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electronic control over DSLR?

CamRanger monitor housing

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#1 stillhope



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Posted 18 January 2014 - 12:59 PM

I've been shopping around for an underwater housing for my new DSLR that replaces the video cameras I used since the turn of the century. There are many amazing choices out there, but I haven't found what I'm really looking for, so I'm tossing this out to see if anyone has any ideas.

The biggest obstacle I had with my previous underwater video system is that it was exceptionally difficult, if not impossible to get a lot of macro shots because I physically couldn't position my head behind the camera to frame the shot — at least not without adverse impact on lots of flora and fauna when I stretched my body out on the seafloor. I was looking into right-angle viewers and external monitors when my old system gave up the ghost.
Since then, on land, I've been using a CamRanger that plugs into my camera and allows me to use my iPad as both an external monitor and a controller. It's a brilliant solution, and it has other benefits as well, such as touching the picture to select a focus point, or automated focus stacking, etc.
So it seems to me that an underwater housing could do away with most of the mechanical controls, and just have a through-the-hull port for a cable that goes to a tablet. The electronics between the camera and the tablet could be a CamRanger or a custom built controller. Benefits of this over the mechanical housings I've been looking at:
- eliminate a large number of mechanical penetrations and associated cost, maintenance, and risk of leak
- housing is no longer physically suited to just a single camera model, perhaps delaying obsolescence, certainly reducing cost even further
- focus rings and gears won't be needed
- advanced programmable controls
- external monitor
I asked Ikelite and Nauticam and Aquatica if they were working on any such product. Ikelite and Nauticam replied "No", and Aquatica didn't reply.
Any ideas?


John F. Williams
producer of SEA-Inside: Pacific Northwest,
the PNW's ONLY underwater TV series

#2 ChrigelKarrer


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Posted 18 January 2014 - 01:39 PM

Italian manufacturer EasyDive build a universal housing where the camera is remote controlled by cable tethered.

Have a look here: http://www.easydive....ent_e.asp?ID=59


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#3 tdpriest


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Posted 18 January 2014 - 05:26 PM

Macrophotography is helped by an angled viewfinder, although it takes some practice to get the camera pointed in the right direction.


DSLRs seem designed around mechanical controls, and a multi-purpose housing would be bigger than a custom housing, although commercial considerations might also favour custom housings by promoting upgrades.


I don't see how zoom gears can be removed: quite a few of us don't use focus gears anyway.

#4 stillhope



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Posted 19 January 2014 - 06:52 PM

Thanks for the suggestions.


I'm not sure what you mean: "DSLRs seem designed around mechanical controls", and I'm not sure it's relevant. As long as the camera provides control via an electronic means (e.g. USB port as some do), then a good user interface can be built on the outside of the housing, it doesn't matter how the camera was designed.


I wasn't suggesting a broad multi-purpose housing, but something specific to a model line, such as the Nikon D200, D300, D300s, where gross physical changes are minimal, but there was enough change in detail that the D200 mechanical controls in the housing won't work for the D300.

John F. Williams
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the PNW's ONLY underwater TV series

#5 Larry C

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 08:50 PM

That's the concept of the Easy Dive Leo.  You can change cameras with only a different tray and control software, moving the controls to the handles.  Light and Motion uses a similar concept for Video, but for ease of use, not interchangeability.  They used to make camera housings that moved the controls to the handles, but have stopped building still camera housings.  To me, the big issue is availability of the PC board to make it work.  When the product becomes obsolete, the mfg. stops supplying PC boards for it and it becomes useless.  I have a very nice $650 Sea & Sea strobe that is no longer repairable for that reason (less than five years old).  I am currently taking pictures with a Nikon F100 film camera in a Sea & Sea housing that I bought on E-bay for a couple of hundred bucks.  Because it is almost entirely mechanical, it still works great and is repairable.

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