I have shot underwater with the Nikon D800 for the last four years, and skipped moving to the D810 because I felt it did not offer enough advantages vs the D800 to be worth the cost of new cameras and new housings. Recently, though, I have moved to the D850, which I do feel offers significant advantages vs the D800. I chose the D850 instead of the D500 for a number of reasons, most which I wrote about in the WetPixel DSLR thread "D500 vs D850?". Unlike TimG, I had continued to shoot with "hard wired" strobes, so there was no additional expense when I moved my Ikelite 161s to the D850. Like the D500, the D850 has Nikon's greatly improved auto-focus, which is first appeared in the D5.
With respect to housings. Prior to the D800, I had been using first the Nikon F5, and then the D700, in Seacam housings, which I "abandoned" with the D800. Abandoned because Seacam had, in my opinion, become increasingly control deficient. No access to the programmable preview or function buttons. No port lock. Etc. And very heavy, very expensive viewfinders, which I replaced with Nauticam viewfinders while still shooting the D700. Nauticam viewfinders which allowed "in water" diopter adjustment. With the change to the D800, I decided to try Subal ND800 housings which offered all the controls I wanted. Unfortunately, in actual use, I experienced frequently recurring problems with the auto-focus point push buttons getting stuck in down position, which happened with both of the ND800 housings I was traveling with. A problem which caused me to miss a number of good shooting opportunities while I was trying to "free up" the stuck button. Eventually, with the help of a very good machinist, I replaced the original anodized aluminum push-buttons with buttons made of stainless steel which had a small grove which allowed me to easily pull the stuck push buttons back out, something which could happen as shallow as 3-5 meters. I looked at the Subal ND850 at DEMA, and initially ordered one. But when Subal couldn't fill the order in the "about a month" timeframe they had promised at DEMA, possibly due to their financial problems, I took this as a sign ( my order was jammed ) and decided I was unwilling to endure the possibility of fighting push buttons again.
In early January, two months after DEMA, I decided to buy Nauticam housings for my D850s. Reef Photo in Fort Lauderdale was able to provide me with Nauticam housings virtually immediately. Like the Subal ND800s, the Nauticam D850 housing system offered me the possibility to use all my legacy Seacam ports and extension rings. I did need several new zoom gears. but there was no need for new ports and rings. And I continue to use the Nauticam viewfinders which I had switched to years before while still shooting the D700. So far, my only "in water" experience with the Nauticam housing has been in a swimming pool to try a new mini-dome port I bought for use with the new Nikon fisheye zoom lens. My initial pool results with that port and lens were very satisfactory. I still need more time for acclimatization to the control layout on the Nauticam housings, but I am very impressed so far and hope to get into the ocean with the new system soon.
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