.

founder of Reef Photo & Video
manufacturer of Zen Domes

distributor of Nauticam in the Americas

 

n2theblue at reefphoto.com


#20 saga7

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 08:07 AM

Hi- Your flood happened on second dive after removing rear back plate of housing. Salt crystals, sand or other debris must have got under oring. Anytime you open the housing the oring must be cleaned.