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Aquatica Housing Review - Good, Bad and Ugly


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#21 eyu

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:32 AM

Sorry to hear about your DSLR housing problems, but there is a learning curve associated with moving from a point and shoot that you have painfully demonstrated.
Little things like inserting the camera in the off position can effect how how everything lines up. If one of your buttons or levers is off a half of a mm, it may not function correctly. This could put stress on the housing buttons or levers causing misalignment. Also I would venture to say that your flood was user error. You must have gotten a grain of sand, hair, dirt on you o-ring. I only open my housing at the end of the day after it has been soaked in fresh water, all buttons pushed and close the housing after I clean both metal surfaces and o-ring that has been coated lightly with grease. Shore diving in sandy conditions will not cause a leak. If it did, your rig would have flooded on your first shore dives.

Edited by eyu, 06 March 2012 - 02:31 AM.

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#22 KirkD

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:45 AM

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I agree with saga7 .

I think that you have unfairly blamed aquatica for some of your problems. Ifthere was a defect in the housing, then it would have flooded the 1st time youused it. Given that you did not know to turn the on/off switch to"on" and that you did not know that an extension was required for theTokina 10-17 with 4inch dome, I can only assume that you did not fully read themanual. Remember, most floods are user error.

Here is what I do to avoid this. 1) you have to follow the instructions forinstallation in the manual; 2) You have to inspect the O-ring each and everytime you take off the back of your housing, take off the port, change batteriesin the strobe, etc. Make sure there is no debride on the O-ring such as a hair,sands, etc. you also need to inspect the groove where the O-ring lies. Itypically use q-tips, paper towels, and a rocket blower to clean the groves,which I do every time as grease can get built up. 3) I think that you need toassemble your camera gear off somewhere by yourself. Don't do it while talkingto others. That is a good way to forget to put an O-ring back in. 4) Don'tleave your camera in the dunk take on the boat or back at the pear. Just dunkit a few times and operate all the buttons and levers while submerged. Therehave been alot of floods in the dunk tanks, plus I have seen cables broken anddome port scratched in them. 5) Make sure the DM on the boat handles yourcamera by the handles. Don't let them grab it by the dome port. 6) Peoplediffer on the forum on this one. But I personally do not inspect grease my O-ringsover day. For example, my lights are hardwired. I will set these up once forthe week and never re-grease them again. I do check before and after the divethat they are properly secured and have not come loose. As for my ports, If Idon't take it off, then I don't re-grease it. I typically only stick with onelens 2 days, so I usually do it every other day. As far as the rear part of thecamera, I only take that off once a day to down load pictures, but have went 2days without downloading. My reasoning behind my theory is that the more youtake something apart, the more likely you are to potentially cause a problem.Hell, I don't take my dive computer or watch apart and re-grease the O-ringsand they have never flooded. As I said, this is my opinion and other on thisforum do it differently. Find a system that works for you and stick with it.

Check out this website about Underwater Camera Maintenance

http://www.divephotoguide.com/getting-star...ra-maintenance/

http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwat...ing-maintenance

The issues with the buttons may be an actual issue with the housing. Thehousing came out like 1 year ago and this was discovered shortly thereafter anda recall was made. I remember reading about that. Contact Jean at Aqauaticawith your serial number and see if that was one of the affected housings.

As far as the 4" dome not fitting with the Tokina 10-17. Chalk that one upto a lesson learned. You need to check the lens port chart when you get futurelenses. I, personally, will actually take the gear, ports, etc and make surethey fit when I get them. This is something that you obviously don't want tofigure out on your dive trip.

Hopefully you will get these issues sorted out and will be good to go for yournext trip. I hope the information I provided was helpful. This is a good placeto post questions.


Kirk


Edited by KirkD, 05 March 2012 - 11:26 AM.


#23 gotgills

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 12:27 PM

Given that you did not know to turn the on/off switch to"on" and that you did not know that an extension was required for theTokina 10-17 with 4inch dome, I can only assume that you did not fully read themanual. Remember, most floods are user error.

The issues with the buttons may be an actual issue with the housing. The housing came out like 1 year ago and this was discovered shortly thereafter anda recall was made. I remember reading about that. Contact Jean at Aqauaticawith your serial number and see if that was one of the affected housings.

As far as the 4" dome not fitting with the Tokina 10-17. Chalk that one upto a lesson learned. You need to check the lens port chart when you get futurelenses. I, personally, will actually take the gear, ports, etc and make surethey fit when I get them. This is something that you obviously don't want tofigure out on your dive trip.


Kirk,

Thanks for the comments. You're assumption that I didn't read the manual is incorrect - the extension isn't mentioned as required on the housing manual or the 4 inch dome sheet, just mentions it as helping improve optics. Obviously the bit about the on/off switch being on didn't make a lasting enough impression for me to remember that when setting up my camera in Bonaire so that's on me. Still, it's a little stupid that it'll damage my camera if not inserted properly. You don't have to agree (since I didn't follow the instructions) but I'm sure if your camera body was maimed by the housing you might also be a little pissed off - who would have thought that sticking it in off and testing the switch functions properly would be so problematic. Ho hum.

I hear what everyone is saying about it being user error with the flood but I saw no evidence that something was aligned wrong, even after I opened the housing. Several years ago I had a strobe flood (of my own fault) when the o-ring didn't seat properly when I closed it and I'm familiar with how that looks and is identified from the experience. The o-ring was properly in place for that dive and when opening the housing after I surfaced from the leak it was still seated in the groove correctly. Between the first and second dive I only removed the back of the housing - didn't remove the camera, so if it was an issue with a lever or arm not being aligned properly then a flood should have occurred on the first dive too. I always wiped the o-ring and back plate off before resealing them but I lack a time machine to go back and prove that there's no chance of debris in the back. Based on what I saw sand entered as I've described previously and flooded it. We don't all have to agree on how it happened since it really doesn't change much. My comment from the original post, which you don't have to agree with, is that I've dove sites like this with Sea&Sea cameras and never had problem - those sealed differently and I think that design could be improved. Notice I've never blamed a failure on Aquatica or some design issue that caused a flood, I'm just recounting what I saw and what happened.....

I did take everything for a test dive after purchasing it. Re-read the posts. How was I supposed to anticipate that what worked at 28 feet would suddenly stop working in 30 feet?

As much as everyone has jumped over the flooding that's really the smallest of the issues since I recovered the camera.

The most frustrating is that it hasn't been explained what causes the camera to lockup and reset to a language set screen and if that issue is related to the extension ring.

Jean with Aquatica and I have been in communication and we will talk more tomorrow when he returns to the office.

-Kristen

#24 Stewart L. Sy

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:17 PM

The most frustrating is that it hasn't been explained what causes the camera to lockup and reset to a language set screen and if that issue is related to the extension ring.
-Kristen


The extension ring (18453) is suggested to optimize the optical performance of your lens with the 4" dome port. Since we all strive for the best image quality, it then makes that extension a requirement. The extension in no way will affect your camera's performance. It does not even touch your camera. The likely cause is the recall that Aquatica put out on the early batches of the D7000 housing. Here's the link to it: http://www.aquatica....nnouncement.pdf

The switch position is crucial to how you insert the camera into the housing. You are sliding the camera in. Therefore, in all instances, there should be an open space to where the controls slide into. If your camera was turned off, and the housing control was in the off position, the housing and camera would not mate properly. It's like trying to slide a pencil into a hole with a 45º bend halfway down. The pencil won't go around the bend, in this case, the switch won't go too much further into the control's slot in order to work the switch. Thus, the force required to maybe turn the control into a position to accept the switch in the wrong spot is the likely cause of the damage to your camera. The D7000 housing is one of the smallest that Aquatica makes, the whole thing is pretty much a vacuum fit. If the power switch didn't seat properly, this likely put quite a few things out of whack and caused the problem. It may have worked on the surface when no pressure was applied to the housing, but as pressure increased when you got deeper, things just got tighter and tighter and something pushed a control hard enough that it caused your camera to go into a locked out mode.

Most aluminum DSLR housings seal with the captive O-ring, this design works. Aquatica is not the only manufacturer who uses this design. As you mentioned, you've dove the housing before and it did not leak. If the water didn't enter your housing, how could the sand get in? Water molecules are infinitesimally smaller than a grain of sand, if the seal was incapable of keeping sand out of the o-ring, then it definitely would not have been able to keep the water out. Mistakes happen, accidents happen. In this case, you or someone near you somehow got some sand on the o-ring when the back was removed.


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#25 gotgills

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 03:28 PM

Stewart - thanks for your great thoughts.

So continuing on the same line -- if the extension ring wasn't the problem contributing to the lock out that occurred both times with the wide angle setup in place, then what causes this? It ONLY happened with wide angle and it happened both times I used that lens -- IE no successful wide angle dives deeper than 30 feet at all. If it was an error with how I had the housing setup, then the problem should also have occurred when it was in macro setup. In one instance I actually just changed the port and lens without removing the camera from the housing and had a successful macro dive previously.

AKA - still looking for plausible situations (either user error with lack of extension ring or otherwise) that led to the lock-out and reset of the camera. What causes a Nikon D7000 to freak out so badly it wants you to set the language, date time etc all over?

#26 acuevas

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:09 PM

I understand the frustration of having this kind of problems when you are exited to play with your new toy but, I don't think that writing a review of a product is the best way to find out what is wrong with your housing.

Before I bought mine I directly spoke with Jean from Aquatica and ask him if I need any additional part, the extension ring for the tokina 10-17 was the part I needed to add, then I double check with Backscatter.

About the damage in the camera in the on/off switch, I did the same to my camera and was my error. If you put the camera with the switch in the off position and then move the lever of the housing without closing the housing and you force the lever, you will damage your camera. But that is a user mistake.

About the flood, if you don't position the lever that activates the internal flash of the camera correctly, the housing doesn't close properly, you might think that is closed, but if you look at the main oring you will see the gap.

I had put around 20 dives to my AD7000 housing, one of them at 45 mts, without problems so far.
Regards
Andres Cuevas


Nikon D7000, Tokina 10-17, Aquatica AD7000, Aquatica Mini Dome, 2xInon Z-240 type 4.
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#27 KirkD

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:31 PM

Obviously the bit about the on/off switch being on didn't make a lasting enough impression for me to remember that when setting up my camera in Bonaire so that's on me. Still, it's a little stupid that it'll damage my camera if not inserted properly. You don't have to agree (since I didn't follow the instructions) but I'm sure if your camera body was maimed by the housing you might also be a little pissed off - who would have thought that sticking it in off and testing the switch functions properly would be so problematic. Ho hum.



I too have made that mistake. I typically get tipped off because when I test it, I can turn it on, but not back off. I have been diving DSLR for 5 years, but I don't dive every day. So, I review the instructions and actually have them open in front of me while I assemble my housing, especially if it has been a couple of months. I have had to replace a part in my housing because I didn't have a level in the right place when I inserted the my camera. Like I said, chuck it up to a learning experience. I bet you won't do that again.

I did take everything for a test dive after purchasing it. Re-read the posts. How was I supposed to anticipate that what worked at 28 feet would suddenly stop working in 30 feet?



You could not have foreseen this. I was just referring to the Tokina lens hitting the inside of the dome port. I would have assembled it and checked it out. That way if it was happening before your trip, that could have been addressed. I actually bought a zoom gear and it did not fit my lens. I think it was put in the wrong package, but I tried it before my trip and noticed that it did not fit, so backscatter did an exchange. Problem solved.

As much as everyone has jumped over the flooding that's really the smallest of the issues since I recovered the camera.



Even though the camera was recovered, you may not be so lucky next time. Just trying to give you some pointers so this does happen again.

Edited by KirkD, 05 March 2012 - 04:33 PM.


#28 KirkD

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:35 PM

Stewart - thanks for your great thoughts.

So continuing on the same line -- if the extension ring wasn't the problem contributing to the lock out that occurred both times with the wide angle setup in place, then what causes this? It ONLY happened with wide angle and it happened both times I used that lens -- IE no successful wide angle dives deeper than 30 feet at all. If it was an error with how I had the housing setup, then the problem should also have occurred when it was in macro setup. In one instance I actually just changed the port and lens without removing the camera from the housing and had a successful macro dive previously.

AKA - still looking for plausible situations (either user error with lack of extension ring or otherwise) that led to the lock-out and reset of the camera. What causes a Nikon D7000 to freak out so badly it wants you to set the language, date time etc all over?


Just to clarify. Did you have the problem with only the Tokina 10-17 with 4 inch dome? and you did not have the problem with the 60mm Macro in the flat port.

#29 Viz'art

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:31 AM

So that people do not think I am dodging the bullet, I would like you to know that I am actively pursuing the matter with Kristen via PM communication. I have asked her to send the housing in (on our personal transport account) for evaluation and will report back to her and to this forum with our findings once the housing is back to our service facility.

At this moment, I do not wish to comment on any of the many issues involved as it would be inappropriate to do so without having first examined and tested the housing in question properly.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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www.aquatica.ca

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#30 Andy Morrison

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:03 AM

I was having a minor leak issue with my Subal recently and I couldn't figure it out. I spoke with Tony at Reef Photo and he was helpful trying to help me troubleshoot. It would leak sometimes and not others when tested in my bathtub. As I was packing up the housing to send in to Reef for service it finally dawned on me. It would only leak when the camera was in the housing. Then I realized that I had forgotten to remove the rubber eyepiece from the viewfinder despite having had this housing for a couple years now. I had put the housing together late at night before a morning dive when I was tired and forgot to remove the eyepiece. That was just enough to keep the camera back from closing fully. Duh!

I also don't buy the sand on the 0-ring theory. I was suspecting that on my housing as well but as Tony pointed out to me, it's virtually impossible since the back is not a moving part. IE, there is no way for the sand to work past the o-ring.

Certain things need to be done a certain way, and in a certain order. When I get in my car I have to have it in park or it won't turn on. Annoying yes, but that's the way it is. :)

As for your other problem. I had an Ikelite housing once that initially gave me problems like that. Ended up the push buttons were a little long and with the increase in pressure at depth they pushed down too far and locked up my camera. Yeah, it sucked but they took care of it no problem. I'm not saying that is your problem. But, remember, there are a multitude of parts in a DSLR housing and they are much more complex than a P&S housing. One tiny little thing wrong and something won't work.

I've never had an Aquatica but I see Jean on multiple boards and their customer service reputation is excellent. One reason why I'll consider them for my next housing. I'm sure he'll get it sorted for you to your satisfaction. I also agree a full write up of a housing at this stage isn't that fair. Now if you are still having the same problem after Aquatica has "fixed" it then maybe it's time then to air your gripes. I don't know, I understand your frustration but maybe wait until you know for sure is it user error or a manufacturing problem. And give them a fair chance to sort it. Good luck with it and I hope they get it taken care off for you real soon.

#31 MIKE POWELL

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:35 AM

How about "should have bought a Nauticam"? Sorry, couldn't resist!

Seriously, Sorry to hear about troubles GOTGILLS....I hope you get it worked out and get back in the water soon! Great pics by the way.....

Mike

p.s. I had my share of problems with my first DSLR and I'm sure the majority of us do.

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


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#32 vagabonder

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

What was the conclution of this case?

#33 Viz'art

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:42 AM

What was the conclution of this case?


We got the housing in, fully tested and reviewed it, replaced the damaged ON/OFF switch rubber tip that was torn off by the customer (there is a specific procedure to load the camera that clearly state that the switch on both housing and camera must be in the ON position). In the end not having the recommended extension ring did not help with the performance as the lens ended up putting unnecessary limitation by butting on the dome port and throwing tolerances off, in any case since we had the housing in, we took the time to bring it up to the latest specifications, some part where upgraded to the latest version, all controls tolerances have been verified, confirmed and if necessary adjusted, the housing was pressure tested to 90m and resend to Kristen at our cost. If used as it is intended to, the housing should perform properly.

I take the opportunity to stress that no matter the brand of housings, (including the “should have bought…" brand), if you have to struggle to get something to work on a camera housing, or feel that something is quirky, you should stop, get the owner manual, confirm the procedure and if the problem is persistent. You should contact the representative or manufacturer of the housing, doing so can and does often will save your dive trip. The fact that Kristen was unaware that she needed an extension for her Minidome is, understandably, beyond our control. The lens charts, are readily available from our website (and are constantly kept up to date), I am also readily available for tech support week days at the office and, for all intend, I carry a 24/7 vigil on Wetpixel.

I don’t know about our competitors, but being the one that writes the instruction manual for Aquatica, I do take a considerable amount of time to insure the owner manual clearly shows the proper procedure on how to install the camera in the housing, how to set up the lens as well as keep the lens compatibility chart up to date.

Lastly, I take this moment to show my appreciation and to personally thank all of those who posted constructive and intelligent comments on this thread.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

www.vizart.ca

www.aquatica.ca

Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#34 Scubysnaps

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:58 AM

being the one that writes the instruction manual for Aquatica, I do take a considerable amount of time to insure the owner manual clearly shows the proper procedure on how to install the camera in the housing


Hi Jean,
Have you improved your manuals somewhat since I mentioned this to you 2 years ago? In all fairness the owner "manual" was far from adequate for the AD90 at that time
Cheers
Paul

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#35 Viz'art

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:31 AM

Hi Jean,
Have you improved your manuals somewhat since I mentioned this to you 2 years ago? In all fairness the owner "manual" was far from adequate for the AD90 at that time


Paul, Your comments where taken into consideration at the time, I believe the D7000 manual to be fairly explicit on the procedure for loading the camera. But by all means I encourage anyone that see any areas of a manual that need improvement to let me know, as I said earlier, I am fairly easy to reach, even when abroad.
Jean Bruneau / Aquatica Technical Advisor

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www.aquatica.ca

Aquatica Pro Digital housings for D-300s, AF 10-20mm, AF 10-17mm, AF 14MM, AF 17-35mm, af 17-70mm, AF 20MM, AF 60MM, AF 105MM, 2x Ikelite Ds 160, and TLC arms exclusively

#36 johnspierce

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:40 AM

The lens charts, are readily available from our website (and are constantly kept up to date)


I might also add when I received my D7000 housing, the lens chart documentation was in the very top of the box. Before I used my first Aquatica housing I read and re-read both the lens chart doc and manual several times. The instructions on inserting the camera in my opinion are quite well documented.

I'll second what Jean said about if *anything* doesn't fit smoothly and easily it's a good idea to remove the camera and start over -- years back, on one dive I remember putting my D70 in my Ikelite housing improperly and while it didn't flood, once I got to depth all the functions seemed "frozen" and the LCD was showing an error because one of the buttons was putting too much pressure on the camera body.

cheers,
JP

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#37 ChrigelKarrer

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:44 PM

The D7000 is not so simple to insert in the housing properly,
even with my "not very snug" Hugyfot housing it is hard to align some buttons in a middle position that they function properly.
I had my problems to insert the camera properly in the beginning as well and probably the HugyCheck leak alarm saved my gear
in one dive where the alarm went on during a surface swim.

Chris

Edited by ChrigelKarrer, 24 April 2012 - 05:19 PM.

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#38 NWDiver

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:24 AM

On my third Aquatica housing, currently the AD7000, not gentle with gear, mainly shore dive, thousands of dives on them and never had a flood.

#39 DamonA

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 05:10 AM

Lucky you didn't lose the lot, I reckon your lucky!

I lost a D7000 and lens due to the hydrophone cord interfering with the housing seal.
Was impeding a proper seal from the inside of the housing, you couldn't see it from outside of the housing and I didn't feel it while snaping the locks, I should of felt it (always load the camera port down and be very aware of the jack flap and jack, snap the lock flaps with equal pressure, I use my back of the hands on the handles to control the speed I snap them back...slowly).

Would I blame the housing?

Absolutely not, it was my fault!
I opened the camera hastily after not doing my nightly pre-dive checklist (lens was on manual focus!).
This catastrophe happened after 50+ dives, no drama with anything else, always have the camera on when loading up on the rails.
There was a drama with people poaching in a marine park at the time too, I was angry and adrenal about it, I was DISTRACTED!!!!!

Would I change brand- no way, the housing is perfect! it requires a high level of discipline in procedure and preparation. I have cut the hydrophone cable off close to its outlet(others have done this too!)- my advise to the manufacturer is get rid of it or make it 2 way plug in, I would of bought a mega dome instead of another camera and 60mm macro port.

This housing is a work of art, I love it! It still works!

#40 Stoo

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:24 PM

I take the opportunity to stress that no matter the brand of housings, (including the "should have bought…" brand), if you have to struggle to get something to work on a camera housing, or feel that something is quirky, you should stop, get the owner manual, confirm the procedure and if the problem is persistent.

You mean I shouldn't have to use this little pry-bar and rubber mallet to get everything to fit properly? :)

I used the same D7000 housing (as a replacement for my Aquatica D90 housing), and when I first saw it, I was amazed that Aquatica was able to fit all of that "stuff" into the housing. It's a work of art IMHO. I think the downside of this, is that the tolerances are extremely tight, so if anything is out of whack, you will feel resistance loading the camera into the housing. One of the "improvements" on this housing, over the D90, is having the ability to pull some controls out of the way for changing lenses or removing the camera/lens as a unit... with this "benefit" comes complexity...

With regard to the manuals, when I first got my D90 housing, I felt that the manual was utterly useless (Sorry Jean... read on!). The "problem" is that the manuals are written with the assumption that the user knows something about DSLR housings. Which I didn't. I had a few decades on Nikonos stuff, but other than knowing how to clean and lube an O-ring, that "knowledge" doesn't really cover the complexity of one of these housings. Fortunately, I had a friend who used another brand of housing and we were able to figure it out. With so many of these systems being sold on-line and without the benefit of hands-on sales support, the buyer is pretty much left to fend for themselves to figure things out. The manuals (and I assume that this applies to most manufacturers) start at "Housing 301", not "Housing 101".

By contrast, when I got my D7000 housing, I found the manual totally adequate. Not because it was any more detailed, but because I already knew the basics... I only needed to know the specifics of that model of housing...

When I sold my D90 housing, I included a lengthy "cheat-sheet" to the buyer pointing out a number of things I had figured out on my own, but that should probably be included in a manual.

So to Gotgills, all I can say is stick with your system. It's a terrific set-up and once you have the hang of it, you'll love it.

And with respect to the "leak", remember the first rule of o-rings: O-rings first, Beer second!

Edited by Stoo, 30 April 2012 - 06:29 PM.