I've just made it to Bali, from South Australia. Because no one else had expressed any interest in my housing modificatons, I haven't taken any pictures of them yet and haven't posted pictures of them anywhere. Was there any particular control, of those that I mentioned, that you were interested in? Or just the whole "package"? I can take pictures of my housing modifications and post them on wetpixel. But under what category? They aren't really about the D800 or a D800 housing. Should they be under DIY? And the modifications actually have more to do with my shooting philosophy than any particular camera. That being that the things you will want to use most often and fastest, should be accessible when you are holding the camera to your eye. This is why I don't concur with Drew's comment that seems to say that he is happy to scroll thru layers of menu's to make changes. I would miss too many pictures doing that. I want to push a control and turn an input dial. And see the change in the viewfinder immediately.
A very good example of modifying a control in line with that philosophy is accessing what Nikon calls "flash compensation" which alters the output of TTL strobes. On the D700 and D800 this is done by pushing a small button on the side of the camera's prism just below the button you press to make the built in flash pop up.
Seacam has a very short lever with a strong "return" spring to depress the flash comp button on the D700. To make a change in the flash compensation setting, I needed to take my left hand off of the left handgrip to reach and push the Seacam lever. And simultaneously turn the front input dial of the camera, which I normally do with one or two of the fingers on my right hand. by turning the same knob that I use to change the lens aperture. I can not do both things easily and still keep my eye at the viewfinder. So, to see the change I was making in flash comp, which I do very frequently, I first had to push the info button, so that the flash comp setting would appear on the rear LCD while I was holding the flash comp control lever down. And then turn the aperture knob while watching the flash comp. setting on the LCD screen. For me, and most people I think, to shoot several shots with different flash compensations, this took a considerable time and effort. And meant missing photo opportunities when things were happening fairly fast.
I modified the Seacam control by substituting a lengthened lever which I can flip up or down with my left forefinger, while the rest of my left hand is still firmly holding onto the left handgrip of the housing. I also removed the Seacam "return" spring. Now, to access flash compensation, I simply flip the lengthened lever to its down position, which holds the flash comp button down for as long as the lever remains in that down position. And the flash comp setting (between +1 and -3) appears in the D700's viewfinder. Then, when I turn the aperture knob with my right middle or ring finger, I see the flash comp setting change in the camera's viewfinder, with the housing at my eye ready to shoot. When I see the flash comp I want, I can shoot immediately. You don't have to stop depressing the flash comp button to take a shot with Nikon cameras. If I want a second shot at a different flash comp, I simply turn the aperture knob/front input dial until I see the new flash comp I want, and then shoot again. My Ikelite 161's do a full power recycle in 2-3 seconds. TTL is often less. I often change the flash comp fast enough to be ready for the next shot by my strobes are ready. Less time, less effort and fewer shots missed.
Andrej, my email address is fbavendam@hotmail. If you will send me a short note with an email address that I can use to send pictures and explanations to you, I will do it. Not instantly, but within a week or two. And maybe one control modification at a time. I don't want spend too much time on it all at once and take too much time away from diving while I'm in Bali.
Thanks's for sharing the info. I've tried to contact You via mail, but I received a message report that it couldn't be forwarded. I'll try it again. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also enjoy reading the WetPixel camera reviews. I was making suggestions that I thought could make them better.
Adam - perhaps the News announcement of Alex's testing of the D4 in Iceland included the picture of the camera that your link shows. But I just did a quick look of Alex's full story entitled "Nikon D4 Underwater Testing, Live updates from Iceland" as it appears in the digital Slrs/Housings forum. There is no picture of the D4 itself anywhere in that story-forum topic. But there are more than half a dozen pictures of the Nauticam housing or parts of it on the four pages of the field test. So to me, this looks like more of a D4 housing review/promotion than a camera review.
Loftus - I would be happy to do a review of the Seacam D800 housing. And any other D800 housing. I own the D800 and am getting to know what functions and controls I would really want on a housing. But its highly unlikely that Harald would want me to do it. I do NOT just say "Rah, Rah, Rah, Its Great!" about things. I try to look at them critically. If you have seen some of my posts concerning my D700 housing you would have seen that I was not happy that Seacam did NOT have a control for changing the ambient light metering pattern (from spot to matrix to centerweight). And that Paul Kay, a Seacam distributor-dealer immediately countered with the comment that HE used only spot metering with his Canon camera underwater. I also commented that I thought that a brightly colored housing can sometimes cause visually acute marine life to "back off" sooner than a darker housing and had even painted one of my older white F4 Aquatica housings camou and did tests with shrimp gobies. Again Paul rushed to Seacam silver's defense saying that it was probably seeing their reflection in the front of the port that had caused the gobies to dive. I have repeatedly made suggestions to Harald about improving things on first my F5 housings and then my D700 housings. To no avail. This is why I spend time and money making the improvements I want to my own housings.
I feel that controls, and their ease of use, is what really make a quality housing. I have spent about three thousand dollars on each of my two D700 Seacam housings to make the controls more complete and more accessible when your hands are on the handgrips and the camera at your eye in shooting position. The changes I have made would cost far less per housing if they were added to a whole production run of a housing. Or several housings. My cost is so high because I am paying for R&D time and one-off machining of custom parts for just two housings. It is all about having a fine tool that is a joy to use rather than one you have to fight with every time to do things you want to do frequently. Previously, I mentioned my triple control for preview and function buttons and port lock. I also can access flash compensation from the handgrip with one finger - the forefinger of my left hand. When I change from manual focus to an auto-focus mode (S or C), my housings automatically disengage the manual focus gear. The result is a housing that works far more conveniently and faster, allowing me to get the shot on many more of those "one-shot" opportunities than I would otherwise.
As a convenience, I have also incorporated a "remote" camera battery in my D700 housing which allows me to change the camera battery by simply taking off the housing back. In the standard "off the shelf" Seacam D700 housing you must remove the camera completely from the housing to change the battery, which is something that needs to be done every day or two. Now its almost as easy as getting the compact flash card to download the images. I also made adapters so I can use the Nauticam viewfinders on my housing because I value their "in the water" diopter adjustment.
All these advantages are the reason I will first explore the possibility of modifying my D700 housings to accept the D800 before I buy a new D800 housing.
Loftus, you live fairly close to where I live (Sarasota). Why don't we get together sometime and you can see and handle one the housings. And perhaps take it on a dive. And I can explain the logic behind the control changes. I'm currently in South Australia and should get back to Sarasota about August first.
In the meantime, I can take some pictures of one of my housings and post them on WetPixel if there is sufficient interest. And if Adam isn't too concerned that SeaCam will complain or stop advertising on WetPixel. I seem to remember that Adam had at one time said that some of the housing makers didn't want comparisons made between their housing and those of other makes for the same camera. And said they wouldn't advertise if this was done. I would ask, for whose benefit is a housing-camera review - the manufacturer or the reader.
Can we see some pictures of Your modifications? Or are they to be found elsewhere?
Off topicish, but I've only just seen this but feel inclined to reply.
Firstly, the reason that I do not use matrix metering or its equivalent is because at the end of the day it is a form of automation. Its assessment of exposure is based on a variety of parameters and as such can be fooled and so has a degree of unpredictability built in. I prefer to use my own knowledge and experience and sort out exposure myself. This is not a counter but an explanation.
Secondly, I apparently rushed to Seacam's defence, but my observations were the same in the days when I used greeny-blue, film Subals. IMHO it is still not the colour but the reflections, perhaps allied to the round 'eye' like appearance of a port which causes problems.