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From D80 to D7100

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#1 larth



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Posted 14 July 2013 - 01:17 AM

I've been using the Nikon D80 with an Ikelite housing and the 5502.41 port for the 60 mm macro for the past years. Earlier I also used the 5503.35 6" dome port when I was on the D70, but haven't used it with the D80 much as I experienced troubles zooming with the 18-70 mm lens when (maybe wrong zoom kit?). There are also two DS125 strobes.

Now I got the D7100 for my birthday and is looking at the options, especially what to keep and what to sell.

The little I've used it so far on land makes me very happy with it and but also shows it a big step from the old D80, so it is with some trepidation I am looking forward to the switch!

Housing: obviously a new one is required and I'd be happy to stay with ikelite.

Ports: it looks like I can keep the ports with the new housing as well. However, are there compelling reasons to ditch these and go for the modular system? I would like to stay with one macro lens and one lens with some zooming / wide-angle capability for stuff larger than nudibranches and gobies.

Possiblities I see:

  • swap to the 17-35 mm to get another F2.8 lens.
  • look for a VR lens like the 16-35mm f/4G ED VR AF-S or the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR AF-S DX, but this requires a new port. Does VR add something UW?

Strobes: I am happy with these except for the weight in my carry-on bag but could consider selling one if there is a good reason for getting one/two of the newer ones.

Anything else I need to consider?


Many thanks in advance!





D7100, 18-70 mm, 60 mm, Ikelite housing, DS125 x2

#2 MarkD



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Posted 14 July 2013 - 09:12 AM

I have made the same transition, but with a D90 (unhoused), D7000 and D7100 along the way. I started with an Ikelite housing but have used Nauticam housings for the last 30 months. My thoughts:




Ikelite housings are good value for money and do the job, but there are advantages to a modern aluminum housing that in my view justify the increased price if the budget will stretch:

  • Far superior ergonomics in use
  • Somewhat less bulky and heavy when handling and travelling
  • Most come with the now more prevalent and reliable fiberoptic connections for triggering and TTL strobe control
  • Most other housing manufacturers have improved port locking mechanisms than the less than reassuring Ike locking mechanism, especially when on the surface where so many floods happen
  • Many other housing manufacturers have easier to use and therefore safer housing back catches
  • The standard Ikelite viewfinder is in my view quite poor, but just how difficult it is to use may depend on your own eyesight. Other manufacturers make accessory magnifying viewfinders for which adapters are available for Ikelite.


At least one manufacturer (Nauticam) make an adapter to take Ikelite ports to make the upgrade pathway less financially painful.




The 60mm Micro is a great lens.


None of the other lenses you mention are truly wide angle under water on a DX sensor camera. They possibly come into the category of jack of all trades but master of none. The Tokina 10-17mm (fisheye) remains an excellent choice wide angle for image quality and some zoom flexibility as long as you don't mind the fisheye distortion (or straighten this up in post processing). It works well with a 100mm/4 inch mini-port which is another advantage for travelling.


VR is not very important at the wide-angle end of the range, especially when using strobes rather than available light. Even for macro, VR is not optimised for the sort of movement that happens underwater, and water mass/viscosity provides some mechanical dampening against the higher frequency shake for which VR is designed. However I do keep VR switched on for lenses which have it, for what it is worth.



The DS125's are first class and quite powerful strobes. However they are extremely bulky and heavy and this is compounded if you take spare proprietary battery packs and the equally bulky charger. They are not great for travel.


In addition, they only work with electrical trigger and Ike TTL. The former has a reputation for lower reliability and requires comparatively bulky electrical sync cords. The latter limits the flexibility of their use.


Inon and Sea and Sea make a range of modern strobes which are light in weight, use rechargeable AA batteries which require widely available compact fast chargers and which will trigger and provide TTL optically with a very wide range of housings and cameras.


Of all these things, I think it was using an accessory magnifying viewfinder that make the greatest difference in my upgrade path,


My two cents worth,


Enjoy the great D7100!





#3 larth



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Posted 20 July 2013 - 02:14 AM

Many thanks for the comments Mark.


I am pretty much dedicated to the ikelite housings - at least for now. Being able to see if any water is entering was the initial "big point" in addition to good reviews. Now I am looking forward to be see if live-view will work well (which I hope).


Good info on the VR! I'll stay with the lenses I have until I've tried them.


The strobes are quite heavy, but robust. One was dropped 80cm when returning from a night dive, but apart from a big dent in the front there is no other effects. They and the camera itself is pretty much all I carry on after being catched in the customs with a 28 kg backpack... They were not amused. Nor were the the rest of the family once the surpluss landed in their backpacks! :aggressive:


Thanks again!

D7100, 18-70 mm, 60 mm, Ikelite housing, DS125 x2

#4 JackConnick



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Posted 20 July 2013 - 07:40 AM

Lars, you should be aware that Ike has a trade up program for the DS125 towards the DS160s. This is a great idea, you can get new, more powerful strobes at relatively lower cost. They also now come with lit-ion batteries that make the strobes neutral in weight uw, much more comfotable. I would definately recommend the modular ports, they are much more robust.


I would add a focus/video light to your system as the newer Ike hosuings now have a mount for one.



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#5 larth



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Posted 29 September 2013 - 04:14 AM

I am now the proud owner of a new Ikelite housing for the D7100! The trade-up program looks very nice (green and price-worthy), but requires one to send in the old strobe for the upgrade since the actual parts are re-used. There were no time for this time since I picked up the housing during a visit to the USA. So will look into that and the modular ports next time (I couldn't get that with the short time notice this time).


Now let us hope that Egypt cools down for a trip to the Red Sea next year.


Many thanks for the advice and tips!

D7100, 18-70 mm, 60 mm, Ikelite housing, DS125 x2

#6 TomR1


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Posted 29 September 2013 - 03:05 PM

For a general purpose zoom a sigma 17/70 is probably the best choice. It will take both decent close up shots and semi wide angle. For a true wide-angle most people like the Sigma 10/17 fisheye on a cropped sensor camera. The 60mm is just fine for macro.


As to upgrading to the DS-160 with fibreoptic connections, there is no doubt that a fibreoptic connection is better but I am not sure the DS-160 is so much better than the DS-125 I would spend the money. Really it depends on the upgrade.


Finally, if your Photoshop/lightroom is not up to date, i would spend the money there before a focus light.





#7 diverdoug1


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Posted 02 October 2013 - 07:15 AM

I have to disagree with Mark with regards to the reliability of the Ikelite sync cords.  I have been using them for 30 years with no problems.  I now use an Aquatica housing with an Ikelite bulkhead..  Also, Ikelite now sells fiber optic adaters for their strobes, so they can be triggered opticaly if you wish.  I do agree that the Ikelite veiwfinder on some of the models can be hard to see when compared to an accesory external viewfinder.   I find VR useless underwater.